Sunday, May 26, 2019

The lizards move like sunlight one poses for the kind photographer

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lilac trees make me think of making love which makes me think of lilac trees

Friday, May 24, 2019


For this I’ve given up all but what I wanted most to lose myself

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A bike splayed in glass across the street roped off like a museum piece

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The lilac tree refuses to give up its blooms remembering heaven

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The crow still bellows ill-ease despite the yellow in Palo Verde trees

Monday, May 20, 2019

The long road from love into expression but it stays an observer

Sunday, May 19, 2019

We all wore white for the May Faire and totally failed to look the same

Saturday, May 18, 2019

With the moon this full how could I know how empty the May winds left me

Friday, May 17, 2019

The dream of leaving for Perris or Palmdale the center of nowhere

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Long grey days of noisy silence but it's a great hair night for the boys

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Love solidifies to rock before it coalesces to symbol

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Fighter jets glide to Long Beach we release a ladybug army

Monday, May 13, 2019

I melt so easy into everything else why I'm totally alone

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sweet potatoes grow in the compost there are so many lethal thoughts

Saturday, May 11, 2019

I love but the angels play so hard to get I'm lost in red azalea

Friday, May 10, 2019

If I didn't run in horror I would never have fallen in love

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The location shoot has packed and moved police are left to direct ghosts

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The moon is the rotted fruit in the still life bogarting the ennui

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The wisteria are hysterical the moon is a jejune blue

Monday, May 6, 2019

The proffered ID takes some of the sting away the twin's mistaken

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A book store in spring even here there's the smell of the beach

Saturday, May 4, 2019

The moment the funicular is full everyone feels alone

Friday, May 3, 2019

How can there be an other when there is a self asks the lilac tree

Thursday, May 2, 2019

In the world not of the world the clouds from the sky

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The washbasin faucet turns off now there is water

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hymns by Hölderlin: Remembrance

     The northeast blows,
Most treasured of the winds
To me, for its spirit is fire
And promises sailors kind passage.
But go now and greet
The beautiful Garonne,
And the gardens of Bordeaux
There, where the sharp bank crosses
The bridge and the stream falls deep
In the current, but looks come
From above, a noble pair
Of oaks and silver poplars;

     Still it recalls itself well, how
The broad peak bows down
The elms, above the mill,
But a fig tree grows in the plaza,
And brown women walk
On silken ground
The holy days
Of March,
When night and day are the same,
And the breezes thread slow
Gossamer webs,
Heavy with golden dreams.

     But it is enough,
Full of dark light,
This fragrant cup,
That I may rest; for it was sweet
Under the shadow of slumber.
It is not right
To be thought by the mortal
Soulless. But it’s good to
Converse and opine
In the voice of the heart, and hear of
All the days of love
And the things that happened.

     But where are the friends? Bellarmin
And his companion? So many shy away
From going to the source;
Where abundance begins,
In the sea. They,
Like painters, pull together
The beauty of the Earth and do not scorn
Wingéd war, and
Live alone for years beneath
The leafless mast, where night won’t reveal
The city's feasts,
Nor its violins and aboriginal dances.

     But now to India
The men have gone,
There on the airy plateau
Of grape-dappled hills, from which falls
The Dordogne, which along
With the mighty Garonne
Empties down to the sea. But the sea gives
As well as receives memories,
And love, too, assiduously fastens to eyes,
But what remains, the poets found.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Andenken

      Der Nordost wehet,
Der liebste unter den Winden
Mir, weil er feurigen Geist
Und gute Fahrt verheißet den Schiffern.
Geh aber nun und grüße
Die schöne Garonne,
Und die Gärten von Bourdeaux
Dort, wo am scharfen Ufer
Hingehet der Steg und in den Strom
Tief fällt der Bach, darüber aber
Hinschauet ein edel Paar
Von Eichen und Silberpappeln;

     Noch denket das mir wohl und wie
Die breiten Gipfel neiget
Der Ulmwald, über die Mühl,
Im Hofe aber wächset ein Feigenbaum.
An Feiertagen gehn
Die braunen Frauen daselbst
Auf seidnen Boden,
Zur Märzenzeit,
Wenn gleich ist Nacht und Tag,
Und über langsamen Stegen,
Von goldenen Träumen schwer,
Einwiegende Lüfte ziehen.

     Es reiche aber,
Des dunkeln Lichtes voll,
Mir einer den duftenden Becher,
Damit ich ruhen möge; denn süß
Wär unter Schatten der Schlummer.
Nicht ist es gut,
Seellos von sterblichen
Gedanken zu sein. Doch gut
Ist ein Gespräch und zu sagen
Des Herzens Meinung, zu hören viel
Von Tagen der Lieb,
Und Taten, welche geschehen.

