Saturday, January 31, 2009

He Spoke Shadows, Time For Sale

Here is a different kind of power. Not mine. This man does his thing all across the land, above and below board, and with that special kind of arrogance revered in the world. This is about the power of the word. This is about the kind of power we give to those who seek it skilfully.

He Spoke Shadows

This man spoke shadows
Into being, his strange thin lips
Well trained in power.

My ears, once shadows as well,
Grew large as I heard those words.

My heart moved further
Down the way, past his strong stand.
It's done, thank God, done.


I am not as constant as I should be, I guess. At least I can write this poem, show you this side of me...

Time For Sale

I tried to write you,
To offer my time for sale.
I have a supply.

I put a tall Sycamore
Nearby, that tree at the creek.

Then I thought again,
Decided to keep my time.
Keeping the tree too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Asking Permission, Lines Of Hope

I have a shamanic streak which shows in this poem. I mean something I think is important writing that.

I believe there is a temperament that leads to art, spirituality, and also perhaps extremes of character which under sad circumstances leads to certain forms of insanity. On one extreme end of all this may reside the people who tend to various manifestations of the paranormal, on the other extreme end are the people who are so creatively mad that they may burn themselves up creating great art or music or something.

These people are also candidates for relationships with spirit power and lives dedicated to God in one way or another. A high percentage of these people when lost, at sea in themselves and the world also end up alcoholic. The First Nation peoples have a high degree of alcoholism mainly because they bred for shamans as well as warriors as a people in general. That was still going on among them when they encountered European trade liquor and simultaneously had their culture destroyed. That's of course just an opinion.

Asking Permission

I point my arrow
Of power straight at the place
Where my heart marks you,
Where I mean to change your life
With the magic rites I learned
From crows and foxes.

I would start the chant only
With your permission.


So here is another aspect of the same sort of vision.

Lines Of Hope

I feel the lines
In me, in the world, in you,
Lines of health and love.

Sometimes I see them rise out
Of you and weave a new world.

Sometimes they gather sweet notes
Into chords that sound like hope.

I climb chords of hope
Out into the sky away
From my old caged life.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plodding Along, Decisions

This first poem was written in the morning. The other in the afternoon. The first, I think is colored by the fact that I have the whole work day ahead of me, staring at AutoCAD, going out into the bakery to measure stuff I don't really care about, interpreting vaguenesses into precise measurements and solutions, trying to make a clear communication of the results I get so someone else can actually fabricate and install some new little or possibly large mechanical process that might or might not do what the original intent was. That is the process that I am paid to create, and it is art in its own tedious way. I have basically all of the files I have created since I started working at this bakery in 1997. These drawings are all built on a skill set I began to gather in 1973 as a board and pencil drafter, and transformed into the skill set of a 2d AutoCAD designer in the early nineties. Ho hum.

Plodding Along

I reach deep inside,
Bring forth the fire, paint the sky,
Give the sky to you.
You expose your wings.
You fly above the bright flames,
Shine with your own light.

It's always like this.
I am left behind like this.
Plodding along, me.


I was visiting Lucy at Box Elder and this poetic form came up, called the Fib. That is short for Fibonacci and he was a mathematician associated with a particular number sequence. Start with 1. Add the number to the left. But there is no number to the left, so still 1. Add the new 1 with the number to the left, also 1. That equals 2. Add the number to the left, get 3, and so on. So then you get 1,1,2,3,5,8. Stop there. Thats the count of the syllables in each line. Because I rarely color inside the lines, though I might between them, I took a true event from back in 1966 and set it to a Fib and its mirror image. This poem took place very near the end of my workday and it filled a playful purpose as my end of day break.

This little neighbor dog was called Chim (chim cherie) and liked to go on walks with me. She liked to follow ahead, knowing you were going the way she was and would tell her where to turn or whatnot. So I started to follow her. This is what happened. Overtly.


By leading
But then a crossroads
Causes her to wait while I choose.

I tried to fool her, make her lead.
When she understood,
She refused,
Would not

What she did, she looked down at the gutter, back at me, then turned around and went behind me, touching the back of my leg with her nose, wagging her tail fiercely.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rocks In My Head, I'm In My Own Way

All I can say, I must have been having a difficult play day. Both of these poems happened an hour apart and so partake of the same spirit. The earlier one complains and the later one holds some suggestions to myself but basically I just wasn't so freakin spiritual. heh.

Rocks In My Head

Rocks in my odd head
Look like they are in the sky,
Floating in the clouds.

When my thoughts take flight they crash.
They bounce off bruised or broken.

Yes, it's hard for me
To think stuff, to keep going,
Lots of aspirin.


I'm In My Own Way

If I shed my skin
Like the garden snake I saw,
I would know better
Than to build cartoons of us.

I would then know who you are.

If I dropped my eyes,
Got brave like angels can be,
I would see better
And stop making most things up.

I would then know who I am.


I am kidding about the spiritual part, sort of. Someone commented, poetic license a while back. I do have a sense of play, and when you are doing a couple poems a day, minimum, there are special problems and solutions. How do I keep a discipline green? Any way I can. If I have to be serious and deep all the time it is not going to work. So Rocks is tongue in cheek. I say that meaning on this day, not that I have never experienced something like that...

But the other one, well...that's probably dead serious several times a day. Don't think I'm the only one. You know who you are, or maybe not, a scary thought. I don't like being someone's cartoon, especially when they will defend to great lengths what they think. Stop making shit up!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At The Edge Of Things, Stampede

While I am writing this, I am listening to Kaukonen sing Genesis, courtesy of Faith, who posted it on Stones From My Heart. That takes me back. See the comment I made on her post there for why. I was a Bay Area Hippie.

