Full Moon in the Morning Sky

Poems by
Michael P. Garofalo
Red Bluff, California




The Pomegranate― Wears thorns on Her branches―
Uncomplaining, quiet
We don't hear Her sigh.
She offers her red fruits― To one and All―
To birds, ants, girls,
To gardeners on the spy.

Holding forth in the bright heat
A dense shrub, thin leafed―
Covering the path
Pruned back monthly
But ever relentless.

We― complaining daily― too hot, too dry―
Seldom satisfied, fussing famously―
Split open a ripe red Pomegranate
Admire the scores of fleshy red seeds
Suck down the succulent juices
Till our tongues are stained with shame. 

[Inspired by Emily Dickinson, #554]   



The Past is the Key

I saw Master Chang San-feng
Enter the Sidhe, Fairies by his side,
Crossing over the pond at dawn.
Astonished I was!
On the teahouse table by the pond I later found
Some of his neatly printed notes
Folded in a well worn tome 
Of the Tao Te Ching, in Chapter 14. 

He had written:
”Even for an Immortal, the Past is the Key.

The Future
Grasp at it, but you can’t get it,
Colorless as an invisible crystal web,
Unformed, thin, a conundrum of ideas,
The Grand White Cloud Temple of Possibilities,
Flimsy as a maybe, strong as our hopes,
Silent as eternal Space.
When you meet it, you can’t see its face.
You want to stand for it, but cannot find a place. 

The Present
It appears and disappears through the moving ten thousand things,
Quick as a wink, elusive as a hummingbird,
Always Now with no other choice,
Moving ground, unstable Plates,
Real as much as Real gets to Be,
This Day has finally come,
Room for something, for the moment, waits
Gone in a flash, assigned a date,
Gulp, swallowed by the future.
Unceasing, continuous, entering and leaving
The vast empty center of the Elixir Field.

The Past
Becoming obscurer, fading, falling apart,
A mess of memories in the matrix of brains;
Some of it written, fixed in ink, chiseled in stone,
Most of it long lost in graves of pure grey bones.
Following it you cannot see its back,
Only forms of the formless, stories, tales,
Images of imageless, fictions, myths.
A smattering of forever fixed facts,
Scattered about the homes of fading ghosts. 
The twists and turns of millions of tongues
Leaving us languages, our passports to the past.

The future becomes past, the present becomes past,

Every thing lives, subtracting but seconds for Nowness, in the Past. 
The Realms of the Gods, the kingdoms of men,
The Evolutionary Tree with roots a million years long
Intertwined with turtles, dragons, trees, stars and toads;
     crickets, coyotes, grasses, tigers, bears, monkeys and men.  

These profoundest Three of Time
An unraveled red Knot of Mystery,
Evading scrutiny in the darkness of days
Eluding capture in the brightness of nights,
In beginnings and endings are only One, the Tao,
Coming from Nowhere, Returning to Nothing.  

What dimension of Time
Does your mind dwell within?
Future, Present or Past
Where is your homeland?  

The Past holds the accomplishments, the created, the glories, and the Great.
The Present is but a thin coat of ice on the Pond of Fate. 
The Future is an illusion, a guess, a plethora of possible states.

Recreate the Past
By playing within the Present. 
Twisting and reeling one’s silky reality
From the Black Cocoons of the Acts
From which we create our Pasts.
Follow the Ancient Ways. 
The Past is the Key.

[Inspired by the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 14]



Yellow Patty-Pans in the Pure Sunshine

Hardly thinking, mind still,
Strolling out into the garden;
Awakening in the dawn glow,
Summer sun rising over the cloudless Cascades.
Deep green fat squash leaves,
Worry free, covering the damp clay soil.
My hands search the straw mulch for
Spaghetti squash, patty pans, crook necks,
     zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupes, cucumbers, gourds …
All fattening on water, sun, and soil.

I touch the vines and smile, grasping colored fruits,
Worry free, pleased just to be
Me, the sum of things, I am That,
Living and dead, endless vines of beings,
A billion bees sucking a trillion flowers,
In the Valley Spirit of a million summers. 
Past and Present merge Now,
As I fill to the brim with twining thoughts,
Fattening on ideas, memories, fantasies, images, reflections,
A pumpkin mind, full of invisible mind seeds,
A growing matrix of wonderful words. 

As it should be. 

[Inspired by Robinson Jeffers, “The Return.”] 



Master Chang’s Pepper Talk

Coming through the
clear and cloudless skies
whereabouts known
the master comes walking to my home.
Smiling, herbs in hand,
stepping over dry wheat, star thistle, bindweed, dry land,
startling and scattering a guinea hen band,
onward walks that tall and dignified man.
He strolled past the fence and
into the gardened land.

