Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Once on the way to see god

It takes, sometimes, medicine, to know the world's hall
lifting sunwhiteyellow architectures in shadows of light,
reconstructuring amber cells of un-self, oinglebundoincy—
a funny puppet tongue bounding from an infant's laugh-roar
into the place where my hungry, poor bodies come to camp
and await meeting this or that or the goddish who.
Now sit patient in presence of sun, light, trees, bugs who
welcome staying, make this grassy path one such hall
where a poor, hungry body might sit until tired, camp
until arrived at dusk, sink flat until will-o-the-wisp light
lifts away into the infinite architecture's acoustic roar
to a song that first kissed my brow, oinglebundoincy,
oingboincy aardvarkaroo. Orange argle kangabull. Oinglebundoincy
some loving one sang to some me, sounding the letters who
crescendoed head-bump cuddles into some solid roar,
steadied into some mature sense—straight-walled as a hall;
who constructed the all-chitecture and steadied the light
when, once upon once, everything was spontaneous camp.
Now I circle barefoot around sun, light, trees, bugs where I camp,
I myselfslide conversing argyle sweet-the-sound oingleboincy
with the green air, interviewing wavelengths of green light
to uncover the self of green, its rainbow, its essential who.
Speak, tree, on behalf of green. Say, path and sapling hall
about the light that lifts from soil to upward roar;
how it transmorphs to the red ruddy bloody roar
of cellular body dust aardvarkaroo cloud in which I camp!
The nostril of Tao is some ancient pyramid's funerary hall.
I finger-walk inside humming oinglebundoincy
through its darkness and filaments, into the nostril who
beams its finger-intersected face—the tendererst light!
And in the ear, and the shapes of hands, the blood light,
the maroon architecture, brown movement, black roar
of proof we come apart from a loose argle-bargle of who.
The darkling cuddles the light, trees, bugs, camp,
swaddling all the secret funny whisper oinglebundoincy.
Now I walk in boots back from the all-storied hall.

The goddish emissary lights my infant heart similar to camp
memories. Memory’s roar now hums a bouncy, cool oingleboincy.
I forget its meaning, but I know in my amber who fills the hall.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Reprieve: Song to Sestina

Happily going along, I find this,
unbeknownst to me, the sestina form
A new puzzle for the resting of mind
Chartered territory long ago laid
By Daniel historic and Daniel now.
May I have this dance? I say to myself
With nothing to do, I rest in myself,
the structure wafting me along in this
Arriving, pausing, backing up, and now
discovering, climbing into this form
that innocence, that's always been, is laid
bare, nothing to do but enjoy free mind
What comes is what comes, penetrating mind
with that which effortlessly is myself
Form and formless interweave, nature laid
before itself as the seed carries this
code, its modifying of subtle form
reminiscent somehow only of now
That which springs forth is the What Is of now
Here again, nothing to do, freeing mind
offering no thing to the empty form
giving everything to empty myself
Reminds me of walking one step, just this
then the next, each open, empty, each laid
As itself, but not distinct, again laid
as itself, but not apart from each now.
To speak of the whole seems trivial in this
kind of insight, as cliches work the mind
dry and so tired. To refresh myself
again, I climb up this jungle gym form
Surrendering without collapsing form
The formless emanates like gold leaf laid
in the thinnest of sheets over myself,
bathing me free of I, me, mine. And now
this reprieve sings the song empty of mind
to the chorus of Sestina. Just this.
An Empty, Empty form is Happy, Happy now.
Only need is to have laid out the table; mind
finds its own nourishment. I find myself in This.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Imunuri Prompt: Roaring Silence


Write a poem from the roaring silence.

Tags: loud-silence, epic-earth, poet's moniker, poem



From Annie Dillard (1982), Teaching a stone to talk: Expeditions and encounters...

About silence:
"it is difficult to undo our own damage, and to recall to our presence that which we have asked to leave. It is hard to desecrate the grove and change your mind. The very holy mountains are keeping mum. We doused the burning bush and cannot rekindle it; we are lighting matches in vain under every green tree. Did the wind used to cry, and the hills shout forth praise? Now speech has perished from among the lifeless things of earth, and living things say very little to very few. Birds may crank out sweet gibberish and monkeys howl; horses neigh and pigs say, as you recall, oink oink. But so do cobbles rumble when a wave recedes, and thunder breaks the air in lightning storms. I call these noises silence. It could be that wherever this is motion there is noise, as when a whale breaches and smacks the water—and wherever there is stillness there is the still small voice, God's speaking from the whirlwind, nature's old song and dance, the show we drove from town. At any rate, now it is all we can do, among our best efforts, to try to teach a given human language, English, to chimpanzees…" (p. 88)

