Showing posts from May, 2017
Today I saw
sea eagle piercing
the blue sky silver glinting
from his talons
promises there will be
a tomorrow.
Not first upon the Cross God let Himself be slain,
For see! He lieth dead there at the feet of Cain.

--Angelus Silesius


Goodness this is a powerful reminder and brings forward what it means to be in the image and likeness of God. When we lay violent hands on any person, we lay violent hands on God himself--Matthew 25:40:

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Poem: On Looking at the Columns in the Temple of Hathor

On Looking at the Columns in the Temple of Hathor

What dim, flickering, ageless age
you speak to us--an ageless age
that changes in the mind of
the one who sees it. How many
worked for how long to make
these columns and friezes to tell
us what story? How much shadowed
labor in what heat and weather?
How many working here and how
many others to support the work
they did?

                 It beggars the imagination
to think--no outlets, no switches
nothing but the muscled labor of men
and women and beasts. No eight-hour
day and then off to be with family, no unions, no protection from elements
or random anger.  And yet all done
all to glorify a silent goddess--joy and
a mother's abiding love.

                                         What connection
have I now to what this meant to you
when it was new--when ground was
cleared and tamped and set for
the work of long years, when bright
blue skies and sun washed days pounded
harder than the hard hours of long toil.

How can I connect to …
This is the problem with today,
we look to the future and the past,
we're taught to do it from the time we can think,
and here we look to both ways--
To the future that we are building memories
(the past) for, with not so much
as a sidelong glance to the fact
that when we live Romantic nows
the past and the future take care of themselves.
Instead of focusing on the outer cosmos, Socrates focused primarily on human beings and their cosmos within, utilizing his method to open up new realms of self-knowledge while at the same time exposing a great deal of error, superstition, and dogmatic nonsense. The Spanish-born American philosopher and poet George Santayana said that Socrates knew that “the foreground of human life is necessarily moral and practical” and that “it is so even so for artists”—and even for scientists, try as some might to divorce their work from these dimensions of human existence.

With T. S. Eliot on the Beach

"From the moment of inception
a poem must be driven
by the meaning you would give to it"

"Oh Tom, not this again, please--
look at the ocean, the sun just reflecting,
the pelican raising his head to swallow a fish."

"That's it! That's it exactly!
The three persons of the trinity--
the Holy Ghost present to all equally,
the Father Ocean in whom we live and move
and have our being and most of all
the Pelican Christ, who moves
on the surface of the Father and engulfs
sinners to their salvation. "

"Eh," I say, "can't the ocean be the ocean
and the waves just waves? Can't sand
be sand no matter how we sculpt it?"

"Poetry isn't for the faint of heart
or the weak of will, its for men of stout
heart and strong mind who know what they mean
and say it with full force of their words."

"Why can't poetry just be beautiful. . ."

"It must be beautiful but not just,
it must persuade and convince by its…
I just read this poem and fell in love with it. A picture rather than a typescript because you have to see it for it to mean.
I first read it in a Keillor collection where all design was removed and it still entranced me, but now even more properly arrayed.  As set in Keillor's book, the poem is rather like pâté de foie gras, sans pâté, pas de gras.   Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Central Park West.
And when you write, write.
one word in front of another
your meaning, your meaning
their meaning, their meaning
expanding the boundary
to bursting, and who cares?
Because now it is one word one word one word

a pile of words.

To Starbucks

I truly love
your energy efficient
high green grass-covered
hut with fake fireplace
and long bench with chairs
heavy as thrones for
overlooking the lake
some people made to build
things on while watching
the tethered balloon reel
in and out like some giant
fishing rod pulling people
out of the cerulean
dyed blue.

Even more I love
the people who try
to please with smooth
and carefully trained
efficiency who have
to deal with idiots like
me who refuse to conform
to your tone-y café
lingo and who instead
ask for the biggest
or the next size down
or the smallest.

But truth to tell
I'd rather go to
Panera, McDonald's
Dunkin Donuts,
the local sinkhole
or frogpond
to find something
to drink

Despite your colorful
and sometimes
insipidly controversial cups.

The Topologist's Frustration

Can you imagine!
He was looking
for a sphere with one
handle and all he could
find was his hidden wife's
Japanese Tea ceremony set
minus the pot--
cups so delicate and thin
you could breathe through them.

note: while this may seem to be needlessly obscure it helps to know that a sphere with one handle (or even with a hole in it) is topologically identical to a coffee cup. More or less.

Lecture on Poetry

with the
that the poet
is writing about some-
thing, not just playing with
words, note I said "just playing"
because all poets play with
words just like your toddler
plays with food, folds it
up, mashes it down,
stirs it up
makes it


In Case You Were Asking--Coffee

Maybe there would be
a donut there, or perhaps
nothing to make the coffee

better, you could never
tell but you also couldn't lose
counting on bad coffee--

so bitter and burnt your
tongue would feel better
licking the dingy coffee

colored shingles of your
neighbor's unpowerwashed
roof, but still it IS coffee

unstirred by spoon, cuillier
or Prévert and it asks
no easy coffee-

house questions and offers
only the solace of a cup
with a handle. Coffee . . .

In case you were asking.

