Wyoming

I have to see what this is
I have to go to it
explore, wonder
impose myself
split open the dustcloud and dry land
bring my rain

I have to touch this untouchable
listen, receive
sit under the big cedar sky
and wait

wait to see
how the past re-emerges
in time

 

________
(c) 2017

 

 

What About Love

Love is not a transaction
but a transcendence.

Love is not a selfishness
but a radiance
ineffable and wide.

Love is not a ladder
but an already there.

Love is not a slog
but an ahh.

Love is not a recipe for confusion
but a bright clarity.

Love is not a bed of nails in an icy cavern
but a long sought-after shelter
that calls the heart its home.

 

_________
(c) 2017

 

 

Prayer in the Desert

‘Be still’ says the wind
hazy and dry
tasting of sage.
‘Seek serenity’ prods
the light on the river.

In this spare landscape
certain things find
themselves closing,
others in bloom.

 

_________
(c) 2017

 

 

What You Say

These words,
strung together
with a delicate touch,
emerge from
your throat

     charmed, peerless.

Shrouded in a mysterious etymology
they move with the centripedal force
of mercury, all blood pulsing

     to gather in the heart.

Like syrup they flow
into my empty places

     filling me.

 

 

The Effect of Land on the Soul

There is a fallenness to life.
Not an awkward skidding,
or a turning away from angelic fate.
There is that, but not now, here.
This fallenness is a movement
of our bodies and minds shedding,
leaving pieces of ourselves
in ruffled piles at our feet—
crested souls flaking in the wind.

We see memories teetering
wondering where to go
when the container
can no longer hold
the depths and pinnacles of life.
When it seems the joys
are as mighty and cumbersome
as the sorrows and fatigue.

“How is it I can love this much?”
the broken heart asks.
A good broken, full and ripe.
Broken like Communion.
Though still disconnected,
dangling from a pendulum
one pole to another
seeking synthesis in the middle—
a coming together to deepen and widen
the cradle of the heart, to unencumber
the spirit and psyche.

There is an accidental grace in life
that sings on the open plains
where the container is
fathomless with plenty.
Where the horizon is land and sky—
that infinite line of Earth and ether,
a curve we cannot detect,
only imagine with our inner eye.

This is the expansive green,
the least populated landscape
where I am holy, open.
Where I connect to all that is good.
Where I connect to you
after everything else has fallen away.

 

__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Estes Park

You with the vista
a perfect match
smooth land
building up
to brave jagged rock
brazen to the sky
as if a contest
for the most pretty

You would win
hands down

Handsome rather than pretty
both if pretty is gorgeous
if pretty is beautiful

Yours is a most bountiful soul

Nature becomes you
as you sidestep pine saplings
balancing stones
Dressed in linen earth tones
cinnamon
red ochre ash
you look relaxed yet defined
among green shadows
in the wood

Your body sings halos around the stars.

You with the vista
smiling
breathing the low oxygen air
clear pure
white as a dove you cannot see
only listen to
when you lean your ear to me
__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Heaven on Earth

When do we come down from heaven
that mellowful plain of dreams
where you love me whole
as if I came from you.
How else could it be
my happiness, my fate.

In you heaven is omnipresent
kneeling inside our
hallowed place
our inheritance.
It will never drift unbeknownst
into the locking folds
of memory
for it will never cease.

Heaven is Aristotle’s
perfect contemplation
the indivisible mover
celestial inward sky.
Heaven is our love.
Love is our heaven.

 

__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Reminiscence a Day Later
for Seva

A contemplative morning
on the last day
wrapped in Seva’s arms.
On the veranda
I looked at light
through the trees,
my senseful mind
sifting through crisp birdsong
and the highway’s
calming purr.

Can I remember
through this competing din
the horses painted
wild on the plain?

Seva and I met him
at Cheyenne Frontier Days,
the artist who painted horses
starting in swaths of purple
(he never uses black he told me as I cried).

The painting drew me in
bowled me over, thunderstruck;
the canvas thirsty-bright
like a cradling land.

Bold strands of purple
the color of royalty
captured quiet zeal in motion.
Hooves through tall grass
manes swept loose
alive in the abstract landscape
born from the artist’s eye
now breathing outside his dream
living beyond his sight
living inside of me.

The wind.
It was about the horses
and the wind
in Wyoming—
how free they are
but only in tandem.

