Saturday, October 21, 2017



I'm doing the dishes.

It's summer.

My wife and my mother

are outside

sitting by the fire

laughing so hard

I have to set the pans aside

and watch.

It's important to

pay attention to joy.

To love that is serious.

Now they are showing

each other earrings,

mom's silver bracelet,

Pat's jade teardrops

looped around her neck.

The night sky

bringing its own

slow jewelry to bear.

It hasn't always been like this.

I wasn't an easy son.

To those who say


dwells only in the house

of the Lord:

I say

you haven't met these women.

Outdoor Work

The one time

I experienced what my Buddhist friends

call enlightenment,

that recognition, sharp and clear

as a shot of cheap whiskey,

was packing my tree bag

on a landing pooled in drained skidder oil

in a clear-cut

big as the town I lived in,


finally and fully,

the rotting extravagance of greed.

Hard To Believe

Hard to believe only


we stood on the cliffs

of Cold Mountain

watching swallows

    sweep and skip

across a drifting



Sat in the mouth

of old Han Shan's cave —

smoked our last sticky ball

of Hong Kong hash —

and watched in silence

    the billowing dust

rise behind farmers

in the valley below.

Tonight though —

from the roof of

the Friendship Hotel —

the wet streets of Ningpo

shine with city lights

and are filed with Russian sailors

so drunk

they couldn't hit the ground

with their hats.

Sure, it's not Cold Mountain.

But from here —

above the fray

and narrow lanes —

you see

where this harbor town ends

and the East China Sea



Too Late To Turn Back Now