I have long been taken with the simple truth of this life. No matter how far out you get, how adept, how spiritual, the dishes still need doing. As the Zen master replies when the student asks, "What shall I do when I am enlightened?" the Zen master says, "Chop wood, carry water." The same is true of guitarists listed in the top 100 in America as Jorma is... Same for you and me. As one wag in the military said of the General, "He still puts his pants on one leg at a time."

At The Edge Of Things

I slice me open,
Display myself on the table
Set for your visit
To my place of rest,
To the hut I built today
At the edge of things.

I am laid out here
To show the deep fine structure,
How I'm shaped for you.
I am not afraid
Of being naked, raw, skinned,
Wild in your presence.

Outside, at the edge of things
Stuff goes on as usual.


Here's a poem about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Have you ever made a decision that blew up in your face as a complete surprise? In this story I went to the lake one day to have a good time, to get peace and quiet, a little spiritual retreat.


Feel it in the ground.
Forest shakes beyond the lake,
Further up the hill.
The water will not stop it.
My worry does not stop it.

Dust clouds rising up
Just behind the ridge nearby,
Coming to this lake
That was a refuge for us.
No one warned me, no one said.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What An Order

I am breaking training on this one. I was reading a "Daily Dharma" I subscribe to. It is one of the sources occasionally of my poetry. Today I was struck by a statement or two written there, taken from the writings of John Snelling on The Elements Of Buddhism. Here is the quote:
Nothing in fact falls outside the sphere of our moral responsibility. For instance, according to the Huayen school of Buddhist philosophy, which developed in medieval China, our every action affects the whole of the Universe.

He was referring to the Hindu principle of ahimsa: not harming.

This got me to writing, that what we do to the planet affects everything born and unborn, the whole of creation, that we have this responsibility handed to us and we do not, cannot possibly measure up. In our daily lives, in our law courts, we will claim that ignorance of the law is no excuse. Nature is a sterner judge than man, though rarely so capricious. But it really isn't about law, but about causes and conditions leading to other causes and conditions.

The smallest behavior can lead to unimaginable consequences. Long ago I discovered this in other contexts than the environmental ones, or the wars we wage. I decided not only that life was not fair, and it isn't, but that I couldn't possibly really belong in such a harsh world. It is very much my life's work to somehow make peace with this bitter truth, to be okay anyway, even happy if possible, to walk my walk with ahimsa if I can.

So here is a poem, hot off the keyboard, written about ahimsa.

What An Order

You tell me to give,
Give away all the wrong stuff,
The stuff that kills worlds,
Whole worlds, galaxies.
You say they snuff out from this.

I remember once
I was told to quit
Killing myself and it took
Two whole weeks to make
That one decision.

What amazes me
Is how rational that whole
Process of choosing
Life over sure death
And taking two weeks whining
In mourning, pleading
For pardon, way off
My feed and so desparate,
So picked on that I
Should have to do this,
How rational that all seemed.

How long will this take?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Double Message, Predicament

These poems were written just an hour apart. This just goes to show something about the creative process I think. That or mental illness. Or how close they really are. I read an in depth study one time that pointed out that "a little bit crazy" is required for a creative personality, but "really crazy" screws it up worse than having an ordinary "normal" mind. Having been badly twisted once or twice in my years on the planet, I can pretty much guarantee that at the extremes I cannot create, or even pray really.

That has pulled me up short more than once, I can get so sick I can't even pray. That means I have to rely on God without calling him. This reminds me of the game where you have to fall backwards blind into the arms of others, not knowing if they will be there for you. That reminds me of the times in my life when I had to do exactly that. And that reminds me of what gets said in AA sometimes...that God sometimes has skin on. Sometimes you get the clearest sight of God when She has skin on.

She showed up tonight. Both were he before. Would you like that better?

Double Message

I listen to him.
He preaches warnings to me.
He is manly, stout.

I remember another
Who took me up and away.

I sat small and safe
In her lap while she showed me
Luminous true things.

Both teach me. Both see.
One is keen, abrupt and stern.
One is kinder, close.

One stands heroic.
One reclines in sweeter beds
Flowing like water.

And me, I bow near this one,
Sing duets with the other.


The poem is not the poet. Remember this. There was a photo I saw of an old tire used as a form for a concrete anchor. The anchor was resting at a slight angle on the bottom of a shallow body of water. There was a round steel bar bent in a u-shape poured into the top of this anchor. It was chained to something not in the photo. It was abandoned, apparently. This is as I remember the photo.

Oh yes, for all you poets, once again the final revision was left for now, changing one word in the third line, and the whole fourth line. For me it is far more important to get it down than to finish it at the first go round. I am an editor as well as a writer.


An odd thing to see
My soul chained, rusty handled
And resting on its bed
Aslant in shallow water.

Beseeching me, "Set me free."
My soul seeks release.
I cannot answer.
I do not have the power.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cruciform, Quilted Grace

This first poem staggers me. I did not write this, it wrote itself, except the last line which is me seeing what I have just done. I am not this wise.


My time has a gate
At both ends, and within me
My heart has two gates.
I love you here and now, one.
Love ascends beyond all, two.

I am fourfold, golden gates,
Birth, death, love and love.
Within these gates are my lines
Of hope drawn and then quartered.

I am thus spread before you.

If I were to stretch, gain all
Wisdom I can hold,
That I am permitted here,
I will still need help to cross.

How I shape my life,
Traverse time's gated trailways,
How I love, am loved,
These form the keys, weave the cloth,
Fold the wrap that keeps them safe.

My hands quake, such holy work.


This is a poem about being in the right place. The crane, the woman in the nearby house, me. And I am especially blessed, conscious of the rightness and I fall in love with the moment. How could I not?

Quilted Grace

The crane wades through reeds,
Pauses, dreams of groves and storms,
Looks up to heaven.

In the house nearby, she sets
Dreams into frames, cuts and sews.

In my eyes the world
Changes. I catch sight of her,
Of her quilted grace.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Morning Road, I Once Saw

If I grow spiritually, perhaps I can someday, maybe not this lifetime, walk on water, walk on beams of light.

