Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Riff on Release

you’re free to live your life
they’ll be no fetters

death, that’s it
you can’t do it over

disbandment, separate
into parts
go your own way
everything is dissolved
detached from what went before
a lonely kind of end

reprieve —a gift,
grace wrapped in Words

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Return Home

Tomorrow I'll need
to alter my days
to leave room
for the unexpected
like plumbing problems
or the storm that turns
off the electricity
or a call that takes
me away from a book

Looking for a way
to release
the bindings
of returning

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Sign

What do you do on a vacation day when the air is heavy with moisture and it doesn't just rain, but blankets the sky with wild raindrops?

For me a day full of rain means heading to one of my favorite bookstores and browsing.

We drove in a pelting rain where the lack of visibility made the road disappear and the wiper's work hard, but to little advantage.

On one shelf I found two new books by Terry Tempest Williams. Years ago I discovered her books on a bookstore shelf in Moab, Utah.

Then there was a book purporting to teach you how to draw your own alphabets--in six weeks.

Roaming around in a cozy bookstore engaged in deep browsing is like the taffy or cotton candy or bubble gum of earlier years. It's a zen trip that encourages me to release my imagination with each book.

Today I spent a page in Tibet, two pages watching a snail on a bedside table, and countless paragraphs and sentences in fictional settings.

I thought of a line from Cyril Connolly, " ... words are alive and literature becomes an escape not from, but into living."

And, yes, I did purchase a book-- not a book I expected to buy, but one that chose me after I found myself on page ten Periodic Tales:a cultural history of the elements, from arsenic to zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams.

From the moment of its discovery, each element embarks upon a journey into our culture.

When I wrote my school essays... It was with an Osmiroid pen, a brand name inspired by the osmium and iridium that its manufacturer used to harden the nibs.

I had owned an Osmiroid sketch pen--obviously this line was a sign to buy the book.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


A mist dropped down and softened the hard lines of rocks jutting out into the ocean. Waves crept up on rock shelves, foamed and spent themselves before gathering steam to return to he sea. Tapered fir trees lost their edges against a washed out sky. The beach roses shocked a muted backdrop..

Sometimes it's necessary to release preconceptions about clarity and accept that ambiguity produces its own clarity and beauty.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"You Can't Enshrine Discrimination.. "

June 26, 2013
Supreme Court releases its

You may not see me dancing
or singing hosannas
You may not hear me praising
You may not feel what I feel
But let me explain this day
This is the day my love
and your love
are one and the same
What you get, I get

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lobster Love

I am a lobster snob. I only like a lobster cooked outside, actually if it isn't a Maine lobster I'll probably wait until I get to Maine. How did that happen?

My mother loved lobster and wasn't real discriminating about the lineage of the lobster. She also didn't care if the creature was boiled, steamed, cracked, not cracked. But she did know how to totally clean out the innards of a lobster. No meat escaped her search.

I love the silence that descends upon the table when everyone is deeply committed to the exploration and eating of the lobster. I love the strain attending the breaking of the lobster shell.

Tonight I sat with two other lobster aficionados and enjoyed the seriousness of our pursuit -- the release of the lobster's treasure trove of meat.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Day to Remember

When the ocean spews droplets on the rocks
When the rocks split into abstract patterns
When the path meanders through woods
When grass forces its way through cracks
When cobbles roll against each other
sending thunder across the rock beach
When the sun burns across the landscape
When the moon lights up the ocean
I shall tiptoe on moonbeams
release moon dust over the landscape
and gather armfuls of cobbles
as mementoes

Sunday, June 23, 2013


We walked around a pond, actually lake sized, after the rain stopped and the sun made a come back.

A snake appeared-- simply out sunning himself. Loons called across the water. A large crested merganser stood on a flat rock until I came too close and off he flew.

We listened to a boy say to his mother, "It will take us ten hours to go around the water."

