But while human nature resists change, spiritual unfoldment compels change, breaking up the old patterns continuously.
--Joel Goldsmith

If we were willing to surrender each day what we had yesterday we would find something better tomorrow, but our very attempts to hold on to what we have takes it away from us by force.
--Joel Goldsmith

Most poets, I think, are drawn to the unknown, and writing, for them, is a way of making the unknown visible.
--Mark Strand

...it is generally acknowledged that poetry invokes aspects of language other than that of communication...
--Mark Strand

All poetic language is the language of exploration.
--Ezra Pound

In order to catch these... I have to stay "turned on" all the time, to keep my receptivity to what is around me totally open. Preconception is fatal...
--Anne Truitt

Writers are not called upon so much to be smart, as to be alert.
--Kim Stafford

I don't want to write good poems, I want to write inevitable poems—to write the things I will write, given who I am.
--William Stafford

I think you create a good poem by revising your life...by living the kind of life that enables good poems to come about. --William Stafford

What is this?

This is a journal of five months of daily poetry writing practice.

This is about having a voice, welcoming flow, being playful, and feeling alive.


[May 23, 2018]

     can kickstart
     my heart



          A rattlesnake quick
In the spring meadow—sure proof
          I am still alive!



          Happiness is like
A little perch on a twig
          In a big, big tree.



This morning, as I lie
among the warm blankets
and dream, the sun
will have to take care
of its own rising,
the wind will have to
exercise the tree branches
all by itself, the mountains
will have to shoulder
their glacial loads of snow
alone. I am taking a break
from arranging the universe
in my own image.
I am content instead to launch
my little hand-made boat,
stitched from paper and leaves,
into that inner pool, floating
into the twilight, hands at rest,
ears wide open.


This is where iron knows north with its bones,
where roots know which way to grow down.
When I live from here the world around me
can relax. I watch the real world take shape,
the way the right word gives life to its sentence,
the way water carves its own path.


Late winter

          The oldest pine trees
With their vivid cinnamon
          Bark, shine the brightest.


Water has its way

Water has its way
with things—paper, wood
or metal; cotton, leather, the
electricity that runs our days.
     We can walk in rain
the way the deer do, or the bobcat,
or the skunk.     We get wet,
and then we dry.     But our things
are different—kept in houses,
stacked in boxes, wrapped in plastic—
kept from mildew, mold,
and mustiness; from warping, water spots,
and rust; from wrinkling, running,
and dissolving—nothing
     that we own
loves water.    Perhaps
that’s what water’s for.    Perhaps
that’s what it’s telling us—
     let go.


All trains start somewhere

At 51 years old
I am still trying to make my own life
more comfortable. How much time can I spend
on a mirror on the wall, or a softer bed,
or a rug?
I am ashamed of all the things
I don’t do—the suffering
of other people, of the world.
But I also think that a candle’s job
is to burn.
Revel in your own body,
your mind, your emotions,
and your soul.     This
is the beginning—everything
lives along the road
away from here.



Can I allow the flower of myself
to stretch and bloom
and eventually wither away
dry up and decompose
without questioning
the stem, the root, the seed?


One of the trees in the yard

One of the trees in the yard
is a pine—long-needled and
ordinary it spends its days
escaping our notice
as we scurry back and forth
to the store in our tin cans
for boxes of food, or nails,
or glue, or scraps of cloth,
or special boxes to store
other boxes in (for later),
keeping track of our days
with tick marks along
the walls of electrons,
our lives revolving
around keeping the squares
square, and the dry things dry,
and everything free
of any other life.
One of the trees in the yard
is a pine
who stands with its one message,
its long unheard song
of listen.


The perils of busyness

these word twigs,
searched out
and carefully selected
can be crushed
under the weight
of other lives
like a bird's nest
under a bulldozer


No words today

          Shut up like a box
With a lid on it—all of
          My secrets inside.


[March 23, 2018]

If you add together
all the things you are not supposed
to say with all the things
you don’t want to think about
you arrive at a sum
that is too large to move.



          My heart is such a
Shy bird—even I cannot
          Approach without care.


Short story

Know your own rightness
the way roots know soil,
know how to drink,
know exactly which way is down.


[March 8, 2018]

for Steve

Death comes sometimes

the way a glacier falls into the sea.

Day after day that gleaming wall

of snow stands, solid and shimmering,

green and blue and white,

holding all of its secrets inside.

Then the spine of ice breaks—

everything solid shatters.

Nothing will ever be the same.


You can of your own self do nothing

Turn inward into the silence.
Everything around you calls
for your attention.
The trees, the chickens in the yard,
the cars running laps
on the freeway, the socks
relaxing on the floor, and especially
people, in all their many-colored
coats, with their faces like backyard
fireworks—sparklers, fountains, sprays,
bottle rockets, those little buzzing bees
that spin insanely, brilliantly, briefly,
then fizzle out.
Even your own mind lays traps—
holding up models of effort,
helpfulness, the very best
intentions; and everywhere,
everything, everything,
calls out to you,
as you make the one long silent journey



There is the name of the bird,
which is useful, but, like the wrapper
around a piece of gum,
not the point—and then
there is the specific bird in front of you,
with its shiny eye,
its feathers fanned out,
its hot heart beating hard
inside its fragile chest,
its bill clicking shut on a seed,
its little feet wrapped around a twig,
its body twitching this way and that
before taking flight, and then—
its sudden leap into the air.



I can sense home inside me
the way stars appear at night
right where they have always been
all along.


New checker at the grocery store

Grey-haired and managerial,
he is impatient with the vegetables
and all their secret numerology,
while the young girl behind him
cleaning a brochure holder
knows them all. The gai lan
and the tatsoi and the string beans and
the peas sit up at attention for her.
Her mind is a whisk broom
sweeping every fact into a plastic bag;
her hands follow every assigned route;
the red cloth vest and black slacks
square her body with a boy's
geometry; while all the while, her eyes
have everywhere all through them.


Winter cemetery

          Too bright the icy
Shine of snow and glinting chrome—!
          The long line of cars.