Published Poetry

Published Poetry

clicking Send—
she is the last
of my parents’ generation
gone are the trees
I used to climb

  • Atlas Poetica

the river
always leaves its source
yet it never leaves
the tangled fishhooks
of loves false and true

  • Atlas Poetica

tonight
by the lemon tree
our first kiss
I ride home
on a horse of oxygen

  • Atlas Poetica

the baby is dead . . .
while he stares
into the street
she feels her breasts
filling with milk

  • Atlas Poetica

deep grasses choke
the broad path
we used to walk
our past is lost
in a seamless field of green

  • Atlas Poetica

Now That I Am Dead

On reading “Evening Land” by Pär Lagerkvist

As I stooped through the low portal of death,
I saw my human fate
Emptied out into the lethe.

Life’s luggage of love and hate
Was left behind the wall;
The gardener burned my once-essential freight.

I asked myself if this was all.
Intelligent souls clicked like dolphins in the wind
On either side of the wall,

Discerning everything.  My mind
Came clean; discernment whirled ahead
As soon as I was schooled by the garrulous wind.

Now that I am dead,
I know that God did not create the soul;
The soul created God instead.

Now that I am dead, I know the soul
Imagined heaven straddling earth
Where God was hired to rule

Irascible man and iterative death/rebirth.
I dreamed of an infinite life,
A dream encoded before my birth,

Because one life was not enough.
I know that paradise was once inside my head,
Now that I am dead.

Change

For a Memorial Service

The sacred sea defines
Our summed collective soul.

Our infinite designs
Are in the sea’s control.

We scarcely understand
Our fundamental start.

We cannot comprehend
The sum of every part.

As the aeons come and go,
Its silent flow and blend
Is all we ever know;
But now we feel the wind.

A molecule of water
That skims the sacred sea
And breathes corporeal air
Resembles you and me.

As soon as we are tossed
Above the nurturing foam,
This flesh, from found to lost,
Obscures our natural home
In such a pleasing way
We lose the cosmic sweep
Of comely, sunborne spray
Rounded by the deep.

Celebrating Peace

1.

Today we gather in this faraway space
To celebrate what never took place.

Under this cloudless sky
The Unknown Soldier did not die.

No one was wounded on this spot.
Nary a soldier fired a shot.

No soldier sang a battle hymn
Or killed or died or lost a limb.

On this our distant grassy field,
No corpse was lifted onto a shield.

The world at war is far away;
Let peace begin with us today.

2.

Fog is rising from the thawing ground.
Birds are soaring without a sound.

Cedars shimmer in the morning breeze.
Snowy mountains back the trees.

For a world at war, where do we start?
Peace begins in the human heart.

By changing hearts one by one,
Changed hearts lower the gun.

Today we promise to work for peace,
Changing hearts in the name of peace.

The world at war is far away;
Let peace begin with us today.

nightfall
a cricket aria,
then the chorus

  • ‘t schrijverke (the Netherlands)

pan-fried trout
I learn something new
about my father

  • The Heron’s Nest
    Heron’s Nest Award, December 2011: Editor’s Choice
  • Carving Darkness, Red Moon Anthology, 2011
  • Haiku Foundation Per Diem, February 2014
  • Per Diem Archive on the Haiku Foundation Website

and

  • Haiku App (Apple)

winter
the empty space
inside the cello

  • Modern Haiku

and

  • ‘t schrijverke (the Netherlands)

pinwheeling leaves
thirty-five years end
with the word amicable

  • Frogpond

August moon
children disappear
into their lives

  • Modern Haiku

and

  • San Marino High School class reunion memory book

Sawtooth Mountains
the alpine lake is stocked
with clouds

  • Modern Haiku

as I cut and splice
a few salient vignettes,
the rest of my life
spools out
on the cutting room floor

  • Simply Haiku

walking away
from the laugh track
into the twilit park
into the noise-cone
of a brood of cicadas

  • TSA Ribbons

Taps…
the widow folds her life
and puts it away

  • Simply Haiku

waking up
to the first nudge
of pain
great unweavings begin
with one loose thread

  • American Tanka

summer heat
coming all this distance to find
nothing but distance

  • Paper Wasp

the pounding surf
why does it matter now
after 40 years?
bleached stones against
the bleached sky

  • Simply Haiku

redgold salmon
flap their tails…
Indian summer

  • Paper Wasp

the hard-breathing trout
explaining death
to a child

  • Frogpond

bitter snowstorm…
strangers become friends
for a day

  • The Heron’s Nest

I put down my pen
to watch the birds
swallows criss-cross the street
hour after hour because…
I have no idea

