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2017 Poems

Poem List: 2017 May through August

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Beyond Crooked Trees

Beyond the Crooked Trees        Print this poem only


I walk among crooked trees

its leaves wind-thrown

and gone to ground.

I feel the cooling breeze

stop and lean close

run my hand across the ragged trunk

its pulse now loving deeply.


On the baseball field dad hits

to his boy who leaps

tips the ball

retrieves it

and ably slings it

to an imagined catcher

at the backstop.

And dad shows him a better arch

for his arm.


Ah! what a sweet scene

this simple love of father and son.

I smile sadly

no such memory inside

to warm this wintry day

but somehow healed

by the peal of that bat on ball

a splendid father’s swing

the smooth lope of his child

across that field

just beyond the crooked trees.


Written 5-3-17

Becoming a Hero

Homeless        Print this poem only

I have always had a place to sleep nights
with a roof over my head and my own bed
but my homeless state was out of sight
it was at a lonely space in my mind instead.

I cannot count the years I wandered
on rocky winding roads in dark
nor measure the grace and light I squandered
losing myself in distraction and work. 

I can’t remember not having a job
nor count the hours I’ve wasted,
nor the love and care I’ve robbed
nor the bread of life not tasted.

You won’t see me holding my cup
on the sidewalk in the city
my pride’s too great to give up
I won’t ask you for your pity.

Yes, I have often been hungry
I’ve been empty of inspiration
yearned for peace in my country
hoped for the source of creation.

But recently I’ve awakened
from the darkness I had roamed
found the road I wish I’d taken
to a deeper fuller higher home.


Written 5-4-17







Becoming a Hero        Print this poem only

In the long or short expanse of your life
can you say you have become a hero?
I often wonder if I’ll be remembered
for anything important when I’m gone.
No biological children to carry my name
no feats that brought me fame
no bravery to save a life in danger
no building or great wealthy gain
no great status or social changer.

But more and more lately
being considered or thought of greatly
is not my concern.
Now-a-days I ask myself if I’ve taken time
to listen or smile or write a rhyme
to pause for a minute or an hour
to stop, notice and smell a flower?
Have I spoken kindly in a bad mood
or shut up when someone was rude
or let traffic in my lane
or fed my soul as well as my brain?

Today I ask not if I am a hero
but simply if I am becoming.

Written 7-6-17

Oregon Passages
Sense of Fabric

Oregon Passages        Print this poem only

The dark oaks’ gentle rhythm

caresses the faltering twilight

and a dim sadness creeps 

into the receding day - 

a pendulous cloud upon me lay.


In the hotel room

a hazy hint of doom

my limbs are weary

my mind made bleary

by the thickness of the day.


Mind you, this is but one moment in a journey,

but the glories of last week are swiftly fading

the darkness, a stealthy force invading.

I even wonder if death

might actually relieve 

or even lift this aging me.


In my early sleep

images gently pass before me.


The greenness of Oregon,

its forests of fir sublime
snow-capped mountains to climb
beaches and surf

flung from the Pacific’s

awesome depths.
Images and memories

of this emerald State,

and its coastal cottages

breach my fatigue and float me

into comfort and the peace

of deep blessed sleep.


I awaken from these restful wanderings

wondering about the passages of this journey.


Yes, we traveled the outside:

through babbling bubbling Portland

up and down Eugene’s hills

Salem’s capitol, shops, bars and grills

we drank craft beers, ate fish and chips,

spoke of the coming solar eclipse

storied ourselves to the sea

saw gulls and kids play in sandy glee.


All of these you could see, snap and post.

But the hidden passages strike me most.


As this journey ends

I reflect, I feel, I soar

through the opened doors

and windows - I see inside

what we’ve tried to deflect or hide. 


Behind my tears she saw the pain and gain

heard my weakness when I’m drained

saw the joy in my little boy

finding gifts and a big man’s toy.


I watched her speaking with her hands

walking gently as if to caress the sands

not sparing self-critical comparing

telling stories of movies and hikes

and trips across America on bikes

I saw her in her sparkle-eyed girl

heard a woman who’s been in

but not of the world.   


Maybe leaving this body behind 

is not so horrible and baleful 

not so very unimaginable

as when I was young

for now there are fewer songs unsung.


As I began this ballad

I was down and pallid.

And it’s true - the surprises of my life

are no longer popping or rife   

with excitement and the new

of audition, graduation and debut.

Instead, now I’m alive and wild

with journeys of faith and love

hearts made of gold 


Written 7-11-17









The Sense of Fabric        Print this poem only


Thirty-two cents is all you need

just concentrate

put everything you have into it

and you’ll get there.


