What All

or, real as a
boulder clutched by five
hundred-year-old roots
in the fluid of a mountain’s
gradual crest

or, our own
skeletons remain
clutched by continuity
in the fluid of a moment’s
gradual assumption

assume rise
crest fall, and
what all


Understanding is alright
as far as prisons go, though

not understanding is better
than misunderstanding.

One foot follows the other.
Once movement is begun

it is difficult to stop,
hence, the strange treasure,

the halting dissonance of
“I don’t know.”

Knowing things obviously is fine and necessary. The insight of the East is that attachment to knowledge as the vehicle of truth is an error. We gnaw at what we know. We can never leave well enough alone. Is truth something that would submit to such nonsense? Consensus maybe, but consensus is just an agreement to stop arguing. To stop gnawing.

Photo: my old bird-feeder, nay rat-feeder.

Lake After Lake

a lake is just a lake
lakeness is the burden
you carry from lake to lake

(man with a floppy hat
covered in fishing lures
—what will he do next?)

so when you see a lake
you don’t really see a lake
you see lakeness and then say “lake”

(launch the row boat
see the lily pads hoola dance
in its wake)

lakes are empty of lakeness
they’re not even really lakes
they’re just “that”

(a child points and says “that”
it could be anything
—a bullfrog maybe?)

Wood Thrush

The kitchen windows are tall, light celebrating, and sometimes deadly. Inside, the rusty old icebox is bright and cheery, illuminated by natural skylight. It’s a pretty cruddy old kitchen, but man, those windows.

From outside, the windows reflect leafy green pecan backed by blue and white sky, and a Wood Thrush, who was beguiled completely by the illusion, flew smack into them. I heard the thump from the other side of the apartment and thought that someone had chucked a small log at the side of the house.

I checked outside and there she was, stunned, perched in a crouch on the deck. Her mouth open, as if to emit cries, but no sound came out. She closed and opened her eyes slowly. I sat down about two meters away and offered some Medicine Buddha mantrum, loud enough for her to hear.

In about ten minutes she shuddered and shook, perked up and looked around. Still stunned, I imagine, she finally notices me. I am now fighting back tears as I ponder the pain of having slammed full speed into something so hard and unyielding. I really though she might just die right then and there, but she began to exhibit movement and awareness.

I am still reciting prayer as she regards me with suspicion and begins to hop away, tentatively at first, pausing after each move to re-assess, and finally hopping up to the lowest deck railing. A flutter of wing and she flies up to a branch on the pecan, a safe distance from the murmuring weirdo.

I curse myself for not thinking to defeat the mirror-like quality of the windows by lowering the blinds, and get up to do so immediately.

This is the rear deck view at my apartment on the residential East end of Galveston Island, TX. The birding is pretty good here right out the back door. It’s Spring migration time on the Gulf Coast and we’ve seen many migrant songbirds in the last week or so.