Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dogs



Each dog is unique.

One scruffs up her food
before it hits the bowl,
and the other waits
to make sure no more
is coming before she'll
dive in.

One feels compelled to
sit by the window and
bark at anything with a shadow.

The other will sleep through
a tornado, never caring what
may be threatening her habitat.

One wants to tear the porch
apart because a rabbit has
taken refuge, and the other
complains that her feet
are cold in the snow.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Awaiting an Answer



Sometimes I await an answer,
thinking, "if only I knew,"
and then I "get what I wished for"
only to find out that it
was not what I wanted.

One of the happiest people
I ever met was a man with AIDS
who had a short time to live.

I asked him what was the hardest
time for him. "Not knowing,"
he said.

Now that I have the answer,
I am up at bat once again.

I know the score.

What I don't know is how
fast the ball will come,
and what kind of curve
it will have.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Indecision



The cloud filled sky
caused the shadows to lighten
one moment and darken the next.

My dog awaits the intruder.
A vigilant creature,
she moves her head from side to side,
anticipating the enemy.

My wife shuffles through her life,
trying to decide what is needed
and what can be thrown away.
My compliments are returned
with "I could have thrown away more."

My Buddhist friend writes
that nothing has a permanent self,
and I wonder if everything
has an impermanent self.
Meaning that the gravel
around my pond has a self,
which would explain why
my now expired dog would chew
each rock and then spit it out.

An hour later, the shadows
completely disappeared because
of a beckoning storm,
and then,
a moment later, reappeared
as if spring was here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Changes



and decisions.

Auto pilot,
mindlessly slowly
going through life
as if we are a self-controlled puppet.

Awaken,
get a cup of coffee,
go to work,
come home,
etc.
Not a very surprising life
until something ends or breaks.

Surprises.
The stuff that life
is made of.
Unexpected pregnancy, death,
loss of job, and we are startled
into a "reality check" reevaluating
everything we do and wondering
what we have done with our lives.

Changes. Yes to life.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Moving



Thinking about moving
is always a weaving of
sorrow and excitement.

A new life, augmented
by memories of the last
one, becomes a sort of reincarnation.

Early on, I discovered
that all places were the
same in that our reflection
is the same, no matter
where the mirror is hanging out.

Today we sold one piece
of furniture and loaded it into a van.
It has been part of our life
for many years and its place
is already taken by another piece.

Are we cold and ruthless to let go
of so much before our spaceship launches?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Melt Down



What ee called in just spring
I call "meltdown."

his was a celebration for the balloon
man, who "whistled far and wee,"
while mine is lamenting the possible
end of winter.

The frog will wake up and notice
that his limbs are a little stiff
like the balloon man who is first
lame and then goat footed.

The fish will become hungry and
notice that there are not yet
insects or vegetation to feed upon.

The ice will disappear in the
pond, never to be seen again.

My heroic neighbor,
an airplane gunner in WWII,
will rise up from his easy chair
to mow the leaves.

Spring is not all that it
is made up to be,
but in a pinch,
I'll take it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

4 Journeys



The waterfall
would not stop,
even if she had to slither
underneath the ice.

He took an interesting journey,
intending to go a recycling center
and instead ended up
at the Missouri river.
So much for Google Maps!

Exercising today was
going up and down the stairs
an infinite number of times,
unplugging this and plugging in that,
trying to be obedient to the
cable company help desk person.

We generate and/or use
lots of artifacts
as we grow: books, art, furniture.
Most of it ends up either
in a junk store or a dumpster.
It can be like quicksand.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who has a Soul?



Above image was drawn on the back of a business card. Image below was done on a Palm Pilot using the program Tealpaint.


The Buddhist tells me that our soul
is only an illusion.

And then he tells me that the frog
might have a soul, we just don't know.

"What about the pond," I ask,
"does it have a soul?"

"Very possibly," he says,
"especially if you were to
dump a gallon of gasoline
in you'd see that
the pond would be affected
in an ecological way."

