26 September 2007

coyote poem

a prologue to 'coyote poem'
to be posted
at all meetings
once the photocopying
budget is approved (action item)

first allegiance
second allegiance
more coyote
third allegiance
chorale practice
fourth allegiance
fifth allegiance
(hint: coyote likes life
stuffed with

preface to the coyote poem as requested by coyote

a past reference in
that fails

“Road Runner, the coyote's after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you're through.”

That coyote is really a crazy clown,
When will he learn he can never mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone,
Just runnin' down the road's his idea of having fun.

“this song, if you call it such,”
said coyote,
one eye watching the
ticker tape,
waiting for a ship
to come in,
“wants for intelligent rhymes,
a meter that doesnt feel
like the kind of wagon an
okie would build
just to get drunk in
and crash,” said coyote.
(coyote laughing)
said, “this ditty
shows a real lack
of knowledge.”

coyote said,
“i hate this song. ugggh.
it make me want to scream.”

coyote wears glasses that
make everything
and says
“pop music, pope music, poop music.”

coyote likes to listen -
the nuthatches and monk
trade licks.
its also true
is sometimes so lonesome -

yes, coyote cries.

coyote impersonates
smokey r.,
spins on his
heel – winks.
wags his well-groomed
coyote says, “really,
i'm sad.”

and now, coyote poem, proper

on the question of
where to dig one's den
said, “i fall
into the category of them
who say
if its draws you,
follow -
like the earth follows
the sun...”

coyote said
“dig your den
at home” and
coyote had to

after dark,
when its only
headlights and
taillights and
those bright yellow

head tilted,
tongue out
- “why do you
kill all those

looked over and
“your freeways are
why she dont love

“and that,” said
coyote, “ain't

coyote on edge,
looking over shoulder,
looking back, “can't you
think of something
good to say?”

coyote pissing
on the vinyl siding, cold fall
night, steam rising,
owl screeching
said, “there's enough in the
grocery store to last
me 300 years -
once you guys are
out of the

coyote's wet tongue,
licking - “wake up,
wake up -
i was only

coyote kind of worried,
kind of
sorry –
cant stop laughing.
“oh brother,” coyote
said, “i didnt
really mean

coyote under the stars
asked, “who doesn't
like old cheese? - who
doesn't want
a few extra
mice in the cupboard?”

meteors shooting
from the back of
coyote's head and
coyote said,
“ssshh! these new jokes
are sleeping.”

25 September 2007

3 poems of the first day of fall

first day of fall 1

this morning
elegances return -
2 big ravens circle those trees -
loudly engaged.
half the world is blue and half is grey.

yesterday we saw
three hermit thrushes in
the green dappled sun
of the last summer day.

first day of fall 2

its a day of dusty robins
our practices augmented
look into these black eyes
in the primary tongue we say,
timber - we say, let's see
cash - we say our time
is stolen - hold up these
centuries with this book
or that and now there are
two, more,
small eyes watching.
the anti-hero is
also a lie. you dont
need a tracheotomy
to know which way the wind
any chainsaw knows the tune.

first day of fall 3

fog on the hill top
some leaves are red, some turning -
i keep scaring birds.

the night arrives on
fifteen robin's wings - rain gossips
through yellowed leaves.

20 varied thrushes
flushed into the fogged lower limbs -
the sun on the sea.

What is spirit manifest?

briefly then, this essay was written in 2004. the statistic regarding the casualties among women and children in iraq is from the Lancet, the british medical journal published october of that year. 3 years of war and war crimes later, and that number has grown ten-fold. over a million iraqis have died as a result of this “war”. this essay appeared in the fulcrum, march 2005

