grandfather rattlesnake

i don’t know if there is anything like a cherokee poetry.  i do know that cherokees write poetry, and do so in all the forms they wish to.  i have indulged my fancy in many ways in the following pages.

i have included a special seven line form which i explain on the back cover of this book.  i have included several different sonnet forms and linked quatrains and even some acrostics.

some may not be acquainted with the korean sijo form which i have come to love.  in general this form consists of six lines of poetry with the first four lines in a three-four syllable format (or vice-versa) with the concluding two lines in a varied rhythm.  it is the cultural backbone of korean poetry and most every korean knows many of the classical poems and sing them as they are meant to be understood.

the koreans invented their own written language as did the cherokee.  they use a syllabary also.  they call their’s hangul. i find it a very congenial form.

and the various formal structures of these poems (and the more idiosyncratic and splintered forms) reflect one of the lesson of the medicine wheel, that one should travel around the circle to look at things from different perspectives and perceive reality through different directions of approach.

and i have lived long enough to be a 21st century man.

grandfather rattlesnake
nuyagi, january 7, 2011



first lines

poetic forms are battlefields
there are no truths, there are only stories
blood is only blood
a gust of cold shrinks neck beneath the fold
choose each time     to be a moment
a spitting rain and fretful wind
a fuzzy headed cardinal
you don’t remember
whatever importance
there’s a cardinal down a few trees from me
the women gather now
the swooping bird, the mocking bird
the only thing i have to leave
the first animal i imagined– saw
the cardinal swooped down into the yard
snuffle deep in the stink of me
rocks have their stories to tell to the stars
salty slush of urban snow
my mother died last night
my father took care of everyone
my father bred his animals
my father taught patience
my father told me about memory
huuh yuh, softly
a man stomped an ant hill the other day
when a man is fully aware of all living creatures
i’ve worked myself into a fine war party
i know the circles of heaven
fancy dancing is an art
among the haudenosaunee
wisdom takes practice
wisdom takes practice
i am an indian, an american indian
trickster is medicine
this now is my memory
there was a time when my blood ran hot
the most difficult thing
the grass still grows
the careful watching to catch the drift
our ways were never secret
our way of life as keetoowah
moccasins report concrete, unyielding
if you keep the turtle tracks in mind
if winter is the family’s time to talk
once when i was young i ran in the rain
i live on the edge
i studied with a wise woman who brought the craft of weaving
i want a primeval nose
i have some time these days
i become the spirit of the game
i am the sun
how thank the life that we feed on
early light, mist rising, down to water’s edge
why do i want to know why
in my loneliness the gift of song has come
i wonder when was last i ate
water seeps into the ground
we are going to the orchard to sing, don’t forget your guitar
the spirit gives me the joy and splendor i crave
stories in the stars are gates to the sky
strip bare your heart, throw its clothes in the ditch
sometimes i go the long way around
outside my protectments the wild things live
little one who asks to come to wisdom
it’s a cruel sad day in amarillo
i worship the self of earth ordained
i lost all my odes and love poems to the water
i learned long ago that the river knows
i am the firekeeper who kindles the fire of truth
i can never know the truth of the earth’s creation
the spirit which placed fire in my spirit
i consume enough roughage
i dance a waltz through the rooms of night
i decided to hunt for the rabbit til i found him
i got a buffalo nickel in my change today
i climbed the mountain of my life and am almost back down
for a while when i was young i prospered
dive to the bottom of your river
we plumbed the ground that winter
blanket bundles, clattering pots and pans
the ridge speaks
the ridge speaks to his son
ridge, a young man, speaks in council for the first time
i know when i see those others
doublehead enters
duet the ridge and susanna
wait in fear wait in silence
war is come         dig through rubble
yesterday                go  broad crash wave
settle down         water run pool
sit and wait         as a mountain
steaming breath      mist grey morning
summer green         yet a dreaming
sun so pure          startle color
pound on pound      go our fists down
late spring day       steal first feeling
blue sky hidden        phantom sky
autumn sky           puffs cold magic
anger red            start and startle
cool wind gusting      whipping tree
does the flower grow
eye to rome         tall and squalid
greying drops           on stained concrete
spring I
spring II
spring III
spring IV
winter XI
winter XII
winter XIII
winter XIV
you know how you get when you’re waiting for an animal
words have a putative power
when i was growing up
when i was raw, when i was fresh
when younger i wished to talk to betters
water pools despite one’s caring
to want it that much
time idles as i open my appliance
the sun peeks out from its place of growing
the words came flat and cold, unbidden
thinking, thoughts, thinking, imagining
i reached back through my feelings
the litany of birds at dawn
singularity of shell is the gift of fate
that’s the accuracy
the cursed weather still makes me ache
JT was a paratrooper in dubya dubya two
memory is this body’s trap of sense
my animal nature has always shone
my cave has its glimpse of sky
my suppleness is long now gone
my window is double and wide
i’m sitting with my poncho, the alpaca one
i stand at the stove
i stare from within
i wonder if the middle of the stream
i hear a crickle in the fluorescent lights
five thousand steps one at a time
form follows function
forms become elegant in their uses
attention now is the past remembered
the order of brilliance is the web fresh caught
the skewness of tomorrow is today’s world
old frayed shirts are my favorite to wear
one cold november when air was sweet
rain stains the silver of my soul
i was wondering again
i am new
‘tis but a pittance that i feel
general competence of self
a patience of place is dwell time
their god is dead, he died one day.
a sputtering sun lifts hints of leaves
yellow grass of autumn flowers
i always wanted to be somebody important
i am a creature of my place
it’s an effulgent sail in this soft breeze
my cave has light these lately evenings
the nurturing river runs in sweetness
the song i sing transfigures our first parting
the spring holds back from its promise of warmth
the sundays of this fall seem far too warm
until you’ve worn the horns
an arabesque within the whirling hands
an old white man
earth is teasing me these days
how imagine an ancestor you’ve never known
i raise my floor from the earth
i sail upon a sea of glory
i’m not sorry i haven’t solved the three body problem
in imagining a new early life
old air stains my lungs with its dusty taste
once again pregnant sun dispels the mists
the earth was mushroom
the oil of midnight lamp dimly thinks
this morning’s sky is thick dark cloud
what my grandmother became is beyond me
he returned home to see




poetic forms are battlefields
they are fought over by those who care
and those who wish to be new and better
are often hamstrung by adherence to form

the sonnet is a cage in question
it has its rhythm and its rhyme
fourteen lines in two parts
an octet thought then response of six

if cut in half it might be better
more tsalagi if that’s the theme
a quatrain fullness broad and thoughtful
a tercet short to answer…seven




there are no truths, there are only stories
there are no lies because stories change
they change with time and with forgetting
they change to fit what we wish to know

there are the people, they are for always
they always change to remain the same
we hear their lives when we hear their stories
they change to fit what time will know

the children listen to what we tell them
they then become what they then become
their lives are bent by what they’re facing
they change to fit the time they grow

they fit the new in an existing plan
they see the colors they understand
they feel emotion that fits their mold
they hear the songs they already know

there are no truths, there are only stories
there are no lies because stories change
they change with time and with forgetting
they change to fit what we wish to know




blood is only blood
my father would say
blood tells

i’ve tried to find my blood
in terms i understand
whole blood
half blood

blood is only blood
in terms i understand

and my mother would nod
as if to say
but i don’t tell
the secrets of the blood
i just know
that things will change
and blood be only blood
that bleeds

i’ve tried to find my blood
in terms i understand
of whole death
and final say—
and half-red blood
is only blood




a gust of cold shrinks neck beneath the fold
careful steps lead down the slippery bank
a need to find the moving water’s soul
kept purpose steady, focused—  mind on hold

dawn is just a moment still to wait
all is hushed, time waits full in time’s new birth
the red of gold starts up from eastward flowing
wade right in and make the flesh its mating

i wonder fresh an eternal question
why downhill run still leads to highest thought
why do we always send our roots to earth

when what we want and wish as station
climbs above, invigorates the all that’s sought
insures that eyes will elevate their search




choose each time     to be a moment
choose each place    to be a where

choose a home        to be yours only
choose your heart    to be the door

widely open          to see sun’s coming
wisely shut          this night so cold




a spitting rain and fretful wind
spots the glass of all my seeing
blurs the edge of where i am
drives me deep into my being

i stop and look at moon
i stop and feel cool breeze
lift the skirts of locust trees




a fuzzy headed cardinal
blares redly on the roof
he chirrs his seldom being
aloft, on top, and free

he sometimes comes to visit
and then quite low, and still
not bobbing in his burbling
in sun’s hot flash of thrill

but there he is this moment
as glasses help my gaze
he nests quite near to home here
and warms my present days




you don’t remember
what you do

you don’t
remember what you do

you don’t remember
what you do remember




whatever importance
is accepted as important
by the privileged
by the close chosen few

is class
and for class one may substitute
any privilege
race or whatever

and closeness to importance
race or whatever
is class

so how i gulp and eat
how the inuit shares his wife
how clean i keep my nose
in our eyes
has no bearing
except for privilege
denied me for breaking
accepted pattern of importance

and so we talk
and create closeness
by sharing ideas of importance

patterns of importance

and so i write
sophisticated abstraction of pattern
to chant
important things




there’s a cardinal down a few trees from me
down to the left out the back window
beyond my craning sight

it sings the song i know of
down below my thoughts of care
far beyond what i recall

the red bird sings in crowning
top feathers spread, unfurled
tossed in their maleness, flaunted




the women gather now
in ghetto flats
for beadwork for the poor
for funding the new fighters

the women gather now
to fight alone
without men
and with themselves

my mother rarely talked
of gathering
or family friends
or beadwork

my mother talked of changing
to fight alone
without her
and with myself

the women gather now
and gathering
will talk of newborn will

to fight alone without me
to talk of change
and churn their beadwork

my mother hated strangers
my mother rarely talked
she talked to me of changing




the swooping bird, the mocking bird
atwitter with all his songs
and again from tippy top of tree
another, a better, melody

my morning walk to greet the news
the dawn of all that is to come
made graceful now for me
in tree and bird, song and glee




the only thing i have to leave
is the memory of me
is particular event refracted

i can shape those thoughts
i can tell the ones i love
when i feel most proud
i can ease the river current