     Wo aber sind die Freunde? Bellarmin
Mit dem Gefährten? Mancher
Trägt Scheue, an die Quelle zu gehn;
Es beginnet nämlich der Reichtum
Im Meere. Sie,
Wie Maler, bringen zusammen
Das Schöne der Erd und verschmähn
Den geflügelten Krieg nicht, und
Zu wohnen einsam, jahrlang, unter
Dem entlaubten Mast, wo nicht die Nacht durchglänzen
Die Feiertage der Stadt,
Und Saitenspiel und eingeborener Tanz nicht.

     Nun aber sind zu Indiern
Die Männer gegangen,
Dort an der luftigen Spitz
An Traubenbergen, wo herab
Die Dordogne kommt,
Und zusammen mit der prächtgen
Garonne meerbreit
Ausgehet der Strom. Es nehmet aber
Und gibt Gedächtnis die See,
Und die Lieb auch heftet fleißig die Augen,
Was bleibet aber, stiften die Dichter.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Selfie and Other

Only when the real has slipped away
Can we polish the surface
With such cut and paste of ourselves
The iconic twilights beyond
Become things of the imagination
And the thing that this is about
A disappearing target.

After life comes awe, and then representation,
In The Natural World and All its Peoples
Museum the only dispute now
Is how much lighting.
Painting never recovered
From boiled hooves and halide;
How can our eyes remember to see?

When we reach out to show someone else
Who we are
It disappears,
The possibility
Of communication among the spheres.
The ones who went before never came back up
The hole they dug to find the others.

Tis’ only, they say, the vanity of the age,
How the soul is captured through the fisheye trap
The way the Hopi prophesied …
But who are we to say?
We still don’t know, after a thousand years,
Why every other summer they lay
Live rattlesnakes in their mouths.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Meditations on Labelled Plants

Poems can be prayers
Sweet Acacia and Prairie Verbena
Frame the birdsong that
Voices all that is
Unsilenced

The Flame Tree seethes
But it’s the Jacaranda that
Spins its leaves
In the tortured artist seeing
Way of things

Wild Mustard hillsides fall away to
Vast mustard 
Stillness
Where a million bobbing heads
Make music invisible

The thistle is high and purple
The cactus inaccessible
Santa Barbara Daisy white
Softens the entire
Crevasse

California Poppies run berserk
As if each cup must hold some
Vital stuff 
Not puncture the landscape with color
That draws the bees like water

Catalina Silver Lace
Octopus Agave
This one’s called the Matilijia Poppy
But everybody knows it as
The Sunnyside Flowering Egg

On a cactus someone carved “I LOVE T”
Not “I LOVE”
There must forever be an object
Like still we’re orphaned in time
In a 1st grade grammar class somewhere

Friday, April 26, 2019

Hymns by Hölderlin: Patmos

for the Landgrave of Homburg

     Near and
Hard to apprehend is God.
But where the danger is, enlarges
Rescue too.
In darkness eagles live
And fearless the sons of the Alps
Disappear over the abyss
As they step off the flimsy bridges.
Thus in piles all around are
The summits of the age, and the loved ones
Who live nearby, to languish on
Most isolated mountains,
So that water gives without blame,
O give us wings, to reach across to
The truest sense, and return there again.

     So I spoke, when faster than
I could imagine, and further
Than I ever thought to go,
I was kidnapped from my home, by my own
Guardian angel. Twilight dawned
As I left the shadows
Of the woods, and the longing
Tributaries of
My country; a land I never knew;
But soon, in dewy luster bloomed
The unrevealed
In golden smoke, breaking through
And quickly burgeoning
With each step of the sun,
Fragrant with a thousand crowns,

     My Asia, that I looked upon
With blinded eye, the one I knew,
Unaccustomed to the boulevards
Down which Pactolus festooned with gold
Drove from Tmolus
With Taurus and Messogis beyond,
And the gardens are full of the silent fire
Of flowers, but the silver snow
Blooms high in the light
And ancient ivy, the dress
Of immortal life grows
On inaccessible walls,
Worn with cedars and laurels by living columns,
The solemn,
The palaces built of the divine.

     It whispers though, at Asia's gates,
To lengthen here and there
Through uncertain depths of sea
The shadowless streets enough,
But the boatmen know the islands.
And since I heard
The nearest one
Was Patmos,
I was quite insistent to tack there
And approach
The darkness of the grotto.
For, unlike Cyprus,
Rich with springs, or
Any other gorgeous
Abode, Patmos is

     The poorer house
But hospitable
Nevertheless
And if you are shipwrecked
Or lament for a home
Or are distanced from friends,
When to her you draw near,
A stranger, she wants to hear, and her children,
The voices in the hot grove,
And the sound of the sand as it falls
And splits apart the surface of the land,
They hear you and they send the sounds of love
To counter the grievances of men. That’s how
The lover of God once used you,
The seer who in blessed youth

