Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where endings are beginnings...


This Buddha sits with you 
in the broken light  

of pain-strewn streets
and slow-folded knees

that signal
unquestioned  presence—

throughout the darkness,
the voice of a friend.


A poetic form from the American poet, Allen Ginsberg:

The American Sentence: a whole thought in seventeen syllables

(a modern adaptation of the Japanese haiku, for English)

(punctuation, as you like; a single line preferred, not required):

* Below the horizon’s morning sky, sun glistens in hillside windows.

* Stretch-bellied grandchildren watch u-tube—Nona asleep in the next room.

* Perspective: my new allergies, in light of a friend turned terminal.

* Who can deny that the sound of the pen-scratched page is saying something.

  • Songs of the Sunday paper: shoes without socks, chill against showered skin.

* Pink mist pools just above the bay’s waters in answer to morning’s call.


We ran, ran through grasses in the hills,
just for the thrill of it, 

shoelaces stuck with seeds and spurs,
all raggedy, all winded, just like a kid—

you know, like the kids we once were,  
heading head-long to nowhere in particular, 

just to go there.



the quiet rush
of out-poured breath
carried in a name…


The briefest pause 
allows direction 
space enough 
to change 


insight’s like this,
passed by
or followed, 

either way, new.


Self or other, it’s witness that heals,
voice that soothes, our wounds
that can bind.


Life-death, the poem’s heart,
Buddha’s name, resonant
syllables sounding.


That old man, there in the mirror in the aisle
in the store—it’s me.


The moon that is my life,

pours itself into the west,
but “to what end…”

that old witness, Chomei,
once asked.

Rains continue, drought retreats,
bamboo quivers and drips.

And what more for one more 
inarticulate tongue

than to offer “a few prayers,”

into the trace and feel,
the unobtrusive 

touch of this 
ever-abiding silence.


Now a’days, December 10th 
is international human right’s day—

for the ancients, the venerables 
among them vowed to save them all—

each day, ever, the numberless sentient beings 
they encountered there—

including the humans among them, 
earthlings all, and earth and its all, 

each day and every day ever—
all this, all this day too.


My Dad’s breakfast, every day I ever saw,
was two eggs easy, bacon, toast and coffee—
as a kid, he’d have had biscuit, not toast,
jam not jelly; and he always ate to full.

The belly is the first to go, he’d say, 
having been lean as they come when young,
the belly arriving mid-thirties, encouraged too
by regular evening beer.

I can say with confidence, he could do anything 
with his hands—he worked hard.

And I wonder here, if he had lived as long 
as I have,

would he have come to be less certain 
of things—or 

was it just that it seemed that way
as a kid, 

as his kid…  


Thoughts for the turn of the year…

Resistance does not require of us to change,
but rather to intensify. For how we live 
and what we live for

threatens most

those who would have us do otherwise.

Double down, do so with joy

and, mostly, be true.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

November 2016

A love story:

Just say it, she said,
way back then,
and he did, and so
here they are, all these years
later—just by saying it
the way it was,
so it is now.


“…there is no direction
                   forbidden us.”
                              Uchiyama Roshi

The bald-faced, unwavering conviction of connection,
agenda-less engagement of open hands affirming.

Not naiveté, but trust sustained attentively through time 
and space. The point of art: the arc of its doing:

fullness found in steps beyond choreography. 


Things realized 
                       catching my breath:

Separation is illusion, solitude real—the best
we can do is the most we can expect—less 
is usually best—notions of failure, met 
with deaf ears, works—hands truly ready
are always empty.


I wore one of those
snap-on safety reflectors
on my walk this morning,

a gift from a thoughtful friend,
given on faith that it works—dark

holds secret light 
that hides there,

unless you 
release it.


The light from the lamp
drops across the page

except for the permission 
it gives, which if withdrawn, 
changes everything—

as is so for most, you could say, 
or is it so, say, for those who pass unnoticed, 
unnoticed through so many centers, invisible, 
and then don’t—

does their absence then spell darkness, 
suggest diminishment, imperceptible change, 
or just zero—not even wind, cold constant, 
not even the sheerest petal
of consequence—

like silk , like silk that pours like liquid, 
to the floor, doesn’t reveal answers 
for the fall, 

does it ?


                             November 16


Chill-chased fingers
find comfort in the cut
of the vest’s pockets,

as vowels followed
for the sake of their sound
curb in settled tones

found on breath
granted fully the space
there chosen in the taking—

fingers too, loose and limber
in letting go, are not spent,
but ready for more.


Agenda: all the earth, and all that all
needs to thrive.

Strategy: listen first, listen long.

Goal: song.


Two days of hunkered rain, now it’s clear
and earth again meets our feet, takes 
whatever they give and gives again 
whatever takes us along our way… 
no questions.

Knowing a giving way opens worlds
where language melds and gestures
recognize, in kind, gestures intended 
to recognize.

As is so with all of us, each lift of the foot 
is vulnerable to its fall—friends
are found everywhere. 



Like you, I’ve been in dark places,
and the future—only as far as how long 
it takes to get there—is rarely marked 

far enough in advance to make best plans.
What I’ve learned 

is even the littlest light, if you’re willing, 
will take you the full distance.



Winters here are green: rains
clean bay leaves, branches push
to buds, coyote brush blooms,
mushrooms mound in dirtied white, 
bear berries bare their red
and hummingbird sage 
speaks its return 
with grasses and weeds
that winter these hills 
again in green.


When relaxed enough, 
those things we seek, slowed down 
enough, reveal themselves, 
as that bearded poet once said, 
reveal themselves 
when we’ve slowed down enough 

to receive.