Poems by

Livingston Rossmoor



Life is a square, old folks say.
Sharp edges everywhere.
A must to grind each night and day.
Pray no corners anywhere.

Life has no shape and no price.
Like sunshine and moonlight,
clouds, wind, sweet sour bitter and spice.
Sunrise, sunset and night.

Life is a circle I will say.
Revolve, gyrate and roll.
Spin, twist and loop a whirling stray.
Once round and back to stroll.

Sing and dance, dawn and eventide.
Frolic mirth finds your ground.
Life is jolly. Fly, sail and glide,
it's forever round and round.


from the book "I Hear the Ocean Landing"




(In the world we live in today, there are hundreds of conflicts a day: demonstrations, protests, clashes, collisions, confrontations, battles, combat and wars.)


Shrapnel, ashes, scars and smoke.
Burnt, charred, raging fire, wounded mourn.
Run, run against a million bullets, thousand strokes.

Farmers run for cover, ruined and broke.
The plough mars body and soul, bruised and torn.
Shrapnel, ashes, scars and smoke.

Politicians debate media. Croak, grunt and choke.
Students, parents on the street and a new born.
Run, run against a million bullets, thousand strokes.

It drives rich men to the wall and cloak,
poor men to the floor, no place no thorn.
Shrapnel, ashes, scars and smoke.


Philosophers calm each soul and every folk.
No place to occupy, nothing to scorn.
Run, run against a million bullets, thousand strokes.

Inching forward, tortoises crawl and poke.
Onward, onward toward the finish morn.
Shrapnel, ashes, scars and smoke.
Run, run against a million bullets, thousand strokes.


from the book "A Never-Ending Battle"



                     Genuine Smile


Page after page, through the album, on my mind,
mile after mile, along the course, in my grind.

Searching for the formula never found,
it is buried somewhere in the mound.

A tiny secret of the universe, a smile,
a genuine smile beyond any guile and style.

It does not recognize success or the rich.
It denies not failure nor poor in the ditch.

No name, no fame, no glory, no flair.
No light, no stage, no glare in the air.

An unknown stranger helps a suffering soul.
Nothing in return, just do it with no goal.

No purpose, no recognition, no gain,
Heaven refuses to let it go down the drain.

Reply with a shining smile on your face.
A hidden grace, exists at no other place.


Your smile will not add anything to the book,
it's worth nothing until you turn around and look.

It makes you realize the warmth of bright sun-shine,
see the twinkling stars. Open your eyne,

follow your nose, smell the flowers in bloom.
Sense the tenderness of the breeze, mist and brume.

Worry, a driblet of raindrop, becomes a splash, 
and vanishes on the ground with no trace in a flash.

The world is waiting patiently for the day,
go and discover the secret, smile and pray.


from the book "The Thunder Was so Mad"



                        a pianist and a piano

(Inspired by “Yearning Under the Moonlight” a book by composer, C.J. Shih.)



it is a fine day

Chopin, Bach, then Beethoven

dessert is Schumann 

run through in one breath, a taste 

even the water is sweet


back from a long trip 

hello to my piano

88 keys, black and white

never questions where I went

never suspecting a thing


same touch, same feeling

a tap, she softly replies

engaging the force

she echoes with passion and

tempo to seize the moment


murmuring sorrow

or burst out in elation

she is always there

tender, considerate and

silent when I need my peace


from the book "I Found Ruth Tonight"




And now
the time has come.
After the lightning strikes,
thunder decides to deafen all


The waves
resonate with
the echo that reveals
their covet to rush to the shore
and rest.



rejects the squeeze,
squeeze ignores the tension,
tension defies the seduction
to squeak.


from the book "I Found Ruth Tonight"


                       Puffer Fish


My other name is blow fish, I ingest air, 
water to blow my stomach into a ball, 
several times my size to warn predators. 

And they keep coming, my tetrodotoxin 
is lethal to fish, 1,000 times more poisonous 
than cyanide, enough to kill thirty men.

Still, I was captured. I'm called fugu in Japan.
My meat is an amazingly pricy delicacy.
And they keep coming, risk their lives to eat me.

