Li Po’s Finesse

Perfectly alone,

Li Po communicates the

old mountain’s presence,

with the finesse of

a martyr honors the pre-

sence of the mountain.


is the mountain’s thing. Li Po

is aware of that,

barely finishing

the poem before hearing

the unasked question.

The Question

Steady rain loosens

ice from the road. Cars pass.

I head into blur,

which I prefer to

the new tyrant’s clarity.

My youth given to

books, how is it I

have nothing to say beyond

the names of the flow.

When a Bad Poem

When a bad poem

opens its mouth, nor salt nor

sweet nor jism nor

any scent comes out,

only the absence of be-

ing in the soul

of the poet. Sad.

This is personal perhaps.

We’re not all Villon,

have not the patience

of being.  Mortal fear has

spooked love’s ecstasy.


Of Bird and Girl

Secret schoolyard flame,

tall blonde broad-shouldered Shelly.

Her name was the name

I chose for my pet

peregrine.  Analogy

of girl and bird right

as rain in desert

Bakersfield, a boy’s eros

all flame and flight.


Traveler’s Companion

Follow the sun, see

the Pacific. Now turn back,

Atlantic rim-glow,


roads into the woods. Fulfill

yourself just not now.

Pick an island, sit

once more in the late sunshine,

letting it all go.



Bakersfield Reverie

The espresso machine’s

hollow roar, the snow outside–


the past a different

country, and nothing like this.

Mojave foothills,

tumbleweeds still green

in the bright winter landscape.

Enough love, enough

otherness that now

memories pour in and out,

save me from myself .


Reading John Burnside in the Snow

This never happens:

snowed-in in Portland. Silence

thick as grief, is it?

Well, that sweet cafe

is open, quiet, The Old

Familiar Places–

Sinatra’s magic —

absorbs the haunted self so

blank in the blank stare

of sun on mounded

snow.  A refill and I turn

the page: more Burnside


On Ice: Syllabics

Balancing sixty-

some years of flesh and bone, I

am out in the ice-

storm today. No pride:

I’ve learned to walk like a duck

breathing from my feet.

I’ve learned to relax

the will, to let the kind earth

root me in its love,

paying attention

at the same time to the gleam

of black ice ahead.

For Karen in Surgery

Whistling in the wind

a small thing skitters past all

decked out for Christmas —

an  empty beer can.

I listen until I hear

only my own mind,

or so we say. Yet

it seems otherwise–yes wise,

and yes quite other.