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2014 Poems



A Splendid Voyage         Print this poem only

Sometimes I have the good fortune

of tripping and falling into the lake

of your big brown eyes

and sinking into

their shimmering life,



and love.


There is nothing like having my arms around you

my face close to yours

looking into your eyes

knowing the dance

and this closeness

is only with me.


It is a moment of submission

of awakening

a brief flight into the void

where I leave my self

and take wings

into the bright air

with you.


How could this prosperous miracle

happen to me?

What angel splashed into heaven

and dropped you into my life?

What fitful moment of grace

in the eternal now

sparked this fire?


It has been a splendid voyage

exploring the mystery of you, my love.

How precious this time

in the glow

of your soul.


Happy Birthday Helen


Written 7-22-14






Diamond         Print this poem only


The little girl, clean and proud of her hair,

carefully braided the night before by her old aunt,

stands near the wall of the large room

as if she were a small rickety table

that did not deserve to be in plain sight

with the other useful polished furniture.


Her outsized threadbare dress,

passed down to her from an older cousin,

hangs loosely on her slender frame.

She is lost here, an afterthought,

a question mark,

separated from her older brother

who is off exploring,

doing what little boys do.


Finally she drifts quietly to a computer

where she sits hoping to remain unnoticed,

trying to type like her brother had taught her.

She is relieved the keys are not loud

as she types a note to her mother

knowing it will never be sent

because her mom is no longer around.

Tears stream down her face

mixing with faint memories

and sadness.


Then a shadow crosses the keyboard.

She feels a looming presence

and anxiety squirts into her stomach.

A stern low-pitched voice pierces her silent reverie:

“Little girl, what are you doing here?

Don’t you know the rule about kids on computers?”

“No mam, I didn’t, I’m sorry,” she says.

And in a voice reverberating in the large room,

several adults turning around to see,

In a near shout, the woman says,
“Don’t lie to me.  I’ve seen you in here before!”


The child cowers, her shoulders stooped,

trying to be as insignificant  as she fels.


I wonder how long the tears,

sprung from tenderness for her mother,

will stay dry

blocked by this dark invasion

of fear

and how long it will haunt her.


I still remember the fifth grade

when standing with the others,

I was jumping around my desk,

thrilled we were going home for the day.

And suddenly I heard a loud swat

and then felt the sting of the board

on my little butt. 

In school I had been a well-behaved child

and this was a first for me.

I still recall the total shock

yes--the horror--that a teacher would do this.

The disillusionment of that moment

would stay with me for a long time.

My own exuberance, it seemed, had betrayed me.

But more poignant

was the loss of trust.


What diamonds have we crushed

what bright metal tarnished

when we adults raise our voices,

speak down to children

or even to each other

with that edge that says:

“I do not cherish you.”


Would we speak with the same inflection

the same tone and volume

if the other were a mayor

a president,

or a Nobel Prize winner?


It is so easy to forget

that respect and compassion

should always trump power and ego,

that every other person

however jagged their edges

however rough their exterior,

with care and proper handling,

can be revealed

and  sparkle

as diamond.


Written 5-18-2014






The File Cabinet        Print this poem only


I sit before the dusty file cabinet

papered with the past:

the eighties and nineties -

me full bore into my career.

What energy I had, what enthusiasm,

making, accomplishing

steady in my resolve to be somebody.



of death and marriage,

admiration and celebration.

Every combination

of records like investments in my future

a future now present.


Into the recycle bin

I cast reams of what once was,

saving only the pieces that tear apart

the deeper creases in my heart.


And what about the cassettes?

Would I feel pangs of regrets

discarding songs and words

recorded with care by Pop

of blues, booze, trains and truck stops?


This winnowing this sifting

finds me shifting

from the valleys of memories

to present practicalities.


But still It feels like blood-letting.

I wonder if I fear forgetting

the remnants of the past

the highs and the lows

the victories and the woes

the awakenings amassed?


I remind myself that these are just things.

The memory of Mom and Dad still  brings

visions of trips and celebrations that die hard

with feelings of fondness, affection and regard.


All these particles of past years

do not comprise the I that appears

at this moment in time.

I don’t think there was ever a self

that I could put on a shelf

permanently me once and for all.

I hope I can still answer the call

to my ultimate glorious fate

to always become to always create.


Written in 2014











Fledged        Print this poem only


The eaglet tests its wings

again and again in its nest

and finally, perched on the edge,

now fully fledged

it surveys the space

its wings have yet to know

and takes that first leap.


