Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Magic of Loss

When something is lost

It’s important to see

What remains

This is a story about discovery

The bowl is more than empty

It's a chasm

And yet the swirling colors of memory

Are perfumed with a poet's music

No, let me explain

With scalpel in hand

The surgeon cut away

The pained and frightened queen

The young prince was left

To rearrange the pieces

In the tower of contemplation

He called the princess

out of her dark closet

To put on her gown and

Teach him how to climb trees

Together they are conjurers

Of magic swans and bees

They travel out to far off galaxies

And heal myriad spirits

Walk in dark places

Where wondrous beings perform

No one could have told me this before

That hidden behind every tragedy

Is a gift.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

First Snow

The first snow
like a slap on
a baby's bottom

The blushing trees
gazing on from
another world

The geese left early
and the squirrels
are abed

Only I am left
to see the drifting
flakes - and wonder

Warm glowing leaves
soon hidden, retreated
to their fairy realm

While evergreens
feel every needle come alive
in the magical air

Their green patches
sheltered by the canopy
like memories

And only I am left
to see the blanket
of white - and wonder.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Art

The need for interior
the dialogue with characters
discussing plans
now I remember a gray woman
in brown with indeterminate hair
talking with her hands
she gets my attention
but I don't let her know
this is the art of lying
the art of being

People try to explain
the main points
they effuse and importune
feeling their extremities
and the common earthly balance
but all too often these
efforts fail while
exposing the rest
in time it doesn't matter
and love spreads itself thin.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Breathe Mountains

I breathe mountains
sip trees
inhale highways

Tap out the beats
on the railroad
feel the pulse
of telephone wires

Dream in the uncut hedges
and high grass
scent pond scum

Feel the wind
through branches

Huddle up for buildings
where frozen souls
clench their buds
in perpetual
suspended animation

I find shade leaves
on the tracks
and boys running
in red shirts

Birdsong winging
Over buildings
curling treelines
reaching for the sky

On the train
from Poughkeepsie going south

I breathe mountains
and tap out the time
in the heartbeat

Of the sweet sweet land.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dreaming in Venice

I dreamed I was swimming
In the canals of Venice
With elephants
A dolphin
And my granddaughter
As a reformed mermaid
Or perhaps
Transformed mermaid
Would be more true

People were swimming up
To her
Antediluvian paparazzi
“Show us your colors –
Your colors!”
We laughed.
This was what they
Always said when she
Still had her tail

The elephant carried a baby
Curled up on her shoulder
To keep him dry
He was dark heavenly blue
With patches of gold
And rust red
Like barnacles
On his skin
He was smiling
As babies do

Behind the young Indian boy
Who swam like Mowgli
All arms and legs
Exuberant inefficiency
The dolphin glided,
I thought
If I swim closer
I’ll be able to touch its tail

It was mysterious
In shape
Its round tail oddly
Resembling a propeller
I could tell it had
A purpose and direction
It was dreaming too
With eyes closed
In the warm waters

My granddaughter's legs
Were long
As she managed the currents
Again I noticed the
Elephant’s smile
Where were we headed
So happily
And with such purpose?
Were we all psychic

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Thought is an ocean
Waves and swells
with influences
dissipates and subsides
on the in-breath
and crashes down
with the out

Mindfulness is
watching this
without attachment
or confusion
or agitation

Neither wave nor boat
nor whale nor bird
nor swimmer
nor the rising up
of water
into cloud.

For Christopher Cameron, one of the most graceful navigators of the mind's ocean I ever met.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action

Movie theaters, those giant ocean liners
Getting up, I’m searching for my land legs

Life on the big screen, the convoluted plot,
The probing characterization

We observers of drama
In the safety of the darkness

Must take off the 3-D glasses
And pick up where we left off

In the daily script
Of our dangerous lives

Outside where the bruises
are most lurid on the inside

We are all little mermaids
Who bartered our tails for love.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Among the Elders

In my memory
She is always smiling
Even under the mask

Her heart is permanently
Broken open
She watches the children

Old and young
With the same patient care
She counts each day a treasure

Freed from the prison
From the terror
From the death

She carries herself
With a well-earned grace
And laughs at the devil himself

One cannot but smile
Emboldened by her courage
By her faith.

My painting of Ama Ahde (Adhe Tapontsang) at the Tibetan Reception Center, 2005. Working under her was one of the most inspiring times of my life.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In the Dark

Sky bursts and blossoms



Ooooh! Aaaah!

A unity of pulse and pleasure
Massed together
in hope and human family

Happy fourth day
of July

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Take Yourself Out of Context

Take yourself out of context
That’s what meditation is

That’s how emptiness
Becomes your ally

Take yourself out of context
The job, the marriage,
The illness, the ambitious goal,
Even the summer vacation

It’s all temporary

When you remove the context
What remains?

Only a sublime luminosity

Then yes, the context
Is still there

But it’s in perspective
You can handle it

It’s out of your hands
Anyway … mostly

Coexistent truth
Paradoxical truth

Now you know
What home means

A supreme bliss

Then you have a new phrase
To thine own self
Be kind

It’s all ephemeral except

What remains.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In the Moment

Whatever trust you find
whether in the heart or mind

Let it rise up slowly
like a dreamer's eyes

And inhale every petal
Let it magnetize

The confidence of wisdom
isn't gained in books
or even regal looks

But by the firesides of
vagabonds and in the
flex of magic wands

Find the trust inside your memory
and gathered as your legacy
in every figment of your past

And you will be elusive
and be home at last.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Just Spring

Where are the birds?

