The cat ignored him totally this morning. She wouldn’t give him the time of day if she could have told time. It was surprising, and for him it was painful. He loved the cat, and he thought the cat loved him. Once he thought he saw her sneer but he knew cats did not do that. But she looked away, if she had even looked at him in that moment. But to not even acknowledge his presence, to thank him for the food, that hurt. The cat hid her smile, knowing even Pavlov would be pleased with how well her training of the human was going. He would be wrapped around her paw before he knew it at this pace
It was a strange room,
that much I recall, with heavy
velvet curtains covering
what should have been a window,
and might once have been, but no longer.
The only light was a bare bulb
in the ceiling, casting
a soft amber wash across
the time worn oak floor,
and once white walls.
There was a chair, nondescript
and now long forgotten
and a small metal table, once
gray its paint flaking, its surface
mottled and uneven.
Still, I sat in that room
for an hour each day, staring
at the walls, and looking deeply
within, and finding both empty,
have never returned there.
10,000 origami cranes
floated down over Tokyo
each bearing the soul
of one gone in nature’s recent fury.
Each crane cried freely
the tears flowing into the Sumida
forming a wave that washes
back to the sea, replenishing its loss.
We, too, shed our tears
and look skyward
sad in the knowledge
that with each passing day
still more cranes
will fill the sky
more tears seep back
to the still angry sea.
As I stare out the window and watch
the snow slowly build on the limbs
of the now barren crab apple, painting
it with a whiteness that bears heavily,
giving the smaller branches a better
view of the ground in which their
fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the tree
continues to watch me, if its vision
is clouded by the snowy blanket
in which it wraps itself this day,
and if it does, what must it think
of someone so sedentary when it,
bearing its winter burden can still
dance gently in the morning wind.
It is a day set aside for resolutions
although there is no reason
you cannot make a resolution
any day of your choosing.
Perhaps it is a day for those
resolutions you might not
otherwise make, the bold
or daunting, more likely a day
for the resolutions you know
you will abandon as too hard
or simply utterly impractical.
This year I have resolved not
to engage in the annual ritual,
the annual farce more accurately,
and will achieve a long-held goal
of conceding failure early,
in a new year that will afford
myriad chances to come up short.
And there is a hidden blessing
in my newfound resolve
to swear off resolutions, so
take that old Epimenides.
Living in a bamboo grove, she said,
is very much like living in an old house.
Look up at noon, into the canopy
and imagine you see rays of light
piercing the ill-thatched roof.
Listen to the growling winds of autumn
and hear the ghosts of the old house
making their way up creaking stairs.
And when you truly find the silence
imagine the Buddha sitting nearby
the morning breeze his breath
slowly drawing you into the day.
The sun slowly climbs
up onto the mountain’s minaret
and announces the call to prayer.
The waves in the quiet Lake
dip their heads watching trees
with the reverence reserved for morning.
The loon sits on the altar
and intones the sermon, the waves
stilling for a moment, then ebbing into the day.
clouds drop rain
stones and cloth
red and blue
still worlds apart
all at attention
a mad world
soaked in peace
Publsihed in New Feathers Anthology (Summer 2020)
It’s simple enough to write a song,
that’s what I heard him say,
and though I doubted that wholly
he say try, just give it a day.
I promised I would try to write
but I knew that I’d fail in time
for even Leonard Cohen now
and then used a subtle rhyme
and that is not something for which
I was ever cut out, I’m certain
and he laughed when I said I failed,
and retreating, pulled shut the blinds.
I have two mothers, now both dead,
I have three fathers, one unknown, one buried
outside Washington and one lost
in a corner of his shrinking mind.
I am growing older, I have aches
and clicks and pops and groans,
which each remind me that I
am aware and alive and that
isn’t a bad way to start a new day.