Friday, July 31, 2015


My first memory is of
his pushing me so high in 
a swing, I could but cackle
as though tickled on the feet.

Between time I learned from him 
how to throw a curveball with
such finesse, batters would be
mesmerized as they swung, missed.

My last memory of him 
is his pushing me against
the car, grabbing me by my
collar, saying, If you go in my house I wll kill you.

In India, by phone, I 
got word, my brother had died,
but ’twas a long time coming,
not at all unexpected.

The very day he died, I 
dreamt his death . . . then weeks after, 
I did go in his house and
found it knee-high with beer cans 

but for the room where he died
and where I did learn to pray.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Speaking of Close Friends

I think of the few I harbor 
today, knowing that tomorrow 
but one of us will die, leaving 
the rest behind—you must figure,
it’s not likely we’ll disappear 
at once, altogether done in 
by a single catastrophe . . .

oh, what a hoot that would be!

On the other hand, such 
a denouement does happen, 
so it’s thinkable, just not probable.
More than likely we’ll wither
away on the vine of circumstance
one by one, one at the time, by
way of initial conditions . . .

ah, the big bang then big fang!

Still, ’tis my very best guess, 
the end will prove to be but
a new beginning . . . unless
one can figure out a way
to turn loose the mortal coil
and, like the beloved salmon,
swim up stream to the clearest light . . .

empty many, One Only!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hilarious Lunch, Recollected

Now it comes to me
why my friend and I
laughed so hard at lunch.

First, one of us said,
the worst thing about
retirement, your sphere
of influence shrinks
almost to zero.

And the other said,
but that’s the best thing,
because then you are
responsible for
just about nothing.

Sure, not so funny 
now, but then, at lunch . . . 
a kookaburra!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lunch, Laughter

At lunch with a friend
We got to laughing
So hard, by the time
We could recover
We could not recall 
Why we’d been laughing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Word Games?

A poet said on
the radio that
poems are word games—
any more is just
being pretentious.

What if word games are
the very pretense 
of making poems,
putting on an act, 
regardless of things . . .

all the while leaving 
world to languish in 
and poets to be 
swallowed up by words. 

Who would then miss them?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Freedom of Religion?

The very thing of
yore meant to unite
now divides us so
some can express their 
bias as business.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Writhing in pain I
find it hard to sleep
so the mind wanders
wondering, Why sleep?

Sleep studies suggest
it is needed for
repair and order
of body function.

Mind function’s at once
addressed, to process
unresolved feelings,
thoughts, wants . . . stresses of

like adrenalin 
and cortisone
storing guilt and grief.

Evidence points out,
lack of sleep likely
contributes to dis-
ease, forming disease.

On the other hand,
it turns out, the more
we relax, the less
sleep we seem to need.

So the why of sleep
points directly to
its how: find your way
of relaxation . . .

I but watch my wandering mind wonder.
Sooner or later words put me to sleep.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Resist Not, Other

We appear to come 
into this world quite 
oblivious to other,

all being but an 
extension of one 
self, insofar seen.

By the time we are 
five we know too well,
the world is either

for or against, so
we say yes or no,
in accord . . . our love.

We all love something
if it’s but the bit
that’s going our way.

If we will start there,
we might then see, what’s 
not aligned with us

proves the very path
to our freedom from
wanting the other

to be just like us,
not only twine, twin . . .
when, to love other

we must love our self.
Then, only then, we 
doth know . . . twoless Self.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Grace of Grief

The story’s afoot 
that our trouble is
our finest teacher.

That’s believable 
but hard to practice
when you’re in trouble.

Ten days ago, just,
I was in the throes 
of yard work when I

quite wittingly stretched
my old bag of bones
to prune a tree limb

and unwittingly 
pulled a muscle that
had missed the memo.

The nag needles me
still; try as I will,
it’s taught me nothing.

At first I moaned then
groaned a mite, mostly
to my quiet self.