We stopped at the half way point and ate our home made trail mix.

Putting one foot in front of the other foot for four miles releases the kinks and thoughts of to dos, must dos, lists to complete. All that's important is the rhythm of your breath in the midst of this scene--everything else fades.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


It only takes me a few minutes,just the time it takes to cross over the bridge onto the island,to release whatever hangs on to me and enter into the rhythm of Maine.

Today after walking, we spent an hour taking photos of two polypores. Now that's what I consider time well spent

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Slip

> was not their intent to release it.
--Preston & Child

the unintended word
a suggestion of impropriety
her weight at its highest
the ending to the story

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer Light

dusk light
Illuminates a red
fishing boat,
polypores on a birch tree,
two children rolling
down a grassy hill,
and three boys
with oversized sneakers

summer releases an ease
that lights the walk
of a woman licking
an ice cream cone

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


My aim is to put down on paper
what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
—Ernest Hemingway

Reason prevails. I am in a subtracting mood. Less is better. Less is lighter. Less encumbers less. Simplify.

Suppose I looked around and began to really ask, " What is necessary, what is comfortable, what is beyond the pale? What is too much?”

Doesn't that last question depend upon who is answering? Some folks think that a house for two with less than four bathrooms is impossible. I grew up in an apartment where four people shared one bathroom and I don't recall any problems--save when someone took a book into the bathroom.

Simplify. People we know decided that they will no longer buy anything new.They either barter goods and clothes or buy items at yard sales or at thrift stores. Since they can afford to buy many items new are they competing with people who have far less money?

Simplify. I look around me and realize that my penchant for notebooks with good paper kills trees. Suppose I refuse to purchase any notebooks until every last page is used in my stash of books.

And suppose I restricted myself to the use of one and two syllable words—would that release a torrent of succinct and evocative prose?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


My house is strewn with what ifs. What if it's rainy—drenching rain or a drizzle? Should I take my light raincoat or my solid heavy duty let no water in rain jacket? Suppose I pack my rain pants—

They keep changing the forecast so I can't decide what weight shorts, pants, tops to bring. Just in case I'll pack one extremely lightweight outfit and one durable warm outfit.

Shoes—boots of course. My hiking boots, sneakers, sandals—what else? If it rains I can wear my hiking boots. That cuts down on something.

Books—do I want a mystery, an espionage tale, a book of literary merit, some poetry? Do I want the kindle in case I read through everything I bring?

I want my sketchpad, but will some pens be sufficient or do I want to bring some watercolors?

We're planning on spending several days taking photos—what lenses? Do I want my tripod?

What if I released all this stuff and only took one duffle bag and one book, one pad, one pen, one book. What if I didn't care if I got wet or cold or too hot? What if I simply got in my car and drove to some destination?

Monday, June 17, 2013


From The Boston Globe "An Indiana woman put on death row at age 16 for killing an elderly Bible school teacher is scheduled to be released ... after serving a prison term that was shortened after the state Supreme Court intervened."

She was fifteen when she stabbed a 78 year old woman thirty-three times. Her accomplices didn't stab the woman, but were there. Their prison sentences ranged from 25 —60 years. At this point they have all been released.

For twenty-seven years Paula Copper remained in prison—eventually earning a college degree.

Six hours ago she was given $75.00, donated clothes and taken to an "undisclosed location".

I wonder what services she received while incarcerated? I wonder what services will be in place now that she's free.

And how do we understand teenagers who appear to be without boundaries and commit atrocities? How do we as a society identify people at risk to engage in anti-social behavior?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Selection

I forgot to complete the crossword
puzzle this morning because I tripped
on a four letter horseshoe projection

I forgot to enter a singing competition
when all the notes sounded the same
and my fifth grade teacher declared
"You will be a listener, not a singer."

