everything that lives moves . . .

everything that lives moves . . .

Monday, December 31, 2018

Medicine Creek
Medicine Park, Oklahoma

“Thank you for the river and what it says.  It doesn’t matter which one.  Whether it’s a trickle or a rush, they each say the same thing, and I’m beginning to believe that it may be everything – the high of the water’s joy, that stifled cry of the earth’s wet hot desire to go on living.”

            -from “What the River Says” by Nathan Brown

Comanche and Kiowa country
Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

“I am richer than Santana the Kiowa chief if you subtract those millions of verdant acres which we did.”

            -from “Hello Walls” by Jim Harrison

Rainbow Trout
Medicine Creek

“There’s enough in a river to bleed out anything.”

            -from “On the Wabash” by Henry Hughes   

Medicine Creek
Medicine Park, Oklahoma

“There is an eight-foot piece of raw bamboo across my lap soon to become a split cane fly rod.  It will be a totem or temple or another limb anchored to the heart of whoever holds it with a line drawn deep into the clean water it reaches toward.”

            -from “Letters From a Lost Creek” by Jimmy Watts

Echinocereus reichenbachii
Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

“This capacity to wonder at trifles – no matter the imminent peril – these asides of the spirit, these footnotes in the volume of life are the highest forms of consciousness, and it is in this childishly speculative state of mind, so different from commonsense and its logic, that we know the world to be good.”

            -Vladimir Nobokov

Medicine Park, Oklahoma

“How miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature.  There were eternities during which it did not exist.  And when it is all over . . . nothing will have happened.  For this intellect has no additional mission which would lead it beyond human life.”

            -Friedrick Nietzsche

Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma

“ . . . about the Native American situation, he said everything’s a matter of time, that though it’s small comfort the ghosts have already nearly destroyed us with the ugliness we’ve become, that in a few hidden glades in North America half-human bears still dance in imperfect circles.”

            -from “After Ikkyu” by Jim Harrison

Medicine Creek

“What is living but to grow smaller, undress another skin or scale away rough edges the way rivers cut mountains down to the heart . . . We know the history of sand.  We know water and air trying to break the spirit of stone.  We know our teeth grinding down to their pith.”

            -from “Fishing” by Linda Hogan


“The sixteenth-century Korean poet, Song Chong-Win, says the best way to understand how to live is to ‘fish without catching any.’”

            -from The Art of Angling: Poems About Fishing, edited by Henry Hughes

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Afghan Rose
photo by Jesse O.
“The limitless starlight above me shines from suns that extinguished a billion years ago.  It is impossible to grasp the idea that nothing is ever created or destroyed, that everything always was and still is and only changes in shape or form or frequency, traveling on a wave of light and a story that doesn’t end.”

            -from “Once: Letters From a Lost Creek” by Jimmy Watts

Frosted petals, winter linens.  
Barnwood lining, cream quality.  
An Afghan rose pushes the sky one last time, 
burdened by water. 

Taos memory, 
Muse of the Southwest.  
Pilgrimage cemetery in the park.  
Penitente heart, penitente wind 
crying in a cottonwood grove.   
Bark magnetized,   
toothy taste for the gods.  
Dog’s collar, bleached white bones.  
Disco dance under broken bourbon glass 
      trinkets and tin, 
               slivers of silver December light.  
Icons of yarn and nip, 
      paperback strips 
         stuck in the sweet grass.  
The sky windblown gray.  
Solar radio (101.9) hum, 
a cougar crosses the sidewalk 
looking for water.  
Old man's face a walnut
or cottonwood bark.
Old Man River cold and low 
but the water boils from a skinny dipping spring.  
“A Love Supreme”.       

Her voice, the cat’s meow, the Red River falling above Questa.  Up canyon, pine bough strings strum.  Her wind sings.  His colorless dreams, white on black.  Snow falls on great-grandmother’s raven coat.  He prayed the snow would kiss desert lips in December.  Prayer answered.  High on the mountain - nieves penitentes pointing dead fingers to the noonday sun. 

