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
Monday morning light
slips in slowly, waits just outside
still slumbering eyes.
through the tent netting,
makes me get up to pee.
at the edge of womanhood,
stops by, we talk, she goes.
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
follows word, so
brought word first
to follow with your voice
which at first was
calling you and you
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
In the garden, a hummingbird sits
along side, watching, five minutes
or more, neither of us knowing
what more to do, neither wanting
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.