2013 Poems May thru August
Aboard! Print this poem only
The train has arrived
I hear it puffing with energy
a low-pitched hum sounding
its teeming power.
The conductor has been waiting
but now is shouting
He hangs off the car and looks at me expectantly.
I know he looks at me.
I feel him moving in me
the wind in my heart
the deep water
where I am suspended
I know he waits.
I have been
waiting so long
and now at this moment
I cannot seem to stop waiting.
I can visualize my leap
but will I take my body
with my mind?
His lips are moving
but I cannot hear him
I must open my ears
stop the music - the video feeds
punching on screens.
My heart quivers with urgency.
It wants to ignore the confetti of distraction
and fly in.
if I take this leap
shall I return here?
But I know
this same spot
will be forever gone.
Author’s Note: From a dream during a time of great searching in my spiritual life.
Canvas Print this poem only
Twenty years ago they pledged their troth
and in that time they wove a cloth
with threads both course and fine
threads that stretch and cling and shine.
They clothed themselves in trust
for times of sparkle and times of rust
they turned that cloth into a sail
to cross the sea of life to prevail.
They cruised waters both muddy and blue
beyond the bounds of what they knew
and learned to take the good and bad
and make the most of what they had.
Their love bore fruit in a little girl
as beautiful and perfect as a pearl,
as easy in liquid as on land
a child passing joy hand to hand.
On the shores of Bonaire and Hawaii’s isles
through surgery, and painful trials
they have surfed the wild winds
with Aggies and Disney and friends.
Paw Paws, Grannies, uncles and aunts
coral and sand and underwater plants
sweat and tears and houses and fears
all mixed with love and loyalty and years.
We salute you our beloved Rita and Chris
and savor this moment to reminisce
and throw the fabric of our love over you
as you continue to make a union of two.
Dedicated to Chris and Rita Courtney on their 20th Wedding Anniversary, June 27, 2013
Counselor Print this poem only
As sat reading the paper in the lobby
I noticed her – sitting there in her suit,
back straight, hair done just so,
fliers on the table before her
a peaceable black woman of advanced age.
As each person entered on their way to the library
she greeted them and happily they spoke
as if they knew her
as if she belonged there.
My curiosity bursting at the seams
I said to her, “You seem to know everyone.
Are you the city greeter?”
She smiled and said, “Well, you might say that.
I just counsel people.
You know people have problems.
You can see it in their faces.”
“Oh, are you a trained counselor?”
Smiling, she said, “Trained by life.”
Even I, in my education-orientation
knew better than to argue with that.
As I left that place
I thought this was a moment of grace.
This woman was full of books and poetry
and I hoped someday I could return to discover
her inner terrain
something closer to the roots
than the furniture and the walls
and the municipal halls.
I have crossed every state line
seen mountains, swamps, deserts, and oceans.
But when life becomes less an adventure
than a repetition
and trips or cruises on big ships
have ceased to excite
and have that thrilling bite
I need to travel in the vehicle of my soul
to look and listen
for the whispers of wisdom
that lie beneath the ordinary landscape of the day
hidden and waiting for someone
to pause, dive deeper,
and search the circle within
the cosmic counselor.
Godchild Print this poem only
All these years I felt unworthy and bad
sometimes I even felt a little sad
that your dad and your mom
chose inadequate me in their moment of calm
to be godfather for their new baby
knowing that somehow maybe
I'd be there for their child
who while sleeping was so mild
but when awake she would squirm
and since then often confirmed
she was no ordinary little girl
but like sand that makes a pearl
at times she seemed a bother
to her mother and father
and to all of those others
who if they had their druthers
would have her find another way
to make her point and have her say
but now I know what it meant
to be chosen for this heaven-sent.
She was chosen and given to me
to help me find and help me see
that God is found in the calm and the wild
and in the eyes of an autistic child.
Goodlands Print this poem only
It is a long day
We cross the dessert
watch a curious chipmunk perched on a rock
kick tumbleweed into the hot afternoon
sweat the small stuff
weep in chasms of loss
come upon a cross
tumble into wadis
looking for a cup of salvation
and find it
In the winter storms
we lose each other
wrap ourselves in protective clothing
warmed by anger
gripped by fear
in a lonely veneer
In the broad plains of our labor
we do the spadework of our calling
plant trees and ourselves
in the lives of hundreds,
make from our daily routines
something for the generations
then find more time
We stumble off the plains
into meadows rich and green with growth
where we face our darkness
the incessant bleat of ego,
undress in front of each other
and in our nakedness
we find God
who winks a knowing wink
as we don the white robes of dialog
Stretched out before us
are rolling hills
bathed in the softness of twilight.
