Summer 2005


Sour cherries glow
as red as coals, but don’t burn
the mouth they surprise

“Live small…”

“Live small and be large”
slight motto for a cruel time
when sloth and greed rule

Now Is

Now is the surround
that’s always here, for it stays
even as it goes


The hypnotic grace
of birds in flight setting type
on the sky’s blue page

Fog SF

This fog is bracing,
muffles sight and cleanses mind –
soft life from the sea

Oakland Docks

Shining flightless cranes
lean over hulls heaped with “goods”
or should I say “bads”?

“Your days are numbered”

“Your days are numbered”
says the setting sun – I know,
long for the new dawn

As Little

Mother, dead mother,
you hear me as little now
as you did in life

Our Boots

Our boots by the wall,
dusty from the morning’s ride,
still and eloquent


I sit on the porch
and look out on the valley,
watch one brown llama


Curtain of purple
delphinium by the creek
rushing down Lundy

Out The Window

Out the window now
mist shrouded hills running north,
still horses grazing

Small Black Frog

My horse’s hoof just
missed a small black frog – neither
of them were concerned

Whispered Thoughts

I whisper my thoughts
to the white dog, sure she’ll keep
my confidences


The abiding green
speechlessness of pines under
the great mountain’s brow

Raccoons’ Window

The wild clematis
has almost reached the raccoons’
window in the oak

Rain Hesitates

The breeze barely stirs
the huge limbs of these old trees
as rain hesitates

Lost And Found

Each and every day
is lost even as its found –
memory’s a dream

Near 60

What I know takes me
by surprise as if I were
twenty and dreaming


I move the fences
in my mind trying to keep
me in green pasture

So Many Beauties

So many beauties
have perished but still burn bright
in my heart’s night sky

All That’s Left

I’m all that’s left now
of so many that I’ve loved –
I cling like a leaf

My Sixtieth Year

My sixtieth year
and now autumn comes around,
death wrapped in rainbow

Soft Flights

Autumn’s beginning
in soft flights of golden leaves
in cool sheets of mist

40 Years Ago

Forty years ago
I was harvesting gold wheat
in Chanzeaux, green dream


Time can slow and speed,
but never swerves from the course
it and I must go

Thought’s Mist

The cool of evening
settling through the green of trees
finds me in thought’s mist


Lost in reflection
I cross the path and wander
deep in these old woods

Bounding Deer

I love bounding deer,
how their leaps inscribe half hoops
in the forest green

Offshore Islands

The offshore islands
disappear and go to sleep –
waves lap with soft tongues

New World

When I go to sleep,
I wake up in a new world,
page after bright page


Opium’s a friend
because it banishes pain
and much else, alas

Drugs You Need

Drugs you need have made
your face blank and soft and sad
despite your fierce will

No Place

Looking at your face,
I take in the sadness you
have no place to keep


I greet the acorn
that falls hatless at my feet
and then rolls and stops

Black Wasps

Black wasps in mint are
so massive the flowers bob
as the wasps hug them

Shadow And Light

Shadow meets light where
countless alphabets struggle
to be born and write

First Apple

Ma, the first apple
fell from the tree you gave us
when you were alive


Clouds drifting blue sky
can’t decide on a message
so just sail along

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush swallowtail
on wild white clematis – light’s
the spice of spices

Not Worth A Damn

Prayer is not worth
a damn unless it’s tattered
the way our hopes are

Clay Colored Toad

A clay-colored toad
motionless on a clay road –
white dog misses it

Shoreland 1003

Blue Lake Michigan
on the bright edge of autumn –
first day of college

Depths Of This Winter

I will be sixty
in the depths of this winter –
snow already drifts

Same Light?

Is the light the same
as when I was young, before
I saw through myself?

Autumn Raspberries

Autumn raspberries
darker than the red of leaves,
and sweeter than blood

Mulberries In Spring

Mulberries in spring
and the raspberries of fall –
white dog devours them

Summer 2004

As Pale Pink

Before its blooming
milkweed blushes as pale pink
as the shyest dawn


Father, each boulder
is your monument for me,
you, who loved the earth

First Yellow Orange

The first yellow orange
squash blossom was just open
early this morning

What Music?