As the pain increased
I complained aloud
and without ceasing.

Next I tried the odd
muscle relaxer
but got no relief.

So now I do sit, 
not for a cure, yet 
the grace . . . of the grief.

The drill is, it takes 
time for such to heal
through much relaxing.

That takes patience while
remembering . . . how 
to do nothing, well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Prayer: What We Do

Prayer: what we do 
with our life while we
are waiting to die
to our selfishness.

Not my will, but thine 
means to make the most 
of the worst that could 
happen in the world.

To so do . . . is to 
play at God, knowing,
the worst things come like
the weather; the most

we cannot bare to 
pray for, holding back
guilt and grief and lack
of a thankful heart.

Still, we never will
grasp whate’er doth come
from praying, till we
utterly swallow, 

Prayer: what we do.

(After Marilynne Robinson's, Lila.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


You heed the deed you need
to seed the word you feed the read
to weed the bead of being 
to lead you to life’s mead.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Vatic Sayings

No less an authority
than J M Coetzee says 
the poet speaks vatically
by ceasing to be oneself,
"opening the poet-self
to some higher power."

The astute Mr Coetzee
does not pursue, as David,
Goliath, so what is this
higher power he speaks of?
What do poets know of it?
How does the poet-self cease?

He does not say but points to
Kierkegaard's paradox,
Speak without power or right:
so self-ceasing might come not 
by act of will but as gift
of (dis)grace, following much


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Baptism by the Book

Now and then you hold
in the hand a book
that, reading it, feels 
like a baptism.

Lila (by Marilynne Robinson)
deals with the crux of
the fix the upright 
beast finds itself in.

Ours is the quandary,
Can anyone be 
trusted?  This book I 
trust to tell the truth

about saying yes
to the universe
in the light of plight
and human hardship . . .

Robinson's stories don't lie.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dirt Poor

Growing up in a camp for
coal miners, I remember 
learning what it means to be

dirt poor—having no proper
flooring in your house, only
the bare ground: maybe four walls, 

some semblance of a ceiling
overhead to shield you from
yonder elements outside.

Not that I had to worry
about such things, ever, but
I had a friend who lived thus.

He paid no mind to his state 
of housing, preoccupied 
getting one good meal a day

either from school, or neighbor.
No running water, he washed
himself hardly at all, so

none but I and one other
would get close enough to sit
next to him in the lunchroom.

He told such funny stories, 
when I smell need for a bath, 
I clear see his comic smile.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Pursuit of Happiness

Presumed as the common goal 
of our species, happiness 
is rather hazardous to 
health in direct proportion 
to its own very pursuit.

So let happiness be but
the byproduct of presence—
itself not to be pursued,
but rather realized by
relaxing own self-being . . . 

then accepting how things are.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Holding All the Cards, You

With the clear mind of
sky, the bold heart of 
the deep blue sea, no
valley of shadows
will block the light of
evolving spirit:
your feeling alive
as if life itself—
every emotion 
charged up with be-ing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What a Thing Is

What a thing is
is a function 
of the distance
from it to you.

That distance is
diminished by

At ground zero
there is but one . . . 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Reflections of a Selfie

A head of thinning, greying 
hair, dark empty eye sockets . . .
all other facial features
disappearing in the dark
cloud of unknowing background,
then half a torso . . . lit up 
by a bedside lamp, and yet
no sign of personal touch
but for the trace, this poem.

A selfie . . . 
much ado 
about nothing.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Worthy of Notice

Every now and then
I engage no time
with words—that is, I
do nothing worthwhile
but make monk poems.

Poems in that vein
fiddle with riddling
mysteries of grace
and grit that arise
from everyday sounds . . .

humdrum sounds, humming
drumming to the beat
at the heart of things,
all the while all round
bending them into

shape.  Seems worthless, yes?
And yet . . . my dad did
teach me the thing apt:

Pay a mind to it,
see if it feels right.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wildlife Refuge

Eyes are awash with sandhill crane
standing still upon the lake bank.

