26 OF THE 2001 POEMS




Today, in the morning, with the sun trying to shine,
I rise from my soft bed.
I peek out.
The sun is not trying too hard.

In the Seattle dawn, it is I who must shine,
must rise from my ensorceling bed,
must try harder.
I have not yet tried hard enough.

But, the wisdom of ages says: life isn't a shining
problem to be solved or bedded.
"Just do it."
Whether the sun shines or you die

makes not even the tiniest difference that can be shown
to all those who lie abed
beneath the sod
or rise up from today's painful accouchement.



Working to re-member the idiosyncrasies of the old/new computer,
back from traveling around the country,
-- not other worlds --
I sit at my desk bemused, wondering,

slowing down, seeking -- at my age -- understanding, coddling the computer,
curious of my motives. What country
will I visit
now, in my mind, at my desk?

I have traveled enough in the world. Now, by computer,
I'll visit interior and exterior countries,
dance on the edge,
magic-carpet the world at my desk,

fly, fly away through the incandescent screen of the computer,
watch my thoughts like a country
slipping passed windows
in a plane -- my peripheral vision limited.



What fun to be home sitting in the shimmering white
of my pristine, freshly painted soul
-- room, I mean --
working on poems, letting the mind concentrate,

letting the heart beat quite softly, gently, patiently, still white.
Letting whimsical speculations of the soul
drift around, through,
not demanding too much, forgetting the fear,

opening the Pandora cache of the totality of my white
life, letting my scarlet, muscular soul
pump its blood,
flood slowly -- the sunlight, at last, arriving.

Turn up the heat now, turn up the dazzling white
of the cold, wandering, pain-spent soul
come home once
again to its screen, its papers -- recording.



It is charming and rather cold to have a fireplace
in my room -- wind blown branches
from the street,
the need to gather them at night --

the brilliance of the flaring paper, the search for matches,
the attention the licking flames demand,
the quiet street
at five a.m., the noise at night,

the pounding of my fearful heart, the lack of trust,
more light than heat from the flames,
the haunted street,
the dense fear stalking the populated night --

I look to the source in my heart, having come
to burn papers, discard dramatic moments
via narrow streets,
to enter absolutely naked into the night.



Stiff and foolish with age, fingers not responding to command --
I watch. The old fellow drops
a slippery penny.
I step to help. He sees it.

His fingers slip around it, over it, under its edge,
scrabbling. He's so tall, so bent.
Just a penny
from the world's billions -- intent on it.

He adds it as the last flesh to his bill
on the grocery store's slick counter.
To the penny!
He'll not argue his poverty for it.

His trembling hand grasps the plastic bag full of yogurts.
My grandfather planted a peach orchard
at fifty, penniless,
worked hard, thanked the earth for it.



The pointlessness, the emptiness, the blankness of being challenges me.
My eyes are open, the world
has slowly disappeared.
Where there was something, there is nothing.

Yet the hurly-burly goes on. I, too, choose to run
about doing important, imperative, impeachable things.
Motive has disappeared.
Perpetual motion -- the machine runs, does nothing.

Some wonder why enlightenment seekers seal themselves in ice caves.
Must-haves pursue the earth to ground,
collect the disappearance
of motive in books, films of nothingness,

rent out their being, rent out their pulsing hearts, achieve
giant statues in the shifting sands:
Ozymandias has disappeared
-- with the poem. Wild winds of nothingness!



Gloom and the gulls crying, the crows in the trees,
the worming robins holding their own,
presaging the spring --
Where is it, why doesn't it come?

Forgive the impatience, I bow and beseech the bud-gleaming trees,
but would, if I could, on my own
hoist the sap,
capillary by capillary up from the roots.

What is it that flows against gravity, makes trees green?
What stiffens the stalk of daffodil's
gaudy oscillating corona?
What burgeons again from under the soil?

Help me, great orbiting sun, effulgent, slanting silver through trees,
splashing gold upon the rain's own
moisture-penetrated soft moss.
Listen! It is I who'll sing hosanna!



The yellow, spidery witch-hazel blooms first in the Northwest spring.
Fragile, twisted claws seek the light.
Sweet scent dominates
the paths where its feathery variations flourish.