What music do they,
white cabbage butterflies, hear
dancing in the air?


Rapturous, the scent
of milkweed crosses sunlit
clearing in morning

Content In Mint

Cabbage butterflies
are content in mint as breeze
ruffles the dapple

Not To Be Resolved

Knowledge is freedom
and tyranny both, riddle
not to be resolved

As Grass

As grass holds the ground,
I try to grasp a bit, hold
as I go to seed

Power’s So Hungry

Power’s so hungry,
it tries to devour pity
which sticks in its craw


Brown as chocolate,
this magnolia blossom
after three white days

Golden Bee

Sky of powder blue
and the green day is immense
with a golden bee

Cloud Pagodas

Cloud pagodas float
in the soft blue summer sky –
cloud colored dog sleeps

Robins Arguing

Robins arguing
as first fireflies flicker
and sky is pale blue

No Fire

No fire can burn love
to gray whispering ashes,
nor make it forget


In afternoon heat
tiger lilies are napping
along the roadside

Indigo Bunting

Indigo bunting –
I had lost not just the name
but also that shade


I’m dreaming seven
different languages at once –
and I understand


After the rainstorm
milkweed resumes broadcasting
ecstatic odor


I’d speak with the gnarl
of tongues buried deep in wood,
their thrust out of sight

Two Infections

A cold has me and
I can’t let go of myself –
that’s two infections

Circumstance Serpent

Circumstance serpent
winds around me while I’m not
looking – then squeezes


I miss my parents,
missed them while they were alive –
different flavors

Old Oak

That old oak has been
half dead for a decade now –
how life clings to it


I watch lightning bugs,
prospector crazed with delight
by a dark river

Green Of Summer

On green of summer
the white dog is a snow patch
that moves but won’t melt


Here in the graveyard
no one but stones and silence –
butterflies play tag

Making Them Up

My parents – I can’t tell
where remembering stops and
making them up starts

Slab Of What

Sometimes I feel I’m
a slab of what I don’t know,
a very strange rock


Early summer cool
and lightning bugs flickering
gold adagio


Geese, ducks, herons, deer –
figures in this morning’s fog
and white dog and I


Grasses bend their heads –
palominos in a field
in early July

Blue-Gray Boulder

Morning sun and grief,
how that blue-gray boulder sits,
persists in itself

Brown Bouquets

The cicadas pruned
the tips of small oak branches
so left brown bouquets

Ever Said

I knew more of you
than you ever said, maybe
more, Dad, than you knew


My whole life I’ve loved
thunder, as if it could say
what’s stuck in my throat


The sky is cotton,
yesterday’s forgotten,
tomorrow’s a dream

Sleight Of Mind

Sleight of mind fools
me over and over, but I
can’t tell myself why

Sudan, 2004

Grief for mango trees
of Darfur – this is murder
of the deepest green


What am I thinking?
I’d get as straight an answer
if I asked a stone.


I’m a homebody
who’s not at home even when
I’m right here at home

Deep Inside

Home is deep inside
where all that I’ve lost still lives,
interrogates dream

Even Near Sixty

Even near sixty,
I lose track of myself when
I look at the stars


Each trip’s infinite
I never know where I go
or if I’ll come back

Pink Tongue

The white dog is named
song or poem, as you like,
but her tongue is pink

Enchanted Snow

Enchanted snow flakes –
white cabbage butterflies swirl
over woods’ green floor


A tiny beige frog,
the size of my fingernail,
hops – a clay hiccup

Stargazer Lilies

Stargazer lilies
are perfumed towers under
the moon’s quiet eye

What Tunes

The wind doesn’t know
itself what tunes it will find
to play in oak woods

For The Living

The quiet of death
is only for the living
who make all the noise

Cosi Fan Tutti, Variation, 7-11-2004

So we all do and
so we are all undone and
so embrace the earth


Heavy and sullen
summer’s at its peak – white mold
on the green squash leaves

First Squash

I picked the first squash,
yellow saucer full of seeds
and no aliens

Statue of Liberty

From Battery Park
the Statue of Liberty
is the size I am

Monkey Island

Myself a monkey,
Manhattan, largest monkey
island ever built


All these people – real
and hallucinatory,
bedded in dream’s depths

Worm Kisses

My parents are both
decomposing, father, first –
are worm kisses sweet?