but there is no me
in future water trace
i am now

my children grow
they reflect me beyond
where i should know
i keep them with care
then i let them go

they know wherein they should grow
it is their life
i love them so

and thoughts today
begin the way
i slowly walk
and sometimes talk
creating memories yet




the first animal i imagined– saw
or even felt i loved, was a black wolf
chosen by the earth to give me its paw
laughing as it vanished, turned away, aloof

an ephemeral thereness gone like that
unexpected when it came, when it appeared
dancing eyes were sad, the grin a diplomat
i became that awareness, i was speared

at most we can count on very few things
six twos, four threes, or one seven
chance colors it all, life is always strange

oh for commitment, a future tied neat with strings
the palpable foreordained as heaven
the problematic ever new in change




the cardinal swooped down into the yard
then high up within the bordering trees
and called to see what might be the answer
i listening hard heard only bees

again the call, again the wait
deep thoughts began to slowly stir
and pop in mind as soap suds will
my skew of mind began to purr

the sunlit lawn was limned in song
the flowers danced as gusts came down
and cooled my sweating chest at rest
the song again bounced all around

i reached out straight and touched the air
my feet held fast to the ground alone
my ears were tuned to this other where
and he called his love in trilling tone




snuffle deep in the stink of me
i am an animal
who doesn’t know how to live
burrowed deep in my sink of fears

i don’t know how to live
as an animal
i dream i keep traffic flowing with lights
and words
my master’s call
mechanical and learned

i can’t free the traffic
in my mind
so rational not free
flowing down in curling sleep
to dreams of when i was
an animal

sniffing proud my complex world
i sort
i straighten form
and weave a cloak of being

but covered now i lock my doors
and hunker in my clothes
under blanket haired by cats
i smell collected fears
from dreams of dreaded days
in twisted tossing nights

i snuggle down to see
just how i’ve lost the life
remembered as parent’s tears

a close repayment builds
slow as memory
i keep up with my arrears

i am an animal
who knows the whiff of freedom
born close in smell of night
i rise to face my day




rocks have their stories to tell to the stars
and they wait cold through long nights of the earth
cold clots of matter, with molten cauldron as birth
hard now, no change, except slowly through scars

each time i find another, i find passage
looking hard i see through scabrous rock
yielding through essence, through glacial massage
an inexorable changing, a shock

great stories throw an essence whole when told
echo hard in ritual memory’s runs
remembered exact, full, in quick tongue’s hold

old stories still most often the best ones
drawn out slowly, retold, til strongest are worn
exactly in happenstance, around neck, reborn




salty slush of urban snow
wets the boots of where i go
gusty wind stings face i know
woe enough for such as me

my father died this sunday last
no longer mine his voice of past
the forward now is what  i cast
i talk as though  it’s what  i see

this plodding gait is cold award
and somehow all i can record
i have no elder still on guard
now it’s  i who will be free

the direction though seems somehow wrong
life become this bitter song
i wander, cold;  oh, how long is long
this all that’s left for me to be




my mother died last night
in a way that she would want
at peace, with herself and with her world

this morning’s skies are clear
with a crystalline autumn cheer
that seeps beneath my cares
this mother earth still shares

my feet are slow and steady
in determined memory’s pace
i search surrounding clamor
for proper breathing space
beneath my feet
lies broken, splotchy, old concrete

a calm within descends
a certitude comes real
the time we have for spending
stops short each spinning wheel




my father took care of everyone
he went around to ask
exactly what was needed
with an awkward shambling gait
inside his words

but balanced straight and handsome
he walked a quiet path
outwards to those he knew

he watched and quiet offered
the things he knew would help
from careful mask of noting
what each and all they did

my father took care




my father bred his animals
he picked the cross to be
and plants as well

but plants are slow
so i watched his animals

his pigeons, dogs, and kittens
the water pond so bright
aquariums of action
and breeding tanks at night

my father bred so we could see the breeding




my father taught patience
he taught me how to fish
to creep up slow with whispers
to watch the cork in silence
in focussed now of zen

he knew not why he taught us
so instinctive was his drive
to make us sure in oneness
of all our striving cores

i buckled up the cane poles
tied fast on driver’s side
my job to make all road tight
for the drive to river pool

i hunkered down all quiet
i watched the rippling current
and lost my left foot fidget
in readiness to kill

to set a hook in wildness
to pick a slithery creature
from out its liquid depths
to final proof of eating




my father told me about memory
it was when he showed me the camera
how its memory was total and complete
but just for that fleeting exactment of time

he said my job was to brain remember
and to do it with all the tools out there
but basically brain memory since it is always at hand
if practiced and worked at like mimicry

he remembered episodically as we all do
and ordered associatively, by small exact correspondence
some trigger to the fullness of the past
to the tale telling exactness of the complex story

that’s what we have left, photographs
and written translations of memories
some shards of windows into his life
brief glimpses of stories he left part told




huuh yuh, softly
my father would huff
when he despaired other’s understanding
what else could he do to explain
why can’t they understand

he never said it much to me
huuh yuh, softly

he said it aloud
pay attention
don’t make me explain

be quiet
figure it out quickly
then do

hand me that tool
when i need it
not when you are told
huuh yuh

my father would go back to fixing
cleaning out the gutters after rain
preparing for the next big flood




a man stomped an ant hill the other day
to watch the critters run away

they ran around, and then aground
ran all over to their sacred ground

the place they were and  the way they lived
the practiced social niceties

the smells of rank the ordering
the useful castes kept true, distinct

until other force came stomping round
to smash the world of all their ground

those small quaint others way off down there
beneath the feet of all my own

we who walk the earth with clumsy stride
where oh where can the ants go hide




when a man is fully aware of all living creatures
he lives, his life is as true as nature
as the happiest fish in the deepest pool
as the fully leafed tree inviting all birds

an old man accepts his fate, frail or sick
it wouldn’t be better were he rich or important
the bones get up to walk in cold weather
the mouth tastes, chews the coarse meal of morning




i’ve worked myself into a fine war party
i saw something like that on the tv last night
the mystic warrior was there for the multitude
i’ve worked myself into a fine war party

i’ve decided to revert to my simple self
i will retaliate totally
i will bash old women in the side of the head
to intimidate my neighbor

i will paint myself in ritual death mask
i will kill
in a perpetual summer of growing up
i will kill
in a ritual manner

i will keep two women
and wonder why they care
and poke the fire
with my male friends in laughing anger
at having too many women
and not enough sex

i will keep two women
and favor one
and expect ease and contentment from the other

old black joe in feathers, i say
fart and smile, i say

i’m a primitive man, i say
and i live close to the ground
not riding high on a white pony
with a fire in my eye

i watch the ant
clear the ground

i watch a spider’s
cornered web

i will weave a small completeness
i will gather with my own

i’m a primitive man, you see
and i live close to the ground




i know the circles of heaven
and the sun is finally turning north
every morning more so
a little longer it will light my way

but dim and grey is what the cold is
water caught and made opaque
in crustal wonder of its magic
til life and warmth is thawed, reborn

i know this mist and all its coughing
its clammy grasp in throat, its rasp
it yields to brightness, color wrapping
a bird in feather red to glow

i know the summer lies off yonder
know that heat will sweat, and i will curse
the very day i wished for sunshine
to hurry back and make things green




fancy dancing is an art
of maintained balance within rules

and those rules are to attract
as a male stands his ground, grouse proud
that’s a lesson in sex for the young
proudness of male standing, male ground

but the learning is by the looking
quiet, sneaking on the animals
to see them as they are
animals that sing

that sing one to another
in body’s swinging tone
a full and artful being
each group that loves alone

that feels as group and flaunts it
the each to other self
in breeding, learned behavior
genetic sameness shown

in air that thickens knowing
in quickened choice of self
the mating now becoming
the choice as steep as cliff

once more to step beyond it
and guide the future’s hand
to seek the thrust of thunder
once more to share the land

with those who come forth after
we’ve kept the place a while
before we go up yonder
while leaving habit plan

a way to know when knowing
is more than just to do
the right thing for the moment
but to do it through and through

for all the group’s involvement
that they should live, be proud
as the one stepping, showing
fancy dancing body loud

so shut, shut the saying
and spin upon the grass
that beards our giving mother
that cushions each our leaps




among the haudenosaunee

i remember listening to a special one
chosen by the mother’s to speak to us all
his eyes had the glitter of just having won
just having thought of the truth that he told

he apologized for bringing this power to his saying
he knew it was asking for the best ears we had
best eyes, best nose, best mind we had brought there
to the place where he was, we were all in his thrall

i knew then i’d made it back far enough
to feel what my father’s had felt in their time
how special such strength is when it’s given
how precious now was his gift to us all




wisdom takes practice
it must be made habit
automatic, unthought
a distillation of breaths
a fermentation under control

wisdom takes time
it must be dwelt upon
for a moment and for ever
a recollection of thoughts
a congery made to order

wisdom takes a leap
it must be a novelty
for the jaded, for the quick
the close cut fingernail
the stabbing hold on life




wisdom takes practice
wisdom takes time
wisdom takes a leap

it must be made habit
it must be dwelt upon
it must be a novelty

automatic, unthought
for a moment and forever
for the jaded, for the quick

a distillation of breaths
a recollection of thoughts
the close cut fingernail

a fermentation under control
a congery made to order
the stabbing hold on life




i am an indian, an american indian
and you must pardon me sometimes
because i  think systemically, systematically
to the entire whole that i can imagine
in order to understand
i search for larger pattern
within the now
while focussed on the now

i am sitting doing with my hands
and looking around with the corners of my eyes
with the round force fields of my mind
attenuated by distance but there
still there in that rush of memory
made full as what i do

i type a slow-born message
slow rhythm with my feet
which stretch and stride beneath me
while i glance about my room
and feel the breeze come darkling
the thunderclouds come home

i conjure what i’m thinking
make it real as real can be
to see and taste the future
i live and it lives too

i think of earth her grinding
when rocks get smaller, smoothed
crushed and strewn
around, about, as playthings
for use by such as we
earthlings all
when we’re new
new enough for fighting
and lithe in body too
we seek  to laze the evening
as i here am wont to do

i am an indian
an american indian
not young
but with a firelit sense of pride
in my tsalagi ways
and nothing but an indian
asked always how that feels




trickster is medicine
masking true divinity of actual event
making palimpsest suffice for deed
an echo making sense of sound

