After two nights of rain,
leaves in bushes along the road
gleam with the grey of dawn.
Bouquets of closeness,
wordless offerings for all
who belong, tasted
as certain as signals
Groundwater—a cautionary tale
Groundwater, not on, but under,
squeezed into the rock beneath, deep
reservoirs of reserve, some say
some ninety-five percent
of global fresh water supplies,
rapidly depleting—as so say
the satellites, of all things,
which like us cannot see
beneath the crust, but can be
and are, as are we, influenced by
gravitational pull—mass or its lack,
the latter being tracked
on screens —red splotches,
deepening red splotches of absence
growing beneath the world’s
take note, grandchildren: oil is fool’s gold,
always was. So don’t be a fool
and don’t follow none.
There is no shortage of flags here in Nashville,
and patriotic sentiments are offered often
and spontaneous in public places.
I chose not to be recognized for my service,
such as it was. But did stand for those
they wished to honor.
“You can wave your flag,”
a twinkly-eyed old friend once said,
“if I can wave mine.”
Only when it stands on both-and,
does either-or work
We dined last night at the Palace—saloon
or club, you choose. But a vibrant venue
for what our waitress called classic country.
One song told of a bend in a river.
And while walking this morning I realized
we’re staying at such a place—the road itself
is named for it, Pennington Bend.
And I wonder at the sensibilities
that take such things as significant enough
to take note of them as such.
Lives turn where rivers bend, I suppose.
Clearly a tongue does, that then turns
and rounds its words
to flavor both place and people,
who then in turn choose their words
and how and where they’ll be told.
Our first morning here opens
a whisper of pink under high grey light
that shutters, slants, then quietly illumines
recollections of childhood
in rural New Jersey
transitioning to suburbs—a time, as a kid,
It’s the stretch and roll of Tennessee landscape
that calls—leafy forest, occasionally broken,
wide swaths of farm land encircled by woods,
all of which then, there, was incrementally
But what did we know? We played
war with dirt-clods from development work sites,
bicycled bare-headed on unpaved roads
and ranged those woods with few restrictions
beyond being home on time for supper.
I’d bike over to the Crow’s down the road,
for the entire day. The eldest, my friend, had
younger brothers, and a little sister, I think.
And two wildly vicious dogs,
always held barely in check by long chains
they dragged across earth made permanent dust
about them—I see now that the dogs were frantic
to guard something already gone—un-worked farms
and chicken coops long empty.
We’d inch past the dogs on our way to the coops
to play Cowboys and Indians, standing on the roofs
in the sun, backs to the woods, looking out
over weed-filled yards,
cap guns and make-shift bows,
unabashedly proclaiming our exploits.
We changed roles readily those days. They were
already Indians, of course, the Crows; and I,
I was already white. But what did we know,
what did we know, but to play?
poet, then religious Brother,
then again religious and a poet, once said
“A religious man without a religion is in trouble.”
He favored in the end personal liturgy over public
and saw our life in language as a gift of the race, the gift
through which reflection takes place, the gift
given back through the words it gave—at its best,
a matter of thanks, a matter of grace.
He proselytized, but only the importance of awe,
of our awareness of its movements in us
in the ordinary course of our day to day,
the groundswell of awe that pushes our words
to places we’d not imagined to go—which for some
will speak to the mystery and rush of the religious,
and for others is itself religion enough…
fall from trees
through the air
to the ground
on the banks
of the river
Found in the poems of Korean poet, Ko Un
“Yet the coming of spring is no repetition.”
A statement of the how
of our lived experience, before
manipulation, before abstraction,
which when carefully considered,
a muted pause of tribute.
After Ko Un’s, “October 19”
Time dropped away
without a whisper,
walls crumbled and fell,
and he stepped
ankle deep in the dust
of the bones of the ancients.
Their songs could still be heard,
but all he could do
was hum—they’d taken their words
when they’d gone,
leaving only the poems
This, I think,
is where we are today.