I can’t imagine
the hurtling roaring subway,
just ride it and sway


Artichoke – thistle
whose heart’s a delicacy,
soft, tasty center


Cool muggy morning –
a woodpecker makes his point
over and over

My Blood

While it’s biting me
I smash a mosquito, smear
my own bright red blood


My sense of humor –
so full of bile it threatens
to choke on itself


Father, you were not
a secret, and so took me
past the bounds of shame

Rainy Season

A rainy season –
yet here is a hummingbird
by a red flower


I laugh at myself
as rain pours down in torrents
and I lick at it


I’m dreaming my way
to the end of my tether,
how I become new

August 1

Hasta blooming white
make an august innocence
against sea of green

West Coast 2004

Over Utah 4 August

Sky over Utah –
green irrigation dots pressed
against lean mountains


Buson in cement
on the Embarcadero –
stiff breeze off the Bay


Green container ship
silhouetted in front of
stone still Alcatraz


The older I get
the more I know I’m a hulk
in which others rest

Little I Am

How little I am –
how more and more I become
less and less and less


Like tufts of cotton
fog perches atop Golden
Gate’s ruddy towers


Shape of my substance
was yours before mine, mother –
and now you are gone

Ill And Cure

No way to give life
without also giving death,
ill and cure in one


As time steals freshness
memories of memories
are what’s left of me


The thrill of that note
of this black bull bellowing,
making sure I know


Whisper of water
in irrigation ditches
moving through the green


dapple of banana and
coffee interspersed


Harmless happiness
of inhabited instant,
slick twist of now this

Immortals, August 9

Do the immortals
come her to sit on soft clouds
of pink wildflowers?

Lightning Fire

Smoke comes from the north –
lightning’s set another fire
haze changes all hues

White Afternoon

From Yosemite
smoke over the Sawtooth Ridge
turns afternoon white

Dead Sea Otter, August 20

A dead sea otter
still swimming on his back, cast
in Morro Beach sand

Live Sea Otter

A live sea otter
swimming in afternoon swells,
pleased, playful, pleasing

SF August 21

Rose scent in salt air
San Francisco in August –
and the nasturtiums

Boat of Reads, August 22

In my boat of reads
I’ve floated through countless worlds
that could never be

Summer 2008

First Day of Summer, 2008

The season has changed
but I remain just the same,
riddled by inklings


Now’s geography
I am always exploring,
yet can make no map

A Long Time

To live a long time,
to outlive so many selves,
to have been a crowd


A black cat slinks by –
not our own resurrected –
but for an instant…


Not so long ago
yesterday was tomorrow –
this is prophecy


Bluebird flashes by,
concentration of the sky
crossing this black creek

At White Lily

Just about high noon
hummingbird refueling
at the white lily


Firefly in my hand
a single glow and then gone –
how alike we are

Hot Muggy

This hot muggy day
the white dog lolls in the stream –
why should she come out?


After thunderstorms,
two goldfinches in the oak –
doubloons in mid-air


Wave is, then is not,
crashing in lace on the shore –
I’m the same fabric


Insouciant snow,
morning glories in summer
as the day’s heat builds


I recognize, my childhood
plays softly inside


The heat of summer
changes how all reds are red,
how yellow yellows

Fact Losing

I go most often
on fact losing missions, not on
the fact finding ones

That I Am

This fact that I am
or is it a fiction I
can’t find my way through?


