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The Journey to the West

Though we journey to the West We pray to the East More or less that's the way Each day begins and ends It’s a tale everyone ...

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Oh Yes ( in reply to Robert Creeley)

If you sit long enough
You will come to it
And when you get there
They will give you a place to sit
Except you'll be sitting already
And what you'll really want
Is to unbend your knees
And rise up in song
And then you may see no difference
Between arrival and moving along

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Precondition of Life

A crack in the roadway
Through which a dream
Seeps into broad daylight
Imagination is nothing

More or less than
A precondition of life

Photo by Marissa Bridge

Poem for Heraclitus

No you never do step
Into the same river twice
But then again you never
Step out of it either
As we remain unsure
Where the shoreline lies
What's real and what's dream
Stasis and change being  
But two ways to describe
How we find ourselves amidst 
The same ever swirling stream
While Charon stands ready with
His ferry awaiting the moment
We become submerged

Saturday, April 11, 2020

What it Means to Die in Early Spring

for Phil

It's early spring 
That brings us
This 2020 vision
Before the leaves unfurl
And the birds alone
Stand proud on the branch
That's when you passed

The marsh grass
Lay wan along the shoreline
Where we had tramped 
Together before
Last year's blades
Now sere and flattened
Reduced to stubble
Yet full of secret purpose
To blanket the tender
New shoots of grass

The north wind 
A choir at my back
Strong in its resolve
Sang of your passing
  Its voice lifted me up
Buoyant like your spirit
And carried me on

That's what it means
To die in early spring
Your last breathe trembles
With renewal's touch
Your complexion ashen
Yet clearly kindled 
With a Lenten blush

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Blood of a Poet

A dream may be just as well wrought as a poem, I suppose, though it's directed to an audience of one.  Just like a good poem, a central metaphor lies at the heart of a well-constructed dream; although it eludes being fully grasped by our rational minds, meaning radiates out from that central metaphor to illuminate all, like the rays of a setting sun.

Let me give you an example of what I mean from one of my own recent dreams.  Since I write much less poetry nowadays, most of my creative energy has been diverted into my dream life, which of late, has achieved an exceedingly fine texture.  REM sleep brings me close to rapture.  I’m no Charles Simic, otherwise I’d be trying to render these dreams as poems.  But for me, dream and poem are autonomous realms, not overlapping.  I am much more of a Freudian inasmuch as it’s far easier for me to reenter the dream realm through prose. So here goes ...

A few nights ago, I dreamed about riding down the highway on a bus at night. Two slender volumes of poetry lay in my lap, my only source of diversion during the long dull ride.  The author was the friend of a friend, someone known to me only distantly, and I felt indifferent to reading her poems, preferring instead to rest my head against the window, my mind wandering as I watched the oncoming headlights stream by.

Then I roused myself from reverie.  I picked up one of the books, opened it to a random page and began reading. I was struck by the sudden intense sense that I held a living thing in my hands. I could feel a pulse beating through the book’s cover and down the spine.  And then I felt the warm blood of the poet, seeping from the book, beginning to puddle in my hands.  At first, the sensation was mild and pleasing but soon gave way to a rising sense of panic, as the blood flow rapidly increased, pouring through my hands and cascading onto the floor. The poet, I realized, was bleeding out.  Frantically I began to search through the book, hoping to find the source of the wound.  On the last page I found a deep vein cut from which her blood streamed forth but there was nothing, nothing I could do, no tourniquet near to hand, and the life simply drained out of her as she passed through my hands.     

I woke up filled with distress, wrote a short note to myself, and then rolled over to go back to sleep, hoping to start dreaming afresh.  If books could bleed, as I wrote in my notebook, we would likely read that much less, but still our true life force would be that much more capable of expression.  

Jean Cocteau, The Blood of a Poet

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Tweet for the Star Magnolia

Today marks the peak Of the star magnolia’s bloom Like the goddess Aphrodite With a full head of curls Every petal holds in place Oblivious to earth’s call Though sure to succumb
Soon in their inevitable fall

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Poem Composed While Traveling Downstream at Night (by Du Fu)

A light breeze stirs
The shoreline's slender grass
Alone on the open water
In a boat with a single mast

The stars hang pendant
And seem on a level
With the earth's broad expanse
And the moon in its vastness
Appears to rise out of the river's
Swift current just ahead

If only fame could be gained
From ink and a brush
Or a sinecure obtained
To provide shelter in sickness
And old age

But instead here I am
Skimming downstream
Proceeding to places unknown
Between Heaven and Earth
Like a sandpiper gliding
Along the water's edge