I saw a big shaggy dog sitting
on 7th Avenue in the early evening.
He was at the edge of the sidewalk,
big paws resting softly on it
like a lion adorning a stoop.
He was serenely unperturbed
watching the cars go by.
When my father used to come home
from work, he`d toss The World Telegram
into the den and say, “Hiya, Bud”
go into the kitchen, kiss my mother,
and they`d talk.
My brother or I would read the sports
pages and comics, my favorite
being Joe Palooka, especially his championship
fights, usually lasting many months.
After supper he`d smoke his cigar,
the apartment being filled
with the aroma of its smoke
It was a smell of comfort,
telling us he was here,
apart from itself.
I like to walk along Columbus Avenue
along the outside of Theodore Roosevelt Park,
sometimes going into it or sitting on a bench.
There`s always a coolness in it.
It`s like sitting in a room of trees.
The earth is moist and there are grasses,
shrubs,...pin oaks, sycamores, elms,
and even a willow oak.
People are always walking around it
or into it.....its quiet
is its magnet.
Once, stopping by Margaret Mead Green
I became enchanted with the smells
of the vegetation and colors of the flowers.
Lingering in that sweetness
was the smell of cigar smoke.
I looked up and said,”Hiya, Bud”.
For Janice Bernard
For many years we sat
zazen together, then
we went our ways.
I see her once a year now
at a holiday season party,
smiles and hugs come my way
lighting my lamp again.
Peeling back the now:
I walk behind a woman
during kinhin, seeing
long beautiful hair tied
with a ribbon in a pony tail,
a lovely swinging gait,
Packwood Lake, Washington August 30th, 1970
The trail from the bottom of the hill where the lake rests extends for five miles. The thought of reaching the lake gave me an apprehension which interfered with enjoying the old growth timber with the grooves in their barks which were colored in browns of all shades, touched with some red and embroidered by a creeping green grass-like plant. Not that the wood`s gift for sight is just to look at the trees, for along the trail one can see into the valley and see how the glaciers cut out the valleys and see the rivers and creeks wind in their inexorable movement....probably to their final destination, the sea. Nature`s cycles are felt as one perceives the dying and rotting of once great trees while small ones grow and will flourish long after we die. And along the trail on this August day, the huckleberries were at their ripest and tasted delicious, staining our hands and teeth and lips.
The lake lay tranquilly beneath the clouds and was surrounded by the giant fir groves and peaks whose rich brown earth reflected the light of the little bit of sun which filtered through the clouds. Such brown could never be justified by a painting or a photograph.
October 7th, 2002
Salt Marsh Nature Center
Marine Park , Brooklyn
Tom Cullen showed us some birds of prey ,
The hawk…….the falcon.
The owl………the eagle.
He told us of their remarkable speed,
their incredible eyesight.
about the function of their feathers ,
the notches in the falcon’s beak
to break a spinal chord.
One falcon dove at one hundred miles an hour.
An eagle saw his mate nine miles away on the Hudson River.
He walked through the room ,
an Asian eagle on his arm
with orange eyes gleaming.
It spread its wings lurched and tugged
and tried to fly away.
I thought of Burley Coulter.
Burley is a free spirited farmer in Wendell Berry’s fiction. He participates in all community affairs and is helpful to his neighbors. From time to time he disappears into the woods , sometimes with his dogs, for long periods of time. He’s often seen in his boat on the river fishing or just hanging out.