Green wood-roses poke through, whimpering, whispering their ululations to spring.
Cups, difficult to differentiate from light
-- clustered, silky, stemmed --
are hidden like shadows overflowing. They flourish.

Next, the modest snowdrop with head bent, blushing white spring,
and the narcissus facing the light
-- red rimmed corona,
its delicate colors obeying the sun -- flourish.

Then the rhododendron -- majestic! -- high-blooming over the canopy of spring,
from on top opting the light.
Even so, quince,
frothy yellow forsythia, lilac, peach-colored azaleas flourish.



The gloom is rent by the heart's desire to finish
living, whatever nature's unarguable, inordinate price.
No bargains here.
Sheer force pulls clouds from the sun.

Intentional agony screams at the rain: "Let it be finished!"
The Sound gulls know the price.
Robins look up.
Sodden foxes burrow, sniff the ground, pace.

Winter must change, the sap must shoot up, buds finish
their unfolding into leaves, flowers, pricing
their subtle cooperation
with rations of sun, rations of water.

Maybe there are bargains available to perceptive poets to finish
agrarian comparisons, metaphors, similes, pricing
them majestically high
in hyperbole -- in what is, is not.


As a bee seeks nectar/from all kinds of flowers,/seek teachings everywhere;/
like a deer that finds/a quiet place to graze,/seek seclusion to digest/all you have gathered./
Like a madman/beyond all limits,/go wherever you please,/and live like a lion,/completely free of all fear./

Dzogchen tantra


I keep forgetting I am the Buddha. If not, who?
Where, if not within, find peace?
Contemplate total trust.
Step only on life's lonely flower-strewn paths.

Even if the lemony magnolias lie in blood, remember who
placed them artfully, carefully for peace.
Crushing the petals,
pray only for peace on your path.

With the bee and the deer and the madman, who
long to share your tea, peace
-- smile, sit, drink
the blood, smell the magnolia, share paths

not your own, not your choice. If not yours, whose?
Who are the bee, deer, peace
and the madman?
Smile at the dawn, it is you.



If dawn promises to come through the windows quietly, stealthily,
if dawn promises to surprise you,
don't turn away.
Listen to the bird, the light's beam

stalking the distant mountain and tree top with crimson stealth.
It is coming to kiss you.
Subdue your heart.
Stop the pounding of fear, of remorse.

Go, go dainty-footed and freely, fly around the mountain's girth,
skim its sheerness silently, joyfully, coast
its down-drafts stealthily.
Accepting, stalwart, unmoving, mountains will love you.

As birds love the trees, the mountains, the dew's girth
flashing diamond beaks as they coast,
so with stealth,
peace, compassion they're ceaselessly provoked by you.



Small and black and gold, hardly worth a step -- step
over, around, be cautious. It's armed
with many legs,
a stinger, multi-faceted eyes, honey sacs, speed.

Buzz you bee, announce your territory, claim your pollen. Step
up in the art of arms,
flourish your weapons,
harm those humans light-fingering your bagged honey.

Get about your pollinating business. On the blooming flowers step
about lightly, shaking golden, pollened arms,
shake a leg,
scatter abundance, take off, force your speed.

You've been sharing your sweetness, poking those blossoms, now step
on to my finger, be kind
to human me.
My feet are big, my appetite insatiable.



in the evening when the fierce winter sun stopped gleaming
and the north or east wind
died unquietly down,
the day had eaten, gluttonously, my energy.

The stored-up bliss of seeing the gloom turn into gleaming,
golden glitter on grass and wind,
and dew drops,
like deBeers' sources scattered for the poor,

all conspire toward satiety, feting my indomitable gleam,
my hell-bent drive, my ambition winded
-- in sixty decades --
down to an irritable crawl of non-remembrance.

I drink some caffeine, chat with Gunnar, fresh-faced, twenty-three, gleaming,
who's just run park, hill, wind,
boulevard and gully,
exuding ice-breath, youth, health, unaware of envy.



The room exudes ice. Where does the wind come from?
Incinerate more paper in the fireplace!
-- along with alley-scavenged
wood, old poems and the Sunday funnies.

