THE STEPS WE TAKE
WALKING WITH COOKIES
With pot holders in two open pans,
take the cookies from the oven
for Karen while she's in shower
while listening to Chet Baker.
Finished Luther-essay poem
written in 6-line stanzas
and sent copies in slow mail
with new Jaime Escalante stamp
to Lee Bassett and Ron Marshall,
poet-pastor friends, inventor and defender
of religion. Stand and deliver,
Jaime Escalante, Bolivian son-father.
Long night walking with the esopagus,
welcoming watermelon and coffee this morning.
The daily practice. The daily almost.
And oh, the practice of Luther
and his translation team.
Not in the poem, separate, a poem in itself.
Standing above, beyond, needing
its own place in time, its own attention.
Psalm18, verse 17, his favorite,
I shall not die, But I shall live
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
Summer days writing letters, translating,
commenting on the psalms, practice,
and all that one say about it
outside of definition, not negotiable
for this is the path of the divine,
part word, part syllabic chant count.
The team of translators complete
with process and method, the Wittenberg team,
refraining from literal in Hebrew:
We departed freely from the letter,
differing from the rabbis.
Whoever would speak German
must ask, What would the German say
in this situation? Everything turns
on a very few words.
Put a readable Bible in the people's hands and get back.
Psalms walking out of Viet Nam
with Thich Nhat Hanh,
here to be present to the walk.
Have a cookie. Don't burn your fingers.
Not a word more to say.
Two weeks of listening to politicians
shaping the electorate amidst the cries
of grieving mothers and fathers,
walk with the fallen.
My friends read only Chinese poets
from the past. The poems
and those who translate them.
I read them too.
This has been going on, my countrymen,
for quite some time.
30 July-2 August 2016
THE STEPS WE TAKE
Cleaning house with Karen is a walk
that looks so good on the page
and sounds so strong. Talking about it
and how it figures into our love
is a rest stop. How it is now and then
at the same time. There is only now
we say, recognizing the idea, adding,
the past walks with us. A bird
calls from the roof. One persistent
repetitive To Weet. To Weet,
beginning low and rising. Two syllables.
Roof top call out, shortened now
to one syllable. Medium range.
Weet, Weet. Weet, Weet.
We have been shaking out these rugs
for half a century, each of us
with some things, well some things.
Things look pretty good on the walk through.
I open the notebook with intentions
for reviewing yesterday's reading.
Tolstoy in old age encounters the tartar thistle.
The A.N. Wilson biography shocks me on every page.
Karen peeks her head out the screen door,
I'm leaving, heading for breakfast with friends.
21 July 2016
WALKING THE CAR
After pruning trees, the neighbor
asks about the rose, and we cut
cross growing branches
looking at purple shoots
coming from the bottom--
We want to encourage these.
Before leaving for lunch with Karen
at El Rey, I load six Live albums
of Van Morrison, five times
It's Too Late to Stop Now--
it's 1973 forever, all through town,
bring it to me. We turn on to 6th Street
before Nob Hill. The letter I wrote
my pastor before moving into the trees,
accompanies me, too. How to evaluate
those on Earth ordained by God?
How trees calm us. Here and now.
Hear, hear. Karen orders Sope and Taco
with rice and beans and a Coke.
I have fish tacos. Back at the river
Van's mouth becomes a piano.
We squeeze limes together
and I get all the sliced radish.
Karen thinks the cut into 6th Street
came when they built Farm Workers Clinic,
but doesn't remember the year.
We turn onto Nob Hill to access
the parking lot at Fiesta Foods on Fair.
Outside the store they're selling
papaya and mango. Fiesta Foods
helps me relax, mercado en México,
and I weigh peanuts on the scale.
Karen asks what I'm going to do
with a dozen pasillas, dark green poblano
of my dream vision, Why, roast them
on the grill and peel the skin with a fork.
I like to slice them building my taco.
I don't put my face in the cilantro
but would if we were alone.
When Van sings Brown-Eyed Girl
the year changes. It's the summer of 67
and we're in Seattle, Karen's Chevy II,
it's July and we have the entire month.
I'm 22. Between Panama and Vietnam
with Karen and Van's Brown-Eyed Girl,
and the Chevy II is all music and green.
15 July 2016
AT THE ATHLETIC CLUB
AFTER A MORNING
EDITING THE LIFE OF AN ARTIST-PASTOR
Before the listening trees
Digital images greening
Old men in blossom
Stretching out the leg
pen in hand for balance
the man can switch legs
but can't put the pen
in his right hand
11 July 2016
WALKING THE TREADMILL
AT THE ATHLETIC CLUB,
EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO GO HOME
"I've hung my hat on a cliff".
Li Po, A Summer Day on the Mountain
But I'm on a treadmill at the Athletic Club--
leisurely walk, reading Li Po,
just about above tree line
when a man steps towards
the woman walking beside me
watching Fox News on her tv screen,
There's been another shooting.
The man wanted small talk
but the woman stayed with the killings,
The time, a Michigan jail,
a trigger for the man,
My brother was shot
25 years ago--25 years ago?--
the man next to him interrupts--
my son was killed 25 years ago
on the 20th of this month.
Shot in the back. Somewhere
in here, Li Po talks to me,
A clear wind opens pure emptiness,
and I write his words
in the front of the book,
The men are talk to each other,
ignoring the woman, ignoring me, too.
Shot in the back.
The men taking turns.
We were ten years apart.
Really close. He got out
After 5 lousy years.
I was supposed to get restitution,
and got one check for 14 cents.
In the mail, no less.
I'd love to turn on the electric chair,
or hang him. Hang them
in the first 24 hours.
They even gave him his knife back.
I stay with Li Po.
Keep reading. Keep walking.
Take it in, let it out.
Like that, over and over.
12 July 2016