Thursday, August 17, 2017

July poems

—July 7th—

There’s an old story
from well before digital,

where the knowing master
stops the novice 

at the gate, tells her
to practice more,

return in ten years.

She does.


A plane passes unseen
over the rooftop.  

A plane, plain and simply

no question, no need
for more

than this enough said:
a plane.


Ansel Adams Wilderness—8,900 ft.

Madera Creek runs strong. Scattered patches 
of snow, threatening clouds 
and the wide expanse

to peaks 
rarely seen from here.

Darkness falls. The creek moves, 
the tent’s netted walls 

make home.


“A few clouds, a few trees
have been your only companions.”

                                 —Chia Tao (779-834)

Chittenden Lake—1

Waking at six—the sun, the peaks,
the gauze-like half-moon 
in a pool of blue. 

Sing Peak snows hover a thousand feet 
above the ice-filled lake

and the roughened arc of cirque 
runs a ledge of pine and snow  
that holds the perch 
where I slept the night 

among the stars

at the edge of grace


Chittenden Lake—2

5 AM—before sunrise, the last star, 
            moon watching         

            are we not always
            at the edge, 

            just not awake enough 
            to see

            that way ?     


Chittenden Lake—3

The lake’s inlet stream 
runs from beneath a stretch 
of ice and snow

that runs from just below
the highest of the peaks, 

a rush of white sound 
that blinds the ears 

with a sense of ever-presence
that quiets inner tides 

with sense enough to hear 

lake lap rocks.

Differing ripples 


afternoon sun taking 
what all the lake 
will offer.


Down from the high country,
moving through forests
toward the trail head, 

we swim Lilian Lake, 
wade Madera Creek, 
stop for the night 

in a rock bound meadow

with time to linger 
with the thickened trunk
of an ancient Juniper Pine.

We eat, we walk and talk,
we prepare and clean, rest
and sleep—we look, we point,

laugh and smile—we hurt, we tire.
Same life, I think, differing circumstance.
Always a lot more to learn.


The last night of this trek is the first
I’ve not immediately fallen into sleep.
Outside the tent to pee, the Big Dipper.

The rain-fly will limit conversation 
with stars; but it’s always better to check in,
always better than not—you know, I’m here 
just the same as they, nowhere else, 

for awhile anyway. 


Sipping tea,
the mountain sits,
the man writes,
Heaven breathes.

Reading of Chinese poets
writing poems, writing poems.


I’m not convinced with plans, 
even suspicious, so have few beyond
the next coming day; but patterns
of focus do unfold pallets of pathways
of sensed conviction and root-free
intention—which means, I tend 
to just follow my nose.


What does it mean that mind 
is the true subject of poetry

and what does that say
of the religious 

who say this is theirs.

And is there a difference
that matters

before dawn,
before light appears

and is seen ?


July 23rd

“…I could not help
but chant out these brief songs.”

                       —Shih-shu (17-18 century, China)

After words…

The mountains make me sing.

I’ve been chanting now forty years
or more, more recently thinking
it had let me go; but 

the mountains
draw the heart in ways
that leave the breath 
little room to do
little more than turn
to voice on lips in song.

The mountains, they make me sing.


The only certainty is uncertainty,
unerringly fulfilling
all exceptions
of itself

—July 26, 2017—

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