Friday, August 18, 2017

The View of Creation


Think of how the sun 
shines down on everyone
How the wind sings
and the sea murmurs
to all who listen
How the night
sends a shawl to darken
the earth for each person


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Maybe I'll Write a Novel

Once upon a time is a beginning. It’s neutral, simply says that at a point in time this particular story began. And this story is connected to other stories, other plots and digressions. This story dances off the page pursuing its own beginning. Once you think you've found the first incident then memory kicks in and points to an earlier beginning. No, you say, that belongs to another plot. But memory says you're wrong.
Then you may be on a fence about telling the story, afraid of embellishing it, staring it down,or even acknowledging the events. 
How about embedding the tale in a fictional vehicle? 
      When did it begin and why is it important to tell?
      Ah. A conundrum.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Remember

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Elie Wiesel said, “We must always take sides.”

Remember when kids took someone's hat and tossed it back and forth playing keep away
      Remember how you liked to have your friends sit at your lunch table and there was always some kid roaming around with a lunch tray and nowhere to sit
      Remember how everyone received an invitation to your birthday party because your mother insisted that you couldn't leave anyone out
      Remember how someone picked the kid who couldn't catch a ball to be on their team
      Remember how some people take sides and some sit on the sidelines
   

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

If they Lived Here

They Don’t Live Here

To my black grandson—how safe would you be with your hoodie and beautiful braided hair?
To my Asian granddaughter— how comfortable would you be in our country?
To my Native American/ Mexican granddaughter—would our government question your right to live here?

Elijah, would the haters hear you sing and listen to the beauty of your voice?
Phuntsho, would they read your poetry and marvel that English is your second language.
Zara, would the haters see your paintings and recognize your talent?


Our country is not a safe place for diversity. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Waiting

You know it’s not the best for you
but it’s summer and fries and a burger
balanced on your lap with half squeezed
Ketchup packets resting on the dashboard
and the fries balanced between the two seats
while you sit in your car  listening to a Red Sox game
reminds me of the time we stopped in a small town 
in Wyoming because they had a restaurant that advertised
the best strawberry and raspberry frozen treat
and it was so good that we backtracked the day
we left to see the bisons at Yellowstone
 to get one more cup and eat in the car and feel
divinely blessed the way I felt on the way driving
 out to Hope College and stopping to eat at roadside
diners where slices of apple pie were a hand span wide 
and all the dishes were called specials and onion rings
shaped like doughnuts came stacked like the leaning tower
but nothing compared to the footling hotdogs 
in the mountains of North Carolina 
or the watermelon seed spitting contest
after eating a meal of chicken, corn on the cob,
a buttered roll and an ice cream sized scoop 
of mashed potato served outside as a fundraiser 
for a church in a  town in New York
where I went to learn how to write 
the emotional truth of a poem
and instead found a breakfast place 
where the farmers drank mud black coffee 
and spoke about a new John Deere tractor 
to replace one that had been held together 
with baling wire and prayer
I learned to listen to stories,and look for that emotional 
truth which differs from the plain truth, 
or the facts that just follow
one another in a straight line 
until they arrive at an ending point
Once you understand what that 
means you pursue that truth
as best you can and I know I’ve got stories to tell
 and poems to write
Poems that sit in my hand 
and wait just the way you wait for bread to rise 

















Sunday, August 13, 2017

An ABC of Quotes for these Times

Maya Angelo: Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.

Gwendolyn Brooks: We are each other's magnitude and bond.

G.K.Chesterton: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

John Donne: Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  Be an opener of doors.

Tu Fu :                                                       One day soon,
          At the summit, the other mountains will be
          Small enough to hold, all  in a single glance

Nikki Giovanni:    Ain’t they got no shame?

Langston Hughes:          That Justice is a blind goddess
                                        Is a thing to which we black are wise:
                                        Her bandage hides two festering sores
                                        That once perhaps were eyes.

Henrik Ibsen:  The spirit of truth and the spirit of freedom - these are the pillars of society.
James Joyce:  I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.


Jane Kenyon:          Let it come, as it will, and don’t          
                              be afraid. God does not leave us
                             comfortless, so let evening come.

C.S.Lewis : The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.