  • TSA Ribbons

dried dogwood flowers
the old couple
eats in silence

  • Simply Haiku

deep coral tulips—
our quiet
conversation

  • The Heron’s Nest

phosphorous flares
illuminate those
about to die
Huey gunships
are pissing bullets

  • Simply Haiku

restless ducks
fly south
fly north

  • The Heron’s Nest

looking ahead to the past
remembering the future
one datastream
the road from home
is a road leading home

  • Simply Haiku

a pinwheeling leaf
strikes the watercourse
and floats around the bend
gone forever
do you ever think of me?

  • Simply Haiku

repair work
on the dam
emptying out
the harmony
of water and mud

  • Simply Haiku

she touched my cheek
and turned away—
summer’s end
how many turns
around the sun?

  • TSA Ribbons

the river flowed backward
for her—friends took leave
one by one
she is all alone
at the source

  • TSA Ribbons

double-clicking
the Events folder
our first kiss
remembering your touch,
the tilt of your face

  • TSA Ribbons

Oregon fog
rumors
of mountains

  • The Heron’s Nest

wind over the lake
desiccate leaves
scrape indolently
at our feet
like the years

  • American Tanka

my glass is filled
with dusk tonight
I swirl the west and think of you
and sip the stars
down to the stem

  • Simply Haiku

lost mojo
on the Red Line
a sweet face
no opportunity
for me

  • TSA Ribbons

The Way

The way eludes the snare
Of language. It is hard to catch the wheeling birds
Scurrying up a helixing stair,

But harder still to catch the way with words.
The heart that hangs stretched and framed
Is not the heart of hearts;

The way that can be named
And then defined is not the way.
The way conceals itself by being nameless.

Abundantly clear from far away,
The mountain gradually fades to shades of white;
Such vastness mirrors the way.

The patient, widening eye controls the night.
Eventually, patterns emerge,
Defining themselves with immanent light,

Suggesting a subtle demiurge
Behind a shadowy veil
Behind another veil on Heaven’s edge

Behind the tangible veil
Of Earth; for Earth is the pattern for man,
Then Heaven for Earth; and through the farthest veil
The way parses our natural plan.

  • Arnazella

1066

Historians lust for great events,
The violent one percent,
So nothing happens nearly every year.

Stamford Bridge and Hastings stretched a month;
Whatever happened years before
Or since that raven glut?

For each combatant, hundreds more
Were not involved, as Norseman, Norman, Celt
And Saxon plowed the green

Or toiled the cold Atlantic,
Gave birth in perishing huts or softly sang
For children alliterative lullabies.

  • Arnazella

Class of 1960

We meet again, halfway to the sea;
We touch again, halfway from the snow.
Our disentangled lives have floated free
Through range and farm and city far below,
And far away from home. We floated free
Within the groove of the river’s quiet flow.
Our lives are channeled—this we clearly see;
Our cut of land determines where we go;
But how we go is up to you and me.
Entangled as we are again tonight,
Salute the past, then say a last good-bye.
Remember me as I appear tonight
And I’ll remember you with an inward eye
Until the whispering river meets the sea.

  • San Marino High School class reunion memory book
    (written in 1990)

North San Diego County

The grass of Kearny Mesa
Grew up to be
A hundred shopping malls.

The naked hills were clothed
By Mediterranean housing projects.

Some rural routes
Are giant interstates.

I never gave a thought
To golden grass
Or granite hills
Or dusty roads
When they were there,
Before the dozers carved the land.

  • Thirteen

Back Jackknife

His rigid arms are pointing down as he walks
The diver’s practiced pace toward the edge
And deftly spins around to set his feet.
The crowd grows quiet as he is on his toes,
To seek and find the pulse of limber steel.
With that assured, arms come up, palms flat
And facing down; knuckles nudge his gaze.

Silence snaps—he takes the backward leap,
Exploding blind at forty-five degrees
(Too high, you flop; too low and over you go),
And belly muscles pull his daggered toes
Into a row of waiting fingertips
Still reaching out directly from the chest.
He shuts the knife exactly at the apogee;

His body forms a tight, symmetrical V.
And just a blink beyond, he pops the knife.
The head flies back and arms in tandem follow
Violently; so head, arms, and back design
A deadly blade to cut the water clean.
He nails the perfect dive. And slicing through
The bottom of the sky, he suns in blithe applause.

  • Aethlon