Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Seer's Bowl...a sestina form

Lifting silver ewer, arms pale and bare,
she stands at the Seer's Bowl
to pour clear singing liquid,
her back bending,
cool and steady gaze
in her face's reflection.

Another day for temple reflection,
seekers who come to bare
souls within her gaze,
pray to wash them clean at her bowl,
heads quietly bending
to rippling liquid.

Thoughts become liquid
given time for reflection,
perception willingly bending;
beauty in the bare
frosted glass bowl
that cools and soothes the gaze.

Whose eyes in the gaze
multiplied by waves of liquid
in her tidal bowl?
Known for more than reflection;
a future laid bare,
light and time bending.

She whispers the question bending
to meet each pilgrim's gaze.
Will you strip bare
and fall liquid
through your future reflection,
forever in this bowl?

Some dive into the bowl,
all future will bending
to one moment's reflection,
hypnotized gaze
in near-frozen liquid;
life blue and mystery bare.

I would bare my intent unbound in a bowl.
I wish the future liquid and choices bending,
the gaze of fate in hindsight reflection.

Never Call Yourself A Poet

Never call yourself a poet
just write like you believe
and keep it to yourself---
the knowin'...not the poem.

Never call yourself a Godly man
just understand and lead with
quiet, kind example. Hold close your
counsel when you've not been asked.

Never call yourself righteous
just find True-North on that
carried-within compass and be prepared
to take the high road, the long way.

Never call yourself your
religion as a trump-card play
just judge less and let
forgiveness set everyone free.

Never call yourself humble
just disappear all but ears
and love for one another.

Never call yourself a poet
just write like you believe.

Numerology Explained

One for the one
stepping forward,
two for who you meet
upon the road,
three to see a balance
of heart mind and spirit,
four for even
cornerstones to load.

Five's alive in every
different direction,
six are heels that click
one back to home,
seven questions beckon
one to ask within,
eight is what it takes
to flesh the bone.

Nine as a line defines
our understanding,
nine's the sign
this cycle is complete,
ten is zen,
it's one and it's nothing,
ten and then
it's gather, rinse, repeat.

Wind Singing in the Cedars

Wind singing

in the cedars

tosses a cloud

up the Sound,

bluer than baby

skies swept clean,

space hidden

behind light.

Wind singing

in the cedars,

time keeps

my pulse.

I spy Buddha

in the bushes,

breathe deep

and become,

wind singing

in the cedars.

My Mouth Is Not My Voice

My mouth is not my voice
but it's the flower of my song
fast being stomped to hell,
made into poison.

Broken teeth like promises,
like dark ragged rocks
waiting to make a wreck of me,
a ghost-ship and Sirens echo.

My mouth is not my voice
but it speaks of my abuse,
my fears of monsters
in the midnight
and monsters behind
dragon light and drill,
waiting to make a wreck of me,
a wraith of tone and crumbling bone.

Twice as many nerves make
my instrument what it is.

Mouth small, yes,
deformed, yes,
and beaten in time like
Willie Nelson's sweet
Martin guitar.

It's not how you look,
it's how you play.
I've played almost 54 years
They don't understand,

I'm not ready to stop.
I'm not ready to stop.

My mouth is not my voice
but shredded flower of my song,
roots and bone rotten---
traitors or tortured or
tailored in genes---
all the same, I guess.

I want them gone---
Out damn teeth!
Out damn poison
slowly killing me!

My mouth is not my voice.
My mouth is not my voice.

Days Too Tough

On days too tough
to be human,
I find my inner-feline
and a patch of sunlight,
gold and warm
to curl in.

On days too tough
to be human,
my mind seeks the deep
dark and still waters
for this mermaid
to swim in.

On days too tough
to be human,
I give myself wings
and dream a new sky,
paint a few clouds
while I’m flying.

On days too tough
to be human,
I remember that I’m
nine-tenths divine and forget
the one-tenth, living---
just the days too tough
to be human.

Blue Nude by Picasso

November and the Phoenix

Autumn stretches
me down
deep dark,
makes me fight
to write
in ashes,
phoenix from
mother night,
ever on.

Bohemian Rebirth Rhapsody

I wonder what they'd do
if Christ reappeared without a beard,
without robes and sandals too.
What if he came in a satin flame
and high-heeled shiny shoes?
What if he kissed men, dressed as a femme,
I wonder what they'd do.

