Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Going Out Seat, Writer's Block

Charlie taught me "the going out seat" when he gathered he was shortly to be laid off. He named his chair the going out seat. I was so impressed with the idea that I've kept it probably twenty years. This is because layoffs are normal occurences in my particular marketplace. I 've had the privilege of sitting in the going out seat close to once a year for the last decade. My latest experience in the going out seat gave me the chance to write the poems I have been posting starting dated in late December and still here dated in February. I had two weeks of work in January and was out all of February.

The Going Out Seat

If I sat on that
chair would you strap me down tight
so I could take off
faster than light speed
and break through the barrier,
the razor wire strung
around my normal
life? Would you do that for me?
I need to go now.

February 2, 2009 8:57 AM


Writing poetry is in part a matter of focus. What to do when there seems nothing to write about? Write about that...

Writer's Block

I can't write what I want,
have to settle for backing up
and saying I can't write
what I want.

This will have to do.

The dragons all went home.
I am left with their breath.
Dragon scat in my house
forces me to step carefully.

February 2, 2009 11:04 AM

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In The Uneven Dark, How It Is

Sometimes you just have to come back down to earth.

In The Uneven Dark

I've come up shorter
than I thought I would tonight.

I was headed for
an epiphany,
some true light and angel breath
like incense wafting
left behind the moon.

Instead what I want, a cup
of hot tea, your kiss.

February 1, 2009 2:58 PM


Did anybody notice? I quit capitalizing every line.

How It Is

The poem adrift on the winds
anonymous, self sufficient,
gazes downward in passing
looking for the poet
who will care enough
to give it a place
to land for now.

After, it will fly
free again.

February 1, 2009 3:25 PM

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just Another Day, Ghost Story

I don't really have anything to say about Just Another Day. It speaks for itself. I actually have no idea how to knap a stone. The question asked in the poem is a real one. I have read arguments on both sides of the issue.

Just Another Day

It's been a long time
since it all started, aeons
since we got upright
and you argue did
we talk first or walk first?
I forget, don't want
to argue the past.
You touch my hairy head, stroke
me in your old way
while I squat here, knap
this new flinty blade.

February 1, 2009 10:13 AM


I have a blog friend by the name of Ghost Dansing. I wrote this poem. Do you think there is some connection? This particular Ghost is masculine. Ghost Dansing is enigmatic. Or is that ectoplasmic?

Ghost Story

I have a ghost friend,
a dancer once when more substantial
who now fancies himself
a bit of a conjuror.
Recently he began to assert
himself as present
just like anybody else.

He came to the house,
snuck in behind us
and began a rite to summon demons.

It worked famously, but then
the demon tried to eat him
and though you can't eat ghosts,
this disappointed him,
so he shut the spell down
and with that,
with the finish of the chant,
with the incense
burned to ash,
and the glow of demon's breath
still in the air, he turned
and wandered off.

February 1, 2009 2:24 PM

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Best Poem, Something To Do

I apologize. Something has shifted for me. I know I am not the only one. It is one of the beauties of the blogs that we can freely come and go. No one is beholden unless they wish to be or somehow their conscience won't let it be otherwise. I feel beholden a little. I simply can't get around the blogs like I feel I should. I mean this for the riches I gain when I do, not really because I am under some obligation. I look at the list I follow and yearn to go. I just don't have the time or focus for it. Often I stop by, read a little, love it and rush on.

I am also not writing poems like I did, and this because most of them are written as comments. This lack of time feels like bad news in some ways but of course it is the shift in phases, now that I have over 900 new poems or so. Perhaps in a little while poems will start again, but right now work presses, and my lack of energy takes care of the rest.

Here is one reason I don't like this.

My Best Poem

Life keeps getting me.
I try for another word
and it just won't come.
Instead it's laundry
or something else worse
that imposes on my time.
Thickets in my heart
resist me and my
indolence is natural.
Then there is the day
and all it brings me
that cuts through my obsession,
kills my best poem.

January 31, 2009 10:32 PM


I have no idea when I finish a poem how good it is. I am filled with it, and of course from there, as the freshest poem it is also usually the best one if it is not a clunker. What is my best poem? The next one.

Finally, that was the last January poem. This next poem could be about the blogs but I don't think that's how I wrote it. It might be about Twitter or Facebook, but I don't go there. It is about being shallow, I think. It is certainly a poem my last girlfriend would write. Having spent a couple days with her, I remember how nonstop she is. Phew. I value stopping.

Something To Do

Talk, talk, talk, I say,
all this talk and wordy clouds
billow up around
this odd gathering,
all here to chatter. Over
there the tools idle
for lack of my hands
and yours. We forget ourselves
as we huddle here.

There is something needs
doing, I think, another
poem, home repair,
feeding the children,
cleaning up after the cat,
giving love to you.

February 1, 2009 9:45 AM

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Have Pulled That Nail, Passover

A musician learns the unfortunate lesson. If you want these unnatural actions to become natural, there is only one choice. Practice. Years of practice. Devotion. Not only practice as a mechanical action pattern but with devotion. In the end, you walk away from your old self into the new self fluent in the actions you have practiced, but it turns out that you never really leave the devoted practice behind.

I Have Pulled That Nail

I was born charming.
I write this sure I was charmed
for I have pictures.
I was fresh, even
spontaneous, and then you
undertook to train
me, set my wild life
on the civilizing track.
It has taken time.
You more or less won
the game of nailing me down,
one foot to the floor.

