Saturday, January 31, 2009


Aspiring to the right teachings, one must first have the right mind.
Entering into the right teachings, one must be able to let go.
Practicing the right teachings, one must use compassionate wisdom.
Manifesting the right teachings, one must comprehend no-self.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Some daddies are harder to live with than others.
Pity their poor children.
Take old Chronus, for example...
bites the heads right off their shoulders.

Hard on the mother, too.
But being sister and wife,
Rhea must have known it wouldn’t be easy.

Wonder how it happened the first time.
Did he say maybe, “Hey, let me look at the baby,”
and couldn’t resist devouring it;
or did he sneak in when she wasn’t looking,
pop it in and swallow?
However it was, they’re gone like yesterday.

A poem is child of the great enemy Time,
conceived in chaos and randomness,
born in the cave of the mind
away from the soft comfort
and play of conversation
where seconds and minutes and days
eat ideas for breakfast.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

THURSDAY, JANUARY 29Dr. Tommy Korn and his medical staff worked their magic on me today, and now I have a new, clear lens in my left eye replacing my old cloudy one. Medical science is wonderful, and even more wonderful is the skill of Dr. Korn. I am grateful.

Early this morning I heard the familiar woo-oo-oo song of the mourning doves that have been nesting outside my office window for a couple of years. They're back. They nest twice a year, each time raising two chicks. I took the picture before the eye surgery and wrote a short verse for the BLOG after I got home from the hospital. Thank you Dr. Korn.

Our mourning doves are back
from wherever it is they went
for holiday after they hatched
their two chicks in the nest of
sticks and straw they dropped
haphazardly around under the
the hanging jade plant outside
a room at home where poems
are hatched after words spring
from my imagination and float
around in the swirling thought
machine that makes the verse
about mourning doves coming
and going woo-oo-oo-oo-oooo
like the sad song of mourning,
but it's only human experience
that hears sadness in the song.

They’re the same doves I see
there twice a year so they are
now my doves. I will mark my
calendar to see if they’re back
again the same time next year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28THIS BOG ENTRY doesn't have to make sense. It is a tribute to one of my favorite writers, John Updike, who died yesterday. I have loved Updike since the time when I first met the very real character in his novels... Rabbit Angstrom... and especially since I got acquainted with his David from his Olinger Stories. I met Updike twenty-something years ago in Albany when he was doing a reading of his work at SUNY. That was as good a day for me as this day after his death is a sad one. The photograph for the day has less to with Updike himself than with the dreams and the imaginations of both Rabbit and David. The two "Stop" photographs, one just stop and the other a self portrait, seem to fit. I shot all three of the photographs today, but the anthropomorphic tree is the photo du jour.

Above all things I like 
the idea that there are things
I don’t yet know
maybe will never know
but don’t have to close
off the avenues of my mind
to not knowing 
or wanting to know.

God, big G or little g god,
at the top of the list
of things I can live 
without knowing 
but can’t live without
wanting to know 
and hoping to know,
is the ultimate mystery.

And the thing is...
John Updike died
just like everybody
else dies at one time 
or another but mostly
totally unexpectedly he
disappeared from sight
without telling us why.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Photo by her Mother, Susanne Gunterman

Taking into account all of the unfathomable universe
beyond the farthest imaginable star,
worlds defying comprehension,
there is only one of Lee.
She is unique,
an aggregate of uncommon parts,
molecules and dancing atoms,
one of a kind.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Explain God with flowers and mountains
deserts and creatures in the deep black sea,
not words and theology
especially to children
or old women and men
waiting on the outer edge of living.

“God is God,”
the withered little man said,
“and I ain’t even certain sure of that.
But I can tell you,” he said,
“Something touches me now and then
like a feather moved by a baby’s breath.
That’s as much evidence as I’ve got
except the world,
the stars and moon and universe.

God is God.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009


The blue-eyed child asked,
"What is time, what is old,
when was yesterday,
Can we go now to tomorrow?

"What makes time," he asked
"Who pays for it?
Does it keep on coming or
is it going... like the river?

What's the difference between
will be and has been,
between next and was?"

“Time is only now, only now,
and yesterday was when
we wanted to go now to tomorrow
or be back in the day before.

In a little while
the time will come when
after all later and then
before that soon

Forever and by and by
ever after sooner or later
then love"

"After awhile," they said..”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

SATURDAY, JANUARY 24MOVE OVER, DAVID BECKHAM, JUIAN JOHNSON IS ON HIS WAY. The four-year-olds are more fun on the soccer field than a circus. I love the movement in this photograph. It reminds me of that famous LIFE magazine photograph of the drum major being followed by a bunch of kids, all of them marching. Julian is the first blue shirt on the right. Click on the images to see them larger.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Azure sky down to cobalt bay
to Coronado brown and green and gray and sand
tethered to the city by the arching bridge over blue channel.
A panorama of bustling earth
where the red trolley snakes around slab buildings
heading for San Ysidro and Mexico.
Sailboats slice the sapphire riffle
through a broad swath of shimmering light
past aircraft carriers stationary, waiting.
For war?

Traffic scurrying, tracing and retracing insect trails
across the grid of city between tower and bay,
animates, not dominates the urban theatre
where eccentric and curious buildings and people
move or wait to move, dreading the earthquake,
hoping for love at any moment, expectant, dreading
old still holding on among new,
The uptown shopping mall a modern sculpture
in a museum of older pieces.
Sunlight reflecting off windshields and rooftop clutter,
skyscrapers sheathed in blind man’s glass
push the reflected city back.