Every sky is charged with meaning and calamity echoes through the night; - the morning news of death in Iraq. Commentators once talked exit strategy as if we were trapped in a house a-fire. Now there is only the roaring silence of stupefied resignation - as if we are lost in a dying world – and we are.
Worlds end. Puddles dry up. Species extinguish. Empires fall. Perfectly good ships are driven by storms to unfamiliar coasts and the bottom of the sea. Sometimes loss is mere loss – the sea swallows; each, but Ahab, understands that thunderstorms produce wind, rain and fire. We all know the difference between what is right and what is wrong. We know the difference between good times and bad.
I am not going to tell you that our culture is destructive - that it kills. What, about this world, isn’t known by all very well? This is not a matter of education, this predicament we are in. A choice has been made. Already too late for so many, we are now in the process of the long goodbye.
We must confront this simple fact; we have waited too long. Polar bears and seals and arctic nesting birds, terns and ducks and fulmars - to name but few - will likely be extinct or very near extinct at the end of our century. If we preserve them, we will have preserved a few individuals, imprisoned for their own protection. We are losing the arctic ice cap and right now, there is no solution.
We are losing the temperate rainforest - and the oceans and the deserts and the jungles and the plains. We hear news of this loss each day as we sit in our cars on jammed freeways and oil barons drop bombs on the fields of their dreams. Reuters news service ran a headline - arctic thaw could open vast oil and gas region, along with another that claimed arctic thaw may open ship lanes; but risks high – meanwhile, in California, they tried as terrorists kids who torched a few SUV’s
No more than a casual glance reveals the state as it is. Avaricious men rule the day. They care not what they destroy in their frenzy to plunder. They abide by no law and they speak in vulgar lies that would corrupt the ear and mind. Their ambition is bare. Their distortions lounge in plain sight. To believe them is to renounce all that we hold dear – the presence of beauty and the possibility of justice and the everlasting expansion of what it means to be alive. Witness the efforts to colonize our minds in the news of the day – to colonize each private spirit in each private home - to thwart and subvert and hitch to their plow the spirit, the hunger that moves us to act, and steal the growth meant for flower and fruit.
The scale of this crime is vast and it’s deep. Nowhere do we see a geography free of the footprint of these men. Central Asia, central America, south central LA, and everywhere else, are well within scope of their roving eye. Look at the threatened sky and the dying species and the lost hope for progress from the stolen rule of brutal monarchs to life lived for the purpose of being alive, each and every live thing.

If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man then I must restore it to him though I drown myself...but he that would save his life, in such a case, shall lose it. This people must cease to hold slaves and to make war on Mexico, though it cost them their existence as a people. – Henry Thoreau

Overwhelmingly sad as it is, it has come to this – we could have stopped our slow descent to present conditions a long time ago – we might not have made war on Mexico in 1846. We might have abolished slavery without recourse to bloody war. We did not. Instead we have accepted in its various forms the evil men do in pursuit of a diseased hunger’s fulfillment – instead we have allowed the same appetite that ruled kings and burned so-called witches to occupy our markets, our lands, our thoughts, and our hearts. George W Bush’s presidency is not legal – a supreme court ruling would not make it so; George W Bush’s presidency is a crime against democracy – against the people of this nation – George W Bush’s presidency is a crime against humanity - and against any higher authority of which I have ever heard.
We are killing and we are dying. No more war - no more cars - no more smokestacks into the sky. How much more obvious does this need to become? - as if the felon had some legitimate voice in his own disarmament. Arrest them if they try to stop us from stopping them from killing the earth. Arrest the asinine man installed in our white house as honestly as democracy has been installed in Iraq.
Any action by our government that isn’t at once the apprehension of George W Bush and his partners, bosses and underlings - Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rove, Ashcroft, Powell and Rice, et al, - and standing them before a court to be tried for their crimes is an action without meaning. The executive branch of our government is the branch that enforces the law and the branch that enforces the law must not be outlaws. If our government is unable to prevent this usurpation, this taking, this stealing, then our government is hollow and meets not our needs; we must change it by whatever means necessary that justice would prevail.
It is the gravest of insults to claim that George W Bush won the moral vote. Every thinking person is appalled. If we name those who kill moral, where do we stand in opposition? This, alone, exposes the election as a farce. No christian could accept 66,000* killed women and children as a christian act – certainly not christ. Bombing civilians! – as if christ had ever endorsed bombing soldiers – as if christ had left a list of who we might bomb and kill and whom we might not. Imagine the depths of convoluted thought required to assert the christianity of war – and think of young boys in art class drawing bombers with their cargo bay opened and yelling, bombs away!
They would if they could but they cannot own our souls; what cannot be bought can neither be sold. The good news is that we are always free – though that expression costs us our lives. Faced with any circumstance we choose our own path. Fight or run, submit or rebel and our freedom is intact. The surface of this world is not smooth. Box canyons and precipices and rocks the size of mountains may block our direction, yet still we are free. The truth of the world, the presence of all that we do and don’t see, never diminishes. We are always free to do what is right.
Actions ramify. Patterns emerge in unprecedented passage from here to here. While we never step into the same river twice each fresh stream rides the back of its mother – if only as an echo that sounds still and stiller and silent at last but for the fact that no amount of forgetfulness - willful or blithe - erases that world which gave the world we are living.
There is no flaw in consequence – night follows day – love follows love – grief follows loss – joy follows beauty – justice follows truth – these natural laws hold sway – nothing stays hid – footprints lead everywhere – everything moves – a movement toward or a movement away - and beauty and justice and just-what-is-so are always becoming, always arriving, as regular as the surf and as patterned besides - telling each just what each needs to know.
We reap what was sown. We sow the seeds gleaned from our harvest. If in twenty years the freeway ramp high outside my window wades up to its knees in the newly risen sea there will be no need to wonder why. The shushing surf in our ear each night will offer its testimony each moment, each day. I tell you each of us feel the wound in our lives and the sorrowful sky over this madly broken plane.
Violence and chaos are not our birthright. We are not helpless. We have somewhere to get to and eventually all that we see that is brutal and wrongheaded, all that is destructive and mean, all that is oppressed and thwarted, all of this will be accounted for, tallied and redressed. In this way are rights inseparable from natural law; - our visions of beauty and justice prove themselves; our thirst for freedom proves freedom’s cause. This is what is meant by a self-evident right. To demand that some live under a law that others do not, to give protection to some but not all - this is dispiriting, most literally and sublime.