For some sixty years
I've been turning tight circles.

Now I think I've pulled that nail,
unwinding myself.

January 31, 2009 10:56 AM


There are troubles coming. It is hard to deny that there are troubles coming. I guess I am in a race now between my personal demise and some much bigger turmoil. I hope they both hold off for a little while. I must say, however, toward the end of the fifties we had the specter of nuclear war, later nuclear winter as the capstone of nuclear war. I don't hear much about that now, but it is still there as near as I can understand it, that the US and Russia have sufficient to destroy us all several times over, still in place and still with procedures in place too. So, in my lifetime since the fifties, the idea that humans will destroy themselves somehow has been a constant in my life. I looked for some relief. The only relief I have ever found is somehow, in some way dishonest and ultimately costs more than it is worth. Facing these realities seems the only option that works.


The eye of the Lord
is upon the land, I shake
to know I'm so close
to Him. His call sounds
piercing my soul and I drop
down to earth, ready
for His great talons,
hoping that if I lie still
He will pass over.

If I had more time
I would paint innocent blood
on my soul's soft gate.

January 31, 2009 5:03 PM

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Farewell Bend

I'm back. It's late. I like all your comments. My friend is the victim of a bad law but he also did a bad thing. Nothing as colorful as bank robbing. It was really hot.

The thing about Farewell bend, on the Snake River, it was the staging ground for the last push overland to the Willamette Valley. That push was leaving the water source behind. I guess the Columbia couldn't be the highway somehow. The Oregon Trail drifted south and ended up with the trail's end at Oregon City.

It begins to blow hard in the evening at Farewell Bend and it doesn't quit until morning. It also doesn't get below 70 because it stays well above 90 most days, even above 100. You would think the mosquitos would get blown away, but then discover that they tack the gusts and maneuver into the always present pockets of still air and can go against the wind in that way. Hungry little buggers.

We had a good tent, good stakes and things were fine. Fifteen bucks got us running water, a bathroom with shower and a place to pitch the tent - grass. A Great Horned Owl set on a dead branch just ten yards from the tent before moving on just after dark. In the middle of the night I had a good look at the Milky Way.

To visit an inmate at Snake River is to sit in a large room like a high school cafeteria, but with low tables and bad chairs. They had us sitting facing into the too bright sun in a walled and razor wired courtyard, with no plants in it at all. The windows had no curtains. Off to the back the few inmates with discipline problems that still let them have visitors talked to their visitors by intercom through glass. This is how we visited with Steve when he was in the county jail prior to his prison sentence.

We talked about many things in our two visit sessions, then rushed back so that Sunday's celebration and farewell to a man going to study engineering in Mexico can be well organized. My cat seems glad I didn't run away from home.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An Odd Vacation

I am taking a few days away. This is to visit an incarcerated friend. He is housed for another fourteen years or so in the Oregon State prison system, and currently at Snake River Correctional Institution, on Stanton Blvd, north and west of Ontario, Or. I am traveling with my former girlfriend who now lives in Vancouver, BC. She maintains her house here in Oregon City, the next town south of me. She has renters, comes down frequently to do the gardening and keeps a room of her own. The house is beautiful and she has little trouble getting renters. We will drive nearly to Oregon's eastern border with Idaho and camp in Farewell Bend State Park. I will be out of communication for a little while, back certainly on Sunday evening.

This is the women I put in a prayer cycle with the intention of ending up with a more or less simple friendship. Without that practice my natural state puts me far away from former lovers, looking rather desperately for replacements and staying generally disturbed for a long while. Instead, with the practice, I ended up peaceful, okay staying alone and not looking with urgency, and my disturbance at losing my lover subsided to an easily managed level within six months. The prayer cycle evolved naturally into a practice, part of my preventative maintenance against my tendency to trash my career.

I trust that you, my friends, will thrive without me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What We Were Like, On Being The Right Size

This next is deeply true. I don't know about others, can't speak for you. I can be sure that I rarely actually fit in with people specifically. There seems to be always some difference difficult to swallow. I am required, I believe to overlook, rise above, find a path of coexistence. I am certain it is required. I am nearly certain it is necessary to the exact extent it seems to be.

This, I think is why the most mature spiritual walks on the planet emphasize forgiveness and mercy, compassion and love. These are the indispensible states of being precisely because we are so fractious. The Judaeo-Christian traditions viewed from the Christian perspective is in one way precisely this message, that the Jewish heritage was a working out of the Law, a clarity with God's perfect justice, and within that structure the revelation of love and mercy abides, embedded, obvious in its way, but still subservient. This is Old Testament as they say. Christ comes to fulfill the Law, to transcend it, to show how natural and in place justice is when Love ascends to its rightful position. This vision of Judaism makes sense to Christians but not to sophisticated Jews who will maintain that the ongoing Jewish experience also reveals Love. Muslims will agree. My mentor Hafiz just beams with the light of Love, Compassion, Mercy, Forgiveness. In fact he claims these are highly intoxicating and God's House is a Tavern where the Holy Drunkenness is dispensed. Herein is the Dervish Joyful Dance.

And Mahayana leads to the Buddhist Ideal of Bodhisattva. Infinite compassion embodied in Buddha to the benefit of all sentient beings deliberately and deeply present immediately and permanently. Turn and look. Then become. Hindu Tantra is the practical application of Love as manifest energy (sex is quite a small part of this).

