Thursday, February 25, 2021

THE LIGHT 


The light,
like faded paint

still offering
an opinion.



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

THE CHILL MEANS 


The chill means
autumn, means

winter is
not far off,

means the world
is what it

is in this
moment, this

all we have.



IN SOME LANGUAGE (11) 


In some language
the word for saint
also means holy fool.

It also means poet.



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

THIS WALKING HEART- 


This walking heart-
beat. Is it enough

to wait, patient,
while the world comes

to its senses? Is
it enough to hope?



LOVE 


Love
in the moment of

falling from,
letting go,

is love, as when
the skin

does not know
what the skin

knows.



Monday, February 22, 2021

SHADED GREY 


Shaded grey,
a dull sun

behind it.
Autumn leaves.

Whatever
stays now wants

to be here.
Even wind

in these trees,
loving them.



THE WITHINNESS 


The withinness
with you

is so without
with me.

The blessing
of that moment

lifts us
again, again.



Sunday, February 21, 2021

TEN OLD MONK POEMS (3) 

 DON'T ASK YOURSELF

Don't ask yourself,
You might not like

what you answer,
the old monk says.

That's the whole plot
in a few simple words.

~

THE STARS ARE

The stars are shifting,
the old monk said.

The horses have run
away, yet the stars

don't worry. Every
moment is tomorrow.

~

WE HAVE SO MUCH

We have so much
infinity,
the old monk said.
It never ends.

~

IF YOU DON'T

If you don't do
what you always do,
the old monk said,

you may not do
what you need to.

~

I HAVE SAID

I have said so much,
the old monk said,
the silence is full.

~

WHEN I SEE

When I see the same thing
I say the same thing,
the old monk said,

when saying something new
wouldn't be fruitful.

~

THE MOON

The moon
opens the sky,
the old monk says.

The pines sing
an old song.

Listen:
the night says

How long,
how long?

~

LEARNING THIS

Learning this silence,
the old monk says,

prepares you for
the next one.

~

YOU CANNOT

You cannot
mean silence,
the old monk says,

when you keep
speaking in words.

~

WHEN YOU KNOW

When you know,
the old monk says,
you know

you can say
nothing.

You own
your silence.

The silence
owns you.

~



IN SOME LANGUAGE (10) 


In some language
the word for desire
also means death.



Saturday, February 20, 2021

BIRDS 


The big birds
and small ones,

the weed birds
and beauties,

God's creatures
on the wing

to wherever
heaven is.



NOT YOUR BODY 


Not your body,
not mine,

which breaks
between us

when we break.



Friday, February 19, 2021

ENOUGH 


Enough, he says,
when wind fills his

breath, when the sky
roars, when the birds

stay low. Wisdom
is turning where

the road goes.



IN SOME LANGUAGE (9) 

 
In some language
the word for prayer
also means the sadness
of holy beings.



Thursday, February 18, 2021

HE WALKS 


He walks. Wind
walks with him.

The gods break
loose. From here

to hell, his
happiness.
 


IT COMES 


It comes from the west
like dust, the snow.



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

YES, LAUGH 

 
Yes, laugh at him,
the old man who

loves the world
too much. Love

is a laughing
matter for him.

Listen: God is
laughing too.



IN SOME LANGUAGE (8) 


In some language
the word for singing
also means calling the hogs.



Tuesday, February 16, 2021

AN IMAGE OF 


the black hole
at the center
of the Milky Way --

I think
of us loving
into the night,

the darkness
not something
we have feared.

We empty
ourselves into it
again and again.

Loss fills us
for another
go at hope.



EVEN HERE 


Even here
on this wide prairie
in this hard blizzard,
the ocean.



Monday, February 15, 2021

I AM SETTING 


I am setting these
markers here for you.



DAWN 


Sun on the morning
horizon, like
a nipple rising.



Sunday, February 14, 2021

TEN OLD MONK POEMS (2) 

 NOTHING IS

Nothing is certain
the old monk says,

until you let go
of knowing.

~

ON THE MOUNTAIN

On the mountain,
when you call my name,

the old monk says,
only crows will answer.

~

I HAVE WRITTEN

I have written
all these lines
these many years,

the old monk said,
to find the one
I'm looking for.

~

IF I WERE

If I were as wise
as you think I am,
the old monk said,

I would already
be a star fixed
high in the sky.

~

WITHOUT LOVE

Without love, yes,
the old monk says,

life goes on. But not
without music.

~

ZEN IS

Zen is
in the things

of this world,
the old monk says,

and beyond them.
It is both

and neither.

~

SO MANY MEN

So many men,
the old monk says,

are busy in
the business

of this world
when what they

should do is
loaf like God.

~

TO BE THIS

To be this,
whatever

this is, and
fully this,

the old monk
says, is

the emptiness
you seek.

There is your
entrance.

~

YOU KEEP FILLING

You keep filling
the emptiness,
the old monk says,

when emptiness is
where joy lives.

~

I WOULD NOT

I would not
keep preaching,
the old monk says,

but you still don't
understand
the stillness.

~



IN SOME LANGUAGE (7) 


In some language
the word for poet
also means one who
wields the hammer.



