“It Was Good Seeing You”

two pelicans“Don’t threaten me with love, baby,
let’s just go walking in the rain.”
– Billy Holiday

“It was good seeing you”

doesn’t mean my eyes
took pleasure in seeing you
though it includes that

it means
when we walk and you say
what brings you alive
what you’re afraid of
your thoughts about
trust and rivers
and justicia
baked beans and herbs
and joke about kink
and artificial intelligence

it is real

meaning, I enjoy watching your face
shift like the phases of the winter moon-
from laughter to pain
and back again

meaning, it’s meaningful
to be in your presence,
as opposed to your image
or words on a screen

our eyes meet meetingly

meaning, your existence matters
to me

I like knowing you
meaning, I love you

It was good seeing you.

The Pronunciation of Love

monet sunriseI am excited to post my 200th poem on Rumi and the Shadow! It’s hard to believe I’ve reached this milestone-especially considering the vast majority of these have been within the last year. Of course, it’s about quality not quantity-and I hope that a handful of these have found some measure of insight, beauty, or power, or at the very least approached telling the truth and faithfulness to what I hear and see. The new year will see new projects-among them is publishing my first collection of poems in book form, tentatively titled Re-Membering or Mud, Moon, and Other Memories. Thank you everybody for reading!

What worthier way to commemorate the occasion than with a poem about love? I dedicate this poem to my Muse(s), Lover Earth, and my ever lovely friends (in particular, I’d like to thank Diane, Katie, Ariana, Karen, Aaron, Ashley, Miranda, Jocelyn, and Oort), all endless fountains of inspiration and beauty.

“Start by saying ‘L’, by touching the tip of the tongue to the back of top teeth. Add a short ‘u’ sound by relaxing your lips and tongue. End with a ‘v’, by gently biting your bottom lip. Be sure your voice is on, or this will sound like a ‘f’ sound. Love. Let’s try it.” (From How to Pronounce Laugh & Love)

Love–I’d been pronouncing it wrong
all these years
like ‘loaf’, or ‘loathe’.
with a hard long and hard ‘O’,
as in ‘own’.

then, adopting a faux French accent
like some spelunker of romance
seeking only affect
and a labyrinthine dance,

I would say lové
as in Monet–
mere impression, a sunrise
ignoring the sunset it implies

Finally, practicing proper pronunciation
I learned to utter a short ‘o’ sound
soft and relaxed:
‘love’ like ‘dove’

voice it with me:
‘love’ like ‘dove’

“If you begin to relax your tongue,
you can improve the clarity of your pronunciation.” (From the Pronunciation Coach)

The Desert Teaches Me Thirst: Three Cheritas

blue desertI recently discovered a poetic form called cherita from poet Annie R. Ray. Cherita [pronounced CHAIR-rita] means ‘story’ in Malay and was created by poet ai li in 1997 in memory of her grandparents. It arises out of the English-language haiku and tanka traditions, but allows for a micro-narrative and is slightly more flexible in form and style. It consists of a one-line stanza, then a two-line stanza, and ends with a three-line stanza. This is my first fling with them.

cold blue night

beside an abandoned cabin
I lay like an orphan of the world

the desert teaches me thirst–
thrusting in my throat
like a murderer

(inspired by a day and night of being stranded in the desert last August)

a quiet laurel grove

you’ve stopped running
I’ve stopped chasing

you crown me with leaves of bay
I crown you with what I say
an ancient royal ritual

(inspired by my relationship with my anima, the forest where I live, and my adaptation of the myth of Daphne)

still black cow

on a hill,
a mother’s cry in the mist

the first was the last breath–
baby bovine,
you did not make it

(inspired by seeing a stillborn calf on a hill on a misty winter day)

Being Stalked By a Forest

batsHere is the 5th installment of winter Haikus. My goal is to birth a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘coyote’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of 10. (See the others: Wings Like Boomerangs, My Tent is Leaking Haikus, Always Coming and Going, and Dancing Naked In the Rain)

Spotted owls at dusk
and delta airlines above
take turns caroling

squirrels fight for nuts
and I fight with monkey mind–
too cold for these wars

some animal there
being stalked by a forest
in winter–it’s me

grey forest bushtits
pretending not to notice
my morning routine

not a soul for days
except peregrine falcon–
he comes to my shows

pitch black winter night
scared away by midnight fart–
my blind possum friend

darting here and there
through the forest like a pro–
peregrine falcon

hard cold and soft light:
closer cousins than I knew
live in the same house

most end up rotting
in soggy winter meadow–
bitter green walnuts

bats all a’flutter
because evening comes again
some things never change

Take Up Your Wand

Chopin_nocturne_op9_2a“If one [the conductor] uses a baton, the baton itself must be a living thing, charged with a kind of electricity, which makes it an instrument of meaning in its tiniest movement.” — Leonard Bernstein

It matters not the noise
of the crowd.

How might that mindless cacophony
even approach your perfect pitch?

Let the noise be a Nothingness to you.

Chop off your ears,
if you must, Maestro
and hear the charm of the music
born of bones within

Take up your wand
in hands majestic molded
and conduct your own sacred symphony

Stir the oboes
from their solemn slumber
put to sleep by the loud trumpeters,
roguish assassins of the soul

Pick up your baton, Blessed Conductor

let your left hand be
the rhythm of the dusk and dawn
and your right hand
be the freedom of a supernova

Be the author of your own notes
and between them —
pour your solar-panoramic audacious breath

[The image is from the musical score of Chopin’s Nocturne E Flat Major Op. 9 No. 2. I adore this classical guitar rendition)


Ruthless As Any Angel

persimmon dawnRuthless as any angel
you asked for a commitment

in your radical way,
it was all or nothing

so with a deep roar
of primordial pain
I said Yes.

Yes, I said it.

and yeses came bubbling off my skin
like water boiling
flying off like mist

and yeses arrived like dancing worms in dirt
breaking down the scented world

I understood the terms of the deal
marked with that echoing Yes:

all that is not aligned must fall away
you shall abandon all the false homes
I may wake you at all hours, like a lover;
with but a touch, you’ll respond
my whisper will be your watchword
and you shall empty yourself for me
all the terrifying and beautiful beasts
will be your friends
we shall make a flowing river of glaciers
and dust off the moon
the overwhelming fountain of things
will pour into and out of us
and things as pure as a spider bite
a horsekick a persimmon dawn a broken bone a new kiss
will sing themselves into the stardust world


Signed with black feather in rainbow ink,