Saturday, March 31, 2018

I love our ghostly presence

I love our ghostly presence

how our voices linger in the street

when we move on

and the wind is down and the air is calm

as they wait for our return

to conjure bodies

which appear to some

to be or not to be

the chosen ones

Friday, March 30, 2018


Just before I got up his morning, I dreamed I was now friends with the neighbor’s dog, Rambo. He was smiling, I was smiling, and I told someone nearby, “It’s hard to believe I used to be afraid of him.” Then the scene changed. I came home and found a strange animal waiting in the grass near our door. It was a small horse with a pleasant expression, but with sort of a hand-puppet head that reminded me of a llama or camel. My sense was that it had been abandoned because it didn’t look like a regular horse. It was white, with a wavy-woolly coat. My decision was effortless and immediate: he could stay as long as he wanted.

Yesterday evening I saw Byron again. He was all smiles and ran to greet me. The woman who lives at his house told me he is twelve years old. I said, “Ah.”

Two days ago, while looking out the kitchen window, I saw a maple seed spinning its way down. It landed near the base of the fig tree. I wonder what it thinks of that.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

A song on the stove

I made some good coffee this morning. The taste varies, you know. I use an old pot. It’s the one my parents used back in the day. No special science, simply a perking paradise of memory and aroma. We’d go camping in the mountains and the pot would go with us. Or company would come and the pot would rejoice at the sound of laughter in the kitchen and living room, stories being told, and clouds of cigarette smoke. The back door slams. Kids and cousins, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors known since childhood, those who miraculously survived atrocities, depressions, and wars. A song on the old gas stove. Experience. And yet each cupful is fresh and new. I remember what I remember. I forget what I forget. I let go of everything but the handle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

6/8 time

A downy woodpecker, a pair of flickers, sundry nuthatches, scrub jays, robins, bushtits, a varied thrush, an Audubon warbler, starlings, crows, and others in between — these were our visitors yesterday, and not one of them rang our doorbell or asked us to sign anything. They were the bells. They were the signs. They were the weather, the atmosphere, the movement, the pace, and the mood. And for some strange reason, I just remembered the metronome atop my dear piano teacher’s grand piano, near the west-facing window in her spacious, old-fashioned, ground-floor living room. A bit of vineyard, and Road 96 beyond. Sparrows and blackbirds. Mockingbirds. Buzzards and pheasants. Jackrabbits three feet tall. A 1956 gas-powered Ford tractor waiting in a patch of dry weeds. A country salon. Barcarolle. The hush and satisfaction of a little boy she in her Texas accent called Mr. Bill.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Speaking of dogs, early in the morning the day before I met Byron, I had the good luck to become acquainted with a one-year-old representative of the Great Pyrenees clan. She didn’t speak Basque, or assumed I didn’t and so withheld that talent. She was tall, pure white, with soft, gentle eyes. I say pure white, but the white was comprised of many subtle whites, whites within whites, so to speak, and anyway, the light was dim and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. She was at the end of a leash considerately held by a friendly man named Bruce. But somehow, in introducing ourselves to each other, Bruce forgot to tell me his companion’s name, and I forgot to ask. She welcomed my attention, thought briefly about licking my face, but didn’t act on that impulse, as Bruce has been kindly teaching her how to conduct herself in public. Then she sat by patiently while we concluded our chat, I observing that she looked like she’d gladly sit there forever, Bruce saying she would. Then he gave her a little tug, she looked at me one last time, and we parted.


