everything that lives moves . . .

everything that lives moves . . .

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Al-Balad, Jeddah


WOODEN SEATS

I stick to wooden seats
where I can see
those who never ask where they are,
when they show up some place new.
And those who play when they can at night,
when nothing grows in the fields except silence,
or when they aren’t hawking counterfeits
in the sour kidneys of the city.

When I stick to wooden seats,
I never worry about seeing pedants,
rich and fat,
who are as precious to me as houseflies.

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Al-Balad, Jeddah


“The world is a hellish place and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.”
                     -Tom Waits



THE STARS SHE SOWS
                    -for Claudia

I cannot help
The stars she sows
Across the canvas
Of my dreams

I cannot help
But think of her
When reading the Spanish poet
Antonio Machado

I cannot help
The vision of her
Sitting under a eucalyptus tree
Inhaling the breath
Earth exhales from it


Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah
Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Al-Balad, Jeddah

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Painting by Hadeel Naiz

“I didn't know that some voices are music.
I didn't know that some chests are cities.
I didn't know that you can see all people
in the eyes of some people
until I met you the first time.
I didn't know that looking to some faces is suicide,
and looking into his eyes is life.
I didn't know looking into those eyes
is a never ending travel. 
I didn't know that there is a moon on earth,
till I met you the first time.”

-from A City That Never Sleeps by Fahd Al-Awda
      (translated from Arabic by Hadeel Naiz)



Stray Dogs

Ziziphus tree sings of birds.
Crows dance on the horizon.
To dream in the Arabian desert!

Awake,
the tree is dead.
They are not crows
but stray dogs picking
a thousand trash piles
at the messy edge of the city.

I used to think the treatment of dogs
and the health of a culture
were congruent.
But in America
the dogs are better fed than the poor,
as it commits suicide
like all the other air-conditioned empires
of history.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Natachee's Longhorns

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

            -Rainer Maria Rilke 



Portrait

What I read and drink is somewhat limited. 
The only source of reliable information is
poetry. I’d love to fall in love with red wine
but can’t afford the good stuff.

Birds are tiny gods although I’m no
birdwatcher. I have no interest in cataloguing
or naming except to know what they call
themselves. I have many favorites but they
seem to change a lot. But I’ll always love
crows, the way they wait by the highways
like the widows of Juarez and Kabul.  

I’d like to become more beautifully indifferent
like trees, although I’m no farmer to love
a piece of earth forever. Before I set
a taproot, the next storm carries me away.
I don’t have any close friends within six
hundred miles of home but beyond that, many.

I’ll always dream of Paris and Madrid even
though I’m just an Albuquerque kind of guy.

Miller Williams said everyone is a battlefield.
I don’t trust anyone without a pocketful of
secrets. There is a hole in my pocket but I always
keep it full so I don’t have to wear the iron mask
I threw away at forty. 

I like the jazz of Chet Baker, the blues of
Lightnin’ Hopkins, any cowboy songs
sung by old men.

I like to dream of simple things like waking
up early, writing until noon, cooking dinner,
going to the bar. When I need to recharge the
batteries, getting lost on a highway pointed
anywhere, flying along with birds.





“Your burden was a country, sick and lost, sharing the human storm in which we wince. Aged, you chose the imperiled common road to die among the crowds, renewing our spark of god.”
                               
                      -from the poem “Machado, Poet of Spain” by Ray Smith


Lost Suitcase

An expert on television suggested the base of a temple could not have been built by the Phoenicians and was therefore a landing pad for alien spacecraft.  Archaeology has become the archaeology of aliens, as people of antiquity were evidently too stupid to understand the cosmos or build elaborate temples.  I find it much more interesting to note that Christopher Columbus had to rely on the navigation of birds, where the indigenous people he would soon enslave followed the stars.

I no longer care about spectacular ruins, just tiny historical conundrums.  Like the story about the Spanish poet Machado having to abandon a suitcase containing ten years of poems, as he was fleeing from Franco’s fascists to Paris.  Evidently, he insisted on being the last to board an ambulance truck bound for the French seaside village of Collioure.  When he saw there was no more room, he picked up his ailing mother and boarded the truck without the suitcase.

Machado never made it to Paris because he died at Collioure, hacia la mar.  He drowned not from it but pneumonic fluid.  Instead of alien landing pads television should air documentaries about the search for Machado’s suitcase, surely one of the most significant lost treasures in the world. 


Friday, May 8, 2020



“People used to say that the blessed would see heaven.  My wish would be to see the earth forever.”

            -Peter Handke


To Speak Their Names

The Chinese said there were many
gods in the body but to speak their
names was to lose them.

I like to think of all the names we
have for birds and what these tiny
gods may call themselves.  Thank
god we’ll never know.  If we could
speak their names we’d lose them too.

