Sunday, December 13, 2009


The clack clack of stick in the pickets,
Scepter held by boy with curly black hair,
Percussive announcement of self-named king,
Followed by a rag-tag train in tow.

He stands on a crate near graveyard fence
Arching up his chest,
Then thrusts his fist and shouts
That of the living and the dead he’s the ruler.

Silent cold air shakes branches above
A leaf or two drop in swinging arcs
The waiting band snap-eyes and bolts
Through the bang of a swinging gate.

They shoot along the old maid’s house
Tumble down to the backyard empty,
Past the barking of the blind dog
Piling on to inward’s next dominion.

Scrapped up and flung over broken fence
Curly haired king now toppled and uncrowned,
Next boy hooks staff and takes the lead
To the place marked X on the next king’s map.

December 13, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back and Forth

It began with your smooth brown face
Coming close to mine -
Then your full lips peeling back from big white teeth.
A breath and then a surprise of a question -
Why don’t we start over?

To my many ‘nevers’ and ‘cant’s’ you persisted -
Why say we can’t when we can?
You swept your arm over my head,
A wizard, erasing blots from what came before-
Then you reached out to take my hand
Speaking in dazzling nonsense -

Walk with me, you said.
Our feet will blaze a path bursting with light.
Such lies! I cried.
Not again the stories of the new prince, the next dance,
Tomorrows that don’t collapse into yesterdays,
Grand cabarets that rise up
From whirling dream dervishes in dark bars.
Don’t you know that when you squeeze a sunrise
It just brings shadows?
Please leave me alone!

Still, you did not relent and spoke to my aches.
You tilted your head to the left and whispered to me again -
Just before a flower blooms, a tightness comes.
Fibers built to resist, relent.
Then comes the snap and an opening -
A wet naked moment,
The first touch of what will be.

Your big, white-palmed hands floated near my face
I sat still.
I had no quick joke to push you back,
No restatements of the ‘woulds’ nor the ‘coulds’.
I saw that you would have your way with me
And I would offer you my grateful permission.

November 22, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I want reassurance, peace, unity,
Room to grow without relinquishing the honey sweet -
I want a mind that expands forever
And freedom from the delay of nuance.

I want the noises in my head to cease,
And for you to stop asking me to help you.
I want someone who will take care of me
And I want to believe that someone truly could.

I want to stop lying to myself
And a sudden end to all self betrayals -
I want happiness to fall from my mouth, mind, and deeds,
And the freedom to die when and how I choose.

I want you to be happy so I can stop worrying.
I want to be alone except when I don’t.
I want you with me whenever I cry
But I want you to know when it’s time to leave.

I want to change the subject at will
And to take on what I can at a survivable pace.
Imagine moving forward without knocking things over.
Or to someday face loss with something like courage

You and I drift now with aimless kisses -
And make too much of these many small things.
Can you put in an order for safe explosion,
And find out how long the next step will take?

Thank you.
I can wait.

November 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009


In the front row a man stood up
Sweating, thin, dark –
He held his hands to his chest and looked up -
“Dance into my heart”
Was the silent prayer his body spoke.
A question:
When you danced tonight, did you ask
Whether a soul might come back through you
Or why that soul might choose your feet
To touch a wooden stage once more?

Lithe brown god walked on black earth
Among ancient trees
At his feet the soil upturned,
Making new saplings sprout behind each deep footprint
Young trees that that fast reached up
Bending beyond view,
Scratching the palms of a sky god
Who lowered down a silver arm meet the green leaves.
In this way, the earth and sky met that afternoon
Just before the endless rain began.

Did the last brave ones go?
The boys who ran in these narrow streets
Who shouted to one another about who was king
And who would die?
What if I called out to even to one boy to come home?
Would he come back to see hollow eyed stares through windows
Asking for something though it’s too late to ask.
Sometimes these faces speak
To the small spitefulness of days piled on days unforgiving.
If you could hear their voices they might ask
To be opened up again.

I remember sitting with you once.
You looked past the cliff and the waves
To somewhere beyond where you could feel but not see.
I watched the wind draw your hair
Back from your young, drawn face.
Were you choosing a place where we were meant to go together?
I’m still here.
Can you hear me?
I’m still here.

October 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

First Sign of Fall

Wooden knuckles of bare branches knock on the window
And spin around in a wind dance as clouds close in.

Then, rain drops slap, surprised, against the glass
What a fall from thousands of feet to come to that end!

You shouted your last exit from this house one year ago,
And for a moment your shape re-appears.

Tonight the compost of that memory slips
Into the cradle this empty house.

Red clouds under lit by a low sun sink
Just where the land ends and the bay begins.