     Was risen with                                                                       
The Son of the Most High, inseparable, for
The Storm Bearer loved simplicity,
And the disciple and careful man saw
The countenance of God exactly,
There, at the mysteries of the wine, where
They were, at the hour of the banquet, together,
When the Great Soul declared, with cool resignation,
The death of the Lord as His last act of love, for there’s
Never enough of the kindness
He spoke, even then, as He foresaw, the words
To brighten the wrath of the world.
For all is good. For that He died. Much there would be
To say about that. But he saw it, the victory look
On his happiest Friend, still, to the end,

     Yet they mourned, when now
It had turned to evening, and the great
Resolution the soul of men possessed
Was taken aback, for they loved their life
Under the sun, and did not want to be left
To live away from the face of the Lord
And their home. Called thus
Like irons in a fire, to the shadow side
Of love they went.
That's why He sends them
The Spirit, and however the house
Trembled, and how distant the winds
Of God’s thunder rolled in
Premonitions about their heads, still they pondered
Ponderously, thus the heroes of death were

     Gathered, because He appeared again
After being divided from them.
But the sun has gone out,
And the straight ray of the royal
Scepter snapped, of its own accord,
Expecting the return
Of godly suffering,  
At a suitable age. It would have been faithless
To sever it later, abruptly, the work
Of the people, and it was joy,
From this point on,
To live in the loving night, and preserve,
In simple eyes, the abiding
Abyss of wisdom. And the living tableaux
Of green goes deep into the mountains

     But it’s harrowing, how, here and there,
Endlessly the Living God scatters.
For already the Face has exacted the loss
And abandoned the friends
To go far away across the mountains
Alone, where one like mind
Had twice recognized
Heavenly spirit; but, what wasn’t prophesied,
The lures trapped, this time,
When suddenly, as they
Rushed into the distance,
They looked back at God and swore,
So that like golden cords He would hold them
Bound henceforth
To label evil, where they could reach their hands –

     That is when it dies,
Most of the beauty
Hung on the miraculous form
The heavenly interpreted for you,
And when you’re not able, each an eternal puzzle,
To grasp one another, to live together
In memory, and not just the sand but
The pastures and temples slip through
Your grasp, when the noble model
Of the demigod and his kind
Scatters, and the face of the
Supreme Himself turns,
So that nowhere is there
Anything immortal to see any more in the sky or
On the green earth, what is that?

     It is the throw of the sower, swinging
The trowel, as he gathers the wheat
And crisply delivers it to the threshing floor.
The husks fall before his feet, but
The seed reaches bottom
And it’s not wrong, if something
Lost goes and from speech
Dies away the living sound,
For our work is equal to the divine,
The highest does not want everything.
Even though the shaft bears iron,
And the glowing resins of Aetna,
So would I become rich,
By creating an image of Him, akin to
How he looked, as he was, the Christ,

     But if someone came along
With the spur of sad talk, I would attack,
Because I would be helpless, what astonished me,
And my picture of the god would mock a servant –
Once I saw, the rage was undisguised, the Lord
Of the sky, how I should not want to be something,
But to learn. The kind are the most despised,
It’s true, as long as they rule the false, for
Inside humans the human has vanished.
But it’s immortal destiny, not they, that prevails,
It naturally reshapes the work they do
And hastens it to its end.
The higher way, that is to say, is the more heavenly
Triumph, when the strong will claim the exultant son
Of the highest is equal to the sun,

     A signal, and here is the staff
For the song, a low note,
As nothing is base. The dead wake
In Him, from the still not yet captive
Barbarous. It but waits for the many
Eyes to shy away,
To look to the light. They don’t want to
Thrive on the sharp incandescence,
Even as they hold the golden reins of the brave.
Still, when their eyelids swell
They may forget
The world, and the vibrant, silent
Power of Holy Scripture falls, and they
Rejoice in grace, practice visions
Of silence themselves.

     And if now the heavenly,
As I so believe, love me,
How much more do they
Love you? For this I know,
That the everlasting
Father’s will
Holds scrupulous for you. Silence
Is his symbol in the thunders of the sky. And you stand beneath
Your whole life long. For Christ still lives.
But it's the heroes, His sons,
Who came to explain
The scriptures of Him and the inexorable
Race to this day between the lightning and
The acts upon the earth. He is, however, present. For His works are
His everlasting consciousness of all.

     It's been too long, too long
Invisible, the heavenly glory.
For their fingers almost lead us
And the shame in our hearts
Is wrung violently away.
For every heavenly thing
Wants an offering,
No good comes when one is missed.
We have served the mother earth
And most recently the sunlight,
Unillumined, but the father
Who rules over all
Loves most of all that we cultivate
The binding letter, and interpret well
What exists. To which German song obeys.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Patmos
Dem Landgrafen von Homburg

     Nah ist
Und schwer zu fassen der Gott.
Wo aber Gefahr ist, wächst
Das Rettende auch.
Im Finstern wohnen
Die Adler und furchtlos gehn
Die Söhne der Alpen über den Abgrund weg
Auf leichtgebaueten Brücken.
Drum, da gehäuft sind rings
Die Gipfel der Zeit, und die Liebsten
Nah wohnen, ermattend auf
Getrenntesten Bergen,
So gib unschuldig Wasser,
O Fittige gib uns, treuesten Sinns
Hinüberzugehn und wiederzukehren.

