Variations On a Feather

DSCN0702Four Haikus and a Cherita:

From the sky it floats—
silver dove’s tail feather
landing in my hand

Falling from the sky
band-tailed silver plumage
catch it in my hands

Feather of a dove
falling from a sky of grey
my cold hands catch it

Band-tailed doveling
somewhere in a cold, grey sky
gifts a tuft of white

A bare-foot man at dawn

with three rabbits
and a bevy of doves

rehearse the day
when out of the sky
feathers fall like rain




Soar Your Southern Bird at Dawn

IMG_7581“Descend the western gorge at night
and soar your southern bird at dawn
pitch your poem in northern sky
before the blessed day is gone.” – Umbrano

According to scholars, this enigmatic epitaph was thought to have been written by the forest monk variously called Umbrano or Umbra Minor, in the hills surrounding Rome in the 3rd century B.C.E. Dated to the winter of either 286 or 287 B.C.E., during what is considered his annus mirabilis (wondrous year), it is one of 999 poems he purportedly composed in Aduana, one of several pre-Latin languages. Local uncivilized people considered him to be a rainbow wizard or mud magi of sorts, and bestowed the name Magi Arcus Iris upon him (Ijana Oma in Aduana). Of course a number of legends arose around the figure of Adumbra, none of which can be verified. But it would be interesting to look into what source were at the root of wild tales, such as the one that has him being swallowed by a sea beast and living at the bottom of the ocean for 6 months before being spit upon the shore unharmed.

The epitaph above was engraved on his tombstone, and is thought to be but a fragment of a larger work he was composing when disappeared into the mountains.

Eyes of Dawn and Dew

dew drop eyesWho closed your morning eyes
your eyes of dawn and dew?
Irises once bold and bright
have lost their lustrous hue

Once you loved the rainbow show
and felt that windy song
then you drank the grey-blue sea
your gaze just drifted on

Was it that great grey bird of prey, they say,
who feasted upon your sight?
Or was it she, that weary heavy thing,
that rides you through the night?

I’ve heard a tale of fancy
I don’t know if it’s truth or lie
of water running pure and fine
that’ll heal such wounded eyes

It’s found beyond the rush and roar
in the Nearby Faraway
amidst a grove of sacred trees
it flows there every day

they say to dip your eyes right in,
wash your head in waters cold
and if you’re bold enough, get in
and dunk your dusty soul

You eyes of dawn and dew return
their colors will resurrect
your morning eyes will brightly burn
one of its many effects

but most of all, what happens next
a mystery at its best,
behind the breastbone beneath the eyes
a brilliance builds its nest

Such a fable can’t be believed
it sounds too good to be true
but just in case, seek the place
perhaps it will be proved



The Many-Gathering Things


“…spinning and tossing the white ribbons of their songs into the air. I had nothing better to do
than listen. I mean this seriously.” – Mary Oliver, Mockingbirds

Those were the days I slept in.
Past when the day had swept in
and grinned. But then
I found what had commenced and gone,
past retrieval, past the dawn.

The many-gathering things had fled
and whispered hymns to my ears were dead.

The image of her sitting sits
in my bones and sitting yet–
the woman from which I came
at door of dawn and garden met.

not doing, but the resting in
the being with beings best
at day break bring their
radiant zest

first dew before warmth fell in
the inchèd crawl of light begins
the lavender, approaching thin
tumbled through distant cloud, now became
persimmon, pink, and rose-filled same

among the marvels I had missed, she said
amidst the meandered mist, ahead
were many feathered friends in flight
or simply perched to sing the light
ten and five by her own eyes
different types, from land and skies

robin, warbler, cardinal, jay,
hummingbird, thrush, bushbird greys,
common corvid, hawk, and owl,
woodpecker, wren, and water fowl
but one that brought such joy to soul,
the black and orangèd Oriole

She penned them in her notebook list
that in which she keeps them all
gathered in as dreams persist
that might be lost, not seen at all
unless one sits and in sitting gets
the blessings of the morning met

Those were the days I slept
and missed the things that dawn had sent.
But now I greet the light and flight
and fog and song and scent and sight
and have within that image bold
of her awake in morning’s fold
inviting all the sounds that sing,
the rhythms of the bells that ring,
with the light that brings
the many-gathering things.

My Tent Is Leaking Haikus

IMG_7214Here is the next installment of my Haiku project.

(I’ve been immersing myself in the Japanese masters, Issa, Bashō, Buson, Shiki. The haiku form is deceptively simple–more difficult than it appears, if you want to abide by some traditional conventions. My goal is to birth a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘coyote’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of 5-10.)

Several days of rain
my tent is leaking haikus
cannot find a plug

Forest asks at dusk:
“What does loneliness look like?”
Cottonwood’s last leaf

Taking a leak
can’t add much to this rainstorm
yet still I must try

Moving by moonlight
trying to read my writing
lonely ladybug

no gods, no buddhas
only this dawn someone left
holiday surprise

I would pick from you
as if it were a flower
one hoot, Great Horned One

Long December nights
like me, getting lots of sleep
my gentle possum

Just laying around
soaking up air and water
these lazy mosses

grey skies, quiet birds
winter here: just saying it
makes me lonely

hot tea cold night
intentions set at new moon
signed by shooting star


Always Coming and Going


Here is the next installment of my Haiku project.

(I’ve  been immersing myself in the Japanese masters, Issa, Bashō, Buson, Shiki. The haiku form is deceptively simple–more difficult than it appears, if you want to abide by some traditional conventions. My goal is to birth a total of 107 Forest Haikus and mini ‘zen’ poems over the winter, sharing in groups of 5-10.)

Can’t make up her mind
Always coming and going
Winter sister moon
Hey Mister laurel!
Keep an eye on my bedroom
I’m going moon-gazing
Traveled so far, then
Got tangled up in the pines
Mountain mistiness
On the mountain top
Forgot to pack my breakfast
But not my ego
New season, new menu:
Moss and newts, mushrooms and slugs 🐌
Prices are the same
Slightest western breeze
Brings these marooned maroon nuts
To the cold ground: “Whop!”
After three days rain
Put out shirts and solitude
to dry in the sun
Lavender dawn:
Wonder whose it is?
When did you arrive?
I’ve been here the whole night long,
Winter web spinner
Hazy winter sun
Issa makes a good pillow
Basho a footrest