The last verse was revised tonight.

Morning Road

To my right, the lake
Blinds me with light from the sun
Low in the clear sky.

The gravel of this road sounds
Scratchy as I walk along.

Instead I would choose
To walk the light road, the road
Of sunshine's rising.


I have a long memory tucked away, perhaps in my bones. That's the only explanation for poems like these.

I Once Saw

God sees the long shape of me
All at once, and me,
I once saw this too.

But that was between my lives.

All I have is small
Plodding steps, flat feet.

I recall your eyes
Lighting my heart, God close by.
I recall your touch.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Memory Of The Garden, The Work

Here's a mythological piece. It's a while after that trouble, but that time is definitely not forgotten...

Memory Of The Garden

I have just eaten.
I hear your voice calling me
And I want to hide.

I thought I got over this
Way back, but hearing your call
Sends shivers through me.

You call, "Where are you, my love?"
I answer, "Absent."


At this time in my life, I've been called to poetry. How can I tell its a call? It's so frickin easy. I wrote five today and I'll bet three stand as is. I revise some of them, like the one that appeared at Breathing Poetry, I revised the last line of that one. Like the two here. Both received revision today to get them into posting condition - final condition.

Even these small revisions are easy, go according to fairly simple rules. If nothing else governs, then simple sentences. If nothing else governs then the active voice. If nothing else governs, avoid participles, even here. But sometimes participles save the syllable count. There are others.

It's so easy for me to write this poetry and that leads to two stories about it. In the dark story I am engaging in something wrong this time around because I have done it so much in other lifetimes. In this story I am regressing, missing the mark, sinning, the sin is sloth, because there are other more difficult tasks that are actually mine to do. I am avoiding.

In the light story I am commanded and the way is made straight through grace. As ever in these matters, I am left to choose between the extremes for the story, the mythology. The activity itself is rather simple like cooking eggs or something. And I do it for the same reason really. I frickin love doing this. So I am called, like my hero, Hafiz. I have decided to choose the light. Occam's razor suggests that the simpler story is the truer story. This is the simpler story, and I sleep better that way.

Like all the other times in my life like this, times that I decide I am called, there is a beginning, a middle, and eventually an end - or rather a new beginning. Sometimes the path is short, sometimes long. I was married twenty years and would be still if it was possible. But we both failed, and then she died. Here I say that being called to an activity is being hired on for road repair.

The Work

Talking to my friend
I heard with my other ear.
That sparked wordless thought
Of the oddity of life.

Shards of continuity
Force me. I will rush
Around gathering pieces,
Glue them together.

But not left and right,
Not stiff or pliant, deeper,
Deep shining places.

You've put me on road repair.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fisherbird, My Insides Are Brief

You can take the kid out of the F&SF but you can't take the F&SF out of the kid. This was a morning I wanted to be someone else somewhere else. I was getting hits of birds and stones.

In this life I am not a hunter. I was military trained and so know enough of firearms to understand where to point them, how to break them down and care for them, what gun oil smells like, or did in the sixties, what a swatch and ramrod are for. In those days I could dismantle the M-14 (that dates me) and the M-1 (even worse) and put them back together. I actually attended Plebe summer at West Point, made it to October. Then did ROTC at Santa Clara U. Then went to Fort Ord and through basic there. But since that time the heaviest ordnance in my house is a BB pistol I got to signal the Jays they should quit harassing my cats. I still have the original box of BBs too. In basic training trainfire, I shot Sharpshooter, almost Expert.


I like fish, a lot.
I like flying high, spying
Prey skimming below.

They shoot fast, water bullets,
Silver arrows just for me.

I dive all feathers
Aligned, sleek, and then I turn,
Take them from behind.


Time is central in my spiritual world. It is the core of things human. To understand human life, there are prerequisites and one of them is how time is a living process. It is obvious when I write these things, I am not talking about clock time.

Clock time is a measuring device, essential for making certain kinds of comparisons. One whole specialty is the management of clock time, and there are certain kinds of natural clocks that have been discovered, far more accurate than anything we can make, from pulsars in the heavens to a variety of atomic clocks. Modern society cannot function without this kind of coordination.

But anyone who stays alert knows there are forms of time you might call biological time, rhythms that inform the changes living things make, and some of these surface in human activity as well. I don't believe that true musical time is clock time at all. It ebbs and flows as needed, and this is biological time, or, if you will, living time. Days are longer and shorter depending.

It is always a longer time span going somewhere new than it is returning. Always. Or turn it around the other way, the morning commute to work takes less living time than the evening commute home, if all things are otherwise equal. Different critters live according to different time frames too. My cat sleeps most of the time. Yet I suspect her days are loooooong. Stones seem immutable, standing still. Over aeons, they change shape according to erosion or the weather or geologic changes. In the Canadian shield there are exposed stones that are several billions of years old, though most stones exposed on the planet are nothing like that old. And Australia as a continent, is the oldest land mass on the planet that does not get much renewal from the constant circulation of dust in the atmosphere. So its life sustaining capacity is used up relative to most other continental locations. Old.

But if there is an inner experience to that kind of time span, then it too would be like that ebb and flow thing of living time.

And for that matter, what about our planet itself. There is, after all, the Gaia hypothesis. And in recent years scientists have discovered that the rocks both above and below the sea teem with microbial life, at concentrations higher than on the surface itself, everywhere they look, which strongly suggests to them that 70% of all microbial life on the planet is below the ground down to the depth where it reaches about 120 degrees F. How many quadrillions of tons of living matter is that, and is it somehow joined? What is the living time of the planet? Microbes do not die of old age, only of accidents. They are very long lived as they divide forever.

My Insides Are Brief

I meet the wide world,
My center askew the same
As in the old stones.

We dream alike but slow stones
Seem frozen in my quick time.

