Poems

Light

I want to write of the light

but I do not know

whether words can illuminate

the way it hangs

upon branches and bird wings

and broken things

returning beings to beauty.

Can words spin substance

from sunshine and decay?

Can words cajole

celebration from night-weary

birds?

Can words warm surfaces

of stones and sorrows?

Can words reveal richness

in mundane

and battered

things?

I do not know.

But if we would write

a tomorrow

wider than wounds

we have worn,

we might wield words

like benedictions

and remember

blessings

within brokenness,

beginnings

within endings,

and beauty

within all beings.

*****

Benediction

May you taste the colors of sunset,

may you touch the chorus of dawn,

may your eyes turn toward the beauty

even when it’s gone.

May you weave a path of blessing

through ecstasy and grief.

May you tend the flame within you

may you feed it with belief.

May you find yourself in strangers

and meet them within you.

May you trust that we are windows

the world is peering through.

May you linger in each moment,

receiving with your heart

the gift of possibilities

that presence can impart.

May you become a portal

to the love behind your toil,

may you become a silence

within the world’s turmoil.

May the prayers that grow within you

bloom in many lands.

We are woven of connections

and peace is in our hands.

*****

October

Light in leaves in wind in sky.

Bright October brings beauty

to dead things

and the wingless learn

to fly.

Berries try to stash the summer

in their skin.

Squirrels bury food

and future forests.

Flowers fall back into all

the abundance that birthed

them and decay

paves the way for life

upon life.

When our dreams fall

we might recall

that forests are fed

by the fallen.

What we call death is only

the birth

of bodies and dreams

without boundaries.

What we call death is only

the discovery

that we belong

to the beauty

that burns in all beings.

*****

Blackberries

Do you know what love is?

I don’t either.

But I do know how to lean,

a little too far,

in search of summers sweetness

condensed in bumpy, berry bodies.

I know how to fall

into ecstasy and thorns

and sun-drenched joy.

Perhaps we need not know

what love is

because it sets such juicy snares

at the intersection of our hunger

and the world’s need.

Why would the world

need our greed?

Why would it ask us

to cram its sticky sweetness

into our hungry hands?

Because it is dying.

Blackberries are drying

before they are formed.

Only by the creek

can they become themselves.

So I eat

and I celebrate

and I mourn

for the world that is slipping

through our startled hands,

for the animals who find fallen leaves

and shriveled fruit

where once they feasted,

for the desolation

our children will inherit

when plants and animals fall.

I mourn for all the wounds and wars

and piles of unfinished papers

that keep us from

filling our desperate hearts,

pockets, hands

with dark, dripping parcels

of planetary love

until we split at the seems

and spill out

into the drying world.

*****

The Fallen

We have no time to mourn, no time to attend the funeral

for the forgotten. And anyway, the casket is empty

because the forest was clear cut

before scientists could catalog

and make real its now-extinct inhabitants.

The casket is empty because we sent a drone

to kill the alleged terrorist and it killed

some alleged civilians instead.

We regret the mistake but we still have a stake

in the illusory systems of safety that teach us to kill.

So we cannot name or know the fallen,

cannot care about children, artists, scientists, farmers, friends —

all irreplaceable players in our planet’s pursuit of peace.

The casket is empty because the deceased died in the desert

attempting to access the land of the free

and the home of the brave.

Or perhaps they did not die.

Maybe they made it to the promised land

and scraped together scraps by cleaning other people’s filth

and stapling shingles onto steep slopes in the blazing sun.

They gave birth to a child.

And then they were deported —

without the child who was a citizen of a country that had no place

for his people though its founders had helped themselves

to the heart of an already-inhabited continent.

The casket is empty because the broken bodies

of the disappeared rest uneasily in stinking pits.

The casket is empty because we cannot cram whole planets

into wooden boxes and anyway where would we bury them?

And who would attend the funeral?

Not the former inhabitants of the deceased planet.

The casket is empty because we are still struggling

to save its intended occupants.

And we will not rest until every remedy has been tried.

We will throw the talent that money cannot buy

into the task of resurrecting our dying mother.

We will stop everything, drop everything, to mourn.

We will gather gifts forgotten by gross national products

and other measures of money we’ve made

from forests and fruits and uprooted roots:

summers and sunsets, bird choruses and Bach cantatas,

sweet sap and thick syrup, unexpected irises crouching in swamps.