I could go on. But the reality is different for most of us most of the time.

What We Were Like

My family was chancy,
all technicolor critters
hanging together
despite different
destinies in inner space.
"I hate them all, all!"
I've said that before.

Like a few other
places on this old planet,
here we stay even
though otherwise we
would never willingly mix,
no, would not ever.

January 30, 2009 9:56 AM


When I create, under certain conditions I feel closest to God, like the most deserving of His attention, the most likely to be doing His will for me. It is said in some circles that Man is made in the Image/Likeness of God. Though this phrase is Christian the vision extends far beyond Christian sentiment. What else can be the heart of it but those areas where we come closest to making something from nothing? And by bitter experience I know intimately that I cannot create, not really unless I also love, forgive, hold mercy and compassion close. This is just true.

On Being The Right Size

I took out my tools,
started building the world new,
just as you said to.
You said I make worlds
by fabricating something
and changing the old
and if I did not
then that one chance would be lost
forever. Oh my.
What a large burden.
When seen the way you say it
I feel really small.

January 30, 2009 2:56 PM

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That's What He Did, Under The Bridge

You just never know who will speak to you next.

That's What He Did

The bird perched nearby,
On what I thought of as mine,
My branch, in my tree,
This brightest yellow
Goldfinch eyeing me
From the dogwood of my life.
He (they have to be)
Spoke. No, it's true, he
Spoke straight into me about
The state of my hope.
That's what he did to
Change my life. There was silence
Before that, silence
After, how I know
He spoke like that, and to me.
So I said, "Thank you."

January 29, 2009 1:40 PM

I really love it that the Gold and House Finches have accepted my feeder. There is something very small child about the glee I feel when I see them 18 inches from my kitchen window, not caring or not noticing I am there. The dogwood is just across my driveway, convenient to the feeder, as are the power lines running into my house, which run right diagonal across my parked car in the driveway. So I live with the poop, the price I pay for happiness.

Every afternoon my Hasta are home to Cabbage Butterflies. While I wish they were mated Tiger Swallowtails, I am willing to accept the Cabbages. I don't really understand why they like Hasta but I am happy.

I have Crane Flies in my bathroom. Yes.

And the Marigolds we planted once went to seed in my yard, are now like weeds, just popping up anywhere. Yes.


The bridge I have in mind is actually a blend of Portland Bridges. Portland is built on both sides of the Willamette River, pretty big as it nears the Columbia, taking ocean going vessels, and on the south side of the Columbia. There are thus many bridges over the Willamette and the two over the Columbia. There are only two over the Columbia because that is one huge river as it passes Portland. We are a couple hours by car from the coast, over 100 miles, but the Columbia is definitely tidal, and Portland at the rivers is not very far above sea level. The main floor of the Kraft/Nabisco bakery where I work is Elevation 47'. That is 47' above Mean Lower Low Water, the usual standard zero point of local sea level.

Under The Bridge

At the river, I sit down
near the great pillars
holding up the roar
of traffic across the bridge
higher above us
than the gull calling,
the swoop of that gray white bird.

You sit near me but
turned away. I know
you're remembering again
how it was for you
before you lost him
while I think on how we are

January 30, 2009 9:21 AM

You notice this? Nearly done with January. I was laid off and not working in January. All this poetry came from idle hands :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stephen Dunn

I was moving around the Internet today, checking my favorite sites and ran across this poem which blew my socks off. I will often, as many of you know, work a riff on the vision I find on some site. Then if I can I leave the poem behind. Johnny Applepoem. In this case there just was no way I could do justice to the poem I found. I can’t dance with this one yet. I am not grown up enough.

I am making an exception to my usual practice. I am going to let Stephen Dunn sing. He is, after all a Pulitzer Prize winner. The poem came as displayed on the Whiskey River website. The bio info came from

Choosing to Think of It

Today, ten thousand people will die
and their small replacements will bring joy
and this will make sense to someone
removed from any sense of loss.
I, too, will die a little and carry on,
doing some paperwork, driving myself
home. The sky is simply overcast,
nothing is any less than it was
yesterday or the day before. In short,
there's no reason or every reason
why I'm choosing to think of this now.
The short-lived holiness
true lovers know, making them unaccountable
except to spirit and themselves - suddenly
I want to be that insufferable and selfish,
that sharpened and tuned.
I'm going to think of what it means
to be an animal crossing a highway,
to be a human without a useful prayer
setting off on one of those journeys
we humans take. I don't expect anything
to change. I just want to be filled up
a little more with what exists,
tipped toward the laughter which understands
I'm nothing and all there is.
By evening, the promised storm
will arrive. A few in small boats
will be taken by surprise.
There will be survivors, and even they will die.

- Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn was born in New York City in 1939. He earned a B.A. in history and English from Hofstra University, attended the New School Writing Workshops, and finished his M.A. in creative writing at Syracuse University. Dunn has worked as a professional basketball player, an advertising copywriter, and an editor, as well as a professor of creative writing.