rattle tent when a spirit walks by
inside believe what you believe
but confidence is the name of the game
and where it’s bred it’s found

a troubled soul seeks solidity
in a cleansing of the sense of shame
the bulbous prick of goat skin flailed
by ugly grotesque friendly clown

the song itself begins as frail
as palsies of the normal brain
then grunts and snorts, and then the fool
puts wayward feet back on the ground

a booger indeed




this now is my memory
of how to live and to have lived
a photograph of indians
american circa eighteen ought sixty

and there they sit in the sun
shouldered with blankets
blankness not there in stare direct
but the focus of always

they bare what they wear on their neck
a bead, or a whistle, or always
when health is an issue of means

the ones who are medicine dangle
a tweezer to hold fast between
metal and fine in its end points
the both that always catch same

they need that smallness of effort
when the flutters of life feather home
the quick and the accurate touching
those problems which trauma can bring

the illness of soul takes an image
the pieces of joy hold a theme
i can the smallest grab hold of
and holding i hold on to seem

the knowing of how it will turn out
and what if at all it should mean
the capture of image is joy hold
on all  i might seem now to  mean





there was a time when my blood ran hot
my limbs were lithe in their early spring
that was the time when i took my shot
to bring life’s bell to a thrilling ring

i know this now as my thoughts grow old
that what that was was my chemistry
the well run road that  my father’s told
by their mastery of the mystery

i accept what is and hoe the ground
i live upon, it’s where i belong
i walk the road that’s been walked before

i look behind then i look around
i think a while then i sing my song
then when i look i can see the more





the most difficult thing i thought
was what i was doing with my body
i acted like those around me
so many clues hidden
i kept quiet

i swallowed self in stalking absence of motion
no attention gathering action
no practiced show of self

i swallowed self
and i never unfroze
became compulsive stillness
silent mirror strength
hunter’s eyes

i watched for pattern to emerge
i took advantage
i swallowed self as i was taught
to kill the game
the particular game i sought

hunt, fish, survive
plant scallions
bring to table to share
bring quietly
so as not to be seen bringing

but those others are frightening
they overwhelm with power
they wreak havoc
i must become like them
only second best




the grass still grows
the waters run
the rivers sink
in tears

i live today
in this man’s land
my feelings melt
as fears

i see white men
their words cascade
my memory tongues
my ears




the careful watching to catch the drift
then the binding up with care
the doing in the forward rush
of feeling’s flow

the careful pitching of the vocal cords
that bind the bird of melody
to fit within the river’s course
of the life i know

the careful wording of the prayer here
to carry all the cares i’ve brought
to free at last at water’s edge
of downward go

the careful touching so as not to lose
the wherewithal that’s gathered round
and kept within the tongue’s long walk
in campfire glow

the careful burning of the sage to heal
the holy sense of circle, earth
to keep within the heart’s sweet hold
on why it’s so




our ways were never secret

our ways were never secret til heaven found our way
we kept our sense of rightness deep hidden, deep within
hard, closed, and secret knowledge that burrows to the heart

we settled on the rivers so water flow was near
repeating every moment what water sweetly knows
on down the hill of bending to meet life as it comes
needing nothing gladly and facing what that is
gliding swiftly softness in nature’s liquid thrill

some of us would argue as to how we got to here
our memories pulsing out their inner truths hard-won
memories steely shined with thinking through and through
etched in symbol’s brightness aglitter in the sun

some of us would say our tangle is our skin
our pull and tug on others pulsing deep within
matching blood and being in living out today

our ways were never secret til heaven found our way
we kept our sense of rightness deep hidden, deep within
hard, closed, and secret knowledge that burrows to the heart





our way of life as keetoowah

every person must find the center of their personhood, and work to understand that

every person should also find the center of family, and work to understand that

every person should remember the fact of their being tsalagi, and work to understand that

every person should remember that they are simply human, and work to understand the sharing of that state of being human

we the keetoowah who live in and around nuyagi pledge to uphold the following seven sacred obligations

1) we pledge to focus on the following things we share with all humanity, and thus to make ourselves more human for our sharing them
a. our language and the richness of our being
b. our song
c. our dance
d. our hands

2) we pledge to practice education as a means of
a. finding our center
b. recognizing the strengths of self
c. recognizing the weaknesses of self
d. understanding the practice of self improvement

3) we pledge to always remember that we are tsalagi and to
a. study our history and thus preserve it
b. study our language and thus speak it
c. study our teachings and thus live them
d. study our people and thus help them

4) we are keetoowah and practice our duties
a. to take care of our self for we strive to be no burden
b. to take care of our family for we strive to see our bloodlines thrive
c. to take care of other tsalagi for in their survival lies our survival
d. to take care of the circle of life for we recognize our common mother earth

5) in being tsalagi we practice leading others
a. in taking heed of the seven great rituals
b. in coming together at the new moon
c. in focusing self in self ritual
d. in taking care of mother earth

6) we are keetoowah
a. our way is worth preserving
b. our way is worth practicing
c. our way is worth protecting
d. our way is our way

7) we as keetoowah recognize the all-being
a. in our moderation and calmness
b. in our practiced awareness
c. in our habit of reverence
d. in our respect for others
e. in our fullness of living
f. in our fullness of giving
g. in our searching for truth

we pledge ourselves to these seven ends
we pledge ourselves to these seven ends
we pledge ourselves to these seven ends
we pledge ourselves to these seven ends





moccasins report concrete, unyielding
rains run swift into grated holes
roots are here in these squares of difference
deep in mind, nowhere else to go

fruits that form exit my fingers
pecking away at syntactic form
blinking light keeps the pathway
breathing words, unheard but seen

the world i knew and all it brought forth
gone long behind the change i’ve known
now i speak into a darkened future
a smaller world with narrowed ears

people hear what blares before them
sent loud and clear from corporate mind
deafness descends,  defeats all magic
perverts my song and tears my voice

so i keep to myself words of power
that echo long in my heart their pain
i cannot tell the truth to those others
they listen not to my silent rain





if you keep the turtle tracks in mind
you raise the rabbits in your brain
that hop to glory each time untamed
and flash as mirror catches sun

if you can track from back til start
then mind can follow depth of heart
that echoes essence in each its part
til all the whole is on the cart
if you keep those turtle tracks in mind

if you can throw your net past fish
that run away toward you swish
and end tattooed on your bright dish
that overflows; if that’s all you wish
you raise those rabbits in your brain

if you can sing an always song
that ripples steep, that ripples long
so every step is high bell rung
each day that matters, each hour sung
will hop to glory each time untamed

if you can laugh a cauldron full
to cast a spell that skewers true
and hits the point with arrow’s sting
each quivering moment has its own ring
and flashes mirror catching sun





if winter is the family’s time to talk
rechewing what summer held in its teeth
i’m preparing now for the coming winter’s sleep
in day’s collapse of glory in evening walk

if winter, when it comes, will stretch to fill
the time of complex story exactly told
so all can hear and wonder how to hold
the earth itself; to quiet down, to listen… still–

i will listen to the stories of those who know
who’ve lived life full and long enough
to tell it straight so feelings show

i will wonder fresh a coming white of snow
of cold outside the human snugly cell
the growth that’s born again in children’s glow





once when i was young i ran in the rain
down to the river, slipping, sliding down
each drop splashed into me, into the ground
free running slice in a free running grain

once when i was bouncing grin of the wind
running fresh as spring’s sweet morning mist
each leap was love, was life, was morning kissed
lightly kissed in rush round corner’s bend

i see him now, that dart down long ago
space was morning stride, down to kiss the sea
arching in the shot to find the living core

once i felt like him, all at once to know
death is love denied, life is love set free
each and every morning the water seeks the shore





i live on the edge
of a mockingbird’s run
and i whistle to let him know

i whistle bird
and i whistle people
he waits
then sings his songs

i listen close when he flies out onward
to the other, the side away
and sings a song he’s learned
but not quite

he sings a man
who sings away





i studied with a wise woman who brought the craft of weaving
the threads of my life became a fibrous bundle of soul
now the wily daughter of earth spins beguiling sense of truth
the green smell of grass, the fit of the turkey gobble

my hands breed pattern in the willows
shape all i see so i can live
i touch the earth with all her blessings





i want a primeval nose
that smells a pagan richness
i want a fertile land
that nurtures fertile seed

i want a primeval eye
that sees through screen of danger
i want an autumn hue
to fill my barns of need

i want primeval ears
to lend hands to guitar’s song
i want a dance to set the mood
when i bare my heart to bleed

i want a primeval touch
that feels the vibrance of all spirits
i want a food that fills my longing
so i see deeper when i read

i want a primeval taste
that tells what death still gives me
other than mere meat to chew on
i seek the freshness in earth’s mead





i have some time these days
i can herd my turtles of thought
those that have stuck to me all these years

they run as deep and as slow as loggerheads
and as slashing as red eared sliders
but always in and around water

no terrapins have i in my bank
no dry slogs of desert earth of heat
no ponderous plodding gait

just captured moments in their flesh
directions clearly seen
a swimming tank of dreams





i become the spirit of the game
i hunt
the eyes that see this air
i breathe
i feel the sun of song
i sing

i become the spirit of the game
i run
a ball around this court
i plight
i woo this victory
its ring

i become the spirit of the game
i kill
i become this one i meet
in life
i become this one i am
in death

i become the spirit
i become the game





i am the sun
you eat the ground i slowly walk each day
eat the yearning to be me
to grow and merge with me
the grass and leaves
the fruit and seeds
of me

i am the ground
you eat the sun i slowly bear the way
eat the burning meat of me
the grass and leaves
the fruit and seeds
of me





how thank the life that we feed on
how show the gift of acceptance

how thank mother earth for our existence
how dress the death of the life that we eat
how dress the life of the death we shall meet

where are the roots of the deer
where are the feet of the trees

how thank the birds for their freedom
how show the heart of reliance

how did our mother make corn
where did the beans first flower
where were the tsalagi born
where is the source of their power

why does the river keep flowing
where does the sea ever end
what keeps the sun ever glowing
who breathes the essence of wind

we know the ways of our fathers
our mothers are makers of men
our sons are the future protected
our daughters are mothers again

we thank the earth for her beauty
we worship the sun for its light
we share in the doing of duty
we share in the knowing what’s right