Who forgets the days you're told to remember
Who selects the days we're supposed to recall

I recall sitting
in the rain
watching the grass
part into channels

I recall listening to six women
at Harper's Ferry
sing Amazing Grace
to the accompaniment
of leaves rustling

I checked the answer to the crossword clue
I learned to sing quietly, or mouth the words
I know the days I will recall
and release the others

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Story of the Prodigal Child

To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.
Lau Tzu

hold tight
and all disappears
release the other —
watch their flight
the spirals, spins, dives
the near misses

not all flight soars
learn patience
learn to wait
to admire the glide,
the pirouette,

savor the distance
listen to the wind
and wait
until the return

some waiting
takes years
breathe the seasons
learn to let go
the way the trees
release leaves
the way the sun slips
into a lake


Friday, June 14, 2013


The quiet sense of something lost.
—Alfred Tennyson

Once I lost my house keys for three days.

When I put six socks in the washer—five come out. The sixth may disappear for weeks or simply never show up.

Yesterday I nicked a curb, but never heard anything save my tire rubbing up against concrete. This morning we noted a hubcap missing.

At least I knew how it happened. Often something is lost and you don't know how or why. You can pin down some losses, others are elusive— A friend who no longer calls, a child who drifts away, an individual losing their way—falling down a chute. People lose their way—become lost.

Some people spend a lifetime attempting to retrieve what is lost—others move on and accept that not everything that can be found wants to be found.

It's hard to release the desire to track down, to mend, to revive what is lost.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Release Your Gifts

Sing for Me
Dance for Me
Preach for Me
Pastor Abiot from Zimbabwe

the preacher wants you off the
street comer, don't loiter
God's waiting for you
to unwrap your gift
suppose it’s not what
you hoped for—
your voice jumps off notes
speaking in public
facing an audience
dancing barefoot,
in taps, ballet shoes
still flat-footed, stiff,
the preacher wants you
out of your seat, out of the
audience, he wants you
to find your gift,
maybe it’s to keep lighting a candle
cupping a hand around the flame
no one’s left out
someone’s staining a pew
someone’s adding salt to soup
someone’s setting a table
someone’s opening a door
someone’s telling a story
someone’s listening hard
someone’s nodding
someone’s tapping
someone’s praying
someone’s swaying
someone’s kneeling
the preacher wants you
to unwrap your gift

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Our local meteorologist said, "If it rains, as expected this Thursday and Friday, our June rainfall total might catapult us from 13th place to top five. We''re expecting a Northeaster." Of course that depends upon everything staying the same.

What is it about records? Weather people, at least here, love to talk about how we can exceed or fall into the other category—lowest. In the winter they look at the coldest month, the snowiest, the total snow. Each season allows our local weather people to wax eloquently about possible and real records. When they release the records you almost feel as if the meteorologists take personal credit for records.

Here are some records that make one say—how can this be?

Some statisticians say that in the last 3400 years we've only enjoyed 246 years of peace.

There are other statisticians who think that if you count every skirmish forget counting years—think twenty-six peaceful days.

And it didn't matter if the day was cold, hot, wet, dry.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Releasing Recollections

Hot days staring
at the ocean
to a crescendo
played against
a blue backdrop

I recall girls
on blankets
turning their bodies
to even a tan
on oiled skin

I recall a boy
and a sandcastle
surrounded by moats
filled with water,
a bucket of shells nearby

Do they recall
stopping for fried shrimp,
with onion rings as big as
bangle bracelets?

The ocean continues
Time passes

Monday, June 10, 2013

Unasked Questions

Because I had my camera with me and a heron preened for all photographers I snapped forty-five photos-- full body, profile, closed and open mouth.

While looking at my photos, prior to winnowing down, I thought of photo opportunities missed.

When driving to Yosemite from San Francisco we chose a road that took us past small towns. The heat in the low areas approached oppressive and we hadn't passed any place to stop where we might find something cold. Our water was cold, but we hoped for an ice cream.

