She wears one mask

 
 
She wears one mask,
and beneath blue sky’s face, hers
is more calm, a pacific tide dressing
waves that siphon sand from under
my feet.
 
She wears one mask,
contours her face embosses in the air,
with veiled smile, easy affection, like
some curtain drawn in warm embrace.
Eyes that linger do arrive.
 
She wears one mask,
and in the twinkle of her eye,
my gaze given way, she lets go
the chrysalis gauze, desire thus
draped, now undone silk by
silken breath.

She wears one mask,
lips like leaves she stirs the wind,
tucks me within hushed embrace,
till begins this apple bloomed,

       Am I leaf or wind?

And behind each mask unmade,
the one who wears us both,

       radiant.
 
 
 
 
2022.11.02
 
 
 
 
 

fingers and toes

twenty one days and counting, but only twenty fingers and toes

one day out of reach?   like poems, I never know.

how much you figure, I can fill my own bowl.   wrote about bowls often enough, but now?   one more thing I don’t know.   does my understanding thus decrease?   I look, like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces all seem present, reasonable.   but when I ask, what does it feel like being me?   why like this, being me?   I don’t know.

thunder this morning outside the open door.   loud.   pleasing to me.   I am still in the world and the world in me.   some measure of trade.   rain, it also landed hard, joyed for the thunder I suppose.   didn’t last long.   I wish for more.   more thunder.   more anything.

gone my California blood.   clear by eleven latest.   blue following.

now cool, even cold, pleases me.   and rain?   welcome any day.   love the scent, love that it means staying inside home, where I’d be anyway.   I appreciate the reason why.

I like that bowl.   love?   a classic beauty.   I remember the Japantown shop where we first met and I said, come with me.   I remember where everything came from, the where, the why.   Palo Alto, Monterey, San Jose, Los Altos, Edmonds, the Renaissance Faire at Black Point.   Most of the artists too.   never seemed too much.   but now?   one more spoon I don’t know.

and we’ll not talk about books.   not yet anyway.

it’s an act of faith when I buy a book right now.   twice.

how tedious to elaborate all this personal history.   but then, maybe this is my coin.   when I was this-much-tall I grew up in a small farming town.   large Sunsweet plums-into-prunes processing plant right across the street.   great sport off season when closed down.   dangerous stuff just like small boys adore.   and an abandoned house next to that, that inside smelled of over powering old sweet honey.   a mystery.   half-block west, the main road & highway for that part of the world.   not big.   east, one block, the railroad tracks and beyond, plum orchards all the way to the low eastern valley hills.   their brown summer curves looking like a woman laying down.

how’s that bowl doing?   getting full?

        how do you give your life away?

like ground water seeping up through the foundation, I have this wondering.   all these years, well, I don’t think in years, maybe seasons, days, moments, colors, scents, faces, choices, sometimes lips, touch, feet on gravity’s ground – all of this.   what a history lost when one of us goes away.   such sweetness, such pain.   my new favored phrase – is my life not poem enough?   not meaning only me, certainly, but this is where I feel it by natural course.   details.   which side of the bowl do you place your spoon?  no matter at all.   yet true, it matters.   when was the last cat that sat in your lap?   that image matters to me.

we are the rounded arc of our earth.   one in millions.   but take one away and nothing is the same.   not wrong, put your spoon where you wish, but yea, not the same.   two hands is always how we face any truth.   this and that.

OK mom.   to wed and bed following the end of a war.   happiness like that ain’t always smart.   dad I think was merchant marine.   mom typed it all up, on and off the boats.   but gambling mattered more to him than mom or me.   leastwise that was her story of one ending to family.   unspoken.   don’t discuss.   too uncomfortable?   better not to feel too much.   my excuse.   I was a child.   I swallowed what was put in front of me.   not my fault.   not hers.   but an awful choice that stayed around for decades of years.   kept my mouth closed when it should have spoke.   passion unexpressed.
         call that sin.   call that unripe.

how many folks not loved as they deserved.   wishing is not loving.

is writing medicine?   no.   but it is the natural life I kept at bay.

your nurturing instincts will expand to many people.   so says the fortune cookie.   so the cookie crumbles.   but yea, that’s one rule, no, one intent of everything I write.   no lies.   no complaints about this greater life.  or if failing that, then acknowledge it is only my misunderstanding of truth.

