Pleasure in Absence of Ending (Ensō)

Thoughtful, proposing not end, but process.

In this noon’s grayness I disclose my need.

Which is a lotus floating in your pond, a clutch of zeros
blooming in moonlight. Last night’s missing sleep.

An ending, by definition, concludes.

But what occurs in a circle’s body, or infinity’s border?

Imprecision acknowledged, I sip wine and gauge distance.

Take comfort in the disorderly.

Starting at the top, the brush moves down and right,
clockwise, then rising in opposition, halts.

Drifting, incomplete, I step back.

Some leave a gap; others do not.

* * *

This first appeared in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art in September 2017.

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.

Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)


Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
Nothing awaits it.

* * *

This last appeared in November  2016.


Countdown: #3, How to Do Nothing


My last five posts of 2017 are reruns of the five most viewed posts on this site during the year. This one appeared in June.

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, available for purchase here.

steel toe




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 that seems to fit today’s mood. Funny how that is.

Shakuhachi Blues


Shakuhachi Blues

That waver,
like the end of a long

dream flickering to wakefulness,
or an origami crane

unfolding between whiskey
poured and the tale of deceit

and a good woman done wrong.
Air flutters through this bamboo

tube, and it seems I control
nothing. Inhaling, I try again.


My latest enthusiasm. A simple instrument that will take a lifetime to learn…

Japanese Gardens


Japanese Gardens

how natural the
lines falling so
purely as if

with a single
stroke we walk
through the opening

and see space
the white center
composed of sand

and gravel later
a gate opens
to another garden

its lantern and
stone so carelessly
arranged so deliberate


“Japanese Gardens” first appeared here in January 2015.