Cleanliness

Returning in deep-
er night from contemplative
prayer, I wonder

at the brightness of
the stars over the garden.
I have spent the hour

scrubbing the threshold
like those hospital nuns the
steps of Baudelaire.

Bright is not the word.
The beauty of those stars fus-
es desire and void.

Berkeley

All the shiny ob-
jects, all the surface imper-
fections, everywhere

the sea is the sea.
From Grizzly Peak in Berkeley,
I look down on the

Bay, the Golden Gate,
on a perfect summer day.
O there be dragons.

Hard not to hear the
thud of the jumper’s body
hitting the campus

plaza that after-
noon. Something weird about this
place whispers ‘Jump! Jump!’

Get

After a little
fling I settle down to wid-
owhood. Nothing much

changes. I have moods
in which a random smile from
a woman I don’t

know, who takes me for
someone else, shatters my peace.
But not for long. That

beauty is not a
thing but a happening is
something I get now.

Ruffled

You ask if I wish
to be taken for a child.
Why should not the old

be mad? On a good
day ordinary things stay
me as beauty checks

the onward surge be-
neath the Sistine Ceiling’s out-
reach of puissant arm.

The touch of your hand
ruffling my subtly thinning
hair as you pass by.

See

Soon the sun will set
later and later, Winter’s
darkness decreasing

as temperatures
drop. If it’s not one damn thing
it’s another. Hope

springs in Spring, it seems.
Last year’s Advent Calendar
told you another

story. May as well
pour a cup of tea and try
to write a haiku.

When you let the dog
out to piss and roll in the
snow, see the beauty

in the yellow hole
on the whiteness where the dog
did his business.

Words

Notebooks full of e-
rasures, cross-outs, second and
third guesses, the mind

exhausted. I pitch
them when I move on. Ungrateful
I am not for words

like ‘the way out and
the way in cross, the way up
and the way down cross’

(The Gift of Beauty).
At the crossroads the compan-
ioning power.

O’Rourkes

The faces at the
bar seem familiar tonight.
I watch them from my

corner, returning
shy smiles. Thick hands wrap around
our common good. Old

Peter brings me what
I always ask for. This is
what we come for. Chance

plays no part in it,
that singular hard gaze being
the one exception.