what’s that mean in the pencil box?   well, this is heaven, literally.   but as we notice it don’t last forever.   use it well.   angels, yea, but not like books pretend, no glowing wings, no halo above their heads.   actually, very ordinary.   simply the right person at precisely the right time and place.   maybe you’re lost.   maybe they do or say the right thing to wake you up.   then walk away never knowing who they were for someone else.
        tell me.   is that hard to swallow?

running out of things to do this night.   menu isn’t big.   yes, slight breeze enough, go lay down in bed.   J. already long asleep.   lay down, she’s right next to me.   close my eyes, breathe.   drifting.   in the shallow cup between J. and my back, there’s a cat, no, a kitten, white with brown.   curled asleep.   J. moves closer, so yea, imagination, not a cat.   her arm her hand glances over my shoulder.   fair trade.   no, better, far better than a cat.   her touch puts me more at ease.   but too slight, that appreciation said by me.   she moves more, a little here a little more pressing firm.   some days some nights are easier, some harder.   this was a harder one.   till now, changed.
         maybe I’m the cat.

maybe I should spell out the specifics?   usually shy about detailing disease.   not important in themselves, but just so you understand my wandering my obsessions.   a heart that’s not moving blood so well.   leaves me often feeling short of breath.   waiting waiting, that’s the twenty-one days, till a procedure to help with that.   lots of pills.   then surviving that, is a blood disease.   kinda rare, kinda dangerous.   more details, really just of interest to me.   reading through some months of these journals here you’ll catch some edges of these issues for me.   I try to learn even now, especially now.   thought I was a good student, but here, here’s a very real personal test.

always a choice.   sit here – silently – say nothing about.   like mom might have done.   but newer kinder better me says be visible.   all the more if my experience here is growing short.   be a flawed open me?   more than mere wish.

trimmed my beard earlier.   close.   it pleases me.

here’s where I’d go have a cigarette.   punctuation.   back when I did.
 
 
 
 
 

the universe begins

sometimes I’ve a taste for appreciating the expressions of other people.  my prior post, the visual water poem of Monterey Bay acted to remind me and want to recall a poem done years ago.
I hear voices in this poem.

this is a Cento poem, an assembly of another writers words, actually two other writers in this specific instance.  only Cento rule, no changes to the text taken from the other source (use as is).  here, while reading, imagine two different voices, each speaking their lines to you (italics vs no italics), with perhaps even a third, speaking the chorus parts (prolog, interlude, etc.).  your ear will add more dimension that way.
 
 

the universe begins with an empty face because

(being a poem in two voices and a chorus)

 

    prolog:

    The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming about them.

 
We were laying on her bed with a mohair blanket covering us.
In places where there was nothing, the seventh day put soil; the eighth plunged its hands and feet in the soil.

The first sun, the watery sun, was carried off by the flood.

That night, there was a full moon encircled by ice crystals.

She was dying in the same way she was living, consciously.   All that lived in the world became fish.   I kept expecting Mother to appear.

When women were birds, we knew otherwise.
The thunder birds left the little girl in the fork of a tree.   “You’ll live here,” they told her.

I will say it is so: My mother’s voice is a lullaby in my cells.

“We’ll come every time you sing.”

Her absence became her presence.

No one will be able to sleep, nor to keep secrets, and every body will know who is people, who is bird, and who is beast of the forest.
 

    interlude:

    They will be born and die again and be born again.

    Two parrots appeared out of the sky.
    No sooner had they alit on the ground than they turned into women.

 
 
Between the silences, we played together.

When she saw the fleshy fruit at her feet, she picked it up and bit into it.

Water is essential.   She felt a strange pleasure and became pregnant.

A mother is essential.   And God thought, “The rabbit is so small.   Yet he did all this.   If the rabbit were big, maybe I wouldn’t be God.”

My mother’s transgression was hunger.

Before the sun arrived, the woodpecker pecked at the wooden girl below the belly.

Thus she, who was incomplete, was open for the sun to enter.
 

    admonition:

    I like the idea of erasure.

    synonyms: abolish blot cross out cut dispatch efface eliminate excise expurge gut kill launder negate nullify obliterate scratch out stamp out strike take out trim wipe out withdraw

 
 
When a Guarani child dies, he rescues its soul, which lies in the calyx of a flower, and takes it in his long needle beak to the Land Without Evil.

The jaguar gave him a bow and arrows and taught him to defend himself.

Turn the pencil upside down, erase.   He learned that fire illuminates and warms.   Pencil upright.   Begin again.

