KAPALA PRESS

Ellensburg, Washington

Kapala Press is the Vajrayana tributary of dPress (www.dpress.net) which is a literary press, established in 1967, to produce books of my own and my friends' writings and now has over 300 titles in its backlists. At present, the main focus is to create saddle-stiched, short-run, 20 to 40 page editions with color covers utilizing the modern copy machine.     

            Jampa Dorje, aka Richard Denner

 

 Peldaños

   SONG OF THE SAN JOAQUIN

   Michael Irwin

D Press   2014   Santa Fe

 

 painting by Jampa Dorje

painting by Jampa Dorje

 

 

SONG OF THE SAN JOAQUIN RIVER

 

The San Joaquin in November,

Tamed, subdued, unassuming,

Drained of danger by the rainless summer,

Without thought of its risky youth in the Sierra,

Lacking, not thinking too,

On your back,

Your shimmering surface drenched in sky,

On your belly, slow moving stones,

Muffled sound, muted color

Salamandering the alluvials,

But now, darkened, merely

Marking, while passing, cooling in the air,

Being together.

 

 

OPEN AIR MOVING MUSEUM

 

Still life with cows and salt block

 

Behaving Sierra river diverted to Los Angeles

 

Two draw bridges and trestle together

Where the transcontinental  railroad ended,

No longer on display

 

A surprising cut beneath the highway,

A river and its history

 

A seep of water through last year's weeds

Like melted solder

 

Two sided hills, seen both ways

 

Cows in the shade of an oak,

Like cards left on the table.

 

Cows in the field 

Like just after the ticket window unexectedly closes,

The people qued up, several minutes after they leave

 

Cows scattered like boats after a storm

Near dusk, the cows are closer,

At a distance, or nudging, licking, looking back,

Black In the gold, companionable,

Recollecting the day together.

 

 

 

THE STORE CALLED THE BIG DIPPER

 

Displaced Mien have settled, collecting strawberries that

Become a moon of ice cream

Balanced by a scouped and rolled peach

Picked by trabajadores migrantes nearby,

In summer in Escalon, on a curve in the road

Where girls have jeans that slip on the hip

And motorcycles are heavy down with double riders,

Reading Lama Jampa’s

“Days without numbers the snow pack melts” 

 

 

WALKING TO THE RIVER

 

Walking to the river, looking for quiet,

She lay in the tangled willows, listening to the sun

As ripples of water were pushed by.

Too crossed and almost sharing the same space,

She would have to extract herself carefully balancing.

She couldn’t just leap up and turn on some machine.

The tall light and long rays weren’t speckled on the shelves of leaves

And manes of grasses, but the movement of the limbs was dappled.

She extended out the joints of her arms and legs and finger joints

Until she was fresher than the duck flying by,

And spoke to his low humming thought.

Then she packed up her day and crossed the bridge home

With a song for all, just where they were hurting.

 

 

BY THE BAY

 

Bright, like a head in the sun,

A light left on in a park in the dark,

A granite cliff at noon:

The bay at low tide,

Welcome garden for birds

Walkers drawn from the hills

And voices from the earth

Drawn from the sky,

Shimmering, flat as a knife,

Its shimmering end, right where the freeway begins,

Bi polar creation of traffic jam and eroding sand

With joggers along the yin yang line.

I intrude into the balanced world,

Leaving the sand crab seeking ducks

And the herons shuffling in the cypress

And head for the rush hour traffic

Feeling like an ugly smear,

Angry at this, regretting the loss of that,

My mother, soon to be lost,

Watching as my fortune washes away.

Only the heart of awareness remains,

The island gone.

A fresh and fit jogger,

Feasting on carrots

Waits to throw her ball to her dog

But he just wants to explore the water’s changing shoreline.

The dog goes along with the owner’s plan,

Cheerfully extending to the back seat of the car.

 

 

CANADA GEESE

 

The geese come from the canyon,

Are high, flying to the lake.

They know their height from the earth,

Their place in the vee

And cry out to their neighbor  

The gol danged exuberance of I am goose we are goose.

 

Your cry blooms from the sky.

I look up at you suspended 

And call out these beasty elaborations to be there.

