Early morning I hear geese in a blue fog so dense
I doubt the existence of the world below them.

There are mornings I wake to bells
days when I hear a hundred quail together in a congregation of wings.

There are mornings I notice light, how it spreads along the ridge line
falling into the river gorge, breaking down through fir trees
setting fire to wings of insects struggling in white water.

When I forget the sky, there is a loneliness that can strip muscle from bone
but I don’t know that until later.

Eventually the lion lies down with the lamb.
The orphaned monkey is allowed to suckle from a village woman’s breast.

Forgetting mistakes I may have made
see how two empty hands together make both full.



run off water


“Just look over your shoulder.” The Four Tops


There is a ladder leaning against the rim of the world

I like to climb down into another body.

Shunned by the gods of printed books

I am happy standing over a pool of rain water

where the entirety of the  sky is held untouched by mud

in the palm of a open hand.

The miniature sun is there in perfection

and a mockingbird crossing that round sky is shitting

in flight!










What he remembers is not the shock of pain
but waves of breath lifting and carrying him to the hollows of a cedar
where owls cover him with their wings.

He knows now the burgled house unlocks its own doors.
The murdered man solicits his death and pays the killer in advance.
The widower sleeping on his wife’s side of the bed is uncovered there
by the moon.

Everything is a succession of being, always busy becoming
something else.
A glass of water becomes the Pope drop by drop.
The boy remembers this and is comforted.








The holy name can never be spoken.
It disappears from the mouth.
Takes form in the space between syllables
where silence widens, becoming a sky
unto itself.

In that sky
a name too formal to be used is forgotten.
Why call someone who is always here?

Does the husband call his wife to the bridal bed
when she is already there waiting?
When the wife’s mouth is on his
does he stop to ask for a glass of water?








Inside these diamond backed shadows, you are with me

as I am with the river.

Twenty-seven years married, now the night is coming.

The sky is a blue man in a sequin suit falling down on his blue knees by the river.

Under scrub oak trees all the mossy backed chickadees are feasting without a care.

Turning over leaves shaped like hands that close

around seeds as they dry.






“There is a love that will break ribs getting to the heart.”



You harnessed my anger, made me plow in a field of bones.

Taught me not to hear the world’s infected promises
not put my lips too near a dead thing’s mouth
but to kneel
and from my distance, look into this world’s yellow eyes.
See through them there is a light in outer darkness that does not
look away.

Now I stand in front of waterfalls, gutted, reborn in water.
I am here in all this beauty and I am satisfied
with that.



Next moment I am crying. The whole creation is crying.
Pain is not an unwanted child waiting in line for her own abortion.
It is the expected one we wait for all our lives.

To  mend the heart
the surgeon’s knife cuts through walls of bone and muscle

and we are satisfied with that.



We meet on the river road and know each other by our masks.
When a man has nothing left to say, the ghost in him takes over
talking through the hole in his mask, as if  he is alive.

The ghost says
“The blind running with coyotes through fir trees can clearly see
what those with eyes cannot.
The deaf play on blue guitars and sing
while those born with ears and a tongue are forever dumb.
All night long  the cricket patiently rub his legs together!
The living die and the dead dance in circles, dressed in feathers of a fish hawk.”

I say
there is a ghost in me who suffers and enjoys
and I am satisfied with that.



In the end we are salmon
forced by our blood back to the spawning pool.
We are chinook and coho
cut by volcanic rock in narrow beds of white water streaming blood.
We come home with golden flesh showing through our scales.

Sockeye, steelhead dammed and gill netted, hunted by fish hawks
we are impaled on talons, taken up into fir trees

Beaten beautiful as seven billion Christs stumbling to Golgotha
we all come home the colors of fire.
Following the scent of our Mother’s blood

we fertilize eggs and we die.
The carcass rots.
Young men called barefoot to the river in the heat of day are offended by us
and move on.

I am satisfied with that.



I will die at sunrise with the sky
red as a salmon lying on his side in a bed of coals.
There will be a little wind
just enough to stir the oak leaf curled in the palm of my  right hand.

When I die there will be phlegm in my throat
the left nostril closed to further breath
and the right ear so full of fluid
the sound of breathing is indistinct and vaguely sacred.

Hearing this sound I will enter into one kingdom of silence
and be offered a crown.

The Alone is alone with itself, has always been alone and always will remain
but you can find me here in all this beauty
a blowfly sitting on my head
the color of a sapphire sewn into the crown of a yamaka.

I am satisfied with that.






for Carol




I don’t remember you.

You are always here as breath and as circulating blood.

Cover my face with a blanket of dirt and I will be with you in the sudden sky

sky with no stars, only our four eyes there



I am homeless.  You are the alley way I dream and wake in.

I  follow the curbs of your body looking for a hand

out in blessing.

Your voice is with me as tidal horns of traffic

and as drunk men in empty parking lots cursing God because they have lost another tooth.

Your voice is with me as  wings of pigeons leaving these magnolia trees

then returning.


Nothing is hidden from you and you are not hidden from me.

You stand in front, behind, on every side, alert as barrels full of fire.

From the corner of my eye I see your reflection in standing water

arms open to the murky sky, a dollar bill at your feet someone has thrown down

in disgust.


You tell me that on both sides of every struggle there is unbroken faith.

You say I am surrounded by mirrors

and that every mirror is an open grave where you are willing to lie down naked

to finish this struggle in my arms.


I can’t die

until my body remembers its relationship with the space between stars.

That’s when the dead let go, floating out of their graves, dressed for a wedding!

I am not afraid to love you as a human being, as something less than an angel

and more trust worthy than a God.

I have known your waves of love.

They carried me here

where I walk in  these gutters running with rain

where I wait for you and for your last wave.

I did not come here to capture light, to hold it prisoner

then release it finally into night.

I did not come here to whisper “OM, OM…”

I came for you.


In my sleep I dream of wheat fields

bordered by pines and poplar trees in a river of wind.

Startled wood doves are bleeding into dawn.

Two hawks circle me

their shadows cutting through  the grain  like curved scythes.



66 years gone now.

I am not a young man ripe with love.

I do not follow the road that likes to rise between a young man’s legs.

Now I wake from my dreams in a bed, long married

happy, learning the bliss of contentment, the bliss of being satisfied.

I see you coming

sometimes with your hands raised in blessing, sometimes with a butcher’s knife.

Either way my love.


I like to go out walking, greeting strangers as if they are Rama

and I am Hanuman, his servant and friend.

The sky is not a wall for me. The grave is not a promise.

It is the marriage bed.

All that is left of me now is the outline of a body taut with emptiness.

But there is also a subtle joy

that does not much disturb itself with laughter or with tears.


I wait for you

to lay my head upon the shoulderless curve of you.