Tuesday, June 12, 2012

LAST ENTRY I see that the new improved version of this blog-machinery must turn poems into run-on prose, and since what I post is poetry, I can no longer control lineation, the soul of poetry's music, and so farewell, dear followers, I hereby end this run, victimized by "new and wonderful" impossibilities so helpfully ruinous.

Unable to Correct mishmash of previous entry

Dear Reader: My previous poem has a little intro and then the poem appears as run-on prose (thanks to all the new and unhelpful "improvements" we must constantly suffer on line?). In any case, hoping the following will be allowed to remain a poem with some respect for lineation (which sometimes takes 30 years to get right). It's an Oldie that seemed right for the end of the school year. FINAL EXAM Once I dreamed of a golden beetle, a tiny machine with metal-like parts, that grasped in its buzzing mandibles a rose with a lady's name, and gnawed. I woke all sodden with wonder and set this final exam: the beetle is perfect, likewise the rose. And all deconstructs, all's stunningly strange as Venus the Goddess or Venus the planet is rated more dear than Pluto, plus look how we kill the roaches, accounted ugly though they like us only wish to be happy, asking so little, grease from the stove, dust from the floor. An ugliness scampers darkly about in everyone, who'll doubt it? and yet how many pause to glance their own way while stoning the neighbor? O, cause no pain but likewise swallow no stone! Of course he eats the delicate rose, my beetle; of course it's sad, the ruined rose. So, quick, as to this system of ours, Improve, or Explain.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thought to offer a mini-show from a new collection arriving from Cherry Grove in July 2012. This is a collaboration with my friend Lawrence Leone. We've been ping-ponging back and forth by e-mail for about 10 years, using a form I invented, the 84. The rule of exchange: every poem must total exactly 84 characters (not counting spaces). Why 84? Because the Buddha is said to have left us 84,000 different teachings, and our 84-count represents a playful gesture toward that number. Why so many different teachings? Because we're all so differently the same. From A BOUNTY OF 84s: To live within a golden bell that has no tongue to sound devoting long days to the polishing of silence * after a time the lama forbids note taking: Simply listen, he says, and students write: simply listen * Such great practice, to love a tree to take on its patience and calm, the trust that the sun will return * "Ah, dear Lama, I want so to love all the precious details!" "Is okay, just try squeezing not so hard?” * What's needed? Comes an answer: Get yourself a radish. Oh get yourself a Japanese radish. Be simple. * We're wadded up defended in our own knot, when what we really desire is to river, what we need is to flow * The great sage Soraya after years of retreat still hadn't "got it" till he was told to lie on the earth, + feel its firmness, hear the now & then barking of the monastery dogs, gaze at the stars those billions * There are days the mind clenches, a fist battering itself; other days it opens, a helping hand * What lies closed may open as a door implies a room, unguarded houses a town in boundless silence sound * more amazing than blue sky or these trees of maniac green is how seldom we pause to gaze in awe upon them * amazing that they gaze on us watching stress flow from our pores wishing us deep roots and sweet water * think of the child's amazement to learn, as he cries "I want I want," that the work of life is not to want * And so the play of life is to give but what? Your heart to your sexual dream? Your body to the bloody war? + no, pilgrim the work and play of life is to be exactly where you are with all the shadows and light awake * It would feel good to start a new project make a little transition say to speak no words for a month or so * I tell my students "Disappear, you're in the way, make space for Everything" baffled, they gaze at me * many times a day the transition from self-disdain to self-grandiosity, with tiny (ah) un-self gaps * Of the air are spoken many useless words and yet poetry all of it, comes from where we catch what we can. * Do not stretch to reach the fruits of the practice; wait for those branches to sag from their fullness * fruits of the practice: calm; reading minds; a desire that others be less troubled; pervasive calm; + immunity to most poisons, and as to life in general: terror & hilarity that the children are in charge * Rabbi, does a teacher stop opening doors when he leaves the building? No, but they are harder to find. * Elvis has left the building & likewise Jesus & so will we, leaving on the porch light for the new owners

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Inspired by kind words from former student Homer Christensen on the last poem I posted here, I've picked out another earlier effort that might serve to mark a return from long illness to my life's main work. BEGINNING AGAIN "What is it for, this labor of poetry?" -- Kenneth Rexroth The young tree just outside my window, a volunteer locust sapling, flails back and forth in the rain-driven storm, dipping and nodding this way and that in a sort of a mad-girl dance, and I, I'm freeing its chaos-rhythms in thought, pretending for comfort that consciously it tolls the mindless bells of the wind. Tomorrow I'll see it, motionless, calm, like a poised adolescent on point on five toes. Granted, our fancies won't keep us unbroken, but as we imagine compassion arises, dignity offered even to stones; for we are the choosers reporting this realm, its grand displays, its flowers, its glory, declaring the world so to be in the end – having our say, and beginning again.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

a year or so since last posting, alas

Dear World:

I've been down with exhaustion for quite a time this
past year -- heart trouble -- and have only recently
broken through and been resurrected thanks to a
Pace Maker my wife's named "Thumper."

Here's an old poem of mine that seems a
reasonable candidate for marking the occasion of a
return to the Blog.

all good things,




Black-star yearning, old heart grinder,
nothing to do but to sweat you out,
tear up the list of urgencies,
fold the long legs of the day.

Evening again. A school of starlings
swirls the sky like a dreamed explosion
and wildflowers flare my speeding windshield
briefly, yes, but unspeakably blue.

O, star-meat! O, incarnate source,
shatter my iron parentheses!
Though often I stall, like the undropped shoe
I'm still held in my own friendly hands.

Blessed are those whose work is presence:
dogs by the sea so joyful they're teachers…
donkeys who move like little mothers…
people so strong they risk being kind.

The air provides: it feeds the breath.
There is no sun that lacks for light.
Blind blossoms can't see their colors glow.
In unwillable ways we are beautiful.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

poem from the past I still like -- a true story


Mr. Roebuck upped and sold his shares
pretty early, having had it.

He lived the rest of his ninety years
modestly, in retirement.

Sniffing his garden's sensible airs,
marveling at his luck,

often he must have thought of Sears:
how Sears mucked on, poor cluck;

Sears making millions, millions! on his ashpit;
and Roebuck making...Roebuck.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beautiful Faces

A poem biding its time in the "possibles" file for years,
maybe with this morning's tweaking ready to be seen?


Teachings that come in dreams are easily lost,
so teasing, ephemeral,
yet no use grabbing at them fist-like,
crushing dream-diamonds to sand.

Last night I woke from a dream of faces
poised between the male and female
and me as a dream figure there in the field among them
meditating, knees bending flat to the ground,

ideal posture: legs tucked, spine straight
-- mountain-like -- a dignity
I lack in waking life, for
there my knees strain upward, ungainly.

This dream-story focused
on those faces blending the genders,
skillful means and wisdom united.
The dream was telling me such union

would henceforth be my prime devotion,
to rise up from meditative calm
and go about the brutal world
reflecting grace. So, there on my cushion

my dreamed knees at last kept flatly down...
wait, wait, let me experiment with them here
in the so-called "real,"
in this actual body, fierce of will, frail, daunted by pride.