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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 ...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Meaning of the Spring Beds Revealed

For backyard gardeners this week is pretty much the holiest time of year. It's when we first get down on our hands and knees and commence removing the straw in order to uncover the beds.  I can't tell just how thrilling it is to catch that first sight of the strawberry shoots and vines unfurling, with the small weeds trembling in their midst.  At the very moment of uncovering this bed, it is already teeming with life, just like a mosh pit, it's impossible to make even the slightest move for fear of trampling on some still pre-nascent leaflet that is not quite ready for daylight.

So here is a new poem I've written in honor of the moment this year's unfurling of the strawberry patch -




There is a deeper meaning
Found in those things embedded
Which is only revealed
To us once we get down
On our hands and knees
To inspect spring's first growth

There in the plush locus
We find the source
Of all our comforts
To be given and received  
In the vines and weeds entwined
And the strawberry leaves
Unfurling in vernal light
Announcing the race
Back to life

Just as well we might 
Disport ourselves one day soon
On the divan or couch
Gradually spreading out 
And ready to proliferate









Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Poem Inspired by Marissa's Photo


So we sojourned there
For many happy seasons
Leeward of the rising sun
The waves led us on 
Like a stairway ascending
From Good Ground to
The blue gray horizon
And then up into the beyond
Through the layers of stratus
Piled all the way to high heaven
Into the clairvoyant light above



Friday, March 24, 2017

Ode for the Balm of Gilead (#心心)

The deeper and deeper
Into the moment you get
The more de-personified
Your awareness grows
Almost disembodied
As if it had transcended
The bicameral mind
And now lodged itself 
In a third hemisphere yet 
Unnamed and unflagged
But unflagging in its
Determination to maintain
A peaceful disposition

This is what
It means to
Think with
Your heart
Instead of
Your brain

*******************

With this poem I am pleased to announce the introduction of a new hashtag into my vernacular.  The hashtag is #心心.  It is the first time I have used a hashtag composed of a Chinese character - 心 - which is the Chinese word for heart.  A secondary meaning is to think or feel.  It is one of the distinguishing features of the Chinese language, which is central to the Daoist and Chan Buddhist traditions, that you associate thinking with your heart.  Thus this hashtag literally translated into English means: to think with your heart - #心心. Use it well and wisely! 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Final Moment (or two) of Doubt

The if not now when
That I hear now and again
Does that count
As being in
The present moment
I wonder

The same way
I hear the same bird
Singing
Over and over

I get carried away
All too easily
By the slightest
Suggestion of spring
With the bird
Still singing and
The sunlight strafing me
On a frigid March afternoon

Even the hollow sound
Of the neighborhood kids
Playing out of doors
And the car door slamming
Not so far away
Can't help but
Remind me of all
The warmer days
Soon to come

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For the Omphalos on the Supermarket Shelf

As if phalos
And omphalos
Decided to share
 A single self
The flower petal 
Streaked with green
Still throbbing with life
It constitutes an in-store
Display of the purest kind
A flower sermon delivered
There on the supermarket shelf

* * * * *

Photo by M. Bridge

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Same Storm Coming and Going

This afternoon I went out for a walk along Ponquogue Beach.  A chill wind was blowing in from the east in what could be the last of this winter's storms.  And it reminded me of this long running dispute between me and Marissa, one of those half-serious arguments that spans half our marriage.  She says a nor'easter is one of those storms that sweeps up the coast, originating in the Caribbean, and I say it's one of those that slams into us from the north Atlantic, the winds rising from the north east.

And of course, as with most such long running marital spats, we're both correct.  That's the very nature of the cyclonic effect of life.  Like any good marriage, it's two vectors coming together as part of the same storm, coming and going, the winds redoubled in size.


Friday, March 17, 2017

Ode to Saying No (to the proposed PPD)

Dear Editors:

I am a resident of the village of East Quogue.  I am also a poet and currently serve (by self-proclamation) as the official poet laureate of Weesuck Creek. 

It is in my official capacity that I am writing to express my strong opposition to Discovery Land Company's proposed luxury golf resort development known as the Hills.   Mindful that some of my neighbors may harbor views to the contrary, I believe I speak for most of my constituents, including a large majority of the residents who live along both the east and west banks of Weesuck Creek.  I also speak on behalf of a large community of shorebirds, including the gulls, egrets, ospreys and cormorants with whom I make it my business to commune as frequently as possible.  To a bird (I am utterly certain) they are unanimously opposed to this project.

Although it may exceed the word limit for letters to the editor I ask you to consider publication of the following poem that I have written to mark this occasion and through which I am making publicly known my position on this pressing issue.

Ode to Saying No (to the proposed PPD)


For Discovery shall
Hold no sway here
Nor shall luxury
Claim dominion
Over the Pine Barrens

Build as of right
Or leave it in peace
Let the tides alone
Speak about variance

Nor is there need
For abatement given
The fragile state of
Our wetlands paradise
Where all is but lost and  
Then again reclaimed 
Twice every day

What hangs in the balance
Is one of earth’s remaining
Sacred spots Achabaca
Weesuck Creek by name
Sanctuary to shorebird
And songbird alike
Retirees from the city
Distinguished members
Of the building trades
First responders and
Assorted Bonackers
And Shinnecocks all
With their competing claims

We have staked out 
Our lots on this sandbar
Forever certain that
Although the ground 
Continues to shift
Beneath our feet
We will forever resist
The notion that we
May attain any value
Through Discovery
If that means putting 
At risk this fragile beauty
With which we are
Otherwise sustained



Friday, March 10, 2017

The Difference between a Poem and a Tweet

Sometimes it's hard to see much difference between a poem and a tweet. Character counts for everything. Best keep what's said short and sweet.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Between Blossom and Freeze

The changes in the weather are said to be extreme and so far this spring it’s been nip and tuck between blossom and freeze. I saw a crocus on the lawn this morning and then a little later discovered a rime of ice remained down by the Creek.
Encouraged by a warm west wind, the willow in my neighbor’s front yard began to glow this afternoon, the first real aureole and irreversible sign of spring -- a pale yellow fire fueled by the slanting rays of the afternoon sun. With the catkins' arrival it’s hard to believe tomorrow's forecast calls for 2 inches of snow and then a day or so later perhaps we will get to welcome the first daffodil. So the lion and lamb have muddled together as one.





Thursday, March 2, 2017

Poem for Early March

On the negative side
There's the problem
I've encountered recently
With the brussels sprouts
On the positive
I can think of
Well over a hundred
Things I feel truly
Grateful about
On this the second
Day of March
The Ides not being far behind
But already I find myself
Overwhelmed with love
For the earth again and
The unfolding campaign
To reclaim the garden



It really is a matter of commitment. Going along day by day, finally I got to the point where I realized there is no point in holding back any longer - today is the day I decided to declare the first day of spring here on Fourth Neck. (This is part of my responsibility as the self-proclaimed poet laureate for my littoral zone.) We had a heavy wind out here on Long Island but it was blustery and not cold - just the way a late March wind is supposed to blow. And then I noticed this hyacinth that had just about turned the corner and all but decided to bloom. And that's when I decided to write my first poem for this spring - the earliest date on which I have ever committed to do so up until this year.  As my friend Peter Rippon put it: boing boing ... here's to the spring.