26 OF THE 2001 POEMS
Today, in the morning, with the sun trying to shine,
I rise from my
I peek out.
The sun is not trying too hard.
Seattle dawn, it is I who must shine,
must rise from my ensorceling
must try harder.
I have not yet tried hard enough.
the wisdom of ages says: life isn't a shining
problem to be solved or
"Just do it."
Whether the sun shines or you die
not even the tiniest difference that can be shown
to all those who lie
beneath the sod
or rise up from today's painful accouchement.
Working to re-member the idiosyncrasies of the old/new computer,
from traveling around the country,
-- not other worlds --
I sit at
my desk bemused, wondering,
slowing down, seeking -- at my age --
understanding, coddling the computer,
curious of my motives. What
will I visit
now, in my mind, at my desk?
traveled enough in the world. Now, by computer,
I'll visit interior and
dance on the edge,
magic-carpet the world at my
fly, fly away through the incandescent screen of the
watch my thoughts like a country
in a plane -- my peripheral vision limited.
What fun to be home sitting in the shimmering white
of my pristine,
freshly painted soul
-- room, I mean --
working on poems, letting
the mind concentrate,
letting the heart beat quite softly, gently,
patiently, still white.
Letting whimsical speculations of the
drift around, through,
not demanding too much, forgetting the
opening the Pandora cache of the totality of my
life, letting my scarlet, muscular soul
flood slowly -- the sunlight, at last, arriving.
the heat now, turn up the dazzling white
of the cold, wandering,
come home once
again to its screen, its papers --
It is charming and rather cold to have a fireplace
in my room -- wind
from the street,
the need to gather them at night
the brilliance of the flaring paper, the search for
the attention the licking flames demand,
at five a.m., the noise at night,
the pounding of my
fearful heart, the lack of trust,
more light than heat from the
the haunted street,
the dense fear stalking the populated
I look to the source in my heart, having come
papers, discard dramatic moments
via narrow streets,
absolutely naked into the night.
Stiff and foolish with age, fingers not responding to command --
watch. The old fellow drops
a slippery penny.
I step to help. He
His fingers slip around it, over it, under its
scrabbling. He's so tall, so bent.
Just a penny
world's billions -- intent on it.
He adds it as the last flesh to
on the grocery store's slick counter.
He'll not argue his poverty for it.
His trembling hand
grasps the plastic bag full of yogurts.
My grandfather planted a peach
at fifty, penniless,
worked hard, thanked the earth for it.
The pointlessness, the emptiness, the blankness of being challenges
My eyes are open, the world
has slowly disappeared.
there was something, there is nothing.
Yet the hurly-burly goes on.
I, too, choose to run
about doing important, imperative, impeachable
Motive has disappeared.
Perpetual motion -- the machine
runs, does nothing.
Some wonder why enlightenment seekers seal
themselves in ice caves.
Must-haves pursue the earth to
collect the disappearance
of motive in books, films of
rent out their being, rent out their pulsing hearts,
giant statues in the shifting sands:
-- with the poem. Wild winds of nothingness!
Gloom and the gulls crying, the crows in the trees,
the worming robins
holding their own,
presaging the spring --
Where is it, why doesn't
Forgive the impatience, I bow and beseech the bud-gleaming
but would, if I could, on my own
hoist the sap,
by capillary up from the roots.
What is it that flows against
gravity, makes trees green?
What stiffens the stalk of
gaudy oscillating corona?
What burgeons again from under
Help me, great orbiting sun, effulgent, slanting silver
splashing gold upon the rain's
moisture-penetrated soft moss.
Listen! It is I who'll sing
The yellow, spidery witch-hazel blooms first in the Northwest
Fragile, twisted claws seek the light.
the paths where its feathery variations
Green wood-roses poke through, whimpering, whispering
their ululations to spring.
Cups, difficult to differentiate from light
-- clustered, silky, stemmed --
are hidden like shadows
overflowing. They flourish.
Next, the modest snowdrop with head
bent, blushing white spring,
and the narcissus facing the light
red rimmed corona,
its delicate colors obeying the sun --
Then the rhododendron -- majestic! -- high-blooming over
the canopy of spring,
from on top opting the light.
frothy yellow forsythia, lilac, peach-colored azaleas flourish.
The gloom is rent by the heart's desire to finish
nature's unarguable, inordinate price.
No bargains here.
pulls clouds from the sun.
Intentional agony screams at the rain:
"Let it be finished!"
The Sound gulls know the price.
Sodden foxes burrow, sniff the ground, pace.
change, the sap must shoot up, buds finish
their unfolding into leaves,
their subtle cooperation
with rations of sun,
rations of water.
Maybe there are bargains available to perceptive
poets to finish
agrarian comparisons, metaphors, similes, pricing
them majestically high
in hyperbole -- in what is, is not.
