Friday, March 16, 2012

Thoughts on vocation…

March 2012

It’s not about poetics, nor practice,

but about exploration of the organic power

of language, the whole within which we participate

as matter of human fact, without which

we are not fully human.

Do we compose, or are we composed—

the rising response within the currents

of continuing contexts of human experience in its fullness

is Buddha’s teaching of nembutsu, remembrance

of original source, through the repeated resonances

of words, uncontrived, complete as conceived, the true

and real spontaneous creativity of unbounded breath

sounded in place and time,

the call-response of moment to moment listening.



Tree limbs akimbo,

splash and ride the waves and winds

of oceans of rain.


Ninety percent of

salmon in our streams are hatched

in farms. They’re leaving.


Married life made everything real for me,

as had nothing else, and the children, and continues

to hold true as age shapes the lift of horizons

no longer so distant.

Yet, and nonetheless, it’s been

Buddha’s teaching and the scratch of the pen

that have traced the silent forms of sustenance

of this most commonplace dance.


The young almond tree

that stands behind the Buddha

bursts with blossoms so suddenly

we cannot contain our laughter—trails

of not so quiet prayers—this year’s first fruit.


Men’s Work

The grandson and I work, an easy pace.

We lift and carry, and measure and cut,

tools banging and screeching.

We sweep and clean, admire and excuse,

reason and plan. You know, men doing men’s work

together. You know the kind—it sings

while they hum along.


Who our contemporaries are

is a matter of who

we’re exchanging words with.


Only the hummingbird can reach

the deep-throated bottom of the brilliant blossom

of its namesake sage.


Leap Year?

Is there a difference here, so near

the outer edge of breath’s urge, and at

earth’s center, and its work?


All morning, thinking

of doing


And what that might mean

in real time,


And thinking it not


from then—




Of itself, and we

as a part of it—


And all that comes with

that simple extended breath


Of old friends

and all that’s already said—

a voice on the phone.


It’s called an “in-law” unit,

but he’s not—intimacy

in the sound of a sum pump.


I find vanity

more resilient than body.

Wonder which will go first?


Thinking of Ryokan,

that river at the base of his mountain.

There were no buses then.


It’s not so much planned,

that my mornings are spent like this,

a bit longer each time, in the chair,

with pen to the page;

but it is the first urge.


At age 67

Many of the disciplines

I’d thought indispensable

have fallen into disuse.


The daughter’s friend

Her earliest recollection,

some thirty-five years now,

is of my anger—exposed.


Dimmed by the waxing moon,

Orion barely holds

to the night sky.


I demurred, again demurred.

And then, it went

to someone else.


After last night,

only puddles remain.

And the wind.


As always, he was well-meaning,

but those he spoke of as no longer present

in current consciousness, were my teachers.

Still very much here.


Sometimes morning light

so slowly bares the steadiness

of earth-held things

that even the tongue knows

to be still—then, a breeze,

rippled leaves, speaks enough

for everything.


Stay close children

The earth’s message is always the same,

it’s voice the quiet model

too often muffled by too careless footsteps.


On the carpet, among broken

colors of stained glass,

fallen thoughts.


A flash at my feet,

to the top of the fence,

and into the crook of the almond tree.

Safe, behind intervening blossoms,

we calm, and look at each other.


From behind the bamboo curtain,

moon’s light flickers

through passing clouds—silent entreaty

of an old friend. I signal back

with the pen.