Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Leave the Turkey ruffling in the wilds,

to gobble what it was created to gobble…

Thank with emptier stomach, a root soup

of parsnip, yam, onion, perhaps a bit of homegrown

hubbard squash.

Unstuff our minds of acquisition and unholy fears.

feel the lightness of souls

-- liberated by the unskillful meting of wild west justice.

weight on hands and shoulders from passing


instead of care.

Unstuff habits and condonings –

stuffed gas tank, refrigerator…bank accounts.

the meal is the colors of the Desert,

sandy grief,
crunching in the mouth,

the price of oysters
ripped from their homes.

un-appetizer of fatherless and motherless children

rendered by our commander-and-thief.

Eat lightly to unstuff the distance and spin and leavening

placed on our violent shadow,

begetting still another generation of

ashamed and mournful men and women,

soldiers and parents, torn apart by duty and conscience.

Unstuff the newspaper and media of its rationalizations.

Unstuff the contradiction of saving fetuses while slaughtering


Unstuff the Houses of Congress and owning class who condone

the exportation of Great Violence because they are too frightened and/or

unprepared to heal the disparity here.

The Stuffed and the Unstuffed – that is what America is coming down to!

Bless our families and unbless our way of conspicuously-consumed


Set most of this meal outside your house, for the spirits

who freely distribute wealth.

May those who need nourishment find it this Thanksgiving.

May the one God, who wears no uniform, find forgiveness and mercy

for those who stumble and bumble in his name.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Reaching high for ennobling


they stand out

ambitious, awkward

clumsily demanding ordination

big heads on spindly legs

all too human in their proportions.

Just when they shed their green robes

for the yellow plumage of triumph,

they bow.

we know it is physics,

the burden of seed

drawing them over.

but it is something else,

a deep humility,

as if they’ve been touched

by grace.

Bent inward like devout monks,

heavy with praise,

they turn their loveliness downward

to the cracked and parched mother

who bore them

who barrened herself

for their eminence.

Middle Eastern Peace Plan

Arab and Jew serve each other


wash each others feet

marry each others sons and daughters

share each others profits and losses.

Each day sitting

with each others

terror and shame.

No one knows what music plays

on the other side of the doorway.

Why fight over tickets that may not

be honored?


greeting our naked maker,


in the muddy banks

of the Jordan river,


for the stones,

the bullets

the bulldozers

to stop pretending

there are enemies

in the Holy Land.

Intergalactic Ravish

Each night the gods

slip off their clothes

and take a milky bath

of star shine.

Moon-seduced waves
in understated praise.

Frogs and a gazillion crickets
rub body parts into ecstatic song.

The tears of a glacier plunk

into a deep crevasse.

And in some far away galaxy
dances like a possessed belly-dancer

lit up with the electric semen

of the ten-thousand lovers

that would ravish her.


Central Indiana


driving the interstate northbound

muscles sore from climbing hills

in Brown County.

October full moon

fat and flush in the sky

suddely we pass an open field

and there it is

Oak tree perfection!

silhouetted in silver light

every gnarly




of its bearing

cast out.

I dragged that oak

by its humongous roots

in my fist-sized heart

for twenty years



over time

it etched





inside mine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Odyssey to the Pure Land

i'm getting ready to go to Aoetearoa (A-oh,te,ah,row,uh) the Land of the Long White Cloud,
today known as New Zealand. As a practicing Buddhist, I hear much about the "Pure Land"
which enlightened devotees reach, after samsara ceases.
Sutras aside, Aoetearoa was a pure land for 460 million years until man reached her shores about 800AD. It was the last land mass to be "discovered" by man. Of course it had resplendent bird life and the sounds of its forests, (imagine several million bells of all shapes and sizes ringing) were amazing! Even though the Maori extinctified the Moa (the 9 and 1/2 foot tall flightless bird) and several others for the capes of their chiefs, and the Scots who've settled their since have made it sheep heaven, there is still something unmistakably alluring about its dramatic landscapes far from the drudgery of industrialization.
And, as astonishingly beautiful as "Lord of the Rings" made it (with some CGI assistance!), it is important to reflect on the patient majesty of its lands and seas.

I go there as a "saunterer" (from the French, "saint" & "terre" -- holy land), with pure reverance for its presence. I hope to spend many special moments in total silence beholding this living, breathing sanctuary, to remember the indiginous intelligence of the Earth, to shape such life over eons.

I live in Seattle, near the last fringes of wild lands and waters, where you can still walk among
ancient trees, with quiet dappled light your only companion, but only after the expensive lifestyle is paid for, laboring amidst the noise, the harsh lights, the bellowing traffic, the belligerent upstart country that is showering the world with attitude and retribution.

I want out for a little while, to catch my breath, to see what truly might be. I will bring with me my retinue, Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, John Muir, Gary Snyder, the voices that sung of an enduring beauty that is also at the edge of extinction (or as John Nichols frames so vividly as, "pizzification")

I will pray as hard as one man can. To Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to you and your children's
children. The time for living light is at hand. Om shanti Om

Listen for strains of my flute whispering across the Pacific.
Listen to your own heart crying for a Pure Land, where we may leap and twirl and soar with the same relish and abandon as Orcas and Dolphins and tireless Albatross.

