Saturday, January 10, 2009
Poems are like flies
or a cloud of gnats
Buzzing in front of your face
Getting in your eyes
Blurring your vision
making you blink
Asking for attention
But when the moon rises
They turn into moths
And if you place yourself at just the right angle
You can catch one
Hold it in your hands
And count the beats of its wings.
- - Eric Moes
I don’t write about the Ancestors
I don’t know them
They don’t know me
Oh sure, they may have written a Haiku
Or Koan that brought a Samurai to his knees
With a mental marble rolling around in his head
But what is real about that now?
How about a haiku about mortgage backed securities?
That homeless guy’s limp is my koan
My utility bill offers me a chance of meditation
Sure you can write about peach tree blossoms
or strawberries at the edge of the cliff
But you’re missing the Nirvana in that can of boiled spinach in your kitchen cupboard.
- - Eric Moes
MINIATURE MOON POEM
I had a train set
With a little village nestled in a paper mache' hillside
As a child it was real to me
A thousand times Godzilla loomed over that hill
ready to spew his radioactive breath down upon the villagers
Sometimes I stopped him
Sometimes I didn't
God I loved that village
- - Eric Moes
I want this world
Bright black stone
Soft drift of things discarded . . .
I want this world
To break my heart.
No, not what you think,
Not the cloying grief of loss, but more
The bright sad fact of the world
Of the whole world - -
Its taste, its touch
Its perfect aching presence.
That's what I mean.
The end of mind; and
Baptism in the great dark river,
Just here! Where
The vast and breaking world
Is simply home.
- - Amos Clifford
Friday, January 9, 2009
On Bear Creek
One thousand days.
These are all that this life
has left for you.
You stand on the broad
shoulder of a bridge,
rest the hands that you love
on its rough wooden rail
and it is autumn.
large as dinner plates,
large as desire
rain gold and green
in even the slightest breeze.
Below, Bear Creek is
supple, electric, strong,
The ouzel bobs
at home, at home.
You breathe, an act
of power, of timeless beauty.
With one thousand days
can even this season
show you, at last,
who and what you are?
Or is the stream of
your mind, your heart,
ever and finally
On Bear Creek
a turtle slips silent
from its stone and
enters the dark waters.
It is at home.
- - Amos Clifford
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sweating and shivering and glancing overhead
they bent in the field,
Elmers, Ezekials and Judiths.
The precious wheat
hard hands cut and bound
& hurried to shelter.
Threatened by ambiguous winds -
helped by a friendly moon -
they worked till moonset.
Half the night.
They ate their porridge
when sleet beat
against November walls.
On this strangely balmy November night,
a full moon with a jet stream across it.
I have no idea where
the food I ate tonight was grown.
Elmer's bones lie crumbling.
Less than 1% of what he knew has reached me -
less than that is even usable.
Same again: like my body,
all I know will become mulch.
Hey, what will stand here
400 years from now - a Chinese Mosque?
I know someone said that.
But I forget who.
- - Deanna Hopper
November (d, untitled)
When the moon is
limping along, glorious &
I think, "like my life," though
25% of my DNA
is the same as a banana's
and it is way, way time
to be past this
or maybe time to
just get drunk and stay drunk
wouldja pass me that beer please
When the moon is full
I am astounded
my bra's too tight
we're so perfect together
I can barely breathe
- - Deanna Hopper
I have the night
and the road
and your voice on the radio
You are telling me
of revelation angels
fey and wild, who
Spill from ordinary lovers
and fools sixteen hundred
furlongs of deep blood, who
Wield with fiery blades
fell fury, burn and leave
only dim ash, brittle memory, and
In the warm gravel, the
rhythm of your voice
I hear how you love
Your radio story
how it binds together
the pieces of your life; and
I am thinking of how
I have come to love
the light of winter
Its long reach
into hidden places
the way it holds
A red river
of plum leaves
at rest on the damp earth
How tenderly it reveals
the vibrant green gospel
of new grass
- -Amos Clifford
The Tao of Words
"Plowing all year the paper field"
word after word line follows line
what the ancients have sown
strive to glean year in year out
a writer may pass through each season
but lives in hope of a harvest every day
"Still better mad than dull"
shut in for more than a week
passing days on notebook pages
for all I know and care
everything's as I have written
fanciful and inspired my world
black and white as my words
Based on, and written in the style of, the children's book Goodnight Moon
Goodnight orange tree
Outside in full bloom.