His Russian pocket watch keeps no time.  
Just to remember this place by.  
The vulgarity of clocks, 
burden of drifting time, 
heavy as water.

Over yonder in Kabul skeletons creep to the radio tower.  Refugees returned with nothing on their backs but sacks of adobe bricks.  Nothing but the poppies grow, this dreadful drought.  Someday the rain’s gonna fall, washing them all back down.  Bricks, bones, riverbed clog.    

They speak our language but we can’t speak theirs.  They sound so different but they all look the same.  Disposable clothes.  American hoodie hegemony.    
Solar radio on the high plain then descent into faint metallic static of cutbank shadows, the white noise of flowing water and fog running low.  A magpie sings to her lover undercover canopy of cottonwood, tail above nest.  Water low before the melt, river grass still except for a single blade twitch.  Cutthroat trout.      
Afghan boys stacking sand bags all day.  
Ugandan guards, Kalashnikovs 
slung like gunmetal guitars.  
The insider threat is real 
as he smokes the Serbians dance 
to his Texas country blues.  
Sun shining, nose red, 
tobacco cowboy's rough 
as the lizard boots he’s wearing.    
Thanksgiving came and went.  It should be his favorite holiday, but like attending mass it comes with a sense of irony.  His favorite days are all those in-between, forgotten by history’s economic calendar, like today.  He feels irony about Christmas although different.  But this year Christmas bourbon, sleeping bag on the patio, sparrows in the snow.  O he’ll never forget to hang the lights again.
Every evening a pinch of Afghan dust to the wind.  Looking down at all the layers between.  Pretty soon all he’ll have to do is look to the west as the sun sets.  
This is the end, he’s leaving.  On a high desert plain framed by blue mountains, a beginning.   

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tucumcari, New Mexico

(Ghazals, sort of . . . )



Maybe the only ones not ruined by hominal
butchery are migratory birds.  Then again maybe not. 

Are birds the same over there just with different names? 
Unbearable the life without mockingbird, meadowlark, crow.   

Looking up I saw a giant holding the patio umbrella a hundred feet in
the sky.  Letting go, a red kite over Kabul before we ruined the place.

I pretend to have abundant courage, not a big deal.  But bleeding Afghanistan
for twelve months?  With no wine to temper the madness beneath kite-less skies?

O Bordeaux, nectar’d bees and butterflies!  These agricultural thoughts will get
me arrested over there.  Stocking the cupboard in advance of the ensuing draught.   

Galisteo, New Mexico


Weeks of laboring must have seemed preposterous to the
rattlesnakes and wallowing buffalo.  The flooding monsoon rain. 

A man and a movie star fell from the sky in a gold-plated helicopter
to inspect their toy buffalo herd and Mexican Gray Wolves.   

I discovered Bob sleeping in his chair the other day, still gripping an
empty mug of coffee.  He said it was time to get an artery drilled. 

A world divided between the new and the old.  Why must everything I love
have some age to it?  All those dead heroes, worn out boots, aboriginal loves.

A life carved into big chunks of time like do I wear a coat or not?  As measured
by music of the mockingbird on the traffic light as I walk to work every morning.

She said something about running out of toilet paper two weeks ago, improvising
with _______.  I didn’t hear that part but the mind runs wild with possibilities.

Millions are wasted predicting an impossible future.  Everything we are is the past of memory 
and the tenuous present.  Except for dreams, which if we’re lucky will lay claim on the future.

Greenwich Village, NYC


The bartender didn’t have a single drinker in his first three
hours.  Only on Sunday I guess.  Only in Oklahoma.

Robert’s Western World: you know it’s going to be good when
before noon you must two-step from the front door to the bar.

An old man hobbled in with a cane and ordered a tall double whiskey,
the only obvious way to build courage for the barfly next to him.

A billboard on the highway says LUST IS SINFUL.  Nearby there
is a tavern where the women go topless to George Jones on the jukebox.