     So sprach ich, da entführte
Mich schneller, denn ich vermutet,
Und weit, wohin ich nimmer
Zu kommen gedacht, ein Genius mich
Vom eigenen Haus. Es dämmerten
Im Zwielicht, da ich ging,
Der schattige Wald
Und die sehnsüchtigen Bäche
Der Heimat; nimmer kannt ich die Länder;
Doch bald, in frischem Glanze,
Geheimnisvoll
Im goldenen Rauche, blühte
Schnellaufgewachsen,
Mit Schritten der Sonne,
Mit tausend Gipfeln duftend,

     Mir Asia auf, und geblendet sucht
Ich eines, das ich kennete, denn ungewohnt
War ich der breiten Gassen, wo herab
Vom Tmolus fährt
Der goldgeschmückte Paktol
Und Taurus stehet und Messogis,
Und voll von Blumen der Garten,
Ein stilles Feuer, aber im Lichte
Blüht hoch der silberne Schnee,
Und Zeug unsterblichen Lebens
An unzugangbaren Wänden
Uralt der Efeu wächst und getragen sind
Von lebenden Säulen, Zedern und Lorbeern,
Die feierlichen,
Die göttlichgebauten Paläste.

     Es rauschen aber um Asias Tore
Hinziehend da und dort
In ungewisser Meeresebene
Der schattenlosen Straßen genug,
Doch kennt die Inseln der Schiffer.
Und da ich hörte,
Der nahegelegenen eine
Sei Patmos,
Verlangte mich sehr,
Dort einzukehren und dort
Der dunkeln Grotte zu nahn.
Denn nicht, wie Cypros,
Die quellenreiche, oder
Der anderen eine
Wohnt herrlich Patmos,

     Gastfreundlich aber ist
Im ärmeren Hause
Sie dennoch
Und wenn vom Schiffbruch oder klagend
Um die Heimat oder
Den abgeschiedenen Freund
Ihr nahet einer
Der Fremden, hört sie es gern, und ihre Kinder,
Die Stimmen des heißen Hains,
Und wo der Sand fällt, und sich spaltet
Des Feldes Fläche, die Laute,
Sie hören ihn und liebend tönt
Es wider von den Klagen des Manns. So pflegte
Sie einst des gottgeliebten,
Des Sehers, der in seliger Jugend war

     Gegangen mit
Dem Sohne des Höchsten, unzertrennlich, denn
Es liebte der Gewittertragende die Einfalt
Des Jüngers und es sahe der achtsame Mann
Das Angesicht des Gottes genau,
Da, beim Geheimnisse des Weinstocks, sie
Zusammensaßen, zu der Stunde des Gastmahls,
Und in der großen Seele, ruhigahnend, den Tod
Aussprach der Herr und die letzte Liebe, denn nie genug
Hatt er von Güte zu sagen
Der Worte, damals, und zu erheitern, da
Ers sahe, das Zürnen der Welt.
Denn alles ist gut. Drauf starb er. Vieles wäre
Zu sagen davon. Und es sahn ihn, wie er siegend blickte,
Den Freudigsten die Freunde noch zuletzt,

     Doch trauerten sie, da nun
Es Abend worden, erstaunt,
Denn Großentschiedenes hatten in der Seele
Die Männer, aber sie liebten unter der Sonne
Das Leben und lassen wollten sie nicht
Vom Angesichte des Herrn
Und der Heimat. Eingetrieben war,
Wie Feuer im Eisen, das, und ihnen ging
Zur Seite der Schatte des Lieben.
Drum sandt er ihnen
Den Geist, und freilich bebte
Das Haus und die Wetter Gottes rollten
Ferndonnernd über
Die ahnenden Häupter, da, schwersinnend,
Versammelt waren die Todeshelden,

     Itzt, da er scheidend
Noch einmal ihnen erschien.
Denn itzt erlosch der Sonne Tag,
Der Königliche, und zerbrach
Den geradestrahlenden,
Den Zepter, göttlichleidend, von selbst,
Denn wiederkommen sollt es,
Zu rechter Zeit. Nicht wär es gut
Gewesen, später, und schroffabbrechend, untreu,
Der Menschen Werk, und Freude war es
Von nun an,
Zu wohnen in liebender Nacht, und bewahren
In einfältigen Augen, unverwandt
Abgründe der Weisheit. Und es grünen
Tief an den Bergen auch lebendige Bilder,

