The Hospitality of Language

The flagstone steps up
the hill to my father’s last
house provided views

of the Pacific
if you turned around. I would
turn around to see

the pale horizon.
Then I’d continue on up
the hill to the house.

Now landlocked, older
than my father lived to be,
I write verse — say, “son,”

“horizon” and “sun” —
imbricating sound and sense
to fix my last house

in air, open to
me thanks to the hospital-
ity of language.

The Courage of Makers

The gentle swaying
of the trees this hot still day
reminds me of the

courage of makers,
their steady deep breathing as
they hold and behold

what’s coming to be
in the void of their being.
Intemperate Hill

knew when to shut up.
The topos of the whole is
gratitutde (OS).

Tu Fu at Midnight

It begins to rain
around midnight and the trees
say nothing about

losing the day’s dust.
Tu Fu comes to mind. With no
credentials, money,

or connections, he
wandered. He saw how people
suffer. “Heaven’s ways

include human ways.”
He wrote ten-thousand poems,
one-tenth surviving.

In a rare quatrain
he says he feels young again.
The rain in the trees.


To my daily tasks:
fold the laundry, piece by piece;
scrub the toilet with

abandon; using
wave-like motion mop the floor.
Be a servant to

the greater good. This
way terror drains from body
and mind. At least for

a spell, the place shines
with lights and darks, welcoming
friend and enemy.

Our Cat

Our cat is either
ardent, serious, unmoved,
or all nimble play.

She licks the bottoms
of my wife’s feet as she sleeps.
Such pretty, pretty feet.

She lands in my lap
out of nowhere, shuts her eyes,
and shrugs when I rise.

She challenges me:
“Copy me in your silly
verse, my quick changes!”

The White Moth

A pure white moth zig-
zags above the parking lot
this hot afternoon.

It’s hard not to look.
Something about its wayward
passage, that it is

at all – a mere ob-
ject, fellow creature, sign – all
as it disappears.