My insides are brief
But briefer still are others.

Planet dreams are deep.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Up Shit Creek, Zen Moment

There is a photo that went round the internet titled "I found it". The picture was of the Shit Creek paddle store. Here's a poem about that situation...

Up Shit Creek

To walk on water
I would have to levitate.

If I hold my breath
Will I then begin?

Billy tells me, get a boat.

I am up a creek.
The paddle store is around
The bend, the canoe's there too.


Another derivative poem, a zen koan, First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is. Donovan I believe sang of this one. I don't mind not striving for one huge original poem. How about an original body of work? How about 6000 poems, all different but all pointing somewhere human? How about that happening from all kinds of points of view, high, low, stupid, brilliant.

I read a blurb today that pointed out that artists and those who strive for spiritual attainment both seek the unique real vision of the Whole or something like that. It read like a one time thing. Yet my hero Hafiz was a Sufi mystic, in orders, following a master. One of those orders it is reputed, that he must fashion at least one poem a day. It is not a one time thing. It is a practice. Like doctors and lawyers and saints practice. You can't be brilliant and great all the time. You have to settle for competent, or for quick amends if not even competent sometimes.

Zen Moment

First there is a mount
Then, wait, who took it away?
I was almost there!

I'll snuffle and pout awhile
Over that missing mountain.

Wander off, but wait...
Something's amiss, looking back
It's there again!

So I hope you can take a joke....There's a saying about that too, but that's bar talk.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mental Condition, At The Crossroads

In my youth there were periods I lived with many people. As a small child I was a single child. Later, my mother took in my cousin, a girl a year and a couple months younger, two grades behind. I was in sixth and she in fourth grades. Knowing there was a boy in the family, I had hoped for him, but I did not of course know some difficult realities about all that. I do okay with people and now after all the years of marriage, I have been single with people living in the house and not. I am okay alone, but it's different now. In my back yard I rent a separate building studio apartment, now for over a year to an old friend who also wishes alone time often enough. And for the last 25 plus years I have had the fellowship of AA.

Alone, not alone. Which is better?

Mental Condition

I seek constantly
For companions, having found
Beyond all questions
That I am no true hermit,
That I am in a bad place
Alone with my mind
Which talks to me so non-stop
I can't get me in.

Kept from my own mind,
Living the foolish results,
I seek light in friends.
But then when friends speak
And it's worse than my voices,
Small understanding,
Then I sit alone
And practice to get my head
To quiet down some.


I am not in relationship with God to have a placid life. I didn't get into this thing clean and deep in me is a spur, a goad. I need to argue, wrestle, roll around in the dirt with Him. It doesn't matter I'll lose. I'm like the too small man who always fights the bigger guys in this holy arena. But there is something to this. I don't think He wants kids. I think He wants stand up hearts and souls, people mature enough to look Him square in the eye. And I don't think He wants any of us to come home until we all do. No one left behind. That's the rallying cry in the war zones. It feels right there. It feels right here too.

At The Crossroads

I'm at the crossroads
But one path requires great wings
That will lift me up.

I regret no wings.
So many attempts to change,
To reshape my life.

I demand new holy skin.

(What do you think this gets me?)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Will I Ever Learn, Mirror Image

I have had my share of dental concerns. I have had my share of mental concerns. :) Can one stand for the other?

Will I Ever Learn

Chewing on taffy,
Sucking on my teeth, something
Changed, filling fell out.

There's a hole. It doesn't hurt
But my tongue keeps exploring
Sharp ledges and the hole.

Fallen, in too deep again,
Need to stop digging.


Another dream sequence, but perhaps not so far from waking life. I have had a couple people in my life with Tourette's Syndrome. In that challenge there are a wide variety of behaviors that can be what they call tics. Ducking the right hook is actually rather tame.

Mirror Image

I just hate mirrors!
Stopped to check out someone else
But find it's still me.

So I smashed it. Smithereens!
Now there's so many of me
That I ran away.

I hid in a thorn thicket
Wishing I was you.

Now I have a tic
Whenever there's a mirror.
I duck the right hook.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Life, Gazing At The Lake Below

Two poems written within minutes of each other. One goes somewhere else, and the other to a high place near an Idaho lake. I think I wanted to be anywhere but work. I think I wanted someone to come and remove me to somewhere more suitable. I occasionally write directly to my dreams, which are of some other world, not this one.

Another Life

My toes sprouted roots
Also my soles, callused heels
As I stood between
The stars and on the gravel
Of my arid old home world.

Those roots sank deep, found
The ancient cool ground water,
Drew it up to me.

My arms sprouted feathery
Green fronds waving to far friends
Among the shining stars
Who came and settled on me
Bringing news and hope.


Gazing At The Lake Below

As Tuesday begins
I stand at a higher place
There to see the past.

The sky paints itself with rays
Stretched long and drawn red on clouds
Recalling me, and me,
I recall dreams I had then.

I feel the cool wind.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Call The Grieving God, Appearances

These two difficult poems were written within 45 minutes. They are, I think now, two different phases of the same inner movement.

I don't know how to make theology out of it. I don't care because for me this is where heart comes in. I know in my bones that Infinite God grieves. The sadness known to the house finch chick who fell from the nest, the fear and loss of its mother, the regret of the universe at that moment leads to the infinite grief of God. Anything God does in genuine response of His own is and must be infinite. As in the Holy Word, down to the smallest and least of them. When life is unfair, as it so frequently is, God grieves the necessity of that. Because it is necessary. It always has been. Life must prey on life. There is nothing else it can prey on. The prey will always know its own protest. The prey will always Witness. And God perhaps eternally grieves as she sees as a mother does through the prey's own eyes.

Call The Grieving God

The walls are too high.
They go too far left and right.

Storms will come near soon
And wild eyed, we still cast blame.

Call the grieving god to help
The host cross over.

