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2020 Poems      May-August


Threshold            Print this poem only


Here I wait resting on the door jamb

standing betwixt and between

shall I stay here or drop my hand,

move beyond what I’ve known and seen?

What will be out there to my left and right

where will the next step take me from here?

They said danger is there out of my sight -

threats, jinxes, and disease if that step I dare.


But if I move back into the shady cool

I’ll be safe in this cozy inner space.

Being in between without old rules

not knowing the beyond I’ll face

is scary but this is a journey of revelation

even if sacrifice and loss is in this race

I trust I will eventually find peace and inspiration.

Author's Note: It seems these days we are in what is sometimes called liminal space, it is a place in between what we have known and what reality will be in the future.  It is a threshold which is uncomfortable and scary but also full of opportunity and possibilities of new discoveries, growth, and self-awareness.


Written 5-3-20


Bragging            Print this poem only


Don’t brag about your good fortune in bad weather

unless you’re ready to hear how theirs is better


Written 5-6-20


Small Grace            Print this poem only


After a moment of small grace

I realized in its presence there is nothing small. 


Written 5-6-20


You sway and sing            Print this poem only


You are in the waving limbs

of the pear tree in spring

the inquiring yellow eyes of my cat

the majesty and vastness of the roaring sea

the lively brown eyes of my lover

the soft sobs of saying goodbye

to his precious wife after illness

the soft hop of the toad

the light of the fireflies

the moments of their darkness

the birds who dip and drink

from small puddles of collected rain

the male cardinal feeding his mate

you laugh in the giggle of a toddler

and abide there in his tears

you are the unrestrained laughter of a wife

at her husband’s clumsy goof

the closing off from those we love

and the unfolding of life in isolation

you are my higher power

beyond even the strongest moments

of my fighting ego

as a swift wind

swaying and singing with the sage

and dancing with the sunflower stalk in spring

you show me how to wait

how to breathe in the peace of dawn

how to be.

Written 5-8-20


Light Rain            Print this poem only


Light rain falls into my day

darkened skies hang low

inside dry suffused dismay

and a small nagging unease

reminds me a clear sunny day

is a gift in the murky malaise

to make this persistent haunt


until again light reigns.

Written 5-16-20


Holding On to Hell            Print this poem only


I have slowly loosened the grip

of one hand on hell

for a slow and gradual gain

but its persistent flame

still licks at my soul

has made me old

and beat in its heat.


I will not win this fight

with the dark and hoary blight

til I loosen both hands

to be wholly free

for the warm and deep embrace

of heaven’s healing grace.

Written 5-14-20


Looking for doors            Print this poem only


At every turn I have looked

listened, felt around for a door

a door here and a door there

one that would open

let in the air

let me aboard

not afraid nor bored

or in doubt

always leaning toward

life, whatever would restore

the child’s enthusiasm

the young man’s excitement for the next adventure.


So many doors:

music, art, trees, flowers,

incense, a lover’s lips,

poetry, stories, a lunar eclipse,

lizards, drums, psalms,

the smell of her hair, the feel of her arms.


Still I search for a door open to the light

to heaven and depth and height.


Written 5-18-20

looking for doors.JPG

Sunflower            Print this poem only


Look at the sunflower

one day standing tall

proclaiming its might

while during the night

darkness enters its stalk

and at dawn, drooping and sad,

it has no light or cheer to add.                                                                                                                            


Van Gogh felt its moods

change with the path of its star

knew it had much more

to reveal to passers by

and with his artist eye

he stopped to soak in its being and dwell,

painting no fewer canvases than twelve.


I wish zealots of a quest would pause -

like Van Gogh - to consider their cause

from a different angle under the sun,

dwell there unafraid to be outdone,

and for a while refuse to be pulled apart

but gently enter the Other’s heart.

Written 5-27-20


Owner of the State            Print this poem only


It comes in, sparkling and exciting,

with the promise of fun and zest

like a mist dappled with thrills


but it is a false promise

like the allurements of commercials

with smiling faces and a myriad of glitz


it ends in a state of shame

controlled by lords of the dark

and the owners of hell.


I brim over with gratitude for love

and the forces of beauty and mercy

that break the trance -

the spell always ending

with the unlit inglorious state of shame.


Written 6-5-20


Fully Human            Print this poem only


Without all my lovers

I would never enter the realm

of the fully human.