And then? And then we will stop scripting trite conclusions

to our unsolvable sorrows and slip into the impossible

tenderness that only uncertainty can summon.

*****

A Serious Frivolity

Savoring the substance

of existence

is a serious

frivolity.

Someone must do it.

Someone must love

luminous hours when leaves

marry light and refuse

to stop

shining.

Someone must speak

the sweetness

of lilacs

before it is lost

beneath smog.

Someone must bask

in the beauty of blessing

because the news knows only

brokenness.

When you give yourself

to a particular place

the power

and peace

of that place

give themselves

through you.

So savoring the substance

of existence

is a serious frivolity.

Someone must do it.

Will that someone

be you?

*****

To a Small Boy with Eager Eyes

What if your hopes are killed

before they’re even born?

What if your days are filled

with loss too large to mourn?

What if there are no birds

to usher you to sleep?

What if there are no words

for pain that cuts so deep?

What if there are no bees

to pollinate your fruits?

What if your ardent pleas

can’t water dying roots?

What if you cannot breathe

because the air is black?

What if your dreams all seethe

with life you can’t call back?

What if the oceans rise?

What if the forests fall?

And what if their demise

heralds the death of all?

What if there is no earth

for you to walk upon

and everything of worth

has shriveled up and gone?

What will we offer you

in place of tomorrow?

What words will sustain you

through this endless sorrow?

Do you harbor replies

to our unspoken prayer?

Will the light in your eyes

enable us to care

for you and your passion,

for our unfurling love,

for shoots of compassion,

for joy we’re woven of?

*****

Invocation

I want you to remember

the sight of bats in flight.

I want you to encounter

the unstained hues of night.

I want you to taste wild grapes

and spongy cattail shoots,

to watch as new life escapes

from shriveled winter roots.

I want the red winged blackbird

to visit you in spring

and I want you to have heard

the crickets when they sing.

I want you to see ridges

encased in morning light.

I want you to find bridges

constructed on delight.

I want you to discover

a field of fireflies,

to know the world as lover,

to understand her cries.

I want someone to hold you

and marvel at your dreams,

the dreams that you can cling to

when life splits at the seams.

I want someone to love you

when you cannot do so,

someone who will inform you

of all the things you know.

I want us to bequeath you

a world that’s wild and free

so you can enter into

the beauty that you see.


*****

Ancestor

When I walked into your world

I knew that death was only a synonym

for continuity.

I could feel you reaching through me.

Your heart,

sculpted and strengthened by sorrow,

leaped in mine.

Your steady hand,

accustomed to sowing seeds and dreams,

held mine.

Your hard-earned harvest

of wounds

endured and inflicted

fed me.

You taught me that we

become free by embracing

what we would flee.

You showed me that the parts of our hearts

that have wielded

and been broken

by the world’s pain also contain the key

to its healing.

You promised me that we could become

the beauty

we serve and see.

Your celebration alighted within me.

Now I am hungry for a reality

built upon the immensity

of our inheritance

which is love.

*****

Strangers in the Lands of Ourselves

Experts only

can address

sickened bodies,

tortured minds,

endless wars,

dying planets,

species who have made their final bow

upon the darkening stage of existence.

Did we acquiesce

to this myth of severance?

We belonged once to slanting houses

thick with memory

where we consecrated summer days

seeking rabbits.

Patience sprouted then in the light

of discovery,

its roots nourished by mycelium

of delight.

In those days

we knew that we could not run

without falling,

could not swim

without sinking,

could not fly

without trusting

that we were held by a powerful mystery.

Now that we have lost all that,

now that we have become

strangers

in the lands of ourselves,

we are free

to remain constant

by forever changing,

to become a piece of the source

we have misplaced.

*****

From Which it all Began

Tell me, what

would you do today

if you knew your life

to be a celebration

of this world?

Would you stop

to gather sunlight

dropping soundlessly

upon pines

beyond your window pane?

Would you court

dreams too wide

for the container

of consciousness?

Would you linger

in the terrible beauty

of uncertainty

as if the fullness of the world

depended upon your presence?

Would you caste your hopes

upon possibilities that abide

only in departure?

Would you become the motion

of your song,

losing itself in overtones

of delight

or despair

and returning, finally,

to the stillness

from which it all began?

*****

A Poem

If life were a poem

to the universe,

I would find beauty

in the saying

of the darkest sorrows

and the arms of my night

would overflow

with stars.

If life were a poem

to the divine,

I would find heaven

in recesses

of doubt

and compassion

in recoiling.