Dunn's books of poetry include Everything Else in the World (W. W. Norton, 2006); Local Visitations (2003); Different Hours (2000), winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry; Loosestrife (1996); New and Selected Poems: 1974-1994 (1994); Landscape at the End of the Century (1991); Between Angels (1989); Local Time (1986), winner of the National Poetry Series; Not Dancing (1984); Work & Love (1981); A Circus of Needs (1978); Full of Lust and Good Usage (1976); and Looking For Holes In the Ceiling 1974. He is also the author of Walking Light: Memoirs and Essays on Poetry(BOA Editions, 2001), and Riffs & Reciprocities: Prose Pairs (1998).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wooden Skeeters, A Day In The Life

These are lighthearted if you don't dig very deep. I recall the photo I spun off of on Robin's Motel Zero site. If Robin's watching as he sometimes does then he may be kind enough to provide a link. Heh. Like Tom gettin Huck to do the heavy lifting on that old picket fence.

Wooden Skeeters

I heard the clicking
Of tiny pointy wooden
Feet approach my head.
I looked thataway
And found a wooden skeeter
Aiming at my ear.
(I hate most ear bites)
Now what do I do? The wood
Part confuses me.

January 29, 2009 7:42 AM


This one too has layers and it is perhaps best just to stick with the story because when something manmade in my life comes at me without anyone to blame, well, then I guess I am driving and that just sucks. It is really convenient at that moment to find someone to blame in a hurry.

A Day In The Life

Don't you just hate it
When floating on the river
There's a boat bearing
Down on you and you
Shout and scream, risk falling out
By jumping and all
But that boat keeps on
Coming at you, nothing left
To do but jump out
And that boat takes yours,
Smashes it so completely
There's nothing left, then
You notice no one
Was in that other bad boat...

What the hell was that?

January 29, 2009 10:49 AM

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dark Thoughts, Connections

Heh. Here's a study. Both of these poems were written the same day. Neither are current, not when they were written, not today. Both are true places, places I've been.

Just for contrast, tonight I have been sitting in the grand old house that my former neighbor across the street years ago, he and his wife bought in the historic part of Oregon City. It's a historic house. I am in contact with him on his blog and we said we would get together one of these times, and now I finally got to it. So we have been spending time catching up. We were good friends as neighbors. When I moved, he bought my house. We found ourselves good friends again tonight. You can find both of his blogs here, Quantum Spirit.

Dark Thoughts

Why is it you make
Me feel like a fifth grader
Sneaking my play space
Under the desk lid
Behind the girl, sits in front
Of me, and she's good
For you when I'm not.

I'm a grown up man, by God,
And you belittle me.

I will get revenge
For this feeling you give me.
I will make you pay.

January 28, 2009 2:11 PM


I became convinced that Maire and I were Mage and Queen in a former life. That's what this is about. That relationship is the one where I became the Man of the Northern Wall.


Every time, girl.
Passion guides your touch,
Heart, your movements.
It's why I arrive
With my soul in flight, soaring,
Confident I will
Be received, welcomed,
Sure that with this connection
I recall another
In some other life.

January 28, 2009 9:22 PM

The relationship did end, of course, and the pain of that ending holds a special place all its own in my heart.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nothing More To Say, When I Turned Nine

There's a challenge in this more than one poem a day. Sometimes you just run dry. I have begun to let it go if I must. I say my goal is to match poems written and poems published, two a day. That's not so much a task since my poems are so short. But this week I accepted one poem each for three days, two poems yesterday, and four today. But here is one solution. Sometimes you pull back and look at trying to write. Write a poem like that.

Nothing More To Say

There's that sticky tongue
Tells me nothing more to say
And worse, that all I've
Said is shit, and worse
That I would dare to think like
Anyone would care.

That sticky tongue comes
Round from sleeping twisted,
Twisted up with dusty words.
I turn this sideways
In my vanity's mirror
And find a poem there.

January 28, 2009 9:11 AM


I have the experience I share in this next poem every day. For example, I can't get past and reframe my morning experience. I always leave a little late, get to work a little late and what I say about it, what I do in the morning just should not take this much time. There is something deeply not right about that according to my spirit. This is not the only thing like this. There are many. Always my inner space says some version of see? There's something wrong with this place or with me, doesn't really matter what or where, I just don't fit! I am still a little mortified at this one example from so long ago though.

I had a friend, a boy I considered my best friend. For some reason I don't understand still, this boy was a major light in my sky. His name was Conal Boyce. I have no idea where he is now, if he is now. I would pine for time with him. I was desperate when we moved away from Berkeley and my heart broke. We moved to Oakdale in the valley beyond Modesto on the way to Sonora. A small town. My mother and father both had teaching jobs and both went to the College of the Pacific in Stocton to get teaching degrees and licenses. That's why we moved.

We moved temporarily into one house, then bought a new housing tract house. I was a field away from a canal and orchard. We had many Siamese cats, two queens and a tom and eight kittens at one point. That year for my birthday, a package came from Conal. I was beside myself, amazed. I opened it as fast as possible when given permission. I looked in to see a beautiful butterfly seemingly floating in the middle of the box. It was in fact impaled on a pin glued upright from the center of the box bottom. I didn't really notice the pin. It was magic.

When I Turned Nine

It came right before
My birthday, the box you sent.
I opened that box
And inside was, pinned
To the bottom, bright purple
Butterfly. I gasped.
I reached in, broken
Wing so sudden, so damn dumb.
Parents mortified
And me far at sea
That the world would treat me so,
That there must be rules.

I know I'll never
Really get the need for rules.

January 28, 2009 2:25 PM

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Karmic Consequence, Farther West Than Solitude

I hope that I never again experience the radical powerlessness of the position I have experienced and write about here. You don't need to know what this is about. I am sure you have your own...