We are tired from this journey
looking for a place to rest,
we are in the goodlands
March 2, 2013
I forgot Print this poem only
If I could say I searched the sky for you
or the waters of the stream
or the rocks in its bed
if I could say that I touched the bark of the elm
and traced its deep veins with my aging fingers
or laid in the grass and felt its coolness in the morning
then I could say that I wanted you
and sought you.
But instead I forgot
and fixed my gaze on the lighted screen that jumps its images
so easily into my eyes
busied my fingers tracing letters and numbers
on the smooth dead untextured soulless keys.
I sat in the easiest softest chair
in passive obedient submission to the cable gods
and got lost in their bleak manufactured excitement
and misplaced my center for too many hours.
I forgot to look for you
in all those easy distractions
that silence the inner voice
blind the inner eye
and numb my sense of direction.
I forgot that I could find you
in the sweat of common labor with my love
hear you in the sweep of the broom
the bump of boxes
find you under rearranged boards
the whine of the vacuum
and its determined effort to remove months of dust.
How sad I am that I have neglected my love
and that common labor where she finds joy
and escape from the dark cloud.
Forgive me Papa
I know you do not need my plea for forgiveness
but I need to make it.
My Trusty Boat Print this poem only
I answer the door
and there stand two women
smiling in dresses, Bibles in hand
just the barest of niceties before asking me:
“Sir, are you happy?”
This is a question I approach with caution
even within my most intimate relationship.
A question fraught with others:
Happy about what?
Happy with whom?
Why do you ask?
Are you not happy?
What have I done to make you unhappy?
From this seemingly benign pair
this feels like a home invasion
but here I stand
on the horns of the dilemma:
Am I nice or am I curt?
As I ponder the meaning of their not-so-innocent question
the elder launches into her well-practiced script
from her personal tower of truth,
and soon I realize she was hoping
I would be as dumfounded as I was -
so in the silent beat of that pregnant pause
she could begin her quest to convert
one more misguided heathen.
What they wanted was someone unpracticed
in questions of faith
a blank slate upon which they could write their gospel
and enter their kingdom of heaven
having saved another soul.
Can’t hold that against them.
Who doesn’t want to go frolic in paradise
with all the other saved souls?
No surprise with that next question, however:
“Have you been saved, sir?”
But no pause this time.
I am ready for this one.
I reply with a smile “I’ve been saved and often
And I know you must know ‘The kingdom of God is at hand,’
right here in this moment, in this place, what a deal - living now in his kingdom.” My clever response pauses them
and in that pause I politely excuse myself,
the younger evangelist with a wan smile upon her face
perhaps thinking about what I had said.
Hmmm. Have I made a convert?
But after I close the door,
momentarily self-satisfied with my conquest of the invaders,
I consider these two stolid women.
They are living their faith
out on the streets.
I ask myself a question that nags me
like the tap tap tap of a woodpecker:
How do I experience faith?
Finally I sit down
take a deep breath
and relax into the foggy region within
beneath the buzzing of the ceiling fan.
I search for some certainty -
like the oozing certainty of those two women -
but it eludes me.
I wonder: Is faith the ability not to know with certainty?
I see myself in a boat
But strangely, I trust my boat
I trust these billowy waters.
But my trust is wordless
a knowing that dwells in the whole body of my life.
I feel it in the sigh of peace I make
when I encounter truth and love together -
two companions on the road.
Truth walks softly, strong legs, straight back, and solid build.
Love is a maiden in flowing white robes
who wishes to hold hands with truth
but is content just to be at his side
connected with a shiny, silent, silvery strand.
Ah! The sigh of meeting truth and love.
Maybe you know this kind of sigh and its release.
And so here I float
in the safety of my trusty boat
certainty - still as slippery as grease
but here I am in the ever moving waters
of trust and peace.
The Ant Print this poem only
Have you ever watched an ant
scurrying for food
serving its colony
without pause or question?
Can’t blame the ant
for the blueprint
in its brain.
for my scurry
away from the sad fungus
now clinging in the darkness?
Can’t blame a brain
premapped and indelible.
A mind yet determined
in its avoidance of what’s needed but hidden
in the labyrinth beneath.
What region of my mind
tells me to head out
on the road - away?
Is there a big emptiness
a hole where there is no I or me
a place full of fright
so moist and fluid
it warps whatever self
I thought I had?
Am I no different from my brother ant
and the alloy of its hurry?
Or will I find a momentary Bodhi tree
and learn to sit in its shade
and be quiet long enough
to drink its cool clear water?
Written July 20, 2013