My life is lit with intermittent hope-flares, despair won from
the tug-of-warring in human heart placed
between savaged, scavenged
hope-ropes, sullen, diurnal miscalculations, livid laughter funnier

than snow or wind or ice or the reality from
hunger, the pain of plain displacement
or any scavenged
fallen-from-grace on-this-plane planet earth. Think it funny!

Die for your convictions in an icy room where, from
lack of hope, you have chosen
loneliness sans despair,
incineration among scavenged poems and funny papers.



Night wears me down, sleeping on my cushions, my down
pillows -- four of them -- smotheringly warm
beneath a comforter --
it, too, of plumage plucked from birds.

The lethe drug of sleep, the lethargy of lying down
topped by lambent layers of bird-warmth
and icy air,
who, aside from Death himself, wants more?

Deep, deep sleep, until the three a.m. urge -- down
which the body's fluids run warm --
commands dress, glasses,
keys, slippers, stepping into silent lighted halls.

Shared penurious lives, young and old, have settled, suspended down
in stillness for the night. Warm --
basement, light-fingered jail-birds
sleeping, too, no longer torque my awareness.



Intense in Seattle's night, the wind blows, the hail falls.
Anger rises from strain and discomfort
simmers all around.
It's easy to analyze after the fact,

but who created the snow flake? The relentless variety falls
through the frigid night bringing discomfort
to the limited mind.
Why such prodigious varieties of beauty unseeable

to the eye, unthinkable to the intellect watching the fall?
Then dizzied by oleander's scentless discomfort,
its embarrassing multiplicity,
humble in its pinkish bloomings, outrageous profligacy

along the California night highway drifting through sand/snow falls
of clicking flakes fraught with discomfort
in the windless
sky, through a pale dawn misting over.



There are eighteen forms on the horizon of black crows:
iridescent, shimmering, cawing, curious, aggressive crows
laced in trees,
bathing in puddles, carrying wood, scolding squirrels,

familial, demanding, painted on gold screens, beneficent, predatious, wise crows
swooping, artful, beloved. Cornucopiaed with crows!
Is it winter,
autumn or spring when hoarding crows crow?

Black, gleaming, opalescent, gossiping in harsh voices, the ubiquitous crows
command humans and all other crows
to pay attention
to their jetting black in the cerulean sky.

Sleeping in the Arboretum breakfasting on Capitol Hill, the crows
scatter their solid, shadow-bodies between earth
and the sun.
Nor do they apologize for their inkyness.



Salmon salad in the night is a kind of penitence
for persistent cookie-thoughts at political lectures,
for waking early
and thinking only of breakfast -- eggs, toast --

instead of mucking profundities of gore, vengeance or sorrowful penitence
for the shape the world lecture
cites as early
twenty-first century philosophy, burnt black or toasted.

Allow me to forget the argument with God Shiva, impenitent,
howling with glee and passion, lecturing
Parvati, who sits
on his knee affecting fascination or cookie-thoughts,

breakfast thoughts, concealable in adoring glances, maskable as penance,
willingly nodding agreement to the lecturing-Shiva
-- usually sullen-silent, cold --
as he sits on hot political ashes.



Well, morning again, sipping milky, mild coffee through a straw,
humming along with the gray computer,
singing possible syllables
for as yet uncreated poems, hovering images.

After waking to the anxious rhythm of what-should-I-do-next? eyeing straw
piled high across the room, psyche-computed
near my desk
extruded from my relentless, death-dancing, private brain.

Who, including you, gives a damn, a fig, a straw
in this commercial, e-business, technological, computer,
driven-mad, shrinking world?
The shifting, smoke-like, misty, elusive brain-effusions seem

hardly worthy material for structuring great castles or low straw
huts. What does humanity need? Computers?
Feather soft ferns
in a deep wood, vined by nature's intentions?



Quiet gloom returns to needle-strewn porchs, coolness touches my thighs,
God's love manifests in another overcast
day to live
in a world that nurtures my economic

impulses, stretches my purse, relinquishes any vibrant feeling for thighs,
or the dark beauty of overcast
blue-black eyes pleading
for love or remorse or a crumb.