Karmic Consequence

It was a small stone,
Just one small action that tipped
The whole thing sideways.
Ponderous moment
Slow motion unstoppable
No damn thing to do
But get far away
From the kill zone beneath it
As it fell faster
And ever faster
Until crashing into me, it
Cratered the lost ground
Of my once grand life.

January 27, 2009 2:51 PM


I am not lonely. Not really. Not ever. What is really cool, I feel like this most days, all day. I hardly have a day, even a part of a day I feel lonely. I am alone quite a bit. I am alone right now. I have no idea where my cat is. Often she is on the cooler tile in the bathroom these days. She too is okay being alone.

Further West Than Solitude

I heard you say so,
Say all we have is mortal,
A loneliness west
Of solitude, what you said.
We are the very
Words we use, there's no other.
But how can I live
With that? I have to deny
The keystone moment
Of my whole entire
Life to stick with you in this.

Further west than solitude,
I found comfort there.

January 27, 2009 3:20 PM

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shining Through, The Winged Grail

What am I to do if God just shows up? What if He insists? There are those in the theology game that consider God pregnant like that, that His absence speaks far more about us than about Him. This is the attitude pretty much of the whole New Thought movement, and Eric Butterworth, for one, asserted that God loves to be used. He invited his students to use Him and suggested forms of positive and assertive prayer. My mother, a Unity minister wrote a book called the Handbook of Positive Prayer. It presents tested forms of positive prayer, ways to claim God's support and the granting of His power.

I am not one inclined to be so easy with my own inclinations. I do not trust them. As often is said in AA, my own best thinking got me to the desperate condition that put me in AA. If that is how twisted my own inclinations can be, how can I ever trust my gut to lead me to my best life? That is far better placed more radically in the hands of God. Thus, while I agree with Eric, God loves to be used, I disagree with the positive New Thought position that there are useful ways to get agreement with God at my request. I accept that there may be persons on the planet better qualified than me for that responsibility.

And yet, I am clearly in favor of the kind of spirit power exercised by magicians, by shamans, by musicians and poets...

Shining Through

You'll do anything
To get through to me, even
This torch job, burning
Through the thick cloud bank
I put up, a good smoke screen
I thought, but that's you
Shining through anyway
And I guess next you'll expect
Me to put you up.

January 27, 2009 9:48 AM


Okay, so God won't come to me....I can go on the hunt, right? Here's one outcome.

The Winged Grail

A question arose
Became a life work, seeking
Across the wide world
Into all the dark nooks,
The crannies where they told me
You might be hiding.

The chrysalis shell
Left behind leads me to ask
Who must I flutter
Now that you have flown?
Who will give me the drink now?
I thirst for mercy.

January 27, 2009 2:33 PM

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Am Falling Too, The Two Prayers

I am quite grateful. I am not in a troublesome relationship. In the morning on the way to work I spend my time in prayer, meditation and review of my life as I am instructed to do to protect my sobriety. I have not found any current difficult entanglements for a long time. But I remember. I am willing to face not only the experiences that I have had, but as well the experiences I am capable of having given different circumstances.

I Am Falling Too

The dark flower fell
Severed from the stalk of love,
Falling further than
The world, beyond my truth
Into the lies you left me
By the open door
And the rain that fell on me
As I climbed the steps
And walked into this
Empty house.

January 26, 2009 8:40 PM


I am just another bozo on the bus in most ways. The people at work well know this. So do the few members of my family still around and also my local friends. I guess I have some poetry and music that others don't have. Maybe there are some other unique things. I insist on continuing to learn. Yet I know I have no special position, at least no more special than yours. I believe my prayers are effective. I believe yours are too.

The Two Prayers

I see you among
The stones, hands aloft as you
Reach toward your God
In prayer for those
Who went before you and me.

I hold my heart, hands
Rise in my own way,
Om Namo, Bhagavate
Vasu devaya,
My deep call for you,
For me, and for all, amen.

January 26, 2009 8:58 PM
Revised, July 14, 2009 7:06 PM

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Artist's Way, So Many Poets

After stealing saints I got all spiritual. Hmmmm. There may be something to the Divine Outlaw. I'll do a little shuffle, play some twelve bar blues. Be the back door man, honey. It's all rock and roll. Yes. Go out on the dance floor and dance incantations to ecstasy. Coyote howls right about then, a triumphant note all deep and wise. The jokes are gone at this moment. Adoration of the moon of tides. Coyote follows his tone of voice clean out of the world and me, I have achieved. This infernal itch is scratched and how I got here doesn't matter any more because the god accepts us all. We either all go or we don't. That's why it was thunder, thunder and lightning the day this poor boy was born. That's why it don't matter that all I have is trouble, your hate, your scorn. My dad he died in a train wreck and momma she died of the booze. My first name is natural born trouble and my last name, honey, it's the blues. All the way to heaven.

The Artist's Way

I've made my gesture
Dedicated to the truth,
To the real way,
Even when at sea,
In the fog of war and peace,
In love's loss and gain.

When I write, but then
When I wash clothes and dishes,
When I tend the cat,
When I send my love
To those I owe, those I don't,
I'm significant
At the cosmic scale.

January 26, 2009 7:27 PM


And I'm hardly alone. There are so many. I love you all.

So Many Poets

The other poet
Wanders around the coppice
Deciding which tree
To trim on this day
When he hears this poet praise
Yet another one.