Fuck the two-hundred-dollar seat on the forty-yard line.  The view is better
from the Stonewall Tavern, sitting next to the sweet profanity that is John.

CD is a ninety-four-year-old black man who’s been coming to this redneck
bar since 1953.  There’s nothing else to say except he’s one tough hombre.   

She had raven hair.  And she got a raven tattoo on her forearm the day her grandfather
died, because he’d recite Poe’s poem from memory every time they’d meet.

Will never forget the time we tried to hike from Mexicali to the Sea of Cortez.  Turned back
by a hive of pickpockets and youthful lust, getting no further than a dingy whorehouse bar.    

Linda rescued them from an oilfield whorehouse in Seminole.  They worked at her tavern on the edge of town, where one night Conway Twitty stopped by, leaving with the words to a hit song.

Cuervo, New Mexico


A life mystery is my inability to appreciate classical music.  Like
rum and golf I’ve tried.  Oh, but not the blues or country music.

Seeking:  anyone young or old willing to read thousand-word letters every
day (including weekends) with the desire and ability to respond in kind

The trucker was on the road for three years.  Where am I he asked.  It’s pretty
simple I said.  You’re in the middle of it all, but you’ve still got a long way to go.  

The future of human love and loss is incomprehensible.  No one knows each other
anymore except as they are linked by green and yellow wires, invisible waves in the void.

I wish I remembered the face of that fleeting woman, surely ten years my senior, if it is possible to fall in love in a single embrace, dancing to “You’re So Vain” in a sailor bar in Memphis.

Blue Swallow Inn
Tucumcari, New Mexico


I went a whole month without looking at the stars
and moon and thought I’d die from the experience.

These boots were an ugly tan before I added some
brown.  Now they are the color of Tupelo honey.  

I walked all over D.C. in uncomfortable boots, the cherry
blossoms piling on my Stetson like perfumed snow. 

Mowing murderer of tallgrass and countless frogs!  A few jumped out of the way,
and I could see myself in their eyes, upside down.  Also fear but not hatred. 

We missed the last train to Yokosuka and slept on a train station sidewalk.  Waking to
the buzz of a Tokyo morning, into the irritated eyes of an old woman selling magazines.    

Butterflies and honeybees are dusty ghosts expelled from the dry lungs of greedy humanity.  Before long they’ll be gone as will the miracle of nature to feed our bloated faces.

Santa Fe, New Mexico 


There is a song about the sweet sound of car wheels on a gravel road.  Add to
that the sound of meadowlarks in mid-summer for the ultimate ear orgasm.

Red: “Okla” is Choctaw for red, the red of a red-tailed hawk on sortie from cedar
to Sycamore, the red of cinnamon sandstone beneath silver ice and green moss.

White: I hear the white noise of red earth slipping lubricated, of cedar waxwings
tittering under cottonwood’s skirt, of white people whispering to their own kind.

Blue: under the blue bird sky a heron stands one-legged on blue ice in Soldier
Creek, where the water ran red during the Indian Wars, but not anymore.

Great-great-grandfather was captured during Sherman’s March to the Sea, shot by a
guard at Rock Island, an easy target at a fetid privy near the perimeter fence kill line. 

Shawnee, Oklahoma


Sleep?  Cigarette seep.  Rough etched “Motel 7” on fridge, even though the
Frontier Inn.  A Tufted Titmouse paid a visit, clutching the window screen. 

Cheap army blanket mental layer five-thousand fuck mattress forty-dollar
motel clutching boot knife – dreaming!  Turn the door key, nothing.  Just push.     

Quanah’s house sighs at night, sucking summer through broken windows, blowing
through holes in the roof between giant white stars fading and falling into the earth. 

Small town near Rainy Mountain.  As close as I’ll ever get to her reds and blues and
raven curls.  But her ancestors are here as ghosts walking the prairie visiting friends.     

No friendly faces in the Lonesome Dove Saloon.  A sign on the door should say “no vacancy”.  Just down the road another sign reads “danger – artillery may be fired over roads in this area”.      

