Friday, November 27, 2015

Before the Internet

Before the Internet there was a different
Kind of loneliness

Obsession was weightier
Not easy to slough off
Without endless distraction

Love felt like an enormous
Production complete with spirits
Arrayed in symphonic splendor

Never before discovered
Or enjoyed
Exactly so

There was a different kind of
Inner silence
In the seams between the sighs

More than just pauses between clicks
Or never-ending texts
The waiting moment

Touchable, reachable
Only by a cascade of experiences
Each to be absorbed

Going back in time to greet myself
I might be surprised
To feel that same ennui

That agony that used to fuel
My creativity
When having a muse

Was the difference between
Loneliness and being
Alone on a sea of joy.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

To My Fellow Artists (and Humans)

... and mostly to myself.

Who cares about criticism?
Criticism doesn't matter.

What matters is fighting through the depression
to what counts.

Don't let fear of criticism
stop you from creative

Be yourself.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tough Talk

Scientists have confirmed
Reality is a figment of our imagination
Or more accurate to say
We create our reality with our minds

Our minds
Those sacred organs
Given to us in trust
Each lifetime a fresh start
A chance to do it better
Not forget the truth

The Buddha said
Reality is a construct of your mind
Self is an illusion
Thus it’s most important to remember
Compassion is the first thought
Compassion for self as other

Jesus said the same
Love is the source of all wisdom
Love your brother as yourself
Love yourself as your brother
Once you feel that

In your heart
For all life forms
Then you can know
Truth …

Reality as imagined
Is not truth
(Let me rant just a little while
It’s my mind
After all)

Reality is only truth
When you strip away
The body nation culture
Strip away the name gender family
Strip away the construct
Of morality philosophy

What’s left …
What then is left
Is truth
Lennon also said that
But names don’t matter

If we just do it.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Nature’s softness
Reaches its branches
In an expression of solidarity
With a consciousness
We cannot understand

Humans craft a language
To describe a tree
Ascribing feelings
To the sap, the leaves, the roots
Yet no one knows except

The sapling nestling its trunk
Against the mother
Talking to the breeze
Knowing truth
With timeless clarity

As I walk
I cannot help but wonder
How it feels to be the earth
The sky, the wind,
The insect in the bark

And if they will be here next year
And the year after
I let my heart speak
Giving all I’ve got,
Imagining an answer.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Night Elegy

Elation expands
beyond the bonds of reason
with the first sip and clink of ice

Effortless riding a wave
of astral energy here in the bar
with its basic neon soul

I used to dream of climbing mountains
doggedly ascending to the top
with a tribe behind me

Oh, I should have remembered
how it's always harder to come down -
but whoever thinks of that when they're in love?

I only mention love
to give you a context
a subject I know so well, I could be an oracle

People should come to me
and ask their fate
Maybe I thought I was being born into it

God, what a fake-out. Psych!
All the courtesan memories and vestal longings
were only useful in the sack

Am I being brazen or crude?
I think those notions are played out now
given the world-wide-web, already antique

Soon we'll be doing marriage by podcast
I must say, though, this steak is good
the cow gave his life for me

And the whiskey got distilled
with only a glimmer of
what might be done in its name

Sure, I'm an old lady with a young lady's mind
as I pack up my things and
strut off to the night

Monday, September 7, 2015

Trying to Get Back Home

I dreamed again of the maze. I was outside, making my way slowly along a narrow strip of earth to get back to my car or destination, and I sort of remembered having come this way before and knowing I would have to go back along this narrow track. I had to be careful not to slip off the ridge into the muddy water below.

The “road” curved around to the left beside a swamp and I couldn’t see on the other side so I had no idea whether I was going the right way or not, and no idea if my cautious care in making my way along this dangerous ridge would be in vain or if I would have to retrace my steps and find another path. I paused, trying to decide whether to plunge ahead or turn back and see if I could find someone to help me.

This seems to be my theme in life. Being lost. Not having a clear or safe path. Not knowing what is ahead.

I have dreamed this same dream again and again. Sometimes I’ve parked on a sharp incline and I have to make my way through underbrush with sticks piled up in impossible piles to be navigated, and sometimes I'm climbing on a mountain over sharp rocks with slippery sides.

I sometimes wonder why I end up in these rural places where there are no clear roads. I sometimes wonder why I am there. Usually I have come with other people, sometimes to a workshop or class. And somehow the other people have no trouble with these obstacles, and I end up feeling inadequate and stupid.

Other times the dream happens in a city where familiar streets are suddenly unfamiliar, and I find myself lost after coming out of a building and going on a route I usually take. Everything is different and I'm in a different part of the city with no idea how to get back.

