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 cannot 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.





APRIL 2015


April 1

The sweet pain
when we fall in love
becoming more like the quiet
we wake to alone in the middle of the night.
The way the earth is alone, even with a billion
suns around it.
That sweet pain and this heart are all I have
to offer you.

April 2

Ten thousand doors open into heaven
or to a prison cell.
Generosity is withheld from those we cannot bear to look in the eye
when we forget there is no Other.

April 3

We are locked inside a room
and all we need to do is lean against the wall.
Effortlessness, whether in suffering or joy
creates space between atoms.
Knowing this, we pass through.

April 4

Fourth of April
I wake to rain and backache. Pain in the left elbow
become chronic.
In the crown of my head
wood doves mated for life are cooing over their first eggs.

Your face is where I come to live, die and be
born again.
In your face I see the world from a thousand open windows.
Doves are flying out of them!
How the old are always making love
with their eyes.

April 5

You may be tired now but you won’t be tired then.
You may believe you are joyless but you are filled
and over flowing.
You are standing on tip toes trying not to drown in the waves
of this ocean of joy.

I give you my word on it.

April 6

Drops of blood streaming down my arm
follow the same course the River Jordan does

The power to receive energy from light
to release it
without effort or intention
is there.
The power to deceive, to corrupt and be corrupted
to believe that nothing we do has any consequences
is also there in the human heart.

Where does it all come from?
God finds it too elementary to explain.
We go on like this until our hearts understand
how to give back what we hope for

April 7

My preference is that God look exactly like the one I love
and answer to her name.
Or like the stranger I pass without acknowledging.
The orphaned squirrel who came to the toe of my boot
calling for his mother.
Every leaf of every tree I have seen or not seen.
The sparkling emptiness between stars.
Your right hand taking hold of mine.
My own face in a spoonful of water or your face right now.

April 8

I would like to have something of my Grandfather’s
something small enough to hold in the hand.
He always told me
“To be intoxicated with God is alright
but it is still an intensity of ego
just as joy and rage are both intensities of Awe.
Here, where we are now
is where the love is.”

April 9

Life is the stone we break our hearts upon.
You are luckier than most.
You have wasted your opportunities in the world
thrown your many talents into dust.
It is now and has always been broken hearted love
that is the source, the goal and the perfection
of every life lived well.

April 10

There is a hollow in which I live
a creek running through it that will flood
in April.
We can allow a heart to take form inside of emptiness.
It will open and accept every face as its own.
First pretend to be a person
then feel a Presence separate from your self.
Begin to love this Presence as if it is another.
All to make an opening, so what is Real
can enter as a breath
that will blow away every structure of belief.
Allows the Real to be perceived and held
to what extent a human being can.
As Robin Williamson sings, “Whatever you think
it’s more than that.”

April 11

There is an Existence alive and conscious of itself
moving within the single wide trailer of the body.
It comes as a great wind
taking down walls, breaking windows
blowing doors off of their hinges.
For those who have ears, it speaks. For those who have eyes, it appears.
For those with heart, it opens inside them
a blossom whose nectar is blood.





Three vertebrae in the mid back that once were tender as willow, cracked in a fall from a three story building. Now they hold to each other as three widows would,  living in a one bedroom apartment. I have a nose broken in four places and a ring finger that can not bend, as a swan will, to its own reflection in a palm full of water. The body worships with a child’s faith every illusion of safety but, with age, begins letting go of faith, learning to make do with common sense and the support of a brace.

This morning the moon is the color of a mule’s hip bone, the one I found in a field of crowder peas outside New Waverly, Texas in 1959. The sky is white as the face of a man in his sixties, raised on pork. I am walking to the White Salmon again, following the circle of my breath. Hear the spangled screech of hawk or eagle hunting ground squirrel in the fog. Sounds like a tambourine or the ornate rowel of a Mexican spur suddenly set spinning.