I quietly declare war with the State, after my fashion, though I
will still make use and get advantage of her as I can, as is
usual in such cases. – Henry Thoreau

The time for action is now. We must disavow any tie to this illegal and monstrous machine that rolls through the world killing what it cannot enslave. In today’s news we learn of marines killing wounded prisoners; - in last month’s news it was marines killing civilians; - and in the month before that it was marines torturing their captives - and so on and so on, back through american lynchings and the original cultures that were simply although gruesomely, violently, evilly wiped from the land – and please let’s not forget the captives at guantanamo and the straightforward dismissal of all the conventions of international law – america is a rogue nation and our allegiance to it criminal.
A reckoning is due. Do we not have to repair the damage done? Amends must be made, after all. It cannot be true that there are too many people for justice to prevail, or that the people alive are the wrong ones. We have only each other. Each era has only those who walk and breathe. We are in a low row of blocks in this cathedral that we build. Have we any more idea about its completion than our red blood cells have about the thoughts that we could not think without them?
Political solutions have failed. A political solution to a crisis of spirit, or nature, makes as much sense as a mathematical solution to a pang of grief. Belief is action and action ramifies. I am saying that unless the first law recognizes the equality of live things and our need to ever expand that law's inclusiveness then I’m not very interested in any other laws that follow.
Freedom, and free will, dictate that true morality lives only within each person’s breast - that a moral enforced is worse than useless but crippling. How, exactly, might our nature require a class of priests or princes or police? - be they spiritual, economic, or thirsty for blood? This is where every church fails. As if we might get into heaven bullied by thugs, or through mediated mercy, or by virtue of any of the material blessings of man.
I know that I have not addressed very practical matters, such as, how to prevent cruelty today, but it seems that when my attention is on the things I’ve described, my actions in the world are improved - I become more just - I no longer see all other cars as traffic and myself the only true driver. Suddenly I am a center surrounded by centers circumscribed and ensphered, enspiraled and flung, as whole and complete as any other satellite of the sun, and the sun and its center, and the center around which it too flies, and that center’s bond to the beginning of time. Any hierarchy is a lie - there are no governed but those who consent or those who are violated. To live under a rule which does not exist is no easier and less valid than to live with no rule at all. Any hierarchy is an act of violence; any minority is a mob’s creation. There is a record long enough to see what makes us human. An evolutionary trend is easy to establish – we are growing, and we grow toward the sun, which shines without abandon on each extant thing - that what needs nourishment is each point of view. We are here to learn kindness and we are here to ease suffering and we are here to love beauty and tell ourselves tales about why this is so. We have an inborn right and need to grow - to become what we obviously are here to become - cognizant of each life's identical right. Who among us could ever arrange creation? - who tells whom who goes to heaven? No hierarchy can produce a just society. Eventually we must abandon the mob. Soon we will see our so-called consumer-culture as the worst kind of mob rule - giving not a glance to what is trampled and lost - and what is lost is so great - as everyone everywhere already knows and doesn't require me to tell them.
The despair of the last decades – at least since 1945 and twice dropping the bomb – is the despair of powerless witness to malevolence unrestrained. Allende assassinated by the CIA – MLK and Malcolm X and all the prisons holding the rest - the lie of the domino theory used to justify Viet Nam - the secret wars waged all along – Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Korea, the Philippines, Cuba, Peru – the list goes on and each item is but an example, each one sufficient to try and hang the guilty, but only an example of the deeper crime: those who operate this moneyed and corporate american government believe they have a right to their agenda; they believe collateral damage is a cost they can bear; they claim ownership over what cannot be owned, river, salmon, salt, sea, oil, bodies, land, forests, people, minds, hearts, bones.
The mounting losses, the mounting crimes, in any realm, in every realm, are raised to an un-sufferable load – already a mass extinction is underway. Our witness cannot be denied
It seems as if we have heard for so long that our own eyes and hearts cannot be believed – as if the history of lies somehow corrupts the truth – as if the fact of great crimes makes all action suspect - as if a betrayal of what is right proves righteousness wrong. We will not abdicate the only ground that we have. We owe no allegiance to an idiot king or the court that anoints him. We are not separated from the source of our lives, even if our society seems to have largely forgotten that its ladder leans on the branches it cuts; and we, assuredly, are not divorced from our own conscience. A mediated world and our government’s failure to protect itself from such horrifying abuse and George W Bush’s vulgar and clear disdain for life do not strip the world of meaning, least of all the meaning of right and wrong. We, who reject this sickening war, and all wars, who mourn the loss of so many animals and plants and places outside that devouring grasp; who very simply mourn the loss of the love of what is alive - we must know that we are right, motivated by affection not greed, by devotion not conquest, and that our cause is just. This era in history can lead only one way – away from destruction, ownership and greed. The war must stop. Another bomb must never fall – certainly not from the hand of the heart that needs justice and beauty and truth to prevail.
George W Bush is not the president, but the presidency’s destroyer. There is only one reason we live in so-called wartime: he wages it. His lies have cost hundreds of thousands of lives. George W Bush and his accomplices need to be isolated before they cause more harm – they cannot be trusted loose in the world, certainly not occupying the white house, the pentagon and the justice department (imagine! him in control of the department of justice; as if that alone doesn’t describe the truth of our government and the condition of our world)
All opposition to Bush is moral opposition. And eventually his lies will fail, as all lies do. His appropriation of god is at most blasphemy and blasphemy is powerless against what is true. We are safe when we say that his adherents are, at worst, as criminal as he, at best, deceived. What divides us from them is what divided the slave-owner from the slave and the abolitionist. Lines are drawn and in each sphere – as always, these lines lead straight to action – shapes revealed; what we see is what we get – what is spirit manifest, but a body, autonomous, that acts in this particular, actual world?

