What more can be said of morning light before sun
arrives, than the quiet leaves hold.
For anyone in need, definitive presence extended
in leaf-speak: concrete, undeniable there-ness
that calls of refuge—because its call is its leafness,
we too can bring who we are; because
it demands only itself, we too are blameless;
because it waits in rest, we too.
Just finished cleaning the house,
which I do when the wife is out,
sitting with coffee to wait her return,
reading poems, writing one or two,
wondering what I’d accomplished,
hoping nothing—dust’s return is one
of the countable comforts in this life,
reliable—I’ve no quarrel with it,
nor with the wife.
One of the more important lessons learned
this backpack season, for old guys,
is that the mountain always sets just the right pace
for the bodies in question, tells you right away
when you’re getting it wrong.
At Kittredge and Shattuck, at the Starbuck’s there,
a single table opens in the front window
just as I pour the cream, looking out to the tree
remembered from years past, still there at the curb,
bigger now, but still bent, still looking bedraggled,
like so much else here in Berkeley, older, but
the same, you know, reassuring.
Ignition to engine, mostly a sure sound
these days, was not so not so long ago, when
the stretch from call to response was a chasm
of guarded expectation and stuttered promise.
Before turning the key, you’d steady yourself,
on cold mornings, hold your breath.
Back then, when met with silence, people
seemed to know what to do.
“life wanting to live in the midst of
other life wanting to live”
and so, when we lean forward then, when
others pause and turn…
Figs—from the tree
in the back yard,
twisted, plucked and
dripping milk…have you?
Folks I know correct their words
as they go along, so others
can come along too.
Separate the process from where
people breathe, and someone
is always left behind.
like the meeting eyes
of friends come together
from the distant past,
cuts of the same cloth,
different falls of the light
of the same sun.
Chung Tsu, David Hinton,
Zuiken, to name a few, like Saichi,
Sakaki, like Stafford, like me.
I’ve lost track of whatever point
I thought it was I’d wanted to make
and instead find myself focused more
on following the point life seems to be
making with me, you know, like the one
moving in and out at the end of my nose.
Low clouds, or is it fog, sweeps pink
across deep green crevices of canyon work
that look out to the east, when not looking up.
Translator of ancient eastern thinkers,
David Hinton writes
that our resistance to anthropomorphism
here in the west, is based in the mistaken belief
that human consciousness is separate, apart from
rather than a part of the “tissue” of existence.
That we ascribe personal attributes to the world
as we live it, is more about intimacy
The moon is out there somewhere,
nearing full in a mostly empty sky.
It will visit our window later, linger,
then leave, telling its whole story
without uttering a single word.
While breathing the other night, I imagined
a figure kneeling before the open altar of life
spread like a book of ancient poems
that no one people could claim.
No one language enough, every gesture
tentative, those passing through sensed
and simply listened.