Boiling in the pot.
Placed here and there
Funny little chair.
Rachel and John
And to their wisdom
That paves the journey we're on.
Blowing in the breeze
Who waters each week.
Candle and flame
Goodnight Buddha, Kwan Yin
And what's her name.
Goodnight Donation box
Goodnight sesshin and sutra service
And to those we hold dear.
Goodnight Temple Bell
Bowl, sticks and chimes
Our keeper of the time.
Full of pretty little cups
Goodnight to her pups.
Goodnight Zen, Art and Life
And to his insight and spirit
That he shares Thursday nights.
Goodnight all you Rakusus
Bowed heads, Namaste
Goodnight incense and dharma talks
Goodnight end of day.
Goodnight key and lock
- -Kathleen McGuire
Standing up to
my belly button
in the Russian River
Off West Side Road
The current heading the way
of the setting sun
Whistling a tune
From the Men In Hats
I love this place
The cotton woods
Forgetting the words
living the life
the heart of a drifter
- -Li Po, aka Pat Nolan
Looking through the screened window
her left cheek appears
just past the swooping redwood branch.
Moon, bone, son, swoon,
I'm getting lost in this bright, soft light.
Holding out my palm
I see all those braided lines,
like meanders at a river's mouth.
In the morning she's still bright
among the small clouds made orange
by the sun just below earth's rim.
Such a slow journey, such patience.
Damn this coffee tastes good.
- -Chris Gaffney
October (b, untitled)
Sitting in the temple of redwood columns,
bats are silent shadows swooping
in the vaults above
the full moon light slanting in
through the latticed leaf windows
accompanied by the choir
of frogs and crickets.
Buddha's reasons and
are preached here
without words or gestures.
-- Gregory Wonderwheel
who accepted the stolen TV with a wink,
will run into a burning mobile home
to rescue an old woman.
The woman in the Volvo,
weaving in traffic
while furtively talking on her cell phone,
peels 20 pounds of potatoes each Friday evening
to take home fries to the shelter
every Saturday morning.
And even I, who was so rude to the clerk this morning,
have been known
to bring flowers
to the bereaved.
- -Ellen Skagerberg
The Full Moon
The moon is full
The moon is full
I am happy
Cause the moon is full.
-Claire, aged 7
September (d, untitled)
In a dream I embraced a
large hard white sphere
trapped in its magnetic hold
I chased a child's blue ball
down a wild icy river
simple silver moon is there
anything you desire of me?
The Road Home
even on back roads
I find I have velocity
I have come from
I'm not quite sure
where I am going
I don't much care
the sign says Nirvana
I'm not there though
I only know
I am somewhere south of there
filled with this feeling
and aware of it
how I keep leaving behind
the very thing
I am looking for
but then life is for living
time is a spiral
and every road
the road home.
dharma and no more
the dainty cat is growing fat.
she reposes on the rocking chair
laps at pregnant stomach hair.
o the kitty's belly is replete
stuffed with mousies tiny feet
this be her baby's bloody meat
digested for the milky teat.
o she is a happy carnivore
this be her dharma and no more.
As If These Things Are True
it's enough to live as if these things are true:
August 6th 1945, 8:15 am
the red brush pastes the summer
brown California grass
thunder has brought us here
up from the firmament
who has torn this island
this vast continent asunder
to grapple with fraility
scent of one red flower
hard afternoon heat
There was no overt blessing.
