Friday, May 30, 2014


Trail through Poppies

NOTE:     I have written the following poems over the years for my wife, Sylvia. I have collected them together here as a way to thank her for twenty-five amazing years....


We heard an oriole and chased it
from oak to oak until we found
a path of flowers that led
to a creek with frogs and newts

and turtles and things
we've never named, until
twenty-five years later
we reached an opening

and plunged into
a vast stillness vibrating
between stars and rocks
and pines and within us

Wally Baskets


I paused to gaze
at a walley basket
and suddenly
my personality

was not I: God
was experiencing
Itself and everything

was connected within
one act of experiencing
and being experienced--
In a flash, I 

returned to whatever
I am and thought,
well, God must have
always wanted to know

what it's like for us
to be together
for half a lifetime
in separate bodies

and connected souls,
following all
of these paths
surrounded by flowers

Mangled Bridge


I just love
that after so many
years together
we still meander
to a river where
the steel frame
of a washed out
bridge clings
to a monolithic
rock, because
in the vast,
quiet canyon,
near an ancient
village site 
with larkspur
and goldfields
and snakes
in the roots, 
an oriole 
perches nearby--
timeless grace

Lupine near Kings River


We are the only two people
who know the trail hidden in grass
leading past a buckeye, whose roots
break a rock in two, the trail snaking

through a tribe of lupine to a spring
surfacing from a megalithic stone,
down to a burial ground where once
I almost tripped over a bobcat. Only

we know the grinding stone blanketed
by oak leaves. Only we know the goddess
of the spring who lingers there, the quiet
spirit of place drenching us with peace.

Mother and Baby, Estero Bay


Hiking a thin trail by the cliff, we scrambled down
crumbling rocks to the water. An otter floated,
cracking a shell on its belly. A harbor seal
pointed a quiet snout toward the sky, her baby

surfacing now and then, the oystercatchers screeching
as we neared an egg in a hollow, waves drumming
the rocks, the wind such a subtle flute that we stopped
and listened for the murmurs of Gods and Goddesses.

Egrets near Morro Rock


Now as we pause in this moment, the peeps
scurrying away from the waves and rushing
back, moving in and moving out,
we sense the whole ocean is a mind

expanding and contracting, our minds
like an ocean, together eternally
expanding and contracting, moving in
and moving out....

Moon Rising over Sierras


Hiking in "Venus light," we approach a ridge
before the full moon rises, the faintest
astral shadows at our feet. As
the moon detaches

from the mountain peaks, moon shadows
stretch from our boots. In the glimmering
of Venus and the stars, we could barely
see the grasses and trees but felt

their breath emanating in waves,
drenching us, their tranquil spirits
embodied again, inscrutable
and wild, in the moonlight!

Pool, North Fork Kings River


They twirled me around
ten times at the edge
of the campground
then scattered like sparrows
as I swayed a little, then
lunged, each one
vanishing into bushes
by the river, the water
roaring into a still,
deep pool, then
sweeping around a bend, 
a phoebe chirping, barely
out of my reach, on a twig
above the shining edge
of the pool and the rapids--
I was tempted to forget the game
and swim across, the water
smooth for a stretch,
then pitilessly raging,
but I noticed my brother,
fifty feet away, scrambling
as if his life depended
on it. I sprinted
like a wildcat, twenty feet
away before he
disappeared into
the bushes, and I 
gave up. A few feet away
the water raged,
the sycamores and oaks
so peaceful, my soul
for the first time
one with the spirit
of the river--I no longer
wanted anything else.
Forty years later, I
found the shining edge
of the pool
and the pitiless rapids.
You were with me, and we
didn’t need anything else
as we merged 
with the spirit of the river.

Forest in Fall


Ancient paths snake through the woodlands,
the oaks like diminutive watersheds
with streams flowing into one river
rooted deep in the earth soul--

We stroll in the sunset,
feeling the currents all around us
flowing into a vast ocean
of air and water and light.



I have wanted to leave memorials
without wasting breath, perhaps 
without any words at all--so many trying
to be forgotten.  Instead 

we leave everything at dusk
finding a clump with shining eyes
still by the road, certain
that it remains unseen,

suddenly flapping,
looping erratically
and vanishing
back into the earth. 

