Ancient Words

Pleasantly surprised
by cooling ocean breezes
as I turn into

your street, I recall
ancient words — “lovingkindness,”
“gratitude” — far out

words, but they measure
the Tyrant’s cold rage
as he ruins things.

Playing God

The Tyrant holds on
to power by disappearing
innocent people.

He’s playing god, but
god reappears in the tears
of people and in

the earth as it turns.
God has what the Tyrant lacks,
deep community.

Ode to my Twitter Self

As to politics,
I’m with Horace and Auden.
Poets have little

to offer and that
little eludes expression.
Speaking one’s mind on

Twitter and praising
one’s friends help pass the time
while the Tyrant cleans

up and mocks the com-
mon good. Which is death. Under-
stood. Little signs of

the sacred nothing
that poets share with God pass
understanding. It

shows itself in small
events — a baby’s burp, an
old man’s dancing feet.

Time for Pimm’s

The first warm Sunday
of the year: time for Pimm’s cup.
Our tyrant abroad

is selling arms to
other tyrants. Time for Pimm’s cup.
The air grows heavy

with jasmine. Listen
to the bees. Tyrants make deals,
deals wars; time for Pimm’s

in honor of the
secret love necessity
renews even so.

Time’s Refinements

Chiao Jan, whom
I do revere as poet,
stopped writing poems

for Enlightenment’s
sake. But no mind transcends it-
self. Take Providence:

not “I told you so”
but “I could not see how good
could come from that bad.”

Not geometry
but time’s refinements compel
belief in the end.


Some poems cut so
deep into the flesh of thought
the letters themselves —

the open, closed shapes —
contribute to the meaning.
The choral effect

can be sublime, break-
ing through the copyist’s bore-
dom like an angel.

Entangled as I am

Sixty years ago
in the Sierra (mountain
sawed from mountain) I

loved naming grasses,
distinguishing this from that
sun-bleached golden blade.

Light ran through them all.
Lately reading Julian
I’ve learned knowing God

is easier than
knowing myself, entangled
as I am in grass.