If life were a poem

to the earth,

I would find renewal

in the falling

of ancient protection

and possibilities would blossom

from decay.

If my life were a poem

to myself,

I would become a vessel

deep enough to embrace

betrayal

and belonging

with unabashed gladness.

If my life were a poem

to the one I would become,

I would inhabit this day

with reverence

and choose to make

of surrender

a home.

If my life were a poem

to you,

I would find in my shame

the wounds of the world

and seek in my celebration

the love

that is waiting

to become

our hands.

*****

Elegy to a Dying Snail

I stepped on you

last night

in the darkness.

Your life—

a torrent of green liquid—

spilled down my wrist,

your antennae gently pulsed.

I saw in your fading

existence

a kinship

crafted of

mutual

mortality.

I have been waiting,

these years,

to live,

to become real

enough to matter,

to become free

enough to matter not,

to understand the heart

of the living earth,

beating within mine.

I have been waiting for my shell

to crack

and instead I cracked yours,

effortlessly,

beneath my shoe,

a portal from one mystery,

to the next.

I am sorry that your life was lost,

to one not yet alive.

But in your death,

my life,

un-lived,

became the real journey

it has always been.

*****

Idleness

Idleness is a commitment

to stop seeking god

beyond

failed schemes,

plundered dreams,

tired hands,

and thirsty lands.

For god is in our hunger,

god is in our pain,

and god is in the loss

that will teach us how to gain

the only thing worth holding,

the thing we cannot own,

a trust in the unfolding,

a love of the unknown.

*****

Before

Before we knew

that air had no agency,

revelations traveled upon the breeze.

Before we suspected

that science had dispensed with miracles

while religion had relegated them to realms

far from the fecund earth,

we encountered miracles

in mud

and marsh-marigolds.

Before we succumbed

to the societal wisdom

that sealed intelligence and creativity

within our skulls,

we exchanged meaning with mist

and chatted with chipmunks.

Before we relegated reality

to measurable manipulations

of matter,

the morning mentioned possibilities

and we played with the power

of presence.

Before we forgot

that we were supported

by other sentient powers

and dreamed

by other dreams,

we knew that the possible

was a dialog

that depended

upon delight.

Before we agreed to pursue possibilities

that were compatible

with capacities

we could claim,

failure was just an invitation

to perfect the mechanism

of flight.

*****

Many Ways

There are many ways to live

and one is to give

your heart

to the precognitive power of passion

whose pearls are formed

of sweetness

and suffering.

Passion is a portal

to God

and

God

is a refuge you will enter

and become.

All that you love

will fall to the fires

of time.

But the loving itself

will remain

a testament to the life

that lived you

into this celebration.

*****

Falling

There is no security

in freedom

only endless falling

toward the hands that tossed you

into the world.

So script your plans

with emptiness—

the world might find you.

We are the horizon

we seek.

We are the beauty we cherish.

The universe is gazing

through our eyes

and unfolding in our dreams.

The boundary between the possible

and the impossible

rises in the mind.

It is only an invitation

to fly without wings.

Shall we bequeath our days

to celebration?

For life is a requiem

to the alleged failures

and successes

of an alleged self

and it is a hymn

to the possibilities

that see themselves

in us.

*****

Ode to Failure

Life might be too brief

and brilliant

to be squandered on success.

If we’ve not wandered

into failure,

how will we learn to caress

both the beauty

and the brokenness?

If we’ve not dressed

in fear and doubt,

how will we climb out

of our skin

by burrowing more deeply in

to the silence at the center

of each heart and world?

If we’ve not lost the love

that looses no one,

will we seek its source

in everyone?

If we’ve not buried childhood dreams,

will we hear the screams

of children whose dreams are sliced by violence

and the imposed silence

of shame?

If we’ve not passed on

our pain,

will we see the need

in each alleged misdeed?

If we’ve not looked for love

in loss

will we understand that decay

paves the way

to enduring life?

*****

What Forest Knows

If you would know what the forest knows

ask the departed.

For every life,

lost to itself,

becomes the unfolding.

If you would know what the forest knows

enter its hidden falls—

there each droplet,

shattered,

returns to the deep.

If you would know what the forest knows

drink the cadences of its silence

until they echo in your song.

Then in the sweetness of blackberries

you might find yourself

devoured.

Let the forest shape you

as if you belonged to its dreams

for you were always

an instrument

in the hands

of this celebration.