Yes, but what do you miss

from the whole cloth

from which those few cents

are cut?


I see the cloth

I’m poking through it

cutting from it

holding it in my hands.


Did you feel and see the fabric’s weave

the imperfections and texture

making it unique, interesting

and beautiful in its landscape?


I got what I needed

from that poor piece of cloth

to put in the bank

to buy the factory.


The future stretches before you

in your race to the finish line

don’t let that ever-changing line

shrink the wealth of the present.

Written 6-13-17


Winnowing               Print this poem only


I know a poem is down there somewhere

so I close my eyes

and in the air

clouds caress me

in a clear blue sea

where I drift and sift.

The winnowing winds of summer heat

gather me up and beat

the chaff from the wheat

making pain into grain

in a harvest of glowflies

from the part of me that never dies.


Of course, it seems

there’s always a store

of darkness and drought

in that needy muddled middle of me.


The small silo of self

is formed from the labyrinthine moss

of saints and sinners

who sowed in me

seeds of success and loss.

I cannot count or dig up

the soil of my past

nor count the cost

of the sad nurturance

still alive in the shadows of my memory.


Looking back

again feeling those winds

brushing the hairs on my skin

I am grateful for that winnowing

and for the rich aroma

rising from this warm loaf

of poetry.


Written 8-24-17

Bubbling        Print this poem only


Words and phrases

without punctuation

soak the parchment

the leaves

the trees

the valleys

and grassy meadows

of a poetic soul

who cannot resist

marking the slow and uneven marching

of this irrepressible bubbling up


This bubbling

popping its moisture

on anyone willing to stand close enough

to see it

to hear it

to feel it


Is this the mark

is this slow march

meant for me to make

these moments of awake

the final vestiges and shape

of a life of searching and learning

of cloud-drifting bubbling and burning?


Is it enough to write

to speak my words and mind

and make my mark in this way

without caring who reads or hears

or sees or feels these bubbles on their skin


It should be enough

to feel the joy of this bubbling up

to know the tingling of spirit within

to know God feels it on his alive and ageless skin.  


Written 8-24-17


Ambition Driving Diving        Print this poem only


Whose vote to I need?

Must I go around soliciting

must I go go go around

what preferment do I desire,

is it honor that I seek?


Let my soliciting be a prayer

I need not go around

all I need is to go to ground

no need to make a sound

silence is enough.


When I am in the desert

I will dive deep

for I know you are there

my soul to keep. 


Is this enough Glenn

oh my son?

When oh when

will you learn that your heart’s desire

is no lower or higher

than right here at the level of your yard

it is not really very hard

to find me - just open your eyes

and see me in the butterfly

Sonspots arrayed upon my wings

no need to buy or get more things

for here I am right here in front of you

behind you below you and above

I know you and I are in love

always in love.

Yes, you know:

you need not leave this place

you need not win a race

or rocket into space

to find me

you my son are free

to love me right here and now.

You know, you know how

to get to me

just dive dive dive

wherever you are

you’ve already arrived

in my arms and in my heart

you’ve been here from the very start.


Written 8-20-17

Derivation of the word: ambition

ORIGIN:  1340, from Latin ambitionem (Nom. Ambitio) "a going around (to solicit votes),"  from ambitus, pp. of ambire "to go around" (see ambient).  Rarely used in the literal sense in English; the sense of "eager or inordinate desire of honor or preferment" goes back to the Latin.

Ambition Driving Diving

Maturity        Print this poem only


I am advanced in years

but living many years

does not make me either wise or mature

does not make me advanced

as a person, as a man.


I have known some old fools

and in some ways

(I hate to say it)

sometimes I am one.


I would rather escape

(and I can think of so many ways to do so)

than to live in pain

(my own or someone elses)

but that is what life is.

Yes, it is true:


Life IS difficult.


Accepting that is one of the hardest things to do.

But it is what real maturity is.

Being down from hurt, pain, and wounds

and just standing up and walking anyway.


I see bumper stickers and signs that say:

“Wounded warrior”

The people who I know

who are the walking wounded

are the beautiful people.

They carry their pain with a crooked, sad smile

as if to say:

“Yes, life is a bitch,

but here I am walking through it.

Not so much getting over it

as getting through it.

And Baby, here I am, I am getting through it.

I’m still standing.

I might be limping,

but by God, I’m walking.

I’m walking into today and tomorrow.

And that’s something.”


I’ve heard it said:

“Faith is simply to trust the real

and to trust that God is found within it.”

When I have this kind of faith

I’m being mature.

I’d rather be advanced in that way

than to simply be advanced in years.

