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 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), Mother Earth, and my ever lovely friends (in particular, I’d like to thank Katie, Diane, Ariana, Aaron, Ashley, Laura, 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)


Persimmon Bread

IMG_7296‘Persimmons are my favorite fruit,”
she says.

they were nearing despair,
these pulpy persimmons
on the verge of bursting
all bright fleshiness

so they rescued them
with a spoon

and leavened it
into bread
as a midnight snack

“Bake for an hour,
or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.”

They haven’t cooked anything
for a long time

And it rises,
holy patient bakers

They were impossible
orange hearts
from the bare skeleton tree
waiting for the pluck

It turned out well.

She gives him coconut oil
to accompany the bread,
soft and warm,
as he walks out into
the cold eve of Christmas

their eyes catching
the holiday lights stringing the night
in this neighborhood
of understated festivities


9 hours, 32 minutes, 46 seconds

hourglass6:33: Awake on Solstice

linger on the threshold a bit
to catch dreams in a net
that are pouring out

open eyes (glad I’m alive)
stretch (mammal reflex)
greet the sun (reciprocity, cosmic reflex)
nod shout pray (human reflex)

it’s all new to me.

Pee among the Deer
Ferns (pour out waste product, life reflex)

Pour out a poem. I
enjamb it like a stutter. like
a stitch or a song, I
create a kind of hanging

to honor the music
threading what’s weaving (like a spider)

Meditate (listen to what’s pouring in: bushtits, jets, words, memories, dreams, anxiety, corvids barking)

Read: “Dreams deliver us to dream, and there is no end to illusion.”

Pour coffee (addiction is a beholdening)

8:28: solstice (nothing much happens. It’s noon at Tropic of Capricorn)

Eat granola (love almonds and coconut, why don’t I just eat the nuts in the forest?)

9:47: squirrel falls out of the bay laurel tree (that’s new to me)

Write: right words come (or don’t)

Using the ukelele case as a desk,
my pen pours out:

a limerick for the girl with the hat that saved me,
an elegy for the coral reef
and the last redwood tree,
a poem for the witch,
my rebuttal, surrebuttal, and withdrawal of the squirrel indictment,
a somatic exercise for dreamers,
a postcard

(With regard to the uke case, I invoke design principle #4
of permaculture and perhaps evolution:
choose and place each element in a system
to perform as many functions as possible)

the principle abides herein as well:
an itinerary, a poem, a meditation, a record, an experiment (isn’t everything?)

List words I don’t know:
badinage, aporia, epithalamium, plangent, syncope, metalepsis, chiasmus, proleptic, bricolage
(I’ll look them up later, I say, then forget)

Could I use them anyway? And to what effect?
but ’tis offer’d:
I don’t need the words I don’t know, yet
what I dunno may be in need of me
and would pound like wistful waves upon my heart
until their wordly wooing won
some connubial conjunction
on the pebbled shore

11:11: Wonderings:

What kind of spiders are you,
so different than last month’s spiders?
Would these berries be a good juice?
Did the Huichun use them?
Would I be able to escape if a fire poured through here?
Why did the One pour into the Many?
Was Whitman the first jazz musician?
When will these jet engines ever stop?

Read: “Unless poetry can absorb the machine then it has failed.”

this latter is my bane.
noise murders me,
skin thin like this California newt

should I build thicker skin
or be a better newt? (abstract metaphor)

Read: “This, according to Hugo, is the inescapable choice only poetry requires us to make.”

12:00: Wanderings:

Walk explore saunter
these trails, like the
palms of my hands I know them.
that is, intimately (home sapiens meanderthalensis)

creek therapy and spider medicine (weave and wait, weave and wait)
I’m so impatient (self-judgment)

Eat soup and sandwich (eat when hungry)
it appears that blood glucose
is necessary for some critical functions
of cerebral cortex and muscle response

Nap (rest when tired)

Write: business idea/pie recipe/what would a funk idiom poem look like?/epigraph/titles of my books
(Mud and Other Memories, etc.)

3:33: Call my friend

she tells me she got out
her winter journal
and wrote her agonist
within herself
finding the truth in the lie
she’s reading a full moon
book and cleaned out
her magic cabinet. I suspect
she’s some sort of modern day witch.

