A Light Touch

Light illuminates nouns 
brings persons places
and things into the field -
light is a verb that creates.

Too little light we see
ghosts waddling to and fro -
whole life on the sun
is a bath in orange juice.

Light her touch when she
lits down and makes light
work of your worries and woe -
light she comes light she goes.

Write with Calmness

Recently, I’ve been writing on WordPress using the Jetpack application installed on my cell phone and tablet, deprived of a real keyboard and downsized to essentials, but able to pull out the tool and continue playing around with a post throughout the day, adding, subtracting, dividing, etc., on the go (to the extent I ever am on the go these days, where go might look very much like stop). Writing is a disappearing act.

The laptop, my usual tool for developing and publishing posts, as get up and go as the laptop is, is not as flexible and doesn’t travel as easily as the phone or tablet (for one thing, the laptop batteries are down to a trickle, and it must be left plugged in to work). I thought the recent posts from the cell and tablet were displaying wysiwyg (what you see is what you get), but a couple of faithful readers let me know not so. Yesterday’s post, for example, a short poem titled “A Bout,” apparently appeared on their reading devices in a pale white font on a fog colored background, difficult, but not quite impossible, to read. By Jove, I thought, that format (if that’s what it’s called) accurately describes the theme of the poem, but it was unintentional. And the pale white font on fog colored paper was an improvement – posts previous to that one had not appeared at all, those same readers had informed me; under the title, on their devices, the post was blank.

I assumed the problem was user error, and set out to discover how I’d messed things up so, and in the process found (under a three dot dropdown menu at the far top right of the WordPress screen) “Options,” one of which is labeled “Distraction free: write with calmness.” In other words, we have a choice: write, and consider yourself a writer, or fall down the convoluted rabbit hole of blocks, styles, editor this and that, and things Jetpack related – a dichotomy that is of course distorted, unfair, and entirely inaccurate. Well, maybe not entirely. Like the guitarist who trades in the acoustic classical guitar for an electric guitar and a panel of guitar pedals, the writer who incorporates a full spectrum of technological gimmicks or tools, as opposed, say, to simply using pencil on paper – um, one senses a loss of calmness. And yes, I know I just split an infinitive, but I do so in perfect calmness. It’s impossible to split an infinitive in Latin, which is where the absurd rule comes from, but this isn’t Latin class. Well, maybe that last bit is not so calm, after all.

And the point of writing is to becalm. If you find writing does not invite calmness, you may not be actually writing, but are engaged in some other method of spending time – not to say any one way has more value than another. Writing usually has some purpose, which is to say occasion, argument, intended audience, none of which would seem to invite calmness. Still, the act of writing, if one is to find the sweet spot, is a path toward calmness, invites calmness – because once under way, all else falls off. One becomes, indeed, free from distraction.

Swā, this post is being written on the laptop, as an experiment to see if the problems don’t correct themselves on the readers’ devices, thus isolating the cause to Jetpack on the cell and tablet. Let me know in comments below, if you’d like, what you see, or don’t see. But remain clam. I mean, calm.

A Bout

From boutique of night 
blooming flowers
warm vase water becalm
deep dank well
emerges the princess
of night pale white
speechless as the moon
rose petal full

Not alone her soul
attached to a host
epiphytic life dangling
from an oblong root
where the frog appears.

In Line at the Store

Several lines form, 
one circles
round the roasted chickens,
always seems faster,
the line and the fowl.
A young woman juggles
a basket full:
apples, milk, Cheerios,
snacks, beer;
her kid giggles jiggling
the magazine rack:
Harry and Charles, UFO's,
AI, and Elvis alive
up in a penthouse in Las Vegas.
The unharried clerk
tells of his night
at the opera,
in no particular hurry.
It seems some nut
upstaged Rodolpho,
running down an aisle
reciting some politico
manifesto about
what who knew? I mean, I'm like,
the clerk says in a sing-song
Mimi, she's vulnerable,
this last with musicality
with a grimace,
and this crazy cat wants
all the attention.
You know what I mean?
I mean, we're all wounded,
but this is Mimi's moment.
Know what I mean?
And all in his line nod yes.

Horseradish and Bullpucky

Finally, something that seems to make sense, 
a fan on a steaming simmering summer eve.

The end of poem taste is nigh as books go
bye-bye; words are for the ear, not the eye.

Something stinks under the high court cloak;
politics as usual, they say with a grimace,

In Hell, guests gather around a diamond
water chalice and pray to an abominable

snowman holding a bident for catching fish,
and talk about changes in the weather.

Umbrellas at the beach make sense, but
the wind sometimes turns them into kites.

The dissolution of cities and foot shopping,
uncollecting things, faster baseball games.

The idea of a university wants refreshing;
it was never all-for-one one-for-all anyway.

When your politicos, priests, and professors
are too full of horseradish and bullpucky,

time to restore the toolbox, relax, wait
out the set, and keep watch for the outsider.

Unplug the guitar, walk, skip the commercials.
Listen to the song sparrow building its nest.

Learn to note and trill and adapt at will,
take advice with a grain of salt, not a pill.

Life is not a brand played to a jingle;
it wants not bleach to wash, but a bit

of white vinegar, not to denature critters,
but let hair down and smell the oils.

But don't dichotomize or literary like
criticize. Be as natural as horseradish,

but learn to spot bullpuck before you
step into a pile of it.