One without the other—
horses without wind
wind without horses,
would be mild and tame.
Together they run and flow
gallop and whirl
in all their magnificent
wildness.

I’d never seen horses
as beautiful as
those on the artist’s plain.
Their brilliance brought to me
the soft nuzzle
of a horse’s nostrils
felt in cupped hands,
mingling with the image of art
aswirl in my memory.

Walking through the gallery
with my new lover,
my heart was open
and wild and free.
Wrapped in his love
I was seeing everything
I had never seen before.

 

___________
(c) 2017

 

 

Mystique of Art

it takes imagination
to re member art
prone to transformation
in mind and heart

from the splayed branches of a tree
a meadowlark flies on to other things
leaving a lonely song inside of me
still the petite bird sings

art is felt and sensed
in oracles of color and wonder
captured horses now unfenced
dancing over the land in dust and thunder

 

__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Timeless
for my cousin

She said, “Everything is temporary.”
Through her tears
I heard a mournful mantra
meant to conjure all the things
she’d ever lost.

It made me think of blessings
and how people always say
to live in the present moment
because we cannot change
the past and do not know
the future.

People equate imagination
with the future: we imagine
castles, love and quietude.

Especially peace.

Imagination resides in memory
too; swirling around within
that which appears to be
fixed in time.
Those elusive belongings we
spend our lives catching
and holding and losing.

These memories are not the domain
of yesterday, but are everpresent.
This is our fruit, our sweet consolation
our hope that nudges our hearts
to expand in the light.
It is not temporary:
it lasts forever
even beyond our bodies.

We can rest in this sacred knowing
that all things go back to God
and infuse the universe.
All things become timeless.

Especially love.

 

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

The Possibility

Seems like being kind
has gotten me
nowhere.
My alacrity falls to
the ground thin as smoke.
The bitter cinders fly
unnoticed in the wind.

Not that I am necessarily expecting
a quid pro quo with the world.
I will be kind regardless.
Yet I have to believe
it will return to me
someday.

Theologian Paul Tillich wrote:
Vitality resists despair.
I ooze vitality.
I beam.
Yet my despair persists
and my vision of surrender
draws near.

Will my strength hold up?
Or will I fold into the
rapture of the cyclone,
translucent as a ghost?
Or will the truest of true loves
come sweep me off my feet
and shower me with kindness?

I have to believe.

___________
(c) 2017

 

 

What They Saw
for Dryw

I.

The Earth dawned
in Space.
The astronauts pointed their fingers
in awe.
Out of the darkness,
the sun’s flares lit up
our oceans and mountains.
Out of the darkness,
the light came
and we became the light.

II.

David R. Scott of Gemini VIII wrote:
I was in hopes of capturing
the magnificence of the scene,
particularly the airglow and thunderheads.

Airglow and thunderheads encircling the Earth at dawn.
What could be more beautiful than this?

How does one get to space nowadays?
Buddhist meditation may be the quickest route.
All that dark space
into which we fall.
A wispy silence
an overwhelming calm.
Yes we have “monkey mind” to contend with
but every thirtieth breath or so
we experience mini-enlightenment:
freedom from the bonds of thought.
We feel released into space
as if orbiting in the Gemini
floating free of gravity
trying to catch packets of food
and wave to our children on video.

III.

What else did they see?
Clouds over the water.
Mostly clouds over the water.

This old red NASA book is poetic.
My favorite line is this:
Coconut, breadfruit, and pandanus trees
grow on these remote islands
and the limpid waters of their lagoons
yield pearl oysters.

I want to go there
and eat breadfruit
even though I don’t know
what that is.

How does wading in lagoons work?
If you are not allowed by day
because of protected coral reefs
can you sneak in at midnight?
Does it feel like gel on your calves
until you cut your foot
on an open oyster shell?

IV.

What they saw was this:
autumn, summer and winter
happening simultaneously.
But no people.
They did not see us up close.

They saw the beautiful serene globe
maneuvering around the sun
being lit up by a star ball
the center of all things.

They saw the moon travelling around us.
They saw God through the Earth enfolding us.
They saw that we are
protected by outer gases.
That we are held within the shape.
By the rain, the trees and clouds
we are held.

That is what they saw.

 

__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Touch

Her collarbone.
Its shape and milky rose hue
he would die for,
has died for.
He is on his second life now.