Yesterday evening on the sidewalk one street over, I met Byron. He saw me from his driveway when I was still a couple of houses away, then waddled with his short legs in my direction, pausing first to moisten some plants by the curb, his ears almost reaching the ground. “Byron,” I said, “is that you?” And he replied with his mournful, gleaming, basset hound eyes, “Oh, what a world.” So I encouraged him with a scratch behind the ear and a rub on his head and nose. Then we walked together to his driveway. The garage door was open. A light was on. But no one else was about. The door into the house was also open. I raised my voice a bit and called, “Byron is out.” No answer. I continued on. Byron, though, stayed behind. He knew not to follow. And anyway, he isn’t young, and a few yards for him is a mile. Just as a mile for me is a precious, beautiful lifetime.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Life in the slow lane

I’m not naive, dumb, or out of touch. Well, naive, maybe. Dumb, a little. Or a lot. But out of touch? Perhaps to the extent of my innocence, which is or isn’t much. As if one could measure such, or arrive there by degrees, through a forbidding desert, on a slowly moving bus. By which I mean, why not total and complete? Because if I say so, it proves it’s not? Or does it simply prove my luck?

Canvas 1,184

Canvas 1,184

March 25, 2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Canvas 1,183

Canvas 1,183

March 24, 2018

My action, my experience

This is my experience : that whatever and whomever I condemn, to that extent I condemn myself, and blind myself to love. It isn’t a question of right or wrong. It’s one of physical, mental, spiritual health. Without it, and perhaps even with it, how much can I know in any clear sense? And yet, there is the understanding, or at least the feeling, that I must act. This, then, is also my action : to say aloud, “I do not know,” and to live. May yours be as sweet, whatever it is.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Canvas 1,182

Canvas 1,182

March 23, 2018

The wise old man

The wise old man noticed he was hungry. Then he remembered he had no food. “Ah, yes,” he said, “there is that.” A very serious-looking man entered his hut. “You owe us your taxes.” The wise old man gazed around the empty space and said, “Everything I have is yours. Take it.” And so, impatiently, the serious-looking man dismantled the hut, put the pieces in his cart, and hauled them away. Sitting calmly where his hut used to be, the wise old man smiled. “Free at last,” he said. A little bird arrived. Finding nowhere to perch, she settled atop the wise old man’s head and began to sing. The wise old man joined her. They sang awhile together, high and low and in between. A cloud arrived. It began to rain. It rained exactly one bowl of warm, wonderfully cooked rice. The wise old man ate the rice. As he ate, he offered some to the bird. The bird was no longer on his head. She was now a young woman, now old, now his wife. “Dreaming again,” she said. “Who knows?” the wise old man replied. “One can never be sure.” And all was well. Hut or no hut, bird or no bird, all was well. Now, you may ask in what way the wise old man was wise. In his wife. In his wife.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Canvas 1,181

Canvas 1,181

March 22, 2018

Bring the blossom

As a child knows to scratch the ground

just where the earth most needs it,

love brings the blossom down

to please it —


bring the blossom,

my vow is not to seize it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Just long enough

Resting against an old wall, I grow moss —
here just long enough for worlds to pass away.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Canvas 1,179

Canvas 1,179

March 18, 2018

In the river remarkably still

In the river remarkably still,
a reflection of clouds, and of you.

A reflection of you, remarkably still,
and of clouds, and the river.

Remarkably still, a reflection of all:
the river, the clouds, and you.

In the river, a reflection, reflecting itself,
remarkably still.

And what is the river? What is this calm?
It is, remarkably, you. And it is still.

And it is still the remarkable river,
and it moves.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


What will you be today?
A petty judge? A lighthouse?
A solemn tree? All three?

And what of me?
The condemned? A cloud?
The sea? What of we?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

first kiss

plum blossoms . . . the old man


into a soft pink cloud

Friday, March 2, 2018

Canvas 1,164

Canvas 1,164

March 2, 2018

Breath coins

Are you aware of the rise and fall of your breath? Or do you take it for granted, as if your nose and lungs are furnace filters that should have been changed two months ago? And if you are not aware, and if you do take it for granted, then it is only logical to ask what else you are not aware of, and what else you take for granted. Because your breath, after all, is your life. And what is that life? Is it a busy, distracted visit to a noisy, cheap arcade, in which all of the machines must be thoughtlessly fed with with a rapidly depleting supply of your breath coins? Or is it a clear quiet morning after rain?