early light, mist rising, down to water’s edge
look out on ceaseless moving, wet my hand
i know this place, it’s always new, i stand
so slips within my mind the thinnest wedge

a shim so deftly placed glides softly then
bursts in understanding dawn is day
a pry to loosen tongue so i can say
raucous things with this, my rooster pen

but world around still, still fast abed
a snoring ignorance of fresh dim light, of birth
reaching sudden down from eastern tip of earth
above me now, me deep alone in head

kind world allows to life a struggling wrath
in turn again to climb along the way

nodding slowly inward, giving senses play
going patient home on well worn path






why do i want to know why
why not let my whims form patterns
whelp their own, as water carves the earth
why wish for freedom instead of life

why are you listening to all my ravings
why not dance alone to your own songs
why sit at home when frogs know the moon





in my loneliness the gift of song has come
it has opened my heart with its breath
it has cracked the bones of my pigeons
as from the glare pounce my eagles

the exactness of the deed when done
the explosive sense of blood that flows
the yellow glare of the noon day sun





i wonder when was last i ate
i wonder what i’m feeling
and smile and see with inward light
how life has clouds not ceiling

i pause in walk, decide to stop
and rest while waiting, thinking
an ego steady– shrinking





water seeps into the ground
dissolves into the thirsty roots
lifts itself through tubal threads
spreads to leaf absorbing sun

moving not from chosen place
holding fast and growing tall
nest for birds, shade for all





we are going to the orchard to sing, don’t forget your guitar
bring along the water drum, we have won our war
we are alive and the taste of our time is our dancing
as the buck hares do in their coital stomp

we start as a boulder tumbling off a cliff
we smash down the shoulder of the mountain
we make a creek for the earth’s sweet tears





the spirit gives me the joy and splendor i crave
it crafts a covering of skin and veins for my soul
my body is spirit’s robe and i wander in its heart
all this world’s the mystery and my spirit is master

i am here to greet my father, the sun, at the river
i sing greetings to his gardens green, not yellow
this mother earth without him is dust and powder





stories in the stars are gates to the sky
they gape and close on what we know
they shape and tint, imbue their will
so eyes can see through dazzled walls

to glimpse without our mother’s bed
to glimpse within our own sweet head
what frail understanding can retain





strip bare your heart, throw its clothes in the ditch
hide your face and think yourself born anew
a tadpole you must live only in water
let whatever come you must jump in the stream

i sat on the earth and felt that i knew her s
he said you walk on your own two feet
i asked why she always pushed forward true reason





sometimes i go the long way around
i slow my pace and forget the time
the unusual path interests me
and i willingly wander its direction

how can i hear song resting in chord
how does echo teach the pond to flow
how add sound’s sense to wordy flow





outside my protectments the wild things live
dining on small things as big things will do
eagles eat rabbits and the wolves caribou
the polar bear eats all the ocean will give

outside my mind is the wind and the cold
etching my thoughts with their presence sore felt
inturning fears that our futures will hold




little one who asks to come to wisdom
you vacillate: now wine, now pickles
i watched the fire last night in my wonder
at your becoming shrewd before you are wise

you won’t give away your new eagle feather
and the drummers need their spirit gift
it’s not you that owns that icon of virtue





it’s a cruel sad day in amarillo
with the wind from the north, and it’s cold
the barbed wire fence holds out nothing
and i’m as frail as this feather i hold

it’s a rickety raft we ride on
in the flail of the tumult and foam
we hold and we cling fast to home





i worship the self of earth ordained
i see the breathing pulse in rain
i smell the rot that nurtures roots
i burn with thought the meat of life

i crowed to the sun when he appeared this morning
i rustled my wattles in a hullabaloo
this earth is mine for my time remaining





i lost all my odes and love poems to the water
all my clothes and belongings taken by the flood
now, all i am, good, bad, sensual, tsalagi
comes from mother moon and her sight takes me away

isolation is worth more than a thousand meetings
freedom is worth more than all the world
in solitude alone comes one’s moment of spirit





i learned long ago that the river knows
how and where to go down the hill
that water stored in mountain snows
reflects earth’s breath, reflects earth’s will

look down the wind that always comes
here on this land that’s all we are
and watch the smoke of my fire go away





i am the firekeeper who kindles the fire of truth
for repentance, for sin, for love, and for hate
i kindle a flame that sings as it cleanses
i am made of earth, you are part of my hearth

i went to the earth and entered her sweat lodge
my feelings were received with great good humor
the sweet grass fumes foamed on my skin





i can never know the truth of the earth’s creation
yet it fills my heart with love and laughter
and how i tremble in the warm april breeze
flower stem flouncing, its head filled with color

any spot i lay my head on earth, she is the cushion
in all four directions, up and down, she is the center
gardens, flowers, bird songs, ecstasy and her





the spirit which placed fire in my spirit
placed a hundred different fires on my tongue
i burn in all six directions, and i burn within
if i complain the spirit puts its hand over my mouth

the souls who know not the ecstasy of dance
have never fanned their inner flames to red hot life
i sing the truth of their sorrow and their sadness





i consume enough roughage
each day it floats to sea
gently nudging at the shore
piled with creaking docks

mine was a pleasant passage
sweeping the valley floor
with expansive white softness
spreading the plump blue sky

now i fear the inward tide
will cease to turn, and flood
the beds of all my arms





i dance a waltz through the rooms of night
turn and swoop, swoop and turn til dawn
this coffee here, this sudden morning
i hold the world in my cup of earth

i search the east for the first gray of light
i settle down to see sun grow red like bellowed iron
its the radiance of birth that i crave





i decided to hunt for the rabbit til i found him
i forded the spring creeks and tiptoed the brambles
every once in a while he would show me his shit
he knew all of the tricks, that’s all that i found





i got a buffalo nickel in my change today
the man’s proud face worn to a blur by time
the beast loomed large as it always did
though its shag was smoothed by years gone by

this relic i found in this unsought way
was with a quarter, a penny, and a dime
to remind me fresh of sad past, sore hid





i climbed the mountain of my life and am almost back down
all that up and down was my exercise, my being
i have said the same ever since the start, and patiently
now listen again— my memory is getting bad

the moon is not yet full, but shimmer of lake fills it out
my eye’s path to that moon below is direct
the sage of old says pay attention to the water





for a while when i was young i prospered
for a while all i touched saw love
the end of my life, listen to what has happened
like a cloud i came, like a wind i become

and yes i reflect and yes it is all me
head drinking the glass i am everything in everything
and yes i am the water of life and the bowl carrying it





dive to the bottom of your river
risk the currents and the bends
wake your body to mortal terror
let mind open to all earth sends

do you think the rain cares how cold it is
its best efforts come directly from the cold
the ripping tear of each icy pelt





we plumbed the ground that winter
and set the corners square
we sealed vent pipes with oakum
by pouring heated lead
upon the tamped tar stickum

a house of molten seams

we moved a shack for tenants
who farmed the rich man’s loam
(before before we bought it)
they left us wooden home

we picked it up and moved it
slow trucked to austin town
a governed stately town
a center for state learning

they ruled who should have governed
they thrust at those yet free
who knew the land’s rich drinking
who knew sweet river’s breath
my people’s land

we set the house to moving
and moved it all that day
and set it down next morning
on pipes stiff cold with jutting
to holes that gaped through floor
so freshly wrenched from pinnings
stuck still in fertile soil

they caulked and finished plumbing
they painted in and out
set fire below floor, furnace,
and finished tight warm home
in house
in house of hardened dreams





blanket bundles, clattering pots and pans
what food we could gather
we pushed in wagon lines
drove west through bitter snow
a hard ground to travel
a bitter leaving the sick who died
a large number, the old, the children
and still they drove us on

we agreed we couldn’t fight them
the few who stayed behind
they’ll catch and kill them mostly
they’ll kill and take the land

we hear through tears their message
the land they’ll give forever
is just around tongue’s bend
beyond the river water
beyond their dream of home
thus ours

a land aside for no one
a land to call our home
a territory
of indians
our home




the ridge speaks

the land i knew as a child seems far less mine
and may yet be lost for all my sons
they and i must make our peace, with those who covet
we must ally ourselves in strength, with those who will be-us
we must mix the strengths of what we-are and what they-bring
we must be and mingle blood in common destiny

and for this i sent my son and boudinot’s to school
to learn the english of our sworn friends
to learn the laws and customs of these men
who swim toward us to bring their iron and bullets

my son and your son now bring us wives from them
who would be our friends and pledge with us
to commit the future to lasting relations
and mutual respect

yet i hear of riots when they come
i hear the carriage we so proudly bought is pummeled
and hurries through the towns at night with shutters down
they avoid the clamor and hatred
they travel at night through their roads and lands
to come to us again with their wives to live

i hear these things and they trouble my thoughts
the clear future disappears in a muddying stream
its course hard to distinguish from the new thawed ground
i am no longer so sure of our way





the ridge speaks to his son

you are our hope for the future
when you go up there to learn
we need to know their language and their way

you must learn how they are thinking
when they speak among themselves
we need to know their feelings as they pray

when we sit in solemn council in the future for our lives
when we sit to palaver when our future we decide
we need to know how best to win the day
we need to know exactly what to say

that’s your job
that’s the thing that we must have
your life will be to serve our people well

and we know what you are thinking
when you look at young sweet girls
as they flash and giggle past your eager smile

and we know that you will find one
who will take your breath away
we know that you will learn to love her well
you will stalk her with your manners
and you’ll talk of better days
when you and she will join your destinies

i foresee it all in telling
i am saddened by the fact
you will serve us by becoming one of them

she will take you to her bosom and make you in her guise
she will teach you how to drink and eat

you will find that what she tells you is exactly what you do
she will make you into something we will need

so go up there and meet her
find the best one that you can
then come back home




ridge, a young man, speaks in council for the first time

it is not my intention to persuade any of you to my position
you must decide things for yourselves
you must think long and hard to find how you feel
about things as important as the blood law
the law of responsibility each for each

we all know we avenge one of our own
that, at least, is my own conviction
the way i live, and the way my people live
we all agree on this

so it is hard for me to find wisdom in what i hear
i remember when old squirrel was killed by accident
killed by mistake by one of blue crow’s boys
that young careless hoptoad
who always had two left feet
we all know he didn’t mean it when it happened

