Friday, January 19, 2018

Sharing War with a Poet Friend 01/19/18

There are things common and things different to share.
I am not you; you are not me, so we tell each other stories.
It was a long time ago, and it was big within my life,
and a mystery, for more than a few decades,
and now is next to nothing.
It was there that I did first comprehend
the tragedy and terrible waste of untimely death.
I never wrote about it then - the world swept us on.
Don't talk much about it now -  not many even ask.
But that was my day,
and sufficient unto the day are the troubles of its own.

Friday, April 7, 2017

That Day

What will it be like, that day,
when every last living thing
that has ever frightened us,
annoyed us,
gotten in our way,
impeded our progress,
incited our hunger
or lust for killing,
or just loved us too much
with wild eyes,
has been exterminated?
What will it be like, that day,
as we sit on our barren, lonely piece of earth,
pounding the dry dirt to dust
with our angry fists?

(March 17, 2017)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Early This Morning

You imagine emptiness
or all-pervading presence,
it's all the same to me,
a vast loneliness,
a vast sadness.
And beyond me.
I imagine myself in Christ's arms,
as Mary held Him after the crucifixion.
It goes on, it goes on,
the separation,
the holding.
Tomorrow I hold Christ
in my arms.
it's all the same,
tear in tears,
rain within rain,
water everywhere,
the emptiness within the presence,
the presence within the emptiness.
It is almost more than I can bear, and
more than I can comprehend,
the emptiness, the presence,
the sadness,
the loneliness,
slipping away as
the rain runs off the grebe's back
and into the sea.
The wine returns to water,
the drops to the whole, as
sunlight plays on the shining sea and
cradles me in eternity.

 (April 6, 2017)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

River Daze

Sunset approaches.
My little boat tugs at the anchor line,
A steady wind pushes one way,
the flow and the distant tide, another.
The boat trembles and rocks,
finding no easy accord.
I don't take sides, and sit in silence.
A beaver swims from shore.
Nearing the boat it elects caution,
and quietly slips beneath the green water.
I watch the smooth, polished ripples that remain
...and slowly sink back into it, the reverie.
Traffic sends white noise from a distant levee road.
The cosmic angles and geometries of illumination slowly decline,
bright, tenuous lines etched in the space around me.
The beaver returns,
only to vanish into a dark, brambled bank.
On the shore, those trees still with sun
acquire a patina of dull gold,
and those now without
begin the slow transmutation into lead;
This pastime of mine, I now see
has put me at the center of thing.
Yet watching the sun glow red
and sink into the dark line of trees,
I see upriver, downriver,
not one other has come out
to witness or celebrate
the end of day.
Perhaps it is too peaceful an act, I muse,
while the waves and wind 
weave a mesh of the orange sky.

Monday, January 2, 2017

And it still is true...

(from August, 2013)

Middle of the Night

I rise in the middle of the night,
to read poems in the bathroom
until my restless mind finds diversion, or
detente, from my relentless negativities.
When, at last, I turn out the light,
a unanimous darkness envelopes me.
It's OK, though.
My heart and my feet, in their blind wisdom,
know the way to bed,
and I return to your warmth, as a ship
returns to port after a long, perilous voyage.
You throw an arm across my chest,
like a hawser, mooring me
to the dock of you, and draw us together,
until I am home, I am yours,
and finally, and once again,
at rest in your calm waters.
I once was lost, but now I am found.
It's OK, I murmur to my self,
it's gonna be OK.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Deepest Wisdom (For Melina)

Keeping my heart door open is difficult
I'm a resistant prospect and
keep trying to close it.
My heart knows better and
keeps a foot in it,
an ardent salesman,
with a special today
on love.
 Asking you to marry me
was my deepest wisdom

Living with you now
is my deepest wisdom

Remaining with you always
will be my deepest wisdom.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Out the Window

Under the Madia,
beneath the Agave's spiny pad,
(Agave parryi truncata)
on the broad lip of it's planter,
a frog!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bad Cafe (No Stars)

I ordered Justice
They brought me Truth

(or was it the other way around)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reading Late at Night