Only prepared by trained, licensed chefs. They know
which part, what quantity, is safe to eat.
Many deaths per year. And still they keep coming.

I become a symbol of envy and craving. 
There's really nothing in me. And they keep coming.
I’ve never stopped warning them, life or death.


from the book "A Journal in the Animal Kingdom"





I am born with a safeguard, my shell
shields me from ridicule, contempt and non-sense.
The mercy to parry these scorns imprint and spell
on my sturdy carapace, it’s a solid fence.

To fend off the disdain, I’m obstinate to
walk slowly, watch every step, keep my
mouth shut, contract my neck, drab and true.
An unyielding faith, never question or ask why.

Everyone laughs at my scraping, inch by inch.
Yet no one lives and drags longer than me.
I wonder who dares to race me? I will clinch
the last laugh. Life by life, they all die and flee.

If you say I have a hidden back bone,
I agree. I'm always in my august zone.

from the book "A Journal in the Animal Kingdom"


            I Hear the Ocean Landing


(We went to the edge of the universe to witness my son,

Gary, become an ironman while staying at nearby Smiths

Beach resort, I can breathe the air from Indian Ocean on

my balcony.)

Some nights, you croon, 
others, you wail,
most of the time, you hum.

Last night, I could hear you.

The landing must be 
quite emotional.
Are you happy? Finally,
reaching your destination. 
Yet, no clapping, no laughter?

Is it just a relief? Or a surrender 
to an inevitable destiny?

Are you mad? Again and again
at the height of your voyage,
someone determines to obstruct
your movement. 
The shore is in your way.  
You pound and sigh,
scream till you strain your voice.
Finally, you accept
and swallow all your pride,
ripple with the flow,
trickle with the tides,
obey the tidings.

A sleepless night 
to figure out your journey. 
I exercise the breathing technique, 
counting the inhales into my belly, 
watching the exhales disappear
one breath at a time.
It goes on until I find the rhythm 
that syncs with your calling.

And then I discover 
your meter and beat.
Iambic? Trochee?
I realize what I hear
throughout the night
is just your breathing. 
Not joy or sorrow,
neither complaint
nor celebration.
Just pulsing along,
whichever waves,
you encounter.


from the book "I Hear the Ocean Landing"


                         Old Buddy Chang


Tanka-prose is a marriage of prose and tanka that

combines two modes of writing: prose and verse.

Tanka are comprised of five lines with 31 syllables

in a  5-7-5-7-7 pattern.


Old buddy Chang is my college classmate. 


same dorm, same bathroom

same school cafeteria

way back in Taiwan

and then, the same graduate

school in the United States 


bargain-basement house 

fifteen dollar bicycle

ten dollar T. V.

twenty five bucks for a fridge

life was good, spirits were high


clouds behind the sun

same concerns about future

same uncertainty

his and mine, stars blink and fade

doubts, hunger and dreams, we shared


My old buddy is full of curiosity, longing to learn new things.

He seems to have an answer for everything. American football

was a foreign sport. He figured out the rules of the game,

tracking competitions like a pro. And he knew how to select a

cheap used car; a convertible with the roof stuck-open.


white convertible

wearing a Hawaiian shirt

you are in heaven

a picture, a thousand words

calm father at home, he said


car without a roof

don't worry, it never rains

in this desert town

"if it starts raining, I will 

hold the umbrella," he said


one hundred dollars

we never went anywhere

no power, no speed

only for local cruising

can’t even drive on freeway


I never thought old buddy Chang would go so far.

Uphill he climbed, a visionary in technology,

he won so many distinctions.

I had to see him with my own eyes.


patents on the wall

state-of-the-art research lab

plush oval office

the keynote speaker at our

alma mater commencement


It all happened after he passed 50 years of age.

how did it all get started ? No signs in college.

No indications in graduate school. We were both

starving students, full of imagination. Clueless, one

day, I read Einstein's quote "The true sign of

intelligence is not knowledge but imagination."


all of a sudden

a light bulb lit in the dark

he's smiling at me

yes, it was a desert town

why worry about the rain.

from the book "I Found Ruth Tonight"

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