POEM: The Zen of the High Mountain Pass

Each step through the scree field must be judged on: angle, stability, slipperiness — but the flat, dry, and robust rock is the one that will roll on you — heaving you headlong, rolling over brick and boulder.

Crossing the glacier, each step is taken both like it won’t fail and like it inevitably will.

The former because one can’t fear one’s hips will slip out from under one, but the latter because one needs to be ready to stab an axe into the snowpack without the other end puncturing one’s ribs. 

When you reach the altitude at which stepping is a series of singular activities — not a seamless sequence — you will love breathing like you haven’t since that time you were dangling upside-down outside the womb being smacked on the bottom by a masked man.

POEM: The Veil

They call it the Veil —
an invisible world scaffolded against our own.

The thin space between is as a two-way mirror —
from the Veil we can be seen with crystal clarity,
but, from here, the Veil is obscured
by our own reflection.

Everyone wants a ticket to the Veil,
but it’s a dimensionless dimension
so your meat vehicle can’t be folded inside.

Veil-dwellers could come here,
but our world makes them agoraphobic —
tormented by the feeling one gets in a sci-fi movie
when the astronaut’s tether is severed,
and you imagine what it would be like to float
in a vast void until one’s oxygen runs out —
or one’s high-tech diaper catastrophically fails —
whichever comes first.

POEM: One Flower, the Sunflower

If you can keep a heavy head high,
and facing that bright sun —
you’ll be able to lose, but still
feel, in a way, you’ve won.
Sunny, still, when the clouds crawl in;
gay though the day is done —
And in the dark hours you’ll have the
time to become unspun.

In a field of festive flowers
there’s one that’s lost its line.
Its face droops down, shyly twisted —
its sun refused to shine.
But its sun is surely the same
sun as is yours or mine,
though its coy stance speaks its own truth,
and follows its own sign.

Medicine Man [Prose Poem]

He was unkempt and disheveled, even by the standards of those primitive living people of the tribe. If you could find a translator to speak with his tribes-folk, they’d not be offended to hear you refer to him as a madman. They’d find it surprising that you considered that some sort of insightful revelation.

They would part company on two points. First, you believe the fact that he thinks he speaks to spirits and devils is evidence of his insanity. They believe the fact that he has to speak with spirits and devils has made him coo-coo. Who wouldn’t lose a few screws? Second, where you think his insanity makes him fit for nothing — incapable of a worthy contribution. They think his insanity makes him uniquely fit to do a task no sane person would ever do.

He lives by himself, outside the tribe’s clearing, and people only have the nerve to visit when they must. But he’s never for lack of a conversational companion. Though only occasionally does he speak in the tribe’s language. He’s just as likely to caw like a crow. He fears nothing, even those things sensible people would agree are rightly feared. The tribespeople fear him, but they value him for the fear he inspires — in those unseen things that bump in the night and in their souls.

With one foot in this world and the other in another, his world bears only a passing resemblance to yours.


POEM: The Hour of the Sun

Like muscle-bounce bouncers,
the twin mountains stood —
ominous & imposing.

An hour of light per day
squeezed between those broad shoulders.

One hour of sunlight —
in the good seasons,
when there was sun.

The villagers’ days pivoted on that hour.

Whatever is the opposite of a siesta, they lived it.
A fiesta?
an hour of frenetic love…
of dance
of the outdoors
of the sun
of love, itself.

Outsiders found the place dismal & gloomy,
but they never loved the sun
like those villagers love the sun.

Three Tanka

plucking strings
the player feels each note,
his eyes closed
he lets himself be surprised
by vibrations of bone or soul


the butterfly
splays its wings and holds,
in that stillness
it becomes a flower
’til it must butter-fly



wind tousles
the grain-weighted heads
of ripe wheat
the sway is erratic
the sound is subtle

POEM: Lost in Space [Pantoum]

Under the vault of starry skies,
I lost my Self through open eyes.
I spread out through that vast light cloud,
and heard the wordless word aloud.

I lost my Self through open eyes?
How’d I stretch to infinite size?
I heard a wordless word aloud?
How’d I Know what was wrapped in shrouds?

How’d I stretch to infinite size —
and all between sun’s set and rise?
How’d I Know what was wrapped in shrouds —
secrets felt; not spoken out loud?

I died between sunset and rise,
under that vault of starry skies.
I could feel, but not speak out loud
as I floated in that light cloud.

POEM: Killing Fields

In the last days that stony ground gave life,
those great, green gifts were gained by thrust of knife.
As the blood puddle spread, so went the green —
trumped by colors inanimate and mean.
And when they prayed for cooler days and nights,
they were answered with blazing fires and lights.