Got the jimmy-leg tonight,
can't keep them still.
So I get up and shuffle around the house.
Maybe it's the full moon
(which always agitates me).
shining in the window
and projecting bright rhomboids
on the dining room floor
for my viewing pleasure.
Finally, I sit in the bathroom and
read Olav Hauge poems
under the night light
until I've found some measure of peace.
When I get up to go back to bed,
things have changed:
staring at the pages of the book
has left me night blind -
The roughly rendered charcoal
features of the rooms
are completely obscured
under ink-black shrouds.
The moonlight,
through the window
and on the floor,
now just a pale version
of its former self.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I thought about my life, the last 69 years, with its twists and turns, and infinite detail. It seems like it started ages ago, with early childhood just a collection of black and white and Kodachrome images, the rest like old blurry Polaroids, and all of it receding in the mists.
And then I thought:
Verily, I have not come very far.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Together 3/4/2113

Together, in the twilight.
I see your face
lit in a ragged remainder of the sunset,
and feel it shine upon me,
as mine shines upon you, and
in the end,
if there is an end,
all that will matter
is that we were together
and in love

Thursday, December 20, 2012


and i'm crying and crying
and thinking
what does my body know about us
that i don't know,
am i crying from sadness or happiness?
or gratitude?
or all of the above?
she is so beautiful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


the rain continues,
lots of rain last night,
beautiful, as you are,
as the rain and sun.
how can i, dust of this earth,
refuse this blessing, this grace? 
beloved, as the earth loves the rain and sun,
it is my destiny
to love you with all my heart.
it is also my destiny
to suffer the consequences.
i pray to understand all this.
this love is so much bigger me,
so much bigger than us.
we are specks of dust in the whirlwind of it.
... and we are the whirlwind.
go figure.

destiny brought us together.
and because,
like adam and eve,
we want to know why,
we have to live through it.
all the words in the great books,
all the words of the great teachers,
they can't explain.
the only thing is to live it.

i love you. i will not quit.
i am yours to do with as you please,
i am just a man, insignificant,
a speck of dust,
and you are bigger than all this.
love me,
toy with me,
send me to the farthest reaches of this world,
destroy me.
it's all in my favor.
all in yours.
it only feels like suffering,
but it is love.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Little by little, the notion
wriggles its way into your mind
to love something so big
you will break yourself on it

4:16 AM

Pondering in the midst of the night
(life, women, love, desire),
I can't escape the notion
that its an odd and perverse universe
we live in.

For solace I read Olav Hauge
and the old Chinese poets,
and know I'm not alone.
Nothing much has changed.
We live like fools, we are fools.
In the words of Alan Watts,
"In the words of a Chinese Zen master,
"Nothing is left to you at this moment
but to have a good laugh!"

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The marine layer clouds
are rolling in again this morning,
driven by a cool breeze.
The sun slips through underneath,
with a tart, lemony light.
I gather my thanks for this life
and for you, my dearest,
and toss them into the air.
May the wind carry them to you,
and whisper in your ear,
"thankful, yes, thankful"
and then, flowing past,
caress your lovely face.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Love & Loneliness

i was going to write about men,
but what do i know of men?
i know only one man,
and of him only a little...

so, what is it with this man,
that without that woman,
the lithe, sun-browned, golden-eyed one,
the one called melina,
his world, the world
is unspeakably lonely?
all the mystics and great teachers
have no answer. They speak
of turning away, abstinence, withdrawal.
but i say we were put here, we two,
to yearn and long for one another.
and in that yearning and longing
the world is justified,
and in the space between the our heartbeats,
the conjoined heartbeat of two lovers,
the world stops in a breathless silence,
and then, drawing a breath
from the great well of silence,
starts yet once again, out of nothingness,
praising love, praising love, praising love

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Unseen Light

i can't seem to accept what is.
all i do is carry on, moaning and complaining, and
then say i'm sorry and ask you for forgiveness.
and so, to the pain of loving me
i add the unfortunate misdemeanors
of annoyance and repetition.
still, long distance, we talk of dirt and chickens,
and inside i am dying, and
i am sorry it is taking so long (there i go again).
i don't know what to offer you now but my silence.
i love you with all my heart and soul, and
i see the love shining in your eyes,
unlike any other i have known.

so why, sometimes, my "all or nothing at all" attitude,
and why, sometimes, do i just want to die?
not that it makes any difference,
it is just another "want" - just as i want you.
and just as reality sends what it will,
death comes and takes what it will, when it will, and
love comes and takes and gives as it will,
and life blesses me with you, and
part of me turns aside and say it is not enough
and i am, at once, bitter and so ashamed,
and weeping, i grieve for and loathe my perfect imperfections.