Oh what a sight

to see its magnificent flight

answering with its wings

each current of air

feeling the freedom there.


What is it keeping me here

inert in the known

in the shadows of light

in the familiar peace

choosing the ground

over the glory of flight?



Adjective (of a young bird) having wing feathers that are large enough for flight; able to fly.

Written 6-2-14





Marriage of Gold        Print this poem only


He is a father he is a man

a provider doing all he can

to teach his children right from wrong

help them grow straight and strong.


Like his dad he has the gift of tears

through the traumas and pain of years

he has kept a soft but sturdy heart -

compassion his fine and delicate art.


I ‘ve heard of many a female saint

but this one has so little constraint

in service to family and profession

extending herself without question.


A pioneer woman comes to mind

standing, her back and head inclined

viewing the plants and rocky ground

saying a prayer without a sound.


Always faithful, loving her with ease

except for his long affair with trees

when he looked out over the earth

he fell for this emerald of great worth.


A dedicated mother and wife

she’s lived a blessed and holy life
with folded hands on bended knee

she found her faith to be the key.


Hiked and skied mountains together

through drought and stormy weather

they are for us a matrimonial sign

a choice, aged and priceless wine. 


Horizons and sunsets of great splendor

too many birthdays to remember

they’ve trekked and roamed the land

seen the Kingdom hand in hand. 


Even with unfavorable winds

they’ve made good and loyal friends

and in line with their friendship ideals

opened their home for countless meals.


What a delight it has been to see

two persons individual and free

make such a rich and fruitful union

made angels wish they were human.


It is easy to feel humbled and awed

by these two wondrous children of God

behold the awakening soul:

this priceless, precious marriage of gold.


Author’s Note:  Dedicated to Dal and Ernestine Currier on their 50th wedding anniversary.


Written 7-25-14






Ode to the Zebra        Print this poem only


For the zebra it’s all black and white

but for me it’s mostly gray

in the darkness and in the day

catching a little light in my night.


Zebras are so honest in their contrast

But I’m loathe to be so bold

caught between hot and cold

preferring softness to bombast.


The social Zebra views its group with care

yet the stripes of each are unique

we humans have our own mystique

both hateful and loving without compare.


Zebras balance the yang and the yin

and they run at lightning speed

I move slowly as I proceed

First I pray and then my amen.


Maybe my task is to find my way back

like the massive migrating zebra herds

to an oasis where I gather my words

between the bounds of white and black.


Written 7-7-14






Priceless        Print this poem only

There are websites and apps
to show you perhaps
the lowest price in town
the cheapest all around.

You know there is some stuff
of which you can’t get enough
but when you are device-less
find someone who is priceless.

Written 7-23-14

Remembering Tomorrow        Print this poem only


Today I heard a physicist say

we might remember yesterday

but as far as we know right now

the milk of the old brown cow

that has not yet hit the can

is beyond the knowing of man.  


Einstein says it quite brilliantly

stating his general relativity

space and time are distorted

in black holes sometimes reported

by astronomers with their clever eyes

directed out from our earthly skies.


Besides - have you ever awakened

from a dream of a journey taken

with you hurling, tripping,  and running

from a man you were swiftly shunning?

Now… that dream’s not about the past

about actions you’ve already massed.


Awake and alert, the dream is not there

in your present… that you are aware

but… you wonder if your present sorrow

is because you’re remembering tomorrow.


 Written 3-25-14






Reunion          Print this poem only


Here’s to the Pantels, the Morgans, and Creeks!

To tell all the names would simply take weeks.

Here’s to the mamas and papas who brought us here

for the times together in sadness and in cheer.


Here’s to the love of husbands and wives

the kids and grandkids they’ve put in our lives

we are grateful for the songs that we’ve made

for the laughter and all the games that we’ve played.


May we recall in good times and in bad

the special moments together we’ve had.

Just as did each father and mother

may we always choose to love each other.


Reunions are time regardless of weather

to remember and renew our bonds together,

these are times we stand up and insist

we’re a family and by God, we’ll make that persist.


Written 4-25-14






Shutters          Print this poem only


From the road I can see the details of aging

on the old abandoned house,

its rickety closed shutters,

its boards bare and its shingles torn

by too many storms.


I walk up the fractured sidewalk

weeds sprouting from every crack.