"So how can our soul
be an illusion and yet
the pond and the frog
have possible souls?"

"You said you had two
questions. What was the
other one?"

I thought that maybe
this would be clearer
when I became older.

Five doves are eating the grass
coming up between the bricks
on our patio. Astutely, they
do so in the sun on this
10 degree morning.

My hand built bench distorts
her shape to stand firmly
on the sinking bricks
below her.

I'll have to ask the Buddhist
if these observations are
illusions as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snow Covered Pond



The only snow is sitting on the pond.

The water runs underneath the icy pond,
not caring about the cold weather.

The frog is hidden
in her hibernation mode.
I wonder what it is like
to wake up after such a
long sleep? How would one
contend with the interest
charges on the unpaid bills?

My daily dharma tells me
that there is a difference
between my self and my experience.

I sense that ponds and
hibernating frogs have
no sense of self, yet
have rich experiences
each and every moment.

Living in the now is
easy for these other
forms, unable to
anticipate, remember,
mourn, or hope.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Woodpile



I say that the woodpile
cuts down street noise,
though that is not quite the truth.

When I was a kid, my grandfather
was in charge of the woodpile
for our cold Oregon nights.

He'd pick up logs on the beach
and (always with a hernia) load
them into his jeep
to cut them up with a 3 foot circular blade
attached to the power take-off
on the back of the jeep.

Then he'd split the wood with
a combination of an axe, a mallet,
and some hefty wedges.

I'd try to split the wood myself from time to time,
but never could do much damage to those logs.

For him, it was one way to
take care of those he loved.

I never asked him where he
learned to do the log splitting.
I wonder if that is something he did
growing up in Russia.

My log pile is a tribute to Milton,
my grandpa. The difference is
that we have a gas fireplace
with a remote control. And in
cold weather, lots of neighbors
visit us in their pickups
looking for wood.

"No, the wood is not for a sale,"
we tell them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Taming Monkey Mind



The light brown January oak
leaves do a shadow dance
on the trunk of their tree.

A truck goes by with the word "clean"
written in large sans-serif letters,
hoping to change someone's ways
with its mantra.

I return to the shadow dance
noticing how one moment
it is vigorous,
and a second later, it is still,
almost.

Another truck goes by with a landscape
painted on its side. A large tree
in the landscape is devoid
of any shadow dancing.

One of the shadows on my tree
quivers, sensing the competition,
and then regains his impetus
to do a fast moving encore.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Curved Shadows



The delicate curved shadows
predict a shape more sublime
than those bold straight expressions

that come from tar soaked telephone poles
or the tall straight trunks

of aged trees that enjoyed
an unfettered growth.

Every day I study my yard
out my window, searching
for that unique event
differentiating today
from all the yesterdays' past.

Much of what I don't see might have been
but was hidden by the shadows
in this special world
of other distinct jewels.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Leaving Home for Another



Many live in a house
that is better than
some and worse than
others.

Now, in the middle of
January, the leaves have
found their home,

nestled in
a garden bed or
a curb.

I see out of the corner
of my eye
one renegade leaf hopping
jumping somersaulting
across the patio
onto the frozen
pond.

I wonder what
was wrong with
her previous
home.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Five Occurrences on a Quiet Day



The ginkgo tree holds its leaves
on the west side of the tree
while the oak holds hers
on the east side.

The shadow from the telephone pole
is cast innocently onto a brick wall,
only to discover
that the top of the pole
is distorted by the roof.

The well-drenched-in-sunlight
huddling trees
break up the facade
of a white farmhouse.

The cold wind tortures
the two lone stems of tall grass
clutching their seeds.

The pond,
mostly in the shade,
turns to thin ice,
except where the waterfall
is splashing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not Sin in the Garden of Eden



What separates man/woman
from beasts is that humans
can choose between
immediate pleasures
and long-term goals.

The pigeon psychologist
tells me that pigeons
will delay gratification
for a reward,
meaning that either we
have bird brains or
birds have human brains.

