Sadie wags her tail
hearing Teresa’s coming.
Belly rub and treats.
Maybe she doesn’t think
about her toenails
Our vet for 20 years
thinks the tumor unsightly
but benign, wants
Sadie on steroids
through allergy season.
Weight’s good. Then
bath on front lawn
with three kinds
of cortisone shampoos.
I break some duck jerky.
It’s watermelon time.
One for Sadie, one for me.
20 August 2014
FOR HIS SON ON THE MOUNTAIN
He leaves a hand-written poem
pinned to bathroom mirror
17 August 2014
NOT MUCH MORE TO SAY
…being neither priest nor ordinary man.
“A Visit to the Kashima Shrine,” Bashō
Tactical breath walk
Land on the odd syllable
Pine tree, rock, akadama
16 August 2014
THE DEVESTITURE OF BASHŌ
In his first walk
he saw his dilemma,
meeting local and priest.
He was neither.
Neither was he Samurai.
later he would have it all.
Now he would be neither,
nothing. For poetry
he would do this.
15 August 2014
UNDER THE PORCH LIGHT
Hand rubbing stones from Spokane River,
working on the stone’s patina on front porch at dusk.
All day walking garden after early morning
coffee, talking poems. Mid-August
and crickets. All of Bashō’s
cicadas join in the singing.
15 August 2014
BASHŌ DESCRIBES HIS CLOTHES,
BEING NEITHER PRIEST NOR ORDINARY MAN,
FROM THIS DAY FORTH: WANDERER
Setting out on the first leg,
Record of a Well-Exposed Skeleton,
wind blowing through his heart,
determined to fall,
to become the title of his story,
Bashō describes his dress—
in prose, and early: No metal
on his belt, sack on shoulder,
clean shaven, string of beads—
like priest, but not one,
covered in worldly dust. Prevented
from entering inner temple. Bashō
descends to the stream. Knowing,
and remembering, the poet Saigō
writing for the woman
washing potatoes. Bashō
finds the way. Walking
to Kashina Shrine, his second
leg, two years later, confronted
again, he makes judgment: priest
clad black as crow, bundled
in multiple stoles, portable shrine
on his back, as if he had free pass
to world beyond the gateless gate.
Dizzied by the priest,
dressed also in black robe, Bashō,
neither priest nor ordinary man.
What is he? Who am I—wavering
between bird and mouse? He opens
Records of a Well-Worn Satchel,
with well-worn drapery wind-swept
and swept away, Fall necessary
to be one with nature, first lesson,
third journey. And one more:
Divestiture of security, serving
neither court nor scholarship
with its encumbering ignorance.
Preparing self for the task,
for the Deep Road to the Far North.
Deepest devotion from how one walks.
15 August 2014
MEASURING THE DISTANCE
The Mothership is in the shop
and needs more than an oil change:
it needs brakes. I sit outside
on the smoker’s bench
that says, Welcome, not smoking,
reading Sam Hamill’s Habitation,
so new it’s still stiff from the printer’s,
not yet in a single bookstore.
What I’ve learned from these poems,
40 years in their making,
is how to carry a vision
and make a life from walking. Front wheels
on the truck aren’t wheeling,
front brake calipers seizing
and old rotors cracked. What this means
is money if we’re going to run
northern California rivers this September.
Looking for miniature landscape stones
is a suiseki journey. Making literature,
Hamill’s first word, standing
in a crowd of disbelievers, a call
from God through the exile’s mouth.
Those old Chandler-Price presses
mixing smells of ink and oil, bolted
into floors of the old fort
had my attention. All of it
a flood on the Welcome bench,
Requiem, Hamill’s homage to Rexroth,
Rilke echoing in Hamill’s ear
as he writes. And after love, after the cry of love,
is stoppered in the throat…It’s Hamill’s
Bashō though, stirring my heart,
these words on the Journey to the Interior:
Into the geography of soul
that makes the journey itself a home.
The morning passes into high summer heat
on the bench with Habitation and a notebook.
I studied the man, how he wrote, what he read,
for 20 years, a distant apprenticeship.
How I go to work each day is the same.
How I work with the poem is how I work
with little trees. Bonsai and poem
mirrors the already and the not yet.
What to leave in, what to take out, the same ache.
And in the river, Yes, again. Magic Mind
healing the rock as it surfaces in my hand.
I carry home what sensei leaves behind.
The signature of my work like this, raw,
in the notebook resting on table in Mothership.
Storypath/Cuentocamino—a dozen years
following a bilingual word half made-up,
charged and given to me, as long
as I had discipline and courage to obey.
A life-time with three charged words:
Luchador, Abrecaminos, Storypath/Cuentocamino,
nearly half a century listening to others.
Five years with the mothership.
Crazy Cloud and Mother Quilt rolling together.
Notebook, cameras, IPhone and sewing machine.
All given for what gives itself up in word.
Nearly anonymous. Anonymity
for the poem and for what calls itself God,
bound to call and calling, free and not-free.
15-17 August 2014