I open the door

and immediately

I’m assaulted

by the heavy gray scent of old dust and mold.

In the quiet, a muddle of motes float

in a shaft of sunlight.


I wonder how many stories and memories

are hidden here

how many babies crawled its floors

how many meals were cooked and served

how many nights of making love

or caring for sick children.


In the silence I listen

for the sounds trapped in the timbers:

the arguments, the lullabies,

the children’s laughter.


And on the far wall

thanks to that beam of light

I see a single frame hanging cockeyed.

I approach, and there in the middle of a scraggly wall

a green meadow, deer grazing,

birds in flight,

and in the foreground

a bumblebee on a bright purple thistle.


I turn and look toward the windows.

Outside the sun is shining

but inside it is cold and mostly dark.


I walk over and push open the shutters.

And only then, as I turn, I see

the children’s heights marked on a side wall

the floor worn bare by decades of coming and going

the abrasion and dent on the wall

made by the back of a rocking chair.


     .     .     .     .     .     .    


I wonder how I shutter my house,

block out the light

keep people from seeing what’s inside:

the worn places

the cracks in the walls

the dark corners where I hide the unacceptable.


How do others shutter their houses

houses with rough exteriors

but hiding so much richness inside?


Maybe the next time I see an unappealing someone

I can take the trouble

to walk up the fractured path,

open the door,

and become

a shaft of sunlight

through the shutters.

Written 5-5-14






Sleep          Print this poem only


What a pleasure

to savor the juicy flavor

of a lean filet

sautéed mushrooms

and pinot noir

lit by candles

and the bright eyes

of my lover.


But of equal measure

is the simple pleasure

of the soft, easy rhythm

and quiet peace

of a good night’s



Written 5-23-14






Splendor          Print this poem only


I notice myself being obsessed with fixing,

absorbed in what I am doing

with this device or that.


Not a bad thing surely -

to be productive.


The nation thrives on it

so proud when we are compared

on a line chart,

ours being the green line above

the other economies.


But am I so obsessed

that I can no longer

stop to notice the splendor

of a moss-hung cypress

silhouetted in the swamp

at twilight


except in my memory?


Written 5-23-14







Stinky Muse          Print this poem only


Spraying them with the hose

dripping sweat from head to toes

the cat boxes lay on the grass

I hope this work will quickly pass

but there I am over the boxes bowed

and my neighbor shouts out loud

“Didn’t think poets did those things!”

I said, “This is where we get our wings

filthy disgusting moments like this

are inspirations we don’t miss

now is when we get our best cues

from the dirty clever stinky muse.”


Written 7-7-14





The Grub        Print this poem only


I wonder what it is doing there

making its way across the sidewalk

just ahead of me

me on my walk,

the sun on my arms and face.

I wonder if I should have worn sunscreen

and if I will get skin cancer.

I am thinking about all those years in the sun

years that have already caught up with my face

peppered with scars from surgeries.


But there is the grub inching along.

It cares not what will happen to it

nor does it worry over the mistakes of its past.

Does it know it is not even a worm but a larvae

whose destiny was to become a beetle

if it had stayed in the ground where it belonged?


I wonder if I have long enough

if transformation will come before I die

if I have what it takes to surrender

to my destiny

or if I will continue to muddle along

adjusting this, changing that

with whatever effort and determination I can muster.


The Zen teacher says:

"Transformation arises from a willingness

that develops very slowly over time

to be what life asks of us." 


I ask God if I will have long enough to really surrender to his will

to give in to the processes that will make me.. what? 

A new man? A saint?

In my teens I wanted to be a saint like my aunt Madeline.

But testosterone ruined that dream.

What is it then that I want to become?


And God says "Why worry?


Maybe I should just follow that grub.

Stop thinking about tomorrow.

One day, no, one second at a time.

The only present I have

is the present.


Maybe my true destiny is to be a larvae

and like that grub ahead of me


just keep crawling.


Written 6-17-14






The Poetry in Us        Print this poem only


They came into the field

a multiplicity drifting, walking slowly


shoes at home in the dirt

shoes shined, stylish, but squeamish in the soil

clothes tattered, stained with grease and sweat from labor

clothes well creased and pressed, ready for a magazine.

black, brown, yellow,

red, white, and blue

speaking softly with respect

speaking strongly in rhymed cadence from the soul.

A man in a dress

a short-haired woman in pants, no bra,

faces full of sadness anchored deep in pain

faces bright with hope and joy

a babble of voices, alien, from crossed boundaries

               voices familiar and colloquial.


