Suburban Sublime

Deep in the suburbs,
no landscape to speak of, none
not landscaped to death.
A seam in the twi-
lit folds of clouds bright between
interrupts the dawn.
I see it change as
I stop and just look. Birds fly
up and into it
and disappear. Sub-
lime perhaps; the pen is raised,
the paper still blank.

Busker

A young musician
on the street, hat at her feet,
playing her heart out,

repeating one song.
The returns are transparent
to how sweet it is

as something sacred
stirs in that sacrifice where
the quotidians

of art spell the din
of traffic and the faint thump
of coins in her hat.

Cloud Confession

Religion: clouds
and their shadows as they move
over the foothills
and my own shadow.
A mere child. Patriotic
otherwise at home.
Earth but not this earth.
In good time I would leave there.
So yes cloud-country.

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
impermanence,
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.