"The mountains are great stone bells; they clang together like nuns. Who shushed the stars? There are a thousand million galaxies easily seen in the Palomar reflector; collisions between and among them do, of course, occur. But these collisions are very long and silent slides. Billions of stars sift among each other untouched, too distant even to be moved, headless as always, hushed. The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out. But God knows I have tried." (p. 89)

"At a certain point you say to the woods, to the sea, to the mountains, to the world, Now I am ready. Now I will stop and be wholly attentive. You empty yourself and wait, listening. After a time you hear it: there is nothing there. There is nothing but those things only, those created objects, discrete, growing or holding, or swaying, being rained on or raining, held, flooding or ebbing, standing, or spread. You feel the world's word as a tension, a hum, a single chorused note everywhere the same. This is it: this hum is the silence. Nature does utter a peep—just this one. The birds and insects, the meadows and swamps and rivers and stones and mountains and clouds: they all do it; they all don't do it. There is a vibrancy to this silence, a suppression, as if someone were gagging the world. But you wait, you give your life's length to its listening, and nothing happens. The ice rolls up, the ice rolls back, and still that single note obtains. The tension, or lack of it, is intolerable. The silence is not actually suppression; instead, it is all there is." (pp. 89-90)


for a friend, after getting the email from genetic testing from relatives never known

Who is today's dweller of that cave house?
Destiny has brought us together
        from all corners of the world. 

From Crossing Hangu Pass, by Zhan Shichuang, translated by Charles Q. Wu

in one generation, it can be a family riven
later, a minefield, avoided
in a later generation, it can be a missing tooth
finally the time ripens to reach out
and fill the heartmountain with oldearth


sometimes, we don't know we had holes
til whole again, uprighter, spacious
we begin to dance


the body starts to move in ways unknown
pivoting then leaping from origins
finally known, sturdy earth everywhere underneath us
now: contact, knowing, sensing


we can only leap from contact

    oldearth   provender


Monday, December 23, 2013

Snail signs infinity

drawing by J Shon

                                                            Snail signs infinity

trail across low-tide sand
encircles itself once
loops again
snail signs infinity!
shell swirls
echo design bands
leave infinite behind
head north.

Thursday, December 19, 2013



fire lit
to sit

smoke drifts
thoughts away
from mind,
leaves you behind

burning wood
warmth makes,
you inside

orange flame
air lifts
to find you

painting brushless.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

IMUNURI Prompt: Mountain Songs

Hanyu Pass (from Every China)
Who is today's dweller of that cave house?
Destiny has brought us together
        from all corners of the world.  

From Crossing Hangu Pass, by Zhan Shichuang, translated by Charles Q. Wu

Poets of place, lovers of earth lore, take out your pens (or tablets), croon to the hills!
These images of Hanyu pass visualize the mountain site where Laozi wrote the Dao de Ching.

Check out this site that features planet-wide MOUNTAIN SONGS.
What is your local place, hill, or peak whispering through you?

 Find the clickable Googlemap here: www.mountainsongs.net
of click one of these: http://www.mountainsongs.net/translator_.php?id=21

Riffzone: take it low, write from the mountain's base ... or write a poem of climbing... or take it high to the peaks. Write a poem of restoring earth...
What functions do mountains have in the earthsystem, and/or the worlds' creative capacity, epic poets of earth?

Riff 2: Start a poem with a line you find on Mountain Songs site (and credit it, those ancestral poets love to be praised)

Riff 3: Sparking from this entry on Mountain Songs, "All Nature's Splendors Captured in This Gourd-Heaven"

What would we see if we hopped into your Gourd Heaven? Give us a tour in your mountain-song...

Tags: mountain-song, poem, <poet's moniker>, epic-earth

Epic-Earth: An ongoing series of earth-related prompts as part of an Imunuri experiment to dwell repeatedly on a theme and its riffs, and/or the possible poetry challenge, bit by bit, of producing an epic or body of poems...
Notes from Mountain Songs: (By Professor Charles Q. Wu)
This inscription alludes to an ancient Daoist legend, "The Gourd Master", recorded first in the History of the Later Han. Here's a version from The Biographies of Spirit Immortals, by the Doaist scholar-practitioner Ge Hong (283-363).

"The Gourd Master was a Daoist healer. He came from afar to sell medicine at the market. After he had sold all the herbal pills in his gourd, he would come home and hang the empty gourd over his seat. After sunset he would turn around and jump into the gourd to no one knows where.

