More of Mario's Poetry


 Poems on this page



Pouring Tea          

Pouring tea thought ceases

 Amber stream stops in midair

Steam unfurls in sensuous tendrils

Filling one small cup a universe is born

Time comes into being in the first instant

Eternity curled up like a sleeping child

Lifetimes of possibility sipped slowly

Savoured complete and whole

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Forward Approach

My potential lies like a sleeping child

       waking suddenly

       excited, ready to dash

       into this next new day.

What will this day be

       this fresh September day

       high thin coverlet of cloud

       breaking into blue?


What adventures lie in wait

       to reveal themselves as I come near?

Forward movement creates their approach.

Life’s surprises seek me

       when I’m not hiding.

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Time Unstoppable

Time surrounds us


Ingrained in the material

Of this aging corpus

Ticking away

Its molecular demise

Defining infinity

One death at a time.

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Like Crows 

This day doesn't know yet

That it will be clear and blue and golden warm.

The crows know. They're chastising the morning

For it's laziness. They should know about laziness.

They are on their suburban vacation from the

Fields and forests; slumming in Humantown

Where the roadkill and garbage is abundant:

A nice place to raise the kids.


They are a shining black cloak on the still-bare

Cottonwood at the corner of the parking lot

Above the dumpster, where their cawing,

Croaking poetry-slam puts a harsh accent on

This gray morning. They compete for the meanest,

Loudest, coarsest, slam-dunkingest crow put-down

As if it were a sporting event with big money on it.


It's all a game of reputation—the power of being known:

"Here comes the biggest crow in town! Duck your head,

Ruffle your feathers, hop aside there and give him

First pecking on that dead cat!" The whole dark-shining

Mass of them caws their put-downs and show-offs

For their own entertainment and the amusement of the

Human spying on them through his blinds while he waits

For this morning to realize its potential as the first

Golden-pink, jasmine-scented day of spring

So late in coming this year, and longed for.

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We All Listen for It…

Can anything match this day—

so bright and balmy,


truly summer at last?

There’s a sound —

almost like running water

a liquid whispering


lulling everyone back

to a bit more sleep

on a summer Saturday morning

a delicious calm

a happiness

without need of excitement.


It is that sound we all listen for

calling us back home.

When we hear it we drop

all our business and

unfinished projects

all our labours of love even.


When we hear it we go.


we enter the intimate mystery. 

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Cry a ragged howl into the dim void of yesterdays.

Call up an ancient power from the dark.

Fill yourself with animal vitality

The goat-smelling musk

The clacking hooves on mountain tops

The shaggy unkempt stink that makes

Comfortable society turn up its snoot.


Cry out for the primal life to rise through tired veins.

Let the fire rise from flickering shadows on cave walls.

Let the ancient stories roll out from dark secret places,

Out from their hiding places in our loins

Like the seed of new worlds heaving to be born from us.


Open the massive doors of the communal hall

Packed shoulder-to-shoulder with your tribe

Waiting, goat-musky and breathless, for the tale to begin

For the shadows to reveal their secrets

For the songs to carry us together to a world we feel

In every cell but no longer see.


Out of the humid recesses of our bellies

The chant begins a booming thunder

Like the roaming hooves of bison,

Like the rains of the great flood pounding

The ancient lands, leaving the bare sinew

Of a single beating heart…

Let the ragged howl begin!

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I Am a Silent Planter of Seeds

Vision is like this:

Drop an idea into the dark

Soil of human consciousness.

Let it grow as it will.


If the soil is rich and the environment

Fortuitous, the seed will grow

into its own fullness.


The idea already contains its own best

Possibility. I see it, but don’t create it.

I am unnecessary to its fulfilment,


Cannot oversee its unfoldment personally.

It will have its own life or die in the ground.

Like an anxious parent, I bite my lip.

Silent, I witness, rejoice or grieve.

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Seeing the World Whole

Poetry is a way of thinking about the world,

a lens through which the world is seen,

but a lens that shapes and distorts if allowed,

creates a world of pretty pictures and legends,

of gods and myths, where humans can never thrive

and certainly not I. Once I was a painter:

after a few years all I saw was pictures, treated

people as objects in a still life and anything

that didn’t fit my vision wasn’t seen at all.

I don’t want this stylized blindness.


I want the world whole, not as pictures

or poems but whole in its inexpressible unity;

not just its pretty bits but as it is,

without its makeup in the morning, or unshaven and

still stinking, sex-smelling and randy, satisfied or fervid,

filled with every conflicting emotion and feeling;

or beyond the human where man’s and nature’s worlds collide,

where beasts refuse to conform to liberal-minded concepts

and lions, laying with lambs have a roaring good feast of it;

and beyond all that, beyond the violence of nature, animal or human,

I want the world whole, there where the sheer exquisite

beauty of life itself is felt full-on like an exploding star,

whole and undiluted by distance or concept,

unsafe, un-lensed, full-rounded, brutally beautiful and

deadly as a nebula felling galaxies in its path.

