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. 


  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

when no one speaks the word
ghosts haunt the houses
skeletons dance in their chains

our amnesia leads to a new enslavement
we light the match
stick the needle in
lock the prison doors behind us

when no one speaks the words
  Nazi or pogrom
we create our own
concentration camps

working to pay off an empty house
abandoning lovers and dreams
waiting for a cold damp grave


trapped in a cube
eight hours a day
unable to see my fellow prisoners

but every move I make is seen
every word is heard

I return to my other prison
where I eat microwaved plastic
and drink sugared caffeine

so that I can sit silently
in front of another machine

and if someone sits beside me
she is also mute
also still

this is how I spend my days
a free man
living in the land
of the 

Golden Gate Park -- January 2001

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

walking through the park
I came across an open field
surrounded by a few trees

and in the field I saw four small girls
carrying huge branches
taller than they were
as if giant feathers
or eagles wings
white and brown
waving back and forth

and the girls were in long dresses
with their hair down
moving in unison
half running
half dancing
and chanting words I could not hear
as if taking part in
a tribal dance
a sacred rite

and I was almost overcome
by the beauty
and the grandeur
so I moved closer
until I could hear their chant:

War war war
Prepare for war!
Kill kill kill
Prepare for war!
War war war!
Prepare for war . . .

Angel Drifters

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

angels on the street

I heard one of their voices
soaring through the alleyway

singing a hymn
in a language that doesn't exist

in words no human had
ever spoken

dressed in white
hair of flames

walking through the darkened
lamplit streets

angel drifters thru the nite

The Dreamer

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

Joseph forgave his brothers
for throwing him into the pit
for bloodying the rainbow coat
for trading him to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver coins

for it was in the pit
      that his tears watered the barren soil
it was in the dark continent
      that he first saw the sunlight
it was in his prison cell
      that he learned the meaning of dreams

when Joseph returned to his brothers
it was to feed them:
if you want to give, forgive

You Are Not Who You Were

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

You are not now who you were

like the river to the sea
like the sun's journey from east to west
this flowing never stops
this movement never ends
although you are fearful
and back away

the Holy One
is the Guest
and the Guest
is you

You thought you were a drop of water --
now you're the sea

You thought you were the sun --
now you're the light


Song Of The Burnt Earth (for Stephen Kent)

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe


the song of the burnt earth
the sound of great trees and branches
the sound of wind through the trees

the song of the earth:
deep and resonant
breath deepening into the body
and rising out
circling up
filling the air
filling the wind

the song of the fiery Earth
a sound so low
only we can hear it
a sound so deep
only we can make

the song of the burnt earth:

a song so soft

only we can breathe it

Everything You Know Is Wrong

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

There was no revolution in China:
the workers don't call each other "comrade"
there's a Kentucky Fried Chicken stand
across from Mao's mausoleum
the Forbidden City is no longer forbidden
the Great Wall is crumbling
and the restaurants don't serve tea or tell fortunes

Buddhists in Thailand drink Pepsi in the temples
smoke cigarettes in the shadows
teenaged monks with shaved heads and saffron robes
play games on their iPhones
and pin up posters of girls in bikinis

The sun isn't red over Japan
the samurais are wearing gray three-piece suits
Hiroshima is not in ruins
and New York has moved to Tokyo

                 (you know)
                                  is wrong

logic is illogical
the spiritual path has no directions
there is no one buried in the tombs
the seed contains the fruit
we are awake only in dreams



Where is the Revolution?

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

Where is the revolution?
sigh the factories of Tianjin
ditches dug with
comrades overseeing them
the shovels and the axes moan

Who will bring the revolution?
sing the mountains of Guilin
the green hills that rise out of nowhere
floating without end

Why revolution?
ask the palaces of Beijing
the Forbidden City closes its gates
snow falls on the stones of the Great Wall

When will the revolution come?
whisper the terracotta soldiers of Xian
the great Bell Tower peals
the ringing and the rhythm

What will the revolution bring?
cry the farms of Shaanxi
endless fields of endless green
the Yellow River glows
in the red light of the sun

How will revolution come?
calls the Temple of Heaven
the railroad stations full of dust
the concrete apartments beyond the hotels
the poet looking over Tianianmen Square

And where is the revolution?
sigh the factories of Tianjin



Shiva Temple

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

flags waving
men shouting
tall prayer towers leaning over
about to fall

women will colored decorations on their heads
dancers following dressed in gold
and then the black boar
with white tusks

the lord and creator of dance
moves in a circle of fire
where everything that can burn
is burned away
and all that is left
is that which cannot be consumed
by fire
even though it is always aflame

he asks us to destroy
all memory and loss
and dance with him
in the blazing brilliance
of emptiness
and space


                                                  Ubud, Bali

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

  • Posted on: 27 November 2015
  • By: Joe

a toothless shaman
grins at you
as you enter
this holy place


young boy
takes gold leaf
off buddha statue
puts it on
his own face


the man in the mirror
is losing his hair--
pretty soon
he'll be gone too


the emerald buddha
is really made of jade--
it doesn't matter
to the Buddha


the buddhas in Bangkok
are all smiling--
still you say
"Life is suffering"


a serpent
with five heads
all with the
buddha's face


four teenaged girls
with a tape recorder
ask to interview me
for their English class--

one of them asks me:
"Why are you here?"


sitting in the presence
of the buddha
I forget
the four vows


twelve summers ago
when I first visited this temple:
someone else


the buddha holds his arms
to stop the sea


a small boy
walks into the temple
sees the buddha
calls out: "Hello!"


twelve years ago
I first saw myself
in the mirror

looking at the green
emerald buddha

looking at me