Written 6-5-20


On Edge            Print this poem only


I seem to be at home on the margins

where I can be alone

with my folly

sweltering in my private bowl of stew

simmering in the sins

surrounding and piercing me

but you found me there

invited me into your heart

where you loved me

redeemed me

sewed my seams

pulled together my crazy quilt

made separate parts into a whole.


Author’s Note: I wonder if these times offer opportunities for us to become quilt makers each in our own ways.


Written 6-6-20


The Baton Rouge Oak, by George Rodrigue


A Keen Aching            Print this poem only


I wrote a poem for him when he was still here

he was a Cajun artist without peer

for her a paean to a life well lived but now gone

her gentle self slipped into an eternal dawn.


All too few left who care

to read or hear

my poems of yesteryear

not even a single tear

from anyone but me

for these souls who graced my life

and led me to pause, think, feel, and write.  


What sweet sharp sorrow

drifting now in this dark and lonesome lake.


Author’s Note: Reflecting on poems written many years ago and wishing these special people were sitting in this room so I could see the expressions of their faces while I read their poems. Losing friends and kin brings a keen kind of aching. For my cousin Marcia Lister and painter George Rodrigue.

Written 6-26-20


Exploding Universe           Print this poem only

How small I am in my eyes.

May I see me as tall as you do.

My underestimation

keeps me from the gestation

of the universe within me

aching to explode.

Written 6-23-20


Jot            Print this poem only


I’m drowning in this night.

Please give me a jot of joy

turn on the light

to spurn this blight

I’ve gone overboard

send me a buoy.

Written 6-20-20


Into the Pool            Print this poem only


Living with your depression

in that sphere of despair

is like gasping for air

becoming the dark pool’s possession.


Written 6-20-20

Dark Pool.JPG
Into the Pool

Outpouring            Print this poem only


My father said

My dear son I love you very much.


I wept,

surprised by his affection

in the midst of my daily tedium and afflictions.

This outpouring

overflowed into my heart

and spilled out with tears.

Written 6-16-20

Man weeping.JPG
man in purple light.JPG

Walking Lightly            Print this poem only


You walk lightly,

said the old wizened man,

As if the floor were too thin

and you, afraid to use all your weight.


I looked at him with a surprised grin

and said

You are perceptive

no one ever said that out loud to me.


He just grinned and winked.

Written 6-15-20


Psalm 1            Print this poem only


I beg you

enter my heart

do not leave it in the desert


without water

without food


rescue me

from my unworthiness

Written 7-21-20


Abyss            Print this poem only

my psyche is stretched

thin without depth

in humanity’s waning

straining staring into the abyss

of loss

Written 7-21-20


God’s Gift            Print this poem only


She’s known for her implike smile

as if she’s played a little trick

or hoodwinked a crocodile

or got your cash with arithmetic.


She is tall and very smart

she’s generous and funny too

but don’t try to sell her short

for she’ll definitely catch you.


Love of family and her white dog,

integrity and faith are values she treasures

she’ll give an afternoon to you in dialogue

and not count the minutes or measure.


Conscientious hard work and reliable

are marks of this woman strong

they are her virtues undeniable

but… she’ll tell you when you’re wrong.


Dedication to thrift and saving

have made her successful and secure

not prone to run out and get what she’s craving

she’s a person who’s steady and mature.


In conversation she’s funny and lively

friendly and good at sizing you up

even-tempered but feisty

ready to feed you and fill your cup.


She is a woman of reason,

understands people and their quirks

available in our every season

not easily offended or hurt.


We love how she gives us a lift

and we’re grateful for all the years.

You know, “Dorothy” means God’s gift

And for this gift we raise our voices in shouts and cheers.

Author's Note: For our niece Dorothy


Written 7-8-20



Unspoiled            Print this poem only

Look at the moon in a telescope

how pristine and awesome it appears

to us here on this spoiled planet

polluted and darkened by fears

of human egos run wild.


The light of the moon brings a smile

Mama used to say: look at the man in the moon

but the moon is without guile

virus updates and bad news.

May some particle of wonder

keep us whole and awaken the muse. 