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Bleak day, looming

grey clouds, cold, windy,

trees bare in their

naked capitulation to winter,

the darkest day little more

than a month off and even then

the long, long months till

February, March, April before

the sun again embraces us

warmth sinking bone-deep

like a returned lover.


My brother’s wife died in her sleep,

my sister, the mother of my nephews,

slipping away quietly after an

all-too-long, all-too-short year of diminishment

and loss, enfolded and witnessed

by my brother’s tenderness.


I saw none of it from here:

the downward slide from walker

to wheel chair to hospice;

I have only my brother’s desolation as witness,

holding the memory of her beautiful smile

like precious treasure, like his last coin.


And I am shocked awake

so very aware of my own very living love,

her every breath and eye-blink,

the soft warm touch of lips

the curve of her in my arms

silk-smooth skin embracing mine

the fragrance of hair and sleep

the curl of fingers within mine

the arc of hips and shoulders

her oh-so-thankfully living smile

and shining eyes, my own glittering treasure

so precious and precarious.

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Travel Companion

I will tell you this:

Love leads to death –

There are no happy endings –

Someone leaves

Someone is left.


And even knowing this

We give everything for love,

For a travel companion,

Transforming every struggle,

Every joy,

Into treasure.

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The Cynic Mired in Grace

For now there's nothing to do

nothing that needs thought about

or planned or acted on. I'm light

easy, musing on beauty

love and harmony, the perfectness

of life and the universe—it does feel

perfect these days—a great

good-news-is, bad-news-is, good-news-is

story, a time of grace, some benevolent force

moving things into place for us,

laying an easy path before us, and

in spite of myself I have to admit that

events are flowing easily and happily

in spite of me, I keep having to let go

all my expectations of struggle,

difficulties evaporate before me, step

by step, I have to laugh

at myself and simply surrender

to goodness in my life.


I like Ruth's phrase: ‘the great cosmic

source and all benevolent unseen forces…’

dispels anthropomorphy, the reason

for my agnosticism, I can no longer see

a person in the divine:

pure intention without motive, unemotional yet moving,

random but giving momentum and direction to life,

all life yet unattached to the living,

unitary, self-sustaining, immortal yet

immanent in innumerable transitory individuals,

divine paradox infinitely pervasive—

in every aspect one contemplates: paradox.


Great cosmic source and every

benevolent unseen force in all of space-time,

moves through us and into our life,

lays a bright path ahead of us,

opens all doors to success and fulfilment,

floods our life with love, abundance and happiness,

enriches our world and blesses everything we do, every

hope and desire, every intention,

right before my befuddled eyes…

goddam, this is amazing!

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Life Damages the Living

Life damages the living.

We have our fingers smashed

in the book of time

as one chapter slams shut

and a new one opens;

Our bones broken

         as the edifice of our illusions

         topples and crushes us beneath.


We suffer agoraphobia,

         want to lock the doors of our homes,

         hide in our memories

Fearful of the new open spaces life presents:

         the largeness of it all

         the expansiveness

         the possibilities.

And we feel not up to it

So tired and worn

Entrenched against further damage

Behind drawn draperies


Until finally

One day the sun is shining. 

It attracts us

out our front door and the neighbour says good morning

and we must agree, yes, a fine day, and conversation

distracts us from our fears and in a while the walls of our

besiegement have dissolved and space-time has quietly

unfolded itself revealing a new dimension, the fears of our

smallness rolled into memory and a fresh new breeze

brings the first adventurous scent of new horizons.

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This Time ‘Round

I know I was a right bastard

in some past life. There

are those this time ‘round

who hold the same opinion,

an opinion centuries old: they are

the same ones who crossed me then.


On the whole, I may be a better person

(made all the right mistakes and

chose the better part to play) this time.

The balance of lovers and enemies

totted up suggests a changed man.


It’s the better for me,

I’m happier this way: let the

dark side dwell in fantasy,

in Hollywood this time ‘round.

Me, I’m having too much fun

being kind and loving and too happy

to care about power or control.


Give that to terrorists and politicians.

What can they really do in the bigger picture?

The harm they cause, the laws we obey with

tongue-in-cheek, the other cheek we turn—

in the panorama of ages the ghosts of their errors

will haunt and torture them

till one by one they decide

it isn’t worth it; till they realize

the world has nothing more to offer.


Real power is the fierce love of family and friends,

quietly making the best of ourselves from what we’re given,

choosing again and again to apologize and forgive,

quenching hatred and rage to grab onto

love and peace this time ‘round and

never let go.

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