We think we know what happens
When the walls fall.


The salmon go home to spawn. It starts there but I was not a fish, not on this day. I was myself feeling the immensity of things, the smallness of me.

I openly declared myself on quest, declared it publicly as part of my return to finish my degree. In 1980 I wrote a Portfolio of prior learning experience to achieve 28 credits and my batchelors degree after a decade out of school. I started over a year earlier. It was 283 pages in the end. Ten pages a credit is about right. It was titled, Metaphysics, A Quest For Wisdom - Psychology, An Exploration Of Mind. Of course to be in the position to write such a thing, well, this was the time of the open declaration of what had been happening in my life since 1966. So I started college in 1963 and graduated in 1981. I did a bunch of living in the middle.

But there are days I don't feel I measure up. I bet I'm not the only one.


Me swimming upstream
Feeling the pull against me
But home is this way.

Oh, I am tired, aching.
One more stroke, then another.

But I am farther
(This is how it seems to me)
From home now than then.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Visualization, Monday Morning, In The Fall

Just plodding along here...Visualization happened in the afternoon of Oct 26 and Monday Morning happened the next morning...

Years ago now, I was directed by a medium's spirit guide to check the work of Snuffy, as she said it, and she gave me a website or something, I forget. Anyway, this was in answer to a question I had. I described a communication difficulty and said, "I need a new language." What I meant was "emotional language". Snuffy turned out to be Thomas Ashley-Farrand, an accomplished Hindu priest, speaker of Sanskrit, and an educator in these matters, with books and cds and such, all or mostly through Sounds True, and also probably still self published, the early works. My magical strain favors Hindu over Buddhist in many areas. Here is one of them. On the way to work at some point in the commute I will be chanting Sanskrit Mantra. Precisely how this started is as the answer to that need, "I need a new language."

I want to say about this turn in my life, be careful what you pray for. Also, I might observe the almost practical joke nature of God's sense of humor. This is a principal reason I like Coyote from the First Nations.


I see you in me.
I practice bowing to you
While floating in air.

I practice floating
Off the ground in your presence,
This in my mind's eye.

I am sure I can do this.
I see it so clearly now.

But perhaps it comes
To me only after time,
Only after years,

Perhaps only somewhere else.


Payette lake is in Idaho.

Monday Morning, In The Fall

I sit in the buzz
Of my cubicle and dream
Of lake and kayak
Then enter the dream to find
My friend already drifts down
Payette Lake right there
In the middle of my dream
This Monday morning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Offering, Diving Bird

So this one gives me away. I am still back in October in my postings, near Halloween. And as is often the case, the spiritual and the love are themes of mine.

I wrote three new poems today. I have posted over a hundred poems so far and have nearly three hundred to go, but if I write more than I post, you see? I don't really understand this. I never had this capacity before last August. If I flame out tomorrow, I'll still have close to 150 days to restart the afterburner.

Today on Whiskey River the quote was about how works of art, especially poems when they are really finished are no longer the property of the poet. This is good news and bad news. Its good for humility and for entertainment, because when I say "this poem is not mine, or at least no longer" then I read it as a stranger and then it speaks differently to me. I also don't get outsized in my insides. But of course it really speaks poorly for property rights. I am ignoring those for now. I have to. I leave poems behind all over the place and nothing stops people from doing whatever with them. Anyway the poem I wrote today in response to the quotes on Whiskey River will come up in five months and you can't find that one anywhere else but here...stay tuned.


I am so many
Orange lobed bodies, one mind,
A pumpkin shaped life
Of dreams, of hopes, of my heart.

I am from the fading vine
Of autumn, ending
This year's display for you

That you may carve me.


Diving Bird

I have come from reeds
Near the shore of your wild lake
To swim in your eyes
And sound the shape of your heart.

I will dive so deep in you
That I'll find the door
To the pure land beyond this
Place, then take us there.


Oh and here's the other this last poem I changed two words, which really has changed the poem, I'm betting for the better. By the way, there is a hidden Buddhist reference here...the Pure Land is where Amida Buddha lives. But how I use this is not so buddhist, more universal, like the golden age, or the before time, or the Garden.

Pure Land Buddhism is the most popular of all Japanese versions and also, I believe, the most like Christianity in its ways. Buddha is basically worshipped despite the common observation that there is no god in mainstream Buddhism. Except of course Tibetan Buddhism, and in all Buddhism if you want one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Spirit of the Times, Farther Out Than That

Role playing. On the surface this first poem is a "what if I was like this?" poem. I'm nicer than this surely. Honest, hardly ever rob banks, haven't set a fire in absolutely weeks! People like me goddammit. Yet there is something sour and dangerous going on and there really always is. I pull the ten block radius test on some of my concepts. I believe everyone from saints to sinners is hanging out within a ten block radius of me in any metro area. When I was a victim of identity theft, my bag was stolen from beside my car in my driveway at 4:45 AM on a quiet residential street, and NOBODY but me is up at that time. And because of what happened next it had to be a local who did it. A full blown thief pretty effing close to me.

The next deal, I am sure the potential exists in me, in you, in all of us, for anything anyone else actually does. In a wierd way this is precisely like the dream people asserting we are all the characters and structures in our dreams which are totally solipsistic no matter who is in them. Hitler lived his own nightmare so large that many people had and paid for aspects of the same nightmare. Think that way for a while, how we each participate in each other's dreams and illusions and learn from that how Buddhists came up with the Four Noble Truths.

The Spirit Of The Times

So enter into
The joy of the destruction
As if it were real.

Then pull the black curtain back,
Look behind the face of things.

The dark mother sits
Behind my eyes, embraces me.
I circle with vultures.


I don't know if the truth ever explodes your head (well, maybe blows your mind?), but it has mine more than one time. If it gets a little fanciful, effs again, well I can't really help it when my head overflows with a sudden puff of fluff. By the way, pees and bees are labials too, pee and eff are unvoiced plosives and bee is voiced. In the distance are the ems, voiced labials not plosive.