     Doch furchtbar ist, wie da und dort
Unendlich hin zerstreut das Lebende Gott.
Denn schon das Angesicht
Der teuern Freunde zu lassen
Und fernhin über die Berge zu gehn
Allein, wo zweifach
Erkannt, einstimmig
War himmlischer Geist; und nicht geweissagt war es, sondern
Die Locken ergriff es, gegenwärtig,
Wenn ihnen plötzlich
Ferneilend zurück blickte
Der Gott und schwörend,
Damit er halte, wie an Seilen golden
Gebunden hinfort
Das Böse nennend, sie die Hände sich reichten –

     Wenn aber stirbt alsdenn,
An dem am meisten
Die Schönheit hing, daß an der Gestalt
Ein Wunder war und die Himmlischen gedeutet
Auf ihn, und wenn, ein Rätsel ewig füreinander,
Sie sich nicht fassen können
Einander, die zusammenlebten
Im Gedächtnis, und nicht den Sand nur oder
Die Weiden es hinwegnimmt und die Tempel
Ergreift, wenn die Ehre
Des Halbgotts und der Seinen
Verweht und selber sein Angesicht
Der Höchste wendet
Darob, daß nirgend ein
Unsterbliches mehr am Himmel zu sehn ist oder
Auf grüner Erde, was ist dies?

     Es ist der Wurf des Säemanns, wenn er faßt
Mit der Schaufel den Weizen,
Und wirft, dem Klaren zu, ihn schwingend über die Tenne.
Ihm fällt die Schale vor den Füßen, aber
Ans Ende kommet das Korn,
Und nicht ein Übel ists, wenn einiges
Verloren gehet und von der Rede
Verhallet der lebendige Laut,
Denn göttliches Werk auch gleichet dem unsern,
Nicht alles will der Höchste zumal.
Zwar Eisen träget der Schacht,
Und glühende Harze der Aetna,
So hätt ich Reichtum,
Ein Bild zu bilden, und ähnlich
Zu schaun, wie er gewesen, den Christ,

     Wenn aber einer spornte sich selbst,
Und traurig redend, unterweges, da ich wehrlos wäre,
Mich überfiele, daß ich staunt und von dem Gotte
Das Bild nachahmen möcht ein Knecht –
Im Zorne sichtbar sah ich einmal
Des Himmels Herrn, nicht, daß ich sein sollt etwas, sondern
Zu lernen. Gütig sind sie, ihr Verhaßtestes aber ist,
Solange sie herrschen, das Falsche, und es gilt
Dann Menschliches unter Menschen nicht mehr.
Denn sie nicht walten, es waltet aber
Unsterblicher Schicksal und es wandelt ihr Werk
Von selbst, und eilend geht es zu Ende.
Wenn nämlich höher gehet himmlischer
Triumphgang, wird genennet, der Sonne gleich,
Von Starken der frohlockende Sohn des Höchsten,

     Ein Losungszeichen, und hier ist der Stab
Des Gesanges, niederwinkend,
Denn nichts ist gemein. Die Toten wecket
Er auf, die noch gefangen nicht
Vom Rohen sind. Es warten aber
Der scheuen Augen viele,
Zu schauen das Licht. Nicht wollen
Am scharfen Strahle sie blühn,
Wiewohl den Mut der goldene Zaum hält.
Wenn aber, als
Von schwellenden Augenbraunen,
Der Welt vergessen
Stilleuchtende Kraft aus heiliger Schrift fällt, mögen,
Der Gnade sich freuend, sie
Am stillen Blicke sich üben.

     Und wenn die Himmlischen jetzt
So, wie ich glaube, mich lieben,
Wie viel mehr Dich,
Denn Eines weiß ich,
Daß nämlich der Wille
Des ewigen Vaters viel
Dir gilt. Still ist sein Zeichen
Am donnernden Himmel. Und Einer stehet darunter
Sein Leben lang. Denn noch lebt Christus.
Es sind aber die Helden, seine Söhne,
Gekommen all und heilige Schriften
Von ihm und den Blitz erklären
Die Taten der Erde bis itzt,
Ein Wettlauf unaufhaltsam. Er ist aber dabei. Denn seine Werke sind
Ihm alle bewußt von jeher.

     Zu lang, zu lang schon ist
Die Ehre der Himmlischen unsichtbar.
Denn fast die Finger müssen sie
Uns führen und schmählich
Entreißt das Herz uns eine Gewalt.
Denn Opfer will der Himmlischen jedes,
Wenn aber eines versäumt ward,
Nie hat es Gutes gebracht.
Wir haben gedienet der Mutter Erd
Und haben jüngst dem Sonnenlichte gedient,
Unwissend, der Vater aber liebt,
Der über allen waltet,
Am meisten, daß gepfleget werde
Der feste Buchstab, und Bestehendes gut
Gedeutet. Dem folgt deutscher Gesang.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Dream of my Face on the Cover

The beast that follows me,
Does it matter it’s not real?