She is common mallow.  I am hollyhock.  Tall and brittle in mid-summer, a head above the weeds near the bus stop.  Our secret purple garden nourished by the blowing trash of humanity.

Lorraine Motel
Memphis, Tennessee


Riding eastward with an aching back, refusing to
give up two bottles of French wine in my backpack.

I’ve always wanted to be a migratory bird, north to
south, searching for nuts and berries along the way. 

“Take this off?”  “No darlin’.  You couldn’t hide anything in
there.  Fits you like a glove.  But those boots?  Full of nails.”   

The weatherman said it wasn’t a storm but a great cloud of Monarchs
over Denver.  Unfortunate for them.  All those windshields.

Let your spirit flow into the moving water of your life and into the
occasional acequia, allowing things to grow green where they shouldn’t. 

Crossroads up ahead.  She asked the boy, “Which way do we go?”  “That way” he said,
which was the right way to Houston.  He always had a wonderful sense of direction.

We will always belong to the missed because we live well.  This has nothing to do with economics but rather a way of moving in the world.  Our bird feet, feathered wings.

Tucumcari, New Mexico


Bees love wine but even at the risk
of getting stung I refuse to give.

“Art of the possible” has its place except in the
corporate world where anything but art is possible. 

Such contradictions!  A dove and not a hawk.  I hate
guns but can shoot the tits off a boar at thirty yards. 

Said the jazz saxophonist doing life in Angola, “Every
time I play music I feel like a kitten, not the murder I am.”

Sandstone boulder, mud ripples fossilized in stone.  Touching them I
realize my problems are inconsequential in the big scheme of things. 

In the quiet boats are tied to bridge pilings a quarter mile away. 
Spotlights aimed at the murky depths.  A fisherman yells “I’ve got one!”

I stared at the red moon long enough to SEE it lifting above the
cottonwoods, dragging its tail on the water below, a bright red lick of light.

Don’t want to be troubled by the familiarity of the pleasure.  Instead it will be
sparse, building over time, into something beyond pleasure.  Something sacred.   

The weight of water turned your powder bones to the milk of catfish.  Cursed to
the watery depths you dance in the moon’s silhouette as strings of pale light forever.  

Lucille Lortel Theater


Sewing new soles on the bottom of my boots,
John said, “It’s like sewing upside down blind.”

In Stillwater they cram for finals at the bar while drinking
beer for breakfast with plenty of cigarettes and country music.

We heard a pop then watched it roll down the road into a bar ditch.  She said,
“what was that?”  I said, “it was my hubcap.”  She said, “what’s a hubcap?”

Mama’s Diner.  Roasted lamb shank with a bowl of green peas.  Blue bird blue vinyl
booth and a big blue window through which I saw a deal go down in the parking lot.

They once migrated like birds but now rue for home and even hard winters.  They came
here to die in this false paradise, bequeathing a sea of Hawaiian shirts to the Goodwill.

In a perfect world there are no questions.  Nobody cares.  Birds and dogs and a few old
Indians know this.  Sleep when sleepy.  Eat when the belly trembles.  Cry out when it hurts. 

“This will sound creepy but when I saw you standing there in the airport, reading Sam Shepard,
I thought, I hope he sits next to me.”  To which I replied, “nothing sounds creepy to a poet.”

Quanah Parker House
Cache, Oklahoma


I’ve never been to another planet until now.  If this is not another planet then
it’s the far side of the moon.  Lunar cold and dark, without an atmosphere. 

A flight attendant bumped my elbow causing my pen to fly, landing on the giant
Breasts of the woman next to me.  “That better be a good novel you are writing!” 

Who can say they’ve walked four miles in frozen darkness to buy toothpaste?  Who can
say they don’t remember except for the cyclopean red moon hanging above the pines? 

In Santa Fe he saw an old windblown cowboy who could be him twenty years.  When 
the cowboy’s cell phone rang he answered “bonjour mon amour” in perfect French. 