so solid oak was killed to pay the debt
it was easiest all around for him to go
he had just lost his wife, remember
his children were grown
so he went, and it was settled

that is the way it was
that is the way it has always been





i know when i see those others
i know how small they are
how they hunker together behind sedge grass
and plot to bring us into their swamp
i know this as well as you others do

and i see you hunkering together in this meeting room
i see you building platforms around the swamp of your fears
i know your plotting is now mine

for i came here of my own free interest
in calm deliberateness of will
i came to join with others
to live as well as i can for my own

it’s the children i think of when i look
it’s the children killed with their parents it’s the snuffing out of the fire at the center
which radiates its strength
from eternal birth and growth

we seek to ensure the fuel
we seek to maintain that flame
in the middle of the swamp and its dampness
its fetid growth and mosquitoes
its mildew and water snakes
its clammy hold within the guts

i know, you see, how we all see
those white others and ourselves
they win through hunkering and plotting
and savage disregard of us
we must fight them as they are
we must become the same
in their mind

i wear myself in splendor as the old ones do
i expect not the same from you
and yet i live in you or not at all

i know when i see those others
i see myself in children not yet born
so i see
so i say





doublehead enters

they killed my father
under their own white flag
they cut him down

now i must kill them
that is the law
the duty of the elder son
i must kill them in revenge
the law of blood
we all must kill them
the law of blood
they must pour blood
the law of blood

my great father, old tassel
no coward he, the leader of the war men
he was not afraid and went to talk
he wished to hear what they might say

they killed my father
under their own white flag
they cut him down

now i will fight
who else here will also fight
fight to kill all those men who killed my father
under their own white flag of truce
they killed old tassel
they cut him down




duet the ridge and susanna

this is the right time of morning
here where it always begins
the river goes swiftly at sunrise
you touch it, it pulls you right in

this is the time for our cleansing
our minds and our bodies full in
the river is deep in the spring time
it rushes and spills as it swims

this is the time for our planting
a winter of food has to grow
the river brings life with its water
that flows on with never an end

the cotton is down by the lowland
the corn is everywhere grown
beans and squash to our liking
cattle and hogs in our pens

peach trees and plums in our orchards
a mill down the road past a ways
we are together at coowatee
with more than enough for our needs

we spin all the cotton we grow here
then weave on the loom that we made
the cloth we will trade for the trade goods
the things we know we will need

this is the right time of morning
here where it always begins
the river goes swiftly at sunrise
you touch it, it pulls you right in





wait in fear wait in silence
empty self empty nothing

go way back reach conclusion
reach to stars stretch in shouting

what one does   nothing matters
what one is    is all that is





war is come         dig through rubble
peace is gone       mist of tea time

strength is come    feeling gone now
numb is heart       smash all else down

why is sunshine     still here sometime
why is wind         sweet in springtime





yesterday                go  broad crash wave
tomorrow                kelp rock slurp air

sky clear blue          flower blossom
sand wet cool          pull down darkness

stare long hard        never seeing
quiet sit                   always peeking





settle down         water run pool
carve a life        stone foundation

burst the dam       once, twice, three time
burst the heart     once, then no time

how the parting   brings the pain back
how the spring      brings back rapids





sit and wait         as a mountain
stand and shout      fast running gorge

scratch and till     make a garden
rain and sun         til thoughts grow large

sense is feeling     all is nature
sense is form        sense is sky





steaming breath      mist grey morning
smell new green      small leaf borning

river broad             sluggish dim brown
river wide              far starry shore

dogs of parting      sniff my snarling
dogs of war          stand with me— stone





summer green         yet a dreaming
winter chill         a choke cold hill

walk too far         shiver frost breath
walk too soon        suffer waiting

stretch to hear      a hidden message
stretch to see       round corner’s bend





sun so pure          startle color
wind so warm         soon hurry spring

quiet gleam          wayward footstep
nascent green        still leading on

hurt is deep         still has no meaning
heart is earth       half buried stone





pound on pound      go our fists down
pound on pound     tables scrape back

pound on wood       rattle bottles
pound full loud        fall back people

would our problems   scatter likewise
would our homes       repel the rain





late spring day       steal first feeling
this is all           sweet tomorrow

sniff the sun         strip and moisten
smell the heat        soak the sorrow

passing wings         calm warming senses
life begins           catches rising wind





blue sky hidden        phantom sky
mist grey morning       when we die

tears are streaming      tears are lace
blue sky ridden      to this place

here is wish and feeling       here is wet
blue sky hidden              water’s net





autumn sky           puffs cold magic
window’s blue        cuts through this room

time so slow         has no meaning
now so now           stops heart in flow

this chair sits      holds to very being
this mind waits      sings its happiness





anger red            start and startle
peace is white       not heard not heard

anger white          shout and bluster
blood is red         not seen, not seen

when we war          things are altered
when we kill         things are the same





cool wind gusting      whipping tree
inside window          sipping tea

steam heat rising      blurry eye
tall thin shadow       hurry by

all is contentment     mist and air
a steaming body        new wet hair




does the flower grow
because of heat from the sun
or the bloom to be





eye to rome         tall and squalid
backyard eye        dense and careful

streaming cars      hint of river
scream of fear      short sound ugly

where is sunshine   this grey december
where is earth      where is sky





greying drops           on stained concrete
fuzzy steam             of black tar-ground

step in dream           miss the cut-glass
step in street          reach touching toe

stealing slowly         homeward steady
meeting this night      its city blows





spring I

to come fresh each spring is to be a child
kneeling in the mud, new thawed, transformed
from a hard fastness to flesh wetness
a sucking slaking force of surface turmoil

to be both sire and practitioner, to be
unseen underneath milking raw face
of ideas, to be roots sustaining growth
required by change, to be seductive be

to be form, seed, the guile of reception
to embody chance in proper surroundings
to be chosen as happenstance enriched

to bring magic and beauty of season
in an inevitable forced explosion
opening the world to close inner form





spring II

opening the world to close inner form
we speak a consolidation of purpose
the effortless reconstruction of new
particularities enjoined by time

yesterdays, tomorrows, strings of nows
are our whens, ultimately sorted out
reflected upon within the framework
of our own choosing without certainty

we pinpoint a moment as meaningful
absorbing the inner force before its collapse
leads to the next indelible balance

we chance by focussed light on etching sea
swimming lonely midst tempting enchantments
patterning ourselves on growth’s primal charm





spring III

patterning ourselves on growth’s primal charm
we ask acceptance of contradiction
and the saying of what each does, does not wish
to happen in symmetry of its telling

what will flourish does not in beginning seem
full vigored, nor can the spindly child
be pruned in immediate full knowledge
of its bloom: the thrall of self is trying

i ask again what is the goal, what end
does man presume, which of the many thoughts
he’s held lead to the higher ground of love

i ask if the much used words have life
whether assumed plumage is mime, or mask
asking how intricately nature has styled





spring IV

asking how intricately nature has styled
beguiles the shaping hand in soil’s dream
turning the earth to loosen its packed sense
eliciting a fond use of its presence

and once this groundwork’s well laid and over
once the chosen shoots have been well started
comes the battle to prevail, to become
in worldly struggle an answer found new

it is always so with what is wanted.
it looms large in sleepless night of desire
and takes form in blind hand’s grasping sight

it’s feeling flesh become flesh at first light
in groping closure on fresh immediacy
with return of color morning brings sun





winter XI

afflicting all in soft separate ways
thoughts grow short in felt will of their purpose
and see inescapable newness of death
in fresh cessation of self each has known

within careful frame of total enfolding
an acceptance of otherness: so do i know
a total enjoining so void as is black
and full as is feeling for all that belongs

we hasten to flower each sense of our being
when being is taken so finally away
we stop in our frenzy of ordered preparing

we choose as reaction an acting to steady
the whispery whisking to clear path of days
needing light again to hold off the worst





winter XII

needing light again to hold off the worst
i await slate dawn in this dark freezing
winds of change ever reaching to the time
awaited now with watchful eye expectant

the blue blurred grey of being just now seeing
finely etches sense of one more day
one more leading round of beauty’s rising
all important breath of life to stay

now is dread of cold’s sure sore succeeding
reaching for a last true stoppage— moving
so like the wave of love self cauterized

there is no other now can share my feeling
alone with these my hardly trickling lives
i accept center, flickering— final





winter XIII

i accept center, flickering, final
breath of resonant being softly there
in stately hoard of safety, ash
fluffed to baffle tearing, gathering wind.

hunkered in practiced ease, shifting slightly
sensing vagary unseen, come as sealing
authenticating those few outstanding views
before decrepit vision of my mind

at last no worry for other mourning,
no sense of morrow’s self-creating love
held to steady hold, thinking on this time

there is crumbling sharpness now to vision
making real these precious feeling’s givings
nurtured by me alone through these hard days





winter XIV

nurtured by me alone through these hard days
eternal sense of self is reassertive
waking pain of feeling’s formful being
just the growing awe of cutting edge

chopping through thick thread of all my knowing
stopping all additions for this pattern
playing to curtained time in all its flowing
falling before my eyes have lost their glow.

