Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Winter is Coming

Sleety rain decorates the windshield
Leaving drops of glistening tears

I park with the others
Cars turned inward
Wiper blades folded down

Our cars look like optimists
In an unforgiving season

It's surely just habit
We should put that car cover on
Before the serious snow

Be well prepared, fellow drivers,
For the ordeal ahead

We could be polar bears with dwindling ice
Or Native people doused with water cannon
My little fears dwindle

My advice, stay warm,
Stay alert
And keep your phone handy

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Suffering Human

The story/lap people
look up from their crosswords
and smile with that sadness called wisdom …
And young girls look anxious
and pace and smoke Camels
and wonder when someone will kiss them …
Their mothers are weary
of paper-doll lovers
like Kennedy, Browning, and Ibsen …
While the angry young men
crack their knuckles and frown
and write black power slogans in prison …
As the men who wear watches
tick off the crash/crises
their words fade to ashes and glisten …
All the clich├ęs turn sour
and dry-mouthed, we holler
that words can’t describe our condition …
While the trees tell the seasons
I am here watching silent
and suffering/human, I listen …

I wrote this 47 years ago ..
August 14, 1969
(photo taken May, 1971)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Sad Clown

What if it was all an experiment?

What if researchers wanted to find out if they could prop up a leader so odious, so crass and full of lies, so downright disgusting, that every time he opened his mouth, people were compelled to listen?

What if they only wanted to find out how easily people could become addicted to the entertainment of watching someone fall on his ass day after day, not because he tripped on something, but because he forgot he had feet?

What if people became so addicted to his outrages that their only pleasure was watching pundits eviscerate him?  The more lampoons and clever reposts the better.

What happens when he leaves the scene?  Do people then have to pillage somebody else because they’ve gotten so used to it?  Will they be in withdrawal from a horribly addictive behavior they can’t stop doing?  Will it be possible to remember how to treat each other with civility?

Or maybe we’ll keep trolling for his miserable outbursts even after he loses.  Maybe he’ll never really leave the scene, but will continue to provide the scandals we’ve all become accustomed to, until he repeats himself too much and ceases to be entertaining.

Careful, people.  Are we in danger of losing our humanity?  Are we like survivors on a sinking iceberg who resort to cannibalism?  Okay, that’s harsh.  But seriously.  We need to hold onto that central core of kindness and rational thinking and wisdom and equanimity – all those noble qualities that allow us to sleep through the night.

And until then, okay, let’s keep watching the show, but remember, we may be under a microscope. 

I imagine the day the clown takes off his mask, and he looks around and says, “Was I good?  Was I good?”

"Je Suis Perdu" - Artwork by Miles Ballew

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Seals live here
Always lived here
Breathe here
Hearts beat here

Whales too
Sing their quiet sonorous poems
Into the cavernous pathways

Why not get a place
By the road
And sit back

It's a good time to learn
This could be your new job

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Low Hum of Summer

The low hum of summer
escaping through the air
underpins each person's dreams
equally without artifice
or judgement

The summer vibration
has its own story
being told in its way through,
its own way through

And all of us fellow travelers
have already bought our tickets
The itinerary yet
to be told

Music comes
into the mind like a cricket
singing to herself

It almost seems too fragrant
this end of summer breeze
like the day before
your lover leaves for college
and you both gaze out the doorway
at the last rays

Monday, August 1, 2016

Arm Around a Tree

Reaching down to cup my hands underneath the suffering souls
Bringing them up into the light and holding them to my breast, cradling them,
Singing them lullabies
It’s what I want to do for the world
Is there anything else?  Is there really anything else?

I saw this tree yesterday
With its arm around another tree
Such a small arm around a big tree, and yet
Such a feeling of comfort
Even this small gesture

When there’s so much fear and danger
So much chaos and doom
When the utter meanness of the day can drag our branches
I want to be that small skinny arm
That offers solace

Monday, May 23, 2016

An IT Tech and a Buddhist Walk Into a Bar

If the path were straight,
We wouldn't need directions.
If the directions were clear,
We wouldn't need instruction.
For all those dead ends we followed, and all those wrong turns
Who can be blamed?  Not our spiritual advisors, surely.
Not our programmers.

If our chakras were in perfect balance,
Emotions would not impede.
If our cache was empty,
Then our expression would be serene.
If our limbs were arranged in rest and activity with equal ease
Then we would never stumble or get fatigued.
We would never get the hourglass.

A wise man says that obstacles are necessary
For greatness.
A wise woman believes there is nothing more beautiful
Than truth.
What we have and are in the now-eternal moment
Is preferable to all other states, say the server gods.

If only I could make myself stop spinning long enough
I could understand these facts,
Or perhaps I am an old-fashioned hard drive
With a failing motherboard.

Where do I turn in this mind and get an upgrade?
How do I switch out the program?
You are an ever-renewing human equivalent.
Just close your eyes and breathe.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Broken Shell

Lately I haven't been writing much poetry or even prose.  I've been in one of my long transitions.  Like a butterfly in a cocoon, I don't even really know when I'll be ready to fly.

In the process of this deep, interior work, I came across an old journal from clay therapy with some other women in a group led by master potter Michelle Rhodes.

Each week, we would gather around the table in her country studio and try to construct something from within.  Here's a piece from April 2008.  It reminds me that process is everything.

I'm working with white river clay today, and it broke into pieces.  Dozens of shells and stones on the table.  My life in pieces.  Here's a broken shell.  The shell is me.  It has a story.

I used to be big, of course, not like you see me now.  I was big and strong, and I thought nothing would ever happen to me, nothing would ever hurt me, and I rolled along my way not worrying about the other smaller shells beneath me.

Then one day I fell and broke.  A part of me broke off – a big part – and I couldn’t believe it.  Nothing like that had ever happened before.  And I lost my confidence.  I was no longer able to protect myself and because of that, another, even bigger and more important part of me broke off.
Then I gave up.  I just wanted to die.  I rolled around and let the ocean carry me along its way.  I couldn’t die but I wanted to die.  Until one day, I realized I was still whole, and in a certain way, still beautiful.

I began to actually like my broken edges and the new lightness of my body without all the bigness of my former self – without even the beauty – and then slowly I began to soften.  And I rolled with the motion of the ocean – not giving in completely and not fighting, but just cooperating with it.
Merging with all the other shells rolling and tumbling into the perfection of healing.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Living From a Distance So Close

I don’t want to stir the cauldron
Start those beads of joy
Bouncing off each other
Light, color, sound

It’s safer here inside
Where I can talk to you
Heart to heart
And share the never-ending

I don’t want to open the mailbox
And see my name in black ink
On an envelope from you
With some unfamiliar stamp

It’s better to talk to you soul to soul
All the things we really want to say
That don’t depend on gravity’s structures
Or involve people to be hurt

I know that psychic dialogue is suspect
That the test of truth is in the manifestation
I know it would be exciting to see you
But I don’t want to stir it up

I walk in the forest alone
The spirits talk to me
The fairies recognize me clearly
The old trees say ‘Welcome back’

To match my steps to yours would be strange
To feel the tentacles of your presence
Interact with the energy of the woods
Like them I would be subsumed

I’d rather have you with me in my mind
Be all at one with every stalk and branch
And know that on every parallel track
Our lives are intertwined