Sunday, February 13, 2011

From Under The Altar

 When all is said and done
at the end where the circle
begins again,
the buying and the selling,
the marrying and giving in marriage,
as in the days of Noah
before the flood,

when all is said and done,
and the Book Of Meanings
mighty tome be closed again,

will there be anyone looking,
expecting, watching, for
another door to open,
the clouds and sky to part
like the sea before Moses,

Will anyone not sating mindless
appetite, or lost in violence of blood,
look skyward with longing and understanding
and child-like trust,
ready to meet the master, Holy One,
on your return?

Or will you only find
a dead world to burn?

Fire rises from the coals
this frozen day,
circles licking round my fresh log,
tasting it,
then hungrily devours.

Who can tame this lust?
Yet the conflagration of each feeding
warms my hearth for hours.

How long, O Lord?

My love seeks living trees to redeem
and nurture,

summer voices sing to.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mortally Wounded

Pick carefully your battles,
husband your strength,
your culture could drag on
another forty years.

Mark the tree
you bleeding lie beneath
beside your love--
has stood unmoving there
two thousand rings.

Old Wind breathes into once again
its dancing summer leaves;
in His ancient foreign tongue
exhaling sings
secret syllable of breath
that second Adam raised
was it yesterday
from death of death.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Whatever you have done,
wherever you may go,
your life takes you,
from nights in stone church ruins
by moonlight,
to afternoons wrestling loneliness
in a curtained room,

take from me the best I have to share,
elements of Easter morning;
a loaf of bread,
a cup of wine,
an invitation to prayer,
a sinuous climbing vine
encircling a slender tree,

As I prayed fervently, writing this to you,
sitting by the river,
suddenly a forest patriarch
nearby, as if pushed by a giant hand,
cracked powerfully and fell,

a giant tree
shaking the earth--
amazed, i saw it fall, felt it,
not a breath of wind,
I heard in the cracking roar,
it was rotten to the core;

without warning, falling, all the
kingdoms of this world;

yet stands the best I have to share,
promises in him of bread and wine and life;

in all the dark chaos coming,
you shall be another kind of tree,
planted by rivers of water;
bearing fruit in your season,
your leaf shall not wither.
Receive this blessing
from one who blesses me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Story of Ms Sally Doe

She bought her lotioned perfume
with the proceeds of sin,
bought it for herself,
a little luxury, a little something
in an alabaster box
for the wizened days that come.

the men paid, some dearly,
and she provided for herself
a little bit of her dream,
compensation for the shame,
the shame.

But then he came,
the dream in person,
the flesh, focused, restated,
the dream made holy even,
the dream whose fulfillment
now she knew, seeing it,
she could never possess by seduction
or put in an alabaster box.

He was a glory she had given herself to follow
before she had met him,
a breaking revelation pouring out of herself,
the broken stone leaking costly perfume
over him,
suddenly knowing she had sinned,
fallen far short,
and what it was, a breaking,
sinned against herself, her vision,
against the whole world.

She washed his feet with her tears,
with her perfume,
she knew her only hope,
his foregiveness;

and in front of all the men,
without shame,
he understood,
simply forgave.

In front of all the men,
without shame,
she understood,
was born again.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Almost Fundless

Bus travelers in winter
are made to feel
like second class citizens
as they are locked out of the depot
at thirty below
between departures,
made to wander about
the frozen city
while hauling bags and sick kids
looking for a warm lobby
to invade since almost fundless,
In them one could see the holy family
looking for a stable.
I find a classy coffee shop,
over warm coffee and cake--
what is this feeling,
almost of guilt--
I write to you
from between worlds.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Teach Us To Number Our Days

The sun was golden and rising,
the gardens reverent in morning green,
draped in long shadows damp with dew,
the air was bowed and still,
and I found you in the expectant mausoleum,
templed of marble in creams and browns,
carved and ancient, a place for worship
and old sorrow,
a place patiently created for the one,
a traveler who might come to receive
wisdom freely given,
from an alms box open
to the reaching tattered soul.

I did not pass through,
I never left,
did not return to the old,
but moved in and began
to spend my days and nights
with you in your music
without any pounding beat,
that never pauses
even to breathe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Trees Only Grow

Rain showers pass with banks of rumbling clouds,
thunder grumbles in the distance;
it is Sunday afternoon with the world,
all is still, but eager flowers
burst up from the ground
and busy swallows catch mosquitoes
for their hungry fledglings.

Sunday afternoon:
but the conscience of the world
is restless and uneasy,
traffic noises tell me,
crowded places to eat and drink,
burgeoning casinos.

Sunday afternoon:
leaves each with her own voice
rustle in the wind
surge like the sea
and trees,
for cradles or crosses,
only grow.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Upon This Rock

Hard bones rise from edges of the sea,
slippery descending walls of stone,
smooth, rounded, grooved
refuge for tenacious life,

underestimated by iron hulls
wrecked upon them,
by waves of centuries
smashed upon them,
they rise, skeleton of the world
at low tide.

Not cultures, nor cities
in all their fine millenia
sail through them undestroyed.

What countless waves,
scouring sand,
wear of weakness away,

leave sculpted bones
skeleton of one unchanging,
original word.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Villa Montalvo

a Spanish estate
sculpted from California adobe,
red tiled roofs,windows deep set against the sun,
tiny panes, walls unpainted, golden,
tiles brick red, rough hewn oak beams
blackened by the seasons of one hundred years,

baking under the Saratoga blue canopy sky,
sun bathing along shores of manicured lawns,
peopled with valley oaks, junipers,
pyrocantha and sage;

marble sculptures, vineyards, arbours,
secret courtyards with fountains,
landscape terraced, climbing
into the Los Gatos hills,
slanted roofs resting at ascending levels
along winding brick paths,
every turn another page,
another aromatic scent
of boxwood, eucalyptus and sage,

leaves rustle, swelling in a monastery chorus
carried reverently by cool breezes
in the always burning sun;

every turn another echo of song,
music played, pictures painted,
chapters written.

Here a grand piano seen through
vine-framed windowpanes
in a darkened room,
there, an easel holding
work in progress;

Urns of stone,
overgrown with foliage,
sweet olive, purple plum,
stone benches for sitting,
wrought iron gates,
and fences ten feet tall;

Lemon trees laden with yellow fruit
stand on either side of a brick walk
framing a romanesque temple,
traces of the old empire even here,

a marble fountain,
four marble patricians
holding it between them;

a place of long history
rooted in Europe and native cultures,
the dreamlike story of old California
envisioned first by a teller of tales
in old Spain,

then dreamed alive
every generation again.