With trickery and guns they pinned us into a house at the end of a street.  They found me
staring out the back window at a bald eagle high in a pine tree above a frozen stubble field.   

Reading alone.  The others small talking about the day, when we were killed with rubber bullets in the hostile cold.  One of them asking, “What’s wrong?”  I looked down saying, “Poetry.”    



She’s a friend to everyone who matters
and to one mongrel who does not. 

All those wandering spirits.  Their faces
the burning sun when they’d see her coming. 

He was rarely certain about anything in life
except the scent on the collar of her fur coat.  Lilac. 

He saw her dance across the plaza in heels and fur, raven hair
bucking the blue gravity.  He followed until her scent kissed his nose. 

She got a tattoo of his name on her thigh.  He didn’t know what to think
about this other than he’s closer than he thought to the man he dreamed of being. 

He learned from her that a homeless Navajo boy with the saddest happy face is as
relevant as the sun and moon and all the celebrities huddled around the bar at La Fonda.

She said time means nothing to people around here, so he was surprised at the speed she walked in high heels.  He asked her to slow down to remember her every step on the cobblestones. 

Imperial Eagle
Mosul, Iraq


Meadowlark.  Bird of the West.  I think I
hear your call.  But no, this is the East. 

Beautiful sleep cheek propped up on apricot
wrist pistol at her hip machine gun sling. 

Reading Anais Nin’s diary in a café full of women
wearing full burkas.  What would Henry Miller think? 

Cinderblock rests on liquid heart.  Eyes full of rain.  Doing things slowly. 
Taking what I can get.  Permitir más recuerdos.  Missing, having someone to miss. 

Bedouins wander in white light desert, flowing robes, beneath hives of power lines
and refinery spew.  White tents, camels in the courtyard.  Parked out front, Cadillacs. 

In Kuwait a man with a long beard walked up to me.  He wore a flowing white robe,
sandals and a trucker’s cap.  “Bedouin hipster?” “How can you tell?” he asked.

Her scent loiters in this desert, sans competition, vivid as violet on a white palette, red mingling with true blue.  No mere evocation but a double barrel bouquet.  A lingering, chromatic sillage.   

just north of the Texas line . . . 


My wings are broken I can’t move.  Waiting for the
Moon if there is a moon in this world of disappearing. 

My essential melancholy is equal to my great energies,
obviously rare in these overly extroverted times. 

Tsvetaeva: how strange that like her the most intense and
Valued relationships have taken place at a distance.   

Amazing how much of myself I have to hide just to earn a living
in America where the very perception of reality is economic.

She once wandered Siberia during the Cold War as a young teacher and
a Jew.  Growing up I was afraid to have my picture taken and still am.

Rain left three months ago.  Desert lips deprived.  Vague tummy rumblings. 
A sign over the sink reads sanitized unpotable water.  Which is it? 

Gray gravelly everything except a stand of Russian thistle flashing purple eyelashes
next to tumbleweeds that don’t tumble across the highway like they do in west Texas. 

The word constipated describes America not just for obvious reasons but the
Pervasive numbness and sense of dread that we feel without knowing the exact source.       

Some birds have magnetic devices inside their eyes to determine direction from Earth’s
magnetic field.  Some believe in the miraculous, but I don’t have to believe.  I know.     

Former lobby of the Chelsea Hotel stripped to steel and rivets.  Security guard saying, “Does
this place look closed to you?”  “Not necessarily” I replied.  “I’m from Oklahoma.”  

She lost a daughter to famine, a husband to the gulag, her last breath a self-inflicted whimper crushed by rope in Yelabuga, even though she loved life more than anyone in the world.

Ybor City, Florida


Everything lawless here Including
sleep.  His afterburner dreams.

An explosion.  Then the unholy sound of air expelled from the depths of his
lungs, burning upwards into embarrassment.  The sound of death before dying.

To glance into her eyes held such consequence, but it couldn’t be helped.  The beauty of
the world painted on a tiny canvas of green eyes, black mascara, behind a veil coal black.   