The wolf looked at me
With strange light eyes.
He held an embroidered fan.
It was broken, and glistened.
Like all the beautiful things I had ever seen,
A red jewel, a distant castle,
The shell whorl, the forest,
It seemed to promise some other, better, world.
There is no other world, he said.
I was terrified.
As the water rose
He put his arms around me.
The water ran through the house,
Loosening, lifting. As it coursed,
He held my crumbling body.
You see? He said. It is all right.
You have succeeded,
Beyond any dream
Or melody of a dream.
Much like an astronaut
Minus all that gear
I go up
There are words are all over the page
Like craters and streaks on her dusty surface
Looking for linkages
That unexpected worm hole
That takes you
From the written word
to another galaxy
Children are told
The thing is made up of green cheese
So I sit down
And chart my next course to the moon
with a big slice of it next to me.
- -Eric Moes
Weaving through the dark and silver hours,
Weaving, the luscious night has passed away,
and barely-light reveals the dainty work –
- a perfect web –
- my heart's too small, my hands
too few, to hold, enfold, this single perfect joy.
Harmonious, glistening, crystalline!
The orderly play of dry and sticky cords
across the garden path in dew and light.
Good morning to the light that gilds my joy,
good morning to the little shivering leaves,
good morning, Mrs. Ant and Mrs. Snail,
oh thank you, yes, I think it's lovely too.
Today I weave such garments for a bride –
- you know the little fluttery moth I mean –
Of thread, one thread, that binds all hearts together.
The uninitiate can never guess.
I boast an art of but a single thread.
It arches through the solemn redwood grove,
and straggles through the dusty basement corner;
it vibrates in the wind when all is dark,
communing each to each, engaging all.
And I can hardly wait to end my rest,
to weave again, to walk on air,
to fling with eager hands the silk adown;
where does the drift of silk alight it now?
You, Reader, Bride, this lovely thread will bind
your heart to me.
And from just such a tender
heart as yours, will I, enfolding, drink the wedding wine.
- -Deanna Hopper
Another Poem About Torture
Just us two, you and I,
Let us make a pact with each other
I will not force you to read this.
You will not strike me or yell.
I'll touch hand to paper
and only with your consent
lead your eye along
the barbed wire fence of words;
invite you gently
to this solemn walk
down the corridor of bolted doors.
The burden of knowing is heavy
but lighter if we share it.
Then come, more hands, more!
Yet because of gentleness,
no scorn shall be given
for any reason
including turning away.
- -Deanna Hopper
From tangling summer leaves, the moon
finds its way through tilted blinds
to the sofa where I lie,
and touches cautiously the small room
where mother, with her suitcases, sleeps.
Oh mother dear, what shall I do?
"Memory by memory the mind –"
erosion fills the house like sea-water.
Our traps hang from our arms
like Dickens' ghosts'.
set in the economic dream-life
of a self-proclaimed great nation
gone to bloat.
Among near-empty aisles
the neat shelves bulge with glossy goods.
the young man at the meat counter says,
"Thank you for coming by."
My gilded cage prevents action
as surely as did Hamlet's.
Oh what, what, what shall we do? Mother?
The music is dying with a dying fall,
but minus the pretty girl with the hyacinths.
erect a makeshift altar in the airport terminal.
They tape the Pope, the Queen Mother,
and Diana, Princess of Wales,
torn from magazines,
What shall we do?
- -Deanna Hopper
Another Revolt Against The Moon
Maybe I don't want to write full moon poetry
Maybe I'm not in the mood
Maybe I'm not feeling it right now . . .
Everyone 'gets it' except me. . .
What makes that glowing rock in the sky
So Goddamned special?
Why is it the arbiter of depth?
I curse you!
I deny your power
Your tides are a fiction!
Why can't I write an ode to the rotting cottage cheese in
"Oh, wonderful stinking slurry of putrescent cheese rind
Harboring billions of farting and dying bacteria
I've put you in a can, in the fridge, to consume you . . .