I sense the sound of birdsong
The blackbird of the morning
But now the cold wind drives everything in its path

Where are the seeds?

I sense them sprouting
Underground, their soft green caps
Untouched by air or sky

Where is the snow?

The snow that blew across the window yesterday
Is gone, a distant memory
While April’s wind releases her winter madness

Is it truly April?

I feel the same as she does,
Wanting to stir the cold ground
And feel the first blossom of my creativity.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dark of the Moon Goddess

She has big legs
is tall and dark
with flashing
diamond eyes

When she opens her mouth
red flowers bloom, green leaves
frame her with their
rain-soaked fragrance

Her skin is made
from music sewn together
from the passion
of a summer afternoon

Her soprano scream
floats rippling down
the mountain stream
of primordial wisdom

I close my eyes
and feel her singing
in my blood
kaleidoscope colors

She is my secret
soul sister
the Goddess
of invisible women.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Mote of Meditation

The winter sun
illuminating nothing
empty of self
empty of other

The luminous sun
white with fog
burning off the mirrored clouds
of mind

Removing obscurations
the air between
ourselves and the sun
light years vanish

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Waiting for a Friend at the Diner

In the circle of
voices many layered
a void
of course

To the rattle of
clatter of steel
mind flattened
at the source.


I really do write most of my poetry on napkins while waiting for friends. If she had not arrived so soon, this would have been longer.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Advice From the Dream Guide on Breaking Through

Know where I’m going
my sense of last night
dream language
like getting pregnant, or want
underpinning what’s left
a social drive
thing that could
kiss someone
connect or deeply

The sense of dreaming
the sense of having
my guides so close
wise beyond

I asked this morning
do you think
In terms of
back or forward
they laughed
you’re kidding
you’re asking us?
that’s who you are
that’s what you do

No going back
no worrying
very comforted

before I left
someone poked his head
admiring the photo
I said I painted
I need
do you have time
you’re here
there’s always
from my dream
the details

Break through
and finish
fix it
do a new
start a new
if what I’m doing
I can read through
and send it
I can edit
and send that
I can finish
or whatever
and publish
and whatever
who I am.

This is an experimental poem, using a technique whereby you write anything that comes to mind for five minutes, then stop and lift a phrase every few words or so and work into a poem.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the Cover of Snow

Like a mother
Blanketing her child
The snow fell
Over cars, houses, streets
Buildings where workers
Packed up their belongings
And trudged to their cars

Day after day the snow came
And when I woke the cars
Were not visible
Except as mounds
Like soft animals in slumber
All along Queensberry Street

Eric and I wrapped up warmly
And got the dogs
Corn and Blue
Their Beagle noses questing
Toward the outside
Where excitement always happened
Whether they created it or not

The whir of helicopters overhead
But otherwise the quiet
Buried under snow
The tops of street lamps showing
We made our way to the street
And walked, the dogs our companions

We saw some students on their skis
Whizzing by the empty streets
Laughter was in the air
Those few of us out for a stroll
Over mounds of hard packed snow
The dogs had visions of pizza
In their heads but even the garbage
Was buried

At last we reached Chinatown
My legs were tired
Feet were frozen
Laughter silenced by the trek
Eric never got tired
Fueled by methadone
And he stopped to watch
The dragon dance in the street
Because it was Chinese New Year
Of the Horse

And one café was open
Offering free dim sum to
Anyone hardy enough to be out
Cooked over Bunsen burners
Because all electricity would be
Out for two more days

We tipped them (I tipped them
Because Eric never had any money)
And then went out and bought
A dozen white candles
And a comic book for Miles
Who was visiting his grandparents
In Connecticut

And finally, back in the Fens, it
Was late afternoon and we took
The candles over to the old folks
Across the street where the
Famous radical pacifist lived
Who always wore a wool cap
A Sandown cap
That made him look rakish
Belying his compassionate heart

And we gave the candles to
The old woman who lived upstairs
And asked her to share with her
Neighbor in Apartment #1 who
Was deaf and never let anybody in
When they pressed the buzzer

That night the helicopters were gone
And even the dogs snored quietly
In the silence of the city
Under the blanket of snow.


(Poem based on the Blizzard of 1978 in Boston.)

Monday, January 24, 2011


The twig is so brave

No matter how much snow or ice

It puts forth a shoot

Takes the risk of life

The tree itself reproducing

Despite the cold, the chill

With faith that spring will come

The twig emerges strong

even sprouts a berry

for the hardy birds.


I've been taking long walks almost every day, except when the snow is falling hard. This has given me a chance to see so much more of the natural world.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Rock

Through the lawn between the flower beds

To the summer house

Stone tea house with its winged roof

And open windows

There I sat imagining I was a gypsy

In the woods, my horse somewhere grazing

There I would have the fireplace

And there, my bed and table

There the shelves for food and clothes

Maybe one box for sheets and blankets

I had it all figured out back then

And beyond, just over the fence

Our rock sat half as high as a man and wide as a bed

At the top of the field

Surrounded by tall grass

Climbing up on the rock

My brother and I would sit and dream

Looking down the hill all the way down

To the road, to the trickling stream

That elsewhere was a river or a tumbling falls

We’d talk of who we were in our past lives

He was a prince in one life,

A blue djinn in another

I was a fairy nestled in my flying bubble

That made all the world look magical

The waving grass surrounded us like a sea

Caressed by the warm wind

Our rock where we could always

Tell the truth.