I wonder what they'd do
if Christ showed up filling a C-cup
and had a uterus too!
Could Christ have sex or would that vex
the misogynistic crew?
What if she was a whore who was sold at four,
I wonder what they'd do.

I wonder what they'd do
if Christ came back all coloured black,
had tea with Muslims too;
walked with Buddha, talked to Khuda,
Pagans, B'Hai and Jew.
If every kind came walking behind
I wonder what they'd do.

I wonder what they'd do
if Christ ripped pages from Bible rages
and told them that wasn't true,
that those words were said by old men who fed
on the fear of anything new.
Would they stick to The Book, or give Christ a look,
I wonder what they'd do.

What would they do
if Christ was reborn far from the norm,
like a god painted another hue.
Christ might lift a pipe like eighteen million wiped
for the red, the white and the blue.

If Christ's rebirth needed a worthy earth,
what would the rabid pious do,
stuck here with me and you, under an ancient pulling moon,
dancing our Bohemian Rebirth Rhapsody's tune.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Looking For A King

I'm looking for a King,
a Kennedy, a Rosa Parks
walking the halls of learning;
I'm looking for those
with an honourable stride,
their heart's compass steering.

I'm calling you~come
to your destiny and our aid,
your country needs you;
I'm calling you~come
in the twilight of the day,
light the lantern anew.

Light the lantern anew,
feed the hope and the hungry;
the few that dare to dream
must ignite the country.
Light the lantern anew,
hold it up against the night,
for the few that dare to dream
must ignite the country.

I'm looking for a Lincoln,
Ladies Liberty and Justice
on the sidewalks of smalltown;
I'm looking for those who
could be a nation's pride
in a graduation gown.

I'm calling you~come
to your destiny and our aid,
your country needs you;
I'm calling you~come
in the twilight of the day,
light the lantern anew.

Light the lantern anew,
feed the hope and the hungry,
the few that dare to dream
must ignite the country;
light the lantern anew,
hold it up against the night,
for the few that dare to dream
must ignite the country,
the few that dare to dream
must ignite the country.

Looking for a King to
light the lantern anew.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Six Wolves Lay

I wrote this after an ER visit with my daughter who suffers from chronic Lyme disease and co-infections.

Six Wolves Lay

We’re letting her sleep, said the nurse,
head bobbing in her own agreement
until I wrestled her eyes still,
until I made her understand this was
how my daughter’s seizures presented.

Snarling, someone better move their ass,
I wrapped leather around her fingers,
Grampa’s pouch in her hand there,
resting upon her chest.

Six wolves lay round my bed,
she said when finally the meds
let her come back to me.
Six wolves lay in protective
spread watching, she said.

She smiled with hand to chest,
Here, she whispered, here’s
where Grampa lay watching me;
I could feel the weight of his
great grey head and five others
on the bed, she said to me.

Harts of Lyme

My adult daughter has been fighting Lyme disease for eleven years now. Sometimes I need the emotional release that poetry and my pen provide.

Ranting Lyme-Take On Love-Hate

I love my daughter
with the dark eyes,
she draws you in.

I hate the chronic Lyme
within her blood and
bones and brain and....

I love this young woman
who grew beneath my heart;
set herself apart as she walks
beside me leaning sometimes,
sometimes leading me.

I hate those ticks.
Any Buddhist thoughts flew
out the window with that bite.
I dream of a fair fight, gloves on,
me and a giant ick tick---
Goin' down, clown!

I love her ancient gaze,
amazing grace at twenty-eight,
to embrace the snake laced
through her veins,
treatment in hard bites.

I hate the Bb bacteria,
corkscrew alien invader
jumps in a little cyst-ship
that has stealth settings
and an All-Access Pass.

I love the giving nature of my girl;
her world taken and shrunk
to a room, to a bed.
Instead of retreat, she reached;
never turned-down another
seeking help--reaching for a life-line,
thrown bed-to-bed through cyberspace.

I hate the Lyme-Fog Monster eating
her words and mine sometimes,
like the grown-ups in a Peanuts cartoon.
Oh, how I hate the wait for her to come
back to me; hate the decade spent in
hamster wheels with revolving doctors and
the company line that chronic Lyme was
all in the mind.
The truth is still our mantra.

