A poem a week until the entire book is blogged. See also Collected Poems

Monday, January 15, 2018

Learning to Walk

It's not that she hasn't been doing this all along:
She'd walked to school as yellow lozenges, oozing screams,
fumed past her along hot asphalt. She'd splashed the creek,

anxious for a path, then built it herself, kenning
to use her father's axe without lost blood.
She'd walked from Springer Mountain north, chatting in

her offhand way with bears, a big cat and a ghost.
She'd walked the halls of academia and then the hills,
big ones, bringing seedling trees to snug up to

the raw stumps of firs machines had eaten.
She'd walked to a job for decades, block after block
of homes with eyes of black glass inching

past her tired, angry shoes. Now, late in life,
she keeps a small dog bereft by her parents'
breathing stopped. The dog has taught much:

when to stop and sniff; how to attend with one's
whole being the business of squirrels. Bound
by the leash, that necessary thing, they two as one

take in, absorb, imbibe, inhale, entaste
all the arriving and leaving of the living things.




Monday, January 8, 2018

The Things to Do

The things to do: bring an egg from her
Hens, a found apple, beet leaf, cat's-ear foliage,
Ensuring freshness even in October.

The skillet she heats, oil frisking.
Here's egg: break yolk, turn once or twice;
Insert chopped fruit and greens, with salt and pepper;
Now turn again, wait, remove from heat,
Give all to a spelt wrap. As she sits to her meal, a
Sun rises, invests her eastern window, spills in

To caress and warm six thick maple boards
Of her grandmother's table. Whatever remains to be

Done's already forgotten: the meal an emblem
Of all her morning cared to be.




Monday, January 1, 2018

Bucket

Chiyono married very young. She gave one child,
then lost her husband, and, as was the custom then,
she was dispatched to an abbey to begin anew.

Thus vanished, she married wood and water,
chopping, carrying, blowing through a tube
to brighten fire beneath the rice and tea,

hoeing radishes, sun and moon her companions.
Work done, which seemed seldom, she would sit
as the black-robed women sat, hands folded,

and this attracted kindness from an elderess.
"What are you doing?" "Gathering Mind," said she,
"as I have seen them do." "There is no Mind,"

the Old One chided, "that is to say, none
to be grasped, either by sitting or not sitting.
What's to be done is the same sitting or carrying

wood to the cooks. Do you wish instruction?"
She did, and studied with this nun for years,
while not neglecting any menial task.

One night, while making use of moonlight
to bring to the cistern her ancient bucket, full,
she watched in horror as it sprang apart and spilled --

then stood amazed, free. "This," she later
said, "in spite of my ceaseless effort, was
how it was. No bucket. No water. No moon." In

after years she shook the world of Zen,
founding five abbeys, taking in
homeless women, teaching strength and grace.



Monday, December 25, 2017

The First Few Fires

The first few fires of autumn laid by me
Here in this stove aren't much; I acknowledge
Even the hummingbird's still caressing blooms, so I

Feeling only a brief dawn chill, build accordingly. 
In thickets of summer I range about,
Ratcheting my long-handled pruner among stout sticks,
Stealing from oak and ash, letting in a little light.
These I pile in the long room where that stove squats.

Fueling it with paper and a stack of twigs, admiring
Even the least hints of gold and vermillion therein,
We sit back, warm enough for one dark cup of tea.

For awhile; then day overtakes us, ready
In sweater and chore coat to see to hens;
Really, we shuck those soon enough, sweat on our
Ears and eyelids, summer reborn briefly in our knees.
So; until the ground grows cold that will hold our graves.




Monday, December 18, 2017

What's to Come

Nothing can stand still. If it were to do so
absolutely, I could not see it; if I 
were to cease scanning, I could not then see;

therefore change is all. These were my thoughts
as I walked our dog, watching a year run down.
Apples were falling; I chose one to eat.

Hips blushed fiercely; I stuffed my pockets full.
Ash and maple and willow turned and turned.
Restless mice and voles risked their all

for seeds. We reached the river; a trout rose, an
osprey plunged; they met and rose as one.
An osprey will turn a trout head first in flight, 

you know -- for improved aerodynamics. I 
disbelieve it; surely the bird is kind. 
It turns the trout to show it what's to come.




Monday, December 11, 2017

She Likes Red in September

She likes red in September. Viney maple, poison oak;
Her plum trees dress well in it. Where she lives, all
Else goes brown. Except the dog roses 

Leavening hedges with their hips. She stuffs these
In her pockets on every walk, then does research,
Kindling a ken of potions, liqueurs, oils.
Easily, drying comes to mind; to prep for that
She'll split each pod and rake away hard seeds, 

Removing them to her freezer to stratify;
Else they might not emerge come spring. She
Digs out also myriad tiny hairs,

Irritants if retained. It's a slow business,
Not for the impatient, which well describes her;

She knows of this but means to tough it out.
Each hip's a silent mantra: she'll
Push, pull, twist, scrape, sort, and set aside
The emptied husks for drying or infusing.
Eventually the pile is done, just as light fades.
My eyes, she tells herself, are getting on,
But this I can still do. I'll make rose tea;
Evening will fill my cup of mindfulness.
Really, there's nothing more than what there is.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Just-Enough

The ubiquity of Queen-Anne's lace annoys her;
it's not the plant's not doing its job; her soil
is loosened and enriched; in time of human 

hunger, roots, young leaves and even umbels
would have table use. But there is so much 
of it; her chickens dislike the stuff, especially 

in its second year, allowing their yard and moat 
to fill with cohort-ranks of pungent spikes. 
Her friend keeps bees and tells her they will feed 

on this exclusively, bittering his honey, 
bringing down its price. So he watches; 
when the umbels bloom he moves his hives. 

She'd like to query those who thought of Anne;
these tiny droplets in a sea of lace
Need not have been a queen's: she tells herself

her own blood has fed this thorned and rock-
embedded acre thoroughly. So, queen
of weeds, she! Or queen of just-enough.




Learning to Walk

It's not that she hasn't been doing this all along: She'd walked to school as yellow lozenges, oozing screams, fumed past ...