Saturday, August 18, 2018

Sitting on rocks--

When they asked for a blessing, 
the slightest pause gave away
he wasn’t often asked this;

but he said rather easily 
to remember you don’t have to 
be Buddhist to be a Buddha,

and bid us safe travels.


—Hidden Lake, Desolation Wilderness

So tired, all we can do at 7,000’
is crawl into the bags,

writing, well before dark, to stay awake
for the first of the stars, 

to answer the cry of the sky
to silhouette pines

that circle the last of its light
on the face of the lake.


—At 8,400 ft

Tangled up at the edge of the lake, 
watching the winds ripple the water, 
and the leaves, pass though needles, 
over my skin, speaking in words 
welled up in me that I mistake 
for mine alone.


—Lower Selma Lake

The first stars arrive before dark,
high above the horizon in the south-west.

My young companion sits on granite 
and waits for what more may come.

I head for my tent, no longer embarrassed 
at the lack of resolve, hoping just to see 
the sky fully alight before my eyes 
have to close,

thinking too, that to be here at all 
marks a deeper intention

still alive and well, even at seventy-five.


In the high mountains,
deep breaths draw
the scent of green.


Swirls in the trunk
of the rotted tree, turn a knot 
into story.


Monday morning light
slips in slowly, waits just outside
still slumbering eyes.


Rain spittles
through the tent netting,
makes me get up to pee.


Grand daughter,
at the edge of womanhood,
stops by, we talk, she goes.


I’ve heard
from an entirely unreliable source
that the old man is the keeper
of secret archives
in the State of Everywhere,
so close by here we walk through
and barely notice—when you ask,
the direction shows itself—no one
accompanies because everyone
is already here—nothing pressing,
no where else to be.


“The most precious thing
in life is its uncertainty.”

                   Kenko, Essays in Idleness

Having nothing better to do,
I indulge the smooth slipping pen
and the scratch of its faulty grip
on the empty page filling,

its definitive swirls, the wake
of the words they’d hoped to be—

like so many streaks on a window,
found out in the light of the sun.


The rose in the small vase
on the altar falls limp but holds
its petals, mounded incense ash
too, silent and steady grey center
of the waiting wooden bowel, 
itself an act of reception, holding 
its place and its part, signaling 
reserves of praise and trust.


—after Lu Chi

That old Chinese poet
says thought
follows word, so
which voice
brought word first
for you 
to follow with your voice
which at first was
like bird-call,
then words
calling you and you
following there—after
word, thought, then you.


—Together in this…

The voice on the car radio
spoke of borderless citizenship—
fire smoke following all the way out
from mountains to bay and ocean,
sun setting deep orange ringed red 
with haze.

In the garden, a hummingbird sits 
along side, watching, five minutes 
or more, neither of us knowing 
what more to do, neither wanting 
to leave.


—Introductory Note…

Mine is the way of pen to page—self 
sustained therein by that support before 
the mind behind the frame of push and pen, 
words returning of themselves in praise 
of the world from which they came, pulling 
stroke to stroke into being, living unfolding 
inconceivably scented sacred, every thing 
and each one many in themselves, all 

speaking by way of the spoken.

Friday, August 10, 2018


That old pine
with rippled skin
and wrinkled needles
reaches its limbs
some twenty-five feet
over the street, 

makes shade
for passers-bye,
drips what dew
it doesn’t use,

doesn’t complain
and doesn’t know
it doesn’t know
the president’s name.


What a wondrous thing
this turning among the leaves
that calls the eyes to heave the chest
to hold the breath—the tallest eucalyptus
rush in the hills in the skies, tower 
with the winds.


The shutting of a car door
in the quiet of a morning street
is more certain a sound
even than bird call; a cough,
absent-minded in an alley, 
gravel, soft crunched foot-fall,
a jacket pulled close, a chill, 
forgiven for comfort given.

Those among the things
we know as ours, in a world
there made so too.


Slowly reading passages
from Thoreau’s journals, culled
to elicit his thinking on the writing life, 
is like sitting at the feet of a master,
breathing the textures of prayers
uttered at the tip of his pen.
Instruction garnered not so much 
from perfections lived, as living 
deeply considered—trustworthy 
heat from a hearth well-tended.


“The trees have come down
to the bank to see the river
go by.”

            — HD Thoreau 1841


I know this, but discovered again
the big dipper high above the house. 
Late summer sky not yet black, 
the constellation takes its place, for us 
at least, not a single star caring at all 
what we call them.


The world at large, the universe,
never refuses a voice, takes every one 
as given, gives back each breath as next 
needed, takes in too all the lasts, 
and holds them through and through. 

What is there then in this to question ?


As the sun leaves, rippling layers of fog 
along the ridge, begin to join us, will come 
right down to the blanket’s edge, there 
throughout the night, watching us breathe.


Settled, then suggests no need
to authenticate by reference to anything 
other than itself—the poem, its words.


Summer leaves
carry present


Take note of the pause
holding the courtyard, and the chill 
that drafts the window, rounds bared feet 
and ankles, draws attention to bamboo leaves’ 

gentle affirmation.