Ke Orana -- may heaven be with you always.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Companions of Mu

Once upon a time in an ancient Chinese village, lived an old man, who was known for his great love of caves, mists and poetry. This venerable old man, was named Mu. (1)

As a boy he trained with the other young Buddhist monks, practicing his meditation, awareness of breath, and the slow, methodical brushstrokes of the characters he brought to life. After gazing upon his flawless work, his elders whispered among each other “the most gifted hand in the monastery…”As he practiced his art deepened, but he also began to fall in love with the lovely fields and valleys that would appear on occasion below the thin, crisp air of his mountain home. (2)

On his fifteenth birthday, the monks held a ceremony to help him decide his future. They brought him a tray with a long white lotus stem on one side and on the other a plain porcelain plate with a handful of rice. The monks sat around him quietly seated in a semi-circle of reverence. Mu, looked at the flower, its perfect white petals, its assurance of eternal beauty. Then at the rice, plain, simple and hard. The grains of a life of toil and detail. He sat there for several hours in deliberation. The monks quietly chanted at their prescribed periods. Finally he lifted his hands slowly and lifted the plate of rice and poured the grains into his open hand. The sound of the rice was enough to inform the monks. They gently stood and bowed towards Mu in unison and left in silence. In the morning, Mu would leave the monastery to live the life of a common laborer. (3)

He worked very hard in the fields, the rise and sweep of his sickle, keeping time in the sticky heat. In the evenings he would watch his children play, his wife spin yarn and sip his tea or rice wine slowly and return to reading poetry. He sometimes would look up at the brush and ink upon the mantle, but he never disturbed their tranquility. (4)

Never did his devotion waver. His sons grew strong and tall, but were carried off by war, forever. His wife fell ill and he attended her every day. When she died he quietly gathered straw and burned their little house in the fading sun. His eyes glistened through the heat and smoke. (5)

Mu wandered back to the mountains, full of dripping greenery, black lakes and dancing mists. He made many friends in the wood and mountainside, songbirds would visit him and he would return the favor on his bamboo flute. Wild and presumed ferocious creatures would come to visit him also. He would bow to them and they to him in their own way. (6)

One day he took a walk to a beautiful meadow with a brisk mountain stream running alongside and ancient bearded trees watching over. He found his sacred place and lay down there. Falling into a peaceful sleep he drifted into a timeless dream.

Three flies joined him on his journey.

Hovering above his gentle countenance, they painted the characters of his vision . As he slept, his dream was written in mid-air flawlessly by the three flies. As the flies bounced and danced, birds read their magnificent poems and flew to the four corners of the mountain woods singing them to the creatures delight. The birds flew to the sea and sang to the fish and in this way Mu’s dream was retold to all the living beings of the Earth.(7)

The poem of Mu, as told by the flies and birds and fish said,

“Honor everything as it is.

All living creatures are connected.

We are one landscape sung together.

Even our friends, the rocks and the air and the swift water carry the songs of life.

All of these mountain creatures are our ancestors. (8)

Many fight hard to conquer the wilds, to prove they are more worthy.

But no one can conquer the infinite source, this freely given Love.

Only in devotion will it be sustained.

Love provides for ten-thousand generations.

When the mountain hawk circles out of sight, rejoice.” (9)

Opening his eyes, refreshed from his nap, Mu awoke.

Rising slowly, he picked up his cane.

Gazing in each direction he bowed in thankfulness.

While walking to his little stone Stupa.

at the edge of the forest,

his three companions bowed in mid-air. (10)

(in parentheses are the color plates of a childrens book yet to be illustrated....)

Friday, November 05, 2004

Inland Sea

with your permission

I will make love to you

we will cry
an inland sea

lovely creatures
will flock there

weary travelers
their troubles
washed away

on its dazzling surface

dancing with abandon

diamonds only water can wear.

The Day After November 2nd

America is having a love affair with

We are slowly twirling down the righteous toilet bowl of

Entitled to oil, cheap health care, to protect fetuses and
murder people who threaten our great, unspeakable “national interest”.

A gazillion dollars was spent to prove we can’t reconcile our
differences or
work together
to slaughter a common enemy.

Glumly, America is without a vision.

Fear and confusion make us a rampaging bull in a china shop,
vast needs, no plan.

We wake up today to face the real enemy, ourselves.
What are we building, America?

Shopping centers, internet backbone, colossal traffic jams,
rural factories, Sex, $, $, Sex, $ and horrifying debt?

Do we know how to listen to each other?

to simply visit each other,
rub each others tired feet and shoulders,
share a meal together,
cry over our mutual ignorance???

Grieve today for divided America,
its headless chicken economy,
its tragic hero infamy.

Gather the ashes and pray
for a Phoenix.