It’s sad we don’t realize we were small
gods too, before we learned to speak
our names ten-thousand times a day.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020




QUARENTINE MOON

The barbershop is closed so I gave myself a haircut with expected results.  I don’t have the courage for a buzz cut, what we used to call a burr in elementary school.  Back then the only kids unfortunate enough to have burrs were the poor ones.  Like the kid on my country bus route who ate a raw potato everyday for lunch as if it was a Honeycrisp apple. 

The water truck returned and with it the birds.  All day I watch parrots cruise past my window like green comets.  That they are the same ones Frida kept as pets in Mexico amazes me.  That this place is more different from Mexico than any other place on earth.  The dove who built her nest on my windowsill abandoned it.  But not after raising a fledgling who flew away, leaving nothing but a broken white eggshell in a nest filled with dust.   

There is the question of how to counter this sneaking form of modern fascism when the people don’t even know what the word means.  The antique scale for the sacred checks and balances fell apart long ago.  Somewhere an old poet tried to give away the spare parts but no one was interested.  As throngs of rednecks assault low wage workers at Wal-Mart, simply for asking them to wear a mask.  The history of the world is the history of greed is the history of men.

Our names are different but have the same meaning of water flowing to the sea as the Gypsy blood of our spirits.  When restless we evaporate into a passing thunderstorm to repeat the journey all over again. 

Dinner for breakfast.  Cat naps in the evening.  Reading poetry in my underwear at 3am.  Sometimes the quarantine moon feels as hot as the sun. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Route 66
Cuervo, New Mexico

“Here is the world of wolves and bears and of old, instinctive being, so noble and indifferent as to be remote to human knowing.  The scales upon which we seek a balance measure only a divide.”

            ~from the poem “Division” by N. Scott Momaday


A Love Supreme

Dog’s collar, bleached white bones
Icons of yarn and nip and paperback strips
Stuck in the sweetgrass
The Taos sky a windblown gray

Penitente heart, penitente wind
Crying in the cottonwood grove
Disco dance under broken bourbon glass
Trinkets and tin and cellophane 
Spinning shards of silver light

High on the mountain her wind sings
As pine bough strings
Strumming
His colorless dreams
Nieves penitentes
Pointing icy fingers to the noonday sun
Solar radio hums
Sangre de Cristo

Old man river far below
Cold and low
Before it sings of spring

A magpie sings to her lover
Undercover willow canopy
Tail above nest

Water steams from a skinny-dipping spring
Singing “A Love Supreme”



“A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lHUapMTgWD0

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Blue Bonnet Bar
Norman, Oklahoma

“How do you know but ev’ry bird that cuts the airy way, is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”

            ~William Blake


GHOSTS

It is time we find our spirit animals
For we know they guide us 
Making sacred the earth

I am often afraid
I am no bear or wolf  

I thought I was a dove
Always watching
But I can’t stay put         
Like the whirling stars
Like a crow at a cantina
Becoming an old man
A ghost
With black pointy boots
Singing songs in human language
Making sacred the earth
Then vanishing

I must be a crow
For I have been a ghost all my life

Saturday, April 4, 2020

William Faulkner's Telephone
Rowan Oak
Oxford, Mississippi

“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place.  We stay there even though we go away.  And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.  We travel to ourselves when we go to a place that we have covered a stretch of our lives no matter how brief it may have been.”

             -Amadeu de Almeid Prado



WHEN WHAT IS MADE TO FUSE TOGETHER CANNOT

She said it’s safe to speak
In the language of pottery
Like a body it’s a gift

From the soft bottom upward
Across time 
And rumors of the smoke shadow face
Of its creator
And the scent of ancient pollen
Entombed in caramel glaze

A delicate neck painted in birds
With child’s hair
A necklace jeweled
From punched bone

A lip so full
So thirsty
It spills cold water from within
Coil memory skin
Breathing
Cooling
Cracking when fired too hot
When what is made to fuse together cannot

Friday, April 3, 2020

Arabian Sky


 “Cloud swatches brilliance the sky, unpatterned as heaven.  When is it we come to the realization that all things are wandering away?”
            -Charles Wright

The desert is cloudless every day except this one.  The same can be said about rain.  All things wander away like clouds and rain.  They leave nothing behind but a rumor of the distant sea, its taste on dry lips.       

Every night in the eyes there is rain.  I built a dam to prevent its wandering away, with equal parts solitude and a symphony of Arabian birdsong.    

I never thought I’d miss those obtrusive contrails.  They incarcerate the wilderness sky, like barbed wire across the prairie.  But when they are not there, the mail doesn’t run. 

Sea Gypsy, the prayers are called from the high towers, as the light drops itself into this ocean of sand.  I still walk cautiously each night, like a wolf in a shopping mall.  Sometimes I forget time.  It was my peoples’ invention not mine.  Each night I wait for you like morning.   



Quarantine Moon


“You speak of distance.  Space is not different to our conception of time.  In the context of the millions of galaxies in infinite universes, our stars are close to us.  Our words bridge the distance between us.”

