word count: 76

wisdom is moderation of all things:
to neither be a puppet nor pull strings,
to lead with strength but not an iron fist,
to smartly borrow from but not consist
of lessons learned in lifetimes besides yours,
to seize the day while still doing your chores
& take action, but give in when you’re wrong.
balance & reflection make you strong,
except in love, which no wisdom can touch:
love proves it’s love by loving far too much.

sonnet for a drummer

word count: 97

i think Time itself understands
the commands of your quivering twin wands;
you shape Now as it passes your hands
infinitely docile, resembling strong
youth, infancy & age with equal grace—
some rhythms are warlike, some fight for peace,
right foot runs straight while the left syncopates,
teasing timelessness out between beats.
where is your totem pole? what tribe taught you
the primal ecstasy that invokes gods?
whose ancestral wisdom pumps life into
those hollow drums, mesh skins & tapered rods?
i know this one thing: if hearts measure time
for other hearts, yours keeps the beat for mine.

(a study of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128)

i persephone

word count: 97

i persephone though living wander
in death’s shade along the sidewalk by day

the moon raising her sickle overhead
reminds me monthly of the bloody dead
bodies who have carpeted battlegrounds
for generations laying their lives down
for the next generation & i am
a fly on the wall who will die with all
she has witnessed & not said & i’ve read
everything written about releasing
your final breath with ease & it’s no use
because fate just rolls a die & cuts the thread
but i wander in this land of the soon-dead
happy because i love you though doomed

2 different women

word count: 87

2 different women live in my soul:
one is idyllically domestic
in her pale yellow apron-wearing role;
the 2nd holds down a fantastic
leading ladylike profession, respected
everywhere she goes—both unrealistic,
one a little closer to home.
they both channel their Qi like pros,
creative, sure of themselves & kind—
of course, neither of their 2 souls is mine.
i’m in the middle, where they’re combined
& only the intention of each shines.
one warms the heart, the other cools the head,
& you, love, keep the two from being dead.


word count: 93

i picture the evolutionary
march from primates to homo sapiens
& stand in awe. i don’t need to carry
around the whole Origin of Species,
our genesis painstakingly described—
it’s a living truth, this instinctive
contest of minds that made sure we survived;
it’s in us all, in the nucleotides
that combine our twin helixes; it’s the torch
we burn running the course of ages,
our succession of phoenixes, the source
that makes us driven, loyal & courageous—
& love, too, was evolved, because, i think,
it yanks you back, hard, from the brink of death.

when i think about the Tao Te Ching

word count: 99

when i think about the Tao Te Ching
(though thoughts about it tend to distance it)
i fear the utter speechlessness it brings;
i dread being alone to witness it
when the universe of all things profound
pours out its annihilating secrets;
i’m scared of being infinitely drowned
in that vacuum where no light or sound
can interfere with the eternal Tao;
i’m scared of being disintegrated
& never returned to how i am now—
the fate to which all living things are fated.
but you dissolve all this. with you, i am
embraced by the great mystery, not damned.

all the great Masters recommend restraint

word count: 105

all the great Masters recommend restraint
of thought, word, action & initiative:
always be ready to respond, but wait
for the right time to strike. how do they live
so disciplined, their only time around
more competent than others, but less proud?
as a dam may serve to irrigate the land
& pens pinpoint the fine control of hands,
their limits must be what defines their aim.
is love, which knows no boundaries, the same?
if i want lasting love, is there some vow
that can bind & secure me to its course?
or are great works accomplished to allow
their workers to draw closer to its source?

i’m a laser beam

word count: 93

i’m a laser beam: my fixed amplitude
shines just as bright no matter where i face
& can be ON or OFF, but not subdued—
undiscerning, blinded by light, i chase
whatever target falls between my sights
with equally lethal force. even worse,
my light, small, portable body invites
any strong hand, virtuous or perverse
to point me in its direction of choice.
only you, with your unclouded vision
& even-tempered, wise, paternal voice
can still my wavering indecision.
your direction, i know for sure, is best,
& warm in your hands, my burning soul rests.


word count: 67

from you i get the craziness to think
my pen might get as mighty as my love
for you, & fountain up for earth to drink
love in like rain collected from above
& show the world why life’s worth living
& make mankind wise & forgiving.
you are so magnificently worthy
that if your face could appear now, here,
plain lines would manifest unearthly:
the primal human vision, plain & clear.

i realized if i could only love

word count: 101

i realized if i could only love
a tiny bit more deeply than i’d grieve
in the extreme worst case, i’d be above
petty paranoias that you might leave
& free to love you with such abandon!
the problem is that even bottomless
love can never swallow up grief’s canyon.
like balanced scales, grief is love’s consequence,
& as my treasuring of you multiplies
day by day, in layers thickening
around your heart, your speaking voice, your mind,
the thought of parting grows more sickening.
but i’m far too far already to turn back,
so i’m flooring it until i’m out of track.