Farther Out Than That

I found truth today.
It exploded my fat head
Far too effing fast.

See how many effs it takes
Filling futures of fair play?

Fig snacks fill me fine
As I drink the frothy head
Of my friend's fat brew.

By the way, the frothy head of brew is not alcoholic but something more like Starbucks "marrying" Tazo Tea as they said this morning, creating a tea latte line. They got advertising as light news. But it actually refers to the tea brewed up by the brew master over at KROK. You can find Froth From Walt at Over The Wall on this blog.

By the by the way, if you would rather the brew IS alcoholic, be my guest. In that case it is a stout...I have one right here. Never touch the stuff now, so it's kinda old, brewed sometime before 1983...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Time Passes, Anguish

My mother was a Unity Minister for the last half of her life, a midlife choice that stitched together her early years, when Unity was very young, and her grandmother taught her as best she could, stitched the ministry with a yearning that she had had all her life to that point. She took the byway of drama, almost becoming a movie star according to her but not wanting to sleep around to do it. She told us that Ann Baxter got the nose job and slept around and so had a career but mom didn't so she went to Cal Berkeley instead. She excelled at Cal and was valedictorian of her class, the first man or woman to ever do that in Speech and Drama. She shared the podium with Harry Truman. A few years out from school she returned and got her teaching credentials. She taught high school English for many years. At one point she wrote and self published a novel. Vanity press. Then she became a minister. Her career was up and down, but in the end she had such a high reputation as a teacher of ministers in training and having written and published a Unity classic, The Handbook of Positive Prayer, that she wound up with the Myrtle Fillmore Award for lifetime achievement. That is second best in the year it is awarded, only one a year, I guess.

She told me that she thought that reincarnation is the best possible guess ever made of how to mate perfect justice with perfect mercy. There is clearly not enough time ensouled otherwise. To me this is untouchable. Perhaps reincarnation is not so. If it is not then I have yet another bone to pick with God, another bit of fuel for the fire that strengthens my hold on His heel.

Time Passes

I remember Rome
When it was a cave and twins
And a wolf mother.

I remember the quantum
That jumps beyond light and time.

I remember you,
As you once appeared to me
Within my first heart.


This next is a prayer that is also a complaint. I am not the only one with these troubles. I know people like me are written into holy books. My faves from the bible, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Psalms, Job. I love the type of David, a king who dances naked before the Lord. Truly there is nothing new under the sun.


I stumble, wonder
Why in all this world I must,
Why me, Lord, why not
Give me sight enough to see
The truth before I fail, fall.

I love and it hurts
When they say I do not as
If they really knew.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Testing, Philosopher

Here comes my magical strain again. In this first poem I am offering a partnership with (just who is this who has found a Way?) anyway, I am offering spirit power as my contribution. The odd thing, I actually think we do have spirit power, more or less accessible according to how we live and how conscious we are, and also if we want it or not. Sometimes rituals are critical to really focus this power but in more diffuse ways nothing but honesty, openmindedness, willingness, and trust, with perhaps a dash of love and tolerance is enough to make real magic, or miracles if you will. That is precisely what happens in AA, why sober drunks can work miracles with each other.


Testing the open
Field of dreams swaying weaving
Reaching past far hopes.

Can anyone go with you
As you test the way you found?

I will weave the path
With strong vines - incantation
Takes me past the gate.


This poem came from a photo of a spoked wood wagon wheel leaning against a weathered fence, a western ranch motif, very well done by a true professional. I absolutely love that pictures like this speak to me as they do. I have no idea when it happened that I could experience this kind of imagination. I swear that something of it is not me at all. I dance with the words of my poems. They often lead.


Me, I am bone white,
Splintered and woven with vines
In my woody spokes.
Anyone would say I'm old.

And I don't turn on a dime.

I lean on this fence
And ponder life's long meaning,
Picking my way out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Falling Through, Wounded

Here is a dream sequence, kind of serious, I fear. So here is the I the only one who sometimes doesn't measure up to the dream of me? I get caught staring at the man I could be. It is one way this poetry answers questions for me. I get to be my poems. In them I get to be twins sometimes. This is as real as it gets, by God.

Falling Through

I tried to do right
Like my Dad said to, like him,
But my twin did it
And I could not. I fell through
The ice instead of skating
Free of the blue cracks.
My twin does fine turns while I
Stare out from beneath.


In AA I often ask the question of newcomers, straight from How It Works, "how far are you willing to go?" I recall a guy saying once, "Staying sober today is easy. All you have to do is find a cop and hit him. You will stay sober for awhile before you find any pruno." That's going pretty far. Yet a relationship with God may cost some of us dearly.


My skin is broken.
I am left stripped, scalped, seeping.
Yet I breathe and pray.

If you would come by today
I would find a covering
Of my naked flesh.

I would place an offering
At your holy feet.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Seeking, Fulfillment

Who is this "you"? Sometimes I have someone specific in mind, or more than one by the time the poem is ended. Sometimes it might be god, lower case. That would be because god is intimate and loves to be used. God is a lover. Or I take my cue from Hindu custom, Namaste, the divine within, so not you but the divine within you. So actually, you are welcome to take "you" personally or not, divinity or not.


I want to find you.
They tell me you've gone away
Far enough. I feel
You gone but I don't want that.
I want to sit beside you
Or on your warm lap -
Or may I live in your heart.
Never let me go.


The photo was of a white picket fence with a red rose entwined. It looked very pleased with itself.


I do squeeze through it,
The space between long white slats,
Reaching out to bloom.

Along the way my leaves shift
And twist and sharpen to thorns.
And then, with full force
I turn myself loose. I change,
Become fully formed.