Walking in snow a hundred feet above the river, I recognize my own boot prints coming toward me from yesterday. Cloud fills the narrow gorge to its limits. Crows caw to each other over the rapids, swell their breasts and make the popping sounds of courtship. In the shadow of an overhang, egrets are murmuring and their murmur is a twin to the murmur of the river.

Without gloves on, the cold moves ‘cross the swollen knuckles of my right hand, as a wind that circumambulates five sacred hills where little fires are built. This fire is how I know the sky comes down to the riverbed and enters into bone. My hand, the color of a slice of wonder bread, is open, offering the sky back to itself. The One without a name who takes the shape of water and of air is also present in fire and in bone.




Clara and Charles Reed - 50th Anniversary (1)


for Clara Reed and all who loved her

“Charles, all I want is you to be a good man and a song leader in the church.” Nana

Light is coming down through the sweet persimmon tree
walking from limb to limb to be near us.
The light through your window is rising up my legs
to my chest now
covering my forehead.
Nana, the light jumps to your bed and is gone
up the sleeves of your pajamas!

There is a grackle on your sidewalk
walking like a shopping mall salesman in new Italian shoes.
But how can I tell you about the blue fire of a grackle’s wing?
I’m not that young anymore.
There are lines on my face where white sheets of skin hang.
Before I die in a bed like you I will disappear in mountains.

Nana, two Mexican boys are running up your street with a blue jay
in a birdcage!
Fast behind them is a dog with a diaper in his mouth.
The light is all around us now and still
you are sleeping.

Sometimes I want to turn away from you
walk away from hands that smell like talc
from bones like butcher knives cutting through your arms.
There is a muley cow skull grazing through your face.
Your paralyzed legs want to jump out of bed
run 265 miles up Highway 59 to Palestine, Texas where you were happy in the church
giving away eggs to ungrateful neighbors during The Depression.

Nana, I don’t believe you know who I am today.
You grip my right hand while I feed you jello with the left.
You told me once that if God took me by the hair, jerked back my head
and put a knife to my throat
I should make my throat a fountain of praise for him!

Nana, the devil is draining all the honest blood from your face.
Let him drown in that red sea while you escape into the desert.

I took the kids to Galveston last week.
We rode the ferry to Bolivar Island and Eli said the water looked like leather.
But to me the Gulf was the hastily braided hair of a woman
running naked, shrieking through the streets of Galveston and Houston
clear to Palestine and beyond.

Cattle will be found drowned in the desert covered with barnacles!

That night we watched men dragging nets in the surf for mullet.
I saw a seagull rip the delicate skin over a ribcage of water
and come away with nothing but paper in his mouth.

I remember your hair when I was a boy
up in tight braids close to the scalp in daylight.
Let down long at night and brushed out
your hair was like Matagorda Bay
stars flattened on waves and tossed away.

Sometimes I feel my blood beating against the sky.
Sometimes it’s so quiet I can’t hear it.
Who will listen to what the blood says?
Who will put an ear to my throat and tell me what the red blood says?

Long ago you told me words are shallow graves
where tired men lie.
You said there is a love that will pull out teeth with a pair of pliers
a love that will break ribs getting to our hearts
and you were right.

Now you say the dead ring bells in heaven.
The wings of fallen sparrows fold under layers of ashes.
Shadows follow each other through the streets like widows to a graveyard.

I say let the dead ring their bells!
Let the moon sharpen its sickle blade against my spine!
Let naked trees offer arm loads of snow to the nickle colored sky!
I want blood turtles to return to the sea!
I want the earth to open her swollen legs and let us out!

Nana you lie here curled in a fetus, every tooth gone
ribs bandaged from a fall
wearing a diaper.

God has taken you by the hair, jerked back your head and put a knife to your throat.
Make your throat a fountain of praise for him.
Go to the sky
and listen to the tongues of singing locust trees.
Let them sing for you.

The sun is full in the sweet persimmon tree.
Morning doves let down their wings around you.
Hold my hand as you would the right hand of Jesus and follow his blood
from vein to vein back to the heart.