33,000

As 33,000 feet, you want the smoothness
that experience tells you, the sky
will once again deny.
Strapped in, you contemplate cursing
the gods of travel, but no,
they are simply meeting your expectations.
Getting this close to heaven was once,
she says, a mystical and spiritual experience,
but then we transcended all of that
with the first step on the lunar surface,
overall a small step from one man
and a crushing of dreams for all
but the great religious cynics of mankind.
With clouds below obscuring all you know
the sun is mocking, surrounding
your dark mood, painting it darker
and you begin to hope that the thunderstorm
that will greet your arrival can somehow
wash away the hesitation of an eternity
trapped in a seat on the lowest margins of heaven.

NUMBER 9?

The truly sad thing is not
that billions were spent
on the voyage to our most distant planet
only to discover, on arrival
it wasn’t a planet at all,
merely a dwarf, a near planet
and yet there was no rebate for the downgrade.
Life is too often like that, you want a mulligan
and all they say is “no returns, no refunds.”
No one asked Charon what he thought
watching it all as he wandered about
knowing he will remain moon
for so long as there is someone, somewhere
assigning names, unless he grows bored,
breaks free and wanders off into being
a dwarf planet all his own, after all
it’s not like Styx would give a damn –
better to be a moon of the first order finally
and as for those billions, if you can’t
leave the solar system every now and again
there’s not much purpose
in escaping the atmosphere.

CRAFTY MOON

The moon hid from me last night
in a cloudless sky, and only a week from full,
so we both knew it was there, peeking
for a brief moment from behind
the old oak in the neighbors yard.
It wasn’t the first time the moon
had done this, it will not be the last
either, I am certain, but I do remember
the time in 1970, the heat of San Antonio
in mid-summer more oppressive than usual
and only the old barracks
for the moon to use as hiding place.
Yet it hid, and that night I didn’t mind
Lying in the base hospital, where the nurses
ignored me for the seriously wounded, as they should
reading the orders issued that day transferring me
to the Reserves as my fellow air policemen
in my training squadron were calling home,
most in shock, to announce that their plan
to avoid Vietnam by enlisting would soon
be scattered on the tarmac of Da Nang Air Base.

COUNTING TIME

I was honored to have this recently published in Arena Magazine: A Magazine of Critical Thinking, Issue 162 from Victoria, Australia


This river has
for endless time flowed
from the distant hills
on its winding path
to the waiting sea.
The river has
no need of clocks,
cares little whether
the Sun, Moon or clouds
shimmers on its surface.
The river counts seasons
as passing moments
ever new, ever shifting,
and our lives,
and our dams
are minor diversions.
I sit along the banks
and watch the clouds
flow gently down stream
seeking the solitude
only the ocean will afford.

RISHO’S POEM 鐵笛倒吹 三十語

Have you been here –
who will know?
The sun and moon
record your journey.

What you release
gathers joyously around you,
what you cling to
flies off on the slightest breeze,
mountain and cloud
enfold each other.
Will you join them?


A reflection on case 35 of the Iron Flute Koans

ASTROGEN

I could never understand as a child
why the moon was female,
the sun always male, and most
stars but ours had Arabic names.
Now makes much more sense to me,
the moon is never one to hog the sky
and even when she commands more
than her usual space, you only want
to stare at her in rapture,
while the sun is so vain
you can stare only briefly
and must look away, and he
is as likely to hide or flee
when he is most wanted,
as a calming, steady presence.
As for the names of all the others,
they don’t sound like ours,
and so we cast them off
as aliens to our small, smug world

FLAME

He watched as the flame
licked at the lip
of the candle, the wax
slowly conceding and falling
in, forming the cradle
on which the flame danced.
He wondered how something
as simple as a wax cylinder
could have an inherent knowledge
of beauty and simplicity
and yet he stared at it
certain the knowledge was there.
He dared not put out the flame
for he could not deprive
the night of this momentary beauty
when it’s love, the moon
had chosen to retreat leaving the stars
to mock their small, immature brother.