Marianne Moore: There never was a war that was not inward; I must fight till I have conquered in myself what causes war.

Pablo Neruda:  You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

Mary Oliver :To   live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

Marge Piercy :Let the silence still us so you may show us your shining
                  And we can out of that stillness rise and praise.

Salvador Quasimodo: Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.

Muriel Rekeyser : The world is made of stories, not atoms.

William Stafford: I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.

J.R.R. Tolkien: It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

Miguel de Unamuno: You are waiting for my words. You know me well, and know I cannot remain silent for long. Sometimes, to remain silent is to lie, since silence can be interpreted as assent.


Andrei Voznesensky:In my land and yours they do hit the hay
                                             and sleep the whole night in a similar way.

                                              There's the golden Moon with a double shine.
                                                It lightens your land and it lightens mine.

Emanuel Xavier :It was a gay priest who read last rites
                               to firefighters as towers collapsed

William Butler Yeats: Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams, Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.

Roger Zelazny: Even a mirror will not show you yourself, if you do not wish to see.











Saturday, August 12, 2017

Neo-Nazis

When hate marched
with lit torches 
through the streets 
of Charlottesville, Virginia
and let out a cacophonous
uproar spewing odious words 
into the night air
the ghosts of the past
trembled
















Friday, August 11, 2017

To Search for that Backcountry

     The spiritual life, in my experience, is a matter
     of moving ever deeper into backcountry,
     both literally and figuratively.
       Belsen C. Lane

I never really spent time in the backcountry,
but I hiked up mountains,sometimes
steep inclines left me breathless 
Perhaps I'll dream of Katahdan tonight
or Old Rag and recall the cadence
of one step after another
as I entered a holy space




Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Primer

     What happens when two individuals who know no bounds keep escalating a dangerous situation? I read the newspaper, listen to the words, and wonder if there’s any way to shut down the incendiary talk. Words do matter. Body language does matter. Walking on thin ice always means the possibility of a crack.
     A crack may be more than words. It may shatter the surface and cause cataclysmic results.  We have moved way beyond wars fought by the Calvary. We don’t need anyone using words as barbs, threatening, and indulging in dramatic bravado.
     There are others who know history and recognize that diplomacy is far more prudent. It appears that it is easier to wear the mantle of a bellicose leader than to shoulder the responsibilities of a diplomat.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A Club and a Ball

     When I first started playing golf I anticipated that with practice I’d improve game by game, but golf is a humbling game. Humbling year after year. Now decades later I have noticed a considerable improvement over those first games, but my learning curve was/ is slow. Sometimes I want to shout—look at that, I did that. Other times I regress and the ball slithers along the grass.
     Perhaps because it is up and down, good shots, pars, balls lost in the woods, in the water, stuck in the bunker—and then a beautiful long drive with a aesthetic arc, a long putt that inches into the cup— you keep coming back. 

     Intermittent reinforcement keeps me playing yet another game.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

A Different Sabbath

This week I’m declaring Tuesday as a peculiar Sabbath. This means a blog day off. As for what faith group celebrates Tuesday — I don’t know, but in the history of the world I’m certain that some group selected Tuesday. 

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lazy

piles of books unread
drawings not done
calls not made
creating must do lists
with check off boxes
unchecked
waiting for tomorrow
to read a new book
sketch downtown 
make a call
check a box
for an undone task

Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Sabbath

Peace Be With You.
And you
And you

     Yesterday I watched a clip about a drive in church service held in a large open field that once was a drive in theatre --like a tent service without the tent or seats. On your way in you received what looked like a closed Dixie icecream cup and a piece of paper with, I learned later, the words to a hymn and the program.
      Once the cars settled down the minister, whose words were heard over a radio station, exhorted his flock to turn their lives over to the Lord. At some point everyone sang the hymn. Then it was communion time and for those who were new the minister explained how to free the small finger nail size cracker from the container. After that was consumed everyone opened the cup and drank the grape juice.
       Then a man in a golf cart drove around and collected the empty cups. About ten minutes after it began the cars turned around and left.
        I wonder how many of those parishioners find their way to a brick and mortar church or how many are saved.
       And if you want to get out of your car and say hello to other folks you can go to the concession stand and enjoy doughnuts.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

