Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Little Girl and the Tortoise

There was an old tortoise named John
maybe 100
maybe more
maybe less
It's hard to say

John was much travelled
maybe Saipan
maybe the furthest side of the world
maybe not
It's hard to say

For all of his travelling
John wasn't a mover
he mostly just sat
that's why he was lonesome plus
His home was a closet

John wasn't aggressive
he didn't like to fight
he was good-natured, polite:
he couldn't run away, that's why
His hard shell

John wasn't good looking, not handsome:
skin dark wrinkly,
stubby tail, nostrils like eggs,
slippery tongue (for examining things)
Thin not very long

John didn't eat all that much:
he liked squash,
both summer and winter,
roses too, but his favorite was
Aleo vero, succulent and sweet

John's story seems sad
just growing older and older
as others passed on
all except for
Sarah who visited one day

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Childhood songs

Childhood songs

I came into the world
  before there were words
  before there were shoelaces
  before dry ice

Childhood sang songs
  reciting, memorizing, gaining mastery
  kittens, toy boats, chicka-dee-dee calls 
  don't touch dry ice

Songs I once knew, I would hear them again
  arithmetic was easy
  I think further now
  but forget

What once seemed simple
  the difference between plus and minus:
  really doesn't matter
  getting dressed was good exercise for later

School had disadvantages
  one can learn something for life anyplace
  streams become rivers that run to the sea
  mermaids riding dolphins sing under the stars

Grains of sand in the hour glass
  accumulate below what once formed above
  time is a lesson:
  missed, premature, correct
My father said don't touch dry ice

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A likeness

His great pleasure was a broom,
batting it
he stood on kitten-sturdy-stubby hind legs

He was Dickon after
the familiar who fired Mother Rigby's pipe:
("Dickon...a coal for my pipe!")
his orange coat the impetus.

He came into this world
a playful soul  
fifteen years ago
April last

He came into this world
a random soul
his mother half-feral, a tortoiseshell stray

He came into this world
to sleep in baskets (clothes),
to loll in the sun:
one time he caught a bat

It's fall now,
will Dickon another April have

Once we were of like age
now he's more,

Each morning he's
like all elderly and frail
who wake to the dawn

For Dickon
morning's brightening's
an eclipse:
Dickon who used to
find wonderful fun in all things

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Can motion be home

Can motion be home?
The answer is no!

I am not one whit wishful
of roaming, of flying.
Travel is exile.

It is here that I roam,
that I saunter:
mountain, Valley, and shore,
la Sainte Terre.

Not Bon Voyage but here:
where sunrise is
a welcome:
things growing large,
things that are concrete.

Sunrise speaks to dreams:
of things to come,
of sun-filled pine hills,
of light-drenched ponds,
of belonging some place,
without which it's dark.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fog on the mountain

Are they unimportant?
The foggy days in life?
I do not know...
but wish I did.

Dante spoke of fog ambrosial
I do not know.

I know river fog
morning fog
winter fog
frost-fog cutting the face:
I know fog dimming my eyes,
fog both above and below the mountain:
All as strangely uncanny as uncanny can be.

I've not seen fog on little cat feet:
the fog that I know
it swirls and it twirls,
cosmic sensibility.

Fog can take the mountain's place,
can recompose the Valley and more.

Fog's oxygen breathable,
yet shifts rocks and trees, suggesting
find a new direction,
another completeness:
a unique, solitary perspective,
another mindful view.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kettles of Raptors

What's that you say:
kettles of raptors?
oh, an image poetic:
that means it's to be believed

A faint roll of thunder
in a cloudless sky, the Valley's weather
caught between mountains, North and South,
always changing

A thousand feet up, raptors:
ospreys, eagles, red tails, harriers
leisurely circling,
tracing patterns in air

They rise on the thermals
in stiff-winged spirals, gaining height
then down and out to gain distance,
another current then down and forward again

A migration pattern:
raptors indifferently together,
for all the world looking like
leaves in a kettle

The thermals a natural magic:
carrying birds
up and down:
wings seldom moving, rarely a flap

The kettle's hypnotic,
powerfully liberating to view:
how would it be to fly on wings tireless,
some unimagined new land discovered and claimed

Some things don't exist without words,
can't exist without utterance:
a kettle of raptors
is one

To hear of a kettle of raptors
is not the same
as to see it,
yet it's the words that give meaning

Words express thinking:
ours and that of others:
but not without ambiguity,

Words express recognition:
a certain conviction,
an emotional assurance:
when we speak,
we express what we think

The question of course:
are we thinking enough

Target Practice

for Tony

Think rifle
think bull's-eye
that's the subject here

The rifle:
the most physically compatible,
precise, advance since bow and arrow

The bull's-eye's nature:
line-of-sight, dead center black,
20 metres to 50

Add ear guards:
a silent world,
all to itself

Breathing stops,
thoughts vanish,
a gentle pull on the trigger

All that there is
a microscopic tremble of arm and hand

Is it Zen,
is it mental,
or more, perhaps other?