Query: Re Blogger

I'm back after long absence and have a question for anyone who pays attention (there are only a few).  It used to be fairly easy to follow a blog.  Now I seem to have to cut and past the URL of the blog I wish to follow into the edit area of a reading list to be able to follow.  Is there an easier way?
Oh you splendid light that shines from within all things,
do not hide from us who look,
perhaps only time to time.
It is true we spend more time
looking at our own feet,
listening to the dog or cat fight,
running away and laughing
like children who have just lit a paper bag on your porch.

it is good for us that you are a song,
the sun in the morning,
a rainbow, a pair of Sandhill cranes and their young,
the scent of jasmine, magnolia, vanilla, the ocean.
In all things and being all things,
you fly to us at the slightest nod
at the smallest gesture
you invite us to feast.

And even when
we pay no attention,
You shine out
of all things
and sing the song of longing presence.


Don't look at me,
there's nothing here to see--
look at Who loves me.
Today is a day for hearing.
though I've set myself under
the huge iron bell of the carillon
on a festival day, still its clamor
cannot drown out the whisper of Your love.

No matter how I flee it,
it rings in my head
and my body takes
Your sound and transforms
it into light that
though I try to trap it
escapes me and blinds the world
into new sight.
There are times,
indeed most times,
when I feel like a fake,
an impostor,
not entitled to the gifts you send,
to the caresses you extend
in return for my playing in the mud.

I am a liar, a cheat, a false lover,
a pretender--oh, I am every falseness
all in one, from Trojan horse
to human skeleton on the moon.

And mysteriously, you seem to love me
all the more for it,
and throw out snares that draw me in
again and again,
and though I rip and turn away
from your gossamer nets,
still I long for their soft touch
and come again to be ensnared.

Stop playing!
Take me because I cannot give myself.

Bookstore Temptations


Some Haiku and Short Form

It crossed my mind
to buy yet another book until
I stopped to count the ones I have.


Have you thought how you
litter Earth with poems like leaves
from shaky fall trees


I fall into these words time and time again


In falling I fall
in walking I walk.


Options are very
limited--so be
who you are.


Did you ask me
because you wanted to know or because
you needed to fill the empty air


Your wounds are already
healed if you would just stop re-
opening them.


Just listen with your other ear
to what you say and hear
it for the poison it is.


Patience, kindness
compassion, humility, I seem
to run out of everything but words.


I tore it open
and started to stuff
it full of stories and string
and whatever came to hand
as I was casting about for yet
more to fill its sucking
unsoothable emptiness--
tales tragic and trivial,
endless facts and recipes
for foods no one would ever eat,
murders and weddings and the vast
silence the underlay the thunder
of the pounding surf. And still
there was no help for it--
each thing I stuffed in only
made it emptier. Who knew
that emptiness could grow bigger
could consume everything?
And yet the more I stuffed
inside the less it contained worthy of note. Should I cease and sew it up? Should I cast it into the sea to see if it should be swallowed or more likely swallow the bitter salty sea and still be craving in its emptiness.


All the people that cannot
be, but admire
give pleasure to being me.

Judgment--a pre- or postlude

You judge the oyster
ugly and so do not discover
the pearl within.

Poem--"So long. . . "

So long as I
insist upon my own way
everything is broken

But then evening comes

Creating a Sacred Space

We should start by understanding
that this is impossible.
We cannot create a sacred space
because all spaces are already sacred.
In their being they reflect their making
and their maker.
So now we understand our goal
is different, what should we say?

Living our sacred space.
We choose to see that everything around us
is a gift. Every person we meet
is a gift, is a hammer to knock off
the harsh corners,
the uneven contours,
to shape us to our mission.
There is no such thing as an intrusion,
as an obstruction. Every person
is a lesson, is a challenge,
is present to strengthen our ability to love,
to transform us from potential to kinetic.
Until we see this, we miss some of the sacred
brought to us each day.
In our hurry to accomplish we push
aside possibility to pursue our own ephemeral agenda.

Did cutting that person off in traffic really save that much time?
Did letting the door slam behind us in the face of another
really get us to where we were going faster?
Can you even remember w…


Silence the clatter of judgment
in your own head.
Judgment is the noise you make
at night to scare away
the burglar who is downstairs
before you go down
to find that everything is all right.
Judgment is our own
self-doubt crying out, saying,
"Make sure I'm still important.
Make sure I still matter. "
By judging we claim control,
power, certainty.
But what we get when we judge
is a certain fixity of viewpoint,
a certain hardening of the lines
of who and what we are,
a certain diminishment of joy.
Because when we judge and exclude
harmless and beautiful things,
we close off access to the treasures
they contain.
Treasures countless others have tasted
and known, but which we find
"beneath us."
When we judge a person,
we set up a barrier,
a line neither can fully communicate across.
We gaze into a mirror
and exaggerate and demonize
what we do not like about ourselves.

So what instead?
Instead, let us, each one
accept what comes to us
as a gift.
If we do not understa…
Yesterday, the last of April, and my mother's birthday, a race on the beach.  Ten K up and down the sand, with the clouds of sunrise reflecting, first gray, before the sun has a chance with them, and then the broad strokes of pink and yellow and orange and purple and gray.  And people gathering there on the hard flat surface of the beach near the ocean.  Watching the wind whip up the waves and drive the crest fast upwind.  Race time and more people and rain and the possibility that Space X will launch something from nearby Cape Canaveral, so the first two miles or more during rests, turning around and glancing back over my shoulder to see if it happened.  And it doesn't, so I watch the people on the beach with their phones and cameras aimed toward the cape and if I see someone point or lift their camera or stand up and look, I'll turn around, but I don't.  And I'm running so hard and the wind is blowing back at me that I am surprised when I turn around and suddenly…