Memory: a poem of the five senses

Burnt cinnamon and candle wax,
the surface of sandpaper and a tack,
a bitter hint of lemon peel
chased with a water back.

The tinkle of a shattered glass,
the supple strength of silk,
an echo of a footstep
and a hint of soured milk.

A new bouquet of flowers,
the barking of a hound,
cold shimmer of a moonbeam,
the scent of fresh-plowed ground.

17 APR 2014

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A Meditation Haiku

Take a slow breath.
Don’t hold it long; let it go.
See, there is more air.

Take a good, long look;
Don’t scan the scene too quickly.
See, there is so much.

Take a deep swallow.
Don’t rush it; chew the liquid.
See how full you get.

Take a pause; listen.
Don’t mind all the surface noise.
See, you can do it.

Now give it all back.
Of course you have to keep some;
so you’ve changed the world.

Take a short lesson:
Each moment is a treasure;
gold can’t buy one back.

Breathe, look, drink, listen.
Become part of the whole world.
See — you can’t help it.

29 JUN 2004

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The Lesson of the Sirens

I cannot hear the sirens’ song.
My ears have been clogged for too long
with endless drivel, mindless stuff;
but I can see them well enough.
Their mouths are moving, and it’s tough
to lip read, but I still can do it:
“He’s not listening, so screw it!

Why are we wasting our time
on fools like this? We are divine
in purpose, and this role demeans
the stature of all other queens.”
They loose their talons from the rocks,
and slip them into shoes and socks;
then swim off to the nearest shore
to charm the devil from some poor

demented poet, who is cursed
to think he’s what they claim, their first.
He buys them drinks, ten bucks a round,
and doesn’t notice when the sound
of their sweet voices starts to fade;
and at the jukebox, I hear played
some song of love’s last promise made.

When he next looks, the girls are gone,
and in their place sits Xenophon,
who tells him, “They have gone stone mute;
they cannot speak save in pursuit.
You’ve made their game too simple, son,
and so their purpose is undone;

They’ve gone back to Odysseus,
who’s laughing now, at all of us.
There is no song without an ear;
now, pony up. I need a beer.”

And so the sirens have returned,
their course adjusted, lessons learned.
They’ll sit and sing, while I transcribe.
The worth of which, you must decide.

12 APR 2004

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Speak Low: an alcaic

If someone listens intently, patiently
for something beyond audible sensation
each moment becomes sacred silence
embracing the hearer into being

If someone watches quietly, carefully
for something behind visible perceptions
each vista becomes secret beauty
embracing the viewer into making

If someone ponders honestly, tirelessly
on something beyond logical reflection
each finding becomes useful knowledge
embracing the thinker into balance.

01 APR 2004

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Quiet

Listen …

beyond the bustle of the nearby cross-street,
beyond the hum of the pulsing air conditioners,
beyond the rustle of the tree leaves,
beyond the chirping of the birds,
beyond the soft murmur of humming insects,
beyond the gentle rush of your own breath,
beyond the constant throb of thoughts,
beyond the slow growth of the grass,
beyond the hiss of the clouds as they pass,
beyond the turning of the earth…

ah, the silence of becoming,
the sound of being!

23 JUN 2003

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Describing Sound to the Deaf

It is more than simply a vibration,
a finite number of beats across time
that enter the senses to resonate
and seek to move against the immobile;

there is a color and taste to it, too,
that fills the mouth with flavor and substance,
plays against the eye in patterns of light.
By turns, it is warm or cool to the touch,

and may fill the mind with joy or with dread.
It is alive, ever-changing, and moves
across great distances; as its echo
fades, it is absorbed in other new forms:

the whir of wings, the rustle of dry leaves,
the drip of a faucet, a tinkling laugh.

Drawing it in, we bring the world to us,
open, undisguised and without deceit –
where vision fails, in its grandiose quest
to reach out, conquer, and quickly discern

between the illusions it is offered,
the ear, with its passive, receptive scan
finds no separations, no division
between the self and the sacred other.

19 MAY 2003

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