There’s no real answer to this today. I’m just the recorder. Maybe if I go to a quiet place and rest and think, some further insight will come to me. Maybe it’ll all be clear. Maybe it’s just plain obvious to someone else. Feel free to leave a comment.

I can’t put this into poetry today. It’s too raw.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Elder Poets on a Summer Afternoon

The wind stirs up longings
The blood answers
The breath nods like a sage
While the earth itself
Purrs in the gathering rain clouds
Of portentous creation

Nobody knows exactly
Not even the scientists
Where we’ll all be in ten years
But we unconsciously
Hold hands like kids
Singing “London Bridge”
Knowing all poems are futile

Someday we’ll have a solar roof
Give up our car
And ride a bicycle
Recycle bath water for the garden
‘Til then, we’re just surviving
In the years we thought
Were supposed to be golden

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Chasing the Ultimate Reality

You don't have to be extreme to be a hero
You just have to go ahead and live each day
While everything adds up

Beyond the future dome,
Can you tell me your vision?
Can you imagine it?
Or is the darkness so vast and uninhabitable
Even a glimpse is forbidden?

We each duck in and out of the scenes -
The main program -
Like ghosts, wisps of esper
Who can keep track?

Are we just programmed too well
To stop chasing the dream?
Even knowing it's inferior,
Not worth all the effort,
Not worth the cost,
It's in our genes, our DNA,
to hunt and gather
Find and build shelter
Mate and bear young
Or at least love

And beyond that?

If you had a gift, would you use it?
Being alone is just as much a myth
As being One
You can choose

What am I saying?
I don't know
Except that striking out on a new path
Is difficult, depending on the stakes

Do you think I know the answer?
Have I seen the astonishing brilliance
Of the All?
Have I felt my heart burst with grace?
Has the top of my head
Dissolved into light?

You don't have to be extreme
To be a hero
You just have to go ahead and live
Each day
While everything adds up.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Music Says

You can plan and dream
You can craft your future
Like a child with a toy
And still
When the moment comes
When you find the experience
Stepping up to greet you
You’re never ready
You’re never prepared
For the first kiss of reality
The bright light in the darkness and the sound
Of recognition that
Tugs the corners of your mouth into a smile
And you can wade into the sea
With all the other travelers
Writing music
From the edge of your heart
Catch your breath and just
Go deeper

The ragged edge of anticipation
Sinks into Friday night
Like a long lost friend
Realizing the interval
Between the dream of love
And its negation is as thin
As a whisper of air
In a cracked doorway
You can almost dare yourself to cross the boundary
And entertain the unadorned idea –
It could be (no, really) – it might be –
Just stop and close your eyes
No act of will allowed
You got to take a breath

And what do you do
When someone asks you to make a memory?
It has to be an endless sort of idea –
Nothing flashy or fly by night –
You just have to give yourself
The time to think
And remember good times by the fire
Golden light speaks in a
Universal language

There’s a certain feeling as you’re lying in bed
Your arm splayed out to the night
And the molecules in your hip
Are settling
And you remember your body
As a familiar home
I’m telling you now, give thanks for it
Keep track of it
And when that sense of wonder
Comes upon you – when it fills your lungs
And makes your heart beat faster,
It’s not just your

Don’t we all love fiction?
You know you get drawn into it
Even against your will
Ain’t it fine?
Ain’t it worth it?

What’s really weird is
People laugh at stuff I’ve actually done
On a serious tip
Sometimes it takes years
To be able to laugh at yourself
It takes a stranger
To see the advantages, don’t it?

I’m glad I stepped over that threshold
I’m glad I fell
I’m glad I took the chance
To make that mistake
I’m glad I have the old scars
That turned into some kind of
Elegant tattoo (who knew?)
Are jubilation and resignation
Two sides of the same coin?
Perhaps a slight adjustment
To choose heads or tails

I know what my secret is
I know how to keep a fire going
It’s something I learned in my old age
How to cup my hands around
The base of the flame
And feed it with the
Ineffable joy of non-attachment

Someone who can hold himself
Who can hold himself back
What I’d give
You can smile and say
A lot with such a one
In a small space
And let the water plunge
Over the waterfall
On its own course,
That desire that builds up,
We knew it all our lives
It’s not feigned nor forced
What people call destiny
Is just what can’t be sidestepped
No matter how hard
You did or didn’t try

(May 15, 2015)
Written during a performance by folksinger Chris Trapper at River Station, Poughkeepsie, NY

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Happiness isn't distraction
True happiness doesn't necessarily smile
It comes from a deep sense of place
And understanding

The mystical golden sunset
Sinks behind the charcoal trees
Under the dark cerulean clouds
Of an uncertain Spring