”I see your peppers green, yellow and red,
spicy hot, like a sharp fajing strike
from that old fellow Chen Wang-ting’s
hidden fist’s bite.”

“Listen, a woodpecker knocks,
your garden becomes more mysterious,
the six sealings are all leaky,
the four closings are all openings.
Step back, raise your arms in joy,
play Cloud Hands in realms of cloudlessness.”

“Plant the seeds of progress with practice
daily, sun after sun, at dawn
to be done, by you,
the chosen one.”

“Do not neglect fasting the mind,
and, for you, fasting the flesh,
until you are as fast as the Tameless White Tiger,
lean as Xuan Wu’s Snake General,
still and strong as the Black Tortoise,
and worthy of Lao Tzu’s wisdom.”

“Become graceful, gentle, manly, clean.
Court the Jade Maiden, fairest Grace,
Go to Her for your fate to spin,
Weaving beauty till the end.”

“Let the Yellow Dragon stir
the waters of your blood and brain,
build up your bones, break bad habits,
root deeper into the earth, fill youself with energy,
strengthen your spirit, and lengthen your days.”

“Take these herbs with tea,
my friend in the five realms;
I’m going now,
flying west to the sea.”

I picked up the herbs and an acorn squash,
looked up,
and a single cloud passed by
in the clear gray cloudless sky.



Get a Grip

Sitting, reading, resting
recovering from leg surgery

Waiting and wondering, day by day,
about what will happen

Not being young anymore
it's easier for Death to knock on my door

As I slide downhill, can't stop,
careening from mini-crisis to mini-crisis

Limping like an old man
that I now am

Diabetes gobbling up my core
feet buzzing and legs sore.

Damn!  Stop feeling sorry for myself,
Get up, stand up, move, get a grip, don't be a wimp.
Smile, put up a fight no matter what ain't right. 



Will Soon Become Me

This peach, these peppers,
These grapes, these tomatoes
Will all soon become me.
Such a tasty fact.
I am That and That is Me. 
Bless the garden!
Bless the kitchen!




I was thinking about "the Absolute"
(whatever that is)
yesterday.  (Philosophers enjoy
the rush of mental masochism:
bondage to leathery ideas,
painful flagellation with cutting words,
the humiliation of utter confusion.)

Absolute Zero - Death!
Clearly, a deep shivering Super-Conducting
Absolute No.  

The Past: a second ago, a century ago...
Dead Time - absolutely kaputt!



Early October

dappled shadows on dropped leaves 
holes in the tree's crown all brown 
little pecans scattered on the ground
cold west winds from the sea blow round;
forlorn garden Gnomes' draped in dust
misaligned old garden gate hinges rust
rotting prune plums perfume the dusk
another day disappears as it must;



Pulling Onions Again 

Mother Nature is always pregnant. 
Time creeps, walks, runs and flies - it is all about moving things. 
Chaos breaks its own rules to allow Order to play. 
Dogmatists are less useful than dogs. 
Take life with a grain of salt, and a icy margarita. 
The best things in life are more expensive than you think. 
Rather than "love mankind," I'd rather admire a few good people. 
Some flourish when crowded together, others don't. 
Garbage In, Compost Out. 
It is more about You and Now, rather than Them and Back Then. 
Hunting for tomato worms- no mercy. 
A pocket knife will be its dullest at just the right time. 
While gardening the borders between work and play become blurred.
When gardening, look up more often.
Just the right words can be worth more than a thousand pictures. 
A flower needs roots; beauty a society of minds. 
A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb. 
A working hypothesis is far better than a belief. 
Only two percent of all insects are harmful.  Why are they all in my garden. 
Most laws of Gardening are merely local ordinances. 
Failures, disorder and death are the Grim Reaper of Entropy at work. 
Somehow, someway, everything gets eaten up, someday. 
The meaning is lost in the saying - a nature mystic's dilemma. 
Vigorous gardening might help more than a psychiatrist's couch. 
A wise gardener knows when to stop. 
Gardens are demanding pets. 
Gardening is but one battle against Chaos. 
When life gives you onions, you ain't making lemonade. 
Autumn Yellow, the mirror image of Spring Green. 
What you see depends on when you look. 
Beauty is the Mistress, the gardener her slave. 
A little of this and a little of that, and some exceptions - these are the facts. 

-   Pulling Onions by Mike Garofalo  (730 One Line Quips) 



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Poems by Mike Garofalo



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