Written 8-13-17

Internal Ambience

Internal Ambience        Print this poem only


The smoke drifts over the audience,

the piano, the throaty singer and the sax

permeate the room with a jazzy ambience.

My nerves vanish in the vibe, and I relax.


I enter the parlor to a flower-scent rush

there’s solemn gloom in the room for the viewing

I hear sniffles and mourners speak in a hush,

the ambience here shaded with blueing.


The senses soak up the atmosphere.

Smells, sounds, touches, and sights

on the outside penetrate like a spear

take us down or thrust us to the heights.


Every day every inch of the way

is a new journey.  I can choose my stance,

embrace the unexpected and pray

for openness and grace in my internal ambiance.


Written 7-31-17

Pay Attention        Print this poem only


I’ve often thought that attention costs

and human meaning and value is lost

in the media muddle and disarray

that capture our eyes and ears each day.


I recall a lousy teacher shouting: “Pay attention!”

And my mind left for another dimension.

He wanted payment he hadn’t earned

and I lost the lesson I should have learned.


The phone rang while I watched TV

It was my sister asking: “Are you free?”

I smirked and reluctantly said, “Sure!”

deciding to make my attention secure.


Paying attention is a choice

just like the decision to raise my voice

to a child: “You’d better not!” or to say “I do.”

or to smile when I’m feeling blue.


When I pay attention I make a trade

and what you offer is quickly weighed

against the energy and time I’ll spend.

Honestly, I’m measuring my dividend.


Is paying attention really a subtraction

of ego from an interaction?

Or is it adding something to you

by making one out of two?


Written 7-29-17

[Ambiance: the atmosphere of an environment; a surrounding influence]

Pay Attention

Bethesda            Print this poem only


There he was laid out - couldn’t move

wanting to get into that healing pool

just wanted help had nothing to prove

didn’t want to break the pool’s rules.


Others stumbled over him without care

to get the magic when the waters stirred

but he was helpless there breathing his prayer,

he thought his plight surely absurd.


Then this man who was passing by

turned and noticed him, stopped and kneeled,

leaned over and looked him in the eye

and asked him if he wanted to be healed.


The broken man said he was powerless to rise

and the kneeling man said:  Get up! Step away.

And he got up with tears in his eyes

and he walked into a new day.


Maybe the first step to our healing

is to admit we can’t do it alone

swallow our pride stop concealing

that we can’t be human all on our own.


And if we’re lucky or blessed

someone will notice us in our need,

love us, take time and invest
the energy to listen and to heed.


And if we really believe

in Love’s power to heal

maybe we can rise and receive

the new day and make it real.


Written Friday July 28, 2017

Speaking with Authority               Print this poem only


I asked my love if she listened more -

if paying attention was less a chore

when in my eyes or voice she’d detect

some sign of my regard and respect.


I wondered how my words fell,

if they just rolled off or if they’d dwell

some place deeper and longer inside -

if I found a room where my heart could abide.


Nodding, she smiled and said, “Of course

and your words have more force

if I can tell they’re from the heart

or just from your mind apart.”


It seems when we speak from the soul

where the divine resides, where we are whole

people aren’t just using their ears

it’s their faith in us that really hears.


Written 7-29-17

Speaking with authority

Real Wealth            Print this poem only


When I find myself in an anxious state

wandering aimlessly in futile debate

over what to eat, drink or buy

let it be to your cross I’ll fly.


There you hang, your message clear:

Give up slavery to fear

abandon relational fixation

avoid material subjugation.


All those attachments merely distract

and the payments they severely extract

mount into a terrible debt

amass a treasure of regret.

So, when I’m in a state of dis-ease

trapped in the costs and the fees

I’ll repair to my soul’s true health

the currency of love and real wealth.

Written 5-1-17












Until the Next Tide            Print this poem only


You are so at home by the sea

among the tidal pools

gazing at the distant surf

grateful for its holding back

while you linger here

for a few moments,

a precious cultivation

of time and peace

and joy.


It is here away from the sounding city

its brash and bullying demands

that you touch the divine.

It is here that you find

and re-member

your self

and its truth.


Your floppy hat, sunglasses,

turquoise-laced walking shoes

and your regular scan of horizons

profess your love affair,

your Muir-like intimacy with trees.

You have a natural sense

of balance

a savor

and a sonority

with the soul

of a place.


Your rippled reflection

blends nicely
with the shells and stones

laid at the end of its assault

by the morning surf.

The sand where you stand

is your sister

for she too has been pounded and rounded

by the surrounding currents,

and here she too surrenders

at last at peace


until the next tide.


Author’s Note: Remembering my three days on the Oregon coast with my beloved sister Genie.

Written 7-8-17

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