Running With Horses

(Christmas 1981 For Christmas 1998)

Horses running,
through gates joining me
along the fences, large
breathing close to me
we ran together,
frail against the rushing
the force, the mass, the fear rising

Candles in brown paper bags
along the roads that evening
at Arroyo Secco, a high plateau
village beneath sacred mountain
illuminating the roads, earth stars
celebrating Christmas until dawn

the paths horse and man together
connect the species universally
the moist flank by my cheek
the breath, the pounding hooves
by my soft clad feet
we are Indians in tune with nature…

we are not, are not in tune
afraid of power in the flesh.
with the horses coming from fields
on both sides pressing about
how small we are, how unused.

the candles for the dying year
for the souls in the road
for the shortened time
for the diminished family
for the attenuated spirit
for our fear of death

the mahogany flanks rush
all on and on, the moment
life is the moment, this one
flying along the irrigation ditches
in fear and exaltation..


This island is scared
its ancient granite has been cut
to build temples and gravestones.

Hurricane Island, a Maine island
fog drenched spruce clad
holder of fragments, unfinished
scattered grave stones, curbs, steps
drilled and cut and marred, scattered
on the shores
its ancient solitude ripped open
even to the outer sea bashed edge
the edge of the soft grinding sea
cutting fissures in the ancient stone
cutting aquiline lines.

Hard cut edges of the quarry
tower above a pool, a grand bird bath
with squawks and caws
of gull and crow contesting
air space above dense mossed trees.

Quarry men dig into the root
the oldest crustal parts of earth,
genealogists seek roots in other men
dig in old manuscripts
and grave stone legends
wanting a permanence like granite
for themselves in heaven.

Gently scoured by air sea and sand
unreachable ocean edge prominences,
ancient uncut stones, reveal
soft edged, sleeping Buddhas,
Mahabalipurim temples,
sea softened shapes
where gods emerge.
The slime beneath
the Buddha is
the beginning.

So, here is man
claiming permanence
using cut granite makers
denying his slimy beginning
his finite moment
creating heavens, nailing ancestors
into a choir celebrating
his transcendent soul
failing to accept death, the birth price.

the force of the sea
grinds away the scratches
of names, the cryings
of I, that was, engraved
in the ancient stones.
Chthonic rage
scours away all marks
restores the softer shapes,
the real sleeping Buddha
nurturing life to come.

7/26/06 On a mooring at Hurricane island.

Black Leaves

The leaves are falling wet
decaying, the year ending,
when the living shed
exuberant bright color.

But there are trees here that were cut down
by twisting winds, a summer’s tragedies,
uprooted or broken in the middle
healthy, tall strong trees that were
crashed down to earth and now clutch
their black and brittle grey leaves
above the colored ground for years.

As were my brother’s drawings
when he was cut down in his prime
his designs, his colors, were stored away
withheld, no wonderful realizations then,
his paper buildings would not rise.
As the green leaves would not be colored
or released in the flurry of fall
there would be no light hearted spring,
all his promise was held in, tight.

We must think of our falling,
of our failures proceeding new growth
our promise, our renewal
as our cycling years continue,
As we age there are fewer leaves to drop,
thinner branches to hold them.
But, there is always more to blossom
all the way to the end,
else war, disease, human blasting winds
cut the flow and natural ebb
and promise is filed away in dark drawers,
like the clutched black leaves
that will never drop.