In a family that hunted, I learned the names of the ducks my father would shoot.

God came up softly, stroked his back, and suddenly caught him by the ears, whirled him about, and threw him to the ground.

Solitude is a memory of water.

And every day I am thirsty.
 
 

    epilog:

    They will never stop being born, because death is a lie.

 
 
 
 
commentary:
stringing pearls.  a more graceful way to say the more mundane – take two different “cento” (prose) source materials, from two different writers, and interweave them in a “conversation” of sorts.  that was the challenge taken on.

define conversation then.  not so easy now!  not with two tangential voices laid together, side by side (willing or not).  think this way – two actors standing on a stage saying their respective lines.  each done by content, by physical proximity, by intent – then each inform the other by what they say.  add a chorus for tide to speak, and then, oh yea, there is a “third”.  that being you.  meaning specifically, you, reading this.  so that’s where the conversation exists, and “is” in a very real and present sense.

two very powerful writers providing the passioned vocabulary, both masters of imagery.   me, I listen.   I follow.

(voice one) Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds.
(voice two) Eduardo Galeano, Genesis, Memory of Fire.

originally written and posted to my bearly audible blog.
 
 
 
 

counting these small epiphanies

I step from my room to the hallway.   eyes turn right toward the front, kitchen then living room then balcony.   where’s the cat?   first thought so swift, no time to consider reality.   then, yes then the places where she used to be.   sad feelings for her being gone?   I did for quite some while.   go, go touch the place on the back of the couch where she’d like to sleep all the while keeping eye on the hallway for one of us to appear.   Gracie liked her perch.   she savored the scratches to neck and head, pushing with all her might into more, yes please, more.   I always tried to satisfy.   there’s a crease still in the top most pillow where she used to roost.   I go touch sometimes.   close as I can get these days.   at first doing that was sad, but irresistible.   now, a memory I rather have than not.
 
 
leave aside logic here.   thoughts for a time implied my future well-being was a function of my own willingness to endure.   to continue being me.   that was not always a certain response.   too many days, perhaps, thinking it would be easier just to let go, cross over, whatever that meant.   less discomfort, possibly?   then with a friend newly realized, more than I really thought I’d ever be, I thought instead, yes, I’d like to continue a while more.   was that all it took?   I was thinking yea, maybe so.
 
 
now I think myself skipper here.   my boat.   but not really my life.   I go where goes my life.   truth is simple stuff.   still, better that second attitude.   although there’s a certain raw quality I’m unfamiliar with.   besides, can’t live right now as if it were tomorrow’s tomorrow.   Alan Watts used to tell the story of a crab sitting on a rock in San Francisco bay.   someday a gull might land and peck right through that shell – which the crab would certainly hate.   however a simple truth – not yet, not yet.
 
 
thank you Alan.   good story told.   I am trying to live that well.
 
 
so I’ve thought, in this confluence of health issues, what to do, meaning what to say.   is it somehow better or not better to say right out loud how it is being me.   no, not details, no blow by blow.   but yes, how it does feel – being me.   I don’t have that answer.   but something in me says, why stop, why denigh what I am, what changes are changing.   is it not right I should share.   I’ve lived some years thinking I was wanting more intimacy, more trust, more engagement.   how then is – stop – a right part of vocabulary?
 
 
so now I am keeping faith, writing you.
 
 
 
 

me, 14 billion years ago


 
a poet who might be sad, but feels something else instead.
 
 
was I just another twinkle in some universal eye?    implied.
 
 
14 billion years ago, as flies the crow, nobody cared about what I wrote.   of course, no me, not yet, not for a very very very long time.   nobody was disturbed about that.   patient I suppose.   they assuredly could hold their breath.

and I should note, all this was perfectly fine with me too.   silently waiting, well, not waiting actually at all, and was one of my better talents then.   less so now, if you asked.

hadn’t even been to Disneyland yet.

someone just yelled out in the night.   not too far away.   never seems to happen when there’s sunlight around.

nobody is ever that young, not for very long.

