accidentally cut my pericardium meridian, badly, august 2003

my heart
beat differently
in the days after

what I tore open
an instructive gash
fractal of love

before that sudden cut
I had wandered
always in fire
and no true heart
caressed my blood
that was the season

of my barren heart

an injury
I don’t know how

brought me water

now dreams could gel
into form’s fullness

dreams of
the zinnia’s stout mandala
the loon’s flutter-call
the hurricane’s ordered power
the butterfly’s punctuation
of air
the tree’s sidewalk-splitting growth

dreams of
the porcupine’s infective spines
the vulture’s telling circles
the mud’s layer of slime
the flies’ ecstatic swarming
of dog shit
the landfill’s long methane fart

How am I
to lay my treasure
at this world’s feet?


after receiving acupuncture for my lung


I wake from a dream
buying gerbera daisies
to place in a vase
the dream has convinced me I own—

since I’ve moved
I no longer know where anything hides
in the heavy, cluttered boxes
crowding closets

perpetual loss, that’s what fills those boxes
and I resent my partner
for pulling me here
and that reminds me

with a sudden catch of breath, how

very soon after
I was born
all the beauty I had ever known

into endless, sterile white

I catch glimpses
now and then
of the place that came before—

when the needle punctured the skin
where that toe meets my sole

“For your lungs,” the healer said
and indeed, in an instant waking dream
the filigree coral
suffused with softest red
of my lung
nothing less than

life’s tenuous perfection

and now the morning of the vase, here and then gone,
tells me that held in the pulse of air and blood

is a lace of remembrance

my first days here
the shock and grief
of the move—

my grief, which has been so precious to me,
for its waters
could anytime have been my river back,
back to the place before—
through drowning
in phlegm’s embrace
I would have gone many times
gladly, gladly

I would have gone
gladly, gladly

had not some faint sound
pulled me
the other way

I still do not understand that direction
all I know is—
ahead of me
the river now has shores


shores of shimmering sound
embankments of my heart
reason to stay

I don’t remember sound
in that other place
not quite like ours, anyway

I was ready to play, I was ready
to throb

what choice do we have?

what choice do we have
but to be naked?
the flimsy cloth that covers
merely a dusting—
obscures fleshed contours with seams
of precision
draws the eye away
from certain shadows
but momentarily
only momentarily

rooftops reveal
our dwelling places
easily wounded
in an age of bombs

our doorways and driveways
innocently, incessantly proclaim
I live here
you live there
and of course
the thief knows it

there is no place at all
no place at all to hide

this quivering heart

no place—

for those who dare

the freedom of the open sky
the budding of tenderness
the resilience of song

could be perfect shelter   — 2001


When I wrote this poem in August, 2001, there was a lot I didn’t know about, but could only glimpse through intuition and a “felt sense.” Nowadays, when I reread this piece, I’m amazed how much it had to say about the life looming ahead of me. My perspective is that we need to build true shelter more than ever. One of the bombs I didn’t know about then, but understand somewhat now, is geoengineering:

a change of pace

I have written quite a few longer poems over the years, and I thought I’d break from my usual haiku routine this morning and offer this one:


I have forgotten all my lovers

they float in a galaxy
that was always without names:
the bones of a dream

I have forgotten all my dreams

the mind’s high tides

it is of no consequence
starfish left behind on the rocks
point the way

I have forgotten the way

all I can hope is that my toes
remain red-bound to my heart

I have forgotten, forgotten my heart

the gardener, however, assures me
that every night
I sing in my sleep  — 2001


(The first four lines of this poem are part of a longer poem written by Taeji, 5 Rhythms Facilitator in Toronto, in response to another poem of mine. I was inspired to spin those four lines out into a new poem.)

new song byte posted

I’ve just posted a new song, up at Heart of Life Music.

It’s called “Big Wide Grief” and its sung to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
You can listen to it here:

The lyrics unfold as follows:

Big Wide Grief

I think I have a little grief, little grief, little grief
I think I have a little grief, turns my hair as white as snow

I know I have a big wide grief, big wide grief, big wide grief
I know I have a big wide grief, makes me tear at my hair

I’ll take me to the hair salon, hair salon, hair salon
I’ll take me to the hair salon, where they can wash my hair

I’ll take me to the salty waves, salty waves, salty waves
I’ll take me to the salty waves, where they can wash my heart

I know I have a big wide grief, big wide grief, big wide grief
I know I have a big wide grief, makes me tear at my hair

I know I need to get a grip, get a grip, get a grip
I know I need to get a grip, and go into this world once more…

crow—a true story

Walk out through my front door, and my emergence into the scene commented on by a crow.

Seven short “ahs” and I am amused so I sing the pattern back.

And the crow pauses just long enough that I think “this will go nowhere” and then the crow utters seven more “ahs” and I sing back.

And we go back and forth, back and forth, I mimic your changing patterns and pitches, I wish I understood your language in a little more detail.

I say “thank you” as I step back into my house.

Five minutes later, I’m headed to the compost pile and you’re still there, and you call again.

I call back, then you fall silent.

I decide to start the game again, with four higher pitched ahs. You sound back in a new tone, pitch, timbre.

Your crow translation of the sounds I offered you.

I try it again, but you don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t know your language. Maybe I bored you, or offended you. Maybe you’re just done.

Thank you crow, thank you for the smiles you gave me today, thank you for your beauty, thank you for the way my heart feels right now.

Photo: Some rights reserved by tfangel
See photo at Flickr here.