            -Claudia Ribeiro

Thursday, April 2, 2020


Wadi Hanifa

FRIENDS AND ACQUAINTANCES

There are acquaintances at work and at the bar where the talk is mostly cheap.  And there are friends with whom I converse without speaking. 

A Bangladeshi man refused to proceed on his bicycle through the intersection, even though I waved him on, even though I was driving.  He is my friend. 

A dove made a nest in a niche between the kitchen window and a wooden shudder.  Every time I wash dishes, she stares at me with splendid indifference. 

There is a man from Pakistan who waters pink bougainvilleas and palm trees from a tanker truck.  I can’t speak his language, but when I wave and call him “Sir”, he smiles.      

The Iraqi bulbuls are my friends.  My sister said they are wonderfully fervent birds, so much so that if you sit long enough in the park they will try to land on your head. 

I have a friend from Arabia.  From within her niqab, she speaks to me about gratitude, how she is grateful to breathe every day.  How she is grateful to dream every night, even though some can never come true.  



Bulbul
“There’s light, we learn, and there’s Light.  To do what you have to do – unrecognized – and for no one.  The language in that is small, sewn just under your skin.  The heron pivots, stretches his neck.  He hears what we do not hear, he sees what we’re missing.”

            -from the poem “Cake Walk” by Charles Wright

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Coronado Island, California

“The old ocean at the land’s foot, the vast gray extension beyond the long white violence . . . This place is the noblest thing I have ever seen.  No imaginable human presence here could do anything but dilute the lonely self-watchful passion.”

            -from the poem “The Place for No Story” by Robinson Jeffers

Hotel Del Coronado

“I like to sit and look up at the mythic history of Western Civilization, pinpricked and clued through the zodiac.  I’d like to be able to name them, say what’s what and how who got where, curry the physics of metamorphosis and its endgame, but I’ve spent my life knowing nothing."

            -from the poem, “Looking West from Laguna Beach at Night” by Charles Wright

Clayton's Diner
Coronado, California
“The sea going on and on forever around the earth.  Far and far as your lips are near.  Filled with the same light as your eyes.  Darling, darling, darling.  The future is long gone by and the past will never happen.  We have only this, our one forever.  So small.  So infinite.  So brief.  So vast.  Immortal as our hands that touch.  Almighty as this single kiss that has no beginning.  That will never, never end." 

            -from the poem “This Night Only” by Kenneth Rexroth



Tuesday, January 28, 2020


“Crows live in the heart of the forest.  They want the trees to go back to seed.  Crow’s dark life the color of night is stored sun, grain full of summer.  It lives like we live off those before us, those living in clay whose bones survive like broken pots of tribes . . . that were here before the Americans from broken worlds.”


            -from the poem “Breaking” by Linda Hogan



IF I BECOME A BIRD TOMORROW

It will be the one I saw flying overhead at dusk with a brilliant crimson breast. Maybe it was not a bird but a burning ember flying? 

Last year I turned into a cat so I could sneak into the Ka Faroshi bird market in Kabul.  At dawn I opened the doors to all the birdcages, as thousands of finches, canaries and budgerigars became a rainbow in the sky.  



She had an open birdcage tattooed on a hip, her little baby bird that got away.  



When mockingbirds appear in strange ways, I pay attention.  This morning one sang from a snowy branch, the first one I have seen in the dead of 46 winters.  It sounded dreadful by mockingbird standards, as if suddenly realizing some great miscalculation.



The mockingbird reminded me that birds are my heroes too, like Leonard Cohen and Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan.  Leonard Cohen is also one of President Ghani’s heroes, and this is his favorite song. 

“The Partisan” by Leonard Cohen:


If there were no birds or poems or daughters I’d likely jump off a high cliff into the sea, unlike Lorca who was pushed.  No, I will never fly but sleep with feathers under my head. 

To share a secret language, a private religion of small gods not big ones.
To be able to say everyday there are still firsts. 
To know the beauty in suffering, the suffering of the beautiful.
To know what it feels like to be the child of a revolution.
To know she exists in a world where billions are barely conscious of it.  
To still be blessed with tiny miracles.
To know that birds bring them to me.


The sound of watercolor clouds vibrating
on their march northward

“A tiny spark, or the slow-moving glow on the fuse.  In petrol, saltpeter, mine gas, buzzing minerals in the ground, are waiting.  Humanity, said Jeffers, is like a quick explosion on the planet.  We’re lose on earth half a million years, our weird blast spreading – and after, rubble.”

-from the poem “Loose on Earth”, author unknown

Shawnee, Oklahoma

“I examine the faces of the sleeping dogs beside me, the improbable mystery of their existence, the short lives they live with an intensity unbearable to us.  I have turned to them for their ancient language not my own, being quite willing to give up my language that so easily forgets the world outside itself.”

            -from the poem “Late” by Jim Harrison

Bonnie and Clyde Bridge
South Canadian River
Wanette, Oklahoma

“When he shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun”
        -William Shakespeare