“What a wild year!” she pours out,
“Like riding the transformational turbulence.”

which makes me laugh

that I make her laugh
and share interests
like writing and descending
reading archetypes & tree leaves
are perhaps reasons
for our friendship

on the surface. but I suspect
it’s something more mysterious
like that our spells
are equally powerful

4:53: dusk is hoots pouring through the trees
crescent waxing. (remind myself to schedule my full moon hike)
commotion waning.

my hands and feet are cold (my iowa blood should be pouring through better than this)
it’s too cold for crickets
and bunnies too
nowadays anyways

5:00: I think I must re-organize
my tarp system. the next big rain
could carry me away (that’s hyperbole. I hope.)

Eat garbanzo beans with hot spices
apple and peanut butter (a marriage sublime)
in the dark (longest night of the year: 14 hours, 28 minutes)

6:47: learn the chords for “Que floresca la luz”
for the dance for universal peace
that some ebullient man taught us the other day
at the solstice ceremony

it’s all new to me

Read: “while other organisms can make silk,
spiders are unique in that silk
is produced throughout their lives from abdominal glands.”

I wish I could do that. (“I cannot understand why my arm is not a lilac tree,”
Leonard says in Beautiful Losers)

7:30: Listen to his You Want It Darker
and Chopin’s Nocturnes (there are no lies there)

I think about it a lot:
lies and truth (all I want to do is tell the truth. Is that the truth?)

I close my eyes
to another day
in my one wild and precious life
poured onto/in/with/out of me

Read: “I came down from the mountain solely
to dance with her,
and I’ll return to the mountain.”

Tomorrow gifts a full second
more than today. The sun
is returning.

It’s all new to me.

What shall I do with it? (A rhetorical question?)

Rock and Key On the Altar Within

FullSizeRenderWith that heart rock you gave me
from the sacred mountain

and the heart key
for my desert descent

I fashioned an altar
a many-splendored gathering
of elements

the winter rains washed it away
but the rock and key remained

the rock has anchored
many a wayward ship
launched wrecklessly

the key unlocked more treasures
than you know

the altar within
remains unscathed

a hurricane could not dislodge it

clear skies after rain
are pointless

but clear hearts
in storms
are the point


IMG_4300I hear a steady melody,
a murmur, soft and strong
sounds a bit like wildfire
inside a mermaid’s siren song

I hear it like the heartbeat
of the cosmic heart above
Written across the dark night sky
a different kind of love

Perhaps it’s a comet
come to destroy the earth
making way for something better
something giving birth

Sounds like the ocean waves
crashing upon the shore
Sounds like a surprise guest
knocking on the door

Sounds like a couple drums
that sets the dancers free
Sounds like a humming thrum
Calling mountains to the sea

Sounds a bit like wagon wheels
Rolling across the hills
heading straight in my direction
At least that’s how it feels

I hear a steady melody,
a murmur, soft and strong
sounds a bit like wildfire
inside a mermaid’s siren song

Open Letter to Rocks, from a Geologist of the Heart

heart rockOpen Letter to Rocks, from a Geologist of the Heart

Love rocks
Yes, I do
Yes, it does.

All unique
beyond compare
I touch each one
like it’s the first rock
I’ve ever seen
rolling it in my hands
feeling the texture
savoring its shape

If I’m bold, taste it

what is it made of?
what colors live in it?
how big or small is it?

Some are smooth
and simple
like sandstone,
layers added gently
over time
things get through
you can scratch
initials in it
bury your fossils
see where you’ve been
form fascinating patterns
exposed to the elements
it can erode over time

others are complex
and tough
like granite,
an amalgamation
of colored scars
formed from
enormous heat and pressure
pushing material
from deep below

its quartz are
micro prisms
elements within
wanting to be reflected
in the light of the sun

some transform
from one to another
like gneiss
banded with stretch marks
from its constant
not sure
what it wants to be
before it reaches the sea

other rocks begin scorching hot
burning wildly
but cooling rapidly
leaving a shiny surface
with nothing left to do

a trial by fire
an igneous experiment
below the surface
or sometimes out in the open

some rocks remain a mystery
elements beyond
the periodic table

love rocks

a whole collection
rests on my altar
pick one up
once in a while
just to admire

but always finding new types
never seen before

because I’m a geologist

and the earth
is made of rock
and so am I