i check around and manage meaning’s message
and look to see what dawn will soon portend
the light before the light will surely show

as much as ever was to be uncovered
is here today and ever has been here.
the sky’s malevolence presages shroud





you know how you get when you’re waiting for an animal
another life to come to you
you quiet self

you make your mind reach out to hear and see and smell
without thought
with perfect attention

then it happens
the thrill of place
then death
so you can live

but that’s not this now
now i order small parts of the real
to add to others in the train
that having linked can never be called back

as vision strong enough to catch all that’s left in memory’s hold
all left of what i am when all will come
when my full strength is felt

a rooster toeing around
watching out for cowboys
and broncs and other things

a rooster crowing around
waking all-us up
and all-them out there too





words have a putative power
they catch hold of wind with their string
twist it and coil it with meaning
and sometimes, even, they sing

they trill in the thrill of their curling
catch hands in their flexing of things
turn them and sand them to beauty
and sometimes, even, they ring

they pull with a mother’s embracing
to smother what everything brings
tame it and twist it to full sense
and sometimes, even, they mean





when i was growing up
a teller
someone who pared a tale to bone
that ran with blood when heard
was someone special

the patient tracking back of scent
to animal
the breath of fire that flares
to heat of life that’s shared
the seed to flower always

as i am growing old
an elder
someone who dares a lonely parting
that aches of feelings lost, unsaid
that glint most every night
in sparkle’s space

the approaching dark brings life
to feelings
to an equanimity writ fine
that blurts a balanced depth
that i will leave behind





when i was raw, when i was fresh
too into me, too into flesh
too introverted
too deep within

no social phrase
no social laugh
when i was raw
when i was trash

i couldn’t talk with those i knew
they all would laugh
and i was through

the settling in
the winning grin
was arabian djinn
inside of me

when i learned to say
what i had, at least, had thought
i learned i burned
i learned and fought

i focussed stare
most everywhere
and learned to sing
an earthly prayer

now that i know and natter on
of what i think, what i was told
i only know that i am old





when younger i wished to talk to betters
in years, and i thought, in their perceptions
the words never came; and tongue-tied i tried
to force my message by overt strutting

physical presence and not facile
curlicues of learned expressiveness
unformed letters had an urgency felt
by this sender as need to be well read

i now know the futility of this
normal reaction to a child’s frustration–
the abnegation of that thing strived for

i now am teacher of exactly what
i was before, in years, in perceptions
and blocked still by apprehension of words





water pools despite one’s caring
the abyss welcomes what it wants
liquid thought lies deep down under
neon lights a house that haunts

blowing winds will take one’s feelings
the ocean tides recall the soul
stony mountain thrusts up yonder
shooting stars point out the goal

scorching sun will sear one’s seeing
the desert bakes until you’re done
cotton tongue sits thick and useless
waking dreams a mind that’s gone

starry night will shrink the ego
darkest thoughts shot through and through
silver moon-beams lambent streaming
beating heart the all of you





to want it that much
he must have dreamed it
many times





time idles as i open my appliance
i still call it icebox and turn off its juice
i chop a while as if to peak beneath
let loose the source beneath the frozen stream

all the crusted cold of loss
all the aches in stiff old bones
to squat again, pick rocks and grin
a foolish boy in his foolish joy

but now i wait for the ice to break
for spring to return to my warm shod feet
for time to seep a warmth into my cave

i stoop to sop cold swamp of floor
the flow of life slips slow in thaw
within my cave and behind my door





the sun peeks out from its place of growing
it stabs the heart of this river’s flow
it seeks my heart upon my waking
the light reveals what i should know

the water’s wash takes all my feeling
the waters’ soak my aches away
the light of current sprinkles fresh thought
i look again through glinting show

how like a child to seek for mother
much like the christian search for soul
is never more than this fresh light

i know the fresh cold wind of moving
then i am out and my being slows
to fill the time til my next night





the words came flat and cold, unbidden
like the wind on raw spring days
a horse i knew is now unridden
i heard news grow hard in stony ways

but day is fresh and warm in welcome
though bus is late and people numb
i catch the slowness pacing fresh growth
the start begins with hand and thumb

the preparation for all that’s coming
this time of growth, then that of death
to store to make it through til next time
it smells as sweet as water’s breath

the coolness sprung from deep down under
subduction through the inner maze
a water-gift from earth our mother
seen soft as light through morning haze

i wandered quick from knowing stoppage
and image flowed to texas springs
and crisp, cool water in the dawning
the sense of life that loving brings

loving other so death is wrenching
the guts away, and in a wink
oh, how the self will rot, decay
and how this life is but a blink




thinking, thoughts, thinking, imagining

i began to wonder
i began to imagine the world’s mind
the complex completeness of all its disparate life-forms
its being necessary as a whole-ness
as a life

the world’s brains, i wondered
it was hard to see the possibility
of connecting in that sort of way
with all the vastness of space
and certitude of individuality

i knew myself
i knew i was cut off from all but me
separated and made to go my own way
individual and alone

i knew how hard it was to connect
to touch the ones who were near
were touchable in focussed ways
as a brain must, quintillionfold
to spring up into thought

i knew therefore the spirit world
where life’s breath flows within
the river a cold wind’s sweep
the plains an ocean’s depth
the life too real for faking

for thoughts can cloud the mind
bring in their fog of meanings
their trail of step by step
their lack of all at once





i reached back through my feelings
my memories stored of when
i glimpsed the source of morning
light red to burnish skin

i reached a time of sifting
some sand through summer palm
that hefted, sighed its sifting
infecting, fertile ground

a young man fresh with longing
for self to bring its gift
the magic of his living
his circle and its rounds





the litany of birds at dawn
the ache of color branding western sky
the exploding tongue loosing all its wets
the silvering touch of full grown moon

the cross-winding trills distinct
the evolving shades pulsing with life
the eddyful swirls mixing their souls
the shivering shadows in flow of breeze

how direct seem my aimless thoughts
how simple are my fondest dreams
how frugal are my fueling needs
how few my onward worries

one, two, then three and four
soft, warm, and dry, with water sweet
fresh and green, meat and starch
teeth, guts and ticker, the gripes of old

not all at once, not eyes, not ears
not grandeous and rich, just snug
not candied up with cream, just food
small aches that ease with movement, with grace

a plodding slog to heaven
a nestled ease from fearing
a feathery fest of being
a savored text unfolding





singularity of shell is the gift of fate
our fragile oars propel through rapid’s gate
there is no other way to attempt that swim
there is the wide, and then there is the rim

no matter how we toss or pile our outward choices
we can only try ourselves true to inward voices
that tell what we imagine, what we have heard
then life teeter-totters, becomes more absurd

i often wonder as i sit and ponder
where are those thoughts that i managed to squander
and only sometimes tried to grasp and fully know

i wonder how this deep pile of memories came
just how it is i keep all my oddnesses sane
and only sometimes let my greasy innards show





that’s the accuracy
the particularity of event
that leads before this fragile face

the perspicacity of  events
that led to this last easiness of days
the swarming slaver of their feast

that led to this warm softness of place
this endless ocean we slowly crawl
that glints in eye

this warm ingle snug from winter’s place
the storms betimes
that’s the acumen of taut old age

those crowds outside
that’s the audacity
the persistency of event





the cursed weather still makes me ache
and i wonder fresh what all this means
the need for thought through all the pain
the focussed sight on all life’s scenes

the hurt and cold, the warm and dry
the tasty meat of death that’s come
another one has gone along
to offer life as final sum

of being what we’re meant to be
as life’s sweet gift, each thought that’s new
each moment shared impresses me
the you of me, the me of you

i love to feel what’s all around
the sensing tools i’ve honed to send
beyond my frame, to gather in
the world so full we all attend





JT was a paratrooper in dubya dubya two
i saw an old photograph one time
olive drab skivvies and a much thinner man
i remember him with a lazy strength

but something bad happened back then
i was 5 years old or so
he got hurt, he lost his nerve, whatever
he was discharged under a cloud

but there he was in that armless green
lean, tall, with the wiry strength of men at their best
my father said he died of brain cancer
and bad kidneys and high blood pressure

he was overweight
not that leaper through the open door
that broke his leg one time in a practice jump
he told me about that

that’s what we all need
a practice jump through that open door





memory is this body’s trap of sense
snapping shut on tape of inward sway
to set its own awareness fence
that sieves impending fullness of the day

forget again and then be wrong once more
the past does bite with all its hidden code
there is no knowing not the reason why
just that the new is gnarly new again

it hurts as often as a knot will tie
the heart again will in its good time heal
that’s what  i know within my open eye

the ones in close know when it is to know
to see small wounds slow, slow bleeding still
the ones in fruit know not the time they’ll go





my animal nature has always shone
its light attendant, steady
and seen in eyes that always shine
their light a steady tension

i see that now, that always now
as then i slowly started
i sniff fresh now, that always now
i see the past now parted

i see that now my past is slow
my then is fresh now parting
i start now fresh to see that now
i slowly pass my starting

my attendant steady shines his light
a tension eyes that always
the fresh now shines, new sniff of time
now, now, a hint of parting

i see the shine, the eyes dark shine
in wild and warm abandon
i sniff the fear in all men’s eyes
i snuffle deep in growling





my cave has its glimpse of sky
its small patch of movement
to stand for all of constant change

it suffices for my meager needs
i seek no grand ocean to fathom
i need no cloud to bend, then whisk away

and my cave has its limits
its steadfast parts of inner eye
that sparkle large in hidden brain

the one that knows
that all that goes without
will make its world within

where the self perceives a self
in quick new glimpse of why





my suppleness is long now gone
i creak, and crank up purpose
to barge along the way, with eyes
that flow soft as summer river

my strength is off, late fallen
to wince of pain when pulling hard
or lifting hefty tools of worth
to give with as i’m working

my mind at least keeps open view
it’s quick in sight, though slow with figures
yet deft at spelling words intuitive in song
that’s danced and played while sung

my hands still scribble each proud new passage
in string and ink and food and form
so automatic in skills my thoughts can go
to where they will in meander walk

my memory’s store is stocked with goods
whose tags are fast retrieval’s sail
in wind that fills the moment’s wave
with waking dream:  exact, and all





my window is double and wide
the vista full, flat and deep
covered with snow
and the half black scraggle of trees
flakes meander their way
adding their atoms of down

my eyes still struggle for sight
my ears not yet deaf to all sound
the fingers i clench still have hold
my feet have carpet for ground

my family is far gone and free
their lives a young energy
engaged midst a tangle of thorns
days filled with progress and getting along

my quietude is troubled, unsure,
the depth of travail looming large
covered with caring
and knowing they have to be free





i’m sitting with my poncho, the alpaca one
the one my friend thought i would like
i sit huddled in a house let get too cold
i have now sought out and shut all the windows
i have now huddled deep, deep into self

i like the man who thinks and sorts his thoughts
it warms my aching wrist to talk to him
or her, the ones who listen to all they hear
the ones who wear the silence out,
the movement constant with a stillness felt aloud
i warming think of other things

of white, and of the how of color change
of why and what it means to glow with edge
of preternatural excess of being
of aura sensed, not known, not seen
i hunch in steadiness of will

i like the man who is a female is
it warms my sense of life to talk to them
the other sense of human being
from what it is i know as what it is
the is of what i’m limited to know
i tiring now think of sleep at last





i stand at the stove
there is where i dream
and stare at cooking food
water boils
heat sears
life softens for my old teeth

