I wander through your golden-red fields.
Vines with still-green grapes snake toward the sun.
Just how fecund you are!
Kick-started beauty lays me low.
Prairies burn with the fire of desire.
Judge me fickle in my allegiance to you.
How little I sense of your natural glory.
Great basalt stones border the ocean.
Vapors of cirrus clouds streak the sky.
Down the beach-packed path I stroll.
Every starfish clings to life at low tide.
Untold riches remain stubbornly unseen.
Great waves of brine bathe the shore.
Xanadu basks underwater.
Atlantis skims the floor of the sea.
Beyond every seagull, a screeching cry fades.
Mountains suddenly beckon inland: a sea of stone.
Setting my sights eastward, I take the plunge.
The slopes and peaks call to me; meadows blossom.
Here, on my way, I exult in your massive splendor.
Who can ever be sated by your majesty?
Nature mesmerizes. I renew my pledge to you.
Alphabet poem, 23 discrete lines.
A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. -- Percy Bysshe Shelley
The nightingale sings to itself.
But its melodious message flies
far from the bird's tiny tongue.
The song soars beyond her beak;
catches fire in another's nest.
Like listens to like; that is the mystic
chord of the forest, in which singer
and listener unite, trading nuance
and beauty for nuance and beauty.
The nightingale sings to itself.
But only one self grasps her poetry:
the Oversoul of nature; the universal
spirit of art. There is no bird
ululating in isolation; its voice
penetrates the darkness, the thickness
of the forest; it echoes in the twigs
of empty nests. Music always flees to
another's ears, forever reverberating within.
A burning candle could light our way,
as we make a foray between a stream
to our left and black woods to our right.
The night is starless, nameless, harmless
to the nocturnal creatures who guard the way.
Our path lies indistinct, boulders rising up
like barriers: no room ahead, no place to bed.
We peer at the murmuring stream, searching
for a stripe of reflected light. None can be found.
In our pockets, we carry two candles, but we have
no matches, no way to ignite the light that we seek.
Only the Source will provide, not these flickering,
flimsy facsimiles. We seek the light everlasting,
overcoming the night, overcoming our fright.
We will find it only in our Buddha nature, which
radiates like a burning ember through our monkey minds,
which illumines without burning, which needs no fuel
or breath. We will sacrifice our candles to the eternal light.
It crawls out of the woods onto the back of the stream.
Water will carry it; we will follow and never look back.
Love dies like an assassin's victim: caught
completely unaware, the thud of a bullet to the head,
mouth gaping to pronounce its own name. The heart
pumps its leaking reservoir of warm blue blood; the final
breath gurgles in the chest like a baby nursing.
Love dies because we create it in our own image:
two become one become two again. We see ourselves
darkly in its bright, believing face. We wrap our bodies
around it, lusting for ecstasy, with no room left for
the self, for the other. Like St. George and the dragon, we
unsheath a righteous broadsword to make a surgical
separation of locked *****. We dread what we wish for.
We lose our world in passion, empty-handed when
the end inevitably comes. We crave an eternal love,
but are fit merely for a temporal one. Time is love's assassin.
(for Jim Harrison)
poetry is no great solace
alone in my montana cabin
with my faithful hunting dogs
who still don't know me by name
a bottle of 1976 Chateau Mouton Bordeaux
at my left elbow
a meal fit for a gourmand prince set before me
my back blisters in mutant patterns
there is no sun to burn them away
outside a three-day blow rattles
a razor sharp mountain trembles
the wind yearns for my undoing
i have unraveled my medicine bag
beads of healing scatter across the floor
one more manuscript blossoms
is the desiccated orchard
my heart gives way
slumped over my ancient typewriter
i fail to complete the final phrase
in her perfume
like a bee nuzzling pink roses.
The flesh must be subdued,
for it cuckolds the mind
with its gargantuan girth.
To resist it we need
not dark desire; myriad ideas,
not the anarchic imagination.
The weight of finitude
bears down upon us like
a vertical vise. We spread eagle,
arms outstretched, raised in
a straining V to stop
the mechanical pressure
from crushing us.
We will not die from this ploy.
But the weightless will no longer
fight back. The struggle, eternally
repeated, exhausts both flesh
and mind. Ideas still carry
the heft of conviction; yet
they barely move the needle
on the scale.
Movement springs up like
a desert miracle or mirage.
Powerful leg muscles find
nowhere to turn but endless
rock and sand. The sky
offers no help: as empty as
the listless day. Clouds
pull apart like puffs of
they cannot mend the
empty self, for they themselves
The flesh plays a shell game
with lust and love. Divine the
winner, then slap away any
sleight of hand that might
lead you astray.
I wander the arid byways
of New Mexico; one road
leads straight to the tomb of
D. H. Lawrence. He took
more than his pound
of flesh; his blood
pumps an irrigating flow
into English literature. Flesh
turned to word in his mind.
And like a phoenix, it sprouted
wings and soared breathlessly
into the stratosphere,
far above the dusty canyons
and the dry arroyo of desire.