Taoism

I Miss the Giants

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Even as the playoffs get underway, even with all the excitement they bring, I still miss the Giants and the evenings and weekends spent this season at ATT Park.  It was a season of struggle and survival, a season of new direction, a season to feed the spring.  Here’s to another great fall classic!  May the best team win…

Yet Another Thailand Poem

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Many thanks to Clementine, an on-line literary magazine, for publishing the following poem in their September 2015 issue.

Hand-Rolled Smokes

                                                     —for Ez

Not Drum, not other Euro brands

..I pop the cap of a Black Cat can

….exercise my old arthritic thumbs

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Not your standard pack of pre-fab Zigs

..nothing manufactured overseas

….I purchase a pack of trimmed tree leaves

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A local showed me how to twist a leaf

..keep it rolled without a line of glue

….keep it loose to let the burning breathe

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Once between my lips, my two front teeth

..I lay back and puff the local reed

….let its incense burn beneath my nose

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Small warm clouds of me float away as smoke

I become the island, come and take a toke

..

Two New Thailand Poems

Front Range Review

Many thanks to Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado, for publishing the following two poems in the Spring 2015 issue of Front Range Review:

Burmese Pantoum

                                         —Sunshine Bungalows, 2001

Each morning in my bungalow

  I rise—not to songs of garden birds

    but Burmese boys on the beach

      brooms in their hands, brushing the sand

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Before I rise, I dream of Burmese birds

 sweeping last night’s fallen leaves

   brooms in their wings, brushing the sand

     evidence of last night’s hash?

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After sweeping garden leaves

 after washing clothes, after gutting fish

   after a bowl of last night’s hash

     that Burmese plucks his old guitar

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I listen after washing, bowl full of fish

 white talc smoothed across his face

   that Burmese plucks at his guitar

     sings an ocean melody

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White talc paths swept smooth each dawn

 no birds outside my bungalow

   I hear the ocean’s melody

     a Burmese boy on the beach

 

Burmese Melody

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The End of Unknown Pleasures

                                                                          —Koh Tao, 2013

 Something old, something known

     familiar, guaranteed

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Mornings of sun on a half-moon beach

     blue sarong, old white skin gone brown

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Taking the terrier out for a stroll

     same old path to the PO Box

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Soaking in claw-foot candlelight

     joint in the old tin tray

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People say, Try something new

      Go someplace you’ve never been

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That might be fine were I still young

     time on my hands, no watch on my wrist

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Now, mid-afternoon of my tan

     too aware that the sun must sleep

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I swap my dreams for pebbles

     joys I might discover on the road

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Nuggets of gold, manna from heaven

     women sunning topless on the strand

.

Now even these are old and known

     even these—and so I sit and breathe

.

The Couple Upstairs

Couple Upstairs

The couple who own the top unit above me are away in Tahoe this weekend, so their tenant decided to have his girlfriend stay overnight.  I was dead asleep at 1:15 a.m. when they got home, but her stomping heels on the hardwood floors woke me up.  They were in the midst of a mega fight.  Usually, I can’t hear much of what’s said up there, but I could clearly hear her shout at him, “Are you in love with her?”  He said something back I couldn’t understand, but I heard her response:  “Because I’m a woman, and you’re my boyfriend, and I love you!”

I don’t know if they were throwing stuff or what, but there was stuff bouncing off the floor right above my bedroom ceiling.  Sounded like I was living under a bowling alley.  I’m surprised my son didn’t wake up from all the noise.  At one point, I heard the guy tell his girlfriend to “get out of my house!”  The girlfriend refused, said she wasn’t going anywhere, and that’s when I started wondering if I should call the cops.  Hell hath no fury and all.  Despite whatever he’d done, I was really worried about the guy’s safety.

After a while, I went outside and stood in the backyard and could see them upstairs in the kitchen.  Their light was on, so they couldn’t see me.  I was hoping they would, though, so that he’d have a reason to distract his girlfriend from her tirade.  I wished I had his phone number.  If I did, I’d have called him so he’d have some justification to urge her to chill:  the whole guy-downstairs-has-a-kid thing.  Finally, after several minutes of her standing over the sink as if she were going to throw up her pain, he put his hand on her back and started to comfort her.  Then she turned to him, and they hugged, and he kissed her.  That’s when I went back to bed.  Of course, then their own bed started squeaking like a honeymoon suite, so I could barely fall asleep.

The whole thing got me thinking:  Who had he met and where?  And when did he finally tell his girlfriend about it?  She was so full of emotion, it seemed she had just heard the news.  Were they out all night on some date, her enjoying herself and him holding on to this secret that he just couldn’t bear?  Did he bring it up just as they were walking from their car to the house?  It’s horrible having to tell someone you’ve met “someone else.”  As much as it hurts to hear that from a lover, it’s an equally unbearable guilty burden to unload.  Ugh!  Made me think of a few breakups of my own and how sad and painful and dramatic they can be.

The dramatics upstairs got me thinking how vulnerable everyone is, how strongly we all desire a deep connection with someone, and how desperate we can be when that connection is threatened.  In any event, I hope they’ve worked it out between themselves.  If nothing else, I hope they at least go shopping this morning for a few new padded rugs.

