Kites

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Kites

Will viewpoint shift with my spine’s slow
compression, or will this

window admit only true images
in the shortened days to come?

I pencil phrases on bone-shaped kites
and release them to the afternoon.

Call them prayers, name them moans.
Each string is a regret freed, a separate

skeleton, let go. My two selves shudder
in the attempt. I await the perfect breeze.

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“Kites” first appeared here in July 2016.

End of the Road

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End of the Road (2002)

Neither expected nor sought, truth arrives.
One phrase, a minute turn of the

wrist, and the beginning reverses itself, becomes
vessel versus point, illuminating

the reach: one sign, two paths. The agave.
How far we’ve come to affect this place.

Last season the flowers were gray and we knew nothing.
Even the stones quivered with laughter.

And then it rained. And the creeks rose, and the bedrock
appeared as if to say your efforts lack

substance. Look underfoot. There lies the truth.
Neither expected nor sought, it arrives.

 

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Cedar Grove (after Wang Wei)

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Cedar Grove (after Wang Wei)

I sit alone among the cedars,
play my guitar and hum.
In this dark forest
no eye spies me but the moon’s.

My take on Wang Wei’s “Bamboo Grove,” from this transliteration copied somewhere along the way:

alone sit dark bamboo among
strum lute again long whistle
deep forest man not know
bright moon come mutual shine

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“Cedar Grove” made its first appearance here in March 2014. I adapted it to fit my circumstances…

You might find the Wikipedia entry on Wang Wei of interest.

Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

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Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

Five White cat always made sure
no rats gnawed my books,
but this morning Five White died.

On the river I offered up rice and fish,
and buried you in its lazy currents,
chanting my lament. I could never neglect you.

One time you caught a rat
and carried it squealing around the yard
to frighten all the other rats
and keep my cottage clear of them.

We’ve shared space aboard this boat,
and although the food is meager
it’s free of rat piss and droppings
because you were so diligent,
more so than any chicken or pig.

Some people speak highly of horses,
saying nothing compares to them or donkeys.
But we’re done with that discussion!

My tears prove it so.

* * *

The transliteration from Chinese-poems.com:

Self have 5 white cat
Rat not invade my books
Today morning 5 white die
Sacrifice with rice and fish
See off it at middle river
Incantation you not you neglect
Before you bite one rat
Hold in mouth cry around yard remove
Want cause crowd rat frightened
Thought will clear my cottage
From board boat come
Boat in together room live
Dry grain although its thin
Evade eat drip steal from
This real you have industriousness
Have industriousness surpass chicken pig
Ordinary person stress spur horse drive
Say not like horse donkey
Already finish not again discuss
For you somewhat cry

A Song Dynasty poet, Mei Yao-ch’en (or Mei Yaochen) died in 1060. His great poems live on.

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Icarus (with recording)

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Icarus

Currents of breath, the slight curve and lift
within a single motion, once

poised then released as if to say
the wind is mine, or wait,
I am alone –

the story we most fear, not height nor gravity’s
fist, but to exist apart, shadow and

mouth, rain and smile, feather
and sun, all denials reciprocal,

each tied fast and renewed.

 

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“Icarus” first appeared here in April 2016, and subsequently was published in The Basil O’Flaherty in November 2016.

Poetry Readings

Airport Reading

Over the past three decades, I’ve participated in public readings in some interesting places: bars, cafes, auditoriums, bookstores, churches, classrooms, in people’s homes, in various arts facilities, on a river bank and, of course, online. But until this week, I’d never read at an airport. Now that was truly different! I am grateful to Brick Street Poetry and Indianapolis Airport Authority for this amazing opportunity.

Life among the Prickly Pear

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Life among the Prickly Pear

Rain’s twofold curse: not enough
too much. Still, I take comfort

even among the thorns.
There is much to like here.

Its moonlight flowers.
Paddles fried with minced garlic.

Wren’s jubilant shriek.
The fruit’s red nectar.

I wake to distant screech owls
purring their desires on separate

slopes. Late spring, storms looming.
I close my eyes and the creek rises.

* * *

A draft of this first appeared here in June 2015, and I posted this version in May 2016.

In the meantime, two of my guitar heroes:

Recording of “Door”

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Door 

What would you conceal?
Or open to. Could you unfurl

your fist to daylight
and shudder loss away — one key,

one digit, one death — presuming the universe
and all its hinges available for inspection

behind yet another unlatched presence.
And this spinning disk,

how shall we step off? Every moon
sheds its coat. Listening, I turn the knob.

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“Door” first appeared on the blog in September 2016.