Thursday, June 23, 2016

First light poems

First light shows around five, the sun after eight, 
flooding the desk in golden hues that spread 
and pour to the floor and around the legs 
of the chair, 

the warm breath of gods 
filling the room with premonitions
of unseen goodnesses free of right or wrong,
soaked and soaking with the penetrating yes

of the world at work with the way it is. 


Beginning to plan my 73rd, wondering
what’s become of me…


Sentences say more than the sum-total meanings
of the individual words used. That said, 

William Stafford says, although we may be moved 
by the greater truths, we ourselves move 

along the way 
of syllables…


The priest, he said, always carries a small scroll
on a stand that might be placed anywhere he goes.

On it is written one word: “Remember.” 


weeds, called 
to be so,
are so


Naturally so…

coffee, in sips, while hot


Three yellow-petal flowers.
An incense bowl of olive wood.
Framed black characters 

that speak of the heart that trusts.

Light a stick, lay it in silken ash, 
while old friends sleep
in the next room.


I thought once
of becoming a poet,

but words weren’t there, 
even when poems were—

so I chose those, 
left the rest to others.


Looking back, looking even in the present,
at all those who try to change the world
for the better, one might well conclude
trying to learn to live a bit better in it
might be a better move.


Every single thing ever speaks for the universe,
sacrament all and equally so.

Tell me of what you’ve heard today.


If we whisper, no one will hear.
If we whisper, they may come anyway—

always waiting, never naming,
maybe others, may be you.

Even just a whisper.


we are the poems we find

as surely as the words wound round the breath

that’s winding the way we’re strung along

while wandering in wonder—

that’s where we’re found 


Heaven: each and every star
in its solitary shining, together
in the dark.


do you always speak in full sentences—do they 
always begin in capital letters—i’m not consistent
that way, i find—a buddhist for over forty years,

i chant because it feels good, but can’t articulate
a particular philosophy, except perhaps to slow down, 
touch as often as you can—

a friend recently listed quite articulately 
the values he'd tried to instill in his children, 
and now theirs—it was impressive

and i felt almost bereft in the face of it all,
till remembering that for me it was never so much
what i wanted to make of them, but how i hoped

to be with them—still so, even now, that
matters most, capitals
or not


Ego, almost fast as light. But “almost” leaves a gap,
whereas intuition serves quite well, thank you. Heart-driven 
sensibilities carry intellect where it couldn’t otherwise go.
Clear maps have their place, but even when lost, 
the heart is always close—and so, home.


In religious life, or irreligious, as it may be,
settling for solace may seem like selling short.
But solace, like beauty, can’t be bought or sold,
can it.


We know gravity by falling. Our response to suffering,
especially to the suffering of those we don’t know, 
is due to deeper connections we come to know 

through awareness of their suffering—we feel their falling.

To urge love here, seems an unnecessary standard
we may or may not meet. I say, leave love to its own.
Once awake, people do amazing things, love or not.


Along the ridge trail this morning, bay to the east,
ocean to the west, I come across gatherings of crows 
on hillocks to either side of the trail; they clump 
and bump around so quietly, 

I hesitate at first, to walk between, then decide 

to sit with them a bit, on a sandstone outcrop, 
check out the goings-on, 

only to be swarmed by an invisible cloud 
of tiny, almost invisible flies, 

only to notice the crows, all of them, up and leave—

still without a sound—

first impressions are said to be sometimes best, 
and I’m thinking this time it’s so: don’t trust crows 
who seem to have nothing to say.



“…how being old is as new to the old
          as being new born is to the new born”

                             —Tom Sleigh