In Praise of Cracked Minds

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Many thanks to Hinchas de Poesia, an online journal of contemporary pan-american writing, for including the following poem in their April 2015 issue.

In Praise of Cracked Minds

                                                         —for Marlene Goldman

Praise the days when our minds crack open

 open like clam shells struck by fallen stones

  stones splitting open, sudden thunder storms

   storms of new ideas spread across the beach

 d

Beach the giant whales, introduce them to the sun

 sunshine: that new elixir for their fears

  fears of drowning, suffocating sand

   sand, they’ll see, makes a bed of pure pleasure

 d

Sure, we think of giant whales at sea

 see them spout as they migrate north

  north and out of range, beyond our senses

   senses long accustomed to what we all believe

d

Leave, for a moment, all those old ideas

 as if old clothes that no longer fit

  fit them into boxes, store them on a shelf

   shelve them there with what’s no longer true

 d

True—new ideas may at first feel snug

 snuggle with them, treat them like new lovers

  lovers who allow you room to shed your old display

   play, instead, with novelty; bounce it like a ball

d

Ball it up and toss it in the air:  Have fun

 funny how the new reminds us each of death

  death, remember, lets us breathe eternal time

   time for thanks, time to sing our praise

d

Two Paris Poems

Metonym

Many thanks to Metonym, a literary journal published by William Jessup University, for including the following two poems in their Spring 2015 issue.

Nineteen

                                                            —Paris, 1980

April—the cruelest month for me that spring

Beauty, briefly, held out her slender hand

Carelessly, though, I scared her off with words

Dumb mumbles, even silence would’ve served

Even my own bashful breath, if honest

For a moment, all eyes focused on me

Girls paraded by, all in slow motion

Here:  A tight pink dress, a pair of pink heels

I couldn’t control the roll of my tongue

Jesus, forgive me—I was just a kid

Kids make mistakes when testing out their wings

Look!  Look!  She smiled at you!  She likes you!  Go!

My so-called friends egged me on, urging me

Not one of them had even dared to cough

Or ask the time as her high heels clicked by

Perdón, I’d said, Your pink dress pales my red

Quirky?  Perhaps.  But my shirt was pale red

Reason enough for her to turn and wink

Strutting off alone through the sidewalk crowd

That’s when my friends got pushy.  Go! Go! Go!

Up ahead, I saw her:  A glimpse of pink

Visible one moment, then gone the next

Writhing through the crowd, I caught her thin wrist

Excuse me, I said—then my jaw went loose

Years slipped by before I could forgive myself

Zeal turned out to be my passion’s foe

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Piropos y Propinas

                                               —Paris, 1980

 A small token of gratitude

  a tip left for a café waiter

    a few francs by an empty cup

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Some flirtatious compliment

  whistled at a woman on the street

    Aye!  Qúe buena la rubia!

 a

How many mademoiselles

  might stop to say Merci

    their grins a gift for your gab?

 a

How many café waiters

  might race across a crowded street

    to thank you for your copper coins?

 a

A waiter only chases you if stiffed

  if left no tip

    waving his finger in the air

Some women only stop

  to stomp your brittle shell

    to crack your cocky smile with a smirk

But not if she’s from Spain

  she’ll appreciate piropos

    maybe even rattle off some words

Words you’ll misinterpret

  drops of rain you won’t understand

    and so, a fool, you’ll snap at her

Like snapping at some waiter

  racing up the boulevard

    waving your wallet in the air

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Two New Poems

Helix

Many thanks to Helix, a literary journal published by Central Connecticut State University, for including the following two poems in their Fall 2014 issue.

On Buddha Bay

                                          –for Johanna

 Light off, ceiling fan awhirl

   late-night geckos echo warbled songs

p

Songs to lullaby our eyes

   to leave the day behind

p

The bone in your vegan curry

   the motorbike burn on my knee

p

Release these passport aches and pains

   bury them like turtle eggs in sand

p
p

Self-Portrait:  Ankles Down

                                                                  –Thailand, 2012

Consider the veins of my old feet

   big thick roots of a mangrove tree

p

Betrayers of age, craving warm baths

   each new step presses out a path

p

Here, at noon, on my veranda rail

   each tan toe, a fresh-clipped nail

p

It’s All Good

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When we got back from Thailand, she said she couldn’t “see” me anymore — “no phone calls, no emails, no texts.”  She said she was setting me “free.”  During the five months we dated, she noted, I hadn’t written her a single poem.  That hurt, she said.  Up until our breakup, I hadn’t written any poems for more than a year.  Oddly, her disappointment inspired me.  Freedom always breathes an air of opportunity.

Yo Baby

                                —August 2014

 A tsunami arrived that day

  you spread your jam

    on my smooth sand

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A hurricane blew

  a ukulele tune

    farther and farther, out to sea

g

 In your summer absence

  autumn winds arrived

    warm air oiled up the beach

 g

And that icy-hot sun

  your sun, ever present

    finally set one dawn

 g

Now all the birds fly free

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