Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Canvas 1,145

Canvas 1,145

January 31, 2018

Act I, Scene I

Of course I can’t trust my memory, not really, and so it all falls apart and I’m free. But what’s the present, when I set aside the accepted meanings of the word? What is anything? What’s the assumption that I must have been alive yesterday because I’m alive today? How do I know I’m alive? What does that even mean? That somehow I’m the hero in my very own play? That I’m the writer, the director, the star, the audience, the critic, the stage, the curtain, and the sticky gum under the third seat in from the aisle directly under the chandelier laced with cobwebs and dust? Then again, what are these strings? Ouch! My right shoulder is suddenly pulled up by one, my lip by another, my fingers do funny things, and then my mouth opens wide and a strange voice from nowhere says Eh! and everyone laughs. Ah-ha! Now I get it!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Now the little crocus

Now the little crocus has been joined by another.

Both are a soft yellow — as if to say,

We need go nowhere to be noticed,

Or to find joy, or to seek silence.

And our leaves are one upon the other.

Can you imagine how that feels?

Names fall away.

What remains is a prayer.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Canvas 1,142

Canvas 1,142

January 27, 2018


You visit old places and corners graced by dear shadows,

Feel someone invisibly near as the wind blows,

And as warm as the blood from the thorn by the ghost of a rose

She gives you, and wonder what else she knows,

And will tell, when she leaves you

Bereft and revealed.

Friday, January 26, 2018


We had gone to buy honey, raisins, and a few other things. Upon our return, at the foot of our garden space, we saw one stray crocus, raised like a prophet’s fist. Winter is like this. Warm one day, snow the next. And love is our walking stick.

Note, January 26, 2018; poem, March 1, 2009

Thursday, January 25, 2018

This is how it happened

I made a drawing that was a stranger come to town. I made a town that was a drawing. I drew water from the well. And as he drew near, he said, “Draw, stranger.” But he wasn’t really there. And yet his meaning was clear. Then he climbed back onto his eraser, rode away, and left me here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Canvas 1,141

Canvas 1,141

January 24, 2018

Or should I say

All through the night, rain — or should I say, kindness, and grace?

Pain is gone from your face, Mother, light is taking its place.

And the sky is a prayer — or should I say, love, singing through space?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I love the flower girl

Imagine you’re thousands of miles away, a stranger to local language and custom, and you’re wondering how on earth you could have forgotten to bring flowers. Then imagine you’re a flower.

Monday, January 22, 2018


This afternoon, paging through an old leather volume given me a few years ago by my son, I was suddenly overcome by a wave of emotion that was part laughter, part tears, and part chill. Not until after I’d put the book back in its place on the shelf, was I able to give the feeling a name, and that name is Gratitude. And so I put on some water for tea and put away the dishes. And I thought, maybe gratitude is the beginning of wisdom. And maybe wisdom in its fullest flower is gratitude that is not only felt — as rich as that perception is — but shown. And maybe what I mean by shown, is, passed along — not, of course, in the easy, obvious, dutiful sense of returning a favor or giving to charity, but in surrendering oneself to life and to love, without thought, expectation, or fear of the outcome. Maybe. Yes? And maybe what I mean by wisdom in its fullest flower, is, even as it ripples, behold the stillness of the pond. Or maybe I don’t know what I mean. And maybe that’s wisdom peeking out from under the pebble you’re about to toss. Or maybe it’s the pebble itself.

Canvas 1,140

Canvas 1,140

January 22, 2018

One breath, one moment,
with the understanding that things
are neither better nor worse,
and that they are simply
what they are.

One breath, one moment,
with the understanding that you
are neither better nor worse,
and that you are simply
what you are.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three miles

And what of the ideas of each other we hold in our minds? Are they accurate, or are they our reflections in disguise? And this notion that we are separate entities, distinct and apart — is that really true? Would you say that of the cells in your body, and the rivers and stars, or would you say they are interwoven, mutually reliant, and expressive of a greater, perhaps unimaginable joy and need?

