Thursday, September 21, 2017

Canvas 1,030

Canvas 1,030

September 21, 2017

I used to want a big old house
in the country with beckoning stairs
and rooms for every mood,
but the children grew
and now I just
want you.

Yes, love, time
has flown.
And it’s cold
again this year.
I can feel it in my bones.
I can feel it here, and here, and here.

“Two Graves”
Songs and Letters, December 4, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Precious brevity

My thanks to friend and founding editor Robin White for including Canvases 927 and 928 in her beautiful Fall 2017 issue of Akitsu Quarterly. I’m deeply moved to see them in print, and am relieved on their behalf that they escaped my ever-lengthening parade of lonely-blissful misfits. But there is much more to Robin’s publication than these two drawings. There is such a lovely spirit in this collection of haiku from around the world — an insightful hush and calm, if you will, that restores one’s balance. Precious brevity, where all else seems a landslide of words.

Canvas 927

Canvas 928

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No more

I don’t believe in war. I am grown up. I am sixty-one years old. I love all the school children. I love all the young people in love. I love the leaves as they fall. The buds as they come on. I feel sad when I accidentally cause the death of a bug. I’m a tree myself. A rock. The moss. I love the streets. I love the countryside. I love the little broken-down farm houses and cemeteries. People, walking. Holding hands. Laughing. Crying. Millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and if you want me to agree with this or that justification — well, just forget it, that’s all. Keep your flags. Your pride. Your borders. Your frightened bully guns. I know what they represent, I knew when I was fourteen, I know now, and I’ve seen and had and lost enough to know that love is the real courage, the real bravery, and I’m not afraid to say it, I’m not afraid to appear weak, I am not ashamed to admit that I can’t live without the help of others, or to say that I love all the people of the world, all of our languages, all of our kinds, all of our colors, and that I am sorry for any animosity I may have created during my life, known to me or unknown, any contribution I have made to unhappiness and misunderstanding, or to publicly recognize that it was due to my ignorance and arrogance even though I always meant well. But I was scared. And therein lies a revealing truth: the stronger you wish to appear, the more scared you are. Of yourself. Of life. Of love. You don’t want simplicity. You shun the obvious answer. You demand complication. You are afraid to stand up in front of the world and take my hand, the hand of someone you have never met, and say, “We will live this way no more.” All these powerful people, afraid to lose their money, afraid to appear weak, all they have to do is stand up and hold hands and say, “No more.” Then they will know what strength is. Then we can feed the hungry and care for the ill and the old. And they know this deep down. That is why their faces are disfigured and cold. You’ve seen it. You know. Have pity for them. Show them how.


By my faulty, limited reckoning, this poem is about fifteen years old. It is also as old as the hills. Too old. New? No. Yes. Painfully so. There is something about fall. The first rain. Bus loads of school children. Waving tired moms. What does any of it have to do with cabbages? I don’t know. Nothing? Everything? And in the end, it really isn’t that much of a poem. Or a poem at all. Except, what isn’t?



Long ago,
on a street corner
in the city where I was born,
there was a dump truck
full of large green cabbages
parked in the mud.
The driver of the truck
raised the bed,
forming a mountain of cabbage
on the ground.
Suddenly, from nowhere,
several dozen women appeared,
as if they had been waiting
beneath the pavement itself.
In exchange for their tears
and in some cases
a few small coins,
the truck driver,
an unshaven man in his sixties,
handed cabbages to the women.
A short while later
the cabbages,
the women,
and the truck driver
were gone.
But hunger remained.
For a long time,
hunger remained.