As a bee seeks nectar/from all kinds of
flowers,/seek teachings everywhere;/
like a deer that finds/a quiet
place to graze,/seek seclusion to digest/all you have gathered./
madman/beyond all limits,/go wherever you please,/and live like a
lion,/completely free of all fear./
I keep forgetting I am the Buddha. If not, who?
Where, if not within,
Contemplate total trust.
Step only on life's lonely
Even if the lemony magnolias lie in blood,
placed them artfully, carefully for peace.
pray only for peace on your path.
With the bee and the deer and the madman, who
long to share your tea, peace
-- smile, sit, drink
the blood, smell the magnolia, share paths
not your own, not your choice. If not yours, whose?
Who are the bee, deer, peace
and the madman?
Smile at the dawn, it is you.
If dawn promises to come through the windows quietly, stealthily,
dawn promises to surprise you,
don't turn away.
Listen to the bird, the light's beam
stalking the distant mountain and tree top with crimson stealth.
It is coming to kiss you.
Subdue your heart.
Stop the pounding of
fear, of remorse.
Go, go dainty-footed and freely, fly around the
skim its sheerness silently, joyfully, coast
Accepting, stalwart, unmoving, mountains will
As birds love the trees, the mountains, the dew's
flashing diamond beaks as they coast,
so with stealth,
peace, compassion they're ceaselessly provoked by you.
Small and black and gold, hardly worth a step -- step
over, around, be
cautious. It's armed
with many legs,
a stinger, multi-faceted eyes,
honey sacs, speed.
Buzz you bee, announce your territory, claim
your pollen. Step
up in the art of arms,
harm those humans light-fingering your bagged
Get about your pollinating business. On the blooming
about lightly, shaking golden, pollened arms,
scatter abundance, take off, force your speed.
sharing your sweetness, poking those blossoms, now step
on to my
finger, be kind
to human me.
My feet are big, my appetite insatiable.
in the evening when the fierce winter sun stopped gleaming
north or east wind
died unquietly down,
the day had eaten,
gluttonously, my energy.
The stored-up bliss of seeing the gloom
turn into gleaming,
golden glitter on grass and wind,
like deBeers' sources scattered for the poor,
conspire toward satiety, feting my indomitable gleam,
drive, my ambition winded
-- in sixty decades --
down to an
irritable crawl of non-remembrance.
I drink some caffeine, chat
with Gunnar, fresh-faced, twenty-three, gleaming,
who's just run park,
boulevard and gully,
exuding ice-breath, youth, health, unaware of envy.
The room exudes ice. Where does the wind come from?
paper in the fireplace!
-- along with alley-scavenged
poems and the Sunday funnies.
My life is lit with intermittent
hope-flares, despair won from
the tug-of-warring in human heart
between savaged, scavenged
hope-ropes, sullen, diurnal
miscalculations, livid laughter funnier
than snow or wind or ice or
the reality from
hunger, the pain of plain displacement
fallen-from-grace on-this-plane planet earth. Think it
Die for your convictions in an icy room where, from
of hope, you have chosen
loneliness sans despair,
incineration among scavenged poems and funny papers.
Night wears me down, sleeping on my cushions, my down
pillows -- four
of them -- smotheringly warm
beneath a comforter --
it, too, of
plumage plucked from birds.
The lethe drug of sleep, the lethargy
of lying down
topped by lambent layers of bird-warmth
who, aside from Death himself, wants more?
sleep, until the three a.m. urge -- down
which the body's fluids run
commands dress, glasses,
keys, slippers, stepping into
silent lighted halls.
Shared penurious lives, young and old, have
settled, suspended down
in stillness for the night. Warm --
basement, light-fingered jail-birds
sleeping, too, no longer torque my awareness.
Intense in Seattle's night, the wind blows, the hail falls.
from strain and discomfort
simmers all around.
It's easy to analyze
after the fact,
but who created the snow flake? The relentless
through the frigid night bringing discomfort
Why such prodigious varieties of beauty
to the eye, unthinkable to the intellect watching the
Then dizzied by oleander's scentless discomfort,
humble in its pinkish bloomings, outrageous
along the California night highway drifting through
of clicking flakes fraught with discomfort
sky, through a pale dawn misting over.
There are eighteen forms on the horizon of black crows:
shimmering, cawing, curious, aggressive crows
bathing in puddles, carrying wood, scolding squirrels,
familial, demanding, painted on gold screens, beneficent,
predatious, wise crows
swooping, artful, beloved. Cornucopiaed with
Is it winter,
autumn or spring when hoarding crows crow?
Black, gleaming, opalescent, gossiping in harsh voices, the
command humans and all other crows
to pay attention
to their jetting black in the cerulean sky.
Sleeping in the
Arboretum breakfasting on Capitol Hill, the crows
scatter their solid,
shadow-bodies between earth
and the sun.
Nor do they apologize for their inkyness.