The waterfalls were roaring yesterday. We hiked three miles through the thunder and mist, crossing little wooden bridges over rocky streams. The trunks and limbs of the rugged bare maples were buried deep in moss, and out of the moss grew ferns, and the ferns were resplendent with jewels.

We came to a place where a fir tree had fallen across the path. Its mossy base was many yards away, on the other side of the river, white water beneath it. Its top was green. Like us, it might survive for years in that condition.

Palms to bark, we climbed over. The path carried us on. Heaven is love.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

From light to light

This familiar idea of myself, this treasured, sacred, comforting image, is a puff of smoke, is mist, impossible to grasp, persistent, lingering, haunting, seductive in its scent. I wear it daily, I feed it, nurture it, pass through it on my way to other familiar ideas, also treasured, sacred, comforting, and just as impossible to grasp. And without really leaving, I arrive without being there, and say I am here. I, my father’s urgent grief and mother’s patient smile, the pinnacle of the age, my background, my genetics, the stars in space — all smoke, all mist. Is it really like this? Yes. And that is the beauty of it. For me, that is. Of course, I imagine myself. And of course, it is not really like this. I speak in a strange plural sense. Do I exist? What of it? What proof do I need? Who would believe such a preposterous thing? Who would be convinced? — all smoke, all mist. From light to light, a thousand lives. Or so it seems. To me, that is. Child one day, old man the next. Girl, woman, hummingbird, god, ancient mossy stump kept deep alive by others of its kind. Here, where the river runs, as sure and glad as anyone.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Still, and so

My breath this morning is accompanied by the sound of a cricket, or it might be a frog, as my innards croak and chirp and gurgle. And I remember tiny lakes high in the mountains, above the tree line, with granite all around, mirrors of gray skies and falling snow. Still, and so. Still, and so. And the way there was obliterated as it fell. And the frog says, croak. And the cricket says, go. Still, and so. Still, and so. As slow as a granite cathedral. Sing in, sing on, sing out. Still, and so.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Canvas 1,139

Canvas 1,139

January 18, 2018

What is inside

This body with rain and snow on its rooftop,
and mossy eaves overhanging its eyes —

what is inside, but more rain and snow
and thought that abides

and subsides — what is inside,
but hermit cells in mountainsides,

and deeper wells where old stars meet
and new ones rise —

what is inside, but an old man’s laugh
and a little boy’s cries

for his mother — a cane, a stick,
a name, and flight,

and birth of even greater light?

(he said, and lit the candle bright)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


On this day back in 2012, I wrote a little poem called “Snowflakes.” It goes like this:

Think of them, for a moment,
as fingertips of all the world’s dead,
seeking love in faces, hands,
and tongues.

Softly as their peace is borne,
we are among them.


Was it snowing that day? I don’t know. Probably not. But it might have been. In fact, I know it was.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Canvas 1,138

Canvas 1,138

January 16, 2018

water falls thunder mist us

water falls thunder mist us upon our return

some call them memories we call them ferns

climbing out of the canyon nothing

to want to gain to be to earn

kissed us taught us

blessed us

left us

wet clothes

damp wood to burn

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Canvas 1,136

Canvas 1,136

January 14, 2018

from a city rooftop two plums

from a city rooftop two plums pretending they are clouds

in bloom two clouds pretending they are plums

to skies pretending they are one

two eyes pretending too

be blue

Canvas 1,135

Canvas 1,135

January 14, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

air so fresh this trace of smoke

air so fresh this trace of smoke must surely be imagined,

this place itself a feather in an angel’s palm,

that all at once by grace we note this veil before it’s gone.

Canvas 1,131

Canvas 1,131

January 11, 2017

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Someday, when you’re a dragonfly standing on air,

And your transparent blue wings are all that you wear,

I’ll be a gravestone with a waterfall near;

Now sleep on, child, sleep without fear,

Sleep, my love, my sweet,

My dear.

Nothing is simpler

Oh, to be sure, I reveal much more than you think.

It is thinking that obscures it.

Nothing is simpler than love, love assures it.

Yes, nothing is simpler, and that is what cures it.

For when I say I, love lays me by, and forgives it.