To spoon you up, slather you with jelly, and gulp you
down. . . "
What do you think of that?
Do you shake your fists wildly at me?
Stomp around the house like a child with no toys?
Do you call me your god. . .
Your muse. . .
Sometimes I just don't feel inspired
Sometimes I don't know what I am feeling
Alone in this room,
Engaged in a battle of wits with this fungus filled
Finally, there is music in the air!
And it's not coming from the cheese.
A LITTLE TIME
trip into dark mountains
over which the moon looms
but not for long as
the sun rises and strips
of willows are fresh with green flashes
- - KEITH KUMASEN ABBOTT
full moon over the high sierra washes out Jupiter
fairy festival sparkles on the rippling lake
a good friend's wife is sitting just a little too close
the water moon stretches between reflections near and
touch, and retreat
- - anon
The moon was ripped out of the Earth
In collision with a planet long gone
She began her gravitational embrace
Fourteen times bigger in the sky
The Earth spun faster back then
And tidal bulges flung the young moon
Like a lasso in space
Slowing her rotation
And opening the embrace
Still she circles out
Two inches more each year
And the Earth imperceptibly
In the great distant future
They will be locked in a gaze
Earth showing one face to the moon
As the moon now does to the earth
Walking past the redwoods
On the bank of the Gualala
The full moon would not let me go
I felt the longing of her violent birth
As she followed me
From tree to tree
- - Vince Whitcomb
All Things Considered on a Monday Morning in the USA
She suspends a tear fogging the lens
Of her driving glasses;
Sad stories on the radio.
A wire-haired woman,
Fishes her books from ruin,
Gentle brown hands smoothing each page,
The Tempest makes her pause she says,
As she sets them on a shelf up high to dry.
Another inspiration, down in New Orleans;
But Oh Man, back when she was 23, with lots of swing
And that rum thing – Ooo Lord Sugar Mama,
Came from every corner as she passed,
Gimme mo' a dat Cha-Ching;
A moist slip for her dress.
Now, that City is a broken down mess,
Limping against its unsteady backbone,
Progress made at an arthritic pace.
It was all she could take.
And it was not to say she did not hear
Their discomfort or disappointment over lost summer fun,
The Royal Hawaiian Luau,
Fresh pineapple in the sun.
There were plenty of gifts never received,
Words of love never believed –
So, when the young girl from Bakersfield came on
To tell her tale of woe, it was like OMG, my hair got wet
In the rain, and I had to sleep in the car, and
Dad, what a dope, thought he packed the tent stakes;
And, well, Mom had just had it;
Not even a soupcon of French milled soap
To be found in this Six Flags campsite:
How low can you go?
It was then she pulled the car over to the side of the road,
Where the forget-me-nots grow in the spring,
And sobbed in the memories.
Not one of them thought to take a blanket and a book
To read by an icy river on a hot summer day
Under an ancient tree for almost free.
- -Jane Rogan
When there is no Full Moon
No quarter moon,
Not even a sliver of a silvery smile
in the sky
Is when I know.
For it is in the Great Darkness that she comes to me.
I go outside and look up
And pretty soon,
here she comes,
tossing me stars
as she sails on by
riding on a single silver thread of night.
Friday, January 2, 2009
the black sky lightens
to the chirping
of a single bird
morning shafts of light
a flurry of dust motes
No ripe wild raspberries, yet
such sweet perfect unripeness
in this very moment
Cup In Hand
"Light mist stretches across the river"
I stand above at my window
cup in hand still as any tree
in concert with awesome beauty
a blank day waiting for me
to fill with joy and worry
that I have done this all my
life makes it all of my life
tiny details dwarf the grandeur
animated by the spin of wheels
I have to bow take my leave
the trees sigh stand their ground
sitting on the patio,
I see two full moons.
one seen through the maple leaves,
one seen in the reflection of the window.
or is it
one moon with two reflections?
one reflection in the sky,
the other reflection in the window
reflecting the sky?
do I have to decide
the moon in the window
appears less obscured, fuller, and brighter,
while the moon in the sky is mostly hidden behind the leaves.
the night is cooling after the hot day,
the sounds of distant traffic
remind me that there are places to go.
