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hazy morning,
training under Saito’s eye …
my name’s not da-me.

Wood and stone jinja —
just another old building;
kiai echos.

Hitohiro yells,
aikidoka look quick.
glad it isn’t me.

rain falls so no chores;
a quick nap or couple chapters
before evening keiko.

toban today means
eight starved uchi deshi and
just 2000 yen.

dried cuttlefish snacks,
Hagan Dazs and Asahi:
a trip to Hot Spar.

butterfiles wind dance —
the limitless
dojo afternoon.

Aiki spirit on
the mat and within the beams —
O-Sensei looks on.

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I want a woman who will dance with me,
Who’ll jive and tango and get all funky
As we hop the beat of life, joyfully,
Groovin’ on jazz or slamming down punky.
To happy songs we’ll leap in the sunlight.
We’ll march to the drums of every parade,
Hear tearful ballads, holding on tight, and
Sway to the grave where a friend has been laid.
Spare me girls with jabbing elbows, and their
Odd steps to trip on, mean tongues to slip on,
Who face the strange tune with an angry glare,
Or just stand by the wall, quiet and withdrawn.
For now I lie here and stare at the moon,
And dream of the dance without any tune.

In the dim party light I could see her
Sitting cross legged on a cherry red bench.
Her clear eyes sparkled, electric and pure,
Like stars, as seen by VanGogh on absinthe.
Friends spoke and argued about politics,
Some sipped martinis or drank down a beer,
While I dumbly wondered what would come next.
The alpha men swarmed, like bees around her.
Will she notice me, talk to me, love me?
Will our bodies merge like two mountain streams?
Could this love be so great that soon we’d see
The world at peace and pursuing their dreams.
I stepped a step nearer, then quit the game;
Fantasy’s over. My wife called my name.

Do you remember falling in love, when
Possibility and promise, like food,
Sustained us; the ink in a writer’s pen,
The stuff of which great myths are imbued.
And can you recall when the dream went cold?
When practicality replaced passion.
When fantasy staled, like bread that’s too old.
And lust ebbed away until there was none.
But in your eyes, there’s a craving unsaid;
I feel it too, like an oncoming storm.
Like embers still shimmering soft and red,
Can, with attention, be fire reborn.
Fight for it, sweet lady, tell me we can
Feel that fire of love once again.

Sweet lady, I can see your quirky smile,
Like the glow of dawn slowly emerging,
Across crumpled sheets I watch for a while;
Stirring, eager. Our bodies converging.
I’ve seen countless sunrises warm your face,
Just like light that sparkles across a pond,
Every shimmer and flash reveals a place
Softly changing, yet familiar and fond.
So many sunsets have passed into night.
But shadows, like silk slipping off your skin,
Cannot cling, but just melt into moonlight.
You sleep free, untouched by time’s discipline.
Nights, days, an eternity watching you
Seems as we lie here, hours too few.


My back is sore and my stomach is weak,
Somehow my toes are still out of reach.
Those last instructions you’ll have to repeat.
I’m facing things maybe teachers can’t teach.
Can you tell me how to fortify soul,
Or find deeper wells of strength from within?
What of those places my knees just can’t go.
And fear cul-de-sacs where I’ve never been.
With trust, darling teachers, I’ll follow you
Into arcs, inversions, deep twists and bends.
And maybe with effort I’ll see the truth
That physical means yield spiritual ends.
If you show me the way and give me your hand,
I will be humble and do what I can.

I could twist that way if I were younger,
Or balance that way if I had more smarts.
As I sit here my thoughts wouldn’t wander
If my mind wasn’t weak and scattered apart.
Look at her as she bends like a pretzel.
Watch that guy’s balance – strong and unmoving.
I felt like that last one went pretty well,
‘till I learned that my nadis aren’t grooving.
They say yoga is not competition,
That my own limits are all I need beat.
Then why not me, seen in this edition
Of Yoga Journal’s best people to meet.
At least gravity rates me with the best,
Just watch me lay back and take in some rest

It’s hard to conceive great yoga sages
As more than heroes of a cartoon reel.
Patanjali wrote Dr. Seuss pages
And Krishna drives the karmic Batmobile.
What’s Adho Mukha Svanasana do
When my mind rages with judgement and doubt.
And how can deep breathing help me get through
Long nights facing angst I can’t figure out.
Fleetingly I see how it might make sense
But concepts get trapped in my troubled mind;
Sage words for sages … I mean no offense,
But that’s not the life for me God designed.
The hero I seek can appear clearer,
Catching me unawares, from the mirror.

Karmic current, river unyielding,
Spares none, its dominion single minded.
My body’s been smashed, mind left reeling;
Battered against rocks, bloodied and blinded.
I’ve been sucked into rapids, strewn ashore,
Misguided, diverted into false calms,
Robbed of my thoughts by the incessant roar,
Elbowed by the countless others along.
Yet the surges and force have clarity.
Churning rapids’ wicked strength may relent,
When I swim with familiarity,
Mutable, gliding in fluid movement.
Your gentle touch, your embrace let me see,
I am of the river, and it is me.

Sitting here quietly, I try to slow
The grinding gears of my mind for a while,
To calm raging surf crashing cliffs below,
To toss junk laying in a careless pile.
“Be gone,” I think of the endless chatter.
“Lay still, shimmering visions and dreams.
“Quiet!” I demand, “Desist and scatter.”
“Don’t think,” I think. And I think what that means.
This battle of wills, myself verses I —
With victories lasting half of a breath —
Started at birth with my first helpless cry,
And may last until I gasp into death.
But God, so subtlety, whispers a choice:
To hear not my own, but his divine voice.


Precious muse I’ve heard your beguiling song,
Like a billion hopes interconnected
Or a string of moments humming along,
Absent verse or rhyme, a song perfected.
Like a wave before it reaches the shore,
And roiling clouds churning across spring skies,
It’s the song of glass falling toward the floor,
Of tears, stinging an anxious lover’s eyes.
It’s a song of desire, frustration,
Of dreams and passions and love unexpressed
That stirs a burning need for creation
And frees possibilities long repressed.
Your song, it nourishes me, like oxygen.
My rhyme breathless ‘til I hear it again.

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My baby wears her anger like shoe leather;
And I say, “Baby, baby! You can walk anywhere you want.
But for crying out loud,
Step lightly!”

My kitty brought in the head of a lizard;
And I say, “Kitty, kitty! Why take that lizard’s head,
When he gives you the tail for free?”

My boss, he treats my time like a teabag
—and believe me,
He likes his tea strong.
And I say, “Hey boss! How about a little less lemon,
And a bit more sugar!”

My mom carries her experience like a ton of lead;
And I say, “Oh, Mom, Mom, Mom!
Sometimes the weight of an idea can be uplifting.”

My therapist always tells me, “It’s not about what you think,
You need to feel …”;
And I say, “Excuse me!
Because I feel like being with someone I love!”

My people been saying lately, “Don’t just exist—
Follow your passion!”
And I say, “Oh, my dear, dear friends! I followed my passion,
And it led me right here, to you!”

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