Her camisole strap refuses
to stay put
slipping down along
her shoulder again and again.

With a keen eye he watches.

His lissom fingers reach
for her in unstilted mesmery
and though his hands shake
only slightly,
a tremor rumbles inside of her
like a 6.0 magnitude quake.

The ridges of his throat
are mute with awe.
Strands of his hair fall
across his eyes like a
weeping willow in the
yellow light of dusk.

And this is okay because
to see her in her fullness
unobscured
would cause pain somehow.
Pain with consequences
he cannot fathom
for her beauty verges on the sacred,
is sacred.
Something very different to him.
Never before…

This is it.
Silence. Trepidation. Love.
Not even a breath separating them.
Finally she leans,
leans forward into him,
his touch a tranquil spider.

 

__________
(c) 2015

 

 

A Garden Through a Fence

I once wrote:
‘Still, there remains a loveliness.’
It is hard to find
to discern through the chaos
of my mind
today.

I have memories of freedom
dancing in front of an audience
the music, the lights, the grass
chilly on the bottoms of my feet
throbbing from the hot
Mississippi day,
my chest open to the sky
hiding not a thing…
that was the lovely.

I hope that all the pain
and chaos of the world
do not overshadow
the seldom-had good
when I arrive at the
tremulous moment
of my final memory.

__________
(c) 2017

 

 

Lost in the Woods

The crisis looms overhead
through chalky bone
like a cloud about to
shatter the sky
crackling
with swords of light.

The black night tears itself in half.

Mystics called this
the dark night of the soul.
These ascetic prayers
reached an ecstatic reprieve
while I have experienced
no such thing.

I have written about the forest
even though I am from
the plain.
In the forest
love runs in secret
for the forest is loamy and dim
with minimal sunlight
filtering down.
Fringed rivulets
drops of light.
Lovers hide among coverts
and terraces visible only
to nature
which is itself wild.

Some say crises teach.
But I have learned nothing
except for suffering.
Its various gradations
multitudinous forms.

Day in
day out
I look to the heavens for solace.

Sitting at the kitchen table
late at night
every night
I whisper the mighty question
pressing on my heart

Will love prevail?

Teach me something
I do not know.

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

That God-Forsaken Hour

Saturday pre-dawn,
poems allude me.
Their syntax
still sleepy-eyed
at 5:15 AM.

The word-fairies lay dormant, lightless
as I reach for coffee and
my body shakes itself from
slumber’s weighty fog.

Soon, however.
Soon the words will jiggle loose
and flow from me like honey
and the night will shed itself
across the cobalt horizon.

A poem is a gift to create
even if the only reader
is the sacred stranger
in a dream carefully ingesting
every word, breath, and sigh.

This early in the morning,
I sit solo with the paper
and the pen, these scribblings
a secret treasure—
the lone key I will swallow.

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

Redemption

The gray morning rises
and salty mist tickles
my nostrils.
I walk in the buoyant haze
that makes me feel free
this early on a Saturday,
sidewalks (eerily) desolate.

Seagulls forage in parking lots
around me.
Their brash cawing
and swoosh of
smoky white wings
overwhelm my senses
and transport me.
To the beach on Staten Island.
When I was three and chased by my mother
while my father slept in the shade.
Sand would get caught everywhere on my body
warranting a long public shower at day’s end.
Then at breakfast the next morning,
granules would unperch
from my hair and land in my cereal,
a crunchy snack.
Sand, sand, sand.
I miss that feel: Innocence.
Carefreeness. Joy.
How do we regain these sweet idols?

How do we give back our demons?
What is the return policy
on our imperfections
fermented over decades
of rough-and-tumble adulthood?
On love gone bad
and the residual vitriol
that leaves our once open hearts
a minefield for the next
guileless lover?

I am into this.
This search for idyllic histories.
Obsessed with returning to
the state of scarless heart,
unknowing bliss.
Of leaving behind everything we have become
to re-enter our make-believe gardens of sand.
When we are beholden in the diaphanous mist
of our favorite: sun and ocean spray.

Do you remember when you were loved this much?

 

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

Morning Light

Your chestnut hair grazes my belly, chest
in my memory, my dreams.