*****

The Dream We Stand Inside

May you find divinity

in each being that you see;

in the whole society;

in the person you call me;

in ants and in bumblebees;

in pines and in other trees;

in the hungry morning breeze;

in the rough loquacious seas.

May the lively morning light

linger long within your sight.

May the broad wings of delight

give your song the gift of flight.

May the stream’s strength flow through you,

may the star’s silence sing you,

may the prairie’s peace hold you,

may the earth’s arms enfold you.

May your dreams grow just as wide

as the dream we stand inside.

When the shell of you has died

may the love you are abide.

*****

Finn

I follow you

through the forest

remembering

how large the world is

and sandcastles blossom

beneath our feet.

Our leaf boats

return like memories

through the mist

of years,

carrying forgotten revelry.

Your hunger

ignites my own

and I vow

to smear the fruits

of this earth

across my face

in unabashed celebration.

Our ungodly culinary adventures

feed a hunger

dismissed

to recipes of success

and I recall the sticky delight

of moments inhabited and goals discarded.

Your wildly stacked blocks

defy gravity

while my mathematically correct

towers perish

so I resolve to follow your example

and place my glass birds

upon precarious perches

where they too can see the sky.

The light in your eyes

and the wildness in your embrace

teach me that I belong still

to the love which gave us

to this world

and I vow to become the beauty

and the glee

you touch in me.

*****

The Offering

You are a dream

in the heart of the infinite,

a song in the soul

of the world.

You are a hope

in the womb of the earth,

a memory

on the journey of your people.

So lay down the wounds

and strengths

you mistook for yourself.

You know how to inhabit

your story

with enough faith

to abandon it.

Something deep within

knows the patience

of egrets

poised like statues

over the life they will become.

When transformation becomes

a given

though accidental

byproduct

of play,

love

will become your hands.

In the tribute of revelry

healing is born

so caste your stars

into the world’s skies.

And seek, in the hushed cathedral

of your heart,

the reflection of the divine.

*****

A Memory

Poised above emptiness

you cry for the cocoon’s embrace

forgetting that it was woven to prepare

this flight.

Known tools are not relevant

in this new trade.

You must apprentice yourself

to the sun and the rain.

A memory more ancient

than your one fragile life

pulses through the blood

of your dreams.

You belong

to the blossoming dawn

and the splashing of hummingbird wings.

Like the willow,

you will endure by breaking,

tossing limbs to

el rio de la vida.

Condensed for a moment

from the breath of the universe

you belong to her dreams

and her story.

Nourished for a lifetime

in the heart of the earth

you will return to her love

and her glory.

*****

Flight

When we savor the sunrise

it shines out from our eyes.

When we linger in loon song

our own voices grow strong.

On the wings of surrender

we enter life’s splendor

and through the flight of delight

we reflect what is bright.

We become what we bless,

we become what we seek

and we become beauty

that we bother to speak.

When the heart cannot hold

one more drop of beauty

it seeps into the world

staining people with glee.

*****

Finding a Vocation

I want to celebrate

and articulate

the gossip of geese,

the serenity of swans,

and the antics of arboreal rodents.

I want to study the sunlight

as it lingers in leaves

and in longings,

blessing and expressing

the beauty of all things.

I want to practice the peace

of passion

so that it might serve itself

through me.

I want to caress

forgotten fragments

of self and society,

spurned seekers who insist

that we cultivate compassion.

I want to empty this vessel

of a life and imbibe

the emptiness.

And I want to sing of the sweetness

that sustains us

as we stumble

toward the sweetness

that we are.

*****

Feeding the Hunger of the World

In the winged heart

of world enfolded in self

unfolded in world—

Work becomes

play

becomes

love.

Giving becomes

receiving

becomes

the ecstatic mingling of souls

birthing a new dream.

Teaching becomes

learning

becomes

the touch of the universe

upon the strings of the soul.

Birth becomes death

becomes the dreaming

of souls within souls,

feeding the hunger of the world.

*****

Becoming Monkeys

In those days,

questions deferred to play

and wishes leaped

through the trees

intent upon becoming

monkeys

and unconcerned

by the prospect

of immanent

shattering.

There were mud holes

not sanitized by the

world’s fear

and plans

not circumscribed

by societal dreams.

There were knights

in adventure clad,

their armor of powerlessness

not yet assumed.

They knew that life

belonged to the kingdom

of fairy tales

which awaited

their entry

into the battle

of joy.

