Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stone-hard beauty

Returning to the garden,
all passion spent,
tears dried upon her cheeks,
did she perch herself upon a step
or trail a finger in the pond,
ear cocked and listening
for the return of the thrush
while staring unseeing,
at the stone-hard beauty reflected
there, in the water and the grass,
and in the dead gray branch
of the madrona?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In this dark field

In this dark field,
life is short,
we are vulnerable,
change is inevitable,
everything ends.
In her dark field,
life is light,
and breath;
wind and rain --
all of the above
and more,
each blade of grass,
each grave a gift;
reminders to be present,
and dance among the stones.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Creativity on demand

It's one thing when that urge
comes over you: the power,
and the knowing, and the juice
pours out from Some Other Source
while you watch and dip, amazed.
But on demand --now that's
a different story: flames begin to rise,
these words and images,
once refreshing, now molten,
burning their way through
onto the page, accompanied by
the steady toxic drip of fear
of failure: can she do it on demand,
will inspiration flow, or will
the pressure turn to acid,
and eat away that bright core
of hope and possibility.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some paths are blessed

Some paths are blessed --
the ones we do not walk alone;
the ones where the crow
sits in the tree, chuckling,
and when you stop to watch,
he swims away to a farther branch
as if to invite you up into his world.
"Mah," he murmurs, "Mah, Mah,"
in a tone of wonder, and you wonder
who is he calling, and why?
Meanwhile the trees hover, or loom,
depending on your mood.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Who drops the veil of night?

Who drops the veil of night?
What golden hand
ignites the stars
and mutes the call of the chicadee;
who draws the trees --
those strong dark strokes
that corrugate the forest;
who lays the fuse across the horizon,
then slowly drops the sun into the sea
to spark the flame that beckons
evening into dusk and then to dark?
What angels toil again at dawn,
rolling back the violet curtain of mist
to reveal again a single daisy in a field,
and the humble bee who dances in the wings
waiting to slurp the dew from each bright petal
with his thirsty tongue.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mary Oliver saw a dead fox

Mary Oliver saw a dead fox
curled inside a tractor wheel
and joined him there.
Looking out as darkness fell
the poet noticed how the stars
embraced them both:
not the smell
or the crispness of his paws,
the stiffness of the once-soft fur --
she didn't seem to see
what had been lost,
but only found the earth's sweet song
of oneness, and of love.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where is truth?

You say you speak the truth,
not knowing that I know
what I know,
and leave me wondering:
what should I reveal?
Where is the greater harm --
in allowing you to delude,
in allowing them to believe,
in forcing me to hold
what I know to be true
close to my chest
while watching with knowing eyes.
Should bygones be bygones?
What really is true?
Who knows?
Who watches?
And where does my responsibility lie?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Other ways of being in the world

Color alone,
however appealing,
is not enough:
we need the balance --
dark and light,
dancing together,
in and out of conscious awareness.
Don't be fooled
by the emptiness
of surface reflections:
below these sticks and stones;
below the path the sun or moon
has traced across emotion
there are other stories, other lives;
other ways of being in the world
waiting for you
to discover and explore.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A nap of my own

There's nothing quite so relaxed
as a cat on a couch,
dozing in the afternoon sun...
I'd hoped to catch her napping:
she looks so much like Chessie --
the pictures on the wall
in my grandmother's house,
from when my grandfather
worked for the railroad,
Chesapeake and Ohio --
but she heard me creeping up,
then rolled onto her back
and launched into this huge
impatient yawn, as if to say,
"I'm busy here; stop interrupting me."
I put the camera down,
and took a nap of my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

When we head to the mall

Those rare moments
when everything comes together
bring a wonderful sense
of wholeness and completion,
of balance and clarity.
And then you know, with a rightness
beyond knowing; something clicks
somewhere below the heart,
and all creation sighs together in wonder
at the birth of a poem, a painting, or a child.
That's the feeling we're hoping for,
I suspect, when we head to the mall
to buy stuff...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Let the heart rule

In the dark and the wet,
if we trust
that there still will be light,
these are the holy places
where the dragonflies are born;
these are the swamps
where the mud gives birth
to new life.
Let the heart rule
in the darkness;
let it extend warm hands in blessing
so new wings may unfold.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Forgiveness is not a race:
there are no lanes in this pool,
and no one moment comes
when we can be declared victorious.
Some days it's a slow slog
upstream through jello,
or we're fighting strong currents;
some days it's even chocolate pudding --
no hope of seeing
where the finish line,
or even the edges might be.
But we keep on slogging,
building muscles and endurance
that will one day set us free.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Take my breath away

The complexity of the ocean
has nothing on us:
what swims within
seems often vague and mysterious,
even threatening at times,
but when we stop swimming away,
relax and let the mud settle,
the wonder of it --
the delicacy, the color,
the myriad shapes,
the infinite variety
of coping mechanisms --
can take your breath away.

Friday, June 17, 2011

These arms like waves

How could we ever feel alone,
blessed as we are
by the ripples in the sea:
the color and the calm,
the salt and the support,
the presence at the bottom of the deep --
the eyes that watch and love,
the nose that breathes our essence in
as a mother sniffs her baby's cheek,
the lips that purse
to blow a gentle breeze
across soul's cuts and wounds;
the heart that lifts and swells
at the sound of our voices,
the tears that flow with ours...
these arms like waves
that hold and rock us finally to sleep.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Island speculations

Though city looms
with all its busyness and haste,
out here the pace is slower, calmer;
more connected to life and death
and yet, somehow, less urgent;
each driven moment balanced by
the need for rest, and restoration.
Is that because we know
we're at the mercy of the wind and tides;
because we've fewer illusions
about the power of our lives
or the importance of our days?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Reverse engineering

Behind the cape
that foolish man
was only an illusion:
without the starry eyes, I see
the other side of who You are
and who I am as well;
a chance to see how everything else
both in and out of you
moves into one;
that, far from gone,
God is still bringing light,
an alternative to darkness,
and behind the stars
that fiery glow of unconditional love
that fixes everything shines warm,
rippling gold across the sea of soul:
the God I know you now to be.