Memories arise when I smell macadamia nut coffee.
I used to stir the flavor into coffee beans.
It was my job at Morning Light.
Others wore gloves, but I liked the feel.
My hands swirled around in the jar,
a meditation of sorts.
My skin absorbed the caffeine,
the ambrosial scent ran up my arms.
My senses were heightened,
sympathetic response activated
when you walked in
when you sat down
and were beautiful.

When will you write to me?

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

Waiting for Sherlock and Other Little Things We Tell Ourselves to Survive

What happens
when you make it to that day?
The one about which you had always said:
“If I can only make it to that day.”
Does it end after that? The hoping, the wishing.
Or is it revealed that it was a mere
benchmark in time?
Is that the day when, after it’s over,
you finally jump off the bridge because your dreams did not come true,
as soon as you realize that the goal
was a false hope concocted in desperation?
Or will it be considered a success—
to have made it that far,
to have endured the suffering?
The latter would bring hope because
just making it to that day
implies or proves a victory.
The passage of time a prize.

What happens when you make it to that day?
That one day you never thought you’d see.
The one your innocent soul aspired to,
like: “I’ve got to live to see my grandson born.”
Or something like that. “…until I get my promotion.”
Etcetera.
Is it because we are soft creatures
and want to believe
that the future holds hope for us,
a conviction written into our DNA.
Our cells scream: “Hold on! Just one more
Day. Week. Month. Year. Things will be better.”

Then when that one day, week, month, year arrives
and passes into the dust of the netherworld,
we realize ours was an all but arbitrary calculation.
We realize: That day was a phantom.
We are still the same.
Nothing has changed; we are the same as we were before that day.
The promise of hope, false.
The expectation of a new circumstance, naïve.
The broken self still broken.

Our cells will cry out “Hold on!”
and we will choose another day in the future
on which to pin our hopes and we will tread forward
into the cyclical illusion once more
and another success will be celebrated
to have made it that far.

 

_______
(c) 2017

 

 

Rainmaker

What is the desert like in New Mexico?
Is it friendly?
Frail?
Is it fertile for the imagination,
for the thirsty soul?

When, every so often, rain pelts the earth
does dust fly up into vortices
filling your nostrils, making you sneeze?
Or do you watch from the windows
and wish you could run under it
as if it were a waterfall,
but you have become afraid of some things
as time has gone on.

What is the desert like in New Mexico?
Is it wishful thinking?
Harsh in the summer sun?
Is it haphazard and imprecise,
rich for the soul, engendering
the poetic muse?

Do you watch football in the winter,
holed up inside, or can you still walk
in the settling dusk, blanched by
a mellowed sky?
Do orange clouds descend as the barometer drops
whispering sentiments your lips cannot?

Only your heart can answer these questions I pose
about the desert: Sophia, wisdom of the soul
taking flight, a new day dawns.

Snow falls as I write this
making everything quiet—silent
like the Montana plain,
except for the sound of breaths.

Remember the sky like the sheen
of a winter dove?

_______
(c) 2016

 

 

Dear Emily

Not the thing that flutters in the trees,
Hope is a wild Chihuahua hidden in the caves.
It is not an aspiration we can measure
And take steps to achieve,
But some elusive thing
That skirts our field of view
Purposely, cruelly as if a game.
Some say hope is bright like angels’ wings
Though no one knows for sure.
It lives behind a mask
That we break fingernails on
Trying to pull off…
Any coarse action to shed its light
Upon our mad eyes.
With these eyes that peer lonesomely
Like neglected children into a void,
We see our pre-baptized selves
Through a glass darkly.

All we want to see is
The true, enlightened hope
And to be fed by it
If only for a moment
If only for a moment.

______
2017

 

 

Lost

I used to be intrepid.

I look at old photos of myself smiling
and I say, “Who is that?”

Day by day my hallowed light shrinks
as if I’ve swallowed the key
to my own destiny and am being
kept prisoner from my true self.

People who have lost themselves are like ghosts
and there is no right door to walk through.

 

__________
(c) 2015

 

 

Polar Opposite

Once up, I slip back down.
On my way I grab metal bars
attached to the tunnel walls,
but they come apart and crunch in my hands like
flimsy aluminum cans, so there is nothing to hold onto.
It’s the house of crazy,
the sad house.
The house that spins around
in the middle of the cyclone.

I slide through the bulkhead
into the dark cellar
with 2.4 percent of the population,
trying not to drown in the flood plain.

How did I get so lucky?

 

__________
(c) 2015