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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Here, Now

He's in a wheelchair, bundled,
shoes with generous tread that
will go unused, and his voice
is slurred, as if coming from
a shell, the edges rounded off,
the sea's soft sibilance, and
I hear it resonate through
the chair's metal frame, as
he sweet-talks the willowy
rec therapist. Next, I feel
his weight, lean into the
handles to push him through
the parking lot, where he sees
the building's exterior for the
first time, and together,
we feel the spring breeze,
life again, blossoming trees.
Then we sit on a bench, eye level,
the familiar cadence of conversation
with his blue eyes bright, recalling
years of stories, each one opening
like a bud, new again--
and today is a seed opening,
another beginning, one that
will come to me, spirit willing,
a perennial memory, some spring
--or winter—far from now,
as sure as the warm air
and sun here, now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The room in which
I teach exists, surely,
but I'm miles from it,
even further in my mind,
as my bicycle's overlapping
circles of wheels, cranks
and gears turn smoothly
in the July sun. Later,
I'll enjoy the sounds of
wood and wire as I
play guitar out back.
As I ride, I think of how
every pedal stroke, every
strum or pluck marks some
incremental reset and
recovery from the
endurance activity
that is teaching, and I
add one little hyphen
and find that recreation
is re-creation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Enough to Move Worlds

gravity and attraction are
enough to move worlds
silently through the void
purely physics atoms
doing what they do
because we have
to call it something
energy and matter
each is also the other
there are things beyond our
knowing as it should be
even light only reaches so far
the tiny slivers we see are
fragments of something
bigger like how a kiss in the dark
sends up sparks like fireworks
behind closed eyes and
warmth floods in dust of
stars taken shape summoned
up from primordial ooze
eons of living things saying
YES and the light behind
your eyes is the same energy
occult and charged deep in
the coils of the heart becoming
and willing itself out

Monday, July 28, 2014

Here, Not Here

Part of me is orbiting far out,
waves and vibrations playing
some cosmic chord--
another part is locked in tight, buried deep
and dark, some rare element in my heart
or elsewhere, something I know
by heart, by feel only, something
I'm guarding very carefully.
Two aspects of the same thing,
shaped by pressure and space.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Untitled Tanka

I crave a northbound
road to unhaunted landscapes,
worries left behind,
to where a soft wind rises
over and quiets my mind.


The highway sign flashes
caution caution caution
and pavement is ripped,
coming up in chunks,
vehicles funneled tightly,
as I return to my childhood
home, and signs in my mind
flash as well. I reminisce in
the fading daylight on the
porch where Dad sat in
his last days, as summer
now wanes slightly. Next
day, Mom and I cart off
a truckload to auction, high chairs
and other relics of someone
I was and somehow still am,
an emptying house, another type of
season ending, the parting out
of things, outward effects of
life lived well, but not always
easily. We leave our lot behind,
knowing we carry other things
burnished with the wind and
water of age, carry them in us,
shining more brightly than
any polished antique.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Prisoner and Jailer

While you are the prisoner
in your cramped, damp cell,
you are also the warden, the jailer,
the one with the keys hanging close,
their sweet music reaching in
past your own locks, the sound of
what if, of freedom, of YES. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014


The house in which I now
find myself offers up cues
to childhood, to years past
coming back as if wired
directly into my senses:
the walls of heat in the attic
and the smell of cardboard
and dust, the earthy cool of
the basement, the burbling
lawnmowers and the cut
grass coloring my shoes
and tickling my nose with
its slight peppery sweetness.
The bills come, as they
surely did then, monthly,
and I can't look at a wall
or window for too long before
deciding it needs attention.
Still, friends are a walk or
a bike ride away, no plan needed.
Still, I open a heavy door and
a basketball bounces in the
street, and the ice cream truck's
song shifts down a step as it
passes, a bittersweet modulation
as things stay the same and
we move through them like
the high, harmless clouds
in the July sky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Free Me

Free me from worry, that familiar pain,
a well-traveled trail, lost and found.
Show me what my heart can contain.

Get me out of the canyon before the rain.
Show me the way to the high ground,
free me from worry, that reaching pain.

Lead me away from losses and gains--
not all victories will bring renown.
Show me what my heart can contain.

Let my breath be a simple refrain
as I climb higher, with a brief look down.
Free me from worry, that following pain.

Not everything demands to be explained--
mountains move without a sound.
Show me what my heart may contain.