my family will eat
together make a one
a we that makes sense
so i can tell what i should know

i wonder at what i’m saying
if what it means it means
the warp and woof of scenes

a dog is growing bouncy
the time of feast grows near
i think and think of nothing
so everything is clear





i stare from within
my eyes work but they do not see
the films behind my thoughts take shape
not words but the inner being of my sight

i bare from within
my blood pumps but i do not bleed
the beat behind it all holds song
not life but the inner being of my fight

i care from within
my hands grasp but they do not feel
the moons behind my nails hold dance
not dreams but the inner being of my night

i flare from within
my ears watch but they do not hear
the sounds behind me caught and strange
not notes but my inner being of delight






i wonder if the middle of the stream
gives the proper downhill slide to dream
the rhythm of the richness of the ride

i stagger down the middle of the street
quite vainly hope that my strides are neat
enough to get me back to where i hide

i seldom catch the volume of my thought
til it is over, snaggled tight, and caught
my copy cat that notates talk sits by my side

i often find myself in the middle of these days
staring obliquely at the sun, its sparkling rays
a shining trap that i allow to grow inside

i float as leaf within the belly of my rhyme
that flashes up to videos of time
that hold the wholeness of recurrent tide





i hear a crickle in the fluorescent lights
and a humming whirr that stirs the air
a stern old clock ticks time away
there is no window to this modern cave

i push the paper from around my mouse
and squint to see computer screen
my wrist winces as i pound the keys
to make memory of my fresh made thoughts

i pause to hear my own breath pulse
i touch my chin and stubble reminds
how i keep changing despite this place
its sterile square portentous space

i pinch my nose and stroke my hair
take off my shoes and wiggle toes
i try to imagine a grassy field
the sun and water, some other where





five thousand steps one at a time
with careful tread on yielding ground
soft skin molding foot to clutch of earth
to follow the river and learn its ways
from mountains pitch to soft ess curl

float downstream round bend on bend
lose trail of back in rambling course
splash through rapids scraping skin
to find the sea of what has been
since new born thought came clear

wind and tide, harsh crashing waves
the salt accepting water slosh
the breathing deep as water breathes
to find the place of balance
last pulsing push of gravity





form follows function
in shape that hands will know
smoothness equals comfort
from habits, from long ago

life will sound its living
while death is final storm
the function of the dying
is to add to those still warm

backward glance is fleeting
once risk is on its way
to catch us with its swiftness
to catch us in its sway

when quick you glance to backwards
when future still has place
when odds are still yet even
you pace to finish race





forms become elegant in their uses
our felt secrets follow their presentments
rising to do bidding as we allow
meeting needs silent in slow radiance

an inner structure shows, and lines the softness
lying at the surface of fluent shifting
ensures sharing the sense of what we’ve been
tells stories as shadings become ourselves

today has lost its freshness but gained surety
in small editions of realized goals
nothing can replace that already lost

gaining comes from giving sense to might be
going by letting past be understood
opening by admitting perplexing now





attention now is the past remembered
intrusive in perfection of its song
ringing mind’s thickest bell of thought

attention then is happenstance recalled
incisive in its pulling up the file
from deep within the chaos of the pile

attention new is the wish for what may be
corrosive as life’s etching on the skin
of what is now the when of all that’s been





the order of brilliance is the web fresh caught
in pearly sheen quivering in the wind
the spider’s trap spanning thick path
constricted wholeness sucking water from the air

the scheme this knitting thread of worlds
the special reddening from the east
that flashes in mind when thoughts fall and clot
and inky finger speaks feast of time full caught

a shudder shakes the touching eye of morning
begins at head, sinks to arms, slides down
the person helpless in its path to ground

a rhythm wraps the writhing meat for death
the spider ends his moment’s light
web swept clear of tears without a sound





the skewness of tomorrow is today’s world
in focus yet to come
and so we forget

the skewness of today is the way they were
in other times
and how they lived

the skewness of the now in the circling sky
of always be

and so are we
in skewness of this day





old frayed shirts are my favorite to wear
deep grooves have become my memory’s trail
each day i rise, loose moorings, set sail
trade flesh for fabrics i have chosen to share

old habits are not such difficult things
ever ready to hand, they are constantly there
linking already known to new instant i share–
i share what i am, my love has no strings

stray thoughts such as these, straight talk when it seems
appropriate enough, and what we all need
kept secrets i share when the moment will knock

i’ve practiced, you see, so glances are streams
notching the land and nurturing its seed
giving love as i live, weathering rock





one cold november when air was sweet
dry ecstasy with crystalline edge of sound
echoing hard crunch of fast frozen ground,
the rustling woods nodded to a natural beat

one more time that feeling sweeps into me
exorbitant shock as remembrance of you
linking today with time past my purview
i feel that fresh youth in how i now see

since now has grown chill in pulse of the past
age beckons as clarity and grasps firm my hand
kicks hard both my shins and whitens my hair

i wonder how long this dream world can last
now that i know love’s being this grand
growing hot in my heart space, misting the air





rain stains the silver of my soul
meshes with the paling mist of eye
day sweeps with a billow and a swirl
it hunches, huddled deep within a sigh

i haven’t gone to see my dad in years
i hunker here alone and slowly die
the second sun of life has dimmed within
and darkling night comes swiftly on the fly

i wonder yet where mountain top will stop
but flailing wings can’t get me up that high
above the crags that snatch at breath of sky
the ever flowing brush of blue in wind





i was wondering again
about my old age question
how does my life stack up against those men before
those who had no electrons at their bidding
no packaged titillations for their suckling eyes
no moan and groan of passion spent
voraciously in imaged sound

i remember back a ways
back through my father to radio
back to hearing him listen quiet to a crystal set
an amplified vibration transmogrified
in the east texas piney woods

i don’t have to hear to feel that life
a crystal and its pooling depths of clarity
flexing the geometry of steadiness
the ringing sense of hand held magic
so bounce of life is felt, is heard

i remember the wonder in my father’s voice
back in his telling of his wondrous tree
that he could sit under and hear them play
music for him from so very far away, for measly him

i was wondering how choice of life differed
for his father, and his father’s father
that time must have been a time of limited contact
how normal was it for a man
to meet 2,000 people in his lifetime





i am new
i have been new
i am renewed
i have just now been renewed
i am new implies them all
i have been renewed
in the past
and i am new

i am fresh
i have been fresh
i am refreshed
i have just now been refreshed
i am fresh implies them all
i have been refreshed
in the past
and now i am flesh





‘tis but a pittance that i feel
this long gray afternoon
this my last best time of all

‘tis but a sufferance of my wounds
dull ache behind the grinning thought
these last thick clots of what it means

‘tis but a prolonged grace of saying
the dance begun is song begun
the lilting gait that opens always

‘tis but a pittance that i fill
each moment of my being
the craggy mountain of their pile





general competence of self
is each one’s path
we walk alone

the lifelong study of self
is help for all
we take care

specific production of self
is art to feel
we love life

sudden cessation of self
is one way gate
we pass through





a patience of place is dwell time
a learning is changing life-long
a habit is practiced approach
the recurrent patterns then bloom

the children, the teens, the old ones
will always wrinkle anew
a statement, a showing, a sharing
a broadcast for all who are here

a life and always a moment
a chance to remember, to see
what mind can spring forth to be





my god is dead, he died one day.
i remember when it was
he died so hard the sun’s first ray
was seen as thougth through gauze
but seen it was

my mind’s alive, i see the sun
i feel just what it does
this is my work and just begun
it’s seen as though through gauze
it’s what one does





a sputtering sun lifts hints of leaves
but gray and cloud, and concrete
that lately rain can’t shine, nor wash
this dirt, this trash, this pavement

i limp today, my legs grow old
and slips are part of walking
when step we watch is past our frame
when thoughts are not for talking

but kept within to ponder long
while slowly getting somewhere
to share, to love

and here i am in urban shade
of indoor light and plumbing

you want it cold, the ice is here —
or hot, the gas is glowing
and for the noise a cocktail tune
soft strings and horns of  honey

i limp today to find my place
among the privileged sharers
the glasses filled, the plates heaped high
no thought of past or morrow
i ache within in sorrow





yellow grass of autumn flowers
all the world is shining now
those who’ve gone have no tomorrows
the sun all afternoon is song

blue shares a winter clearness
all the sky is awesome born
those who live live their sorrows
all moon sightings still bring sighs

green peeks early its spring wetness
all the earth is speaking clear
those who sleep shoot errant arrows
all the mountains lose their snows

white sticks cover all in stillness
all the rivers dampened down
those who die leave us their marrows
all their bones lined up in rows




i always wanted to be somebody important
like a royal canadian mounted policeman
riding around on a fine bay horse
in a bright scarlet uniform
with golden epaulettes
and an inuit parka for the cold

i still want to have those dreams
but i’m reluctant to give them voice
they might become too strong
too important for me to control
the gold too bright
the red too real

dreams that powerful lead to actions not earned
one assumes the trappings before setting out the traps
before studying the animals one must kill
for that parka





i am a creature of my place
the frame of window i look outside
i tend to sit with right hand out
toward the feral, right outside
my careful protectment

i am a creature of my mind
the plastic lens i bend and swirl
i tend to let my ears hear dance
to recognize then realize
the flower in the phrase

i am a creature of my voice
the give away to what i feel
i tend to telegraph my thought
so all is nods then glance aside
the freshness of approach

i am a creature of my hands
that hold quite tight asleep at night
i tend to be obsessive
in making sure we’re all alive
this day we have this morning





it’s an effulgent sail in this soft breeze
relaxed yacht of self in stride
a strangely warm november sun
the blue no cloud could ever tame

the earth is cursed with chaos though
splinter of future gone off, amok
the round of normal seasons strayed
a pleasant day when slap is needed

the simple plants to change, to die
the more complex to molt, to sleep
and i, myself, to bundle self
to muffle close the seeds of spring





my cave has light these lately evenings
these glimmering ghosts of bright noon sun
they shatter most as bands of color
knitting each moment into the one

my cave is plush these slow warm mornings
these leisure lumps of time my own
the buttered toast for appetite, news
drumming the rhythmic world to bone

my cake tastes sweet when i’m at table
the stiffening ache in every bone
the slathering taste of candlelight
steeping high tea to taste full blown

