Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poetry Season

For a fast month, we harvest poems,
April-ripe and urgently bursting,
our baskets stretched with letters,
with words, with finely worked lines.
We gather our treasures together,
share them, mix them, lick our fingers
as we linger on the long notes,
rejoicing in the juice of songs.
Around us, the ground catches
the leaves, the snatches of sound, the seeds
that fall, almost unnoticed, from our pens,
and then — and then! — they sprout,
the sharp green words come shooting out,
and verse begins again.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

And As I Walk

I walk, and as I walk, the bridge appears,
a single step, a single inch, but just
enough to keep me going through my fears,
to keep me going as I learn to trust.
With surer step, the surer base I find,
a faster pace, the faster comes my track.
But timid going, timid heart and mind,
draws the long proceeding trail back.
Beneath my feet, beneath my sight there lies
a vast, unlighted, fastly falling dark.
I raise my eyes, my rising, lightning eyes
and follow the far rising, lightning spark
that calls me, draws me, onward, upward, lo!
to that far shore, where God calls me to go.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Feijoas magically appear
in buckets, bags and bins,
and when you think you’ve used them all,
some more come pouring in.
They go in trifles, cakes and crumbles,
we eat them raw unguarded,
two bags’ worth went to chutney — still,
we’ve more than when we started!

Monday, April 27, 2015

New Zealand Rain

The rain in
New Zealand

The ground becomes
rather than dry.

This can only mean

Spring has Fallen.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Throughout the fall,
and then the winter,
I had nary a cold nor a sniffle.
Germs fled in despair,
powerless before my immune system.

When April came,
I let down my guard,
failing to account for that fact that
in New Zealand,
it would suddenly be fall again.

They were waiting for me.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Poem of Poems

(with apologies to pretty much everyone)

O, where are the snows of yesteryear,
     Alone and palely loitering?
Once upon a midnight drear,
     They changed their state with kings.

I caught this morning morning's minion,
     She walks in beauty like the night.
And everything happens that can't be done,
     To rage against the light.

I am the music maker,
     And captain of my soul.
I take the road less traveled by:
     The grave is not it’s goal.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And Hope is the thing with feathers.
Death I think is no parenthesis,
     But I go on forever.

I wandered lonely as a cloud,
     And went to Innisfree,
My head is bloody but unbowed,
     Death kindly stopped for me.

* * * (additional verse that didn’t quite seem to fit) * * *

Today we have naming of parts,
     But I know not which to prefer.
O, never say that I was false of heart,
     By the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Driving on the Left

Recite the mantra constantly: drive on the left,
(Please hold. Your brain has temporarily been blocked.)
The roundabouts can put your signals to the test,
I’m glad the pedals for the gas and brake aren’t swapped,

(Please hold. Your brain has temporarily been blocked.)
Watch approaching traffic coming from the right,
I’m glad the pedals for the gas and brake aren’t swapped,
Convert the speed limit — kilometers to miles,

Watch approaching traffic coming from the right,
Police have zero tolerance on speeding here,
Convert the speed limit — kilometers to miles,
Though mostly things are not as bad as I had feared,

Police have zero tolerance on speeding here,
At each intersection, windshield wipers wave,
Though mostly things are not as bad as I had feared,
I think we’ll possibly complete this trip alive,

At each intersection, windshield wipers wave,
The roundabouts can put your signals to the test,
I think we’ll possibly complete this trip alive,
Recite the mantra constantly: drive on the left!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just Desserts

for Veda and Devya

Welcome to New Zealand,
here’s your trifle.
Blackberries, papaya, feijoas,
custard, whipped cream,
and wonderful.

Second night: apple pie.
And I hadn't even told them
it's my favorite.

Coming up tomorrow:
cheese cake,
with homegrown lemons.

I may never go home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Two years ago,
I was in California,
when Swamiji left his body in Italy.
I woke to the news
in the middle of the night.

This year,
I am in New Zealand,
watching a memorial service
in California
in the middle of the afternoon.

Every year,
Swamiji is everywhere,
watching over all of us,
still bringing us together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crossing the International Date Line

Kia ora and good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to Air New Zealand flight 7, San Francisco to Auckland.
Following our safety video, the flight crew will be moving through the cabin
to collect Tuesday, April 21st from all passengers.

It seems an ordinary trash bag, but we’ve had no meal yet,
no trays to return, no pretzel wrappers, no small plastic cups.
And when I find the bag held expectantly before me,
it is full of days.

A birthday for someone who will be 29 for another year (again).
An anniversary, forgotten now (by both parties).
A fatal accident avoided (or delayed).
Recovery from an illness delayed (or lost).
First meetings between strangers who will never become friends (archenemies, soulmates).
Epiphanies (failures) estrangements (reconciliations) chances (changes).
Ordinary, unnoticeable (unforgettable) days.