Just outside, I can hear a little girl
Shrieking in delight that she’s seen a ghost.

Quieter still it grows as a single dog barks
Into the blanket of charcoal night.

October 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting Organized

We talk about your close call –
How my right hand reached yours
Taking hold and pulling you up.

You bring up this moment and call it luck.
I hiss in my inside voice that falling would do you good
And that a big fall could not come soon enough.

On the surface we talk about the circus and the greasy food
I judge you in private and begin filling with emptiness
Nothing will happen this time- nothing happened before.

Something needs to happen I scream
As I ache for cause and effect and dream of consequence.
The pokes in our chatter pluck eyes from another insight.

You talk for five contiguous minutes of your changes.
I reach for the cord on the window blinds
And tug down to let some light in.

It’s true, it’s true that I do not know how to begin.
My ears closed to your chatter long before this instance.
We have but exchanged gas in dark rooms like these for years.

As you stand to leave
You extend your hand and I take it,
This time coming to know

That you and I may never meet.

October 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Talking in Bed

I ask a question about tomorrow
And you go broad in your answer
Nonsense spaced by deeper breathing -
Then you roll on your side and drift.

I am awake long after you sleep.

Tonight I watch your chest rise and fall.
Little twists of street light
Enter through the window blinds
And dance on your unshaven face.

I feel them first before they speak.

The moon slides from one pane to the next
And falls over the window’s edge.
You make sounds and utter dream speak.
Outside, the bus drops off its last night passenger.

Footsteps crunch on pavement gravel.

Listen to the dozens of small voices
Speaking to me in this silent room.
The committee of my mind expanding to confer!
It will be hours yet before sleep comes.

For now, no matter what they say, I will make no promises.

September, 2006

Minor to Major

David’s silver hair, backlit by low sun -
Wisps, somewhat disorganized, reached out
From the top of his head.
It was our moment on that bluff and that bench.
The stroke hadn’t taken him,
But had come close.

I looked him in his large brown eyes
As he spoke of closing in on a bigger truth
Beyond the stories.
“That’s where my faith begins.”

I leaned back and opened myself
To David's story about a singing snake
Who crawled blind through an intestinal path
Buzz-humming the way singing snakes do.

In a flash of genius
The snake transposed his tune from minor to major.
“And then he opened his eyes.”
Emerging to a star-specked, infinite night sky -
Flicking new words of ‘I’ woven into ‘we.’

David grabbed my ear and gave it a gentle twist.
“I’m ready for it to end.”
What he wanted anymore was simple –
A moment like this one
One more day in the warmth of knowing
That simple comes from letting go.

October, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

Raw Prayer

Turn your body to face your hatred now -
And meet your long campaign there -
On it beats and on and on.
What did you expect to learn by staying there?

March on then, climb, rise
To higher flatland - dry grass then far off shoreline -
Even higher, the earth on this path
Stays blood red, dry, cracked.

Please listen to me!

My prayer is for your opening.
Shout out the first word that comes
Make that the start of what you seek
And listen for the voice that answers -
What are the words whispered?
Do remembrances slice you?
Does the past pass through?

When your march reaches the coast
Remember the sugar loaf we crave and salt wind we kiss
Open onto the waves as they slam the cliffs
What rain do you expect?
How long can you last?

Face prospects and not the past in this moment!
I've heard of a place other than this one
Found that when the words escape
You may know only that you are lost.
Call it by the first name that comes

Ask, listen, ask again.
Consider the answer to be your first step.

September, 2006

Don't Tell Me

I made the shape of a small circle with my hands
And placed it to my chest.
Then, I turned to you.
My soul, I said, wears a red jacket
And will come to you from inside here.
You can call it and talk to it if you want.
It knows when and how to come back home.
Go ahead. Try it.

You let your eyes drift to my forehead,
Pulled be close with a tight, white-hand grip,
Then lifted my t-shirt
Tapping me three times in the center of my chest.
These are bones and this is skin and that’s the end.
No, it really works, I said
You said, I’m reading dear.
I paused.
Do you think that I am skin wrapping bones and no more?
Yes dear.

Standing two feet from you
I watched you read.
Yellow light made a ring on the pages of your book.
When two green butterflies
Tumbled airborne from behind my ears.
They flew to you and lit your hair with green and orange.
I had no advice to give you.
Out of love for you I said in my inside voice -

You will have to do the best you can
With what you have.

July 13, 2001


I could try calling out
And say that I want something I only suspect exists -
The vast simplicity of emptiness.

I could wish for the subtle strength
To cling to a trembling light without crushing it
In the palm of my sweating hand.