Out Comes Dad

occasionally counting daughters 
before work in the basin,
new construction, often the sun
splinters boulevards - ocean
calming down

wave objects chess dadas
moving to and fro across
the orange continental divide

oakum cold drink drizzle
obloquy causes distress
a drooping doubt befalls
and he turns around-the-clock
to return repeatedly again
and also a loss alas against
all odds closed doors

outside claustrophobia dwells
went looking for him doodle
circled the divine deforestation
of the three carob trees

what opportunity California
5th Degree Knight
in his off hour dandy dress
origin of the ritual lost
on his sons

obviously the office cabana
dude suffered outrageous
cactus disconnect.

But it was Mother's Day
oasis came dear
angels sisters and mermaids
all paused as out comes Dad
bestowing flowers fruit
and yum tum hugs and kisses.

Seven-spot Ladybird

I suppose most thought I wasn’t worth
attacking or eating, little did I advertise
my wares, my curly hair neither surfer
nor hodad coifed, but you found
my blue eyes and scarlet climbing
blaze secret, and up you came,
up the bridle path of my ways
and means, touching lightly
the joys of my trips, the sorrows
of my passes and losses.

My father was a shipbuilder beetle,
my mother a washerwoman.
They met on a seaside wharf,
watching a parade of schooners
pass. He was an expert stone
skipper. She was as quiet
as a sail in a doldrum.
Any more about them
is but weakly supported,
but they both loved aphids.

We came of age in a time
of flowers, and we learned
to imitate the tactics of fight
and flight, neither voracious
nor temperate, rode tides
and winds, and though we
grew hungry, we did not eat
one another, but signaled
warnings and hopes, lights
and loves, reasons of being.

You came up my legs crawling,
spreading your wings, tickling,
the crops ripe, the weather warm,
the music in the distance
peaceful, the guitar strings silk
wound. And you taught me
the rhyme can be changed,
and anyway most ladybirds
went unpublished, the more
sweet this one I saved for you.


and again
and again and
you slip away

strange ran the sky

surrounds us

and you float off
weary of hearing ands

your hands plush
pull toward
and push away
pull and push pull
and push and still

in your milky way
crawls a creature
of the abyss

hidden inside
over and above
opposite what
has just been

bidding next
for there seems
a sequence of events


we don't have
to work
this out

again and again
afresh is nice
and will surface
one more time
again and again
come to light
in the sky

Furthermore, afterword
us swimming
the floor of the sky
the skyline school of sleep
attending to


On benches in parks I’ve sat for a time
to study under trees that filled the air
space and clock count of season and reason
circled by children dancing and being
where we get away from Earth for awhile
flying benches to the moon through branches.

But kids don’t sit on benches for too long
and after a snow the park is stone cold
if you go out you’ll hear the benches groan
see paint peel the wood cracking like branches
the distant winter sun cool as heaven.

Here is one a bench branch elephant’s trunk
bent low for the girls to climb up and sit
bouncing to tunes in the key of summer.

I will find a bench to sit and pull out
pen and notebook the devil to scribble
in a park street sidewalk outside a pub
wherever placed with angels of quiet grace
and return to Earth in time for dinner.

Simple Studies # 3

Rapidly: Or As Fast as You Can

Dock da do yes tin toy cheese gig gas go  
inch arch hip zone scraunch beam coo boo bass ball bell 

Fish milk jump bowl thrutch boast screech no oil roof 
nail lip arch moon crawl drift dig gag gear voice 

Beam damp rain inch hep silk sparse scrooch sour neat 
Cry egg bee boost zoo pee bot chop chill drink 

Deem dress kiss be moo ba oak mouth nest peach 
bald air calm gog lunch poem here now be it said cut 

Bath peace game sleep shy tone boot bike dust dew 
leaf mold mad merge fruit fly thick toe hoe mow oh ho  

Cheat dum sheet awk guide dum read coop rope spring 
Near leg far soft flesh scar how can you tell 

Down then turn whole work wide tool toss 
Wet watch beach bow bow. 

(being a transcription 
of Leo Brouwer's 
Etudes Simples #3)

One Night on the South Bay Strand

I walk past Willy’s Wine Bar, its surf blue
umbrellas hung over the wall, pointing
to the water, patio piano
jazz diminished by the incoming tide.
The noise crashes, a wave through pilings.

Mabel, the waitress, I used to know her,
does not say hello, busy with cheese plates,
her white apron purple stained thin cotton,
her silver hair held behind her long ears.
Years younger the torched sommelier tattooed

head to toe oranges and lemon yellows
over a bed of ivory azure.
Happy she looks even joyful against
brave Mabel’s bluejeans rustling all night long
amongst the grape aficionados.

A line for a table, fifty dollar
cover charge, and Komos, a cruel bouncer,
pushes me along to keep clear the Strand,
where people still adhere to atmosphere
of theatrical scenery, putting

off the real ocean as it floods the set,
rising up the old dunes to the green palms,
centurions on display bend and sway,
the Sergeant of Police, “Tarantara”!
recalls the popular air of pirates.

The ocean recedes and Mabel soon swoons,
soldiers in pirate costume sing cadence:
“Tarantara!” When danger is afar
leaves its deepest scar and never comes close
to the body but the mind’s eye closes.