All these days, these April twenty-firsts that will never be, swirl together,
stringing themselves into entire April lifetimes,
separating again into little April deaths.

And as I watch, I suddenly feel a day
— not older or younger, but simply — lighter.
My breath catches, but the flight attendant moves on,
and only the man behind me (possibly) (doubtfully)
notices which day would have been mine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On the Eve of the Tuesday that Wasn't

On the eve of the Tuesday that wasn’t,
I emptied my suitcases full,
drove away from the airport at once and
then parked in a small swimming pool.

On the eve of the Tuesday that wasn’t,
the jet taxied down the bike lane.
The stewardess showed me her boarding pass,
so I let her get off of the plane.

On the eve of the Tuesday that wasn’t,
I traveled as slowly as light,
and one hour passed like a dozen,
(and then vice-a-versa at night).

Then after the Tuesday that wasn’t,
comes the Wednesday that will be (I think)
Then I’ll stand upside down in New Zealand,
and my brain will be back in the pink.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Packing Up and Sacking Out

I’m packing and I’m stacking
with the suitcase nearly cracking
but I feel that something’s lacking,
and it’s not there in my heap.

Through the hustle and the bustle,
I detect a softer rustle:
it’s the ache of brain and muscle --
I think I need to sleep!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Jeeves and Wooster Villanelle

“What ho! I say! That’s a jolly good wheeze!”
It always starts so innocently, eh?
“Precisely, sir. I do endeavor to please.”

An old school chum is in a bit of a squeeze,
And Bertie rallies round to save the day.
“What ho! I say! That’s a jolly good wheeze!”

But with Aunts looming large, the best plans freeze.
It’s time to hear what Jeeves may have to say.
“Precisely, sir. I do endeavor to please.”

A careful study of psychologies
of individuals he now displays.
“What ho! I say! That’s a jolly good wheeze!”

The solution absolutely takes the cheese,
dodging an engagement on the way.
“Precisely, sir. I do endeavor to please.”

“How ever do you come up with schemes like these?”
“In all modesty, sir, I really couldn’t say.”
“What ho! I say! That’s a jolly good wheeze!”
“Precisely, sir. I do endeavor to please.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

If You Love It Enough

“Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.”
— George Washington Carver

If you love it enough, any-
thing will tell you its secrets. Start
small, choosing perhaps a tiny
seedling. Find your way to its heart.

Can’t hear it? Listen closely — if
you love it enough, anything
will respond, pulsing back with its
own heartbeat, a soft whispering.

It’s a whispering that many
never hear, never guessing that,
if you love it enough, any-
thing can put you on the right path.

For within that whispering lisp
you can hear the universe sing,
and it will reveal to you, if
you love it enough, anything.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When I Sit Down and Close My Eyes

When I sit down and close my eyes
in hopes of meditating deep,
I often find, to my surprise,
that suddenly I fall asleep.

I focus now, with all my might,
when I sit down and close my eyes.
My stomach thinks “that can’t be right!”
and queues up thoughts of apple pies.

And so go more attempts and tries:
distracted, itchy, or so-so.
When I sit down and close my eyes,
it doesn’t always seem to flow.

But still I hope and persevere,
and long to soar in heavenly skies.
And sometimes I can see them clear,
when I sit down and close my eyes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Path to the Infinite

This is the path to the Infinite.

This is the spine,
held straight as a rod,
revealing the path to the Infinite.

This is the energy
given by God,
that flows up the spine
held straight as a rod,
ascending the path to the Infinite.

These are the chakras
that subtly transform
and govern the energy
given by God,
as it moves up the spine
growing rigid and taut,
as it climbs the steep path to the Infinite.

These are the vrittis
that swirl and storm,
obstructing the chakras
and treating with scorn
the limitless energy
given by God,
till it’s lost in the spine
now curving and bowed,
and yet longing still for the Infinite.

These are desires
that have taken a hold
and revolve in the vrittis
inflicting great harm
on the chakras whose power’s
now used to deform
that once-perfect energy
given by God
and trapped in the spine
which is tied up in knots,
and can’t see the path to the Infinite.

This is the ego
becoming enthralled
with fulfilling desires
so brazen and bold
that stir up the vrittis
in skirls and swarms,
upsetting the chakras
and leaving them torn,
dispersing the energy
given by God,
away from the spine
which has sunk to its root,
and can now hardly think of the Infinite.

This is the Guru
who calls us His own,
who teaches the ego
to not be controlled
by desires no matter
how glittering gold,
for they only form vrittis
with misleading charms.
But the chakras can now
become free to transform
and uplift the energy
given by God,
realigning the spine
that was so distraught,
and regaining the path to the Infinite.

