Thursday, December 17, 2015

Like weeds, the poems


Try to stand in the ocean
and you sink.


Owl Canyon

Fog clings low to slopes warmed red
with berried toyon. Coyote brush 
buds white on green. 

And willows layer leaves 
to ground there yellowed.

Some voices are best heard
with the feet.



In the end, words lead to silence. The reverse is true too, 
but too close a call to discern. Just string them out 
to their natural end—there it is.


Darkness holds outside the window 
and up from there 

a star
or two, 

muted clouds and whispers 
of moon-glow.



This morning’s words waft
like air-borne leaves in winter light. 
Certain uncertainties recovered.




Swift running shallow waters keep clear 
the undisturbed bed.


On the day before this,
in the still before the sun,

a hummingbird darts

shaded vines 
and wilted blooms,

each of us 
giving all we are.



San Bruno Mountain

And beyond this, beyond these bluffs 
of sand and grass and ancient 

a city sits in hills that dance 
in winds that sing 

in skies that still watch 
the change

still now 


That we begin again to listen and to hear 
the things of the world, does not mean 
they have been gone.



Everyone, everything ever, tells us
over and again, who we are with them.



“It was like our lives,” he said
of how it was back then for them,

which is how I remember it for us.
Our lives.


Too much is lost in taking things 
just for utility—numbers taken for fun

can be dropped without anything
breaking. I try to keep it that way,

with words too. Let them do whatever
they seem to want to do. See where that 

leads. You know, like William Stafford 
once said, “what the day says, 

that’s what I say.”

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Zihuatanejo, et al

Zihuatanejo, et al—poems


Forget sentiment—compassion flowers 
the concrete—the hand offers 
the sandwich.



Grace—simplicity undenied.


Morning prayers unfold life 
urging awake its own
first music.



The heart’s gestures, 
not so difficult to hear,

offered there 
behind touching palms.



Mornings tend lingering, allow potentials 
the peripheries, to mull meanings 
not ready to be pronounced.


Morning leaves hold 
breezes night held 
only by sound.



Old friend, it’s always been down hill.




High desert blossoms are tiny.
Birds smaller than sparrows

flit and drop
though budding branches

and chilled traces
of last night’s dreams.



That we can see 
that it’s dark

tells us of light 
we can’t see. 


on the oak creek road to flagstaff, 
an american buddhist history unfolds
in detail run through together

with the breath and sound and sight 
of all of its touchings—wrists here hold beads 
that sing of high country juniper



The moon—one mark 
of presence giving light,
even when shadowed.


Zihuatanejo, Mexico


Roosters are the true language 
of the tropics.


in the dawn sky

a bird clings

to an unfurled palm


Fire fighters here
wear navy blue t-shirts,
rise before the sun 
to sweep the drive 
and finger smart phones.


At the municipal beach, 
fisherman spread their catch on tarps
spread on sand under the palms.

Nescafe is sold from on open jar,
spoon and cups provided; locals
know the price.



Once asked how, at all, it has changed my life,
I could only answer that as I’ve aged,
I’ve come to feel younger.


old friends

in volumes
akin to

angels’ smiles—

what else more
could one want
to hear ?




Stepping to the side to dry off,
to more fully appreciate
the wetness.


Speaking quietly, the aging master said 
all he’d ever really wanted was to learn to live 
to the limits given—the rest had come of its own.


I don’t know how much,
or little, I can say

of that which gives rise to all
and everything, each occurrence

of every and all, except that
it so irrefutably does.



Gold Country

To the robbin and to the jay
that nod hello

there by the tree with red leaves,
by the creek,

whom I would not have met
had I not ignored

that second nag of a voice
that always says no

to the ever-affirming first;
to them all then, save none,

yes, good, it’s morning
with us.


Likely in winter a creek runs 
the bottom of the embankment
at the back of the condo where we stay,

looking down from the patio in the rear, 
table and chairs for four, coffee 
chilling in brisk air, likely 

many things have run these quiet hills 
over time, and will again over time, 
as our time too is done—the deer 

walking in the drive down the road 
told me so.




Don’t think that any one of us
has only one life, 

that the flowers will not return
to fields seemingly barren.

Even the three-year old knows 
people with flowers protect us 

from those with guns—we’ve not lost,

but we do need to be who we are

with ever greater intensity.

Monday, October 19, 2015

September Into October


And so, with nothing left 
to be done, one might then
make marks here and there 
across the open spread page,
leave songs or other signs 
for those who follow. 



Weeks unfold days’ unending unfolding.
Horizonless dreams cradle seamless returns
to the waiting light.


Buddha’s gift: the presence of unquestioning silence.



Secrets and lies turn in sun light 
to so much brushed off dust.



It would be a lonely world 
without the written word,

he writes, then looks up 
to see 

what the purple blossoms
say about that.


those who love you make you special



Some things

ought not be let
to go on—an empty bowl,
the executioner’s noose,

to name two.



a life
a world

in the
palm of




Waiting for the Mexican Bamboo
to unfold, watching ripening stalks
wave their wish 

in air 
empty of all 
but waiting.


Asked which group he’s with, he says, 
“the world—a table for one will do.”



Readings on Basho

I’m not so certain 
what simplicity means,
but would say to you to find 
what’s essential for you. Then,
stay the course.



Of this week’s griefs—name
a place, recite a name, 
as I do mine…

“Let love and gentleness 
shine in the wake….”



Up before the sun,
street lamps, moon and Orion 
all look down.


I remember a morning
that seemed a lot like this one,
without the memories though.


We camp on Mt. Diablo

under sun 
that weights the tops of tarps 
strung between the trees 
where gnats gather 
to tell stories.



The sun drops quickly this evening,
lifting silver through rippled waves of clouds
of charcoal hues 

that mantle the ridge in shadows
that call the air to chill, till night 
arrives for real.

Robert Lax wrote mainly
for himself, to understand better
himself in the world.

Flat. Ordinary. Commonplace. 
The exchange of energies most common, 
most overlooked. And yet  

no less than the foundation
of communal networks 
of sustenance 

that prompt every expression 
ever—the roots of praise,
home-place to worship.




Well, the painters start today, early,
on the old family place in the city. Last time 

for us, we tell the kids, no more 
paint jobs on our watch.


Ten minutes on a Thursday

The older man walks slow, soft
rounded belly. The younger one drops 
a skateboard to the street, before his feet. 
People bustle, traffic ripples. Sun warms 
the interior of the car, and MacDonald’s 
flies three flags. Parking meters 
kick in at 9.


As I deeply reflect,

it was Sensei, it was,
who opened a door so wide 
I’ve been inside ever since, 

even when lost. 
So it’s always been OK,
every return quite natural.



Looking up without
my glasses, the moon turned out
in double crescents.