That's when he decides
There's more to this than being,
More identity
Than in the long form
Or the short work he does now.
The significance
Is the gesture he
Makes in trimming yet one more
Branch when it's needed.

January 26, 2009 7:52 PM

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dumber Than A Stump, Pagan Rites

When my kitten all those years ago pounced on a wasp, I bet he felt like this looking at his stung paw. He of course never pounced on a wasp again. But we thought he might die, he got so sick from the venom. He was better the next day.

I bet I am not the only one who has felt

Dumber Than A Stump

The sign says turn right,
Hard right by the looks of it.

I'm going too fast.

Feels like I'm gonna
Be rolling this damn bucket
Of bolts I'm driving.
What am I doing
Out here in the snow and ice
Anyway, dumber
Than a stump, dumber
Than that brace of icy trees
That I would've passed

Had I made the turn.

January 26, 2009 3:47 PM


My good blog friend Lucy at Box Elder published a post on old statues of saints found in the countryside in Britanny, in France. Lovely photos. I felt like I was actually looking at pagan statues even though the subject matter was Christian. I stole them. I am here to say even thieves have principles.

Pagan Rites

I'm a holy thief
Stealing little saints
When nobody looks.
I've kept them in caves,
Come and dance before the flames
I set down in front
Of the half circle
I made of them, tall to short,
But I left behind
Eugenie, not mine
To take, so strong her magic.
I have principles.

January 26, 2009 4:25 PM


I am fine, though I think these heart pills kick my ass...

I ran out of steam and time in the last few days, spent most of yesterday in rest mode, and am moving slow today, resting up for the next week's work. I thank God that I basically enjoy my work. It involves research and creativity and because I am not completely suitable for it, it stretches me to the utmost, always has. I know it is useful work too, and I make small changes to the world in my bailiwick that I can go visit and say, I did that, even from years ago. But there is the other part of corporate life and it wears me out severely. One of the more tiring parts, my work is peripheral to the mainstream money flow and so I am never considered valuable or even essential. I don't actually complain because I have built the cushion required and thus never fret in the lay offs. Instead, I value the relatively frequent time off. I could use a lay off now.

Also, I am on the computer in work mode all day, all week. Sometimes I get filled all the way up beyond my capacity to take with the computer and just can't do one more thing. It was like that yesterday. There was a time in my life that I yearned for an electric typewriter, there were no word processors. There was a time when I yearned for the stand alone word processor too. Some of you might remember those. No matter how facile I am on this gadget, it is not my native country. It costs me to live here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Karmic Life, My Cold Dark Dream

I have a tendency to believe in both the ideas of reincarnation and karma. I am not adamant because I am far too much a child of Christendom to not also feel that this one life is incredibly important. A full hearted embrace of reincarnation would seem to level this life into one among uncounted many. So for a man like me reincarnation does not solve all dilemmas and in fact raises one.

I take as a matter of faith that doing science makes sense because the universe is tricky and complex but it is not false. There is something that passes for objectivity that is meaningful. If something really strongly manifests, then there is something true in back of that manifestation. I take this to mean that since men sincerely take a self centered position that there is something to it. Self centered vision is not false, madness, hallucination but is instead an illusion that needs explaining and that explanation must reveal why it is so difficult to bust self centeredness even if you know better.

That is tantamount to saying if I am self centered, then there some way in which I am genuinely a center. Not only is there a God, but I am in His Image and Likeness, a meaningful center. That is not so easy to establish from the reincarnational point of view.

Yet, there is no better answer than reincarnation and karma to an equally difficult problem, which is why injustice can appear in a fundamentally just universe. If the universe lacks justice in this fundamental way, then it is difficult in that arena to accept a Just God. By its nature an Unjust God unravels. A Capricious God is worthy of disbelief. I have a problem with a godless universe. That unravels me.

Sorry. Here's the poem.

Karmic Life

That I should see you
Like that, over many lives-
Now like this, now here
Serving me for pay
When once we were family,
Or lovers, soldiers
In combat, and you
Killed me then. I will forgive
You in the next life.

January 25, 2009 8:49 PM


Heh. It was a song and video that was my muse.

My Cold Dark Dream

The sparrow flew in
Through the window, landed here
On the strewn papers,
On the table beside
My heavy heart on this rain
Filled night without you.

This could be a song
But it is my life that plays
In this cold dark dream.

Sparrow dying now
On the floor and the cold grows
Colder in my shell
Of an empty life.
My dream shatters. I break down,
Then wake to gray dawn.

January 26, 2009 9:23 PM

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twisted Truth, Feeling Time

Twisted Truth is a poem of exile. I do feel that I am in exile. I used to feel victimized and now I do not. Instead I "know" that I chose exile in agreement somehow. Actually I believe I pressed the point against advice. But in all honesty, underneath my sophistication lies a bewilderment, and the first reaction beyond that is a kind of victimization, a singled out feeling, a heightened self consciousness. Here is one of the koans of my life path. I do not presume to somehow deny this inner state. Denial of it would be a kind of insanity. Instead I wish to find and work for peace with my situation. I am more or less gaining on it. If I succeed any time before I am finished here my life will have been a sufficient success.


Twisted Truth

When they revise it
Before my eyes, blue for red,
Green for pale yellow
And tell me lies, lies
And I know what happened then
But they go all, "What?"
All their innocence
As if I was all screwed up,
That's when I know it,
That I have never
Ever really been a part
Of this broken race.