The little bird
Sings his same
Three notes
Outside my window

Soon I'll cut vegetables
And add to the soup
With coriander and turmeric
For company

If company
Is too strong a word
Then sustenance
Will do

I didn't see the art exhibit
Or the sand mandala today
But the sky etched into my consciousness

A man below
Sings the same
Three notes to
Entice the bird

I salute him silently
Without words
And he disappears
Into the elegant trees.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Birthday for Margaret

Even her freckles have freckles
That was a phrase someone said when I was young
I think of my mother
Whose skin is always happy
Like a summer day
Not overly freckled like a devoted sunbather
More like a sprinkling of fairy dust

She will smile and the world
Has to smile back
She seems to have enough love
To fill the room, the yard, the road, the town
And all for miles around
And then beyond that to the open fields
And to countries her feet have never touched

It’s the mark of an open heart
To frown at injustice
And just as quickly to apply the remedy
My mother has a remedy for every ill
She taught me home medicine before it was in style
She taught me tolerance and progressive thought
Before they were commonplaces in the land

She wears her age with ease
It seems her face just gets more beautiful
Her walk more steady
Her hands more sure
Her voice more lilting
All those experiences and memories
Don’t seem to crowd her at all

Maybe it’s her energy
Like lighting in the springtime
She can jump to a topic or activity
What would you like for dinner
Let me read you this article
Do you need a sweater
We should visit our old friend

People think ninety is a ripe age
But Mom hasn’t ripened yet
She’s like a magical tree
Still bearing fruit
That’s ever-young
And the twinkle in her eye
Is well-earned

She wears her beauty naturally
Like her hair never colored
Her eyes free of makeup
She never shows an ordinary vanity
Yet when she looks in the mirror I’m sure she sees
The Fairy Queen herself
Looking back.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Living with Pain

They call it a back
Because it's behind you
You can't see it
So when the pain starts
Your first response is to question
Who, what, where, when, why

And all you know for sure is,
It’s a feedback loop
To glance aside, focus on something else
To move ahead, haltingly even
To smile, laugh and have hope
The sublime holy task

Living with pain
The knowledge it’s there, but
The reason it’s there, not
The certainty it will be someday gone
Surely that should comfort
Go ahead, turn aside

Taking something can only prolong
The healing, yet
It’s nice to have new feedback
The shame of not being whole
Wanting to hide in your room
Needing to stoop when you walk

Does it stop?
You ask yourself rhetorical questions
Will you look back and remember this time
As truly special
As something you can only glimpse now
Whose meaning is fraught with portents?

There’s a bit of detachment
Looking down on the distant circus
From one’s vantage all consumed with
When to take another pill
Your mind never stops questioning
Even while you chuckle at the cosmic joke

Maybe all this happens for that very reason
You have to stop your super powers
All that brilliant flight
Find the smile inside the danger
Find the joy inside the suffering
Know you're hanging out in space
With a beating heart

Painting by Miles Ballew, used with permission

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hibernating Valentine Dreams

In the blood
Entities are moving
Elaborate forms
Melting away resistance
Like trees raising their arms
By innate design
Toward light and warmth

The point of seasons
Moving through our lives
Change and rhythm
Stillness and motion
Winter's essence
Seems to me the crest of suffering

Consider my estrangement
More than thirty-four years
Since the last kiss
But some day
He will pass me the cup again

Until that sacred Spring
I don’t measure the drifts of white
Just step through them
To find the path

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Changing Sky

The sky went from blue gray to gray
not a big change really
but a subtle change

And all those footsteps poems
like clumps of soft furze
against the snow

Crows were hidden
on their branches
beneath the intermittent sun

Can you recall your childhood
when the idea of sledding
was more fun than the sledding itself

To walk along the treeline
inhaling the fresh cold air
arms open to tomorrow

That magical gray color
alive with the crunch of snow
beneath your feet

Monday, January 12, 2015

In Extremis - Winter Song

The day unfolded like a gray lily
with white petals so fragrant and tender
one could close one's eyes and listen
to the far-off keening
of the sky and trees

My organism strains to understand
to encompass and endure
like the planet
endure the weight of responsibility
the press of days upon my shoulders

I remember ironing my father's shirts
the smell of hot cotton broadcloth
the faint sweetness of the soap
the strong heat of the iron
pressing those wrinkles at the wrists and collar

I remember polishing my mother's silver
rubbing hard on the bowls
of the soup spoons
to see the burnished gleam
appear like a stepchild

I remember the feel of the piano keys
the allure of smooth ivory
the spiral sound filling my ears
with my foot on the soft pedal
and the energetic notes cascading

And I ask myself what brought me here
to this desolation
to this white-gray lily of a world
to this cold almost love-letter of a season
As I sink into the planet.