Ghazal: A Life

Ghazal: A Life

Name one life not filled with light.
Even a cold heart melts in light.

Fog no longer blankets the canyon.
Hear the warbling wren in flight.

Recall the lessons November taught.
After summer fades, fill its void with light.

Hear the day’s internal rhyme.
A soft chorus calls twilight.

This life is not the final draft.
No life is cursed with delight.

Restore stars and the sun to your heart.
My friend, let there live lyric and light.

The Old Man

The Old Man

The old man paused on the bridge
a favorite stop
upstream of the lazy oxbow

where a boy once watched
the milky gold
of evening sunlight

spill through the alders
into empty space
over still water

its silent weight
filled the air

suspended dragonflies
patrolling the cattails


as if they knew
the lateness of the hour.


In the end we left things undone.
The piano player drove slowly home.

We did not sing the final refrain.
We did not read one last poem

to the ring of guitar strings.
So many threads

bound one heart to many.
In the end we were practical.

How can you bury a life
and be home before suppertime?

Photo Lissa Arroyo
Final line borrowed from the novel “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea




When I say wooden -
I mean cedar chests, hemlock crates,
hickory axe handles, oak masts -
when I say wooden
can you feel your hand
brush an unfinished pine shelf,
silky, a patch of amber resin
catching your fingertips?
Once living, still fulfilling
duties as assigned
until one day, repairs failing,
recommissioned first
a child’s bird house,
then kindling, finally,
festive home
for carpenter ants fungi.

I mean neither façade
nor empty expression;
I mean, like wood,
not living and not dead –
a life owing its persistence
to its essence.

By essence
I do not mean something left
in sawdust incense,
on the dull edges
of files and blades,
on worn sandpaper
and calloused hands:
Essence is not a life's residue.
When I say essence
I mean a life's means and mode:
I mean the grit that dulls the blade
to be remade
to live another way
to live another day.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

We’re not to blame if we forget
how nearly everything
looks like our dark night sky,
a vast blue-black pool,
color-drained darkness,
save the familiar silver disc afloat
in our light-blushed river,
pin-pricks and smudges,
luminous creatures of our night.
We creatures of day are easily fooled.
No wonder: even in darkest night
we dream color-stained dreams
until we are brushed awake
by the soft light of dawn.

A Still Life

A poem begun years ago, edited recently, I set it free today.



Eternity smothers this one day.

This day devours every hour.

I taste each minute along my way;

still, eternity smothers this one day.

Of the beauties that bloom today,

I savor the lowest flower.

Though eternity smothers this one day,

today I devour, every hour.



 I need time
more time

I am here
to write the story
of the world in my glass –
fruit, vine, roots
soil, sun, rain
soft starlight,
to write my story
to dance this fierce dance.

To tell
a story everlasting
I need time.



Take all of my winters
but leave my first
frost on the pane
sting in the air
no turning back
snowfall at dawn day.
More than stillness
of being
I want the beauty
of becoming.