Safe now, walking the high, calm plain,
a brilliant moon hangs low and round.
You transform my worry, that capricious pain,
and show me what my heart always contains.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Late Sun

Riding along the
rural road this evening, the
burn in my muscles
dropped away for a time, and
the late sun glowed like honey.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ode to the Peloton

Sweet rolling
order and chaos,
sinuous and shifting,
amorphous, flowing
over the road's shapes,
shelter from capricious
wind, my friend and foe.
Hive mind, move as one,
an agile flock in flight,
tuned to one's wing flick
and subtle vector.
My solace and my prison--
escape off the front,
fade away and die
off the back.
Mercurial as the wind
you split, fast then slow,
easy until it is not,
and again, brakes like
grabbing hands preface
the fire in tight sinew, burning
red pain betrayed only by
the slight whirr and whoosh.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Typical Afternoon

The music of the cooling
wind in the linden tree,
sedate summer birdsong,
maple-filtered light and
relieving shade in which
I now find myself
were here before I
noted them—just steps
away from routine.
So, too, in my mind,
to the I behind my eyes,
the self expanding out
from the physical, beyond
limbs, but not beyond reach.
Something within yet larger,
as the wind and air here
join seamlessly with sky,
though no one can say
precisely where.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Simple Dance

So much was said, when
my hand was on your back,
where you placed it, warmth
beneath soft cotton, where
I pushed and released, felt you
move beneath my palm,
with the band's beat,
toward me, away, back,
in time, like breath,
unified rhythm, this simple
music as our bodies conversed
on the sloping floor, yours calling
mine back from some strange journey,
to this new, unified rhythm,
your smile saying, simply,
keep going.

Friday, July 18, 2014


I observe my thoughts,
running loose but not far,
like dogs in a fenced yard,
worrying down familiar paths,
fretting around trees already marked.
I see them, zigzagging, crouching,
laced with potential energy,
charging, repeating. Let them
tire themselves out. They will
slow down, quiet, come to me
with wet noses and frantic tails,
right to my hands, when they
are bored and hungry.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Kids on the Edge

The faceless voice announced,
the adult swim will be ending in five minutes,
and we kids lined up at the pool's rounded
concrete edge, bent like Olympians
waiting for the gun, our shadows lunging
over the old man slowly backstroking
through the calm water, oblivious
beneath his swimming cap of
the potential energy of children
fueled on soda and soft pretzels
during the interminable fifteen-minute
wait found in every hour, with
soft rock playing from the speakers
high on poles--Afternoon Delight
to my kid mind was nothing more
than what we were doing every day
of that summer, longer then than now,
waiting by the side of that pool, always
poised on the edge of something.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


My thoughts:
Floodwater filled with
sediment, bits of what
has been consumed
blended to brown,
opaque and bitter.

No negotiating with
this torrent. Best to
give it room and time
to spread, slow and settle,
return to clarity,

this swelling river seeking
an ocean's release.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Mob

My thoughts:
Raged and ragged voices,
yells, curses and cries
blending to one roar
in a narrow street.

What does it say when
that's all a soul has left?
The volume of air he can
take in and shove out--
hot breath, all volume,
no inflection or finesse.

Take them aside one
at a time, down an alley
or under a tree, into
a calm room, see each
for who and what he is,
have a talk.

Better yet, let the
silence be the bridges.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Waiting to Rise

I am water digging a deep channel
going back to where I've been before
trenches of worry and doubt deepening
with each passage I make something
about familiar pain that comforts
I rise   I condense   I fall
through a summer sky
seeing for miles only to return to the
same cold dark hard channel
cut from stone wearing it down
just a bit deeper caught and held
underground waiting again
to rise

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hard Surrender

An armor of worry suits this knight-at-arms,
protected from all assaults from outside.
Muted to the potent power of charm,
his stoic stance simply a place to hide.

Hands of mail, fine for striking but stifling touch.
Thick over the heart, hollow under hard steel,
to odd comfort of old pain he will clutch.
On constant alert, he thinks but won't feel.

Here and not here, he stands always alone.
We all fight, all struggle—of that, be assured.
Our forsaken vigils for endless unknowns.
Raise the visor, unshield the eyes, drop the sword.

Opened just so, he would breathe and speak light
to all, the hard surrender after the easy fight.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I am here now, sheathed in 
armor of my own design and hand
thickest over the heart.
Part of me walks freely, taking in
summer sights, feeling the breeze,
idly considering the stars.
Another part of me is in the hole,
solitary, bullied by a guard who shares
my features of face and manner, backed up
by a corps of anxieties, obsequious 
and pleasing to authority, ready to step up
a rank due to their efficiency and skill.
Somehow the line between warrior and worrier
has blurred, one little vowel sound separates them,
but who is it before you now, 
and how do you know?

Friday, July 11, 2014


It was when my
fingers were in
that rich black soil
winter on the window's
other side and the dirt's
scent reached in and told me
something switched me on
and I next saw the spider
plant's root hanging in midair
reaching for what is far off
longing for that humid
warm earth
this reaching
thing like

Thursday, July 10, 2014


You are thirsty earth;
I am the cloud filled with rain.
Come, get under me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Why does my eye twitch?