In this blissful crimson time
I am beyond all other
Wonders and rosy
Beyond all belief.
I am sweet scented, not fenced.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Lava Field, Freedom

Here is one exploration of anger. I don't know. It's just a poem. Back in the fourth grade I was hot like this. My parents had forced me into a situation that made me look ridiculous and then they laughed. They were trying to bust me out of a behavior they were tired of. That worked. But I was so angry and so unable to express it that things changed inside. It took a long time for me to understand what had happened. In the meantime, when I was teenaged, I made life really tough for them and a little later for me. For many years now, I have known that what they had done to me was teach me to hate. I didn't even know what hate was before that and didn't know what it was that changed when it did. But hate is what it was. I have never been fond of object lesson manipulations ever for any reason ever since I have understood that price. It is certainly not what my parents wanted. There is always a wildcard. I am sure they would not have done it had they known the price I would pay, and then pay back.

But hey. This is just a poem, not really about that, probably.

The Lava Field

I was angry once,
So hot that my hope melted
And flowed down my sides.

I am deformed, bent like that.

I have held still for so long
That dreams have begun
To form on my ruined hope,
On you in my life.


I'm going to reflect on writing poetry from time to time. I have to. I am trying to figure out what the effing hell I am doing here. It hasn't stopped, this push to get the poems out. I thought I was going to break training today, but nope, at the end of it I had my two poems. I have promised myself as a spiritual discipline, or so I say, that I will emulate Hafiz (who wrote longer ones generally, at least one a day) and since they are short, I will write two. But why? All of a sudden last August this happened to me...I said this is the form and it's variations. I should be able to knock these things out in a few minutes, let's go! There have been poems that take longer. I also edit at post time when I decide that the words or the rhythms tweak me. Doesn't usually take too much longer. I'm a flipping poetry cartoonist. God made me do it:) So now I've caught his heel and I'm not letting go until he hollers. The only answer so far is I'm running out of time. But I don't think I really believe that, not in any special singled out way.


Writing poems is
Taking on the other skin,
The other odd life
Where I am you or you or
A bug-eyed field of long corn
Or stranger than that.

It is being free to roam
All the roads I find.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Time's Too Short, The Hollow Man

High and low. Why not, I ask, make poetry out of the lowbrow stuff too? My emotional life is all over the map, from resentment to the highest forms of love. I discovered long ago that many paradoxical things live in me. You would think the one precludes the other, but not so. Time separates them and in that way emotions coexist in me. I often can't do more than one thing at a time, but then this is not always true.

I have noticed every time someone dies, the critters in my life, and the people, I often have many emotions at the same time as the grief. It was really amazing, and I would hope for all of you that you get the chance to experience heart breaking grief and fierce joy at the same time as I once did, back in 1983. What a remarkable few minutes that was. It didn't last long, but it was certainly God given.

So if I am this complex, why should my poetry only be lofty??

Time's Too Short

Damn. Gone too quickly.
I've tripped, stumbled against you.
I tries too hard, Sir.

I gets ahead of myself.
I'm in the hurrier mood.

Won't promise better.
I'm too late, don't really care.
I've run out of time.


And of course, as a believer in fantasy, I also can write stories, as I have posted before - truths that are not facts, or perhaps truths that are more than facts. I don't feel like a hollow man these days. Believe me, I have been places.

The Hollow Man

I am hollow rock,
Emptiness in density
And afraid of blows.
I fear shattering my shell
And leaking into thin air.
If I walk near cliffs
I will fall, I know this, yes.
Please just fill me in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Eating Ideas - Eating Ideas, The Sequel

Here's a pair of poems for philosophers and poets who know you can feed the mind and heart with words. I liked the way the first one went so much that the second one had to follow. A little while back I posted a similar poem, Eating Prayers.

Eating Ideas

The idea hunter
Builds a good fire just so
And roasts the latest.

Such a wild notion
Found wordsmithing on the trail,
This latest idea is fat,
Spicy and alert.
Drips sparkle in the heart's fire,
Just might be a book.


Eating Ideas, The Sequel

Good ideas, tasty
When young, still better when old.
They chase me home.
Sooner I get there,
Sooner start the deep fryer.

Hear them hiss, crackle
As they fry up. I can't wait,
Chow them down right now.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Let Me Be, By The Tarn

This first poem is whimsy, but not quite...It is a true story about a real t-shirt and dead straight honest all the way up to the bus. But even that is true enough in its way. I joke sometimes that I was let off here on this planet by mistake, have been waiting a really long time for the bus back home to arrive.

Let Me Be

My best black T-shirt
Got too many holes to wear.
I threw it away.

This shirt said, small print,
“Just visiting this planet”
Oh yes, that be me!

Now I wear the holes instead.

Waiting for the bus to come
I wonder why you stare
As if I was bug-eyed, green.


A tarn (or corrie loch) is a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. A moraine may form a natural dam below a tarn. [1] A corrie may be called a cirque. The word is derived from the Old Norse word tjörn meaning pond.

I know this word from playing Scrabble a long long time ago.

A few years back I had a lover named Frances who loved the outdoors, so we went on a vacation into the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise, Banf, Jasper, Maligne Lake, and up in the mountains all over the place there. I saw more than one tarn, but one in particular was just way cool and the glacier above looked for all the world like the back of an angel spread out face down on the rocks above. This was Mt. Edith Cavell and the glacier is called the Angel Glacier. You approach through a devastated landscape left behind by the retreating glacier. Just amazing.

By The Tarn

Do not drink water
From milky powder blue skies.
Don't fall in either.

Walk along the cold blue bank
And marvel at what ice does.

And think glacially,
Think slow and steady, like ice
Making long valleys.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Summer Rain, The Full Cup

In Oregon's Willamette Valley, in the Portland Metro area, the end of summer gets dry and hot, but occasionally the marine air will succeed at driving over the coast range, not much more than hills. When it gets across, a surprise rain is quite welcome. When this happens on a weekend as it did here, I am usually happy to watch the celebration. I am sure that the foliage in Oregon, used to frequent moisture as it is, is capable of dancing in the rain that breaks a dry summer spell.