Azimi said the crude painting was of his father and grandfather, before the Taliban
captured their village, killing them both.  Obviously the most beautiful painting in the world.

O Afghanistan.  How much is left of your broken heart, a heart that once knew the ways of what was to be done before the madness of the world?  Interminable bleed without a tourniquet.   

Ybor City, Florida

Saturday, November 3, 2018

“How the water goes is how the earth is shaped.”
            -from “The Theory and Practice of Rivers” by Jim Harrison

Last week in Kabul one of Mother Theresa’s nuns from Calcutta drove a beat up Camry station wagon down the crowded street.  It was loaded with trinkets to sell at the bazaar to raise money for an orphanage.  She stopped the car and waved to me, saying, “I hope you brought lots of money!”  Then she drove away in a cloud of dust, her vail wafting from the window like a white and blue flag.    

“Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who you are.”
            -Mother Theresa


Sing a deep song
Of the death of things before
Copper mountains hiding
Under a blanket of new snow
Of the hundred women waiting all day
Their first would be their last
Deep song
A vote

Sing a deep song
Of the death of things before
Of the burning Afghan sun
Blotted by Kabul smoke

Sing a deep song
Of the birth of new questions
Why are we here
Why there’s no such thing as win

Leave them alone we must
Even though
A terrible cleansing will be
Then peace

It seems when people die they are lonely although crave isolation.  But there is no alone in this place. 

“I cannot bear this passion and courage [when people care for the dying, when they honor the dead]”.
            -from the poem “The Theory and Practice of Rivers” by Jim Harrison

Change on the mind, transition.  There are painful things that enter dreams.  A life rearranged after this.  Perhaps this place has run its course although tonight is perfect, as delicate leaves fall on our shoulders like golden feathers.  Smoke drifts up the valley from brick kilns resembling towering stupas from a helicopter.  A furry hedgehog peaks from the darkness, then scurries across the gravel.  Cold fingers clutching papery habanos.    

There is something about the wind that I need.  Smoke from a cigar is wind made visible.  I wish I was back in that pink metal chair at the Blue Swallow Inn in Tucumcari to watch the vultures swirl, riding the wind, made visible.  A horribly beautiful black wind cyclone.

I haven’t seen a dog but I just heard a mongrel bark from the village beyond the perimeter wall.  Perhaps this is the only country where all dogs are mongrels.

We converted a chicken coop into a fancy dog house.  It had a window, a swinging door and a light.  But she preferred the 360 degree view from under the camping trailer, lying in cool grass.    

Another pair of boots for the cobbler.  Last week I walked so far, so slowly, I almost fell over.  The speed of life for me.  The speed life should be, while dreaming of roads and rambling, that September motorcycle ride across heaven, singing to the wind:

“The Weight” by The Band:

Aquarelle by Henry Miller

“Why change?  I asked myself.  How wonderful to accept life on its own terms!  How wonderful to accept one’s own self!  Improvement.  I doubt that the word exists in their vocabulary.  And though it does exist in ours, it is difficult to see what of value has been accomplished through endless improvement.  Certainly the civilized man does not yield the image of contentment, either with himself or with his surroundings; nor is he more peaceable, more loving, more kindhearted.”
            -Henry Miller

“The necessity to analyze, to understand, to categorize, answers to some basic need in the onlooker.  He cannot rest suspended in thin air.  He must know, know the reason why, and in doing so he kills what he sees.”
-Henry Miller

“Pure reason leads nowhere, unless it be to the analysts couch.”
            -Henry Miller

Friday, October 5, 2018

“Life is a railroad station.  Soon I will set out – for where?  I will not say.”
            -Marina Tsvetaeva

Many thanks to Dragon Poet Review for publishing three of my recent poems:

Poetry Section
Garcia Street Books
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Also many thanks to Garcia Street Books for selling my book With Them I Move.

Garcia Street Books:

From the patio of Garcia St. Books/Downtown Subscription Coffee 
Santa Fe
Father and Daughter, 2010