Sunset on All Souls’ Day

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Sunset glows
over sharp, dark ridges

rich with vermilion
and ruddy blush

as gathered souls stretch
incarnadine fingers

in clouds sweeping down
to bless bleak coastal hills.

For their love arises
from the raw, bleeding sun,

their golden breaths
coalesce
into pure, lucid song.

(1 Nov 2011)

black door

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black door,
impenetrable portal
to the silent night,

when a sudden train rushes,
filling the darkness
with wailing desire,

and suddenly is gone.

Now only my fingers linger.
pressing your giving flesh.

(10/18/2014)

The Vine

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The ugly stump, desolate, dead
and too deep to pull, waited for my saw,
but I, lazy and pre-occupied, lingered
as winter inundated
the mud and rock desert
outside our kitchen window.

Then spring came, and all excuses spent,
I slogged out, grim executioner,
ready to cut and pull,
when I beheld green, craggy fingers praying
for just one more chance;
so putting the saw back into our messy garage,
we began the project,

raking, hoeing, cutting, digging
(hard work for a lazy man)
and soon sod to lay
and bricks to haul for a patio,

when, bushwhacked, we spied
the truant stump
proclaiming itself a grape vine,
stringy runners running rampant
through the little garden we built around it,
hooked fingers grabbing for anything
to pull nascent leaves up,

up to the warming April sun,

out of the dark winter earth,

and alarmed we cut it back, fearful vintners,
afraid for threatened geraniums
and knock-out roses,

but a treaty agreed upon, the vine settled
for one corner and left the rest
to more delicate flora.

Life will not be denied
in our backyard.

(4/10/2009)

First Rain (10/16/2010)

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first waves of grey
push in from the sea
impatiently driving through
wind-thrashed trees

my back yard’s aglow
with the strange, filtered sun
red garden blooms sway
against dark, stoic trunks

Oh,inhale the sharp fragrance
of autumn’s first rain!
infuse your dry world
with life once again.

Origami Master

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“Perfect openness born of complete self-surrender, brings us into uninhibited contact with God.” Thomas Merton

My soul’s a sheet
of flat paper,
unfolded and featureless
until your hands press
and pinch, crease
my stubborn fears
to your desire.

You know what fills
my nascent core
and never give me up
but with your strength
to fine edge crease
and make of me at last
angel’s wings.

(10/15/2012)

Shoemaker

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The children watch his hands
strain against leather, tug
tough hide, obdurate skin,
once supple and alive,
now stiff and dry,

see how his patience,
like love,
wears death down
until new shoes grow
in his strong hands.

They learn to bend
life’s refuse
to new use,

how being
always finds
purpose.

Thus, in lines of memory
we measure our days.

The ancestors guide us
as we build new form
from old tears,

and our children
watch
and learn.

(6/12/2013)

_________________________________
Shoemaker, Hung Liu, 1999, oil on canvas, Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento CA

Nocturne: October

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level land

fields
blown brown
and hard

fade with day
to
hazy
night.

the wind does not move!

there’s
a smudge
on the
moon

and

even
the geese
are
silent.

(10/8/2013)