Adam and Eve weren't alone
in the garden. There were
spirits everywhere, peeping
Toms, so to speak, watching
a new species make conscious choices
(if that is possible).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Nothing Day



Yesterday I wondered
if I had a hole in
my brain and today
I look out my window
and see nothing.

Almost nothing.
The sleepy logs are sitting
quietly on their
dark shadows.

The branch with
leaves is playing
possum, occasionally fluttering
like a kid who can't
stop giggling no matter how
hard he tries.

Just when I'm convinced
that the entire world
is brown and green,
three bright yellow school
buses pass by,
reminding me that
even a dreary day
is full of surprises.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

News



Doc's receptionist
said it would be
a few day before
they'd determine
if I had a brain.

So I thought I'd
look out the window
and saw an unusually
brilliant day with
the trees glowing
happily.

Behind the wood pile
one tree had a
beautiful nymphet
shadow who fleeted away
when my wife
came down the stairs.

Another tree had a
cross shadow which
slowly morphed to
a dancer arching her
back as if she doing the
"splits."

Across the street
there were a bunch of
trees huddled together
deciding if
the brilliant day with
its rich blue sky is
any more than a meager
attempt to save the
stock market from its
plummet.

In the meantime, my
brain pictures
(unfortunately not
readable by my MAC
computer) are being (slowly)
transported via turtle
down HWY 40 to my DOC

Ring...ring...
Doc says I have
a good working
noodle. (sigh)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bad News/Good News



The bad news is that
the doc didn't call
to tell me the results
of the test.

The good news is
that he would have
called if they
found I didn't
have a brain.

Here's the
MRI receptionist.
I gave everyone
space helmets
because I was
convinced I was
inside a time
machine, watching
the world through
a periscope, focused
on a sign on the
opposite wall,
"tell us if you
are pregnant."

More tomorrow . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Brain Scan



Tomorrow they are
going to take pictures
of my brain. That
seems like an interesting
turn of events since
all my life my
brain has been
making pictures
of them.

I get to hold
still while they
slice it to
smitherines,
and then,
breathlessly some
learned seer will
look at the pictures
and tell me whether
I have a working
noodle.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Assault



or perhaps caressed,
touched, at least,
by the multitude
of glowing lights

coming through
a forest to one
tree, standing
quietly there
minding her
branches.

The sharp
diagonal shadows
of yesterday
were so cleverly
substituted
here, indicating (either)
a choreographer
of immense
abilities,

or a random
generator
that
forever entertains.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Three Faces of Diagonals



Earlier today
the trees, still
in winter,
shot out a strong
diagonal shadow,
traversing the
sleeping leaves,
and only halted
by another tree in
their path.

Then in the late
afternoon most of
the shadows disappeared,
and those that remained
had a soft edge and
not much contrast with
the ground.

Now, at sunset, the
trees are enjoying
the multicolor sky
as they remember
a good day for
productive shadow
making.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Feeling Ideas



Can you be an
artist without
feeling
the blues?

Does art
need to
provoke emotion
or are ideas
good enough?

Will a fine idea
produce feelings?

Are ideas
and feeling
inseparable?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Elasticity



I noticed
meditating yesterday
the elasticity
of time,
how one moment
lingers around
for a seemingly
eon,

while another
whizzes by like
a hummingbird.

We say, "see
you in an hour,"
yet, depending
on circumstances,
might be
a second or eternity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fireworks



We awakened in the
night with the loudest
bang of thunder I've
ever heard.

I glanced out the window
to see the aftershocks
of bright flashes of
lightening.

No trees had fallen,
though I couldn't be
sure until daylight
came.

The explosion was
followed by a torrential
rain, equal, I'm sure,
to what one might experience
in the tropics.

Now the wild party is
over. The oak tree still
has its leaves on one branch.

The leaves swing gently
in the breeze, not able
to describe the fireworks
they had so recently experienced.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Art Time



One hundred and fifty representations
of time before my eyes.

