featured in the poetry forum December 22, 2013  :: 0 comments

¿Cómo cantaremos la canción del SEÑOR
en tierra extraña? (Psalm 137:4)

We woke before the sun. The days were long,
Dusty, hot, but I didn’t care. Outside
Was where the animals were, that is, where
I needed to be. Goats, chickens, wolves, dogs,
Anything not me. I could (& did) watch
For hours. My schoolroom was my grandfather’s
Farm: the rest of the world could have melted
Away & I really couldn’t have cared
Less. Fighting an itch, not fighting an itch,
Amounts to the same thing. I fled to my

Dreams & stayed a year in San Diego,
Becoming me, but a different me.
I loved this new country: I could not speak
The tongues of my first employers, but the
Dogs I understood just fine—they wanted
Out, out, out. Until their owners hired me,
All they got was the suffocation of
Unthinking love, love that knows no bounds or
Heights. Trapped on pedestals, robbed of work or
Purpose, they bit, attacked, snarled, bared teeth, ran.

Love is free or it is nothing. But they
Were denied even that, inside all day
And all night, stuck in halls, backyards, & high
Walled dens. Love can put a hell where heaven
Would be, & these dogs were captives. In this
Place people will pay you good money to
Say the ludicrously plain; I prospered,
And moved my business to L.A; I
Am now quite wealthy. I must hire helpers
Each new year. My friends back home are happy

For me but (still) amazed. “They pay you HOW
Much to walk the dogs????” And of course it’s not
Quite so simple as that. My clients here
Have strange problems–the kind that happen when
They’re idle, bored, or alone. Yet the dog
Seems to care. So he or she is now turned
Into a miserable little thing,
Wearing tiny coats, or pink shoes, or signs
That say “I Love Peace.” They are force-fed love
Until they puke. Then the owners are stunned

When their poor dog, with no escape, turns on
Them. You should hear the calls I get! “Fluffy
Won’t eat!” “Timmy won’t wear his suit!” “Chulo
Snaps at me!” Then I get there & find a
Dog who hasn’t been for a walk in months.
We love cause/effect except when we are
The cause, the first mover. I will never
Go back to Mexico; this is home, &
The USA has heaped blessings on me,
But I wonder sometimes if we should set

Every dog free, send them to the farm
My mind visits…..where dogs were just as they
Are, no one’s special pet, chasing fireflies
In spring, guiding us through early fall nights,
Running after each other in the lakes,
A nimble reminder we live in a
Kind of paradise, to let the past be
The past; to never fear what could be, some
Note to yourself about life: our time here
Is mostly sweet & we have no idea.

editors note:

Turns out it’s not just canines who live a dog’s life. – mh


featured in the poetry forum October 16, 2013  :: 0 comments

May with its light behaving
Stirs vessel, eye & limb,
And reminds me of Amanda.

Yesterday I thought: “There is no system.
I was miserable this morning,
My mood an obnoxious thunder,
Unusually crapulent, even for me–
I hated everyone & everything.
But I sit here in English Bay, stunned
By an almost embarrassing beauty;
If Amanda was here, I would be perfect.

Anywhere she is is Eden.
She is a dance of cherry blossoms, rain washed,
Playing in ecstatic blue splendor.”

editors note:

Want to fix or find your system? Keep your Amanda close. – mh


featured in the poetry forum August 6, 2013  :: 0 comments

Mid winter, in this great expanse, you walk
Past huge stretches of empty lots, and still
A few spare clouds at nearly half past two.
Today the ocean gives off a faint chill,
And shoots one cold wave, and then many more,
On to fine, white sand. Over near the bike
Shop are vendors–many want to sell you
Pleasure, some hipness, some, curios, or
A crudely overpriced piece of tired shlock.
If you need to be here, you can sweet talk

Death, for the dead are all round; their fame knows
No end. Want your face on a big crappy
Clock? Don’t play halftimes or be a rebel
On the morning news. Don’t get fat. Don’t be
On the game shows or help some old dumb cur
Win a dance contest. When the ratings spike,
Call your dealer. Don’t have your own label
At Sears. Don’t plug your book, with all your
Deep, as-told-to, thoughts on the late night shows:
Be against war, crime, and all the other woes.

Above all, don’t be us. When they find you
In the ravine one morning, you’ll still have
A star out beyond, some distant sparkling,
Something unmet, unheard, not in or of
Us, people moved always by the letter,
Never the spirit. Redeemed, you’ll be like
That ocean just to your left, an inkling
And taste of infinity, and better
We never glimpse or guess at the vast blue
Depths your soul may never have traveled to.

editors note:

Keep seeking those vast blue depths. Immortality can wait. – mh