All At Once

The cat

licks her paw


to a Beethoven

piano sonata


then lowers her cheek

and goes to sleep


I sit and wrestle

with my strangeness


I am and am not

all at once


and the piano

keeps on playing

An Undeclared Mystic

Strange anything at all exists.


What is, is!


Profound tautology,

but I can’t find a curtain to pull

to let me see behind “is”


Wittgenstein snorts like an impatient horse,


“Haven’t you ever heard of getting snared in a language game?”


This is the form fashionable in the West

of what in Indo-Persian lore once was called a “tilism” *

a magical landscape that can pass for real and hold you

for a very long time, even your whole life.


A substantial part of the beam of my attention,

is always held in wonder that a pen can be, that I am,

that a green shirt can be, that light and robins can be…


I’m dazed by what other people take for granted.


I’m a child or a fool or both mixed up together.


The wonder of water and palm trees and the blue of sky


And dark and stars and the ever unrolling scroll of dreams.


I admit it: I’ve been lost all my life and this

is where I’ve lived and this is who I’ve been


An undeclared mystic




*See the “Adventures of Amir Hamza”

Bare Bones

too much to read,

much too much to read


I watch the leaves

falling from the trees


like words from the pages

of books the sun has written


I, too, am a book

that the sun has written


winter will be soon

and white and cold


I’ve lost track of what

I once may have known


I’m like that oak

becoming naked


I’ve lost track of most

of my questions


they’ve fallen from me

like leaves from a tree


I keep on reading

my way beyond me


I am the bare bones

of who I once was


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

enantiomers of a single compound


the right handed version

and the left handed version


the same in chemical composition

but breaking light differently


Myself, I’m a racemic mixture,

Don and Sancho, inseparable

Words For Waves

Words For Waves



If I were to compose words for waves,

I’d wander the shore, mile after mile, month after month

year after year as I changed ages, letting

the sun set on me and the moon rise on me

sometimes a scimitar, sometimes a golden eye,

and the stars stick their fierce pins into the sky,

letting the sun rise pink again on my pink flesh


I’d wander the shore and let my feet

be familiar of the wear of sand and of rock,

listening, listening, listening, for I’m certain

that the waves have a language all their own,

a way of speaking and making themselves understood

and I have always aspired to be their translator.

the importer of their ancient virgin truth


I’d leave the clouds to others, even though cloud

and waves are intimately connected as both are water

I’d leave the land, too, its vast barrens, and strange hewn

grotesque overweening ranges of mountains all to others

I’d keep my feet walking, listening, listening, listening

for the hint of a word in the thunder rumble

of huge breakers minted on the open ocean


Or perhaps it would be the fan of surf spray

that betrayed a clue in a random moment, a first word

confident of what came after though yet without form

the waves are connected to the deep, to the hidden skin

of the earth that was once surface, perhaps, then dove deep

into a soothing darkness, an immense quiet, a place to wait

and keep on waiting for whatever might come next


But suppose, after all my walking, all my wandering,

all my wondering, that the language of the waves

does not yield to me: what’s the harm in that, I love

to walk and to wander and to wonder and to take wind

on my cheek as I go and feel the flecks of salt it holds.

suppose the waves keep their secrets and exult in them,

then what a quest I’ve had when at last I crash and break

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