It is the wet season
when the rains wash the village
carrying off the detritus of poverty.
On the adobe wall
of the ancient town hall
some villagers say
a face appeared one morning.
To some it was
the face of Christ
to others that of an old man
a former mayor, perhaps,
to most of the tourists
from the nearby resort
no more than random discoloration
of the aging plaster
that clung to the beams
by the force of will.
They arrived by bus
and rusting pick ups,
bowed to the wall
and reached out gingerly
like children touching
the flame of a candle.
To the mason it was
a job that would feed
his family for another week.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3 July 2019, Pg. 40
They hide in corners, and you think
you can see them, but you cannot be certain
for they are vague and could be no more
than wishes, but belief is sufficient.
As you grow older, the number of corners grow
and a universe of but eight corners
is now itself tucked in a corner of memory.
One corner hides the face of the man
who adopted me, watched for two years,
before departing suddenly, and the only item
I have is his diploma rolled up in a tube
where my own accomplishments are rolled.
In another corner the day I met the man
I now call father is so deeply buried
only his present, increasingly absent
aging face is all I can see.
Memories are elusive, appearing
and disappearing without warning
day by day the oldest evanesce
and that corner is filled
by another memory grown vague.
God, it was a long night, unending
needs unsated, brought to the edge
man is a cruel beast, half master
as pleading supplicant, half slave
much the child, begging, wanting
as if food or thought would give
man humanity, elevated above
needs, existing outside, independent a
God, ruler of illusion and fantasy.
First Appeared in Aura Literary Arts Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1996.
There is a woman
who asks no questions,
who fears neither birth nor death.
What can you teach her?
The wise man offers no lesson
but observes closely
and gains great wisdom.
What can you teach
one who already knows.
What can you learn
with a fully open mind.
In a clockless world
there is no time.
A reflection on case 80 of the Iron Flute Koans
He’s mostly bald
and generally something of a grouch.
When he enters a room, the key
is to nod in recognition
but not in invitation.
You know, regardless
of the topic at hand,
he will have something
to say and it, no matter how
you perfume it, will nevertheless
have that air of negativity
he has so ably mastered.
So many others, and especially you,
have perfected the art
of deflected avoidance,
at least until that moment
you come face-to-face with him
in your morning mirror.
He takes a first step
the path, the field
for the ox.
Much time passes
in the soft mud
of spring a print
of hoof, deep
in the distance
faint in morning fog
at the very edge
the ox stands
for a moment
he freezes for
with his foot
he gently places
a loop of rope
around the neck
of the waiting ox.
The ox stands
staring past the horizon
to the beast
and it steps
seeking his next
to ease his dismount.
Among certain species of spider
at the moment of arachnidal orgasm
the female devours her mate
for the protection of the young.
The lion stalks his prey, then leaps
tearing flesh to sate a hunger
born of the endless sun
beating down on the grassy plain.
It is left to man to hunt
for trophy, for proof of dominion
over all else, as promised
by a self-created God.
First published in Albatross, Vol. 13, 2001