yet our love endures, and
burns bright like the sun,
and sometimes, under that sun,
i smell springtime in the air,
and inside this tired old seed of me,
inside the ugliness,
deep in the mud,
something new and fresh and green stirs,
and moves toward the unseen light.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Long Night

I awake early, before dawn,
thinking of you and
quietly weeping.
Seeking to ease
the pain of our separation,
I read the words
of Alan Watts, Shree Rajneesh, Jesus,
They are all so true, yet
the words remain just words, and
the longing heart remains,
the dark remains.
Soon the light, I pray,
and the start of a new day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


oh love,
i think of our words,
today's and yesterday's,
some sweet, some bitter,
and watch them all
rise as invocations
into the sun of our love.

i think of your lovely brown back,
bent to the sun as you garden
and feel my desire burn pure and clean
in the sun of our love.

i think of the petty and the fearful things in me,
and watch them burn to ashes
in the sun of our love.

oh love,
let us throw open the doors of our hearts,
let the light of this love
suffuse us, fill us, flood us.
let us live in this marvelous gift,
in the sun of our love.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Someone to Love

My son's dog comes over to me,
puts her paws up on my chest, and
looks deep into my eyes.
She affects love for me, and maybe it's real,
but how can a man know what's in a dog's heart,
when he doesn't even know his own.
I do know that she wants me to scratch her chest,
which pleases her a great deal.
I am offended in some mild way,
if this is all she wants from me,
and then i wonder:
is this how god feels about me
coming to him day after day
crying for a woman,
someone to love, and 
someone to love me,
and why he says (sometimes)

Again and Awake

I've been through the fire again and again,
I am ashes,
yet the pain continues.
I cry and cry again,
it changes nothing.
I hold tight, I fear,
and so cannot awake.
Yet holding tight, fearing,
I am awake.
I cry again,
in overwhelming longing and grief,
and wonder if death brings relief.
Yet i believe the mystic who said:
if you don't break your chains now
will ghosts do it in the afterlife?
And so i step into the fire
yet again, hoping to awake.
Hoping? Oh man, foolish man,
cease your hoping and awake.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love Poem

Good morning dear one,
just so you know:

i believe in us.
with trust and love
inward, outward
towards our secret hearts
and the manifold world,
towards the alpha and omega,
and the meeting of friends
at the hearth of the one.

i believe in us,
in shovels and rakes
dirt and sweat,
seeds and sun,
and the mingling waters of us,
fed from the eternal spring.

i believe in us,
just so you know:
and this morning,
i send you my arms to wrap around you
when you need a hug; 
i send my eyes, shining
to show you my love and yours,
i send you my lips, soft, and
i send tiny seed kisses for your mouth,
your eyes,
your cheeks,
your neck,
your brown shoulders,
your breasts.
Plant them as you desire.
feel them grow into our love,
rich and radiant
under the sun that is you.

i believe in us,
just so you know.
I do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


i spent the morning
reading the texts of the great teachers,
and crying,
tears falling to the opened pages.
Then i got up;
made coffee, went to work,
and left my tears
in the mouths of the flowers

Saturday, June 16, 2012

For M 061612

The moth surrenders to the flame. You are the candle, yes, but the flame is love.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ruminations on Last Saturday

I'm sorry I stared at your legs last Saturday,
while you were explaining to oblivious me,
that you were altering our relationship
(back to "friend").
I wasn't thinking anything lustful, staring at your legs;
just that they were so pale and smooth
(and I am reminded now of William Carlos William's icebox plums).
Your sarcastic comments
went right over my head.
Only a little later, did I get it, and I thought
about that apocryphal line in so many comedy films
in which an ample and well-displayed bosom plays a part:
"My eyes are up here, Roger" (or whomever).

12 words, Unisex Fortune Cookie version 060412

You'll meet that special someone.
Who'll break your heart.
You won't care.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poetry (Too Much), Poems (Too Many) 041912

I read poetry
til I can't
make any sense of it (forgive me).
It doesn't take long.
Sometimes I just want to be told
what it is,
sans metaphor and the great leaps.
Take me by the hand gently,
move me through it slow.
I'll try and make sense of it
til I can't.
It won't take long.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Valentine's Day Card for You 021812

A poem slept in me.
You woke it.

I Was [Dreaming of Rain] 021812

Sleep - that startled bird will take some time to settle.

"To fuck" is no longer
in my vocabulary,

a weathered and ragged pine, I rest amidst
the rough and tumbled granite blocks of time,

my eyes pitted marble
raised in supplication
with a prayer for rain
in a year of drought.