Four rare whooping cranes spot the woods
in the darkest distant background. 

Mallard ducks dart the lake fishing
or frolicking, a few sleeping.

A lone chipmunk rides the rock of
a dry waterfall, cheeks chocked, full 

of sunflower seed scavenged from  
feeders swayed by frenzied finches.

Among countless other critters, 
twelve are human and four of these

are walking through the bald cypress 
swamp, while all round it walks through them.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Vow of Mercy

The Tibetan yogi, Shabkar
writes of protecting waterfowl
from an eagle who would daily 
catch a few under his refuge.

Wielding a slingshot the yogi
would chase the eagle.  But once it
faltered, and fell in the water. 
Shabkar pitied the bird of prey . . .

that day spent lost in nature’s womb,
the protector of the sentient.

Friday, July 10, 2015


to dance
a dance
of one.

to self
keep it

come to
each breath
as though
the last.

pass through
the gate 
a pass.

At once
at one 
be still
no self 
know Self.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Self Interview

Once, my ego asked my self
how I make poems; and why:
“for god’s sake,” it stressed, then sighed.

I have no special wisdom
of the art . . . but of the act
I did speak direct and plain.

“I listen for things speaking
then put what I hear them say
in words certain—for God’s sake.”

Now that sounds about right . . . if 
it be understood as non-
conceptualizing thought:

awareness empty, no source;
a mind empty, no concept;
action empty, not a trace.

Words certain show uprightness,
as with a direct gesture
pointing a way to go, grow.

The very strength of a word 
certain doth set free the beast 
uncertain, less than upright.

The uprighters make poems,
music, all manner of art,
and laws for the sake of all.

Any uprighter worthy
of the name knows, art is too 
diaphanous for ego. 

Which divides art from art naught.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Photograph of Memories

The best of the best of the best of me 
comes from growing up in a coal mining
camp, in the old house still standing today. 

It looked quite different in the fifties . . . 
and felt twice as big, with a bannister 
that wound all the way around the front and 
side right, to the very back of the house 
where then was to be found a big back porch. 

There was a chert driveway to the left where 
I fell while showing off my new bike to 
parents in the car in the driveway, their
having just returned from down the hill at
Woodward Iron Company Commissary.

Parents found out the hard way, what they knew
not, theretofore, their eight-year-old lad had 
finally found the pedals. The fall left 
a one-inch scar on my left knee that’s yet
there, where I put it, sixty years ago. 

Three windows now in the attic were not 
there then, nor was the privet surrounding
the front porch. The large tree to the right I
did climb often . . . whenever I was not 
flinging a ball against the center steps.

A picture, I took recently, when I 
found myself back in Mulga and, by chance, 
met up with old friends from so long ago.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Mind of No-mind

Out walking you walk
the beat of the heart—
not mind.

Without the heart no
body can be but
a corpse.

A corpse has no mind
so it cannot know

No-mind is a name
for unity consciousness—
which proves

to be too many
syllables, if but
by two.

Yet no-mind is still,
the mind that lives in 
the heart.

Indeed so still that
it motivates all 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Being You

Moving through the world
the world moves through you
though the world is not
there to be found out
but doth lie within
you, while you are not
there but for thin air, 
a wisp of spirit.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Flags in the USA

We use flags to stand for 
that which we stand for:
family, team, town, country, 

corporation . . . even God.
We have a right to our flags
but the rub comes when the right

of display rubs up against 
another’s right to be free
of the harms of bigotry.

Context and consequence, 
next to motive and manner, 
do seem to govern our flags.

Our War of Independence
was won, so the  Stars and Stripes
wave over our nation’s pride—

and past: of ethnic cleansing
and slavery and abuse of 
women and minorities. 

Our most precious symbols are a mélange.