Canvas 1,130

Canvas 1,130

January 10, 2018

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Canvas 1,129

Canvas 1,129

January 9, 2018

Those were the days

I still remember how happy my stick horse was to be out of its barrel and free to gallop across the school grounds. We were both about the same age — five years, and how many hands — oh, the high chaparral! From the Basque txaparro, from txapar, from saphar! Oh, hear him snort! And hear me sputter these words through my mesquite mustache laden with the smoke of last night’s campfire! But wait. Is that you there?

Monday, January 8, 2018

planting time

a few scratches on a page

and suddenly the lines on your face

are furrows worthy of the seeds

the wind blows in



Canvas 1,128

Canvas 1,128

January 8, 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When you thirst

One habit to the next without rest, each with its pretty colored shell — see them on the mantelpiece, and there upon your brow — but when you thirst, love, oh! — seek a deeper well!

Canvas 1,127

Canvas 1,127

January 7, 2018

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The anatomy of melancholy

The flowers on your cup — what makes them grow?

The heart sees, the eye feels. That’s all I know.

That, and the dark coming up, and the art of its fall.

The joy that it brings when you’re not there at all.

The pleasure of presence passed to allow.

The wind, as it blows. And the calm.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Each light you see

Each light you see means something to someone.
Candle, street, lamp, flame, star, moon, sun.
Some are worlds away. Others wink in your palm.
This one tastes like a plum. It could be your childhood home.
Or another song you know. And into the stove it goes.
This wide-eyed winter poem.

Canvas 1,126

Canvas 1,126

January 5, 2018

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I saw starlings

I saw starlings yesterday,
feeding on the mossy ground.

There was a single robin looking on,
that seemed, for just a moment, overwhelmed.

Then, alone — in a way no distance can,
or need, resolve.

Canvas 1,125

Canvas 1,125

January 4, 2018

Canvas 1,124

Canvas 1,124

January 4, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


By now the apples have given way to oranges, and peeling them scents the rooms. The heirloom variety is best. I know which ones to choose. From midday on, my fingers smell like orange perfume. Then, in the evening, the moon rises, and she says, “Me, too.”

peeling an orange
my father did it this way
with suicide hands

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What kind of flower?

A couple of days ago, I straightened up our woodpile, which isn’t really a woodpile, but a collection of trimmings too thick to recycle. There are some nice husky lengths of fig, a few pieces of fir and maple, a rhododendron stump harder than a rock and thicker than my leg, and other miscellaneous moss-covered art-forms. After a bit of neatening and consolidation, I raked away the rotting, aromatic birch leaves that had collected on, around, behind, and in between, because one of our white birches stands watch over that corner of the yard. Even in its bare winter aspect, it waits in a spirit of benevolence and grace. And of course “waits” isn’t the right word. A man, if he is distracted, foolish, and harried enough, waits. A tree, one likes to think, has a deeper, more patient understanding, a more accepting nature, and takes all things in stride, relishing each in turn. Why wait, when there is so much to notice and appreciate in each given moment? And that each moment is given should be more than obvious to anyone who has lived and who survives. Simply put, if we are here only to get ahead, to take, and to prove, it follows inevitably that our lives will be predicated on impatience and waiting, which prod us and torment us like twin miseries. Whereas, if we carry on quietly, doing our best work without seeking reward, approval, or recognition, we find that everything is a miracle — every moment, every leaf, every breath we are granted. Or, to put it still another way,

if I did not praise the ice that clings to me,
if I did not praise the sky that sings to me,
if I did not cry to thee who feel for me,

what kind of flower would I be?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Snow lessons

To write with the breath, to draw without touching a thing.

Are these not snow lessons, and the patient teachings of steam?

You say,

This pen. This page. These keys. How can I not touch them?

And from deep inside comes the reply,

When did this hammer and chisel grow wings?

Your breath, my hand

You begin slowly, speaking softly, saying, One word at a time, gently we go, with love, just as if you are a cushion of fresh green moss on a wall, beyond which bare fields sleep until spring. And then someone happens along and replies: I, too, am a part of everything. Your breath, my hand. Tell us again how they have become friends. Tell us softly, one word at a time. Gently. With love. Now is the time.