To Be An Artist


Fill a wide brush
with green paint—
not an ordinary shade
 but one that imitates
a handful of grapes
or the guacamole 
you ate in Mexico
Fill a sheet as wide as
your outstretched arms
with the greens 
of a forest 
Now add flowers
Paint them boldly
so their scent dances
Let each bloom find
it's own shape
Walk around the paper
until you find an animal,
a galaxy, a place
on a map and add a line
and then another until
you tease it out 
Your world waits to see
itself in lines and shapes,
with colors that talk hip-hop 
or slide like the notes
of a saxophone riff












Friday, August 04, 2017

A Möbius Strip

Caught on the inside
Thrown to the outside 
and then hanging 
onto the rim 
with no way 
to get off
I have traveled 
round and round
on a painted horse
until the music stopped
and the wood 
figures froze
I sang “Here we go round
the mulberry bush..."
before I knew
it as a prison song
Caught on the inside
with no way
to get out




Thursday, August 03, 2017

Remembering a Climb

Climbing on rungs 
straight up the rock face—
and my legs couldn’t 
stretch to the next rung
without a friendly tug 
to get me moving.
Half way up and I wondered 
why I started up.
When we arrived at the top 
I knew why  

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Today's Thunderstorm

The Thunderstorm

Noise level— loud enough to propel me directly out of my seat.
Lightning—close enough to induce me to sit away from windows
Rain— torrential, puddle forming, and so deep across the street that I anticipated seeing cars drown

Thoughts—I never want to live in a monsoon area and I need a new umbrella 

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Color Wheel

First the primary colors,
but which red— cadmium
or poppy, or Indian 
Cool or Hot
Opaque or transparent
Staining or granulating
Tending toward orange
or bending toward purple
Taking no chances I move on
to yellow 
and blue
And more choices 
I mix my red, blue, and yellow
to paint a color for my morning juice
or the grass after a summer rain 
or my grandmother’s favorite color—
purple and lavender and mauve,
Boysenberry, iris, and violet
I leave the wheel and mix
shades and tints and hues
and I see the music
of the universe



Monday, July 31, 2017

Instructions

If you want to write a poem 
just go outside and look around
Maybe you recall the way the lilac
grew until it cleared the fence
or how the ice cream truck
reminds you of how your daughter
always bought a nut covered cone
Perhaps you’ll write about the
student you taught who died too early
or the friend who disappeared one day
Maybe you’ll turn your skin inside out
and write about what no one sees
A poem needs to say what it has to say
It must find a pace and a sound
A poem has a breath and a truth
Tonight I’ll write about my small tomato
plant that grows leaves but no fruit
I’ll start there and let that plant
become a metaphor 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Peace Be With You

And you
And you

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Face of Grace

"God's love is pure grace."
      Rabbi Shai Held

Friday, July 28, 2017

2017

     Perhaps I’m a prude, or straight laced, or even a throw back to a bygone era. Or I am under a delusion or what I hear and see is distorted by smudged glasses and labored hearing.
     What is out—civility. It must be an archaic word. Some people rue the day it disappeared while others think it’s overrated. Then there’s verbiage laced with pugnacious words that are aimed at destruction. And recently a stream of words that were indicative of a small mind, a lack of adequate vocabulary, and a vindictiveness and crassness rarely seen in the public sphere. And please don’t blame it on being from New York. 
     Then there’s the inability to listen, to disagree without rancor, to find common ground. And this new universe doesn’t appear to be ending soon.

     

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Unknown

This road is dusty
and it meanders
without signposts
I look for a place
that’s familiar
but the dust
blinds me

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

And I Shall

If as Shakespeare said “ All the world’s a theatre…”
then I shall play many parts in this drama
of the absurd, of the fanciful, of the incredible
I shall dwell in the realm of irrational choice
and abandon myself to passion
My choices, not reigned in by all knowing  reality
will seek out journeys to uninhabited places
and listen to the wind echo
I shall dance with Miriam and play a tambourine
made from seashells and silver bells
I shall sit on the hill with five thousand
and eat barley bread and fish

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Time


Life moves in increments— 
place markers may point in one direction
but you need to wait for time to catch up
Everything can’t happen at the same time
Our lives are lived moment by moment
with interruptions to our place markers