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
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,
except to never relent.
Eventual convergence, the healing rule,
tide-like guidance of all into place
in the greater turn
and shifting embrace.
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,
so one might stand under
and look up and in
to this living canopy of green.
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,
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
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
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.