I make the call.
But will He come
and make it happen?
Will He bring it?
Will He?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

There Will Come a Time

(I know)
there will come a time
when it is time
to wander off.
Those around me
eat, drink, marry,
but I am no longer with them.

They don't yet know,
with the certainty I am coming to know:
that there will be a time to wander off.

The time for some, sooner,
the time for others later.
We do not know our time,
but suddenly, before us
a shining new sea,
a fresh breeze.,
and a little boat,
bidding us to sail.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Laying It Down 10/24/09

What is my life, my face?
Sometimes they weary me
just as the lives of others and other things weary me.
My house is a mess.
Things drop and lay there for months.
What does it matter?
Things are like leaves,
destined to fall,
to blow away,
to be absorbed,
to mutate,
and become dirt for the trees
to make more leaves.

What is this life
that I keep hammering on?
Adding a 2x4,
repainting the weathered wood.
Whose hands are these,
so busy?
Whose face is this,
smiling, frowning?
Does it laugh?
I'm sure it must.
Does it know grief?
I'm sure it does.
Does it like jazz,
and Paul Klee,
and Rilke?
Yes, and these are the yeast of me.
and I am the least of them,
and destined to become less,
and yet on the scales, we balance,
for now.

What is this life, my face?

Where others touch, I blossom.
And now, still and alone,
I blossom.
Oh, the green fuse that drives the flower.
How helpless we are.
How it plays us,
and then, oh, how we play ourselves.
What is this face, this flesh,
that I would lay them down with the leaves?
Who is this man, confused and
confusing , frustrated and
frustrating, enchanted and
enchanting, difficult,
trying, trying to be good.

More 2x4s, more paint!
The artifice sags, the man grows weary.
What is this life, this face?

Somertimes I would like to lay them down:
Let the late autumn winds
burst my doors and windows ,
sweep through this house of me,
pulling me into the whirlwind,
carrying me out
to meet the sunlight, the clouds,
the mist and rain,
the leaves and lamps,
shirts and shovels,
dust, sticks, feathers...
and me.
And then to lay them down,
element melting into element.
"Blend well and allow to cool"
says Autumn to Winter,
whilst the heat of me
dons a suit of leaves.

There are some processes
only poetry can describe.
This is one of them.

What is my face, this life?
The work of old age
is figuring out how
to lay it down,
and laying it down.
And what of this age?

Everything & Tu Fu 06/28/10

My daughter called to say she misses me,
a nephew beckons for a family get-together.
Up North, friends expect me for a wood-firing.
I have already begged off,
and here I sit, alone, in cool, green Inverness Park
with much to do,
with much to do,
with much to do,
and I don't know what to do.
And so,
I read Chinese poems,
translated by Kenneth Rexroth,
and find Tu Fu
"old, ill, and tired,
blown hither and yon,
lost between heaven and earth"
and see my face
across centuries and continents,
while yet another voice chides me,
"Boy, you just don't know"
and I don't, and
I don't know what to do, and
I am tired.

In West Marin 9/4/11

This old house is decaying, crooked,
but it overlooks the bottom of the bay,
where the tides come and go,
brown mud, then water, silvery blue.
The town has a hardware store,
a grocery store, and a bakery:
my trinity of human existence.
There's a jazz station on the radio for potluck,
and Pandora plays all I want to hear.
This is getting scary,
all my little dreams...
And while I am filled with gratitude and fear
I am already moving away
(though not yet in such a rush - oh that pecan sticky)
and I have to remind myself
that God, in his secret economy,
brings rain and sun
to the just and unjust, the good and the evil.
But leaves it to me to answer the question:
which one am I?

Outside the Cafe Roma (now defunct) (05)

Outside the Cafe Roma (now defunct),
a hearty breeze is pushing the leaves
around the sidewalk and into every doorway.
It's late summer, and the light
though heavy and warm, is looking
a little tired, a little hazy;
a harbinger, perhaps, like the leaves
of impending Autumn.