Saturday, February 13, 2021

I WANT AT LAST TO BE HONORED 


I want at last to be honored,
not for me, but for the work

I've done, for the moments I have
recorded, for the light I have

praised, the trees I have sung of,
the birds, oh, yes, the birds. That these

least small things shall not be lost,
I want at last to be honored.



HOLD ME 

 
Hold me, won't you,
the snow asks the pine.

And the pine does.
Pines are agreeable

that way most days.



Friday, February 12, 2021

AUTUMN COMES 


Autumn comes
like the sky of birds
heading south.

The long wings
of sandhill cranes
leave brief shadow.

The turn towards
winter marks
a line you cross,

or don't. Go
ahead, say it:
life goes on.



BIRD 


Bird
in the tree.

The sun
has its way.



Thursday, February 11, 2021

LA PETITE MOMENT 


Already
something is

come and you
cannot hold

the blue white
silver sear

electric
surge of its

mercury
tingling

again and
oh again.

And we
collapse

as if God
has touched us

where we live.



IN SOME LANGUAGE (6) 

 
In some language
the word for love
also means loss.
And they don't have
a word for hope.



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

BLESSED BY BIRDS 


Blessed by birds
and morning,

by the light,
the retreat of

night. The world
is lovely

once again,
the day bright

and forgiving.
We walk out

into the
uselessness

of beauty,
yes, yes, oh,

yes, and beauty
will have its

way with us.



THE MOUNTAIN LOCUST 


The mountain locust
stands in place of

the father who died.
The wind moves its

branches, which
moves my heart.



Tuesday, February 09, 2021

HOG MANURE 


A smell of hog manure.
I think of my father. He would say,
Smells like money to me.



LIKE STARS 


Like stars, these
holes in the night.



Monday, February 08, 2021

HE WAS A MAN 


He was a man
who didn't need to
talk about it.

It was enough
to bend and grunt and
shove and get it

done. Another
morning would be one
more go at chores,

another day
in the fields, cattle
to be fed, hogs,

chickens. No one
said, Do this. Do that:
he just did it.

Yes, God might say,
Let there be light, but
my father would

be the one to
flip the switch, doing
what was needed.



THUNDER 


Thunder
rolling away

into the distance
like silence.



Sunday, February 07, 2021

TEN OLD MONK POEMS (1) 

I OFFER

I offer
a plum blossom,
you want wisdom,
the old monk says.

I offer
wisdom, you don't
know what you want.

~

THE BODY IS

The body is
its own joy,
the old monk says.
Enjoy it.

~

SWEEP YOUR ROOMS

Sweep your rooms
as you must,

the old monk says.
You know they hold

your soul hostage
even as

the moon brightens
the evening silence.

~

CONTRADICTION

Contradiction
is the best teacher,
the old monk says.

That is why
I teach it.

~

NOTHING IN

Nothing in
the sound of wind
is the wind,
the old monk says.

~

AH, MOONLIGHT

Ah, moonlight
on the snow,

the old monk says.
An emptiness.

Someone waits
to give us

the poem.

~

WHEN YOU TRANSLATE

When you translate,
the old monk says,

do not translate
the words: translate

the revelation.

~

THE SCHOLARS WILL SAY

The scholars will say
what scholars say,
the old monk says.

I say, mostly
I don't care.

~

DETACHMENT IS NOT

Detachment is not
something the body does,
the old monk says.
It belongs to the hope
you have in your heart.

~

WHOEVER SPEAKS

Whoever speaks
in my poems,
the old monk says,

is not me, now,
in this moment.
How could it be?

~


SNOW SO 


Snow so
high in the pine

it touches
the sun.



Saturday, February 06, 2021

LANDSCAPE IN WINTER 


Winter trees.
The cemetery's snow.
A pale silence

until the wind
blows through.



THE SOUND 


The sound
of the train

in the distance
is its own

kind of silence.



Friday, February 05, 2021

ONLY SO FAR 


Only so far, then
the wind turns

cold and turns me
back. Letting go

is a morning chore
I don't do well,

despite the practice.



NAKED 


Naked,
she says
look at
them, look!



Thursday, February 04, 2021

ALL MORNING 


All morning,
wind against

the house. Winter
birds hidden

in their bushes.
The grey fields,

the grey sky.
Grey sorrow.

Hawk in his
tree, speaking

to death, death
speaking back.



TREES, LEAVES, 

 
Trees, leaves,
branches,

and what
the birds

assume
they own.



Wednesday, February 03, 2021

THE SHADOWS 


The shadows
at the end

to whom my
father talked,

in the chair,
the corner

by the door.
Those shadows,

the kindness
of death.



BIRD. TREE. 


Bird. Tree. Path. Mountain.
Blue sky, blue sky,
blue sky, blue sky.



Tuesday, February 02, 2021

JUST AN EVENING 


Just an evening
in April and a car

passes, same car
as always. The village

stutters when it
comes to change.

Always the same
is what we want,

same car, same wind
in the trees, same

darkness and sorrow.



WINTER STORM 


The wind.
Even

the trees
have learned

to fly.



Monday, February 01, 2021

LONE GOOSE 


Lone goose. Grey sky.
Where has the snow
gone? And why?



BIRDS IN THE SKY 


Birds in the sky
as if the sky is

a cracked blue bowl.



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