January 25, 2009 3:02 PM


Many years ago we had friends who lived in Putney, Vermont. They lived in the most amazing apartment, a very old building that had settled. They lived upstairs. The supports had dropped away from their floor so that it bounced, and it settled not equally so that the floor sloped drastically in places. We came in fall for the turning. We drove all over, and saw all kinds of magical things. In the spirit of magic, here is a poetic reminiscence.

Feeling Time

You lived in Vermont
All those years ago, buried
Your family there,
East Something township
Or North, on some small river
And one fall I came
To see friends who lived
Next to that cemetary.

We came for the trees.
It was you I found,
You centered in the old plot
Amongst veterans
Of Revolution
And children who died of pox,
Mothers of despair,
Some of old age too.
Your family plot, and me
Just then starting out.

January 25, 2009 7:31 PM

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

She's Over The Border Now, It's All Second Hand

If my lover left by jet plane. "I'm leaving on a jet plane/Don't know if I'll be back again/Oh babe, I have to go..."

If my lover left and I couldn't go.

She's Over The Border Now

I am far too late.
The contrails streak past my view,
Clearly demonstrate
That you are long gone,
Leaving me here to ponder
The state of my heart.

What more can I say
That means anything to you?
I hold the doorpost
As you fly above
As if we all should grow wings.

But I'm still grounded
I have my orders.

January 25, 2009 8:33 AM


Loving beyond all reason. Of course. We all know that really there is no other kind because love is itself beyond reason. This is the conundrum and the challenge. So often we enter an affair of some kind, knowing as I did from reason's standpoint that it couldn't work. Or we know by nature of reason that our kid's a jerk. So what? When I turned into a complete jerk it contributed to the end of my mother's third marriage. She could not act from reason, and my Dad could. He drew a line and she crossed it finally. I am happy because it saved my life, and I needed saving. However these actions went a long ways to ending that marriage. I am grateful to say that as it shook out, I still had both my Mom and Dad.

It's All Second Hand

I met you on the way
To the book club gathering
(This is odd for me)
Where we would discuss
Russo's book, called Bridge Of Sighs.
You agreed with me there.

The book's about them,
The ones who think they know stuff
Who struggle with those
They know don't know stuff.
But only because they love them
Beyond all reason.

January 25, 2009 3:52 PM

Monday, July 6, 2009

You Can't Fool Me, The Runaway

What I continue to wonder, how much of my spiritual landscape is still like this?

You Can't Fool Me!

The angry demon
Contained within this gemstone
Struggles to get out,
To get me, I'm sure.

Then you say this is truly
Great red compassion
Aimed at hindrances
I have placed before myself.

Oh really, I snort.

You sadly wander
Away, seeking to convince
Some other poor sap .

January 24, 2009 8:57 PM


As I have posted before, I am no stranger to a science fiction style. I started reading sf as a child. While I have moved on in my reading tastes, (currently reading Paul Theroux's The Elephanta Suite and Peter Mathiessen's Shadow Country with several non-fiction works in the wings as well as more novels), I can go back to sf at the drop of a moonlet.

Here's one

The Runaway

Hanging out here, Oort cloud bound
In a slow boat.
I'm near Triton, long beyond
The mess I left behind on Mars.

Couldn't afford the quick boat.

I regret leaving you
Without even one word before
But there it is, why you
Are better off this way,

Better off without this small heart,
Better off without these bad lies,
Better off without me period.
I am broken, damaged goods.

But oh my God you should see
What I see now.

January 24, 2009 10:15 PM

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Black Pepper, Brain Shaving

When I am in love odd things happen. The world changes in so many ways. I find gratitude in odd places. Sometimes when it is going very well, is very fresh, there is a kind of quality to the light and sound of things, to the feel of things. Only LSD ever came close to this experience of being high and that only twice. I know what it means to be able to say I would die for love. I haven't felt like that since 1999. Before that time I had not felt like that since 1970. What is really cool, the echoes of love are still in my soul. I am so deeply grateful I have never been embittered no matter what happened.

By the way, I loved my wife with a life love but she never took me, transported me, changed me like this. I am not sure it is wise to marry someone who has this power in your soul. At least for me, the women who changed me like this would not have been good marriage material.

Black Pepper

I hear her. She stirs
Behind the words she wrote down,
Below the sweet rhymes
She made while setting
Her gratefulness in this place,
Declares black pepper
The fruit of her choice,
Asks me to hang a crescent.

This moon's lit by grace.

She defines the space
Near my heart and all this while

She caresses my face.

January 23, 2009 10:47 PM


I sometimes think about how evolution has placed us here, unquestionably animal, directly linked. DNA and mitochondrial DNA both do not lie. Bonobo Chimps are something like 98% human by DNA. And that's first of course, that our cells are themselves communities, that before bodies a symbiosis of one celled creatures occured with the mitochondria climbing inside to help the other cells by helping themselves. This is essential. And then plants and then animals. And then mammalians and then apelike creatures, and then our branch. I hate to think what happened to our forerunners and contemporaries because humans have always been so bloody minded. It is unquestionable that we overlapped with Neanderthal. We now have Neanderthal DNA, enough that it looks like we either didn't or couldn't interbreed as was thought for a while. This very likely means that we killed them.