It's a busy morning at the Roma,
including, I note as I leave,
a girl in shorts, scribbling furiously in a notebook.
Outside, I put on my backpack, pull my bike from the rack,
take a few steps back for one last look at her lovely legs
-and trip,
my bike and I, in a clattering pratfall.
And in front of everyone!
There is a small field of grace
just outside the doors of the Roma,
it won't stand for that;
and the distracted monk receives a swat from the master.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Spanning Time

In the early seventies I crossed paths briefly at Gavilan College with a Japanese student named Sam. He did not speak English very well, but was writing poetry in English. At a get-together off campus, he handed me the poem below, which I present here verbatim (I include the salutation, which he added at the time). Somehow this poem survived the chaos of my life at the time and found a place among my own artistic and poetic detritus. Every few years, I run across it again and never fail to appreciate its sincerity and its truth. Need I add that at the time, I did not appreciate what I was given...

Dear Fred,

Let's have a dream once a day!
working, again working, we go out,
enjoying, again enjoying, we come in,
studying, again studying, we are still,
if we lost the sadness far away.

Let's seek something on how to be tomorrow!
asking, asking to ourselves what we are,
thinking, thinking again what we can,
praying, again praying what we can't,
if we were modest enough, honest enough.
This is our quest,
to reach unreachable star.

Let's make something for our life!
polishing up the skill, morning,
touching the spirit, afternoon,
cooking the gourmet, evening,
if we were craftmen.
Whether be genious or not,
it's our pray, it's our dream.

Let's sink into the bottom of life!
whatever we may say or do,
because we know what we are,
because we know what we can, because we know what we can't,
Life is beautiful, we should know.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cry 120810

Beatles: Here comes the sun king...weeping
Kind black man on a TV commercial...crying
Syrian Internet magazine about Jesus and a village where they still speak Aramaic..crying

I don't cry every day, it just feels like it.
Sometimes it feels like I'm coming apart. Sometimes
I think its making up for five years of Edna
struggling with cancer

I am so dismayed with myself
I am so angry
I am so sad.
sometimes it feels like I am coming apart
and its OK


God produces abundance.
some will be eaten
some will fall

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Telling you these things
is like telling a thunderstorm
that it is a thunderstorm.
What does it care?
Like the thunderstorm,
you are a force of nature.
And I am a rock, the field of grass.
You move by,
leaving me wet or dry,
hot or cold,
and you move on.

The Blue Light of Early Morn

Watching the blue light of early morn,
I lie quietly in bed,
hardly drawing a breath,
and think about life;
how I'm tired,
and don't belong anywhere.
And suddenly my lungs pull in a deep draught of air -
Oh! The body persists
and I must go on for now,
watching the blue light of early morn.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Another Morning

It's going to be one of those mornings:
Jazz on Pandora, cup of strong coffee, half a loaf of French bread,
and I can't find the *#!! peanut butter.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dead in Minutes Meditation

Sometimes my God seems far away, and I think:
that's why he sent Jesus; to be closer
to us and for us to feel closer to him.

The Muslim reports that God is as close as your jugular vein.
The Christian says God is in the breath.
The arguments don't amount to much.
Cut either and you're dead in 3 or 4 minutes.

A Small Collection of Poems about Trees

by FS

It's a bad time for trees;
a secret half locked deep in the ground,
an aerial half vulnerable to the whims of arrogant men.
A seasonal diaspora of seeds,
their only defense;
when the Many seize the late summer winds
leaving the One behind.

by Louis Jenkins

I sit down at a table and open a book of poems and move slowly in to the shadow of tall trees. They are white pines I think. The ground is covered with soft brown needles and there are signs that animals have come here silently and vanished before I could catch sight of them. But here the trail edges into a cedar swamp; wet ground, deadfall and rotting leaves. I move more carefully but rapidly, pleased with myself.

Someone else comes and sits down at the table, a serious looking young man with a large stack of books. He takes a book from the top of the stack and opens it. The book is called How to Get a High Paying Job. He flips through it and lays it down and picks up another and pages through it quickly. It is titled Moving Ahead.

We are moving ahead very rapidly now, through a second growth of popple and birch, our faces scratched and our clothes torn by the underbrush. We are moving even faster now, marking the trail, followed closely by bulldozers and crews with chain saws and representatives of the paper company.

(for more:

Trees Lose Parts of Themselves Inside a Circle of Fog
by Francis Ponge

Inside the fog that encloses the trees, they undergo the robbing of their leaves...Thrown into confusion by a slow oxidation, and humiliated by the sap's withdrawal for the sake of the flowers and fruits, the leaves, following the hot spells of August, cling less anyway.

The up and down tunnels inside the bark deepen, and guide the moisture down to earth so as to break off with the animated parts of the tree.