 

We hear one, then see the others group.

Wings beating in our chest, we fly to feeding places,

Duck ponds and open lakes,

but ours are campuses and coffee houses,

With their own uncertainties.

 

You egg born, pithy boned, mud sifting shimmerance,

We meet without gravity.

I help you find a nesting, in wet grass and logs.

 

 

FIVE COWS

 

Five cows in the tawny afternoon

On a ridge where one hill laps into the other,

Sitting down in the heat, look like crows.

The sky, refreshed by the sun all day

Mothers them gently,

Far flung sky without movement,

Almost nudges them there, pillowed on the sky,

But they remember their job:

To be patient, stay near their shadows,

And make vivid the hills.

 

On the last ridge before the sky

Two more cows, then four, now nine are appearing,

Pushed over the edge by the sky,

Like pebbles in the surf.

No one sees it. A carful is fixing a flat,

Siting, standing, texting, photographing the tire,

Hips full of alertness, dancing in place,

Fresh and lovely, like eating a peach.

The cows continue being pushed,

Like a hearty exhale. There is laughter in the sky.

The cows are joined by the wind as the sun goes down.

 

 

THE CRAWL PAST THE YAWL

 

Swimming upstream  past Rimbaud's boat,

I took the time to stop and float.

The rigging blasted, half masted-

All those shards past tidy yards-

 

Mark Twain, somehow,

I don't know how-took it all in

Smoking, by the bank of the fleuve

With Huck and African American Jim

And wished for luck-but he did.

 

I recommenced swimming, life's short. 

The boat she stopped and came athwart.

What the heck, I pulled up on board.

We stood together.

I thanked Rimbaud for crazy weather.

 

 

A WEDDING

 

A wedding should

not be bigger than your happiness

so it’s not false,

not be smaller than your happiness

to acknowledge and celebrate your joy

singing and food

dancing and drink

so the guests get married

with the two of you too.

 

 

ONE ISN’T SERIOUS AT SEVENTEEN

            On n’est pas serieux, quand on a dix-sept ans.

                                                            —Rimbaud

 

One isn’t serious at seventeen.

We leave the cafe,  ozata sodas and peach frappees,

balding phonies and their chess.

Walking beneath trees in the night,

Shutting our eyes, the wild sweet alyssum's scent

Crowds us, like sheep pushing us to an edge.   

         

Seventeen, June. Night. We give in to it.

It’s sap is like champagne, 

The push of the air is a kiss, 

The gentle animal wind visiting our lips

 

One is Robinson Crusoe on the island of being seventeen.

The little town opens to the day. 

Summer is trained in leafing rectangles.

Musicians wrap legs around cellos, lean cheek to violin.

Oboes look down as though by a lake, making sound through reeds.

Then, a bright face shines above the glasses and food,

Shadowed by her formal mustached father.

 

 

She finds you tremendously boyish.

She turns with quick movements

And laughs in her dress.

 

One could ask: “Is this real?”

No one says “Look clearly at this intoxication.”

One thinks beneath thinking, “This intoxication

will free me from suffering.”

Who would know that looking at suffering

would free one from suffering?

                     

Seventeen grows from sixteen and unfolds as eighteen.

It is not a bird in the sky without a nest,

A rainbow without a sun,

It is not found beside a stream, full grown.

If years were cards, it flashes in a riffle,

Without a root in permanence.

 

Wet grass in the morning has made a dewy mirror, a world.

Soon the sun has dried each blade.

                 

Blocking the sun her gentle arm holds a parasol,

As if walking within a Seurat painting.

Her black dress hides her body,

like closed eyelids hide the day.

 

 

FOR MEXICO

 

Spanish, whose natural beauty requires no poetry

or novels to make the ugly baby smile

                                                C.Boyce

 

 

Like the muscles of a butterfly opening its wings 

Over its head in the morning

Are the Spanish open vowels

Semana, cuchara

Opening then further- opening to emphasize-

Mucho

A bright sun is shining through a crack in the roof

Quinze

Watch a phrase lift the world, showing it to be good,

Like bringing a rich and heavy dress from the closet,

Showing it to friends

Por lo general

The sudden appearance out of the fog, of a city,

Its edges softened by unvoiced labial and dentals

Podemos

The unexploded consonants

Fragrant open vowels

 

 

HORCHATA

 

Cantinflas, tied to a pole by the Indians, dying of thirst :

“Agua, horchata, Jamaica”

 

Milk’s given wings by cinnamon,

Cinnamon's made stately by milk,

Lacivious vanilla consorting with orchids

Is given home and stability by cinnamon and milk.

