Sunrise in the West

Enjoy the recordings from Joe's CD "Sunrise in the West". The Audio file is on the rightside of the website. 

When There Is No Buddha

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

at a baseball game in Oakland Coliseum
an overweight sixtyish man
sits next to me
talks throughout the doubleheader
in a raspy recovering alcoholic voice:

I've played golf with Joe Morgan
an old drinking buddy of Don Larsen's
i've met a lot of people
seen the inside of Jerry Falwell's office--
Jesus saved me, but these guys are fakes.
He told me he thinks he's the Moses of the modern era.

the New York Yankess
the team of the century
recovering coke addict in left field
alcoholic perfect game pitcher
manager from my Brooklyn neighborhood
with brother rescued from the dead

and I'm complaining about a second baseman hitting under .250
Rivera giving up too many walks
errors on routine grounders
weak setup men in the bullpen

You're an angry man. Very critical.
The best team in history and all you do is criticize.
I think I see your blood pressure rising.
I hear a gall bladder problem coming on.

I think of my father's high blood pressure
my mother's gall stones

this from a gambler, writer, former teacher,
a man who says he was in organized crime
before Jesus come into his life:

           Now I don't believe in anything.
           I wish I could care about something.

he pokes fun at my idealism
my human potential movement
my Sufi poetry

I hate everybody--
I guess it's because I hate myself
most of all.
My father burned down his warehouse one day
collected the insurance
and gambled it away
left town in the dark one night
and was never seen again.

I had a father
who disappeared three times a week
I lose some part of myself each day
I look for a flaw in everything

down by four runs in the top of the ninth
the Yankess tie it up on a grand slam
by the dope fiend
go ahead when the A's first baseman
is knocked unconscious
score again on homers into the bleachers
it's the eternal comeback story
it ain't over till it's over--
it's Siddhartha on the basepaths
rounding third and heading for . . .

Now don't start giving me that crap again
about humanity
about Rumi and Kabir
somebody once told me
I was a Sufi poet myself
I've heard all that crap--
"When there is no Buddha,
be the Buddha!"

What was that?
What was that line about the Buddha?

You never heard that before?
I guess you never watched a ballgame
with someone with a theology degree.

"When there is no Buddha, be the Buddha"

Indonesian Dreads Singing Marley

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

under a bare 100 watt bulb
in an old hotel in Yogyakarta
on the island of Java
paint peeling under exposed wires
laundry piled under
soot-coated pipes

filtered through cigarette smoke
and beer glasses
in the cool midnight air
to the rhythm of one guitar

in soft voices
filled with longing
we sing
long into the night
these songs of freedom

The Mountain Top

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

The path up the mountain
leads to the top

Where do you go from there?

in the wilderness
every step takes
you further

from grassy hills
to tall
dark pines
surging brooks
thick brush
jagged cliff
green clearing
wild red flowers
cold rough moss

as you go further
you approach the center
of limitless
earth and animal

fawns running
buzzards circling
mosquitoes humming
crows cawing

What path can take you
to that center?

This way is pathless
this journey is endless

when you reach the source
you will find yourself

You are at the top of the mountain
go ahead
and take the next step

Coming Closer

  • Posted on: 30 October 2015
  • By: Joe

I've heard you
in a blackbird's song
in the dark of night
in the whispering wind

can you hear me?
are you coming closer?

I've seen you
running with the deer
sleeping with a bear
swimming with the salmon
in the rush of the river

can you see me?
are you coming closer?

I've dreamed you
in the coyote's howl
the eagle's flight
the raven's caw
you're the flow of the slipstream
the song inside all
I search for you everywhere
can you hear my call?

do you dream me?
am I coming closer?

Stuttering Boy

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

Stuttering boy
stammers out the words
that are afraid to come out
never gets to say what's in his heart:

he never gets to say "I l-l-love you"
to the b-b-beautiful girl

the teenager stammers
looking for new words
to create a new reality
for his g-g-generation
trying to speak his own vision
for his own time
in b-b-broken words
a b-b-breakaway from the past

in the Bible
Moses stuttered when he saw the bush
rise into flame
and said:
"my g-g-god"
hu-hu-who are you?
and again before Pharoah
as he saw his rod turn into serpent:
"Let my p-p-people g-g-go"

with this stutter
he turned slavery into fredom

the poet continuously stutters
never knowing what words
are going to c-c-come next
from mouth or p-p-pen

the miraculous stutter transforming
vision into sound
feeling into words
voice into l-l-language

Searching (for Robert Bly)

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

While others were searching for the Holy One
I came searching for you

you took me in and fed me
you accept me the way that I am

to you all my faults are a grain of sand
washed by the Ganges

to you all my pain is a drop of water
floating on the Pacific

what I offer you in return
is my love

and all I ask of you
is the thorn

that's been buried deeply
in your flesh

Sunrise In The West (for John Densmore)

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

he appears in my dreams:
the sunlight of L.A.
a fast car roaring down the highway

he holds a pen
writes a book
makes a record
of an artist's life

he appears in a group of men
dancing in a circle to

the beat of his drum
tells a story
to the storyteller:
she begins to dance wildly
on stage
telling a story that
she doesn't yet know

the green he wears
is the green of the earth
the gold he carries
is the gold of the sun

he appears in my dreams
after my older brother has gone:
a new brother
a bond beyond blood

together we drive
up the high way
towards the sunrise
in the West

The Tunnel

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

at a party
I tell the poet laureate
that poetry is a tunnel

in Istanbul
the tunel
connects the old city
to the new one
through a long-ago built passage from Golata
to the Blue Mosque

Golata: where my ancestors
opened up a candy store
started a new life
gave themselves a new name

I have gone underground
through many tunnels
from darkness into even deeper
darkness in my search
for light
leaving my old city
journeying underwater
beneath the earth
looking for
a new one

poetry is 
a descent into dark crevices
into narrow corridors
until you reach a place
where you can no longer find your way
back where you can no longer see
the dark behind you and can not yet see
the light ahead

and in that glowing darkness
you find something to carry with you
out into the light
though your journey seems endless

you enter the new city
mouth open
eyes wide
with a new name

In a Mirror

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my
Turkish face

my mustache
thick and broad
my beard

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my
Asian face

only a dark
thin mustache left

when I come outside
I see a family:
the man and woman
don't recognize me

the two children
smile at me
their faces filled
with light

in a mirror
for the first time
I see my own
original face

Realm Of Possibilities

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

at nine in the morning
outside an Oakland subway station
a young man sits at the bus stop
with a bottle in a
brown paper bag
drinks some wine
smiles at a dog running by

he asks me
if I'm a student on my way to school
with all these books in my hands
I say no, I'm an English teacher
he says, "oh, I liked English when I was in school
but I dropped out and went to the war
and never went back to school"

he offers me some wine
and asks me
"do you ever think about
the realm of possibilities?"
I stop, startled.
he says, "the realm of possibilities . . .
I think about it a lot.
all the different things we might be doing.
all the different people we could be.
my friends don't like it when I
talk about it.
they don't wanna hear it.
but I keep thinking about
the realm of possibilities . . . ."

Ever since that day I think of
I dream of a sea

and walking
                    into the 

suddenly surrounded by
waves               water           tide               roaring
          crashing           foam          rushing               water

diving into the

where I can

the realm