Dashi

Dashi

I make dashi with water, dried bonito and seaweed,
and maybe a few drops of soy sauce for added flavor.

A simple broth, assembled by hand to enhance, a
concept mislaid in this pre-packaged world.

Today I have blown three notes through the shakuhachi,
each one separate, but all gathered under one roof

for no tangible purpose, released to entropy
and the drops coalescing on the window.

We never know what stew will result from the day’s
efforts, whose lips will force air through which root

end. I close my eyes and imagine the second note’s
shape, how it bells over raindrops to absorb

their sound, bending into the third note spiraling up
and away from my hands, my eyes, my breath.

* * *

“Dashi” and “Inheritance” first appeared in The Closed Eye Open, a publication focusing on consciousness. Many thanks to editors Daniel A. Morgan, Maya Highland and Aaron Lelito for taking this piece.

Poem Up at Verse Daily

tunnel2My poem “Memorial Day” is live at Verse Daily.. I am grateful to editor J.P. Dancing Bear for publishing this piece, which appears in my latest chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, available from Slipstream Press. Signed copies are also available via Loud Bug Books.

This is quite the honor for me. I never dared dream about having a poem on Verse Daily, as such things don’t happen to random old guys off the street. Until they do!

And: A Mythology

 

And: A Mythology

Balancing the chair on two legs,
you claim no past,
and gravity,
though complicit in the future,
aligns itself with the mass.
No connections fuse the two.
Or, lying there, you bridge gaps,
clasping hands with distant cousins,
awake in the moment
yet ready to drift and continue,
a solitary seed awaiting nourishment,
steady, existing only between.

 

“And: a Mythology” first appeared in May 2020 at Literati Magazine. Many thanks to editor Renée Sigel for taking this and several other pieces.

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In Praise of Darkness

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In Praise of Darkness

Night falls, but day
breaks. A raw deal,

no doubt, but fairness
applies itself unevenly. Who

chooses weeds over
lies, flowers over truth?

Last night’s rain fell, too,
but didn’t crack the drought.

Again, we think injustice!
Again, we consider falls.

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“In Praise of Darkness” is included in my out-of-print chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform. A few signed copies are still available via Loud Bug Books.

Self-Portrait as Question

 

Self-Portrait as Question 

Walking hand-in-hand with what,
who presupposes why, and when
huddles with where before skittering
off to its murky corner. Sometimes
I present myself as a shy minute
or a cloud’s effigy streaming across
a scruffy field. Few suspect the truth.
Answers ricochet from the limestone
wall, but no one nabs them. I react
quickly and offer the unknown, the
life I claim, my name, in return.

 

* * *

“Self-Portrait as Question” was first published in Rue Scribe in September 2018. Many thanks to Eric Luthi and the editors at Rue Scribe for accepting this piece and several others.

Gulf

gulf

 

Gulf
for M.V.

Which looms wider, its sky or water? The birds, here, too,
reconvene in greater streaks. This morning I stomped around
Paisano, examining the grasses and soil, the rocks and various
configurations of clouds, and listened to experts discuss
prescribed burns and how the land’s contours can determine
sequence and efficacy. The mockingbird whose territory
we occupy has disappeared. Perhaps he’s just moved on.
I heard a red-bellied woodpecker yesterday, but never saw it,
and of course the rattlers at the ranch are still underfoot, just
less apparent this time of year. I looked closely, as always,
but never spied one. What else did I miss? The rich people
on the bluffs bulldoze habitat, poison creeks and erect their
Italianate villas, caring not a whit for the breeding warblers
or the landscape, although they might pony up a few bucks
for an environmental charity if sucked-up to properly. Given
a choice between the two, I’d pick the snakes every time;
they don’t smile or offer spiked drinks and stories of their
conquests, and usually warn before striking. Even a minor
deity might take offense and crack open a new fault in the
earth between this place and theirs, widening it by inches
with each presumption, every falsehood, whether shaded
in unrelated facts or illogic, until that shifting space could
be spanned solely by a bridge planked with truth and good
manners, and, yes, by mutual consent. Looking back, I
find many examples of these bridges collapsing in utero,
but we keep trying. Your story of the gulf coast storm
reminded me of weeks spent on calm water, and seeing,
no matter where I turned, blue meeting blue, from horizon
to horizon, the sky never broken by bird or cloud, born
anew each day, always looking between, never down.

 

 

“Gulf” was published in West Texas Literary Review in March 2017.

 

Because You Cook

 

Because You Cook

You know the pleasure of
hunger, of patience
and a task well done.

Dice onion, peppers – one hot,
one sweet – saute them in olive oil,

fold them into an egg
cooked flat. Add
crumbled goat cheese, basil.

Look away.
Morning ascends, then declines,
but night drifts in, confident,
ferrying these odors among others.

Accept what comes but choose wisely.
Light the candle. Shift the burden.

 

* * *

“Because You Cook” first appeared in Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018. I am grateful to editor Robert L. Penick for taking this piece.

 

Dry Well

 

 

 

Dry Well 

I trace the symbols.

In the dirt, among the grubs and crooked
weeds. Writing of loss. Of missing things.

Wondering if words will fill my mouth
with wool or grit. With pebbles and salt.

If truth is what I want.

 

* * *

 

“Dry Well” first appeared in Vox Populi in August 2019. I’m grateful to editor Michael Simms for his steadfast support.

 

Yellow, Lost (with recording)

 

 

Yellow, Lost

The forgotten poem, existing in title only: Yellow.

Which is a bruise at three weeks, or memory’s shade in autumn.

In what black folder does it hide? In which blinding light?

I take comfort in primaries, lose sleep at the edges.

Where fraying begins and annotation dwindles to scrawled lines.

Above the bones and flesh of the Egyptian gods. Above my books.

Within these lost minutes. Those moons, bereaved. The hours.

Desire germinates even after our rainless decades. Yellow, again.

The color of sulfur (the devil’s realm) or the traitor’s door.

Of cowardice and warning. Of aging and decay.

How to recover what’s sifted away, the residue of our loves?

Each day more bits break off, never to be reattached.

But you, I blend with the sky, perfecting trees, the grass.

 

* * *

“Yellow, Lost” was published in wildness, Issue no. 10, in October 2017. wildness is an imprint of Platypus Press, which published my work Interval’s Night, a mini-digital chapbook, in December 2016 in their 2412 series. If you’re not familiar with wildness, check it out. In fall 2016 Poets & Writers named it in their article Nine New Lit Mags You Need to Read.

 

Riddle, Dollar, String

 

Riddle, Dollar, String 

Living between, she pretends the comfort of walls
within walls, the unseen’s dispensation.
A slow dragging. The raked leaves.

And all the naked oaks bowing to the wind,
feeling the scratch of impending growth,
the twig’s pearl poised to push through
this mask, stolen sounds dotting the morning.

Later, watching lizards on the wall
or the haze of bees surrounding the agave.
No one pays. Limestone. Mulch. Light.
Unformed thoughts snaking through.

Like that line wrapped around her waist,
another purpose only she could explain.

“Riddle, Dollar, String” first appeared in The New Reader Magazine, in March 2018.