Could I even see the wish taking shape,
Floating on two wings, then four
Then a thousand - flying farther away.

But I am still standing
To notice what remains,
My hands curled into fists.

I hear the voices of countless wants
While I stand taking on a growing chorus of shouts.
Here, behind the noise, wanting brings nothing
But more of itself.

What if I could swallow sharp edges?
And what if, one time, the sharpness passed through?
Could you make that happen?
Lay your hands over my ears
And bring silence to this ceaseless sound?

I can feel you repeating the words with me
Today could be the day.
Today will be that day.

June, 2009


I can feel a second body inside mine
Maybe round or bent to sharp angles
But taking some palpable shape,
It occupies my body and makes my ribs ring.

Second, I feel the gloved hand
Wrapping around my heart, one finger, then another
The first question comes -
When? When?

You sit across the room struggling to stay awake
Smokey air slides in through open vents
You will be my shaman of this moment –
Do you know who has come?
Do you know how he got in?

Just this –
This small bit of an ask -
Please help me
Sit a bit closer and lean in -
Can you hear the smallest voice?
Asking, asking.

July 13, 2001

Secret Covenant

You and I stand, fingers interlocked
Eyes opened with the wonder of opposites

A question just there beyond speaking -
Showing itself in the way you squeeze my hand.

Now a picture comes to me
Of both of us standing before a split in God’s teeth,

Only a quickening rumble in my chest tells me
You have allowed me to feel all that you could.

Nothing that we’ve written,
Nothing we can say.

We stand tangled
The causes behind this awakening leaving no evidence.

July 26, 2001

To Alex

You, the brown haired boy playing with sticks
Dream them into people and change their names at will.
Stick men who walk where you tell them to
And speak in a language they and you know.

For this brotherhood of stick people,
Assume trust and a common set of motives.
It is your world to make as you please.

Then, when you roll your eyes up
Reloading from the candy in the top of your brain,
Bring your stick men to me.
I ask to be part of your tribe.

Work this union of image
And build it if you can my young friend.
Let sticks make your stories
Until their little voices no longer come
You will grow the hands to build and rebuild

Be that one to bring forth what our doubts deny.

July 16, 2001

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Boy walks the beach,
Head lifting, lowering.
He looks sideways, back-

Man's eyes follow,
seeing young pass close,
sniffing deep what exudes.

Two gulls circle,
One swoops, one ascends
then flies on, on. . .

Pale skin, damp-
boy's ribs expanding
Purple nipples, cold.

Gaze fixed on feet
Jeans knees patched,
bare toes pink on black sand.

Though eyes do follow,
none draws close -
Not more than the head turn.

Not today.

Walking Song

So you’re the man who made long journeys
And fell flat by the roadside.

You got up, brushed dust from your jeans,
Expecting help one day, feeling helpless the next.

Can I tell you something you know?
This planet is curved.

All the roads on it follow that curve.
Even circuitous denials come back to where they began.

Not one man or one woman walks
On a path that doesn’t follow this rule.

I hear you humming a song, singing a few words
Stopping, looking down, then ahead, walking.

Bitten by whatever bites
And walking in shoes that have worn soles.

Tomorrow and next week are abstracts
Serving to divide where you’ve been

From where you will someday go.

September 1, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009


When his challenge wafted, silence followed.
The ring of boys gathered. . .tightened -
Nuns stood near, habits flapping
Screeching, watching, but not closing in –
And his blond bangs hung over the right eye-
One vein in his neck pulsed
As he called me ‘little girl’.

On that day I found a way out,
Starting with a tingle behind my ears,
Then the raised pitch of my jumbled words -
(Small mice from the back of my throat)
Then came the slow fusion of steam, his and mine
Building in the space between him and me.
When he lunged, I closed my eyes. . .and
He passed through me.

Quiet, quiet, not a single word.
I opened my eyes and found I was standing, but gone . . .
On the playground, a belt,
My black pants, and white shirt remained.
No one spoke to me and none approached . .
To have disappeared in the dust of that moment -
Leaving the imprints of my feet
Just there in front of me -
Just there behind.

August 15, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


When you held the weight and the shape,
Felt warmth as you flexed your grip
then what next?

You breathed deeper - expanded your lungs blue,
Bending purples and oranges of mind and body.
Knees bent too so that you could reach further. . .

That's when you smelled the spice and citrus -
The earth touched by fingers sliding around curves -
Nostrils wide to know more through these scents -

Black shirt slipped from shoulder dropping back,
Neck extending, joining, dark, disappearing -
Teeth tremble biting on lower lip and finger tips-

Silent asking, followed by tongue,
Tasting for a way into your body - then concluding -
Eyes opening onto a moment without past or future.