Each one from the margins

from some place

from some space

outside or inside

unwilling to hide

or simply abide in the familiar and safe.


Each one arrived in this spacious field

to plant their seeds

to water their weeds

with their pens and their sins

their frauds and their gods

their trials and their smiles.


This variety of souls

these people walking 

all together are witnesses.

They testify to the poetry that’s in us.


Written 6-9-14







Happy Birthday Virginia         Print this poem only

Virginia, how wondrous is she

trekked the world joyous and free

traveled our hearts to our delight

her eyes and her soul so bright

they make us glad we have a chance

to waltz with her in life’s dance.


We’re really so very glad

that God, her mom and her dad

made her into this fine creation

for this lovely life’s duration.

So happy happy birthday to you

peace and blessings the whole year through.


Written 7-25-14






Listen: Humility is truth          Print this poem only


I learned early to listen to be successful,

to win friends and influence people.


Then I learned to listen is to love,

to extend yourself for the spiritual growth of others.


I am learning how difficult it is for me,

even though I have practiced it for years.


I have this need to speak and be heard
as if that would make me me. 


Even writing poetry is me speaking

my desire to be heard to be listened TO.


I am not a humble man.

Humility is not my manifest character.


I am not even sure I want to be humble.

Will people know my truth if I am silent?


They might know love

and that would be good.


Now it seems my challenge is to listen within

to my body and its truth.


This is a difficult truth for me as I age

and my body's stamina declines.


So again I am invited to humility

to accept the things I cannot change.


Pause and listen.


Written 8-8-14







The Work of Healing         Print this poem only


She knows this practice

this learning

to let life happen

to give in to the life force

the force of freedom

the allowing

saying no to all those cells

shouting defiance.


She knows the habit

of living inside

the very moment

of now.


This is the work of healing.


She knows the gentle art

of being a good host

making a visitor at home.

She has practice with this work

               this work of abiding

                              of staying with the troubled

                              the ones who feel alien in their own skin.


She has practice with this work of healing.


She is no stranger

to reaching into the hidden hearts of strangers

and welcoming them

as a friend.


She is at home

with the work of repair

the work of making whole

and work it is

but she knows it well

and does it well.


I’ve watched her cook

smelled the rich aromas of her work

seen her search for the right ingredients

to make another glorious meal or poem.


She knows how to make a home

to gather with that great life force

and together

make her new guests

wholly at home inside

where they belong.

Written 8-4-14






Witness        Print this poem only


Gaza, Ukraine, Ebola in Africa.

It is hard being a witness these days

and yet even saying that I judge myself:

What a whimp! I say. 

What about the poor people

there on the ground? 

On the ground.


Are we not all witnesses

to a thousand crimes every day,

the cloud of media

enveloping us?

The pain is spread liberally

into our souls

if we let it

and let it I should

sink in just enough to soften

enrich, remind me I’m human.


But still, it is hard being a witness.


Some people speak of witnessing.


That word is a sandpaper pill

I cannot swallow.


Yet, when I rethink it

am I not a missionary

every time I smile to you when I’m blue,

do the dishes, wash the clothes,

sand the peeling paint, fix the sagging door,

assemble the new shelves,

feed the cats,

really listen?

​Author’s note: Inspired by James Kenneth Blaylock and his poems, “Showbread” [July 29, 2014] and “Go Transcendental” [July 28, 2014].

Written 8-4-2014






Sightings          Print this poem only


I am inching closer and closer to you

stumbling on my doubts

the rusty chains of my years

slung heavy on my shoulders
over my gray habits.

I want a more sudden path to you
I know… love at first sight no longer an option

I can't count the sightings
the unfoldings the gentle murmurings
mostly hidden hints

of you.


But this Damascus road fantasy
distracts me from seeing
the real
the slow green growth

right there in my garden

perceptible in days
not minutes

in the spring leafing of the Elm

not in hours

but in days

in the trunk of the Oak

not in months
but in years.


Is it my shortsightedness

or my placable memory

keeping me from sensing

the ebb of you

the tide encroaching

fearlessly into my soul?


But still as I sit and stand

and sing and listen to the strong beat of your music

your voice from the mouths of those you’ve sent

I feel stirrings – signs of life
in this old growth forest

whispers of hope

that I won’t give up on you.


Because you’ll never give up on me.


Written 8-25-14

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