Pondering plant viruses and self-knowledge

Stretching myself, scapula peeled back like the sky:

Knowing and not knowing, so not writing down

the nascent, subsoil milky specks at night

(and more twinkle out if you look longer).

To calm the rods in the eyes of the dandelions,

this I have learned by eating all the UV rays

and casting skin of my poems,

hiding convex in

curled-toe honeydews,

whether parasamgate pairs

     of aphids

     are to be spoken, their

velvet skin, the most unnatural neons, seeming like

garbhas of seaweed

and barnacled pupils lapping

     without dimension…

Is this what is to be learned?

Is this all that I have learned

in the past murky warp of a year?

      that I am too surrealistically snotty

and too wildly naturalistic to enjoy Hart Crane and T.S. Eliot anymore?

too obsessed with Taoist and Zen hermits to enjoy Shakespeare anymore?

      or is the real lesson the unwhispered waters of wonder,

that the sweetgum glow hazel

     in August on earth pure lands

with or without ontology,

     their seeds home to unimaginable Buddha lands,

capillaries pressed out

     in unpunctured volcanic dicots

returned to the unchanging inner monocot—

I’ve learned I’m too skiddish to be a contemplative for now,

my last name is Jennings, not Merton,

and maybe that’s a ton better for me,

nothingness being flowers, la mer, and nothingness—

inside the dead ladybug on my windowsill,

clouds beckon unswept revelations…

—Tom Jennings

The day I learned what “Sow” meant

 The day I learned what “Sow” meant 

After “Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell

Sow sat, ‘neath ferny vernal waterfall,

      sewing seeds of dispassioned 

compassionate awakening,

     the True Sow of No Title—

      hooves rooting and melting

into stationary sewn soil,

     its own clover solar flare,

chanting the nameless

     sewn threads of the

     thatchy tails of trees


with milken dreamy love—

      In the modal darkness of dusky

tree bark, Sow sees the

      millipedal centipedes

nesting in unimpeded emptiness,

     sewing their own selfless blessings,--

        kissing the 

        violet waters of age—

Sow sees loamy mud, each divot

      a pew for mildew’s salvation,

tails of time tracked and milled by other


pebbles in the mud

      blebbing stupas and surging granulites

rounding to starbathed coil

      of the sun’s ray-seeds

and the egg-seeds of beached

saintly horseshoe crabs on 

the innate shore of Sow,

bleached in Sow’s

     resoundingly silent stillness—

Sow, whose stomach acid

      is sulfurously placidly absolving,

wouldn’t even dissolve bone, fanning own

      borne molecules in liquid cremation

but nurture them into needlepoint-glowing

firefly bacterioles and 

       throw them back out, to love

into neatly monasteries of pig-pillow algae,

      hooved with the stardust

      of countless galaxies of

      Franciscan birds, opening their membranes to all,



         wanting nothing.

—Tom Jennings

“Essence” is a Phony Word

 Bodhisattvas in empty earth

       but never really—up past wormy holy

underworld—to mind without walls

       innate in

empty eggshell

      already hatched

and having nothing,

       solar cumulus columnar, wordlessness,


of speechless symphonic grasses,

    their aquaporins precisely 


    voidfabric, whole waterfall canyons

of watery veins

         ambivalent of apical self-natures

or idea outside of valent electrons

         pulsing the stillness of

froggy hollow waters, sky delicately wrapped

in the gaps of cells

        and so vesicles veritably gloved suchly,

a voyagerless return—

the drunken idiotboat

with harpsichord of splinters

lapping tongues underneath the

other shore—

and salamander sidles up to frog

in the hills of unchanging 

         untreaded tadpole evolutions and asks:

“why did the dinosaurs come from 

           the pangea west?”  and frog says:

“I will tell you”

           and before frog can say a word

           frog is eaten by swallowbird

and the eye of unfathomed essence

is consummated and 

        frog reappears—

and bodhisattva’s flowers are resplendored

and get stepped on by accident,

the sky still pervading everything,

clouds pointing at your own head

and the head of the knobby rhythmic 

knees of herons with tapestries

of lulling pine-smell forest history

within them, forgotten and unrealized,

taped with words and

extinguished by extant is-ness

      and its soft



—Tom Jennings



Porous Line

Waiting at the
porous line
twixt night & day,
embraces me
with the ease
of a lover,
sweet truth,
“Enough, enough.”
I surrender, willing
to be satisfied.

—Martha Koock Ward

When I Rise

When I rise in the morning
the world is dark.
I fall, seeing the darkness,
thinking dark is the day.
When light edges in timid
in mist in the east
I fall timid to meet the day.
I fall timid, reaching for this to do
thinking, oh no, avoid, refrain--
do and refrain, gain this, lose that.
I fall into dark before the day rises
fall into the small confine of my body
and the day not begun.

When I rise in the morning
the floor cold on my feet
water cold in my mouth
and my mind still caught in the cool of dream
and the day glimmers through the blinds,
I turn from the room where I cannot see,
to the day that is turning to morning
to a junco on the wire of the feeder
to steam from the kettle under the stove lamp
and I do not say, this is what to do
this what I expect, what I expect of you.
Then the day rises with me and around me
and the sun appears over the hill.

—Sarah Webb