Sugar is the engine: Horchata.

If cows were inclined, and we know they are not,

This would be their cook book's first recipe.

 

 

MOUNTAIN PRAYER

 

Scooped skyward sunlight limned masses of clouds

Make a containered sky, encroaching on their neighbor:

A horse-headed compressured rain-suspending belly.

Below, zig-sliding snow is melting away from firs and pines.

Through a window of limbs,

Loaf-shaped stones form a cliff,

With a haircut of trees.

 

Many good spirits have come now to this opening.

The low mat of oaks is welcoming

And the afternoon sun lights up 

The mosses on the trees as candles.

May they be happy here and be at ease.

May those who see and hear this be delighted.

 

 

WALKING TO THE RIVER

 

Walking to the river, looking for quiet,

She lay in the tangled willows, listening to the sun

As ripples of water were pushed by.

Too crossed and almost sharing the same space,

She would have to extract herself carefully balancing.

She couldn’t just leap up and turn on some machine.

The tall light and long rays weren’t speckled on the shelves of leaves

And manes of grasses, but the movement of the limbs was dappled.

She extended out the joints of her arms and legs and finger joints

Until she was fresher than the duck flying by,

And spoke to his low humming thought.

Then she packed up her day and crossed the bridge home

With a song for all, just where they were hurting.

 

 

WE HAVE RANDOMLY ARRIVED OFF A SIDE ROAD

 

we have randomly arrived off a side road

    like cows on a hillside

there are sprightly fennels, yellow dancers

   too close to the fence to be cut

near posts of  the the chain link fence

    protecting a no longer necessary building

I’m with my mother who once happened to give birth

    watching a strong intentioned gull veered off

    to chancical power poles

and pittoporum withstanding wind on any continent

by the rock jumble thrown here that provokes

    mandelbrots of breaking waters

You and I are tossed here beneath changing clouds

    rizzle nizzle muff periwinkle happenstance

yellow taxi in the weed patch

 

 

STARBUCKS POEM

 

Lonely and unfamiliar in his home town

Gathered around a capuccino,

Billy Holliday's profoundly hard life,

Like worn saddle leather

And Sweets Eddison Airlines

Playing from Sonora or Waikiki Starbucks

To passing surfers with their boards

Living, they hope, without consequences,

He thanks the music and New York City being built

Just so Tommy Flannagan could have a place

To play the piano.

 

 

THE LIGHTS

 

The lights are extending out, stretched from richmond to frisco.

A curlly blond little girl, with red and green circles on her shoes

Touching with interested  fingers every thing in the shop

While her mom is drinking coffee,

Then eats her cookie at home in her sheets

And these lights are the crumbs that became fireflies.

 

Look down through each light, a family is moving -

Like a microscope on a drop-

Turns toward the sink, walks down the hall-

 

The shook out sheet is wide, embroidered with bus lines,

Tied with cables underneath,

Wired to dams in the mountains

That keep it from floating away.

 

It’s not a gypsy camp or signals to other planets,

Or candles floating down a stream in Festivals

Or lizard scales in the sun,

It’s so reasonable and personal-

People watching moving postage stamps,

Red lights turn to green and lines of cars move ahead.

 

 

“we have to learn to get along with our enemies”

 

Come down from our scrabbled towers,

Chancycal, like a raven's nest,

Touch the ground, feel the ground,

See the fortuitous cascade of solitudes,

Life being lived as clouds go by.

 

I’d like to find a loving place of friendship, half way,

With those, my enemies,

A park bench of the heart that circles in space

Where we could give up our small views,

Circles the sun slowly, taking a year

So we can learn its life-giving generosity

From all sides.