Monday, February 24, 2014

Sonnet #27: Dark skeletons

There was a time when fog and forest seemed
quite fearful -- I remember being small,
and looming roots would trip me as I dreamed
my way along the path amid the tall

Norwegian pines that marked the woods between
my house and yours; nearby the river glowed
with fog that slid through branches evergreen
and cradled the scent of dogwood as it flowed

around and through me. And then, in my youth, I sought
the dark and mist, and found it reassured.
But with age, again, in forests I'm distraught:
the trees seem ominous, now I've matured,

reaching out with slender fingers to whip and taunt me;
dark skeletons, bleak harbingers -- they haunt me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sonnet #26: Thinking ahead to Lent...

It matters not if it's a slender thread
or a stout rope that keeps the bird from flight.
Until what holds her back is cut and dead,
she'll have no hope of soaring to full height.

So what is it that keeps you from the prize?
Things done, or left undone, that hold you back?
I'm not attempting here to moralize,
but just to help you think what you might lack:

What habits, given up, could set you free
to know new heights and depths of love divine
What tasks, if taken on, might help you see
a way to spread your wings and fully shine?

Lent's not about becoming penitent;
it's working to end our own imprisonment.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sonnet #25: Marital Differences

Let me not to the marriage of two minds
object: whatever differences ensue
provide the impetus for growth.  I find
this as I age to prove more true.

If you say neither, and I would neither say;
if you like sugar while I prefer grease and salt;
if you should find all politicians gray
when I see black and white and tons of fault --

There's truth on either side, and so we see
(having been forced to listen, each to each)
that every preference has veracity
or at least some rationale, something to teach.

And so to you I gladly pledge my life
and trust we each will learn from all this strife.

Sonnet #24: When the love of God

"When the love of God arises in thy heart,
Without doubt, God also feels love for thee."
These words from Rumi pierce me, like a dart,
with a hope rooted in holy mystery.

That this longing that has haunted me forever --
the one that I once thought was just for love --
could find its echo in the great Whoever
and rebound back to hold me as a glove

might hold a hand, protecting it from cold --
or sting, or thorns designed to thrust through skin --
that would with all-embracing love enfold
my being, both its blessings and its sin --

this knowledge transforms those who apprehend
its truth: enhanced compassion's its dividend.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sonnet #23: The Long Wait

I wait and wait, but the darn bus never shows.
The ferns droop down to hide my furrowed brow,
the moss on my walls and roof just grows and grows
and still I wait and wonder, "Why not now?"

Or now. Or now. Or now. And still I fail
to see that waiting's not the point: no bus
is meant to take us to the Holy Grail:
the thought it should be easy's ludicrous.

This bench is but a stop along the way --
we need to rest to process what we learn --
but the journey is what matters: each new day
can teach us what we need.  We have to earn

the peace, the love, the holiness we seek:
it mounts up slowly, week by challenging week.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sonnet # 22: The Road to Manzanar

We visit parks and walk historic trails,
tracing the lives of those who've gone before
and trying to imagine their travails:
the hunger, the losses; the courage at their core.

But this trail, this, its bones stained red as blood,
that wanders through the woods down to a dock
to mark the path my Asian brothers trod,
prodded by soldiers and herded off the rock

that was their island home and is now mine;
this trail's injustice haunts our communal heart.
Betrayal marks this path. And though no shrine
can heal the split that tore this town apart,

this bleak reminder of what happened then
drives us to swear "Fear not: never again."

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sonnet #21: Brief memories of bliss

"Let go and let God," the 12-Step people say;
and we're told we'll have to die to be born again.
Emptying that we might be filled is another way
to describe what we must do to be fully Zen.

But it's easier said than done.  Even if we sit
in a quiet space with very few distractions,
start with a gong, and get the candles lit,
the brain has a mind of its own, always in action.

The wheel of thoughts keeps spinning round and round,
and imagination leaps from wish to wish,
our best intentions seem to run aground,
overwhelmed by all the worries that persist.

And yet we're willing to keep attempting this,
our struggles fueled by brief memories of bliss.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sonnet #20: Listen to your heart

In a world where everybody's selling something,
how can we ever really know what's true?
Should we take them at their word, that theirs is better;
or follow our instincts and say adieu

when we're asked to sign, right here, on this dotted line,
"because we're less expensive, and offer more?"
When we google their reputation, it seems fine,
so what drives this urge to show these guys the door?

 Experience has taught us not to trust
the claims of those who feed upon our passions
and take our cash with promises that go bust --
we're left betrayed while to the bank they're dashing.

In such decisions, listen to your heart:
what rises from within may well be smart...