Changfeng, the market officer, was the only one who saw this from upstairs and realized that the Master was no ordinary person. He swept the floor in front of the Master's seat on a regular basis and even brought him food. But curious as he was about the Master's strange disappearances, he never dared ask any question.

One day the Master said to him, 'Come again at dusk when no one is around.' Changfeng did as he was told. The Master said, 'When you see me jump into the gourd, just follow me and you will be there.' Changfeng followed the Master's instruction and tried. As soon as he put out one foot, he was already in there before he knew it. Once inside, what he saw was no longer the gourd, but buildings and scenic objects of all shapes and colors, gates leading to more gates, and walkways leading from on pavilion to another. With the Master were dozens of retainers.

I'm an immortal,' said the Master. 'I disgraced my celestial position because my subordinates did not serve with diligence. On that account I was banished from above and returned temporarily to the mundane world. You are teachable. That's why you were allowed to see me (as I once was).'

From this story comes the phrase "Gourd Heaven", and apt symbol for a classical Chinese garden, which may be limied in space but contains a microcosm of all nature's wonders.

Quoted from Listen To The Fragrance, Literary Inscriptions in Lan Su Yuan, The Portland Classical Chinese Garden by Charles Wu, published by the Portland Classical Chinese Garden www.portlandchinesegarden.org

Monday, November 25, 2013

Desert road trip

White dust rose in our rear view mirror
Inexhaustible silence pushed us in deeper 
We became vast in its presence 

Whenever we slowed or stopped
Wherever our feet touched ground
We found a hundred sorrowful things to love

Inside the Navajo nation
our tires hit washboard road
A clunky expedition met
the imposing dignity of ancestral desert 
Where ancient cave dwellings converge 
with patches of mobile homes and abandoned Chevy trucks 

A ghost town feeling threads through random settlements
Here and there, they seem to thrive...but most appear as if stranded

Pueblo ruins and corrugated aluminum shanty-villes  
Mirror each other at a distance
Collapsing into the sand,  the ground... as if trying to return home

Still,  the strength of the tribe endures
As does the Dwarf Oak and the Cottonwood with its 
complex Sage understory

The ways of  Song and Story are protected here
by those with a powerful will to wait 
Who suspend themselves upside down on the oldest limbs
of desert trees
Watching the land intently as they have for millennia
With all other eyes ( more than human )
They peer through their canyon wall windows
Whispering blackened or nearly extinct languages
who speak the textured sounds of  the woven Place
Songs guide, tales navigate wilderness 
and negotiate threat
These we imagined embedded in thousands of caves and Kivas 
The refuges of the still threatened land
Vast reservoirs veiled by darkness
Vulnerable to pillagers and thieves  
even now.

"The veils"

The light that shuts is still the light—
which is what? The bulb, the socket,
the meeting of wires and current—
the switch, the Tinkerbelle faceplate—
the concentrated heat, the shine—

the cloud of rays that radiates—
the objects upon which they bounce—
the eyes that absorb all those glints—
the mind that somehow pronounces
-gh- as a silent switch making lit

long? How do we divide what counts
as off or on? The room goes dark
while outside comet-eyed cats pounce
on each other with fearsome yowls.
Now the light is on for those cats—

and for the bugs under the hose.
The veils move like nothing we know.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

She Lies, a Simple Sin

I ask her to take a veil
and hold it up to her face,
simple shadow play

as the dancer Salome wed

to the idea of my head on ice
like the Baptist or Antoinette.

She could drop all seven shrouds
on a visit through the underworld;

but, she shuns my comedy.
She rips the cloth in two and swears
my demise is imminent, but not yet.

She covers me with lace
and plods through deep dark myths with army boots.
She lacks imagination. She's heavy.

Then, she lies like snow on leaves in the south,
a lightness that melts before morning's out.

Bring branch to fire

Bring branch to fire

    “cock a doodle do”
awake on the Other side
     dawn break too
bring a branch to fire
     & “Wail”
bring a pail
     to sound
     & fill
earliest bell, chimes blue
blurred lines meld
& which side of the mesh?
to look through to see which other side

pop! button...snooze pop!
ten dream scenes more
break dawn dance
    Over there
     a drop in water
       is of water
surface ripples not.