And this is the devotee,
no longer alone,
who bows to the Guru
that shines like the sun,
dispelling the darkness
of ego and all of
our fears and desires
that once had us stalled,
in the vrittis that now
are dissolving their forms,
allowing the chakras to
open, reborn,
to the flow of the energy
given by God,
ascending the spine
once more straight as a rod,
and completing the path to the Infinite.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Inspiration Triolet

Inspiration comes at last,
when you really need it.
It may come slow, or maybe fast,
but inspiration comes at last.
Don’t let the moment wriggle past,
but harken well, and heed it!
Inspiration comes at last,
when you really need it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Tea Sonnet

The tins of tea proliferate beyond
all reason: shelves and cupboards overflow.
But, equally unreasonable, I’m fond
of that elixir. I suppose it shows.
Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Moroccan Mint,
Pineapple Ginger, Winter Chai, I think
without much trouble you can get a hint
that, black or green or red, it’s what I drink.
The white teas too can easily be found:
Emperor’s, Persimmon, Honeydew,
rub shoulders with the herbals that abound.
And so — what type of tea entices you?
Come sit with me and let us share a pot.
A life without some tea is simply not.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


I reach upwards now,
into a new element,
kneading the air
as I once did the earth,
powerful fingers,
sun-bleached, stretching,
a silent beckoning
to land and sky and rain:
I drew my strength from you, now
come, let me return it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

ABCs at the Circus

Acrobatically buoyant, Carol
delights everyone,
flying gracefully high.
If jeopardized kites look mostly nervous,
only perfection quietly reigns supra-trapeze.
Until, very wildly,
xenophobic yaks
zoom zoo-wards,
yanking xylophones
wantonly, viciously
under the supports,
risking quite possibly
our noble mistress’s life.
Kind Jove intervenes, however!
Grasping frantically -- escape!
Deserving crowd’s buzzing admiration.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Garbage In, Garbage Out

for Cristie for Zephyr
(Listen to the recording, to the tune of “High Hopes”)

When we hear that sound, and feel the rumbling ground,
We run out to the porch, and look around.

The garbage truck’s coming right up my street.
Driven by guys that I’d like to meet.
Everyone knows that the trash — man —
Does the best job he can!

’Cause we put garbage in, and he takes garbage out,
There’s old charcoal, broken barbells and a moldy trout.
And so at every stop he makes,
Every bin he takes,
Till they’re empty at last,
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of…
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of…
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of trash!

Where does it go, all the trash that we throw?
Let’s follow the truck, then we will know.

The garbage truck continues its route,
Picking up its bins full of loot.
Then when it’s full to the top — stop! —
It’s time to go make a drop!

’Cause they put garbage in, they’ll get the garbage out,
So the truck drives with the cars around the roundabouts,
And when they finally reach the dump,
Every bag goes “thump!”
On the top of the stack,
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of…
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of…
Whoops, there goes another dumpster of trash!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Filling Space

The void left when a poem is finished
is only a human emptiness,
as big as our egos.

If we think we have to fill it,
it is impossible.

But if we know that every atom
is infinite,
is eternal,

then we simply listen.
Each one will whisper to us
its epic poem.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Guy! Guy!
Oh, what a guy!
So indescribably,
guilelessly high!
Argyle guises
disguise not his eyes
that scry out the kayaks
and kites in the sky!

Guy! Guy!
Oh, what a guy!
Guy dances down guidelines
that guide him to pies.
The choir, quiescent,
its guidance implies.

Guy! Guy!
Inscribe though I try,
I quietly cry that I
cannot describe
that kindly and, yes,
quite chimerical Guy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


With a single word,
my mother elevated a fold of fabric
into the realm of significance,
of named things.

The only counter
I had ever encountered
was in the kitchen.
My only pain
had been a child’s boo-boos.

That such mysteries lurked
between my bed covers
was as quietly miraculous as the fact
that such simplicity could be worthy
of its own incantation.

A pane of glass in my mind
tilted slightly,
the pain of confusion
countered by the awe of meaning,
and all of it folded gently,
back down
to the everyday,
waiting patiently
for the everynight.

Through a word
I did not understand,
in that moment
I caught a glimpse
of Language.

Monday, April 6, 2015

An Elegy for Loganberry Jam

O Loganberry jam, your jar is here,
so empty, so forlorn, now cleansed of all
but memories. The label now peels off,
sororal handwriting giving, alas,
but cold comfort, reminding me of just
how far you traveled from the distant land
of Oregon to share preservéd joy.
Majestically purple, you presided o’er
your morning kingdom, royal breakfast bowl,
breakfast of champions, of monks, and of
a bookstore manager who in your spoons
of berry bliss did find exalted there
a simple dish of yogurt and granola.
What now? I gaze into the crystal depths.
An honored jar to hold such prize must surely
offer consolation, hope, and yes,
it gives me reassurance that more jam
may come when next my sister visits me.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Earworm Triolet

It’s hard to write a poem
with an earworm in my head.
I think “Yeah, still, I’ll show ’em,”
But it’s hard to write a poem
That sounds better than a modem
That’s connecting to the web.
It’s hard to write a poem
with an earworm in my head.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Ballad of Ukulele Luke and Ukulele Larry

Ukulele Luke had a heavy load to carry:
His former-best-friend nemesis was Ukulele Larry.
Ukulele Larry was depressed by life’s cruel fluke,
That for years he hadn’t talked to Ukulele Luke.

