Wednesday, September 12, 2012

August 2012

August  2012

The sleep of old age is heavy,
it lingers, holds on, even as there seems
never quite enough of it,
or so it’s been for me of late.

Except for those dark mornings of course,
the only alternative to rise before day break,
walk those slow breathing hills
that accept any careful step,

of any age,
and offer back a bedrock peace
that carries as weightless
as lingering starlight.


Six days in the Trinity Alps

Upper South Fork Lake

In first morning light, he slowly skirts
its western perimeter, surface
so placid it captures the entirety
of the tree-studded cirque

to the tiniest detail—I know
there’s only one of him, walking carefully
along the edge, yet I can’t decide
which one to watch.


Mavis Lake

The rocks hold their place
in sun and shade alike, tall pines
whisper or rush, breeze or wind,
either conversation enough.

And we sit and wait for shadows
and for the fish to find the surface, ripples
lipping stories of cloud-filled skies.
Later, we’ll walk back.


Fox Creek Lake is home
to fish, many fish, who eat  
only what the lake serves up.


Since we have a signal, I’m photographed
by phone, which sends the photo to the wives, via
the net—place, date and elevation.

All the while, I write poems of this place and time,
will carry them with me from this elevation, to everywhere
I’ll ever go, signal or no.


The young eagle sits on the limb,
looking down on the lake,
like us…given enough time,
it too will leave.


We have a plan,
hatched over two
servings of soup.
There was a bite.

Wait for the sun
to fall behind
the ridge, shadow
the waiting lake.

Try once again,
leaving dinner
to figure itself—
after brandy.


A poem’s worth

As if in response to the unarguable purpose of solitary song,
the setting sun suddenly illumines the lake’s eastern shore,

lifts the rising pines in witness
to the slow turn of summer

and the promise
of  a cloudless night.


Mavis Lake Blessing

To wake with morning’s coming,
leaving dreams behind.

To see the pines
against the sky.

To feel apart of
the closeness.


Three poems from San Luis Obispo

They call it the marine layer here,
the ocean’s push, above the costal range,
past the vine-filled valley, to the low slopes
where we sit in the last of its reach,

a graced witness, breath against the face,
shoulders warm in first sun light
and the cradled flutter, the silence
about the beat of hummingbirds’ wings.


Over too many glasses of wine, a satisfying meal,
after a long day in the hills at the edge of the ocean,
we share stories not yet told, retell ones already known,

to remember separate journeys come together
to bring us this far, to this age, to these days,
still friends, still remembered.


Before the sun finds its way
through layers of misted cool, he walks
the length of the drive to retrieve
the morning paper, while hummingbirds
breathe their blurred and flurried dance
at near-empty feeders,

taking all that’s offered there.

Home is what it is, implicit in time and place,
in the varied contexts of need and desire,
a web, the stretch and reach of intention
and remembrance, a resonance as nuanced
as the glance of rustled movement
from another room,

as the crunch of gravel under a foot,
a well-known path in the echo of early morning.



Artless, the laying down
on the page
of words of the day
turned awake of its own,

its time unfurled in those
in turn concerned
to make of the day
what it of itself would make.

Mid July

Mid July, 2012--poems

Where we stand

They stood and talked, working
their way to present circumstance,
two friends, catching up

in the whispered shift of light
that clicked in him, a place
just so, and he saw—

there it was, he thought, here it is,
given, as lived.

And with no further fanfare,
the ancients and their way
seemed no longer so distant.


A hundred more
and they’ll look back
on us…



The light at eight in the evening
in the garden seems the same
as at the earlier eight.

The sky. The quiet.


Where we stand--# 2

An old friend and teacher once said,
we must remember our original intention,

and I took this, as delivered, in a religious sense,
as such well enough, but the religious then

was for me so narrow  
as to preclude my truest motivation.

Spoken or recognized or not, 
the urge to first-person choice, the breakaway move

toward fulfillment, that self-conscious clarity and vision
from which all else follows—for me, was you

and all we’ve together built
and continue to build, as life speaks—

     The voice of peace of mind is response
     to the inner call that never fails,

     never interferes
     except to never relent.

     Eventual convergence, the healing rule,
     tide-like guidance of all into place

     in the greater turn
     and shifting embrace.