up hardwood stairs
 chant begins
 wen- fo-lo-see-da

  bring brang branch to fire.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

kiwi kill


overnight the veil of green
curdles dries and drops
tons of leaves cast out
kiwi can't
stand 19 degree
and the overreaching arboreal green
man addiction
has heaved
to earth

i test her
pearlescent green moons,
still hard rocks
soon to ripen
untouched by what
her chloroplasted

plants are like us
will do many things
to ensure
the fruit
is more sturdy
than branch
and thrives


twenty years ago
my wife died

cancer frost
instant wither

until you've seen how death
can reach out long fingers
grab and twist

you won't expect it,



from the vine of life


once you've seen it,
again and then again,
again, and then again,
you hope for swiftness,
pray for blight or
kiwi kills
not longlinger


so should i be glad
my best friend died
this year
relatively quickly?
am i searching for some spin
on misery?
what of the other side?  all i see
are those grim thin fingers
coming through the veil.


once you've seen it
like slow shutter camera frames:

turn and run. pretend you don't know
what you can never again be free of.

we pray for space and grace
when we should
wish for company

and even now, the sudden sunset
freed by space
of kiwikill
through the leaf-free vines

so exquisite,
whole sky pink
i'd rather see the living leaves
caterwauling green
than this sudden


i see them now,
the tangled, knotted vines
cleaving to magnolia branch,
threaded through walnut

their gnarl set off by sunset
deathgrip even here
kiwi vine emulating veil thin wraiths
when what i want
is grace
(is it?)
when what i want
is grace


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stir The Pot (taste the life)

With each veil, whether opaque or transparent
There you are, such that the phenomenon
Of 'behind' a veil takes on a new slant.
You've redefined it for me in the juxtapositions
You carry, heavily, awkwardly, and some tenderly.

For 'behind' becomes 'out in front,' the evening drunkenness 
Marries with the sober mess of another day
Creating one breathtaking yet somber step
In the choreography of this life, the life
You have surreptitiously invited me to witness.

Which of these veils lay, in their transparency,
Across your heart? How do you know 
Your own heart when that which obscures lends
Its fashioning to nearly every breath you take?
What, in your own private ken, can take your breath away?

Why not let it be so even here, even now.
Regardless of what it could bring, what could
Be said of you, of the other. Melt, like the snows,
That brick of larder sheltered in the walk-in
Of the kitchen of your existence. Taste.

What is here. Taste. Join me in the life that is yours.
Join me in taking in the smells, the fragrances.
Yes, you may suffer immunity from those. Walk
Anew into your own life through my eyes,
Landing there in a freshness that is Timeless.

May these words beckon to you in the way
Your touch has softened something in me,
Even in your withholding. For touch is beyond
Flesh, includes flesh, is the origins of flesh,
Something more than the senses that sees, hears, and listens yet.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IMUNURI Prompt: Other side of the veil

In this time of waning in the northern hemisphere, the veil between the world thins. What is on the other side of the veil? Poetry, perhaps more than any other form, can help imagine the unimaginable. In some cultures, beyond death, green fields. In others, fiery pits below the earth, or life on clouds. For some, rebroadcasting electrons to the galactic depths. For others, recycling into another body, perhaps not human. For some, a process in-between, or to the land of the fey. Are the ancestors in the rocks, in the air, in our breath? Or nowhere/held briefly in the memory of the living before blinking out...

Enter a revery state, between the world, and imagine the other side of the veil. 

Tags: veil, poem, <poet's moniker>, epic-earth

An ongoing series of earth-related prompts as part of an Imunuri experiment to dwell repeatedly on a theme and its riffs, and/or the possible poetry challenge, bit by bit, of producing an epic or body of poems...

Image Credits - All from Wikimedia Commons  (clockwise from upper left): J Schulman (2010), The Witch's Broom area of the Veil Nebula (CC-3); The Veils (1983), Spaceland Los Angeles (Public Domain); Tanya (2007), Veils of Humanity Sculpture, Nagasaki Peace Park, New Zealand (CC-2); HFSW (2010), Bridal Veils Park in British Columbia (CC-3). From this search.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Earthbrain (After Fifteen Years)

"More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet." - Marge Piercy
I receive an email from someone after fifteen years:
who are my roots, the unseen connections, nodes and nodules
rilling and trilling,
rifling the soil, shaking
hands beneath my feet? Those old friends
who helped nourish the part we see.
And the ancestors,
bones and ashes
mashed by worms
in the moshpit of destiny
some named, most forgotten
yet linking generation to generation
through violin music, the
building of roads
(which is perhaps just another form
of manifest destiny/
some poets an eternity ago,
on and on, back and back,
deeper and deeper into the
earth. this tracery
of tree roots anchors
me through treachery,
poisoning, child labor,
and possibly even slavery,
backwards and down,
all the way back to earlier times
when we remembered how to
live with earth, harvest roots
backwards and down,
drilling down, and connecting across
to the tree roots of others' lineages.