The flowers are scattered, the fruits taken away. This giving up of there more animated parts, and even of parts of their body, has become, since their earliest days, a familiar practice for trees.

by FS

As I walk an aging, yellowed moon
through the levee poplars,
the pears in the orchard below,
the pears no one wanted or bothered to pick,
have at last agreed to a mutual separation
from unsympathetic limbs
and are falling to earth.
My nose discovers an earthy chemistry now quietly at work
on their ancient starches and sugars -
the chill night air is sweet with pear wine
and sour with pear vinegar - it's all a matter of time.
Soon enough, these pears will find oblivion
beneath a blanket of gold and russet leaves,
and next spring help fuel the tender but insistent grasses
sprouting like new hair
from winter's bald pate.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why I Weep

I weep because you are so close, and
I weep because I am so far away.

Wet Morning

Mountains smeared across the window glass.
The far shore obscured by mist.
Clouds hang low, snagging in the trees,
branches drip, rain in rain.
My thoughts are slippery from all the water.
Do I go? Do I stay?
The answers run off the grebe's back
and are lost in the sea.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Damn it!
The world has turned again
and I am suffused with anxiety.
Sure, I can deal with it; live through it.
Done it for almost 50 fucking years.
I just wish it would leave me alone;
the fear is useless and
it has stymied the best of me, and
the best in me, for the better part of my life.

I don't think its a lack of courage, of taking a stand.
The Buddhists would love the reason -
there is no place to stand,
nothing to face, nothing to fight.
How do you stand up to nothing (even as it destroys you)?

I see that I have claimed the world has turned.
That is incorrect. I'm sure its me.
Like a kaleidoscope, rotated by an unknown hand,
and, in an instant,
all things are shown in a new perspective,
in which people, light, and love advance or retreat,
or later, as it seems in this state, never were.

Do you wonder why I reach for your hand?
Do you understand how your warm leg
thrown over mine, your hand on my chest, or
your face pressed into the side of my neck,
brings them all rushing back, brings me rushing back?
At least for a time - a sweet, precious time.
Do you know, love,
of my infinite gratitude?
Do you know, love,
of my infinite fear?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Who Else Would I Talk to?

(a few bars with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's circular breathing)

Some days there is nothing to me but fear and dread,
Some days I grow tired of being a fatalist.

All of us intent;
looking forward,
solitary headlamps peering forward
into the darkness of eternity.
We have ears, but do not hear;
questions, but afraid to ask.
But there is one who listens.
Who else would I talk to?

I guess I've led a sheltered life,
and so only now felt felt the touch of death,
whose metaphors abound:
it's bony fingers tighten around my neck,
the tumblers falling into place one by one,
The slot machine suddenly lining up
cherry. cherry, cherry...
You think to yourself,
they never do that;
I'm never been that lucky
No. Its something else:
betrayed by the flesh. Oh,
there is no doubt,
the flesh betrays us all.
It's easy enough and doesn't need
the thirty pieces of silver.
Still, it wakes me up early,
my feeble brain struggling
to throws it's simple net around eternity;
my halting voice
with a question or complaint.
But there is one who listens
while all of us intent...
Who else would I talk to?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Notes for a Postpartum Letter

I'd like to leave this house of sadness,
as you, Edna, have left me and this world,
with so many things left unfinished,
and I, with so many things left unfinished:

You were the opposite pole,
whose energy sent me out into the countryside and onto the river,
and when your energy faltered,
into the arms of Jesus.
Edna, my love, you have left me, and this world,
yet I cannot say "it is finished."

If I think of returning to places we once visited,
I am filled with dread and sadness
(I should look into this),
yet I sleep in the bed where you died;
my spirit sinks sometimes
when I return to that house and that room
after a long day at work.
Yet, for now, it remains my home,
a home of suffering and sadness.

Edna, how could we live together for 27 years
and still know so little about each other?
I blush now with shame.

Often, when we tangled,
it was like arguing with a mirror.
You could match me fault for fault;
perfect point counter point.

Now and then I pray at the couch
where you rested day and night,
and I can still smell the chemo
that that seeped from your poor saturated body.

I remember putting a waterproof sheet on the bed
because of what I'd read about things the body does
when it expires.
But it wasn't real; I expected a miracle.

Bad Math

Edna, the loss I feel
just doesn't square
with the trouble we had
with each other.