August 4, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Journey Work

What do you remember about that night?
How could you ask me to go back there?
Do you remember that we walked about three miles
And stepped off the trail
That I allowed you to undress me
And that I began to lift up?
Crying 'my god' and swimming in moon,
Bitten, gnawing, bold, glinting,
Merging into cactus and rocks surrounding me.

Then, animals came into my body.
I shivered and flashed teeth in growl and howl.
You pulled me in against your chest and just held me.
Safe here, safe. Hold me, hold me.
You pulled my head up to face the night-smoked valley
And reached around from behind,
Taking my arms by the wrist, spanning them wide-
Wings shouting ‘I am here, I can fly’.
I poured out tears and shouted new words.

Your voice sounded far off and earthbound.
Then came the descending slide of irreversible laughter
Draining into the hot night.
I can remember everything to that point -
And here you are asking me to go again-
So when I tell you I can never go back
I say so not for the reason you may think.
You have been with me everyday since then
I can't go back because I never left.

July 25, 2009


An older man shifted in his chair and looked to the younger
His beer filled cup listing toward the left
Spilling for the fourth time in the sand
He mumbled messages that decayed in the onshore breeze.
Memories merged and poured out
Adding to the pool at his feet.

The second of these men
Rose from a crouching position to stand -
Facing into the wind that whistled in his still-wet ears.
He opened his deep blue coat
Accepting the wind and sun on his chest
Filling with the fresh whip of autumn by the lake
His face said ‘Let me get started’

Neither man, even while witnessing the other's shadows,
Noted out loud that light, too, would return -
Neither spoke of the soft chill that swept between-
Or that gems and stones, once held tight, that would have to drop -

It was as it was in the beginning.

July 25, 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From the Point

By cupping my hands, I form a whistle
And send notes lifting through three smoky valleys
Round notes are my messengers and my measure of distance
As they glance the top of each ridge.

Next to me, you stand watch-
Side by side we listen to the sounds flying out
And then look into the warming orange of cypress treetops
As the deepening reds of the sky bleed to chilled blue.

Your breathing, with mine, punctuates this passage-
Way off, a small plume cloud ignites in spiral reverie.
Lifting in silent increase and marking this passage.
It is our turn to rest in peace.

July 7, 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

Boy Who Painted

I knew a boy who could paint with his mind
And the colors that he exuded told stories
Once he sat in an empty city lot-
Cross-legged, dust between toes and sandals.

With a stick he etch a circle in around him,
And spilled his deeper colors within-
And watching as these deep paints
Bled to lighter pastels beyond.

His colors bit, made sounds,
talked to each other, smelled of incense,
Blended and parted
Sent up a mist infused with the tang of copper

The air around him,
Heavy in the hang of late afternoon,
Carried echoes of protests, of wishes,
Denials, reclamation, and return.

The inner and the outer are just as real
And in flight, he could smell the wet edges of clouds
And see the tumble of a boyhood projected
In mind-made phosphorescence on closed eyelids

He made sweetness a sound and a feeling
A shining path of talking colors,
Dream keeper's treasure chest
For bedtime journeys lit only from within.

June 26, 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Giving Shape to Zero

With the tip of my index finger
I touched the red and gold card-
The Zero, the Fool,
The friend of a friend of a poltergeist.
Your request – please trust me -
My assurance - whispers, echoes, refracted light.
You and I reached this edge.
No more ‘please, please, please’ or ‘I’m sorry’
Better to utter a prayer
That our earth will hold for a moment more.

Expectation of the whooping caused the boy to shriek-
Jeans pulled down to his knees-
The target named for a red hand imprint on round bare behind
Mother looming, her lip curled up, open palm turned-
Then silence.
She stood and exited through the open door
The mind committed the deed.
The act was unnecessary.

No moon that night and only a star there, or there.
Your path away led from where we stood.
We held hands for a moment and I looked at you.
You looked ahead.
You turned your back to me and I closed both eyes.
I heard your steps, left then right, in the soft earth-
I, the boy with a red cap, drooping trousers and upturned gaze –
You, the man, with chin upturned and eyes scanning
Carrying my flashlight into the tumbling fog.

In passing that glass to you, ice tinkling,
I saw the rank dance begin again.
Three parts gin and one, water –
Water you did not request.
A dance from the back and back of time-
Lit by a spotted sun and the stink of stale mouths.
Your red-faced listing and crushing,
Bent words a slopping pig song of inverted notes.
The melody repeated, dissolved, and came again.
I dreamed that the notes flew low on black wings
Lifting dust as they sang just inches above
Lifting into clouds that rolled along
Wind swept, increasing, wetter and darker-
Leaving me soaked in your sticky rain-
Mine now, all of it, mine.