It’s not because of you

It’s because of this universe

What is missing?

It’s the small belongings

How will I measure life?

It’s the sun, it is

well within my soul

The answer is no

It is written

The answer is never

A truth acknowledged

The answer is no

Short story

It is a far

Worthier thing

This poem was composed from Google auto-complete questions and declarative statements.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Boots thumping,
words brush the backs,
of the heads--
savage, convulsed mountains,
fantastic realm of the
immense spirit,
mountains of pain,
terrible fury—
this was the war he
had been handed.
His eyes swept the looming sky--
marionettes led your boy
to death—
It was a good mission
down some dark tunnel,
all the bodies underground,
slamming, warning—
white stone chamber,
white stone doors,
a mound on a grave—
Join the majority.

Composed partly of words found in "Mines" by Susan Straight and The Bridges at Toko-Ri by James A. Michener.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Response to Alan Watts

"If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering." -- Alan Watts

Since you asked, yesterday was this:

Awaking to birdsong and sunlight

filtered through a tent's translucence.

The rhythm of the county route and my breath,

improvised music on a road rising and falling.

My feet at the bottom of a mountain lake,

clear water magnifying the roots of water lilies

reaching down from the surface.

Friends' laughter coming across the water

as if on a wire.

The mingled scent of pine needles and sand

opening a letter in my mind sent from summers past.

Woods, wind and water, and a marriage's first hours,

vows repeating like refrains, chants, mantras.

The sharp, malty beer shared with friends.

A nodding off in the passenger seat, Northway reverie,

part of the post-holiday parade.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Overheard in Homeroom

Eyebrows are way down my list
of things about which to be concerned--
as a matter of fact, they
don't make the list at all,
but in room 305 at 7:40 a.m.
they constitute a crisis
as the girl looks at her reflection
in a compact and
brushes and tweezes,
while I, on the other side of 
the large desk, ponder
the difference between an
85 and an 88.
"Eyebrows are sisters, not twins," 
another girl offers, as I mumble
metaphor quietly.
So it goes, different orbits
but still the same
rumination and brooding, 
insistence on what is important,
things that concern us so 
at one point in life making way
for others unpredicted,
as I smile and thin lines
frame my eyes, my pen
loops two green eights,
and I raise one uncorrected
brow (one brother?), if not
in solidarity, then at least
in insight. 

Tanka at Lake Clear

Last night's loons now cruise
half submerged as wind sculpts waves.
They save their song for
the night, when summer stars light
the soft scallops of high peaks.

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Place Beyond All Sides

We all shape the world
to fit our needs
but when we fall, we fall
we all, we all will bleed.

Hide in your screen's dim light
through a wire you channel a fight
anxious fingers shape brittle words
just repeat what you've already heard.

A man with an eye on what he hates
another victim in his oppressive state
Our leaders simply can't be trusted
Your razor sharp thinking has rusted.

Pick the facts you see as ripe
low hanging fruit feels so right
sweetness hides what's rotten
choking on things forgotten.

Why set up in a false dichotomy
put up a wall between you and me?
Rather, recall a place beyond all sides
as deep as an ocean, just as wide.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July Morning

The rider slices
open the thick air, feels a
gentle push of wind
only the birds and he know,
the world breathing and alive.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Never Stop Listening

Longing for conversation without words,
that language we seem to share with so few.
Not the habitual words we use,
nor the handshakes, shrugs, nods,
smiles, but something deeper.
This language of which I speak
is not being spoken of directly.
The words here point generally,
a broad gesture, a sweeping hand.
All is translated, rough metaphors--
the framing of a house that may be
a barn instead. This occult language
reads not left to right, nor right to left,
but in all directions with no center,
a deep ocean to all horizons,
a vast desert of light and shadow,
a night sky studded with silver light.
The things I say are also said elsewhere,
out of earshot. This soul-talk, this
shadow-song runs day and night,
a flowing creek while I doze,
a whispering wind as my day goes,
and the common talk and silences fill the air.
Find all your ears. Never stop listening.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Lovers are linguists, tongue masters,
expert translators, patient teachers
and quick studies--
The tilt of your head, and the
lines of your smile say more
than a Victorian novel.
The sound of your step on
the stair brings more repair
than an explicit manual.
Your sleepy touch eloquently
speaks of healing at length,
gentler and more sure than
a doctor's dissertation.
The rhythm of your breathing
is more sublime than Shelley or a
a street-corner Beat.
It's this world of languages, these
polyglots of passion, all speaking
at once but drowning out none,
and under it all, continuous
whispers of yes.

A Letter to My Students

I don’t say it enough, but I care about you. Each of you. That’s why I’m here. It’s too much work to do it for the money, so there must be ...