Browsing Category "Poems"
30 Jul
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Someplace Between the 17th and 18th Mile

Someplace Between the 17th and 18th Mile

Under Ideal Conditions
by Al Zolynas

say in the flattest part of North Dakota
on a starless moonless night
no breath of wind

a man could light a candle
then walk away
every now and then
he could turn and see
the candle burning

seventeen miles later
provided conditions remained ideal
he could still see the flame

somewhere between the seventeen and eighteenth mile
he would lose the light

if he were walking backwards
he would know the exact moment when he lost the flame

he could step forward and find it again
back and forth
dark to light light to dark

what’s the place where the light disappears?
where the light reappears?
don’t tell me about photons
and eyeballs
reflection and refraction
don’t tell me about one hundred and eighty-six thousand
miles per second and the theory of relativity

all I know is that place
where the light appears and disappears
that’s the place where we live

24 Jul
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Ask. Answer.

Ask. Answer.

I ask and you answer.
When I do not ask, you do not answer.

What can it be then that is in your heart,
O Lord Bodhidharma?

And what is it, the heart?
It is the sound of the pine breeze
there in the ink painting on the wall.

— Ikkyu

18 Jul
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Heavy Sigh.

Heavy Sigh.

Dakota Homecoming
by Gwen Westerman,
published in The Sun, August 2019 issue

We are so honored that
you are here, they said.

We know that this is
your homeland, they said.

The admission price
is five dollars, they said.

Here is your button
for the event, they said.

It means so much to us that
you are here, they said.

We want to write
an apology letter, they said.

Tell us what to say.

12 Jul
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Or Not Caught.

Or Not Caught.

Fear and Love
by Jim Moore
published in The Sun, June 2019 issue

I wish I could make the argument that a river
and a sunset plus a calm disregard of the ego
are enough. But whatever comes next must include
tents in the parking lot, that homeless camp
on the way to the airport,
and the hole in your cheek
from the cancer removed yesterday.
I said last night,
in the few seconds before I fell asleep,
You do realize, don’t you, everything
is falling apart?
You said, OK,
I’ll try to keep that in mind.
And now it is
starting to be late again, just like every other night
for the last seventy-five years. Fear and love,
a friend said in an impromptu speech
at his surprise birthday party,
we all live caught between fear and love.
He tried to smile as he spoke, then sat down.
Yesterday you saw the moon
from the operating table
where they were about to cut you.
Look! you demanded, and the surgeon bent and turned
to see it from your angle,
knife in hand.

13 May
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Only the Cause and End of Movement

Only the Cause and End of Movement

Desire itself is movement
Not in itself desirable;
Love is itself unmoving,
Only the cause and end of movement…

— from Burnt Norton, Four Quartets
by T.S. Eliot

6 May
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on If,

If,

Amitabha’s vow
by Gary Snyder

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
gets tossed in jail on a vagrancy rap, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

wild geese in the orchard
frost on the new grass

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
loses a finger coupling boxcars, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

mare’s eye flutters
jerked by the lead-rope
stone-bright shoes flick back
ankles trembling: down steep rock

“If, after obtaining Buddhahood, anyone in my land
can’t get a ride hitch-hiking all directions, may I
not attain highest perfect enlightenment.

wet rocks buzzing
rain and thunder southwest
hair, beard, tingle
wind whips bare legs
we should go back
we don’t

***

(Thank you, Brian)

3 May
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Then It is Time

Then It is Time

Also Known As
by Jim Moore
published in The Sun, May 2019 issue

If you are more close to the dying
than you would like to be, then it is time for the sky
to grow larger than the earth, than the sea even.
You need to go to that place where your story
is seriously quiet. Nothing in it counts
compared to the things the sky
calls out to: birds, clouds, the occasional cypress
that has reached beyond itself.
You could call it a kind of waiting
and that would be fair. There is a green bench
— a corner of heaven, you could say —
and there you can sit in the shade
and watch the grandfather and grandson walk by,
hand in hand. The little one makes the older one laugh
again and again, and that is the way it works
in heaven. Also known as going home.
Also known as getting over yourself.

14 Mar
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Or Maybe…

Or Maybe…

Waiting for a Ride, by Gary Snyder

Standing at the baggage passing time:
Austin Texas airport—my ride hasn’t come yet.
My former wife is making websites from her home,
one son’s seldom seen,
the other one and his wife have a boy and girl of their own.
My wife and stepdaughter are spending weekdays in town
so she can get to high school.
My mother ninety-six still lives alone and she’s in town too,
always gets her sanity back just barely in time.
My former former wife has become a unique poet;
most of my work,
such as it is             is done.
Full moon was October second this year,
I ate a mooncake, slept out on the deck
white light beaming through the black boughs of the pine
owl hoots and rattling antlers,
Castor and Pollux rising strong
—it’s good to know that the Pole Star drifts!
that even our present night sky slips away,
not that I’ll see it.
Or maybe I will, much later,
some far time walking the spirit path in the sky,
that long walk of spirits—where you fall right back into the
“narrow painful passageway of the Bardo”
squeeze your little skull
and there you are again

waiting for your ride

***

(Thank you, Brian)

19 Feb
2019
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on Now, If Poetry Can Help…

Now, If Poetry Can Help…

I’ve just learned that Tony Hoagland — whose poetry I’ve had a love/hate relationship with since about the time I started this blog — died this past October, from pancreatic cancer. He was sixty-four. 

In The Beautiful Rain
by Tony Hoagland

Hearing that old phrase “a good death,”
which I still don’t exactly understand,
I’ve decided I’ve already
had so many, I don’t need another.

Though before I go
I wish to offer some revisions
to the existing vocabulary.

Let us decline the pretense
of the hyper-factual: the
myocardial infarction; the arterial embolism;
the postoperative complication.

Let us forgo the euphemistic:
the “passed away”
and “shuffled off this mortal coil,”
as worn out and passive as an old dildo.

Now, if poetry can help, it is time to say,
“She fell from her trapeze at 2 am
in the midst of a triple backflip
in front of her favorite witnesses.”

Let us say, “In broad daylight,
Ms. Abigail Miller
conducted her daring escape
before life, that Crook,
had completely picked her pocket.”

It is not too late from some hero
to appear and volunteer
in the name of setting an example:

Let us say, “He flew with abandon,
and a joyous expression on his face,
like a gust of wind
or a man in a necktie
from the last dinner party he would ever have to attend.”

To say, “He was the egg
that elected to break
for the greater cause of the omelet;
the good piece of wood
that leapt into the fire.”

“Through grudging at first,
he fell like the rain,
with his eyes wide open,
willing to change.”

***

May it be so, Tony. May it be so.

26 Nov
2018
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on All the Elsewheres

All the Elsewheres

Atmospherics
by Susan Hutton

Sometimes on a late clear night you can pull that station from Denver
or Boston out of the dark.

All the elsewheres alter here, as what you remember
changes what you think.

Not spider nor plum nor pebble possess any of the names we give them.

A kite tugging on its string gives you a sense of what’s up there,
though it is translated, and by a string.

Out there, in the dark, the true thing.