The heart is an instrument, once broken, never repairs the same.   (Kevin Kling)   Odd, but I haven’t been thinking that way.   I remember instead how once broken, shattered, pieces can come back together, reassembled, purposed anew as mosaic.   like gravity when I first encountered that notion about broken things.

or maybe that’s just what I want to think?

desperate.   there’s a word I’ve become more familiar with.   am I that little kitten peeking from behind a single grape leaf, so small that one kernel of rice was a mouthful to chew.   grandmother Janet, she lured it out bite by eager bite on her outreached fingertip.   good life, good life, that was her wish.   sincerely turned to action in her hands taking on the softest shape of a kitten, now her new best rescued friend.

a difference of size, but she held me just the same.   unreservedly.

a wild life come to roost?   write more.   show more.   reluctance is not worth the weight.   so more words, close to daily now.   are they more dumb, a lure bobbing on the water’s face.    nibbles?   never was much good at fishing, maybe still.   then again, there’s that prayer answered with a single word – write.   who am I not to respond?   maybe we’ll call that faith.   an act of trust within an untrustworthy life?   maybe I don’t get too many more, although it’s not like I’m gonna use them up.   just me chasing a perfect word in a perfect poem?   good luck with that.   there is no easy simple sum of all the breaths I’ve taken.   time now to give some back?

of course conversation is communion too.   me, I can only do one half.   I am in your hands.   as we all are in each others.   in some circles it is said, the true nature of existence is love.   what’s that mean?   we should say simply, love is the unconditional granting of beingness, one to another.   nothing else.   no fairy tales.   yet, unconditional, isn’t that everything being exactly as it is.   no mean notion at all if you honestly look.

          how often found?    you answer that.

thus said, love is the space in which each atom each molecule each loaf of bread, each all of everything here exists.   not like it belongs to us, not like we can give or withhold.   most we can ever do is attempt to block it from expressing itself.
          as they say, get out of the way!

Somebody said, Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do anything to make it impossible.   (Ron Padgett)   there are good hearted people in our world.   never lie about that.

show more.   so my walls my shelves have some objects of others expression I’ve come to appreciate.   but what good less you come to visit me in my room?   none at all.   so included here are many I hold dear for their generosity of expression.   maybe I find a little something to say along with each even if the connection requires a certain willingness to bend the fork.

so express what I can by word or by image.   day by day.

            when I talk to me

when I talk to myself, language adopts a gentle tone, addressing caressing the child of my name.   this living listens.   ears like songs.   or maybe rub my belly, small rounding circles like B. used to say, buddha belly, good fortune to touch.   she was the only one.   appreciation is a better gift.   leave history aside, you already lived those parts.   here child, take my hand.

and then one day, not unexpectedly, I went home.
 
 
 
 

sky showing


when sky reminds us what color is about.   why color is here.
          how it bouys our sight our breath.

I need observe a second time somedays, how this gossamer garment dresses our limbs our motion over this landed face our lives themselves.   it contains all our breaths, all of them.   whispering or else in storm.

we forget.   but by sight we better recognize – grace.

          you are ocean and we the fish.

all songs too from your lips.   all sound.   sweet and course.   raw.
          here, described as an arc.

          we rest at your feet.    annealed.
 
 
 
 
 
Archival Pigment Print by Wei Chen “Encounter” Night of Silence series

 
 
 
 

look ma, no hands


 

look ma, no hands

 

a wild love for the world

 
 
 

    that title right above is borrowed from another source.   pardon please but it is just the right thing to say.   and in ways as many as I have fingers here, how much far away from this title has my life described itself? wise man once said, want to know your purpose in life?   just look to what your life has most energetically attracted or repelled from yourself.   there’s the easy key to turn.

    thus for me, my purpose is mostly evident by what it has
    held away from the story of myself.   oh no, that’s not me!
     
     
    and yea, two titles because that’s what I want.

 
 
 

then there’s this

each of us had a beginning as we entered the universe and took our place within that space.   thus spoke the astronomers.

old admonition.   don’t discuss politics or religion with folks you want to keep as friends.   well politics sure, don’t interest me much, so no fuss.   but religion, maybe not the best of words.   too many unfortunate hooks.   but spirit, or even that other honorific – god, well that interests me as much as anything can.   ain’t that what we want to know?   even if we’ve been told to leave it alone, unanswerable.   even if the person saying that has been ourselves.

I haven’t ever let that one go unattended away from me.   that’s not what my bones want to do.    they insist.

trust no one.     no, trust everyone.     yea, both of them.
 
 
 
so mother said to the child me, here, go to church, we’ll pass some time,   see what you like, then keep or let go as you wish for yourself.   kind of kindly progressive suppose you might say.   but kids, yea, they know the truth of adults, what they really think and feel.   as I did then.

other than the observation that everyone there was halfway to dead, all I took was the core notion, god is every thing and god is every where.   simple enough.   formulaic.   I held that as a test of truth.   you find some where some thing where god isn’t – then somethings afoul with how you’re holding all of that.    that always stayed in my pocket.
            always.

so far, nothing hocus-pocus, secular enough in its way, isn’t it?   there’s a lot you can sketch, right from there.   rules applied.   fairhandedly.
 
