starting with a shed

old rickety fence, more of a swayed-back grape arbor than fence by anything other than kindness.  grape vine about the same age.  not much harvest here, except behind in shadows where spiders called it home.  but familiar all the same and kids fit where big folks don’t.  same face shed but inside, a mystery.

broken except for this one moment now.

what you don’t see here.

back end of the yard, a huge walnut tree.  black walnut trunk for size and strength then grafted on english walnut limbs for better harvest nuts.  come near and we’d give you a bag to take home with you.  very acidic leaves however so nothing much else grew underneath the wide spreading limbs.  oh yea, except for a 50 gallon metal trash can used in those days to burn so much of the trash that would burn.  anything.  every yard had their own.  often that was Sunday morning neighborhood, smelling smoke.

fences were more about being polite than anything else.

east side the mostly shaded yard for the large old style raised farm house, almost Victorian.  originally two stairs to two entry doors, one now removed.  a mud room.  what mud?  to the right the designated parlor for visiting guests.  nobody cared about that formality any more.  straight ahead the actual family living room.  huge heavy wooden sliding doors that could open the two into one.  never used although I thought they were a wondrous thing not like anything else I knew.  high ceilings, cold in the winter all the good heat being another seven feet above our heads.  a large wooden floor footed radio with a lighted green dial.  exotic before there was television.

yea, and for years no one ever locked their front door.  no matter what.  till the day when someone said, there’s strangers in town.

mom and me shared the parlor as bedroom and grandmother Janet and great uncle Louis each had their own rooms.  big kitchen stove and a can of used and reused lard in the refrigerator – for about everything.  old English farm family weren’t so much on cooking except to make sure everything was well dead before eating.  took me years before I could eat liver again.

out back a tool and storage shed for uncle Lou and a small mostly vacant room where my young uncle Robert would stay when in town.  he left one day amid whispers not for childhood ears and never came back.  cancer maybe.  kind of a shameful thing in those days I think.  not something to talk about.

then mother and me moved next door into a smaller house beside that watercolor shed.  the timbers sat right on the dirt.  termites thought that a great welcome mat.  some nights mother possum would scratch at the floor boards under my room.  small room, enough that I could in one step reach the dresser, turn the alarm clock off and back to bed without hardly waking up.  then the Beatles on TV.

no indoor bathroom when our smaller house was built.  added on but insulation, none.  undressed, into the shower and out, five minutes flat in the winter time.

that was home for more years than not.

and why this here?   just because.   good enough?
watercolor by my uncle Robert Coates.   maker of paintings, oils and watercolors, carver of wood, figurines and miniatures, ceramics too, modern abstract and conventional.   a man who left this life much too soon.   now just these relics I know him by.

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.

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.

there is no dark sky, anywhere

in praise of the James Webb telescope
forty days.    counting till next ellipse
when my heart gets a chance to heal
its breathing breath.    thirst addressed.

by the last census of my blood I reckon
each and every day each and every night.

          every moment earned.
          a deep field point of view
not a poem.    but it is.

not an essay.    but it holds more
than a thousand books in the blink
of an eye.    stories surrounding us.

time for show & tell.

are we alone in these dimensions
of scribed height depth width?
an interval of time to boot.

only a blind man would ask.

go ahead.    look up that phrase.
mostly what’s discussed is how
become rare it is to have a night sky
uncluttered enough to actually see
our Milky Way overhead, or much
of anything else.    pocket change.
rather, what the good folks observing,
their new curved mirrors held in space
what’s meant – is that nowhere they look
is the sky empty of galaxies and stars.

give that a minute to really soak,
to wet your thoughts.    understanding
like that is, is something new to us.

maybe there isn’t even really – zero.

no nothing at all?

remember how people might have
said how small how insignificant
they felt compared to the vastness
of open space?    remember?

have you ever felt the same?
I am this much tall.    see the marks
on the door jam here.    mother said.

now, for me, now one wondering
is given way to another wondering.
just in aligning the eighteen mirrors
of the new spectacles, they wanted
to look at really just one bright star.

something standing mostly alone.

they did.    they got all those eyes to
look, to see the same, but then noticed,
say, it isn’t alone.    with no effort at all,
look, with only one minutes gaze, there,
galaxies abound in the space behind.
thus the phrase with its new meaning
now.    to me it says, my good and beloved
creatures, do not fear, I will keep you
company to the end of everything.

          I feel embraced.

just because

    just because, because a dragon is always wise and right
    and because we should ever be appreciative and polite
    to any creature who goes thump when they walk.

that’s my rule you know.    any creature that doesn’t want
to eat me (especially any creature who could) is my friend.


window with water in it

each day I look

same rocks, no, slightly changed
slightly less

here, taste

same fish down inside,
no, not even close

seaweed littered like a sailor
washed ashore, fingering

something round,
a circumference

in the sand, horizon’s well

no feet will say, where
they haven’t been

here, here I keep my
life, a tide between my toes

I am drawn and sketched

toward this home
look for me

you know

maybe I shouldn’t say,
maybe I won’t

do you know how much,
I do, I do

maybe it’s not the words,
maybe it was always


you know
what you do

how your name arrives,
the shadows of my living

open   open   bright

you know, and
I do

and another day
you know

I do
          when you look, there’s more color than you thought to be

apple tree

you said.    you asked.    I said, yes.
          didn’t I?

but maybe I am bigger consequence.

turning over every word every stone.
is any of me left to chance?

so oft, says the leaf, I don’t know.
          fair answering.

stay.    what’s that mean?
I want to answer, close to you.

an apple tree.    sweet this time.
but maybe, maybe I already did.

two apples.    one root.

better love.    remains.

here’s to another month

spoon on the left side or right of the plate?
how about fingers & toes, how many of those?
no, not in a dream, but wide awake.

write a story a poem a paragraph, one more time.

this time it was you.    you who asked.    and
I’m inclined, saying yes.

there is a tree that lives inside a tree.
so that story goes.    limbs inside limbs.
another snake in a tree.

and you?    another you inside you?
more bigger good grace to smile my friend.

we always knew who that snake really was.
here a nibble, a taste on a flutter of air.

there, there’s that word again.

who imagined it was big as a rock?

stand close with me.    as you do.
not being alone was forever the better

here’s to the coin in our pocket.
C. after we talked.    july 2022

forgiveness like this

what to do with a falling heart?

count the rings.    how many moons?
look here, holding up my finger hands,

I’m this many old.

look for a tree that’s ready to fall.
good company is always good.

I’ll appreciate the gulls in sky
outside my window, the closed blinds.

listen.    that’s where we land.

this side of grace.

is that me?

grandmother’s nose

here’s where I’ll go when the water rises.
that or sitting tall on the roof.

fold me in.   bees will remember home.
there, there’s grandma’s nose.

you remember when.
wax wings, all they could eat.

call those berries, feast.

that’s how we came to bloom.

all of us.    everyone.