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2013 Poems





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 

all aboard!

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.


I wonder… 

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.


Written 7-1-13





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


Written 6-26-13






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.

Written 8-5-13






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.


Written 5-14-13






Goodlands         Print this poem only


It  is a long day

of travel


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


and wondering



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

to be

at home



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,

but now

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.


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

for forgetting.


I know you do not need my plea for forgiveness

but I need to make it.


Written 7-1-13






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?

Happy when?
How happy?
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

for eternity

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

walking it

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.

Written 6-21-13






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
the dictatorship
in its brain.


What excuse
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

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