Written 7-13-20


my daily swim            Print this poem only


each morning I get up

and swim in the ocean of your love

your salt soaks into my every pore

and awakens me

to what is real


this daily swim strengthens my muscles

especially my heart

and the deeper I dive into you

the stronger I get


the poetry of your being

surrounds me

and this immersion buoys me

to breath in freshness

and make me alive

Written 7-12-20


Do not cling            Print this poem only


Do not cling to me

and our past together

instead stand back to see

the me still to be

a flowing brook

with floating leaves

and other pieces of earth.

Written 7-24-20


The Scars On His Wrist            Print this poem only


He held out his hand in greeting

smiling, eyes sparkling,

happy to see me

but I saw the scars on his wrist

his wound public

but easily missed.


We all carry wounds within

that we disguise or otherwise

hide from public view

and if they knew,

who would they see anew?


A disfigured one

or a mass of clay

being crafted and re-formed each day

emerged from darkness of night

into a soul full of light.

Written 7-24-20


Our Scandalous Union     

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God you are so immense

your being spans the galaxies

yet here you are

in the sweet silence of my room

just you and me and the music

the music of your love 

the strains of which fill me with joy and peace.


My sins are no fortress against your invading love

for you permeate my soul

like mist envelops a small boat

on the lake in the morning –

gentle, kind, without fanfare or pomp

you are beyond pomp

for your mighty love is secure

and generous in its being.


Your generosity takes me

takes me away from the weighty confines of this life

this body still struggling

still trying to learn what it means

to be fully human

in all the glory you meant for us.


When I think of your reach into my long life

I am filled with joy

not the giggly joy of a baby

but the deep and quiet joy of maturity.


I am still amazed that you care so much for us

for this ragged and rebellious species

so care-less

so oblivious of your immense and powerful love.


How can you give yourself to us

when we do all in our power to ignore you

to run from your persistent and relentless reach

into our soul?


Oh sweet sweet Father

my eyes strain to retain the tears of gratitude

for you, my Beloved.

Our affair would be a scandal

to a world lost in its collective distraction

lost and floating across the icy surface

of its deluded reality,

yet the tears squeeze out upon my cheeks

small tributaries

of the river of our love.


I cannot contain you

even these words seem such weak instruments

of my hands and my mind

yet I feel your energy in my fingers

as they sweep across the keys

leaking light from our scandalous union.


So be it, my Lord, so be it.

I am spent yet full of you and your glory.


Written 7-25-20


I come to you…            Print this poem only


when I need to be awakened

and my writing confidence is shaken

when I seem to be too far apart

in urgent need of loving hearts


where there’re too many un-live things

and I need to hear a poet sing

the times I need a different take

or can’t move on from some dark ache


I want to see some twinkling stars

and leave the shades of stinking bars

or caught in dark of hellish nights

and seek a flight to brilliant heights


Author’s Note: Dedicated to the poets of

and especially to Eliot York who created and maintains this wonderful website.


Written 7-11-20


An Evening of Tears            Print this poem only


It was an evening of tears.

Not of pain or sadness

but those that arise unbidden and unexpected

after witnessing a hardened woman

who finds a sliver of grace

to forgive herself and another.


Tears of gratitude

from the sudden awareness

of undeserved goodness

given freely.


This flow welled up

from something so deep within me

it belies masculinity, logic,

or the thick and high walls

cast up from hurt.


Tears that pierce scar tissue

wrapped around the soul

from pain or the fear of it

from abuse and the remembrance of it.

These are powerful tears

more mighty than the brutality

and shameless arrogance

I witness on the evening news.


Oh how full I felt

from this unabashed weeping

as if I had been visited by angels,


or something that can only be called



Written 7-26-20


Liquid Light: A Purification            Print this poem only


You would expect a mottled patina,

or layers of corrosion,

a leathery impervious surface

laid on by decades of exposure and wear

like an old rusty ship stuck on a sandbar.


But instead from this old hulk

flows streams of tears

in the presence of a human story

an underdog’s long shot victory,

the human spirit emerging

over evil, egotism or cruelty.


I wonder if this fountain of tenderness

comes from a soul transformed in darkness

or as a needed purification

from the news

of a soiled, cracked, and polluted body politic.


Written 7-31-20

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A Few Spare Moments            Print this poem only

Isn’t it a shame

that I can only spare

a few moments with you

in-between all the really important things

I have to do.

I tell myself I don’t HAVE to take this time with you

when every time I do take time

I am energized and revitalized.

Do I not have enough time for that?