*****

Squirrels

What is the question

that ponders me

when I lay down my allegiance

to answers?

Sometimes it seeps into the silence

between thoughts

or saunters with squirrels

upon scenarios

too slim

for solid bodies.

Then falling becomes flying,

up enters down,

right remembers itself in wrong,

and possibilities emerge

from the impossible.

Perhaps the ideal circumstances

I have sought

begin

and end

in possibilities that I pause to ponder

and in beauty that I bother to embrace.

For what limits does truth perceive

and what circumstances

or beings

does love fail to gather

in its net?

*****

Sun

You pluck birds

from slumber

and your soliloquy

seeps into song.

You linger in leaves

and you luminosity

becomes branches.

You blossom in flowers

and your brilliance

bears fruit.

You roam upon rocks

and resurrect

startled reptiles.

I want to rest

in your radiance

which coaxes substance

from surrender

and strength from sweetness.

And I want to bask

in your beauty

until it filters

through the foliage

of my dreams.

*****

Desert Light

I wait for the day to recall

the cold from my bones

and then I am running

on fire with a desperate dream.

Rocks stand immense

against the morning

and raptors rise

upon the light.

In this land I have found

a piece of my soul

unknown—

it belongs to the edge between

life and death.

It belongs to the spaces

between canyons.

It belongs to flowers

tucked beneath the blazing sky.

It belongs to the hunger of the hawk.

It belongs to a longing

fragile, fierce, and free.

Life is too sweet to contain

a destination

or an assurance.

There is only this searing heat

and sharp beauty

weaving life

upon the cliff face

and carrying the memory of water.

*****

Contentment

Mist is a miracle

only

if we pause

to marvel.

It is an obstacle

if we insist

upon seeing

the scenes that it seems to obscure.

Mist reveals

as much as it conceals

as it rises in response

to the rhythms of the world.

Mist is

a messy and mysterious exchange

of motion

and memory.

Mist is a conversation

weighted with water,

wafted by wind,

lifted by light.

It dissipates into hidden dimensions

daring us to follow.

It enfolds the familiar landscape

of the self

in fabric of the infinite,

inviting us to surrender

to the silence at the center

of the question.

*****

Making Mosaics

Tenderness

falls

with the forests.

Euphemisms

hide

our horror

and our hearts.

Pain

is pathologized,

criminalized,

personalized.

Pleasure

is romanticized,

fantasized,

trivialized.

But pain and pleasure

are portals

to presence

and presence is a pathway

to peace.

In their grasp

masks fall,

plans fall,

hands fall

and hearts become free.

Beauty blossoms

as we bless the broken,

making mosaics

with shattered

glass

of the soul.

*****

Born of Dissolution

You cannot know

why this pain chooses you

but perhaps

you can make yourself

vast

like the night

whose stars shine

only in darkness.

Loss is a storm

which can carry us farther

than we alone might travel.

Waves of grief hollow caves

of the heart

until they are wide enough

to encompass the dream.

Rainbows

are born

of dissolution.

The twilight of the known

precedes

rebirth.

Communion comes from falling,

for precisely where you are

broken

you can converse with the world.

So stay awhile

in the cyclone

if you would become

beauty

that cannot

be broken.

*****

The Gift of Loss

The loss of life we never knew

leaves an emptiness inside.

We remember rains dismissed

above deserts

of our making;

passenger pigeons

shot down

in a sea of feathers;

pavements

placed upon

forgotten forest floors;

bodies broken

beneath the weight

of the industrial dream;

children

taught to compete

but not to cultivate

compassion;

seeds and stories stolen

from cultures

that care for creation.

The loss of life

we never knew

leaves a longing deep inside.

Forests are built upon

creatures who have died.

And our dreams are forged

from losses not denied.

Only when facades fall

can the love we are abide.

*****

For the Children

We are the hope that lives through us,

riding the breath of our dreams.

Our lives,

so small,

so brief,

so beautiful,

so powerful,

invite us to abandon security for an authenticity older than form.

The sunrise is calling—

will you take my hand

as we leap from the illusory precipice

of surety

into the dawn of our unfurling?

Will we laugh like children chasing waves,

our bodies singing

in the sharp cascade of life?

Will we cry out

with the fierce longing

lost no longer

in canyons of sorrow we had forgotten to feel?

In the secret twilight of sorrow,

warmth follows the light

into eternity,

inviting us to kindle our own

flame,

to step, even broken, into the fire

of the dream.

*****

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