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i looked into the small room
at the front of the house
he was sitting very quietly
in the corner
he smiled warmly
and i sat down across from him
we sat there for quite a while
our breath was synchronized
nothing else was needed

someone else told me that
he often liked to squeeze
into tight corners
blending with the wall
if you took time to observe this
you might only notice an eye blink
or a slight nose twitch
that was enough for many minutes
or many years

much later i heard of his sudden passing
i was surprised to hear he was a cat
apparently he didn`t know i was a man


( for Max )

the tears flow constantly
                 they will not stop
                       the tears fall endlessly
                              there is no respite
the source of the tears is hidden
                                silence is lost in the cries

all those bodies
nothing can bring balance
                                  tragic insanity cannot be explained
                                  everywhere we are reminded of our failure
at the end of this long century
                                                                    perhaps some hope

there is no right; we must begin our search
digging through the ashes of decades
                               tears have almost stopped
                                                       more bodies fall and snap
                              tears overflow
                                                        into another waiting crevice

the president mimes horror
he raises his golf club and swings
                                                 tries to pretend extreme sorrow
an entire city turns its back
on counterfeit mourning
                         the president is absent from his body

as jobless crowds of people
                              scramble  for food
                              search for meager amounts of money
the secretary of state
                              stages lavish dinners for
                                          fat diplomats and fat wives
bodies continue to fall and rot
bodies are piled in block-long trucks
as mothers moan for daughters` deaths
as fathers see their wives and children falter
the virus is merciless
                     the virus has no boundaries

promises for food
                                 promises for money
children fall asleep
                                 in the arms of hunger
the old and feeble wait
                                 for the hand of help

in the distance congressmen
                             congratulate themselves for praise
senators advertise their glory
                              bills are proposed and forgotten
the virus plows fields of death
                              the virus clothes itself in mystery
    
all the pledges that are sung each year
             fall upon faces of disbelief
                              all the promises that stare into emptiness
                              drop and crumble into nothing
                              suffering is ignored                                            
                              death is for the poor

the heroes are the doctors, the nurses
                                  who stare into the face of death
the assistants who sweat into the arms of danger
who forget sleep and continue to move
                                the courageous workmen are pushing carts
             everyone            cleans everything all day

this is the century for never ending litanies
constant tears                           save our souls
endless crying                           save our souls
all these bodies                         god have mercy
                             the edge of insanity                  mary help
                             for all our failures                     jesus help us
                             an ounce of hope                       bless us buddha
the absent president,     give him understanding,     food for the poor,
lead us lord     for all politicians,     show them light     jobs for the 
jobless     understanding for the white house,     open their hearts
for all the fallen bodies,     lead them lord     for the troops of healing,
endless mercy     for the old and helpless,     lead them lord     for
the                          smash the virus     strength oh jesus
                                dissolve the virus   strength oh buddha
                                 drown the virus     strength oh god
                                 burn the virus         squash them mary
may the virus leave     may the virus explode     may the virus disappear
death to the virus     death to the virus     death to the virus   death to the
virus
                     

                           
                     

that very old, old tree
in front of marcia's house
she shakes all her leaves
when the wind blows fast
speaks with many tongues
speaks to all things
in bernal heights

several years past
she almost lost her living
during fierce, rainy windstorms
her branches creaked
and began to crack

marcia saw the danger
jumped into the fury without fear
tied the branches together
so the tree could stay upright
an important being was saved

when marcia passes by
the tree sings thousands of gratitudes
and dances hundreds of chinese dragon parades
there is a bond beyond wood, beyond flesh



that old tree tells many tales
but none so true
as the tree and the woman

above my bed there hangs a quilt
of mostly shining silk
made by my grandmother
from pieces of dresses, scarves and ties
made with farmer’s hands
strong fingers
that could stitch
until the light of day moved to darkness
many squares from many lives
energy left from countless moments
holding times of joy and sadness
squares from old worn material


above my bed there hangs a quilt
of bold designs and faded pastels
when i lie down and sink into my body
everything moves to quiet and gone
the quilt doesn’t know this
doesn’t know that i am there
i listen to the words of the pieces
thoughts of ties, scarves, dresses
my grandmother’s loving eyes are there
my grandfather’s sweat lingers
different shades resurrected
worn water colors
flow into a magnificent pastiche
reflecting several decades
a melange of many moods


the treasure was handed to me in an old plastic bag
when it touched my hand
it became an heirloom
she smiled as she handed it to me
“i have only one request—
no cat shall sleep on it.”
the next evening
when the quilt covered my bed
our cat, Lacey,
already claimed it as her own

this was the time to believe
this was the time to search
those who trusted their thoughts
those who were sure of soul
those who cried in their emptiness
there was nothing as no belief

one person cried aloud
another knelt in the tears
another prostrated helplessly
one by one they accepted
some kind of belief
they all faced the east

they all began to flow together
their was nothing else to do
they all opened their hearts
they were unaware of their deed
it was the only way to survive
the spirits continued to chant

in the east a dim light
began to spread toward love
surrender to the sun
the rising sun
embrace the healing
the pulse of everyone was touched
the moon it is
so bright, bright, bright
planet flare is everywhere
stars are chasing all the glimmer
like a magic light, light, light

shadows on the moon are giants
walking to the milky way
no more time to sit and stare
jump into the air, air, air
universe is anywhere
bright, light, air
air, light, bright
bright, air, light

i saw your special self fly by
grabbed your flapping wings

as we lifted above the trees
you opened a wide smile
guessing it might be me
singing a song of celebration
hoping that we could dance
through sparkling clouds
we
headed
toward
a rainbow

you wiggled and i lost
hold
tumbled onto the rainbow
slid along its
glorious arch

i heard you laugh
as i landed on your birthday

i dreamt  i slept
upon lilacs
and all around
was the smell of purple
i thought it would vanish
if even one thought should stray

i dreamt i slept
within lilacs
rosey flowers stroked my hand
and kissed softness
upon
my lips
sing your song oh blessed one

the air was filled       
                    with light bright petals
my senses burst with ecstasy 
                                             
 the far-off city
                                      moaned with grief
                        the world was deep

                        in crying
                        i could not run away
                                                                                   


i dreamt i slept beneath lilacs
   the          song             stuck in my brain
i turned to touch the lilacs
i turned to touch the pain
                                the    lilacs disappeared
                                they                       melted  into    fear

                   
          
                                        
        
it`s just a glass of water
with lemon
throw it away

the lemon giggled
the glass was silent
the water was angry

don`t they realize
what we are
the source of all thoughts

we are the egg and the chicken
                   the chicken and the egg
everything can be found here

it will happen but
so many centuries have dissolved
we must be patient           we know

walk away, walk away
i can feel the spirits
all around me
it’s very crowded but
we all move
are we walking
toward the vast space?
the open carpet of stars?
it’s very frightening
but i’m told i’m going home
it feels as though i’m
walking away from
all that i know
i look behind
for someone to help
t here’s no one
t here
it’s a vast void
thoughts are falling
from my brain
disappearing disappearing

walkaway
walkaway