I love my daughter.
This disease be good goddamned;
you can't have her!
Love and truth will win;
this is my daughter!

Ever On, Ever On

I was born a part of every road,
my spine the white lines
leading to undefined horizon;
four legs running and the stars' design,
constant change by the roadside.

Black ribbon that ties the world,
moves the dust in devils,
moves clouds and mountains,
moves my journey ever on, ever on.

Winding lanes there and back again,
hedgerows and chalk horses on hills,
standing stones mark movement still;
four legs running and a red-maned Queen
riding her lion by the roadside.

Jungle vines and sindur lines,
jasmine, joss sticks and jeweled
elephants still stream through dreams;
four legs running and Quan Yin
on striped tiger by the roadside.

Using and leaving the road to rest
upon the Mama's belly and breast,
cleft of a red rock canyon;
four legs running and Grandmother
calling for a ride by the roadside.

The road to your side and our goodbye,
a circle begins where a circle ends
friends destined to meet again;
four legs running and the old Grey
matching stride for stride by the roadside.

Black ribbon that ties the world,
moves the dust in devils,
moves clouds and mountains,
moves my journey ever on, ever on.

War Is Hell

Some of us were born
in the trenches,
secrets were
the barbed spirals red,
honour and blood.
If you could make it through,
there was a minefield
waiting beyond.

There in the stench you watched
as comrades disappeared, dead
or deep within their wounds,
and you decided to survive
by the grace of gods or
your own gonads.

In the mud of memories
you crawled,
asking to be suckled,
oh Mother, oh Mother,
help me to live,
love me, please.

There you saw her,
there on your belly
tasting blood, she gave you
the tiniest of wildflowers,
uncrushed by battling boots,
uncrushed and content
in its being,
in its being.

You can slake your thirst,
even in Hell and a battlefield,
after all is said and done,
is still a meadow passed-through.
Some of us found a path
made by tiny wildflowers
between buried mines and
that which was our enemy
welcomed us home.

Of Balance & Sweet Mystery

Grandmother Grandmother, my heart is your drum
in seasons that have passed and in seasons to come.
Grandmother Grandmother, unbraid my hair,
bathe me in sweetgrass, be with me in prayer.
Grandmother Grandmother, wash me in light,
wrap me in mystery's indigo night.
Grandmother Grandmother, hold me to you breast,
feed me your wisdom and comfort my quest.

Grandaughter Grandaughter, your heart is my drum
in past times of being and times yet to come.
Grandaughter Grandaughter, let me comb your hair,
light up the sage, let me wrap you in prayer,
sweet mystery there,
the depth a woman shares.

Grandfather Grandfather, my hands are your fire,
trusting and dancing are all that's required.
Grandfather Grandfather, I braid back my hair
and set to the work we humans all share.
Grandfather Grandfather, help me today
among my relations I touch on the way.
Grandfather Grandfather, walk by my side
in rhythm with my heart and the ocean's tide.

Grandaughter Grandaughter, your hands are my fire,
open and ready to do what's required.
Grandaughter Grandaughter, walk here by me,
we'll share the stories, the ones yet to be,
sweet mystery,
the distance a man can see.

In the distant depths of my chemical sea,
Grandmother, Grandfather,
the God that made me.
When I need counsel,
the balance I see,
is to walk beside Him and
sit next to She.
When I need counsel,
the balance I see,
is to walk beside Him and
sit next to She.

Artwork by Charles Frizzel

When Christ and Mohammed Meet

When Christ and
Mohammed meet,
they greet one another
like loving brothers,
why can't we do the same;
must it be Crusades
in their name for
more accursed gain?

They both speak of love
and what we're made of,
choices, voices
and reason,
rejoicing and fasting
in season,
intent and service
and freedom.

The both shed tears
over follies and fears,
Man's inhumanity
to Man,
human calamity
to land,
buried oil in a sea
of sand.

When Christ and
Mohammed meet,
they take their seats
as prophets of peace
and greet one another
as loving brothers,
why can't we do the same;
end the Crusades
in their name for
some accursed gain?