 
 

so, describe everything

is that a test?   can my inscription ring an honest bell?   well you kind of can and you kind of can’t.   describe everything.   not unless forever is being given you.   you know, the list goes on and on and on and on.

but there is one.   one and only one way to satisfy that task.   given a singularity, if indeed that’s how it began (or maybe even is right now in this moment we’re speaking about).   then that one single point, that’s the everything in one fell swoop.

although there’s a trick.   everything can also be described simply as what is.   yet allowing the rule of inclusiveness, you remember do you not?   what is must also include what isn’t.   else no god at all.   fair to be amused.

nothing.   previously addressed with some short rope if you’re curious.   almost too much even for the secular.   but no forgiveness for cheating here.

so in all our conscious glory we haven’t a language yet able to describe an essence so bare as nothing at all.   again, amusing perspective.
 
 
 

yet simplicity takes it all in stride

then god whispered into the ear of matter, said, here, here’s what I’d like you to do.   and matter replied, yes, nothing would please us more.

admittedly rather anthropomorphic.   but fair game, isn’t it?

so came stars, blazing, hungry, and galaxies, all engaged in dance just as they were asked.   then big rocky things, then water, then creatures with four legs, then creatures with two – us, to be specific.   all because of what one whisper implied when set free to be as it would be.
 
 
so where’s this going?   I don’t know.

maybe here.
 
 
 

a wild love for the world

so here’s my feet, my calves, dangling over the edge of a precipice.   one week, two, months?   seven months, is that possible?   but in one variation or another, yea, this has been my life, this chapter anyway.   hardly believable.

but, here I am.   do I call this living proof.

I’ve thought a lot about that description, that definition, for quite some while.   anticipating the next second, next minute, yea, fill in the blanks.

a serious student of Christian story, some Buddhism too.   thought I understood life, existence, the universe pretty well.   but that edge, yea, it intones with clarity, oh yea, you think you understand?

am I ready to let go with a smile on my lips.   gratitude?
 
 
 
I understand I think I feel, how C. didn’t want to leave when leaving was close.   every tree every bird every stone every face every sky every cloud every poem every book every song.   it’s all so much to not want leaving.
         yea, I know.
 
 
I worry some about transitions.   but not about judgment except my own.

so here’s the garden, here a tree, some apples and one snake.   now just who do you think that snake was?   sort of obvious to see by now, isn’t it?
and demonstrating that god has a sense of humor, if nothing else.
 
 
living may not transition neatly.   some fray around the edges.   expectedly.
 
 
how shall we speak one to the other?    do we call this home?

maybe you have a better ending than me.    go ahead.    you write.
 
 
are your words on these lips?     whisper me.
 
 
 
 
 

fragments


 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 
She touched my arm. “I’m glad you’re here tonight.” Then she stepped away. Back into unknown. And I was changed. Even years, many years later, I am not the same.
 
 
Where rock meets sea, this shelter cove. We all know what heaven looks like, do you? And I see here what you cannot. I can see when I was eight or ten or twelve years old. When I look that memory remains in my eye.
 
 
Some memories live on together.
 
 
 

the ten most things that want to speak

 
the garden below my feet.   you make me more glad.

the wind that tattered itself through a poem.

what arrives and what departs?   ferryboats.

even the mere memory, voice transposed.   you, my family.

coming from the same, going to the same.   one path, isn’t it?

oh the sun, the sun, it has richer vocabulary than I words.

I think I need to meditate all over now, differently.

change says, you don’t really know me at all.

no malady exists without a life.   smile my dear.

sweet heaven is undiminished by my sight.

balance

  
standing on the balcony.
well below body temperature.  I feel.  a token name.
moisture squeezes from sky above.

feet on damp wood, there at one end of me.
legs like wooden stilts.  do they bend?

relax posture from bone to muscle.  feel.
feel tension discover itself.  upright.
two legs.  pillar pairs.  wordlessly ripe.

one center in between.
that’s where weight is held in breath.
a little more here.  then there.

balance.  amazing.  amazing.

uplift.  erosion of doubt.  surprising.

balance moves is the truth.