Oak at Native American Village Site


Loving you
has made it easy
to love the oak,
its slow rivers of sap

and the creatures
in its bark and branches
and the rocks and grasses
and bushes around it,

and the acorn with all
the potentials of the tree,
like the seed of the universe
before the big bang

Buckeyes near Native American Village Site


A vision revealed
Where I must go in fall
To find the secrets
Of another life:
A dirt road, lush
With golden grass,
Winding up the hill
To the first ridge overlooking
Sycamore Creek. Surrounded
In spring by fiddleneck brighter
Than gold, the miners left only
Dynamited holes
Near house pits
Trampled by cattle.

I scrambled
Next to waterfalls,
Through primeval forest
Until I found, on the second ridge,
A pounding stone, a pestle
Near mortars brimming
With rain water, a bobcat
Flowing by me less
Than ten feet away. The slope

Grew steeper as I struggled
Up the faintest trail
To the confluence of three streams,
Finding another pounding stone
And house pits on a ridge a few
Hundred feet from the top
Of the hill. In the wetness,
Under the buckeyes and oaks,

I felt a presence, so foreign
To me in this life, but so familiar
To my soul, that I performed
A ritual of adoration for
The overarching spirit, as if
I had come back
To this ridge after
Many lives to feel again
Timeless currents
In the vast fields
Of earth and air
And water and light.

Because of our faith,
I returned years later,
Straining the rest of the way
On hands and knees to the top,
Discovering an open pit
So deep I couldn’t see
The bottom, a semblance
Of the old Kings flowing
In the dried up reservoir
Off in the distance. Perhaps
I lived here once before
As a man digging
Holes his entire life,
Or as a shaman
Summoning the spirits,
But at the summit,
I felt once again
One spirit flowing within
Everything we can know.

Ancient Buckeye


In a place that dreams, the branches
of a buckeye rise like trunks
from a low throne, the spirits
of a vanished tribe whispering

that we have stepped
into a house pit between pounding stones,
a trail leading past roots through the range
of the wildcat. I sense waves of laughter

as deer crash through brush on the hill, 
a god of the hunt in my mind’s eye.
In the roots, I know you sense
the soul of the buckeye, the tribe

pulled into quiet currents
as we wake to a vast ocean
of breath where fleshy sprouts 
of seeds plunge into black earth.

Over Soul


Many over-souls, fleeing grids of profit and loss,
have returned to their places in the bosom of nature,
yet where the narrow road starts winding
near ancient trails and abandoned village sites,
we still sense them when they let us, where
birds forage through private woodlands,
where clear veins flow after winter rains,
and coyotes howl as the moon rises--
Sometimes we envision them
as Goddesses or Gods near a spring
or a stream or within a quiet grove--
when they sense our love for rocks
and moss and mushrooms and grass,
for the stars and for each other,
they whisper to us and gently touch
our souls and drench us with their peace.

Mushrooms near Stream

The buckeye seeds have slipped out 
of their jackets and rest, smooth,
rock-hard, on wet oak and sycamore leaves.
One sprout in each seed prepares to pierce

through taut skin and claw its way
into humus. Newts plod
over moss and leaves, recoiling
as we step near them. They blend

with wet leaves so well 
that we have to watch each step.
We stop at a mossy outcrop of rock
and slide our fingers over slick

red-bud branches, the fan-like leaves
plastering rock and soil. We swear
the rocks--tolerant of roots, harboring
other creatures, sprouting star moss--

are as significant and mysterious
as ourselves.  In the distance,
a black phoebe chirps, the steward 
of the confluence of the creeks.

The people who once ground
acorns on the flat rocks
by these creeks have vanished,
their descendants building 

casinos on nearby reservations.
We honor friends who, fighting
for wildness, have been threatened, 
blackballed, and ruined, and we slowly

build a fortress with these rocks,
for a moment no longer trespassers,
our chants protecting the solitude
of the heron, the granaries

of the woodpecker, the ranges
of the newt and bobcat and all the tribes
of trees and flowers, our magic
gathered from wetness, moss, fallen leaves.

Purple Wood


We discovered the purple wood beyond barbed wire
and an embankment blanketed by pink fairy lanterns,
chinese houses, tarweed, and walley baskets,
orioles and tanagers, flying flowers, flitting near us

now and then, and we just kept going farther
into the forest, finding streams where over souls
maintain a loving connection with every creature,
the great shining ones, angels and gods,

brushing us now and then, and we just
keep going farther into field
upon field of energy, everything connected,
finding another flower, and another, and another....

No comments:

Post a Comment