From long ago, wells up the apparition of a thigh-poem
of Rimbaud's? Baudelaire's? Positively French, overcast
with the passions,
seductions of humans -- passe now. N'est pas?

Now our passions take place in boardrooms, "Doing the numbers,"
on the stock exchange, the NASDAQ.
Cuddle your portfolio,
ejaculate DOW poems from between your thighs.



My eyes grow pink-rimmed like my father's, pig-eyed, pale, unattractive.
I thought they would grow wise.
But were father's?
No, just human, rather pleading at ninety.

Eyes pass through seduction, calculation, hauntings, and end up unattractive.
Or hidden in fleshy folds, wizen,
seeing too much,
squinting, cataracting, declining omniscience, hiding from glare.

Betrayals creep in from all sides, solid fat, frozen, unattractive
attitudes, buried in anger and remorse,
smiling for grandchildren,
debating numbers, the done-wrongs that hurt still.

Where are the wise old men? the wise old, unattractive
women? The crones who knew wisdom
who croaked blessings.
Who grew from childhood to age -- gently.



Blank mind and the quiet -- it's not all that early.
But the streets are reverently silent
practicing their Saturday
morning sleeping-in after the, perhaps, lucrative week.

Too exhausted to wake, too drained to notice the early
sun, no sound of human, silent
breathing -- earth respirates.
She's up -- free of her noisy guest.

There is the subtle titter of tiny birds, inaudibly early,
glistening, rain-watered grass blades unbending silently,
pine-forks and cones
litter the porch, the walk, the street.

The computer hums, first steps on the stairway, not early --
but friendly? If they don't knock.
Let them leave
the house empty and my mind blank.



Gazing on my littered desk, thinking of gratitudes for inspiration,
greyness covers the colorful things owned
from the Orient,
a few raggle-taggle ends of possessions yet

to be given to relatives, friends, thrift stores, enemies, inspirations
for the archives -- all things disowned,
except my rug(s),
spinning wheel (computer), and covering for nakedness.

Out of whole cloth, I am to stitch my inspirations
for poems, for thoughts. What is
it to be?
-- if human alone, being, breathing means nothing?

Cats and dogs and deer and quail, buffalo and bison
breathe and eat and mean something.
Only humans must
labor for meaning, gaze, sob for inspiration.



How little attention you've paid to the body -- over years.
Irritation at its itching, annoyance at
its hunger(s), anger
at its recalcitrant participation in your plans --

the quirks it develops in grasping and gliding, remembering. Years
lost! Everything gets too difficult at
impossible rates, undoable.
Don't laugh, you'll get there, too. Paper

walks or bounces constantly about any room, hiding for years
in corners, under chaos's wings at
invisible, unthinkable locations.
As if shooting a movie of non-sense.

Nothing helps but death: not being, being gone for years,
like the dinosaurs, more admired now --
their bones, size,
eggs, bird-heritage. Transformations, devoutly to be wished.



I sleep so hard, I seem always to be waking
from bliss into the insistent buzz
of problems, anxieties.
with systems set for supersonic super stress,

heart dialed for fear, hurt, disappointment, the pain in waking.
I wake earlier than the buzz
of sunlight begins.
I light my fire of twigs, branches.

I swing high as I can on poetry forms, waking,
pirouetting on the noble, momentary buzz
of strange words,
straining to embrace the curiousness of being.

When one thinks just a few eons ago, upon waking,
we swung with a pre-literate buzz
down from trees,
and today we think automobiles, aeroplanes natural.



These twenty-six have been howling, desperate poems, flung to span
the gaping division of heart between
years of pleasure
and societal fears. Was it ever so?

Have humanity's justified fears of one another instigated the spanning
of chasms, the frenetic bridging between,
hunger and fear?
Without fear of one another, you say

we'd have lain abed forever, ensorcelled by sleep, dream spinning:
unmoving, unmoved, unloving, unloved, breeding between
nothing, aspirationless, souless,
fear driven. Love is a spanning invention

to hide agony from ourselves, others. Hide out! Hide out!
Stand in inky caves'fear between
death and shout!
Artificial analysis will never equal sweet death.

More of The 2001 Poems

Copyright © 2001 through 2015 Jan Haag

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail:






21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context