I have carved a mandala in concentric stones,
Markers to the memory, the ache and the joy etched.
In stillness, details re-animate –
The thread of light, a voice in song,
The smell of dirt from the traveler’s shoes
Just moments ago kicked off
As he lifted himself up and re-commenced to fly
Below him the imprint of his feet and the small shadow
Of the point where he once touched earth.

June 14, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Ghost's Truth

If you closed your eyes could you see me
Lying next to you in your hotel bed-
My ghost there to share the wall-to-wall, velvet matching chairs?
Or would I be conjuring my presence in the province of wishes?

When I walked home, dark-faced beneath my hooded coat,
I could feel wet wind hitting my cheek,
Cold comfort where you last touched me.
Was that you or a sea ghost reaching out from the night chill?

If in fact it was some extension of your soul
Rising, even pausing with me among these moon lit waves,
Can I claim truth in what I thought I saw-
Sleek shape before me, voicing my name, then slipping away?

Tonight I owe myself this stark truth in your absence -
That you are mine and you are also no one’s-
Mine is to wait and to prepare for your return.
Come back to me when you can.

June 11, 2009


You looked at your hands
When we talked tonight -
When I was speaking,where did you go?

When I leaned forward, you recoiled.
I pulled back and you sat still.
I got up to leave and you did not follow.

Intermittent blinks and long pauses
Drew from me a question - what's wrong?
And you said nothing.

Three years of incompletes brought us here -
My invitations blunt tipped to your sealed lips
I have slipped into a quiet little place

Not speaking,
Not asking,

June 11, 2009


When we first had the distance to talk about that day,
You said we could put the whole afternoon
Into a box and then float it away –
That it would never come back
That whatever slime soiled me
Would never return to shame me.
You were sorry, you said.

But the flood behind the memory
Leaked out the way these things do
Through the cocktails and the ha ha ha's
It found its way up
And took shape between us -
Stinking of old and wet,
Demanding, standing, a revived contender.

I proposed a solution:
You are I choose to stay with me now.
Can we make the expansive slick of our past
Slip through cracks and go below.
Could that be our answer since we are the ones
Who made the moments departed?
What would we want for the moments yet to be?

You accepted:
Then in the slowest of slow you drifted to sleep -
There, there, I said, it's peace coming on -
And I listened to you count one by one beyond the millions
Skipping whichever numbers suited you.
You leaned forward in your chair
And went below into sleep's vanishing.

June 11, 2009

North and South

I covered my face behind two palms
And in that prayer-pointing privacy
I came to imagine that I’d found
My north and my south
Locked away in our last days together.

I held still and kept my jaw fixed
Removed the distraction of chance
Through the absence of words.
Then I repeated some self-taught chants of transit
Feel good rhymes of sound, sight,
All to hold the post-fire glow
That formed in halo around the last bit of you.

But strength to hold the specter, even in darkness, faded -
And I had a sense of the return of motion
Of some great river flowing again.
Then, finger by finger I uncovered my face
Palms lifting and the sun touching my skin.

I re-entered discourse with the named and nameless
That recalled the day's calendar
Etched in slate on streets leading on.
I looked each way and stood
Eyes aimed up to measure distance,
Counting each step - one, two, four, nine.

June 11, 2009

Beyond Empty

I could imagine calling out
Into a gap between
The seen and the heard -
Feeling nothing more than emptiness.
I could wish for an invigorating rush-
A flash of trembling light held, not crushed
In the palms of my sweating hands.

I could even close my eyes to see
A whisper of a wish taking shape,
Floating on two wings, then four- and away.
But drained of wishes,
What do I have to hold
Other than two hands
Curled into fists.

So there is that one time when
I heard a monk's sermon on countless wants-
Of man after man climbing to his own peak
Topping out on a chorus of shouted ambitions.
The monk also spoke the existence
That hides behind the grasping words,
That wants nothing but more of itself.

If I could swallow sharp edges,
If, by degrees, the clenching eased -
Do you have a few words
That speak to how to be alive in grace?
Would you lay your hands over my ears
And bring a peace
That flows from base of my spine?

Or would you ask why
I make victories contingent on someone else?
Would you assure me
That I may have enough to love what is -
Would you coach me
To entertain a hopeful doubt
And breathe in and out to invite the calm?

Yesterday and tomorrow do not need to match
And even for a scientist,
They do not exist.
I could step forward
Though halting through the newness
If I ask how I might have it some other way
Might you say that today could be the day.

June 11, 2009