Then we will meet
and greet one another
as sisters and brothers
in Christ and
Mohammed's name,
and so cleanse
the bloody stain,
from the cross,
from crescent moon;
dragonflies land on
a soldier's tomb,
its shadow lifting
from a maiden's womb.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Summer of Sisters

The form of this poem was based on Sherman Alexie's brilliant piece called "Summer of Black Widows"

The Summer of Sisters

The Sisters appeared suddenly
after that early summer sandstorm.

Some would say the Sisters came within a furious wind,
others would swear they broke from the very rocks,
ground for generations into sand.

Grandmothers knew the Sisters carried
stories deep in their grain;
the grandmothers knew and looked away.

Husbands wore their boots through the fields
of stories fallen, only poppies weeping.
Sons gritted stories in their teeth. Stories swirled
red and forbidden against unforgiving sun.
Little girls tied scarves and stories round their curls.

Taliban men tried to shake the stories clinging
to the ends of their fingers, woven through their lines.
Stories pulled upon their twisted beards.

Stories in caves--
Stories stoned--
Stories in courtyards--
Stories whispered between burkas--
Stories shared through the cloistered tiles.

The Sisters would not leave with the summer and grain would cling to grain.
They had come with stories carried in their bellies to pass around and hold,
to stand in the sand, shifting and shaping the rock of women, of Afghanistan.

Tropical Haikus

One day I decided to explore the pictures in my memory, pictures of growing up in Southeast Asia. Haiku seemed like a nice form to use for them.

The writer begins
with the watcher in a world
not of their making


Searing sun so pale
everything else is colour
in defiant joy


Emerald jungle
water just sits on the air
I hear my breathing


Falling drumming rain
a wall of liquid rhythms
monsoon horizon


Baby jellyfish
my hands stinging in wet sand
Indian Ocean


Layered horizons
in river and bay and sea
wavering with heat


Sweet and surprising
hidden beneath thick spiked skin
pearly rambutan


Growing through the fence
iridescent in moonlight
white spider lily


Sustenance and peace
patterned reflection of light
rice paddies sunrise


Wind caressing palms
palms caressing sky and sand
sea caressing shore


Deep end of the pool
chlorine blue this solitude
mermaid and captive


Moonlight makes shadows
so moonbeams can tell stories
through open windows


Teasing scorpions
long sticks and quickly curled tails
jump and run laughing


There were tigers then
the jungle reached for the roads.
Tiger-eating Man!


Muezzin's dawn prayer
each brand new day takes a breath
before it begins


Joss sticks' smoke curling
musky pungent aroma
rises in morning


Stray dogs and children
in spiced and dusty alleys
forbidden to me


Butter in silver
yellow frozen curls served by
dark sweating waiters


On the Tuan's lawn
hypnotic circular dance
of gardener's blade


Everywhere was wild
they told me not to go there
there I had to go


Rubber trees in rows
milky white droplets hanging
solid from their spouts


Little boy lama
shaved shy smile in saffron robes
beads and wooden bowl


Cigarette smoke thick
laughter slamming mah-jong tiles
milky lucky jade


Orange papayas
clustered black pearl slimy seeds
my face in heaven


Water buffalos
small naked brown boys swimming
while my skin just burns


Photo by Gregory Colbert

On The Wind

I am no cultivated flower,
no product or progeny
of home soil,
no homecoming queen,
nor conquering hero
defined by lines
made in sand,
nations of the moment.

My seed was born wild and
carried on the wind,
sprouted crossing seas and
storms of intimate darkness,
roots reaching somewhere
just beyond the moment,
just between the atoms.

I will touch lightly
the lands I light upon,
rest sweetly a moment
on the Mother's breast,
seeking all my days her
secret and sacred places,

to birth myself again and again,
until my robes shred and fly
on the wind,
like the fading coloured
prayer flags
on a distant, high plateau.

A Friend Waits

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast on a rock
at the crossroads
of serendipity,
the journey between,
mine alone,
thy journey thine,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast by a fire
in the twilight
of what was to be,
we measure between
spark and flame,
this lighted line,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast on the banks
of a singing river
that flows to the sea,
let sorrows between
rest here while
old rivers wind,
each and all
through time.

You are the friend
who waits for me,
steadfast in the cool
of new morning
that stirs a breeze,
the th0ughts between
know and trust
our journeys' twine,
each and all
through time.

photo by Gregory Colbert