changing direction like fast river
faster than eye can follow,
My grand daughter walks a wall
with her mother looking into a closet
of clothes—Look Mommy
those robes are worn by God.
Mother walks River Innocence
with her daughter in holy light
dazzled by daughter's vision,
17 May 2010
WAITING FOR MARY
Bachelor Buttons started popping
about an hour ago, and the sun
zeroing in, still has
two hours before the plane
arrives. Solidarity walks
in our garden this weekend.
Mary, who walks with the world,
brings her witness. Mary
is a blue guitar in the sky
over El Salvador. Her sombrero
is the blue song we can't
get out of our heads, the bird
in the song released, dale,
be our way, interdependent
be our feet, dale,
la lucha tuya es pura,
dale, watered by the River Sumpul,
preparing Bachelor Buttons to open.
14 May 2010
THE POVERTY OF MEN
—for Marty at 71
begins with their shoes,
often enough, expensive running shoes.
The poverty of men dresses in the rich cloth
of a dying tribe. My friend from an earlier
generation of men, explores this poverty
in small, abstract assemblages of found objects
that can be pinned to a lapel,
or worn on a baseball cap. In his 70s now,
he knows one lifetime to explore this bright,
Stay amused, he says to his friends who know
they're poor, Stay amused. Male and female elk
produce two teeth made of ivory, which he values
as objects whose size makes things risky
for his art. They're not teeth at all, he says,
but tusks, from an earlier time. He's given
his life to mining these rich fields.
13 May 2010
making small paths, go through twisted
knuckles and fingers that can't unwind.
Listen to men praying for each other,
in our one and the same unheard song
of misplaced chance. Men with arthritis
in cupped hands from too much work
and not enough toe-following gamble.
For we have not brought flowers of being
into our becoming, and now we are left
and dogs in their comic merry-making.
Oh, Lord, let all cunning follow the ice
into disappearing. We pray as best we can.
Let us be checked into idleness.
Let us hold dominoes on painted red porches.
Hear the laughter coming from cars and be kind.
12 May 2010
VIGIL ON MIGRATION
AT THE CORNER OF YAKIMA AVENUE
AND SECOND STREET ON MOTHER'S DAY
Nothing about believing.
Nothing about stirring the water.
Just trying to stay awake,
remembering what happened.
How could one detail have been altered? Or left out?
How could it be anything but true?
10 May 2010
LIGHT ASCENDING FROM THE WATER:
A SONG FOR MARGARET FULLER
Light of days, what word
lifts me from dream fields
carries me, what carries me
from dream fields makes me
blessed vessel sustaining
creation in the other time,
I too, I too,
and now this light into flowers
with her words and her baby
She went down in her boat
with her lover She went down,
she went down, she never
was found, she went down
as the boat came home
The boat came home,
it did, it did, the boat
It went into the wind
it was lost in the storm
as the captain of maps
steered and floundered
He steered with no sound
as he'd lived without song
his boat could only go down
We sail around sound
around sound in our song
And nobody can say
what our work will be
Nobody can say
if they see it
if you don't see it
It doesn't matter at all
10 May 2010
Our mom, Margaret Fuller, and Mary Colter,
three who crossed over, wait for you at the table
whenever you sit to eat. Colter designed
these plates after looking at pots of Mimbreño Indians
unearthed after 1000 years of sand cover.
She built her tower on the South Rim
of the Canyon at its highest point—
seen repeatedly in nature, recognizes
how one enters from above, by foot,
before descending. One must turn geologist
to imagine you sailing ancient oceans
in the Esperancé. Gifts arrive as one descends
even in boats. Bright Angel Trail contains
more kivas than one can photograph.
Colter wore waist-long strands of multi-colored
a Path of Truth ring on her finger.
Margaret Fuller's here because of your word,
transcend. My inwardness is grown insight,
life within, life without, making talk and poems.
She edited The Dial with Emerson,
both transcendentalists. She, too,
needed more than Jesus, calling on Greek gods
to walk with her. "The blue sky seen above
the opposite roof preaches better than any brother."
Now she shows us how to fall. Her doctor
says she's found a way to go down
and not get hurt—still better to let her go
than tie her down. Amen. Mom remains
the wildest teacher we've ever had—hence,
the best. This morning, with Kick Ass Coffee
from Kicking Horse in Canada, I'm thinking of you,
and your story on your birthday—all you've done
Where you're going as you sail.
It's your birthday, the day gods give us
great permission to practice.
You sent me the word transcend
and a movie and I walked Bright Angel Trail,
a walk returning me home before I came back
with Karen. This poem's a coupon
for the meal with the women.
It's good any time, no expiration date.
whenever you pull into the harbor.
Unlimited seatings. I promise
not to listen in at what gets said.
Happy Birthday, and Love,
your brother, Jim
9 May 2010
who knows things, because
of their strange competence—
but even better to talk with them.
with someone who makes things,
and Steven, you know and make.
With you we enter the mysterious
coffee shop of knowing.
Even better—to tell someone:
His blue Chevy goes 130 miles per hour.
It's not so much about speed.
It's about timing. About not
getting there too fast.
It's about relationships of all kinds.
It's not about the 10 seconds
in the quarter, either,
although there's nothing without that.
Hitting it just right—
No, talking about Steven,
talk always turns to character.
Something that's not part of any part—
a part of who you are invisible,
yet engraved and inscribed,
something that can't be changed,
but can be counted and seen.
That's how we talk about you
when we talk about what you bring
to the track for all of us
for those ten seconds that go so fast.
7 May 2010
Piano lullaby comes from Karen's dream.
The grandpa that I am turns me in my bed
The garden waits knowing that roses
will soon be eclipsed by a storm
of bachelor buttons that have taken over
the Path of the Mailman. Bachelor buttons
ask for nothing and bees come as they're called.
I sit before all of the facts with the best coffee
and eaten the sweet berries like children
I refill my cup, piano keys