Or that is chases someone else,
Who I merely pretend to be?

The breath is nevertheless hot
As I’m reminded of all the ways to get caught,

Being a free and thinking being.
There is no place for that here, it seems,

Where pigeons and violets map the clear day
And cellos and acrylics spontaneously play –

What is in us that wants a cage?
To be admired like an impossible pachyderm

In some place I can live,
Where friends can easily find me,

The place that I can always pretend to leave,
The possibilities for escape richer for being confined.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Fresh Pagodas on the Lawn

The Buddha has two faces:

One smiles, in silence,
               seemingly
               unaware, definitely
unconcerned
     with the platitudes
            and umbrages
     of thought as it
            blows in the wind
               seemingly
               content to let
    the lime unpeel itself.

The other one too, seems to
               merely watch
     though it cares deeply
            about the suffering
               that must be
               hidden in the clay
                                  of faces
     and the silence that becomes,
            when the hysterics
               and sermonettes
               have ended
     inevitable.

There are two boats on the river:

In one the silence is
            the quiet
               that every
   thing is,

In the other the silence is
            pure grief.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

From Taipei's Morning Mists

We have travelled the vast ocean of sorrow
By ferry, by car, by plane
Like mosquitos make circles in a pond
Back to where they've forgotten
Life is meaningless
Except for the voyage

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Walk from Secret Beach

Time to leave the ex-pats in mid-complaint
About how meaningless their lives were before,
Time to part from the Germans
Still looking for something to do on the beach,
And turn away from the moon party ravers
Nursing their wounds in the open cafe.

And it's time to say goodbye to the roosters
Who share their sound so happily all night long,
And so long to the screaming cicadas, hysterical mynas,
The silver palms, the green banana leaf rainbows,

Time to bid farewell to every
Palm oil farmer and songthaew driver,
Every temple in every storefront
With a wish to find compassion for all of it,
To remember the innocence in front of the mind

As we slip away invisible,
Barely a passing shadow to those here,
Yet we've left something permanent behind
Amid the swirl of impermanent activity
That extends all the way to the silence of our presence;
It is the same, now everything can turn into dust.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Evening Prayers

Full moon in Phangan
Sparks from distant storms
Monks chant sunset apologies
That float across the palms
And soon turn to laughter and jazz
As figures walk to shore through black water

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Elephant by a Pagoda in Ko Samui

There's a cost to having the gentlest soul:
The giants eat through a town like this in seconds,
Uproot the university as if was a banana tree,
Drink down whatever sweetness is left upon the faces,
Rip through the night market to find and devour
The most pungent and succulent fruit
In a blink of a wandering eye --
Cursed with a vehicle that is led to more sensation, 
Incessantly, in a slow, deliberate sway
Between the unacceptable and the corrupt,
Guided only by a child's nose for the fresh
To amble in the rose thorn bushes.

Yet with each masticated branch
More arrangements are made by the small -- ever fearful 
And curious -- to separate it from the rest.
The silly giant does not see them though as smaller,
It can't accept the way it is either,
The way the world made it large enough for its soul.
All error pushes against the back of its throat,
That the way it is is how it must be,
For all to be shared equally.
That is how it tries to end the mind that sees
Only an endless swath of destruction ahead,
Which leaves only a heart breaking to love,
Forgiving in advance, forgetting slights instantly,
Knowing there's no wrong, though there is suffering,
The flies that puncture the thickest hide,
The path that always leads away.

Do these graven images suffice,
The dreams of grandeur they represent?
Will they relieve its lumbering misery,
Or make it harder to bear, to be a prophet
Without portfolio, honored without remorse,
Nothing of it understood? Only a stately 
Presence, far away and all-evading,
What can't even be looked away from,
That tells us nothing of clouds or soil.

Yet the lions laugh at the need to make such things known,
For at this very moment, it is welcomed as a God
On the island of the monkeys.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

At Klong Muang Beach

At sunset
Frogs and Muslims
Intone,
Seemingly vying
But too much alike
In the low surrender
Of their sound ...
Some love they
Enjoy being near
But not having
Except as moans
Can conjure longing.

William Wordsworth Goes to Tamarind Island

These Koh Garos fjords are speechless
Therefore I have no words,
But the river so quietly discourses,
Every moment a new eye of light,
A different reverberation of idea.

The vines of rock that hang below
Echo with the river's glow,
And in their tortured edges
Are the water's kneading hands.