Too Many Words

Sometimes there are too many words,
and the Muse, heartless bitch,
whispers in my ear:
"Pick out the ones you want;
we'll drown the rest."

Its the Weather

Its the weather.
Its the same old song,
watchin' it rain,
watch it rain,
watch it rain.
Somewhere there's sun,
somewhere skies are blue.
I'll be waiting,
I'll be waiting,
I'll be waiting
if not for God then for you.
Its the weather,
Its the same old song.
Watch it rain,
watch it rain,
watch it rain.
Time to call it a day,
say goodbye to pain,
watchin' it rain.
Its the weather,
its the weather,
its the same old song,
its the same old song.

Pas de Deux (dream)

I met a dark-haired woman;
she appeared suddenly,
as people often do in dreams.
She came close to speak low,
something cool and friendly in my ear.
I leaned forward to hear,
and my cheek brushed her bare shoulder.
When I raised my head,
our lips touched and held,
a kiss!
I nearly fainted from joy.

Sunset Again

Sunset again,
stealing my world
leaving me penniless.
Sometimes I face it down,
but the result is always the same:
empty pockets for the night.
And just before dawn,
takes the last of my mind.

Empty pockets,
they don't make the grade,
Momma may have
(but Momma's in a nursing home),
Poppa may have
(but Poppa's been gone for years)
So God bless the child that's got his own, til
sunset again
takes everything I gave.

Sometimes I stare it down,
but the answer is always the same:
Sunset again
and empty pockets for the night.

What Can I Tell You 10/05/07

What can I tell you about the sunrise?
A red ball slowly rising
behind the leaden tule fog;
the orange haze,
and above in the fresh blue:
the white surprise of a few clouds,
A flock of birds,
testing the cool air of a new day;
the trees, still, and patient for the higher light.
In a moment of distraction,
it will all vanish, and exist only as a memory.
What can I tell you about the sunrise?

Poem and Apology

Last we spoke, you asked my name
and uttered some words I took as praise.

...see how quickly the hungry trout
rises to the bait!

Trial and failure;
it happens again and again,
and somewhere a monk
rolls up this paper
and swats the inattentive student.

Teilhard de Chardin 10/26/07

(We were meditating on his eloquent statement
of consenting to be diminished in God as he aged and died.)
I watched my wife slowly die for five years,
Her death is a terrible mystery I cannot solve.
Her death is my Kaaba, I circle
in reverence and confusion,
anxious for revelation.
But no revelation comes;
the mystery remains.

She left without any dramatic declarations.
I think she was surprised and chagrined
that her prayers, our prayers, would not be answered.
When that became clear, she faced it,
went to bed and quietly finished it.
I faced it with disbelief and anxiety.
It was only later that I also gathered in anger, sadness,
regret, and bitterness.
The disbelief ("help me in my unbelief")
rests on a bedrock sense of inequity:
It should have been me.
She wanted to live, she had reasons to live,
while I live as a hapless reflex, passing the time.
I am uncomfortable in this world,
as beautiful as it is,
and find people vexing.

There is nothing new in these feelings.
Everyone left behind has them.
"I hear you lost your wife" my voice echoes,
"I lost mine, too, just over a year."
(while inside, the time
has become meaningless.
It feels like it happened yesterday,
and like it happened long ago;
it never happened, it's happening now,
and it is eternal).

Her death is my Kaaba,
I circle and circle
in reverence and confusion,
anxious for revelation.
But no revelation comes:
the mystery, and I (for now), remain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

About Words

We are all poets here;
words, sentences, are holographic.
The light that your mind shines through the words
creates their meaning
Seen from one side,
perhaps they are a sliver
that festers under your fingernail, or
a dagger that pierces your heart.
From another angle,
maybe a ledge above the abyss
with a good handhold,
or not,
and you slip away, screaming.
But I don't want to create a compendium here;
we know that even one word
can be all things to all people.
I just want to ask...
What's your angle,
and have you calibrated your compass
and inclinometer?

"Huge Fire in Oakland"

"Huge Fire in Oakland"
the headlines proclaim
in large block letters
but briefly to my eyes
before the pages (and those behind it)
are crumpled and laid in the stove,
where, with some kindling
and a couple small logs,
they will soon provide me
and the room
with a cheery fire
and a modest measure
of welcome heat.

Pebbles in a pond...

The stone soon finds peace on the muddy bottom.
The bubbles vanish in a blink of the eye.
But the ripples...ah, the ripples
circle outward forever
in your mind.