Salmon salad in the night is a kind of penitence
cookie-thoughts at political lectures,
for waking early
only of breakfast -- eggs, toast --
instead of mucking profundities
of gore, vengeance or sorrowful penitence
for the shape the world
cites as early
twenty-first century philosophy, burnt black
Allow me to forget the argument with God Shiva,
howling with glee and passion, lecturing
on his knee affecting fascination or
breakfast thoughts, concealable in adoring
glances, maskable as penance,
willingly nodding agreement to the
-- usually sullen-silent, cold --
as he sits on hot political ashes.
Well, morning again, sipping milky, mild coffee through a
humming along with the gray computer,
for as yet uncreated poems, hovering images.
waking to the anxious rhythm of what-should-I-do-next? eyeing
piled high across the room, psyche-computed
extruded from my relentless, death-dancing, private
Who, including you, gives a damn, a fig, a straw
commercial, e-business, technological, computer,
The shifting, smoke-like, misty, elusive brain-effusions
hardly worthy material for structuring great castles or low
huts. What does humanity need? Computers?
Feather soft ferns
in a deep wood, vined by nature's intentions?
Quiet gloom returns to needle-strewn porchs, coolness touches my
God's love manifests in another overcast
day to live
world that nurtures my economic
impulses, stretches my purse,
relinquishes any vibrant feeling for thighs,
or the dark beauty of
blue-black eyes pleading
for love or remorse or a
From long ago, wells up the apparition of a thigh-poem
of Rimbaud's? Baudelaire's? Positively French, overcast
seductions of humans -- passe now. N'est
our passions take place in boardrooms, "Doing the numbers,"
stock exchange, the NASDAQ.
Cuddle your portfolio,
ejaculate DOW poems from between your thighs.
My eyes grow pink-rimmed like my father's, pig-eyed, pale,
I thought they would grow wise.
No, just human, rather pleading at ninety.
through seduction, calculation, hauntings, and end up unattractive.
hidden in fleshy folds, wizen,
seeing too much,
cataracting, declining omniscience, hiding from glare.
creep in from all sides, solid fat, frozen, unattractive
buried in anger and remorse,
smiling for grandchildren,
numbers, the done-wrongs that hurt still.
Where are the wise old
men? the wise old, unattractive
women? The crones who knew
who croaked blessings.
Who grew from childhood to age -- gently.
Blank mind and the quiet -- it's not all that early.
But the streets
are reverently silent
practicing their Saturday
after the, perhaps, lucrative week.
Too exhausted to wake, too
drained to notice the early
sun, no sound of human, silent
-- earth respirates.
She's up -- free of her noisy guest.
is the subtle titter of tiny birds, inaudibly early,
rain-watered grass blades unbending silently,
litter the porch, the walk, the street.
The computer hums,
first steps on the stairway, not early --
but friendly? If they don't
Let them leave
the house empty and my mind blank.
Gazing on my littered desk, thinking of gratitudes for
greyness covers the colorful things owned
a few raggle-taggle ends of possessions yet
to be given
to relatives, friends, thrift stores, enemies, inspirations
archives -- all things disowned,
except my rug(s),
(computer), and covering for nakedness.
Out of whole cloth, I am to
stitch my inspirations
for poems, for thoughts. What is
it to be?
-- if human alone, being, breathing means nothing?
dogs and deer and quail, buffalo and bison
breathe and eat and mean
Only humans must
labor for meaning, gaze, sob for
How little attention you've paid to the body -- over years.
at its itching, annoyance at
its hunger(s), anger
recalcitrant participation in your plans --
the quirks it develops
in grasping and gliding, remembering. Years
lost! Everything gets too
impossible rates, undoable.
Don't laugh, you'll get
there, too. Paper
walks or bounces constantly about any room,
hiding for years
in corners, under chaos's wings at
As if shooting a movie of
Nothing helps but death: not being, being gone for
like the dinosaurs, more admired now --
their bones, size,
eggs, bird-heritage. Transformations, devoutly to be wished.
I sleep so hard, I seem always to be waking
from bliss into the
of problems, anxieties.
with systems set for
supersonic super stress,
heart dialed for fear, hurt,
disappointment, the pain in waking.
I wake earlier than the buzz
I light my fire of twigs, branches.
high as I can on poetry forms, waking,
pirouetting on the noble,
of strange words,
straining to embrace the
curiousness of being.
When one thinks just a few eons ago, upon
we swung with a pre-literate buzz
down from trees,
and today we think automobiles, aeroplanes natural.
These twenty-six have been howling, desperate poems, flung to span
gaping division of heart between
years of pleasure
fears. Was it ever so?
Have humanity's justified fears of one
another instigated the spanning
of chasms, the frenetic bridging
hunger and fear?
Without fear of one another, you
we'd have lain abed forever, ensorcelled by sleep, dream
unmoving, unmoved, unloving, unloved, breeding
nothing, aspirationless, souless,
fear driven. Love is a
to hide agony from ourselves, others. Hide out!
Stand in inky caves'fear between
death and shout!
Artificial analysis will never equal sweet death.
More of The 2001 Poems