What is time?
Merely a tool
to measure itself?

But what is time, really?

We can't think about time
because we can't abandon it.

I see so many expressions
of time:

time past
time moving
old and new
clocks
more clocks
time space continuum
death
motion
decay
waves
speeding
curves
memories
more memories
events
passages
squiggles
changes
transformations
corrosion
aging
Phoenix
burnt

crude time
and
wonderful time

Time to do this or that
timelessness
Old things representing time.

Your time is not my time,
but is our time to settle in
and settle down.

We all have different times.
Mistakenly we say,
what IS the time,
as if there were only
one time (we know
from Albert E. that
there are many times.)

Motion
is an object moving
through space in time,
but what about a
still object. Can it
not move through a
space that is constantly
in motion?

The clock runs away with time
measuring our precious moments
that never existed before,
and will never exist again.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

No One Home



He arrived early,
and no one was home.

The door was unlocked
so he walked in, thinking
this will be a nice
time to be alone.

The floor was cold,
chilling his body
through his stocking
feet. Shoes weren't
allowed in this
sacred space.

A nice caretaker
came in and turned
the light on, not
knowing the dim
light from the windows
was perfect for his PDA.

He thanked him, and
before he knew it,
others came in, crushing his
moment of solitude
but providing good fodder
for this picture poem.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Soccer Game



It seems like
the wind has been
blowing for days.

The tall grass is
facing northwest, tired
of the indecision surrounding
the upcoming election.

The leaves appeared to be
playing soccer this morning,
with the players tirelessly
running back and forth
on the field.

The wind chimes
cheered the leaf
players along,
encouraging them
to keep running
despite the bitter cold.

Now it is dusk and
the field is almost
cleared of the leaves.
They finished their game
and decided
to spend the night
next to the wood pile.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Last Resolution



Four days
into the new year
and already
I'd like
to start anew.

If I had
made the last
resolution "don't
follow any of the
above"
I would have
been fine.

What is it
about resolutions,
apparently a
secret weapon
of the devil,
to make us feel guiltier
than sin
(what does
that mean?)?

In fact, it seems
one way
to be sure something
is not going to be
done is to make it
a resolution.

How about you?
You can comment
below — click on
"anonymous" after
you click on
"comments."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sharp Shadows



Finally this morning
my dogs decided
they wanted to go out.
It was a short bout
with the elements,
and then they came in, hoping
that my wife would give them
some scrap.

The shadows are sharp today
as the the wind is cold.
The wind chimes ring like
a siren, inviting me outside.

The bird incessantly bites
his mirror, letting us
know the meaning of the
phrase "bird brain."

The oak tree leaves open up
in the sun and face its
warmth like good soldiers.

The oak tree itself is not
worried about growing during
the winter. It is deep in
thought about one year past
and another year to come.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Two Worlds



The pond is frozen over,
except at the bottom
of the waterfall.

The old bird taps against
his mirror as if he has
found a new friend
who he doesn't
quite understand.

I woke the dogs up
too early. They went
out in the cold and
came right back
in to continue
their sleep.

The oatmeal on the
stove simmers,
provoking an
aroma that fills
the kitchen.

Nothing other
than the tall
golden grass
and the occasional
passing cars
dare to move
this cold early
morning.

Oh, yes, the
curled leaves
on the oak tree
still defiantly
dance in the wind,
determined not
to hit ground
until spring.

In the other room,
there is a philosophy
book, filled with
"deeper" subjects
like "what is piety?"

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Socrates



Poor misunderstood Socrates,

indefatigable in
his search for
the truth, and
a gadfly in his
dialogues.

His subjects
were too busy
to talk to him,
especially
when they realized
the shortcomings
of their ascertations.

He never published,
so he wouldn't have
a chance getting
a university job,
but he didn't think
teachers should be
paid, anyway,
especially
since they didn't
know anything.

In the end,
perhaps the wisest
and most influential
thinker of the West,
was sentenced
to death for "corrupting
the youth" and other
serious infractions.