How could this green of mangrove
Open so quickly to ocean?
The voice that always roars about the wilderness
Though it knows nothing of what it is.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Phi Phi Decalcomania

The monoliths rise
Above the glassy waters
Every morning it seems

With messages from the deep
To be paid attention to
Because impossible

They've found a way
To stay upright
In the all-consuming jungle

A certain grace of posture
The offer
Of a shore

With all sacred meaning
Taken care of
For you

You can lay there if you choose
On the beach all day
Try to keep your worries away

The beauty of the cliffs
More or less permanent
Has been supplanted

By the impermanent kind,
Scores of Asian girls
Posing in the waters

Vexing themselves
Into the allure
Of images

To share with the world
In a way the jagged cliff face
Never will

Still, clouds form
Themselves out of
Those shapes

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Songkran in Chiang Mai

The army of monks did their clean-up operation at dusk
And now they sit in the bar by the empty temple
Admiring all the latent violence in the souls that pass them by
Who smile in their sacred duty to fire at will
Their squirt machine guns in the war zone of the streets.
They bring the hose to the perimeter bucket,
Conduct reconnaissance behind the durian carts,
Duck for cover inside the beds of pickup trucks,
Use defensive umbrellas and human shields to reload,
Real art of warfare stuff
Practiced without any restraint or training by children
To vanquish the ghosts of Hollywood fantasy projections
That order the spilling of enemy blood.
There are grandparents too, with the sacred duty
To thoroughly cleanse the soul,
And there are firing squads of ecstatic vacation warriors
With strap-on rainbow uzis that never waste a shot
In street patrols wearing goggles and cabana clothes
Against marauding gangs in jeeps
With bubble guns and pink beach pails
As lawlessness washes over the streets like rain.

Defenseless civilians we are buddhas too,
Born to die again in the fusillade of holiness
That never stops, only takes a different shape,
A different gun pointed to our heads.

A Thingyam Collect

The roofs of Mandalay are silver from the sky,
Blue on the ground,
And what looks from above like rivers
Are the curves where people's lives
Are dropped like feathers on the unforgiving earth,
To catch rides on cattle trucks and motorbikes side saddle
Under bean locust boulevards
Where buddhas dance in stone around the traffic circles,
It's easier when the Buddha has all the gold,
Everyone is saved,
And the monks are sent out in the dusty streets
In linen robes
To hitch their own rides,
Collect rice, carry parasols,
Smoke cigarettes, read newspapers,
Talk on cell phones
Amid the hack and honk,
The top of the head bartering
That goes on even here
Where they sand down Gautama's head
Along Buddha factory row.
The monks carry items in their baskets,
Colorful plastic covered in shrink wrap,
Their own kind of trade.
And further out, in the magic mist of Lake Inle,
Whole families live and trade under the teak bridge
Next to boats untouched by time's implementations
That rest in purple lily fields
Pulsing beneath the duck beaks that nuzzle the mud.
Stray lilies float into the larger veil of water
That tractors and ducks cross farther up together.
Burma lives too, rusted behind razor wire
And on ancient billboards that have long since lost their hold:
The Burma Biscuit Factory,
Apache Cement, Kipling's Ale.
Blue ghost pith helmets hang like buddha marionettes
From the windows of antique shops
Where elephants hang from ceilings
And a banjo is in a display case.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Red of Bagan

Temples pierce the sky
Wherever the eye can go
Above the grandmother tear beans of mesquite,
And each one has a caretaker to sweep out the dust
And each one has a buddha inside in the middle
With still another variation on compassion.
It's in the flesh here how they stay
Until all of us are enlightened,
Though there are no cemeteries here to keep them
From the next unique incarnation.

These pagodas have withstood the warlords
And the earthquakes, all encroachments of the material
On the things of this impermanent earth
But more importantly they survived the guilt
Of Thumbula who had them built,
And why he did it:
The rage that calls our compassion
Like singing to prayer.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Lines Written Alone as a Cat in Bagan at 2:33 am with the Overwhelming Scent of Jasmine

Why do I cultivate the beauty of poverty,
The happy to be living only a little hungry
In a thatched hut by the side of the road
While oceans of plastic tears are held at
Mesquite thorn point poverty?
No other kind of beauty can replace it,
For all that is harmonious and green
Must be tossed aside like an empty can of oil
That can't be traded for the companionship
Found in the dusty procession of motors.

Once one surrenders to it, the trees move
As universal marionettes, the useless sand becomes
The shape the books try to approximate,
And there's no need to adjust the view
With a flourish here, a switching of valances there,
For nothing needs to be changed at all,
Despite the heart of compassion that wants
An end to the circle of suffering,
Known otherwise as the circle of life.

Acceptance comes so hard to those who have
Cultivated meaning like so many blinding stones of gold.
Those who truly cultivate nothing
Find a buddha every time in every one of these
Ruined temples time has ripped the meaning away from
To force the beauty of what can't be explained:
Each vehicle an inaccessible story
That reveals all it is as it passes
From the truth that passes understanding.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In Mandalay

The pigeons in the golden dome
Crow about the eightfold path
As the small bells on top coo in reply

But the people are too blinded by piety,
They pray at the Buddha's feet silently,
Have children hammer the gongs,
Give service and compassion to everyone
And all they've received back as alms.