(Note: it wasn't until I was almost finished creating this image yesterday that I realized it was the reverse of the previous poem's image, so this poem is yesterday's poem reversed, or upside down...)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Who you really were

The God I thought you were --
the one who could fix everything,
and loved me unconditionally;
who could set the stars in motion
and bring light into my darkness --
that God has never gone,
just moved away:
out of you
and into everything else
so now I get a chance
to see and love who you really were,
without the starry eyes
and the illusions:
who was that foolish man
behind the cape?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Some gentle spirit

Some gentle spirit deep within --
framed by some ancient sense
of what home was, or might become;
composed of all the kindnesses you've known:
the tender eyes of one,
the curved smile of another,
the flamboyant style of still another soul
whose affectionate acceptance
gave permission to be you --
this gentle spirit adores you still,
and comforts when the loneliness
grows too intense,
the thoughts too overwhelming,
when gifts all turn to curses
and losses grow too deep to bear.
Breathe deep, and breathe again
and know the pure clear gaze of love.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I have to ask, he said, on visiting my latest work,
what on earth have you been smoking?
Echoes of those mocking voices, long ago --
"They are filled with new wine."
But no, not drunk, filled, rather, with the spirit --
a convergence zone of blood and fear,
the splash of fire and vapor of smoke, and oh, the noise
poured out like inspiration on the unsuspecting,
and then the voice becomes your own, and not,
and surprising ones can hear and others not --
it's like a flame, which, when it passes,
leaves a burnt out shell, and feelings -- lost yet purified --
earth aches, roots cringe and stretch like toes
and yet can breathe again
and toss new shoots to flourish in the emptiness.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Painted before awareness

There is a knowing that pervades;
a sense that paints the truth to come
before we are even conscious.
Something there is that lies within
and knows when others are at risk,
that feels the rush and tumble
of destructive waves,
that knows the harsh dry reality
of the empty river bed below,
the structures that channel just enough
into too much,
and too little...

Friday, June 10, 2011

This is not me

This is not the me
I long to be,
this demanding finger,
expecting me to pour out
creativity by the clock
yet holding ever present
the dark abyss below
down which all failures go,
that deep gray space
where fear lurks,
waiting to drain
the color out of life...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Framing what might have been

We stand together
inside this frame --
one all dressed up,
wildness contained
in a net of words,
enticing with bright jewelry;
the other, darker
feelings masked and looming,
supporting and constricting;
truth stares out
while artifice looks away
and trembles...
Faith hovers
-- or perhaps a semblance
of what might have been
had we not carved this cross
and hung it out to dry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Behind a veil of tears

Past images haunt the present,
cluttering the landscape
with memories,
true or false;
some rooted deep
while others bloom
from some imagined unreality;
still others bearing down the track,
inevitable, looming
while we stand waiting
to be carried into some vacation spot
where palm trees sway like hope
behind a veil of tears
and coconuts fall and split before us:
food and drink
to fill the aching heart.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The still blue flame

In the dark and troubled times,
the deserts we must sometimes cross
while on the journey home,
I'm grateful --
as I sit
in the dark and the fear,
surrounded by so much
that I cannot understand --
I'm grateful for your presence
at my side;
for knowing that together
we are keeping it alive --
the still blue flame of love.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Longing for liquid understanding

Though it's dense as a jungle,
it feels like a desert --
this shadowed lonely place
where I cannot seem to get in touch
with who I really am
or what I really want from you
-- or me...
It's stark, and arid here;
I'm longing for
some liquid understanding
to irrigate the corners of my soul.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

At the root of the shift

Some part of me
wants to build a frame,
and paint the things I know --
the trees, the hill,
the whisper of a deer --
surrounding it with sea and sky,
and hiding all that ripples
on the canvas that lies beneath --
the darks, the lights, the colors;
the bubbles, and the holes --
all the wonder and confusion
that lie at the root of the shift...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Truth is always relative

It doesn't need to be a fight --
it could just be a dance,
a conversation,
between the hopes
you tried to plant
and fears that I might fail to bloom.
Truth is --
and truth is always relative --
it's all still there,
and probably will always be:
the hopes, the fears,
the failures and this golden blooming
from seeds you never even knew
you sowed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Young again

Just passing through,
I stop to doodle on the keys,
drawn by color and contrast
into this rift of reality,
the torn place
where the music seeps in
and bubbles in my soul.
It's long ago,
and far away,
like so many other gifts
I left behind;
I was, then, just a child,
and so I touch the keys
and feel -- yes --
young again,
and light,
and free

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The shapes of past encounters

Pay attention to the depths
from which your thoughts emerge:
watch closely as the colors
arise, and merge again;
see the shapes of past encounters
dance and echo across the void,
and notice how the void itself
is rich with texture,
and with light.
Walk the shoreline in between;
explore the caves and crevices
that make reality
wholly porous;
dip your toes in the stream
that feeds the river;
and as the boundaries dissolve,
feel the fish tickling your toes...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


You compose your life,
and I build mine, and if I take
a line or two; or notice
what lies at your center and decide
to make that my center, too,
would it be wrong -- to learn from you?
The textures of this work
will inevitably be my own --
we paint on such different canvases --
and yet (I hope) the similarities
enrich us both,
and all who pause to look...