my cares are light with a habit of doing
small daily chores of sharing the load
the beauty of gift full in the effort
the baking of shyness into my love





the nurturing river runs in sweetness
of water’s downward plunge, in a soughing
midnight wind of lulling call, in the lap
around the shallows behind around the bend

crossing when it’s flooding tears apart the soul
inundating thrust in swirling thorough hold
needing when it’s trickling satisfies the mind
erasing disappointment in its filling find

don’t jump in the water pulling close apart
ease into the current flowing past the sight
seeking like as like in steadiness of will

end the searching movement in constancy of thrill
tossing precious fluid sparkling in the night
arching in the aching spending of the heart





the song i sing transfigures our first parting
the taste, the then is sparrow on my breath
my words seal now as blood passed to another
disappears to flow alone remembered red

the sounds i hear remind of senses flowing
the lips of love retell the sad sweet dream
the tongue i offer now will quiet speak
the song, the rhythmic sky are words of love

my tongue slow teases taste in ample proof
your lips grow full in softness ruby round
i love you alone of all the others

the softness now surrounds the dark of night
the lips of love in parting grow anew
the lips consume the all envelop me





the spring holds back from its promise of warmth
as wind still bites with its northern roots
i hurry with shoulders hunched against the cold
to food and you, candles, talk, simple things
that open like yellow roses in a heated room

tension dims with the sipping of wine
the talk grows fevered, fresh and free
it leads me on and i chase my thought
i wander to place of unexpected me

you lead me there as you always do
hearing what i haven’t yet learned to say
showing what i hardly dare to wish
touching me lightly in your serious way

the winter is gone despite its chilling leave
the growth to come shows in fuzzy tip of hedge
streets surrendered to cabs and scurrying men
rushing somewhere searching for the likes of you

i’m leaving instead to talk with children
ready for their spring and first warm taste
of life, and how it all rushes away
except when time forgets its parting haste
and makes a love, an inviting place





the sundays of this fall seem far too warm
obsessive in their clutch of summer green
at once so untimely that they demean
destined change and thus unnaturally harm

even if we wished and so could achieve
life as endless joy and bounteous growth
even if eternal perfection were both
some thing and all things, the leaves have to leave

action always implies different ways
new climates, new ethics, and always new ends
doubtless also it requires a new me

each one i’ve left behind, each year, all days
require that part of myself which transcends
self to assume life now as memory





until you’ve worn the horns
you don’t know
i mean the gnarly things that strut
and pierce their way from out your head
you can’t slow the world enough to hear the cheers

until you’ve worn the horns
of cuckold’s creek
meandered in her flow
i mean the switchback swish
that loads the outer bed with silt
you haven’t sense of upward stream

until you’ve pushed your bigger head
and laked and and pooled your way to overflow
i mean that understanding when it goes
and floods the outer plains
you’ll never know the drowning fool

until you’ve wanted all you’ll want
in life that’s left, and quiet looked in doctor’s face
i mean that awful knowing man
that pokes and prods
you haven’t seen what that might mean





an arabesque within the whirling hands
the ones that grasp to sing their joy
i want there my soul, and inward held
i want a panoply of sorts of things

i want a herd of awkward giraffes tall
i want a squad of penguins waddle small
i want a swooping troop of hawks from height
i want a leaping snarl of bees in flight

i want a simple untold thing to be
a net of words to still hand’s plight
of how to sing lost memory

i want a simple issue i can see
in twist of tying hands to sight
in pledge to all that is:  to be





an old white man

an old white man slow and bald
timid as a small rabbit
echoed his self as dove
wings beating to change direction

and accepted that bird in his heart
that flutter soft of wing song
he called his self into being

and grinned a sun just breaking through
sharp in its lumination
colored by reflective love

we all shared in his moment
shared in his truth of being
his place of sun and warmth
with no guard dogs
no limits to openness

we sang and danced as always
with special newness now
i felt the group dissolving
and melting into one

the evening with its eating
the slow beat down of food
the feelings having furnished
the day with specialhood

i felt the moment keenly
and heard a banshee moan
for having been forgotten
in how this now was done

i knew the sense of other
than what was true today
i made it part of allness
to slowly pick my way

the old white man is talking
and making glad good sense
he laughs at all and sundry
and knocks down final fence





earth is teasing me these days
cold wet october , warm november
thawing oceans in the northland
floating continents of ice in the south

the world is round and round it goes
the more you push the more she flows
in chaotic macrobursts of difference
that add inexorable heft of fact

this globe meanders in her plenitude
hiccups her grinding wrath of storm
bakes the tundra past its frostpan
down beneath to slush and sand

takes the caps from off the andes
sends the floods to tidal shores
makes the rivers mile wide sweepers
she twists, then blows the all before

earth, the world, our mother, does that
and yes i know she’s willing now
to give still more to those who scoff her
who scarf her bounty in careless ways





how imagine an ancestor you’ve never known
except as déjà vu, in echo of fresh tongue’s phrase
how might the mayan light his caves of tomorrow
staring down into the very fundament

how see the stars embedded in their sparkle
except in darkest night enwrapped in inward sight
how might the first hour fill the belly of today
to sate the thirst for certitude

how feel the roots that hold you to this earth
mid the tangle to those whose roots you share
how might the odd new leaf reach the widest branch
to bare itself to sun in selfless churning

how sing the taste of life’s tart sting
except as darting child with his wilding
how might the tones enhance the daring leap
to find the swirling depths in tidal reefs





i raise my floor from the earth
shine the wood to glossy crown
splashed with colors of the garden
the rugs woven by hand
since nature’s moods
are buried here

i polish on my hands and knees
in this i sweep away all weeds
of dust and wet, i flesh the world
beneath my roof, before my fire

i sit attentive, mute
all sight assigned

i sing a silent key
that somehow opens me

the within
that chirrups
when it hums





i sail upon a sea of glory
on this april afternoon
hunker down to tell the story
the huntress and the waning moon

ripples here are merely ripples
the calm of time itself should tell
paleness comes before the sunrise
when night has slept its darkness down

i fly with wings that shout of soaring
heat of summer yet to come
swoop with wit to found an image
brush upon an ecru silk

here a pool is thought of pooling
here seep of hill is water’s way
here grunting gate is loosing liquid
here light can spring its flowered gown

i slowly walk to think things through
and feel my essence stretching
muscles warm with distance won
and thoughts of future– guessing

the rush of time speeds through my days
there is no leisure as i run
i am river flow that’s never done





i’m not sorry i haven’t solved the three body problem
i’m forgiving myself for not learning more about love

i drink a bit in my shallow afternoons
and wake the side of brain that’s cold

i’m not driven now by my imagined epic poems
i’ve rid myself of desire for wanton rhyme

i chop my food for those i will be feeding
and wake the side of brain that’s bold

i’m not feeling bad for those girls who flirt their feelings
i’m freshened now and love a single, close

i pick up pen to scrawl a crawling message
and wake the side of brain that molds

i’m not certain here exactly what i’m doing
i’ve lost the frame and gained the flow of ease

i gaze outside to manage nature’s calling
and wake the side of brain that holds

to only life i have as now unfolds





in imagining a new early life
i would cast myself a free thinking healer
a mender of wounds both mortal and sad
thrown as the future and tumbling to rest

i would travel with others and soak up their ways
to bend and to give to the next ones in line
i would code all my thinking so practice could learn
leave all my scribbles and scrabbles of noise

i would look back in wonder, and salt all my food
listen to all and try what should be
touch and change something, then touch something new
in panel of grandeur, our mother the world





old air stains my lungs with its dusty taste
deep sighs meet sight of morning’s wind-blown snow
early chores will be harder now i know
the simple things loom large yet they must be faced

old dreams haunt, make my waking movements slow
each thought steams with breath, then is whipped away
leaving soft unheard what i wish to say
i bend once more to tasks harsh as winds that blow

should this be the way i meet each winter day
a grudging plod in place of practiced flow
easy once begun and finished without haste

i don’t remember when i settled on this way
needing no more than this, that habit makes me go
gently through the cold, my spirit steadfast, chaste





once again pregnant sun dispels the mists
drops its light to enliven, to warm
enriches the earth with its returning charm
takes hold of dormant plants, insists

on bringing water from earth’s depths, to force
each leaf’s unfolding tip of green; each fruit
living first in petal’s bursting death
in pollination’s buzz, in humming dance

since i was born this time refurbished me
added depth, cool pools of thought to drink
kind breeze to taste, fresh colors bold to see

in touching these your world becomes as mine
now to sense how things in passing seem to know
growing sprigs of nature in early day divine






serious i was in my youth
heedless of consequence
i progressed rationally
but joy slowly palled
until my aspirations
integrated with my nature





the earth was mushroom
and the wind was corn yellow
the water of spring was sweet

bitter reeds added roughness
spice and fire their touch
the wine of life still simmers

then spreading dark of rooms
and the smell’s full pungence
the snuggling sleep to dreams





the oil of midnight lamp dimly thinks
and lights unfinished walls within my home
the shadows’ shapes a fantasy to some
now certainty that in me slowly sinks

my shirt unbuttoned bares a beating heart
showing here where no one else can see
no caring eye to see to quick of me
discern the bloody sea lanes of my chart

no sleep yet beckons mind that’s held atop
the slumping form that sits in its repose
whose spark still tongues the ache of losses past

no answer can be found til thought can stop
and hands can reach to loving touch, and close
around another’s warmth again at last





this morning’s sky is thick dark cloud
stretched tight to cover me
my forward gaze unblinking, proud
with ropes of love unknotted now

the sun is up though yet unseen
its light is wan, diffused
as are my thoughts of death these days
too strong to know, confused

so empty of a reasonable choice
is life when it is gone
and what is real is what is real
that remembers firm as bone

i choose to know what i can know
of what will then transpire
the time it is when i will show
the quenching of my fire






what my grandmother became is beyond me
the snarled tangle of her hair is gone
in the prim plaitings of a little girl
i combed her hair

she sat for days in her little trailer
parked up on grady’s lot
up-hill in the shade of trees
i combed her hair

she lost her majesty in chatter
too abstruse for a child such as i
now counting the brush of waves
i combed her hair

she asked of me the question why
one sits and waits in wonder
and never swims except to sea
i combed her hair





he returned home to see
himself as he was once
but stealthily
as if to see
the backside of all his fronts

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