20 September 2007

fall ducks

fall ducks like
leaves onto
the small bays,
the lakes. a burst of
new life.

the barn swallows'
vacant nest -
a strange tug (already!)
from the next road.
this evening the inland sea
colludes with the wide
pacific and every bird
races toward some
sort of shelter -
its a day of startled
cries and
possible loons.

ravens will work,
and gulls, too,
on behalf of
the sun.
old kulshan is long
gone - now
she's known as mount

18 September 2007

at the bridge motel

dear dk

the view from crack balcony
to downtown is
if you like that sort of thing,
the city is burning itself into
another quotidian night and
there is always,
for some reason, more
room to toss
another log onto the fire -
look at the great
eminence on the hill
last night we listened to records
of a lost world
spun by our downstairs
neighbor - right now
through the floor
its the city of new orleans -
and again
and its beauty
does not diminish -
it hurt
to recall how much i had believed
that world of
the old tune promises -
i could list five songs right here
right now that
i took as articles of faith
and seen that faith
beaten if not crushed.

last night i saw two
fellas outside your
closed motel talking
and the one said to the other -
did you sell me that
album on
ebay? -
and it turns out that
yes, in fact
the two had met
in cyberspace -
an awkward moment passes
and flowers and becomes
a grinning business
handshake -
vigorous and with the opposite
hand shoulder grasp -
you'd of thought they'd
just invented manifest destiny
so anxious, and giddy and
were they.
one of them
is struggling with
studied 1956 -
and he's twenty-six -
he can't believe
none of us
has cigarettes.

the furniture comes
unglued in the rain.
and this morning on the
front page the
rate of them who jump
from the aurora bridge
means all pedestrians
must be denied -
buses, trucks, cars
just keep right on tumbling by
from a source plentiful and
on high -
here in room 11
there are poems i could have told you
years ago and i dont think you
would remember them today
i dont.
i see the long lines of cable
strung out from these walls
and beyond – the city at night said
what's his name, what's his name
you know, the guy from the doors
who made joan didion weak.

