Thoughts on vocation…
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.
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.
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
And what that might mean
in real time,
And thinking it not
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
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,
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.