Bamboo

 

Bamboo

the ringing in
one’s ear is
not desire but

language the song
of another mouth
moving in a

different wind the
music is nothing
it is all

and has no
substance but that
shaped inside beyond

thought like growth
in a seed
there simply there

* * *

Something written in the 80s. My, how time has flown…

Scarecrow Takes a Holiday

 

Scarecrow Takes a Holiday

Having neither organs nor neural impulses,
I no longer ask why or how I hear and smell,
taste and see, feel. This morning I woke
to magpie song and onion breeze, in
a body not mine, yet mine, at peace
on Jeju Island, far from my crows, yet
still among friends singing the same
language. I know this: home lives
within, and no matter where we travel,
it rides with us. Like the man who
spoke to me, bald, bearded, a pale
foreigner in this land, comfortable
here, at home. He listened for my reply,
but unfortunately I’d not been given
a mouth, and my words dropped to the
ground and were rolled away by
beetles before he noticed them.
Perhaps I should have written a note,
but he wished to gamble and how
could I refuse? I am hollow, but not
empty, whole, yet not complete,
away but here. He took a coin
from his pocket, flipped it. I saw…

 

A response to Daniel Paul Marshall’s “Scarecrow Travels (after Robert Okaji)”

This first appeared in May 2017.

Ghazal to the Night

 

Ghazal to the Night

The sun carries this river to the night.
Balmless flesh, lies. A letter to the night.

What folly, your mineral dream of power.
I inhale your bones, oh smoky altar to the night.

A stump is neither owl nor island, lifeboat
nor storm. This resin, a gift of myrhh to the night.

My email disappeared to emerge a year later.
Why? Remember what we were to the night.

Hey, winged smile, describe yourself in colors!
Empty your veins and pockets, donor to the night.

This cup, that glass. The song of empty bottles.
Casting off, Bob hands his anchor to the night.

 

* * *

“Ghazal to the Night” first appeared in Eclectica in July 2018. I am extremely grateful to editor Jen Finstrom for publishing my poetry over the years.

I enjoy working with this form. It’s a bit challenging, but ultimately rewarding. For a little information on ghazals, you might read this article at poets.org. Superb examples abound in Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English, edited by Agha Shahid Ali. The introduction alone is worth the cover price.

 

 

3 Poems Up at Nthanda Review

 

My poems “Gruyere,” “Mushrooms I Have Known” and “Chipotle” are up at Nthanda Review, an online literary magazine out of Mawali. This marks the first publication for each, although they’ve all appeared on the blog before. I’m grateful to the editors for taking these pieces.

 

 

Thunder

 

Thunder

The low rumble says “look out, I’m coming,” but never specifies what to anticipate. Lightning strikes? Floods? High winds? Sometimes even the rain neglects us. Our pup hides under a blanket in her crate, and I contemplate a run to the store for beer and wine. Three years ago tornados were spotted in this area; they never touched our hills. The storm’s downdrafts bring us the fragrance of ozone. I marvel that three oxygen atoms combined in the atmosphere to produce such delight. How I remember inhaling deep draughts of summer storms in my childhood’s last years, watching thunderheads roll overhead, dreaming of victories and love and certainty, not yet knowing that desires change, that the unexpected always seizes its turn.

Under this roof
we smile at the clouds
our kettle whistling

 

“Thunder” first appeared in The Zen Space in July 2018.

Pain (Haibun)

Pain

Pain reminds me that I’m breathing, still able to appreciate the fragrance of French roast coffee brewing, the diced red pepper, onion and jalapeño mixture sizzling in the pan. Today is a good day. When I roll out the dough for the onion tart, the leg barely protests, and as I sip ginger tea while the tart bakes, no throb interrupts my pleasure.

Sometimes the hip shocks me with its barbed lance attack, or the knee rasps “not today, sonny,” and I grimace, concentrate on deliberate forward movement, one short step followed by another, into the kitchen or down the steps to the shack.

Music soothes, as does poetry, but occasionally the weight of the guitar is more than the leg can bear. Still, when I manage to lose myself in a tune or a few phrases, I drift in their currents, weightless, free.

 

Oh, to climb that hill
among those lost maples
Look — my shoe’s untied

 

* * *

“Pain” first appeared in The Zen Space in July 2018.