That Number Upon Which The Demand Lieth

That Number upon Which the Demand Lieth

Overcoming duality, yet binding: the trinity.
Beyond the contrast of two, it initiates the concept of many.
Albertus Magnus claimed that three lives in all things.

Becoming; being;

In Old Saxon, the month of May is named trimilki, season of three milkings.
Number as quality depends upon the visual field.
The ancient Egyptian sign for the plural requires three strokes.

Points; lines;

Lao-tzu said the triad produces all.
Acronyms, sports, and traffic lights reflect our ternary culture.
The devil may appear in the form of a three-legged hare.

Witness; testament;

Representing the unknowable: I, you, and the beyond.
The figure of completion, the number of the cube.
A Sumerian number sequence began “man, woman, many.”

Curse; liturgy;

The scale as a succession of thirds.
Imperfection implies the concealment of perfection.
Shiva’s number, his eyes, his braids, his place.

Root; third;

The triangle in Euclidean space.
I walk the three roads to the commonplace, preferring rhetoric.
Three to through, it penetrates the personal, unhinges that door.

The law; the land;
the world to come.

“That Number upon Which the Demand Lieth” was published in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art  in September 2017. I am grateful to editor Susan Lewis for taking this piece.

From Alternative Fiction & Poetry (1987)


(This first appeared here in March 2014).

Quite the interesting mag back in the day. This particular issue saw the likes of Bukowski, Ivan Arguelles, Lyn Lifshin, Norm Moser, Sheila E. Murphy, and, well, me, among others. I was thinner back then, as was my poetry.

no more than
the slow grace
of light turning

the leaf so
patient in the
air and colder

now that sense
of permanence unfurled
it is not

long to wait
as Wang Wei
said in his

letter I listen
for a sound
but hear none


The Language of Birds


The Language of Birds
(for Lydia)

Something thrown beyond
light: a stone,

words. The language of birds
evades us but for the simplest

measure. And how can we comprehend
those who live with the

wind when our own
bodies seem far away? In the darkness
certain sounds come clearer, as if in

absence one finds strength, the evidence
gathered with every breath. Speech is,
of course, not the answer. We release

what we must, and in turn are released.

* * *

This first appeared on the blog in April 2015 – another oldie dug out of a folder. I wrote it for my niece perhaps twenty-eight years ago, and don’t believe it was ever published. It felt good to finally release it to the light and air.


Shadow Charm

Shadow Charm

When you place your mouth
to my ear

how does the ocean know
which wave

to relinquish?
In your darkness I find teeth.

Blessings of the meek-throated.

A ribbed tunnel. Codicil.

Your tongue scrawls: too late,
the unsaid     nerve-sparked and

dilated     too late

And my skin replies: with
lightning     all strikes

count     to each its charge

“Shadow Charm” was published in August 2017 in The Icarus Anthology.




For one who moves in uncertainty, this
flower, the petals of which

gently fade, as if reason
is found in the decline of beauty
and its comforts.

But all you touch remains
touched. If silence reveals the body

of music, what can be said of darkness? Words
appear motionless until they blossom, a
pattern seldom seen yet carried to us in

all manner of conveyance. Listen,
for there is no purer voice.

Let the earth speak.


“Patterns” first appeared here in March, 2015, and again in June 2016. I wrote it 30-some years ago, placed it in a folder and promptly forgot it.

Spring Night (after Wang Wei)


Spring Night (after Wang Wei)

Among falling devilwood blossoms, I lie
on an empty hill this calm spring night.
The moon lunges above the hill, scaring the birds,
but they’re never quiet in this spring canyon.

Another try at an old favorite…

I consider this adaptation rather than translation, but perhaps appropriation or even remaking might be more accurate.

Here’s the transliteration from

Person idle osmanthus flower fall
Night quiet spring hill empty
Moon out startle hill birds
Constant call spring ravine in

So many choices, none of them exactly right, none of them entirely wrong. How does one imply idleness, what words to use for “flower” (blossom? petal?), or for that matter, “fall” (descend, flutter, spiral)? And how to describe a moonrise that scares the constantly calling birds? My first attempt began:

“I lie among the falling petals”

but it seemed vague. The word “osmanthus” fattened my tongue, or so it felt, but the osmanthus americanus, otherwise known as devilwood or wild olive, grows in parts of Texas. So I brought the poem closer to home.

I considered naming the birds (quail came to mind) but decided against. In this case the specificity felt somehow intrusive.

My hope is that I’ve managed to amplify, in some small way, previous iterations, and that while the edges are still a bit blurred in morning’s first light, perhaps they’ll become slightly crisper by the evening.


“Spring Night” last appeared here in May 2016.