Energy and purpose and glee and wonder shout joy
where exuberant power masks the loneliness
and desperation of women and men who
cower, homeless, afraid, hungry, wishing for life or death.
A dozen flags, Stars and Stripes, stand sentry over all,
saying this is America

Thursday, January 22, 2009


There’s surely a lesson here somewhere
that makes some kind of sense
but I confess I don’t get it.
What advantage was there in the first place
being in a place so perfect, just the two of them?
And how could a perfect man have fallen
for the oldest line in the book even then:

this is wonderful stuff why don’t you try it
standing there so the story goes
without so much as a fig leaf
covering his you know what
when a certain serpent sauntered up
yes I said sauntered because
the thing had legs in those days
so the story goes
tempting the woman first
who got into the spirit of it right away
wanting it badly from the first hint of
you ain’t ever had anything like this
to make a short story shorter
he bit.

There is little joy in eating an apple meagerly,
white teeth scraping thinly across white flesh.
The taste is in the bites that fill the mouth.
I hope it was like that for poor Adam,
considering what he is said to have lost. Helen Frankenthauler's abstract red

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday, January 21
The orange in the middle is the photograph I took today... before I began fooling around with Photoshop. I won't even try to explain where or why my imagination goes where it does sometimes... except to say that the orange is very special; and to say that when I was aiming my camera lens at it, I kept thinking about the old Italian tale about The Love of Three Oranges and my wonderment and admiration of Sergei Prokofiev who made a little opera around the tale and composed for it a beautiful march which goes through my head if I allow my mind to go where it wants to go when I look at this special orange. If you click on the WEB address below you'll see and hear Itzhak Perlman playing the march.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I am going to claim this photograph as my own, no matter what anybody says about how I got it. I wasn't in Washington. Barack Obama was in my house...on my television...being sworn in to serve as my President, as our President. I aimed my camera at the TV at the right moment, and I clicked the shutter so I claim it as my picture for the day. There are several things I like about the picture. First of all, I am so proud of my President and am glad he could be my photo du jour... He fills me with hope. Second, I like all the people in the photograph, especially the little boy. This President will determine to a large extend what kind of America that little boy inherits from us. I almost went to Washington this week so I could be with Nancy and two or three million other people crowded into the Capital Mall to be part of this historic occasion; but I'm very glad I stayed home because I got this good picture of my good President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

This journal entry is posted for everybody who likes cats, especially for Nancy and for my friend Taylor Hill, whose 72nd birthday is today. I took the photo above of Nancy and her Lucky in November. The arrogant cat below belonged to Imbi Friedberg. The cats at the end of the BLOG entry live free and wild on the jetty at the mouth of the San Diego River.Looking through my journal from 1990 the other day, I came across a poem I wrote about a cat I once knew. I have never really forgotten Cat, but I hadn’t thought of her for quite awhile; and now the memory of her is especially fine, so I share it here on the BLOG:

No Strings Attached

The cat that sleeps most of the day on my porch
doesn’t belong to me so I don’t know her name.
From among all the other houses on the street
she has chosen my house for her daytime naps,
and I’d like to know what it is that brings her here
to pace back and forth before she settles down
over in the corner by the flower pot with daisies.
I don’t know her name so I call her simply Cat.

But it’s clear that she is anything but a simple cat.
Like her cousin lioness on the plains of Africa,
she possesses any territory she wants to own.
When I invade her space late in the afternoon,
she chooses sometimes to acknowledge me
with open eyes and stretching, purring, licking,
but usually she simply flips her ears as sign
she’s heard me coming...nothing more than that.

Detached may be the word that fits her best,
or perhaps aloofness or smugness or snobbery
I should choose to describe her lying there
owning what she has not paid for in any way
that I know of unless she catches mice
to earn the right to occupy my porch
so she doesn’t have to feel beholden.
Does she assume I’m grateful that she’s there?

The thing Cat and I have most in common
is not the porch or yard or driveway to my house
but something else that I have tried to put my finger on.
It’s the detachment, I think, that links us to each other.
Our relationship is one that has no strings attached.
She comes and goes at any hour she pleases
with no excuses ever needed for being late
or leaving early or not even showing up at all.

Saturday, September 1, 1990

Sunday, January 18, 2009


When I was out checking my hanging geranium
to see if it needed water, I found a tiny blossom
in the middle of a cluster of blossoms was home
to a bug of a kind I do not know. It was tiny,
no more than half an inch long, and half of that was legs.

I thought at first it must be a spider of some sort,
but it had six legs, so it must be kin to grasshoppers.
I wouldn't mind being its relative myself.
It is marvelously made and painted all over
with colors that shine in the afternoon sun.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SATURDAY, JANUARY 17... on a three-day trip into the desert: I found beauty in the loneliness of surreal trees scattered among the piles of rocks in the desert landscape. Black and white photographs seemed more appropriate than color. Robert Frost's poem, "Desert Places" is at the end of this BLOG entry. The short verse that is my own made me think of his much better one.

Desert places are lonely
only if
I haven’t learned to deal
plainly with
the lonely places in myself.

(Click on individual images to see them larger.)

by Robert Frost

Snow falling and night failing fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it--it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less--
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars--on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.