On stilts of sunlight
morning rises up through oaks
to grasp blue of sky

A Cloud

The blue of my eyes
suggests an internal sky
where I am a cloud


A huge golden bee
in tiny pink blooming thyme –
this scent stops me, too


Bull frogs are twanging
this hot close summer morning
after two murders

July 6, 2008

Last of the blackcaps,
the very first blackberry
fifteen feet apart

White Veins

Delicate white veins –
brown magnolia petal –
beauty in ruin


Lose track of myself?
all the time – can’t get the scent
to track myself down


A tiny bird flies
by my ear so I feel wind
as small as it is


Plush of summer grass,
bare feet, half moon overhead,
syncopated bats


A dream shifts my mood
to melancholy – I sleep
inside my sorrow

Wet Heat

Wet heat weighs me down
I move in a summer daze –
chaste new moon thrills me

Pieces Of Sun

Swift slices of sun,
tiger swallowtails sail high
in summer green oaks


I’m shy, if I speak
it’s to get to know myself,
almost someone else


Green praying mantis
more Giacometti than


The old oak’s elbows
are awkward in all weathers –
ah, their inky grace!

No Good

The breeze in the trees
stirs them for no good reason –
just the way I think


As the heat eases
and the evening brings breezes
I can think again

On The March

Summer luxury
morning sound of cicadas
squash blooms on the march


Breeze stirs each green leaf
as it combs through the garden
in search of nothing


Old man on the beach
where I was young – two of me
stare at foaming waves


Back to Bahia
which possessed me, so became
a myth in my mind

White Ringed

Down the black creek’s spine
kingfisher with white ringed neck –
urgent his errand

Small Boy

A little boy’s eyes
remind me that the white dog
is a miracle


Chipmunk in brown suit
up on a gray teak armchair,


After long green time,
the pepper has become flame,
fire for fire eaters


Tiny shy daisies,
beside the thyme, unblinking
all through their short lives


Longing for the rain
is longing for a lover
who will bring life back

Next To

Somewhere is always
next to nowhere, the town with
secret citizens

Sullen Skies

To live or to die –
I’m doing both, all at once
under sullen skies


How to say goodbye
to the sun and to myself,
to the moon and me?

In Glide

Over the river
a great blue heron in glide
silent as the moon


Monarch on milkweed,
two swallowtails on thistle,
bee in tall daisy

Oak’s Foot

Gray question mark cat
disappears into the oak
at whose foot she sleeps

James.O’Conor. August 9, 2008

Monarch butterfly,
second of the year, flies by –
memorial glide?

Black Wasps

Black wasps in the mint
have driven the sweet bees out –
unequal contest


Enter history
as a leaf tumbling to ground
to become the ground


Summer’s lush riot
that predicts rot and ruin –
beauty bares its teeth

First Scarlet

This first scarlet leaf,
drop of blood promising more,
time the deepest wound

So Rich

This hundred armed oak,
proud green against a blue sky,
so rich in acorns


Back from Bahia,
the thunder of candomble
ringing in my ears


Sudden as lightning
I’m an old man – the thunder
crashes in my heart


Am I just a bug
caught in the bottle that’s me –
I’m green, small and lost


However I sing,
I’m off-key – so locked out of
paradise of song

Far Short

I’ve fallen far short
of who I mistook for me –
curse and blessing, both

Question Mark

Gray question mark cat
fast asleep on pink cushion –
why do you move me?


Towering thistle
is butterfly cathedral
with soft pink blossoms


Sorrow comes with me
into this summer sunshine –
I am my own shade
Here, Gone

Hummingbird – here, gone –
moist green morning’s not the same –
I’m here and gone, too