do we notice, like someone
plunking our ancestral piano,
know each other, kin
to kin, kenning our kinship
(a kind of radical ecology)?

i remember how i felt
when i learned there are
fungal nets that span miles, extending
the reach of tree roots in forests,
tree to tree, and on,
serving as a kind of epicommuni
cation system:

satisfied that something greater
than what i could understand
yet still could sense, with my
outer antennae
of fungal nets,
how we are all touching,
communing, roots
slithering out, snakes
of earth
in earth

we are spreading and spreading
the sacred dirtlinks sucking earth
as large below as above.
my earthbrain
clock opposite below,
reaching out
and holding, kenning, kinning
kindle-spinning the earthweave,
the rootmop, cleansing, connecting
Medusa-spread and writhing lively.
root tips wriggling,
first goddesses,
beam me down,
brain of earth.

11-11 scooter cascadia

A mushy pear

There is no great poem in our language which is simply happy. … We reach for explanations: maybe to be happy is to be a simpleton; maybe poets are morbid; maybe life is darker than it is light; maybe when you are happy you are too busy being happy to write poems about it and when you are sad, you write poems in order to do something. There may be half-truths in these common ideas, but the real explanation lies in the structure of a poem; and, I suggest, in the structure of human reality. Energy arises from conflict. … The sensual body of a poem is a pleasure separate from any message the poem may contain. … If the poem contains a message which is pleasurable (a word I have just substituted for “happy), then the two pleasures walk agreeably together for a few feet, and collapse into a smiling lethargy. The happy poem sleeps in the sun.

—Donald Hall from Claims for Poetry

“A mushy pear”

Please excuse Daniel.
Yesterday, he wrote
his daily Ghazal,
but it was a fruit
for the compost pile.

On the sweet pursuit
of a Parisian
day, who cares what art
has to say? No grain
scrapes to spark a pearl.

His words fell supine
in giggling puddles,
convening at nine
into a little
daydream of moments.

He barely cobbled
the sea-glass bottle.

Monday, October 21, 2013

IMUNURI Prompt: Harvest the Poem Garden

"Flower - Sunflower - Gardener's Toolbox" by Mike Savad
Respond to the following poem, "Seven of Pentacles" by Marge Piercy: "Weave real connections."
Extra experiential credit: While writing, put feet in the dirt. Fondle seeds. Put a harvested fruit or vegetable in your lap and breathe. Walk with a scythe. Feel the connections made. Have a pen and paper beside you. Write a poem.

remember the tags: poem, harvest, epic-earth, poet's moniker

The Seven Of Pentacles - Marge Piercy
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.
An ongoing series of earth-related prompts as part of an Imunuri experiment to dwell repeatedly on a theme and its riffs, and/or the possible poetry challenge, bit by bit, of producing an epic or body of poems...

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I have awoken as rock to our story
It's as plain as day to me
You and I have always been rock
solid, laying against each other 
as millenia move within us
birthing consciousness into body
exquisite exhalation expanding
as time breathes through us
the inner layers resonating deeply
as fire and heat conceive new form
diamond, rose quartz, jasper, gold

Our story is older than words or eyes
our veins beg us to remember
my womb cries it's earth quake
your love rocks me full
mineralizing our tongues, we kiss
upheavaling, we fold together
emerging, rising out of the waters
our ancient forms soften, smoothed
by the rich tastes of song eternal
we move our bodies toward the sun
intertwined, resting, deeply peaceful

 ~ another animista poem from my archives ~ this is what the muse offers for this prompt ~

 25 May 1997

The Prayer of the Bear

An animista poem from my archives ~ perhaps 2006

~ ~ ~

I am a Bear, like the Great Mother, she-Bear, I rise bringing body, 
blood, wonder, and a great big Heart out into this World.

I praise the Creature within me, within each of us, like this Bear,
like the Great Mother, waiting to infuse our every cell with Aliveness.

The fury that moves through these incredible bones and sinew
is the Fury that Feasts on pure Awakeness and Vibrancy of the Soul.

This Bear is awakening in me, her Wisdom moving me, gently licking 
me like her bear cub, with her huge Tongue, the heat, the Vitality of Home.

My Walk is pure when I feel the aliveness just as Aliveness, nothing more certainly 
nothing less. My great big Paws and claws tenderly scoop the Honey Nectar.

I drink, my Tongue moving deep in my Throat, being coated with the Golden
Wisdoms of Truth, Feasting on this in the Springtime of my Stirring.

I share Her Now, for She is you, for She is me, She is the Vitality of We. 
May Her Stirring wake within us, wake within you, Continue to Wake Within me.