Time time time

energy energy energy…


How I count the costs

of relationship

and not its treasures!

Written 8-1-20


Needing Tears            Print this poem only


How I seem to need

the cleansing of tears lately!

Written 8-1-20


Ingress            Print this poem only


Being inside of you

arouses my creative impulse

why do I neglect this ingress

and its ecstasy?


Written 8-1-20


When I Ask            Print this poem only


When I ask you for something

like sex, your listening ear, or your help

I admit my limits.


It is like prayer

which is a moment of giving up

some part of my potency

ceding a share of my energy and control

to a greater something or someone

I need.


Intimacy is an asking

a surrender of my image

my public in-control self

a holy moment of exposure.


It’s like the cat who in battle with another

turns over on its back

and bares its tender belly

yielding itself.


Written 8-7-20


I Confess            

more and more

I seem to be enjoying less and less.


Written 8-8-20


The Present of You            Print this poem only


Experiencing the presence of you

in this now moment is a present.

Written 8-8-20


Dark Charm            Print this poem only


You in your dark charm

play in the background

in the shadows

like a minor chord in a thriller

to create tension and doubt

your poison seeps through every tiny crack

in my sanity

all the more at day’s end

through the fog of my fatigue

but you are always poised there

waiting just beneath the surface

counting the moments till

you see an opening.


Written 8-10-20



Pilgrim            Print this poem only

I am a traveler

on a journey into your heart

a holy place

where I am in love.

Written 8-11-20


Tired          Print this poem only


There he sits head bowed in sleep

leaning south on the weathered wooden bench

too tired to take another step

he dreams of a broken-masted ship

wobbling in the water

nowhere to go

but a light from the entrails

makes him wonder

if there is hope for a voyage

for another journey

his heavy limbs can hardly move.

Beneath the dank scene

is a lingering certainty

he’s stuck here

stranded in this sad moment.


Written 8-20-20


Transcendence Behind Those Eyes

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His ample graying beard

nearly covers crinkled flesh

his eyes focus on the stars

that surround him

his hat with its spangled band

bent slightly down in front

seems to say: I am traveler of Earth.


I wonder what transcendence

dances behind those eyes

slowly moving like Zorba,

arms out gently waving,

an eagle in flight.


Like the old man

I want to bear witness to the universe

in the wave of my mind

to give flight to words

infiltrate, expand and release them

and maybe figure out my small part

in the great mystery.


Author’s Note: I bow to poet, Mark Strand for ideas about a poet’s task. This poem is based on a photocreation by a friend of mine, Garth Mindfeather Hill:

Written 8-26-20


Marilyn            Print this poem only


How did she live so very long?

She was simply a woman strong.

After her husband’s tragic demise

she had to find a way to arise.

Under great stress she had to stay calm

to survive as a single mom.


To a life of service she was called

teaching those with problems to stand tall

she was their mentor and wise guide

and stood by them with great pride.


In a world of hurt and cries

she had a certain twinkle in her eyes

a sense of humor brought a smile

to you if you knew her a while.


She raised a son and taught him well

in a tough world to survive and dwell,

to make his way as a man

to use his gifts the best he can.


Marilyn’s spirit was gentle and kind

and anger was not her usual state of mind.

She must have had angels who stood close by

and when she was down lifted her high.


And now she dwells somewhere in sky.

And when we hear a moan or a sigh

think of her and the beauty of her soul

and ask her to make you whole.


Author's Note: This poem was written in honor of Marilyn Ramos who was a friend of ours and a former colleague of Helen.  It was presented and read at the graveside ceremony of her funeral 8-28-20. Marilyn passed away 8-24-20.


Click here for remarks made at the visitation by Helen

Written 8-27-20

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A three poem day: August 31st


Hello to Bliss
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A poem written of my pain

frees me of its chains.

Writing is the poet’s kiss

goodbye to darkness

and hello to bliss.



Long Month

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This long month


unwilling to loose its deadly grip.


Or is it because there is still a flower to bloom

its magenta glory

to wash away

or dilute

the sadness

of this month’s decaying days?



Print this poem only


I thirst for you

and your glory

your liquid grace

that refreshes my roots.


Author's Note: I just happened to think... Today August 31st is the fifth anniversary of my being baptized and reborn. Maybe that is why so much inspiration was coming my way for these poems.

Click here to see poem written about that occasion

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