The mind's eye touch of target,
chaos free:
an ordinary day

Friday, September 9, 2011

At the waterline

Fundy's cobblestone shore:
granite, quartz, basalt
ground handsize
is smooth and pure

Years by the thousands, millenniums sure,
the bay's eroded jasper, garnet, porphyry
sandstone, feldspar and crystal
the rarer, the more true

Fundy's shore:
a rockhound's tumbler
the salvagers' delight
be it pot warp, driftwood or shell

The prize though
is beach glass
nothing aluminum, plastic or similarly obscene but
beach glass sublime

Beach glass can be red, yellow or blue:
amethyst, amber, and turquoise are rarer:
the gems though are apple to deep green
and the lapis of that sometime  medicine cabinet staple
Phillips' Milk of Magnesia

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Flowers are a wonder
the garden a delight:
that means the planting
and transplanting,
the weeding and the pruning:
all Epicurian pursuits,
Lucretian counterweights.

Gardening is an art:
a four-dimensional endeavor:
and time.

Gardening is Darwinian warfare:
gardens are at odds with nature:
not the fittest but the select survive.

The garden is an ecosystem:
one intentionally designed:
a faux habitat:
one that should not be:
it has no innate survivability:
no natural resiliency.

Though gardens have their cycles:
without the gardener they would not be.

Monday, September 5, 2011



A peaceful summer evening, mild and clear
ripple clean lake water reflects
a silver still moon, bone bare,
on the shore, black pines and seldom silent popples,
dark cottages, almost shapeless small boats, humps indicative of cars

The children, my grandchildren, sleep
for them sweet dreams come easily,
no tossing, no turning
they are young, bothers fade

I stand outside, paying respects to the visit's first day

It is a day not mine, not really
it went faster than planned
the mark of a visit

I anticipated the visit
now that it's here
I find it most gone

For them, the grandchildren, it lasts
a bit longer, maybe even more

For me time flies
each year seems a moment

For them, the young, an hour's
time enough for most everything, a week
without end

I hear the hoot of an owl
a coyote, coy dog really, barks on the hill
something goes splash

I know time's passing
but tomorrow and tomorrow will come
and the visit will simply/merely have been

Everything passes
What my grandfather's grandfather and
his even before
knew privy
has long turned to ash
even their memories are now long forgot
they are gone and their children's children gone with the wind

When I was a youngster
Europe's wars weren't history
Hitler and Tojo really were there
their armies and navies, what are they now?

I anticipated this visit
now that it's here
I find it most over

It's not my time
It's the children's, the grandchildren

Sunday, September 4, 2011

How to learn a turtle

How to learn a turtle

for Curtis and Maggie

How do you learn a turtle?
How do you learn a snake?

Don't look in books
Don't look at pictures

Just pick up one

To learn a turtle
To learn a snake
To really learn in a way that lasts
You must look to where it lives
Watch it there
Study it

Really look to what turtle does
Really look to what snake does
Seek it out
Catch it
Put it in a pen or box or jar
Just for a little bit

Then release turtle
Then release snake
Back where you found it next to some water
Next to some tall grass
And watch it swim away
And watch it slither away
Watch it sink out of sight
Watch it disappear

Why do all this?

To care about turtle
To care about snake
Like nobody else

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Every animal has a clock

for Curtis and Maggie

Every animal has a clock

At 7:00 this morning I spied a skunk
Then I spied another
I smelled a third

The first was rabbit-sized
The second too

The self-confident fellows
Suited black and white
Snuffled along in hunt for grubs and bugs

Late summer, early fall is morning skunk time
That's when the fearless creatures come round
They're fearless 'cause what's to their rear
Their spray can last for days

Every animal has a clock
Small birds sing mornings
Cicadas trill afternoons
Crickets chirp at dusk
Katydids saw the night away

Nature's clocks are orderly
Listen for the dove
The loon's cry
Watch for the firefly's dot/dash
The wooly catapillar's guest appearance
Every hour retires some to bring forth more

How many creatures can you find? And when?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Poem's place in a universe of death

We believe and disbelieve
A hundred times and more
That stones reveal
Time and death are one

Poetry though is the great postponer
The supreme fiction
A moral compass
Freed of television and like encumbrances

Poetry is imagination's twin
The mind's revenge on passing days and years
An immortal partition
It views reality and makes a weak aside

Take it
Build a haunted heaven
A lie
A haven against time where nothing is final
A haven against nature where there is no end