Snow white clematis
in late summer cascades down
the massive old oak

Prospecting Eye

Goldfinch at twilight,
a sudden surprising swoop,
thrills prospecting eye


Rhapsody in dust
is the gray question mark cat,
flopping and rolling

Rio, September 8, 2008

To change continents,
exchange last breaths of summer
for winter’s last breaths

Summer 2007

White Egrets

In the tidal marsh
white egrets at attention
as stiff sea breeze blows

Opened Mouth

An open mouthed fish,
white, dead in seaweed tangle
washed up on Drake’s beach

After Point Reyes

On the other coast
I left myself walking the beach
with wind for my thoughts

Just As Flimsy

I try not to put
pressure on words, let them know
I’m just as flimsy

Pepper Red

Here in mid-July
drought has brought a few leaves down,
turned them pepper red

Too Many Of Us

Monarchs – not a one,
blue fin tuna are few, too –
too many of us

River Talk

The river can’t hear,
but it talks and talks, says things
that sound new each day


Little green rockets
poised atop their green fuel tanks –
hot chili peppers


Trilling cicadas
ancient chorus of summer
under a deaf moon

Dead Mouse In The Path

I cover distance
so I meet such diverse fates
looking for my own

All Wrong

I’ve done it all wrong –
but what was it, anyway?
I’ve no idea

Monarch In Maine

A monarch in Maine,
first of this long hot summer,
flying speck of hope

Waves And Clouds

The waves and the clouds
get all mixed up together –
they’re only water


Take notes on nothing –
these may well prove instructive
should you meet something


Birches on a slant
half fallen after the storm –
white slashes in green

Subway Platforms

Living and the dead
mingle on subway platforms
where my mind runs trains

Never Speak

If I understood
what I meant to say, I might
never speak a word


The chattering terns
are gaiety and terror
sharing the same sky

Popham Beach

All’s apparition
on Popham Beach in the mist –
my feet, yours, the sea


Flash of kingfisher
down the spine of the dark creek
after a hard rain


Tiny hummingbird
sixteenth of the cardinal
that passes over

Self And Sparrow

For self and sparrow
each evening’s setting sun is

August Firefly

August firefly
virtually the last one
tiny spot of gold

Sheets Of Sunlight

Like sheets of sunlight,
yellow swallowtails flit through
green of late summer

Siam Queen

Siam Queen basil
has grown dark spires, now flowers
a subtle purple


Orange daisies bloom
the eyes of unseen tigers –
sultry afternoon


Of the world’s riches,
I’ve tasted next to nothing
and that is plenty

Like Snares

Cicadas are mute
as a soft rain takes their place,
playing leaves like snares


The frogs are twanging –
has a string instrument drowned
in the lush green bog?

New Minted

Lifetime’s wondering
doubles back in itself – I’m
new minted naive

Getting Older

I’m getting older
and am almost innocent
whatever the charge

Stormy Skies

Perfectly peaceful,
the snapdragons make rainbows
under stormy skies

Day Of Rain

A whole day of rain
I’m waiting to spy the first
lean praying mantis

Milton, Delaware

Scavenging the beach
for dead fish, fox spied English
professor, bookless


I can’t imagine
the rest of my life, how rest
at last will find me


Before the downpour
the gray cat, storm cloud color,
sleeps at lily’s base

My Beginnings

Stranger and stranger
to me are my beginnings,
once all that I knew


I am wandering
restless as the wind all through
the deep brainforest

Salt Shaker

Salt shaker, can you
rain down wisdom on my head,
even if it’s bald?


The strangeness of now
is how familiar it is –
I dream I know it


I spend afternoons
walking the groves of my mind
while shadows lengthen


Pigments of feeling
color the autumn landscape –
am I more than haze?

No Bindings

Empty shelf fungi
long for books as leaves float down
but without bindings

In The Woods

These hours in the woods
in light, wind at water’s edge –
do I think at all?


White dog’s middle aged
and I am older than that –
we’re still on the loose


I am a lasso
that’s thrown about emptiness,
which yet slips away


Silver winter sun
getting ready now to set,
glorious pale bird


Today wears a hat
of varied and subtle grays,
clouded as am I


Words are swinging doors
that lead into and out of
disappearing dreams

Blue Rivers

Sunlight on my hand
that has blue rivers running
beneath the pink skin


I’m the only way
I know – I must travel it
even when I’m lost

How Stumps

I love how stumps rot,
each becoming cathedral
of its own demise

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