It appears the pigeons are not speaking of them
But of the one so blinded by poverty
She accosts the pilgrims desperately to buy her bells --
"I'm mad, I am unhappy, this isn't fair"
She storms, with eyes not hidden
Enough by thenika leaf
To be forgotten.

What a lesson it is to say "no" to that,
Feeling the heart explode
As if it didn't see the suffering
Hidden in the smiles before.

The fighting dogs still talk of it at 3 am,
As if the day will never come again.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Lines Written at 2 am in the Afternoon

One shouldn't have to go all the way to Taipei
To learn that language is overrated.

The clover blows in that Chinese way,
Harmonious yet free

And even the streams have an intent of peace
That is hard to fathom, yet easy to contemplate.

Everything here resists my understanding
But I step into its vaprous rule without hesitation.

I wash my face in the spirit of the place,
In surrender to the shared creator.

Maybe there's a word here
That can mean only that.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Drive Back from the Airport

Is it spring sun
Or the desert wind
That takes me off the track
To distant memories
Of nothing specific?

As these Sunday parties
After they're done
Are a generalized
Stream of laughter.

What lives inside the moment
-- Only the most ruthless
Prisoners escape.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

That Steady Dial Tone

Another day collapses,
The crickets fill the space,
Answering the silence with silence.

Freedom, it seems, is out there in that sound,
Of no one needing anything,
No reason to take shape,

But something remains
Of what prompted us
To take the axe in our hands --

You'll call it whatever material gains
Or psychological lack you want,
But there's a path across the universe

-- We're already somewhere else.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The New Invisible

If it wasn’t for fake news, I wouldn’t have no news at all,
And there is no news of those
Who have dropped away from the grid
And are thankful every day to be allowed
To do the right thing
And who no longer
Don’t mean to be mean
More than the mean
But can begin to see
The golden mean,
The privilege of service,
For there’s a larger concern now
Than desperation as usual;
It has something to do with loss,
That thing so non-existent
The futile search for it torments
Like an angry sculptor’s fists
Upon their clay
And, judging from the speed
With which the cars peel away
From parking lots on Friday afternoon
It seems forgetting is not the problem,
But there is something
Hanging in the thick spring air
That doesn’t want the wind to arrive
Or the story to end
With whatever disappointment being wholly tricked provides.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Sestina

They always met on the night of the saxophones,
Catching their shoes along the avenues of blue.
They lacked but a pencil to autograph the contract,
For they both would need a place to hang their suitcase
And a hole that went all the way under their skin,
Or at least somewhere different than the farm.

How could they know they were listening at the farm
To the same scratchy peal of the saxophones?
For as much as they yearned for a different skin
There was only the sky, and its same shade of blue,
No rescue from the room where they dropped their suitcase
And made love by the sign of the room rate contract –

It was all right there, before they signed the contract
And put themselves out to pasture on their own farm
Like holy animals, and hid the twin suitcase
Next to the gramophone, where the old saxophones
Still secretly played their heartbreaking paeans of blue
While the walls were covered in kisses like moist skin.

Soon PJs covered the blessings of naked skin
And all easy forms of contact became contract-
Ual, and all the sure yesses turned into blue
Refusals, before the cold comfort of the farm
Provoked a cry from the slaves, wailing on saxophones,
And hands that soon groped in the dark for the suitcase …

You know how this tale ends. You’ve carried that suitcase
Trying to get away from the pain of your own skin
And the sound from the distance: insistent saxophones
Who’ll tell you it’s nothing to tear up the contract,
Make omelettes out of the eggshells, bet the farm
On a pair of walking shoes, as relentless blue

Holds you like a newborn baby staring blue
At the distance, the mirror, the old and weary suitcase
That will go with you when you’ve finally bought the farm
Having thrown your old clothes to the road, shed your skin,
Or so you had hoped, when your tears bleared the contract
Fine print, not knowing you’d be left only saxophones

Moaning out the same tired blue of your lust for skin
When the clowns from the farm arrived with their contract
And you opened your suitcase, freed the saxophones.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Erewhon Building, Reflected in the Glass

Perception alone can annihilate, as we know, a world
— Boredom turns forms into tropes —
As one knows everything at birth
And falls into the long forgetting ...

Pretending the barbed wire glitters
And the tumbleweeds are green.

That's that tiny thing, the outside world,
That never really offers truthful hues,
And there's always this rush to make it all seem right
As if we couldn't bear the thought of us
Without our senses shackled

— Oh, but for some, they slip away
Like a vision of a lover to the clouds,
And the only relation is what one can make of it,
Whatever spells dissolving chimeras can cast

To see that thing you'd heard about,
To not hear what you were not given to see

— It's a cold, unblinking window
As you sit beside your hearth
And hear the whispers of the fire
Until you're strong enough within yourself
To look there.