Ukulele Luke grew up with Ukulele Larry.
Ever since they were eleven, in the town of Harpers Ferry,
On Friday afternoons little Larry’d visit Luke
For ukulele lessons, and they’d practice till they’d puke.

It wasn’t long before their youthful friendship faced a test:
Ukulele Larry said his concert uke was best.
But Luke extolled the virtues of his tenor over all.
(“You know they sound the same!” his mother shouted from the hall.)

The ukulele boys from then could never more agree.
Their practice times degenerated into mere decrees
Of “I am right!” and “You are wrong!” and so I’m sad to say
That Luke and Larry’s ukuleles finally parted ways.

And when they turned eighteen, Ukuleles Luke and Larry
Found it time to leave their little town of Harpers Ferry.
Larry was accepted into Harvard, whereas Luke,
Without a backward glance for Larry, headed off to Duke.

The years went by without a word, a phone call, or a text,
Though each one felt a little sad about it, and perplexed.
Then one day Luke received a letter: Ukulele Larry’d
Written him to say he’d gotten hitched (that is, he married).

“I fell in love,” he said, “and she’s a ukulele girl,
But then I learned a fearsome fact that set my mind a-whirl.
She made me her confession over pasta with romano:
Her uke’s no concert, nor a tenor — darn thing’s a soprano!

“She’s known as Ukulele Lucy on the stage,
Her tremolo especially has made her all the rage.
I can’t deny it anymore than I can play piano:
I’m a tenor ukulelist, in love with a soprano.”

Then Luke phoned up his friend and said, “I couldn’t think of how
To tell you this before. I think I’m able now.
I too have found myself in love: with Ukulele Joan.
You’ll never guess the kind she plays — that’s right! a baritone!”

“Can you forgive me,” Larry asked, “for my tenor pride?”
“The fault, good sir,” responded Luke, “is quite on my own side.
We’re best friends first and foremost, whether times be smooth or hairy.”
“I hope we never fight again,” said Ukulele Larry.

So now they play together, Larry, Lucy, Luke and Joan,
And the message that they share is now exceedingly well-known
To all musicians everywhere, old, young, black, white, short, tall:
That ukuleles — any size — and love can conquer all.

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Good Friday Blessing

May your Fridays be good, and your Thursdays be holy,
Your ambitions high, and the speed bumps lowly.
May your Mondays come late and the Saturdays early,
With the time in between spent more or less purely.
May your Tuesdays ignite in you zeal and zest,
To push on through Wednesdays and all of the rest,
And then when it’s Sunday, I pray that you’ll find
Renewal of energy, heart, soul, and mind,
As He renews gladness, hope, and mankind.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Raindance for California

Stretching, reaching, straining, dry,
      Lake Oroville, Shasta, Don Pedro, McClure
We suck the ground, we gasp the sky,
      Trinity, Tahoe, Clear Lake, Pardee

Dusty branches slapping our sides,
      Hetch Hetchy, Lake Almanor, New Bullards Bar
Stinging dry tears from the groundwater’s hide,
      Millerton, Pine Flat, Folsom, Stampede

We melt the rocks in the creek bone trails,
      Lake Oroville, Shasta, Don Pedro, McClure
A stone libation over shriveled scales,
      Trinity, Tahoe, Clear Lake, Pardee

When deserts are fertile, ravines in flood,
      Hetch Hetchy, Lake Almanor, New Bullards Bar
Then water again can be our blood,
      Millerton, Pine Flat, Folsom, Stampede

While any of us may yet remain,
      Lake Oroville, Shasta, Don Pedro, McClure
Dance! Pray! Call down the rain!
      Trinity, Tahoe, Clear Lake, Pardee

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Discworld Clerihews

Mr. Pratchett (Sir Terry)
Made everything merry.
Discworld fans have always known
He would meet no one’s Death but his own.

* * *

Can intone without breath.
You’ll know your life has lapsed
When you hear the small caps.

* * *

Sergeant Detritus
Would quite like to smite us.
But he’s rendered the issue moot,
Being knocked out by his own salute.

* * *

Tiffany Aching
Was not bad at baking.
But the thing that most pleases
Is her making of ambulatory cheeses.