Morning Suizen

Morning Suizen

Boundless, it sips direction in the way of all music,
tonguing each note for its salt.

We call this ecstasy. Or peace.
Follow, and they still escape, always beyond
our outstretched fingers.

Exhale slowly. What do you know?

That long tunnel, ribbed in silence.
The scent of burning cedar.
Days framed in darkness and birdsong.

* * *

Note: Suizen is the practice of playing the shakuhachi, the traditional Japanese bamboo flute, as a means of attaining self-realization.

“Morning Suizen” first appeared on Nine Muses Poetry. Many thanks to editor Annest Gwilym for taking this piece.

This Island is a Stone

 

This Island Is a Stone

Raking the sand, I leave only the infinite
trickling behind; our first bed bore your

parents’ memories. This one grows weeds. The
heavenly bamboo (a shrub and not a grass)

issues white petals and inedible red fruit. My
fingertip callouses have softened from disuse;

coyotes no longer answer my yips and howls.
Who replies to liars anyway? A snail’s love

dart impales the object of its affection, but
often inconveniently. This is not a metaphor

for bad sex, but a means of transferring an
allohormone. Today the overburdened creeks

erode their banks and 492 seconds after
departing the sun a ray greets my lawn. I snap

the towel at the fly on the door, but miss
again. The once sacred now lies open and

emptied; a few months ago my father could not
remember my birthdate although he recognized

the season. Some totals may never satisfy.
If I collect my life’s accumulated wastings, will

that sum temper me or merely accentuate the
fool? Nothing is as it seems. We mark our

remaining days with unread books. These
waves are plotted creases, this island is a stone.

“This Island Is a Stone” was published in MockingHeart Review in September 2017. I am grateful to editor Clare L. Martin for publishing this piece. As luck has it, I’m reading with Clare and Bessie Senette on Saturday, October 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Malvern Books in Austin.

4 Poems Up at Rue Scribe

My poems “Worms,” “Self-Portrait as Question,” “Love Song for the Dandelion,” and “Pinecone on a Pedestal, Open Poet” are up at Rue Scribe. Many thanks to Eric Luthi and the editors at Rue Scribe for accepting these pieces, and to Ken Gierke, who provided the title for “Pinecone on a Pedestal, Open Poet” three years ago during a Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge. It finally made it into the world!

How to Do Nothing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How to Do Nothing

First you must wash the window to observe more clearly
the dandelion seed heads bobbing in the wind. Next,

announce on Facebook and Twitter that you will be offline
for the next two days, if not forever. Heat water for tea.

Remember the bill you forgot to pay, and then cleanse
your mind of all regret. Consider industrial solvents

and the smoothness of sand-scoured stone, the miracle
of erasure. Eliminate all thought, but remember

the water. Hitch a ride on a Miles Davis solo and float
away on a raft of bluesy notes and lions’ teeth,

and wonder how to sabotage your neighbor’s leaf blower,
but nicely, of course. She’s a widow with a gun.

Now it is time to empty yourself. Close your eyes.
Become a single drop of dew on a constellation of petals.

Evaporate, share the bliss. Stuff that dog’s bark
into a lock box alongside the tapping at the door,

the phone’s vibration, the neighbor’s rumbling bass,
and the nagging, forgotten something that won’t

solidify until three in the morning, keeping you awake.
But don’t ignore the whistling. You must steep the tea.

* * *

“How to Do Nothing” was published in Volume 4 of Steel Toe Review.

steel toe

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.

Ikebana

leaf on stone

Ikebana (You without You)

Between frames, between presence and negation, authority.

If your body lies in the earth, why are you here?

Limits admired and sought: the way of the flower.

I pluck leaves from the lower half to achieve balance.

Shape and line detach, yet comprise the whole.

My father, awake in his chair, mourns quietly.

A naked twig forms one point of the scalene triangle.

Starkness implies silence, resonates depth.

Heaven, earth, man, sun and moon invoke your absence.

As you trickle through the interval’s night.

* * *

Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement.

chair

This first appeared on the blog in March 2016, and is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published by Platypus Press in December 2016, and available via free download.

Emptying Haibun

 

Emptying Haibun

Waiting, I open myself but nothing enters. Even music’s comfort avoids me, preferring calmer ports or perhaps another’s wind choices. I drop the weighted cord through the flute, pull it, and watch the cloth ease out. Some days pain drags behind me no matter what words emerge, what phrases follow. Last night brought the season’s first fireflies. This wall of books grows taller each day.

exhaling, I note

smudges in the sky —

oh, dirty window