I keep track of this stuff because I need to know somehow. But I get in some trouble with this brain of mine...

Brain Shaving

My brain needs shaving,
It's whiskers, too long, lead to
Thoughts like bears or cats.
I gather berries, or hunt
Hapless prey who bleat at me,
Do not pay due heed
To things like washing dishes
Or making the bed.

January 24, 2009 11:36 AM

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Bad Kids On My Block, Meeting The Goose

I grew up 8th grade through high school in a suburban neighborhood. There was a drainage creek in back of my house and a prune orchard across that creek. On our side was a water company grassy area. The creek was mostly dry in the summer. This was in Santa Clara, just beyond the south end of San Francisco Bay, west of San Jose, and east of (and before) what is known as Silicon Valley. We would have rock fights across that creek, which had steep sides, about 20 foot deep. The gap at the top was about 30 yards. It was all pretty safe because you had to throw high to make it across, lobbing the rocks (our side) or prune orchard dirt clods (their side) and it really was about turf, that grassy area on our side, good for football and stuff. Just beyond the prune orchard was a housing development. On our side was a housing development. Beyond us, more prune orchards. That was when we moved in. But later, when I left the area, there were no prune orchards. They had all been bought for housing developments. We had roads named Homestead and Pruneridge dating back to the original settlers.

The Bad Kids On My Block

I felt my head flame,
My inner space grew intense
With the heat of suns
Gathering near me.

Hot enough to roast locusts
Massing for their war,
That's what I thought then.

Hot enough to pop them like
Hard yellowing corn,
Like overstressed bags
Struck suddenly, gassing out.

Those kids would like that.

January 22, 2009 3:24 PM


In Oregon's Willamette Valley there are huge numbers of Canada Geese. They hang out among other places in the grassy intersections of major highways. All along the Willamette River and its tributaries, nearby that is the Clackamas and the Tualitin, the geese search out the varieties of insects that live at or just below the surface. They leave behind prodigious amounts of goose shit. They gather most often in flocks. There is always a goose on lookout, the rest tending to foraging. To me, this is so cool to have the wildfowl. Up on the Columbia River one time we went out to an island connected by a footbridge to a park to eat and eat we did. There were no geese that day, but the ground was basically wall to wall old goose shit. Dry and crunchy.

Often when they are in flocks overhead, because they have just come in or are just leaving, they are close to the ground and they call to one another. I love that. In both the houses I have lived for the last 28 years I have been in Canada Goose flyways even though the houses are several miles apart.

Even though we are most of two hours by car from the ocean, still the tides reach this far up the Columbia and into the Willamette. The gulls follow the onshore flow. They stay mainly along the Columbia. Even another hour inland out east of The Dalles (not many places do that, but there are Des Moines and El Paso, for example, so this is not such a strange city name) there are gulls who hang out at the roadside rest stops cadging lunch and dinner.

Meeting The Goose

The goose eyes me as
Only a goose can, erect neck,
Poised to raise her wings.

I have interrupted her.
She stakes her claim to this ground.

Scary as she is now,
She was magnificent when
She was overhead.

January 23, 2009 8:46 AM

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ocean Diving Off Your Shore, The Little Snapshot

I find this next poem one of my favorites. There is sleight of hand in it. Heh. I think it is a love poem. You may have another opinion. You are welcome to it.

Ocean Diving Off Your Shore

I found elephant
Tusks, a cannon, porcelain
And amber in piles
Off your island shore
On the seabed, and coins too.
The coins were in crocks,
Stoneware and crusted
With shells. Someone said this wreck
Was Dutch. I can't help

Thinking, me too, boys,
I'm an old Dutch wreck

January 22, 2009 11:17 AM


This is a poem about wanting to measure up to my own best self.

The Little Snapshot

I want to honor
Your place in my heart, taking
Special care to know
Who you are, know you
Are not the little snapshot
I keep of your shape
In inattention
To your presence in worlds
Beyond my own space.

I seek the graceful.
I seek gifts that I may be
Who you say I am.

January 22, 2009 11:55 AM

Thursday, July 2, 2009

All In A Row, The Intersection

These poems came fast on this day back in January. Sometimes I am loosely woven. It takes a special discipline then.

All In A Row

I stand in a row,
All of me, upright, right dress,
But it's damp, that's wrong.
It's a hard go keeping me
In a discipline like this,
Especially when
The fog gets in all my heads.
This just creeps me out.

January 22, 2009 10:02 AM


And sometimes the only refuge is memory.

The Intersection

Sometimes when I write
These lines the walls fall away,
I turn a sharp right
In this personal
Moment and lose myself all
Over once again
Just like that one time
When I found myself in your
House, climbing into
Your lap, looking out
On everything that is
All of me, of you.

January 22, 2009 10:22 AM

I don't feel any urge to add anything much tonight. I can say that my part of Oregon is in a heat wave for the moment, and while our heat is not as high as some but one or two days out of the year, what we have is humid air most of the time. That really saps me. I am told I am to expect that to get worse now with my medical history.

My old girl friend has arrived to tend to her house here this week, and then to travel further south to Chico in California to see her mother. I have spent several evenings with her, like old times only as friends. We were always true friends. We still are. We have decided to travel together to visit a mutual friend soon.

Being with her is comfortable as always. Very familiar.

Post Delay

My life has too many cross currents just now. Should be able to post tonight. I also will have a few days off at the end of July due to a little travel.

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