A hill so high
reaches the moon.
A hill covered in green grass
soft as a bed.
A windowless red room
deep within the hill.
A stern mandarin matron serves tea.
Her face expressionless.
She waves a manicured hand
at a bolted door.
It has a little grated window.
The eyes looking through it
do not see you.
They see some other dream.
The Best Time to Plant
The moonlight interrupted our dinner, you so quickly and cleverly
Put together; it burst over the fence in an unexpected place in the sky
Like a Super Hero ready to take all our struggles away.
There was nothing to do but eat, slap mosquitoes
And talk about the day.
The lavender candle wax was not supposed to drip,
But it was soft and warm, a tiny sculpted body,
Taking form with the press of my finger; my identity
Now cast for anyone to steal.
Oh just take it. I can always grow another one.
Moon Talk from Jemma
Look at the moon!
It's really not moving.
It's so bright.
I can see my shadow.
(She dances in the moonlight, watching her shadow.)
You know, Vikki, I put my shoe outside with something in it like a rock or
some moss and my mom puts a present in it after I go to sleep and takes
rock or whatever. When the moon is full.
May (c, untitled)
so - Jesus finally
ate Cain -
and liked it!
I'm thinking the full moon doesn't give a rat's ass
That I have a pile of work in the next room
That needs to get done.
I think of all those monster movies when I was a kid
All the weird creatures that lived on the moon
Crawling in and out, taking earth men as prisoners
God, my mind wanted it to be real
Then I think of all the creatures living on me
In my pores, in my hair, in my mouth
Eating dried flaky bits of skin...my skin
And how my shadow can eclipse whole civilizations of ants
One footstep can obliterate thousands of tiny organisms without my
What's real to them? Do they write me poems?
Do they have piles of work waiting for them in the next room?
The Cold Mountain is a Killer
Everyone loves Han Shan's* poems.
No one knows what he says.
His words are as frosty as the highest mountains.
His meaning is as out of reach as the coldest mountains.
Hiking to the summit of Han Shan is deadly.
If you persevere in your climb
and are able to take one more step off the ice cold peak,
you awaken in the warm valley where grasses abound.
Wading through the myriad verdant spears
you meet Han Shan
on the tip of each green blade
as it pierces your heart.
(*The Chinese poet Han Shan's name means Cold Mountain)
In Memoriam N.H.
a snarl in the window screen
enough to let any insect smaller
than a moth in
bird feeder's empty
seed lies under water in buckets &
around its pole -
some scattered in the compost
list all the things to see
took place overnight
cats who came to lurk
by the patio woodpile
waiting for the birds who
won't come too wet today
I'm not taking care of anyone today
no soothing another's wild pain
today I'm writing badly with a good pen
an instrument a viewer your witness
brown dying limbs & leaves
soon enough the skeleton will be evident
washed clean by two day's rain
a prop plane passes over unseen
irrelevant to this garden & man & poem
how we are talking
over whiskey about our children
our last conversation
although I'm the only one who knows
our children turn us soft with hope
& that's the way we want to be
you'll never dance at your daughter's wedding
that's worse than dying
probably easy except for big pain
but to move through our time
& see those dear others appended
higgledy-piggledy to our trajectory
along the curve little stars
a birth - - a burst - - a bunch - - a blessing
take this game differently
enter from another angle
imagine that the white-yellow moon
stain of the water glass
acid raising up out
of the paper to ring
itself round in perfect circles
acid used to make paper
paper used to store words
words used to think differently
thinking used to even scores
Keith Kumasen Abbot
I don't live anywhere