Ode to Spirit

I pardon shadows and open doors for ghosts.
I know the apparitions
By the twang they give my nerve endings,
And it’s not just people
But dead animals I see,
Their fearful symmetry.
Even landscapes that have been
Return to the place I’m standing.
Neighborhoods appear
With time in arrears.
What is immaterial
Takes on transparent form.
For me it is Grundnorm
To approach things unseen,
To compose a place
For living space to rest,
To toast the friends
Neglected at their best,
Amend wrongs of time
With thankful rhyme.
To pull those voices out of air,
Their absence must the heart bare.

Blood Lust

Is that what you want
The taste of blood
Is that what you desire
Blood on your door
Is that what you can’t do without
Muslim blood
Jewish blood
Christian blood
Black blood
White blood
Is that what you need
More and more blood
Is that why you wait
For the blood of the moon
Is that why you follow
With blood lust support
Is that what you stand for
The blood of words
Is that why you’re baptized
To be dipped in blood
Is that what you worship
Money and blood
Is that what you crave
Flesh and blood
Is that what you dream
Innocent blood
Is that what you extol
The blood of your enemies
Is that who you are
Blood sisters and brothers
Is that what you preach
The blood of Christ
Is that your obsession
The scent of blood
Is that who you are
Baying for blood
Is that your politics
Blood that runs cold
Is that your drug
The blood of the slain
Is that your position
To draw first blood
Is that your belief
A God of blood
Is that your legacy
Blood on your children
Is that your unreasoning
Blood and thunder
Is that your good
To be cleansed in blood
Is that why you pray
For the spilling of blood
Is that why you rage
For rivers of blood
Is that why you gather
For the blood that will tell
Is that who you are
Blood sisters and brothers
Is that where you are
Hands defiled by blood
Is that what you leave
A covenant of blood

From the Book of Winter

Mid March and I count four robins and a woodpecker
And yesterday I heard a cardinal in full voice.
No one knows how heavy the pages of winter are
But it is the birds that fly out of the last.

Nothing better than this anonymity.
All my observations are like a mirror
In which I can celebrate nature in myself.

Today the rain turned into snow
And back into rain so subtly
That no one seemed to notice
The fragile glass work of the moment.

In the distance…

I’ve seen a country church
Balance on the pinnacle of its spire.
I’ve seen a falcon over a tobacco field
As when lake green rises above the horizon,
Slingshot beyond the cliff.

I’ve seen black volcanic sand
From the height of earliest time.
I’ve seen blue sky from the nearness
Of such vastness I was borne aloft,
Breathing the distance, feeling its depth.
Hearing the expanses in my name.

I’ve seen heat pockets of space
Like transparent sign posts
To a place beyond the void
And I’ve felt the coldness of night winds
Crash against my chest like waves
And successive vacant ocean winds
Pirate sleep until sun could anchor day.

I’ve even heard echoes of distance returning,
Transhorizontal vistas revisited,
Or elevation taking shape
When sitting backwards on Swiss trains
I sensed the rift in my destination contract
And mountains begin to rise.

I know the distance of strangeness,
Of vagueness in a face, and of last goodbyes;
The distance also when a step isn’t possible;
The distance from the beginning of a dream
To the ends of the earth– all distances;
And the timelessness of my own distant now.

Grieving a Father

for Jingting

Six thousand miles of tears,
A pearl on the swan’s neck,
To arrive at the Ice Festival
Of my father’s funeral.
Who expects grief to flower in Spring?

Dr. Liu

When Dr. Liu died and word spread,
His patients in the countryside
Received the news with disbelief.
The old had good reason to worry.
How would they get to the city?

Green Losses

How many are the green losses
How heavy are the losses
Ask the animals
And they will tell you
Ask the earth and it will teach you

Those sleeping in the earth
Who loved the earth
And were murdered protecting it
I wish for them the richest blackness
Of soul-seeding eternity
Starry nights of soil
Wetland awakenings

For those murdered
Protecting the earth
Wherever the black sunbird flies
I wish for them the revenge
Of regeneration and restoration

May the vines of the Amazon
Entwine them all about the neck
May the heavens uproot
The worldly children
And save a garden for the rest

Ignotum Per Ignotius

That train goes nowhere
The track ends at Steams Station
The fog there is dense
The conductor is mad
And in the faces of people I meet
In every language I hear
Even when a traveler manages
A few clear words
The unknown by the more unknown
Those who preach proselytize politicize
The unknown by the more unknown
The unknown crowed
Certain convinced intractable
Ancient graffiti on walls
That track-side flash
Between the unknown
And the more unknown