Monday, September 23, 2013

September's End

We sit with our backs to the east.
A small house in a small town, overlooking

a small valley,

homes on the opposite slopes
looking back.

Mornings—if early enough—you can trace
the sun’s progress by looking west—hill tops first,
the softest touch. Then the slow pushing down
of shadows out of the way reveals
flashed signals of the sun’s rising presence
igniting east-facing windows like bursts of light

shining out from the earth itself.

There was a window out there
morning last

with strength enough to light the whole of our interior
with warm-glow—made me to turn and to smile
in silent amazement

into the source. The sun, you know,

has its own sense of time, its own sense of space,
its own sense of our individual contours. And although
we are a part of its broader concerns,

the best we can likely do is as best we can to attend
to its finding us. And to rest

in that attention
to where we are and to when.


Ah, good friend, you’ve set me free
in sun-soaked by-ways, along wind-stroked hills,
and narrow corridors of shadow graced with light.



There is intensity of focus that comes of us
as natural and as certain and as easy as winds

that drench the face and the edge, the back
and the very end point

of every needle of every pine
within their reach—and then to all the rest,

they breathe the wish that blows behind
their rivered and rippling kiss.


Vows we find we’ve made:

looking back, I’d have to say,
a long-standing inclination toward silence
and the solitary, from birth even, yet always as these
are drawn through the intimacies of the few, the nuclear

and as carried on within the broad strokes and patch-work
of the greater quiet—the urge to acts of mutuality,
of respect and consideration and the wish to understand

these enduring visions of love at play
in the daily comings and goings that define the ordinary,
the universal, the connecting groundswell of commonness

that is our collective humanness—and this,
it seems for me, is the center-less center to which
I have leveled my most heart-felt claims
of citizenship.



Near-ecstatic revelation

The lift of our living within
              the firm embrace of holy name

is found

not on the in-breath,
                    but of the out-going.



After far too long a time
trying to prepare for seventy,
I’ve somehow come to let it go
to itself—this turning grace
called aging—and, 

as it does what it does and what it is,
to use the best of all I have as such,
and as I am, to see it through
all the way through its grace filled,
self-fulfilling way.


Whose voice is it
you think
you hear,

And so
of the words,
yours too?


Often after the fact, I pull back in wonder
at the somewhat frantic nature of the search
for that which I already know to be there, yet
nonetheless continue to need to reconfirm,

like seeking out the earliest cast of the sun’s rays,
as if to assure myself the warmth remains
there in the light where last left—and for us,
the spoken name is like this too,

the emergence and re-emergence
of the warmth of embodied memory
made manifest; no less a flicker
than passing thoughts, but tangibly so.



implies connecting and also connection,
it implies greater numbers of, and so,
addition, so then, progression
and causation, relation and variety—

it implies abundance…

and so in such a world
might well then serve
the preferred expression
of gratitude, of praise

and of prayer…and…


the deep


in this one


of our


John Muir Wilderness
                   Fleming Lake--Elevation 9,700 feet

The mountains here drop their shadows
just as the rays of the coming sun begin to arrive,

water offers ripples to the first gentle gusts,
and pines ruffle and wave. To follow the urge

to sit at the edge in a place like this is an act of faith,
a free-fall ride on the wakes

of star-streams—birds swoop and twitter, answers
brittle and fall, frames and reference shift

to the boundless possibilities of the humbled few
who discover the truly praiseworthy.

Here, it’s not asked, how old one is,
but exclaimed: How far we have come!

Here, the wise are those who hold their tongue.
Listen to the rest.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Friend to Friend

Arrogance—yours or mine no difference—

always misguided, rarely instructive of anything
other than itself, and often simply meanness
cloaked in good intentions,

like building character, in someone else.
Though at the lake that day, it clouded
crystalline waters so, what might have been

rebuke, instead glowed with the clarity
of genuine kindness, a flash amongst shadows,
not so much unexpected, as from one unfamiliar,

now known from the inside, out—a gift.


We cannot know for certain,
but the effort, beyond all reason,
the effort so fruitless reveals nonetheless
continuous, even uncalled for delight
and richness—reason enough then,
reason enough.


Take your teacher by the throat
and listen—it’s the gurgle
that’s most important.


We think

as we live, the promises
we make ourselves, vows,
intentions, grand plans, sweeping vistas,

like so many heart-felt leaves blown
to tremor, even before their saying is done—
bud to spread to color to mulch,

all returned to the earth sustained
and richened within the blanket embrace
of the myriad workings of the sun in its sky.


Place specific, local,
as in heart beat—how the universe conspires
continuations of each and all throughout their time,
questions of purpose, intention, of direction,
value added, or allowed, all implode
right here—seamless, seem-less wholeness,
each complete in place and time, rightful roles
forever fulfilled—inevitable—amen.


They say, just before death arrives, life
sometimes surges, energies push the furthest
reach, new horizons replace the old, space awakens,
shadows fall, imagination stretches to follow the light
to the other side...


In the steadied silence of a Sunday morning
begun before the promise of a spoken sun, the roses
on the altar slump, and the two of them, cloaked in clouds
of circling smoke of incense burned to dust,
take their turn to cry—for Buddhas forever gone
and for those about to come.


The way it is

There are times when, despite myself, I raise my voice,
when the thrust of my heart pushes through the words and past,
leaves them limp on the empty air, only to fall
to the floor, ill-spent.

And I know, it’s the breath
that words ride that makes them all they are
and its absence that undoes them.
I know.


On trust and praise

It’s the urge to engage through syllable and sound
the shadowy horizons of awareness
not simply our own.

It’s the desire to use all that we have
and all that we cannot hold, to articulate the wish
that we cannot speak.

It’s the depths of our need, though not so clearly seen,
to affirm the connections, to return as community,
as is already given.


Thresholds of sorts, arise
as we identify what is no longer essential.

Letting that go, of itself lightens
the next step and wherever it may lead.


As the chest rises and falls
almost imperceptibly, we conceive
the body alive with the flow of breath—

Buddha’s Name as utterance
makes real the potency of language
as a vehicle of awakening…



The desire to make something happen
will make

something happen—while all the while,
the world

inevitably delivers
the inevitable, 

making us wonder,

which end of the effort
we’re really on.


The ancients speak
of clear and certain vision
amidst that most certain ambiguity
that is the foundational reality of our humanity.

How to live unruffled in a ruffled universe?

Allow each answer its flutter
before letting go…


Morning fog rolls in over the ocean
that lies west of here,

shoulders inland hills,

then tips and pours toward the bay,
leading puffs tinted pink.