you get a strange glimpse
the fallingest down
you can get -
lets sit here now
awhile and see who
the real tourists are.

take care


16 September 2007

taken to the bridge, the beginning of the middle of california

right now i am in that old motel.
i am writing this from a bamboo desk and the walls
are not that sweet.

the walls (since i mention them) -
not exactly free of
discernible traces - need further
study -
there are forms and lines
no bureau could perceive.
we all need more time.
take the absent geranium -
the balcony 's lost sorrow and the
rush for speed that is
pure and soft as
o! the wind against
your cheek.

we wait for them
who will burn
the next room
and the realignment of our
on vectors that can
only converge -
are you digging
this transmission -
we wait for a shotgun and
a long
written road.
you find the meaning of
these birds in the
feathers of her
crowning achievement .
or you do not.
the moon is more than
a good idea -

we will never forget rue
mouffetard and chez franprix -
why leave this city? -
a ruthless baguette stands at the gate
and many fail to pass.
the roman soccer field and the way buildings
lean way back and touch
those lost deeds, the crusted and frozen jewels
and cigars soaked in the burnt language of
our lingering dreams - o the flash and bitter
streak against that morning and this
sunset clouded reminiscence
i am not afraid to tell anyone
that these rooms have my scent -
i have seen this one bad word at a time -
ive watched a clean surface punctured and wounded
until each glacier wept -
each for a daughter now lost - how?

have you seen the way eyes roll back until
everything is forced into the stall -
squeezed through the chute - we say its
humane (o this intrusion - this de-rarefied air -)
takes more in the tank than it carries.

spot on the interstate , that
mile long stain.

have we been to this very here
its the motel and the fast
stop. 9 or 19
miles to empty.
i've cleaned my windshield
now and again - sure, we all have -
i've taken
as breaths the sins
of the father - worn my
own skin to dust
on the machines of
our labor.
ive knocked mortar from bricks with
a chisel and a
each night
beneath the snow filled sky of some
mountain somewhere in the
its easier
than i thought
to get almost
anywhere but

if the headlights catch the bird in its teeth
its the way of the road to fill a blanket
with relief and let it lay with hard mittens
by the side of bleached grass.
mixed with piss,
this world can sting.
there are shipwrecks
you'll never know about -
each live thing
in turn
sliding down

have you seen the tail lights flash
and pull away and while you shake hands
with the king
of the delta who
sings the merciful truth
about the red light
and the blue
into everybody
turned toward the ground
and how starlings return with
these flames of that bird -
that dog is
no dog -
that dog,
my friend, is

this poem
cannot go on
but how
can it be stopped -
this is central
to the mission
as the mission
was conceived.

we are talking
about this spool of desire
and our widened hearts and
the way some carry what they can and
some what they cant.
nobody wants
to be the one
who smells likes a bad check -
i am writing this from
arena of that dismay, -
much later and filled
with feathers and that ancien regime
of eye
that you or you might explain -
its an uplift, they say
that made the
high cutting edge of the
sierra nevada -
yes real, yes real, yes real.

02 September 2007

on loss, unprecedented

1 - singular

i am thinking about what these days will mean in the
future -
i mean these days which i can't help

who could?

it isn't as if we are driving up and down i5
with all of our clothes in the
back of the station wagon and a
dog who once yearned to flush pheasant
from the bramble
now dreaming of rest stop
garbage cans.

maybe that's too specific

maybe i mean
less hopeful

maybe i mean the part
where you notice
you are falling from very high
high enough to give you
time to think about
and distance
and momentum and
and how an object in motion
tends to stay in motion
even when headed
for the dirt

and also how gravity
doesn't know -
doesn't care -
what it catches
as if the fact
that all
things fall
means all
things are

and this too

that somehow it matters - still -
what i do
as i fall

2 - unprecedented

we can start with polar bears -
we can start with freeways -

i am looking inside the old books
and i am going to be very happy to find
in one of them - or not even -
i would be happy
to learn from a magazine devoted
entirely to one
signal idea -

but happy is the point -

how happy i will
be when i find in one of the old books
or magazines
or pop hit chestnut from tin pan alley
or any alley at all -

i am saying
i don't care
where the clue
is buried

i am happy to find it

i am happy to find it

i am happy to find some kind of idea,
or suggestion regarding
what's to be done
when what needs to be saved
is lost -
a first hand account -
i mean
crying out loud