Summer Rain

The sea takes summer,
Puts it to bed for a nap.
Rain comes from the south.

And my garden gets up then
In rainy green gratitude.

My old cat comes in
To lie next to me,
Waiting for the rain to cease.

Tea is a holy drink, or should be. This is the source of the Japanese tea ceremonies, that tea is a holy drink. I try to remember this when I brew tea.

So much has happened in my life. I notice the aging process removes things. One that happened to me, I was a many cup a day coffee drinker, even past the time that the diuretic quality of coffee was obviously a bad thing for me. A health issue pushed me to a homeopath who practices classical homeopathy within the framework of a naturopathic license as well. He did a classical intake and determined that my mate was Agaricus Muscaria. He told me I had to quit coffee for homeopathic remedies to work, also no peppermint. The essential oils. I followed instructions. It worked really well. So did quitting coffee. Now I drink mostly water, some sparkling water, and sometimes tea (I hope with reverence).

The Full Cup

On bent knee I bow
Old soul to the holy tea
That slows me, warms me.

I want a full cup of light.
I want to drink the whole draught.

Then I lay me down
And tumble on God's own mat
Placed here for us all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bowing Down, Sojourner

Going to the high places is an ancient gesture of reverence, of separation, of coming close to the holy.

Bowing Down

If I could leap past
The asphalt of my life
I would climb your hill.

I would ascend grassy slopes,
Take in the scents as I pass.

On reaching the height
I would lay a round rock down,
Then I'd bow down too.


Leavetaking, dying, knowing when to stop. Years ago I learned two things, that I am on what I hope is my last time around this planet...that I am to live as if this is my last day every day. I have noticed now that I am over sixty something has changed. I am relaxed about all that. Far from this attitude being some kind of bluster, it is actually my truth. My only issue now is I hope I avoid a really difficult death.

I have to hand it to my mother, who managed to die of a stroke. That took three days and most of it in coma. While she was in coma, she still communicated her needs. She started to pass on that last afternoon but my sister was in flight and wouldn't arrive for a few hours. Mother started to struggle and it was clear that she was not ready, so we gave her morphine and she quieted down. Not even an hour after my sister got to the hospital my mother passed, having let my sister say goodbye. A nearly perfect death.


Truth: I am happy
And also willing to go
Even if I go now.

Perched on my shoulder, my guide
Ever shining, lit by bright beams.

Coyote travels
Before me. I trail his heat
And his holy scent.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Stolen Gold, Mage

The moon is traditionally feminine because it is shining with reflected light.

In the geocentric astrological universe, it is also closest, the most intimate light. It is the most immediately influential source of daily change, a tidal force not only on water outside but inside. Scientists are quick to point out that only sun and moon, the one because of its overwhelming energy and gravity, the other because of its closeness, can be considered influential in human affairs.

Astrologers agree that these are chief, along with the geocentric spatial orientation of the moment chosen. But astrologers believe that the solar system is unitary and that all its main components, the lights and planets, color its inner space. That coloring is geometric and harmonic. Astrology in this way is closer to the arts than to the sciences.

Only fools think this astrological influence is direct, some kind of ray or unknown force. The sciences would have found signs long ago and have not. Believe me, scientists have looked, still look in ever more subtle ways. As well, only fools think that the arts inherent in the solar system, indeed in the cosmos are of no account. These arts must be witnessed very differently from the measurements taken of scientific data.


Stolen Gold

Lady moon shining
On the country of my soul,
You feed me with dreams.

I shall quest beyond these woods
To the dragon's darker lair.

I shall bring you gold
Stolen from the writhing snake.
I'll stun him with smoke.

As for magic, it is first and foremost a relationship with and an artistic arrangement of spiritual powers. To expect any success without a profound respect and understanding of one's place within all these powers is to court madness.

Make no mistake despite all the popular renderings of black magic, it is neither easy nor advised in any way. Black magic requires an iron discipline far beyond the capacity of most of us. Otherwise it eats you, and the remnant is usually a creature less than human of psychopathic or sociopathic nature, why this magic is called black. The best depiction, the one ring of power and Gollum in Lord of the Rings.

However, what is often called white magic, is relatively harmless, but it too requires profound respect and understanding of one's place within all the powers. Otherwise it becomes foolish superstition.

Most often, paths toward magic require guides, either mages, witches, or spirits.



Stand on a high point
After traversing deserts
And open your heart.
As the sun rises
Sending daggers of young light
Into you deeply
Invoke the power
As it grows and rise with it.
From your new height, live.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Clean Up, True Words

I was asked at another blog if I make these things up on the fly and mostly yes, I do. I know I'm not the only one. The longer they get, the more I have to edit, though. I have no problem with that part either. I have made my living as a drafter and wordsmith and long ago learned that I do not own the words, that the words do not own the meaning. There are hundreds of ways and dozens of styles to say the same thing. If it doesn't work, then to the scrap heap with it. More than a few have gone there. I mostly don't even know what I am going to say when I start.

In AA's Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions Bill wrote the story of Rule 62 which is the suggestion that I might do better if I don't take myself too seriously. Here's one of those poems

Clean Up

Man, I dread blown minds.
There's too much clean up after
My old head explodes.

But then I have to admit
That when it goes, my head grins
And more, it tickles.

So I guess I'll let my cat
Clean up the scatter.

Old Hippies never die...they keep thinking big. They want peace and love to overcome war and conflict and they want true vision to change the world. Here's a poem in that spirit.

True Words

I have appeared here
Toting poems in a sack
Slung across my back
As if I had a way through
Buried somewhere in the words.

Yes that's true, I hope.
Please sift the words, discard all
But the truest ones.

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