for s.a.l.

Champagne teasing through
the static crowd gently holding
glasses on plates of chicken barbecue
under the nametags slapped in the
left corner of their chests as
“Jane Redman” stares at “Mark”
who looks everywhere but at her,
as “Jeffrey” glances down the street
outside at his house with only
black windows and “Jack Cormier”
watches the thick red carpet
and says a word to it — “Kate” —
shaking his head and acting like
his eye has something in it while
laughter’s baton is passed among
the small crowds dancing around
each other to the music flowing
from the voices and light diamonds
from the twisting chandelier sparkle
brightest in those eyes filling also
with the salty liquid candlelight.

british empire

for a.s.

The rain slid down from humid skies,
and fell in graying drone
Rapping on the garden walk
And chilling through his bones.

He shoveled all the walkways clean
And piled all the rain
In heaps, along the garden paths,
Ignoring how it drained–

He pulled his thick wool jacket off
And laid it by his fire
He stoked it high for winter cold
To melt through August’s mire.


to t.t.l.

I listen to the pounding of the night temple drums
the ever beating waiting for the morning’s rising
something subtle buried deep below the thinker
and roaming drifting high above the thought.

I listen to the answer of a thousand thousand questions,
the pulsing heartbeats in the treelines black on sky,
the words beyond the words, the blood beneath the skin
reaching, pushing, throbbing to an unseen wanting.

I listen for a question I cannot tell the answer,
the echo of the forests knows nothing of the whys
the seven seven eons have never given reasons
for the ever plodding onwards, the graceful now and never.

I listen to the reaching of a million hungry hands,
understanding nothing but that hopes will fester
walking through the legged forest, loping through the bowers,
waiting for a moment when someone new will know.

tien kuan

for j.h.

“Confucius bowed at the palace gates nine times, according to the ancient style, although not modern practice. Soon after, it became modern practice.” –The Mencius

Frost ringed glass, tightening streams
of ancient light, sailed years–
splashing off my mirror,
pushing through my eye–
then ices breathe through slowly,
as withered branches trace the sky
and the earth crunches, wind’s wild murmurs shuddering
as they have before–while yellows
haze from an ancient point:
Tien Kuan.

when Master Kung bowed, men were shamed
that style once nudged tradition.
with careful phrases
minute in simple complexity, framed
obvious, teaching easy might, stormed an empire.
toppled capitals, and throned two thousand years
humanity and strength, and lip service to them.

mixed, and spoken,
common sense lay defined, in ways
no emperor would dare, for fear
they would be listened to, and learned.

Master Kung erupted, teaching out
the centuries, and Tien Kuan entertained
a shining guest-star, the brightest at night
and second at day–casting shadows on old snow,
it didn’t last–outshining so much,
except for Kung–

That star faded quickly. A mist remains, a fainted hint
That needs my white-lipped cannon’s lens
To pull into sight. that light left long ago,
I’m alone out here, haunting Tien’s country.
most prefer to read about him,
not him.

The books that saw it survived the flames,
and Old Tien himself
guards it resolutely–never swayed
never wavered. His skies have been empty
of guest stars, three hundred years–but
Tien Kuan awaits another, to see the remnants
breathed into beacons again.