Here and There

Sometimes mistaken
for the Pacific the sound
of the Interstate
splitting this place makes
me look over my shoulder.
The middle of things
where I find myself,
this alley’s universal
at times opens to
hinterlands beyond the pale
of sea and highway.

A Poem’s Cry

Somedays my thick pen
moves like the cook’s bright cleaver
in Chuang Tzu’s jugen,
of its own will cuts
the material, respecting
the joints and the bones.
My senses quiet.
And things just fall into place.
A little later
a poem’s cry. On other
days, I read a book.

The language of this poem is heavily indebted to Thomas Merton’s The Way of Chuang Tzu, “Cutting Up an Ox,” iii.2.

“The Age of Anger”

No and yes is all
you hear out of people now.
It’s pretty noisy.
And sometimes scary:
the silence after the bomb
goes off. Fragments of
buildings and people
everywhere you look. Reason
fails. Unity calls:
Divine unity
has many more voices than
torment the earth now.
They blend in silence
the way we take for granted
songs of local birds.

Intertexts: Pankaj Mishra, “Age of Anger: A History of the Present”
The Way of Chuang Tzu, Thomas Merton, ii. 3. “The Pivot” p. 42
William Desmond, God and the Between, 239

My Day

Everything rain-washed
and new-seeming this morning.
Layers of thin cloud
scatter the sunlight.
The sun itself has no edge.
The mind itself has
no edge. Sitting here
has disrupted the routine
that defines my day,

A Favored Place

Saturday morning.
The place is full of plaid and wool
and white-soled footwear.

I disappear in
black. I don’t hear the tyrant’s
name in all their words–

perhaps forbidden.
No voices are raised. Instead,
the remedy for

this emptiness, light
rain outside draws attention
from what I can’t change.

Silly Thing!

There is no line be-
tween heaven and earth, Mr. Wright.
Even a grass blade
is too much. The owl
in Chuang Tzu hides his dinner–
a decayed squirrel–
when the shadow of
Phoenix passing overhead
darkens his world.
Silly thing! Heaven
appeals to those at home with
not being at home.

— Charles Wright, Littlefoot, #23