Mushrooms I Have Known
Reticent and tired, withdrawn,
dejected, I return.
Emerging overnight from nothing,
then withering back to zero.
Does light incite you?
I walk by and say hello.
You do not speak.
I built a frame of apricot
wood. This was for you. The clouds float
through it even as I sleep. You wrote
once of wild herbs gathered and brought
to a lovely girl, an offering not
of passion but of some remote
desire to hear a word from the throat
of the Lord Within Clouds. I thought
of this as I chiseled the wood.
Last night it rained. I listened to
it from my bed by the open
window, hoping that the clouds would
not leave. This morning two birds flew
by. It is raining again.
We Call the Neighbor’s Fat Burro Donkey Hotei, but His Name is Cantinflas
Certainty grows in corners, away from light.
From his mouth issues the breath we take, the words we keep.
Enjoy the collusion of shape and sound.
We share the hummingbird’s taste for sweet, but not its fierceness.
Its heart beats 1,200 times a minute,
and you ask me how best to bury money.
Hotei’s name means cloth sack, and comes from the bag he carried;
a man of loving character, he possessed the Buddha nature.
What we own cannot be held.
Most plastics are organic polymers with spine-linked repeat units.
The space you’ve left expands exponentially.
Left in the rain, the bell grows.
Christen me at your own peril. Agaves flower once then die.
Fluency in silence.
I dropped my pants when the scorpion stung my thigh.
The wind takes nothing it does not want.
After vulcanization, thermosets remain solid.
The Cantinflas character was famous for his eloquent nonsense.
Vacuum wrap the bills in plastic, place them in pvc.
Having mastered imperfection, I turn to folly.
Not the thing itself, but the process laid bare and opened.
Hoping to hide, the scorpion scuttled under a boot.
Thought to action, whisper to knife: which is not a curse?
The wind wants nothing; the burro sings his loneliness.
This first appeared here in May 2015. My failures often lead to success. I’ve never quite completed this piece, and don’t know that I ever will. But the first draft (nearly five years ago) set me off on a new path, one that has served me well. What more can I ask?
desolate the reach
of space a
curved line of
white empty as
the loneliness one
feels the tone
is different on
a day like
this she says
unaware that her
words fall like
snow in the
mountains soft quiet
in the roar
no one hears
* * *
Another piece from the eighties…this first appeared here in November 2015.
Outward, the quest for
space and the wings’
hunger to unfold and
shed this home of dark
flesh and encompassing desire.
And each thing remembered, the broken
sheath, the flowering desert’s return,
reflects the notion of being, of intent
in action and its corollary,
the gift of living through death.
* * *
“Wasp” first appeared here in October 2015.
Another attempt at recording. “Roast Chicken” was first published in Kindle Magazine in December 2015, and also appeared in Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry.
Contemplating the afterlife of birds,
I empty the carcass. My wife
offers rosemary sprigs,
which I stuff into the cavity
with whole garlic cloves
and seared lemon halves,
and then I compact it by tucking
the wings under and pushing
one leg through a slit in the other,
lessening the surface. One might
debate the shape of a bird’s
soul, the sanctity of structure
and limitation, of ritual and
the weight of fire’s gifts in
human brain development,
but trussing is essential
to the goal of proper
I pat it dry, sprinkle kosher salt
on the skin, put it in the oven,
set the timer for an hour, pour wine.
Following custom, we eat
without saying grace.
Piece by tender piece, it descends.