Haiku workshop

To witness, to set
the circumstance, so those who
don’t, who think they can’t,
see by doing that they can
do, with style, grace and insight.


Pacific Seminar 2012

The tree is still there,
the one in front of Starbucks
on Shattuck, south and west of the campus.

Berkeley, under high grey skies,
the morning chill fresh against the chest,
a few block’s walk from the center,

still there, all these how many years

since having wandered and found
an early morning cup
and sat and wondered the fate

of that scraggly street specimen
now arching some twelve feet or so
over the side walk,

still there,

so one might stand under
and look up and in
to this living canopy of green.



Like marrow,
unseen, except for you,
unheard but for your name.


We worked into the night,
each to our tasks,
to close the day together

in that fullness
of having nothing left,
of having given all,

to having given in—
that waiting ease,


The question

She spoke it for him, when he asked of her parents,
the unspoken riding the edge of carefully chosen words.
Knowingly, she’d nudged it, her answer turning to fruition
that normally taken as loss.

She didn’t say passed, did not use gone,
but said with a smile instead, completed, this life,
for them, completed.

And this morning, weeks later, it tipped
again, for him—that gnawing sense
of incompleteness—illumined.

Of course.


For Kiyo

Forgotten promise,
rising out of the tangle
of words—a friend’s name.


Sometimes only a whisper

but this morning, the sky waits,
hesitant patches of pale blue, high
out of the way of the blustery busyness
of ocean-sent winds,

the chimes, the great eucalyptus,
distant pines, grasses and fogs,  all aswirl
on the surging tides
of earth’s great breaths,

indigenous carriers of wonder.


I traveled once to Japan to see
the places my teachers had lived,

where their words might have been heard
by passers-by who had seen their eyes,

who’d measured too their human worth
over scattered snatches of breaths

shared along the trails and roadways,
beside the rush of rivers and

under shaded canopies of
cicada-filled trees—one pale face

adrift, a few pebbled handfuls
of the native tongue, specific

destinations, unobtrusive
as possible, yet taken in, turned right

at every pause and stop.
My teachers wrote often of gratitude.

Its sustaining power, its taste,
how it lingers, how it holds true

even in the tangled scratches, the marks of a life 
carefully lifted and placed on the page.

The freely given gratefully returned
to a world so much in need of it.

Toward Summer

Through the thatch of bamboo,
a stuttered flash of spinning chimes.


Even dim light casts shadows,
the attentive ear hears the faintest shuffle 

and peace rests in the details
of the daily life

of those who take the time
without asking more.


It has its way with me, well before day’s turn, the moon,
pushing light through stained-glass, scatters

broken colors, dark’s dreams, across waking tides,
and I rise

in the secret air of first bird calls.

There’s no question of earth’s place at this time
of aloneness, as all and every wait

their proper turn in the palpable presence
of rightness—yes, it is this

that carries the entirety to fruition.


The slightest suggestion across the feathered breast
moves the world in ways unplanned, unsuspecting beings

we are, recording minutia of living-dying, what it is,
every nuance encoded exactness, passed on

to rise or not, occasion to occasion—hints on the wind
may alter our direction, influence how we go

about it, but make no mistake,
move to move, we choose.


The cabin at Calistoga

Before the birds, leaves stir, the branches
nearest the screen door, slow sunlight

follows retreating chill—not a whisper.
The door’s ajar, the key dangles its fob,

occasional cars, shrouded in distance,
place us safe, unseen,

together breathing.


For Nanao

I’m here, so I write,
here, thus I chant

and let this body-voice
chant me

welling tears—this moment
enough, each moment the point.


A refrain
returns to

So listen
well, listen
for refrain.

For refrain’s
home, calls you
back. Answer.


Waking early, with gout…

the displeasing wrongness
of it all so pervasive even dreams
message throughout the night

till morning still in darkness,
to wake with pain and wounded spirit
even as day has just begun

that floundering 
the slide of desperation,
at best lingering sadness—unless

until recognition,
recognition of limitedness,
of itself the unlimited recognized

as point of demarcation, horizon
of the truth of our living met
with working wisdom

a lighted point
of what’s true and what’s real:

that point where the poem is.