This poem I wrote in the early days of what I now think of as a process leading up to the
night of December 17, 2007. Most interesting to me is the "sense of fitness" description
and the "bow your neck" line. I don't think I know a lot about sound practice except
just to do it, in the way I was taught and have already described. I do think some sort
of breathing exercise focused on quietude and breathing down to tanden, a point in the
lower abdomen, is most helpful, perhaps even necessary. And I have become pretty
particular about posture during sound practice. The heart of that for me is just about as
simple as "bow your neck" – a feeling of chin down instead of chin up, so to speak.

On an Old Ballplayer Getting Back in Shape

54 years old - two cups of coffee in the big leagues
8 full seasons in the minors –
no regrets about any of it

and a lot has happened since
for 10 years an acupuncturist
a schoolteacher for 12
a family man, a grower of natural food

in one of those minor-league off seasons
I watched the sun set from my back porch in Santa Fe,
transfixed, "sealed in eternity" as I put it once in a poem*

and on one of those nights
I stepped off the deck and walked down
among the pinon trees, and I was surprised,
bowled over, to feel inside myself,
deeply, just how much I loved to play ball -
the whole life - and how much I would miss it
if it ever ended

now on a frozen December morning that selfsame sun
rises over my old, cold northern Michigan farmhouse
where after several years I have begun working out again,

and I sit in the still dark morning with a fresh cup of coffee,
a fire just started in our ancient woodstove
(inefficient like me, but brother it puts out the heat)
my wife asleep upstairs, our kids grown and gone

and the only thing I feel is the resonance of last night's workout -
deep down the old familiar feeling of a body in shape -
the tightness in the abdomen and the corresponding sense
of fitness in the neck and shoulders

"Bow your neck!" we used to shout out at each other
in the 70's by way of encouragement
and none of us, I think, knew quite what that meant
but everyone understood the sense of preparedness it conveyed

perhaps now for me, approaching old age and death,
that simple sense of fitness is all there is,
and I just may go gently into that dark night after all,
gently and flexibly, with a core of light and strength,
humble as it may be

and who knows? perhaps from that kernel,
"immortal diamond," that simple sense of readiness,
stripped of all identity

will spring

a new genesis


*This is the full text of that song for the setting sun:

Santa Fe – 1978

Lonesome Dog's Barking
All my fantasies are realized:
I have a view of Santa Fe from my back porch
That just won't quit

tonight i saw the pinkest thin vein of cloud as the sun set
whether i was the only one to feel it or not –
it seals me in eternity

There is only the wind
Whistling through the mountaintops
Of this world