Then, almost wished into existence, a run down store. We stopped, looked about, asked about ice cream, and then opted to buy a package of cookies.

On the way back to the car I spotted a woman seated on the steps to the store. She hunched over her knees intent on watching her cigarette smoke rise. Occasionally she released a well formed smoke ring.

A halter top and short shorts allowed everyone to view her tattoos-- which covered all the exposed parts of her body. Gaudy and brightly colored flowers, text, and a serpent. That's all I could see without staring.

I wanted to take a photo, but my camera wasn't handy and my partner thought that the woman might not appreciate my intrusion into her reverie.

I missed taking a color photograph-- with her looking down at her toes or a black and white photo that captured the evocative scene.

Sometimes when I see a photography exhibit I'll spot a photo that reminds me of that scene. So many unanswered questions.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Heron

Some days the sun shines, the temperature settles into a mellow place of neither cold nor too hot, a breeze sets the leaves in motion, and being outside surrounded by trees, shrubs, and water equates to bliss.

Today fits that description—and where do you go when checking out a new telephoto lens? I opted for a nature preserve where on a good day different bird songs compete for top billing.

And how fortuitous. A rather large heron settled himself down near a path. He stood in shallow water—modeling for the six or so photographers. The length and girth of camera lenses caused me to wonder about my smaller telephoto. Was it up to the task?

I approached one photographer—”How large a mm lens is that?” He assured me that it was no bigger than my lens, just an older, bulkier lens without any stabilization. “I don’t mind,” he said,” carrying my tripod around.” His tripod looked heavy, sturdy, and impervious to any mishaps.

Several men kneeled—almost genuflected, until I realized that they wanted to be on the same level as the heron.

I set my camera on continuous shooting so that I’d catch any sudden movement , but the heron’s movements rarely included more that a sideways glance at the tall grass.

After awhile I realized that the heron captured all of us with his preening and he wouldn’t release us from our fascination until a time of his choosing. Until then we remained mesmerized—and clicking.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


I noticed that whenever I go to a party where there's a buffet, I eat the oddest conglomeration of food-- items I'd never mix together if I planned a meal. All manner of making healthy choices disappears. I become a glutton and indulge in my dream plate. I release all sense of decorum.

Tonight the laden table sagged with coconut crusted shrimp, two types of pasta, three different grains , salads, deviled eggs, guacamole, two other dips, blue chips, steak tips, melted cheese sandwiches for the vegetarians and baked beans. Several other items came out later in the evening.

Then the deserts came out. You always have to have space for one or more deserts. Occasionally someone walked by with a slice from all the five pies, several cookies on top, and a large mound of whipped cream.

I feel healthy-- I only had a sliver of pie and three cookies. It's amazing how I'm able to fool myself.

Friday, June 07, 2013

A Scrap of Paper

I found a scrap of paper covered with short one sentence notes. It's strange to find snippets -- words disconnected to specifics.

Open the window..
Did I write that on a hot day or the day I cooked a pungent dish? And why would I need a reminder?

Wipe the dust from your shoes.
Wouldn't you think that I meant dirt? Yet I did write dust. What kind of dust? I don't recall any really dust laden places. I'm trying to think and the only thing I can think of is walking through a construction site looking for abandoned, discarded, treasures to use for a free form sculpture.

Once I constructed a lopsided sculpture from found scraps. A Clorox bottle formed the midsection, a dented cola can became a neck. I constructed the head out of bottle caps and an abandoned lamp. Two bent spoons worked as ears and a bottle opener became a mouth. I guess I ran out of found items because I never attached any arms or legs. My dog recognized the creature as a potential rival and throttled the yet unnamed beast until it toppled over.

To stand as a witness.

Had I taken a stand on an important issue? If so what issue? Or am I imploring myself to refuse to straddle a fence? But maybe it doesn't mean that at all --because I use the word witness. To stand as such is stronger than standing as a spectator . One is passive and the other active.

Maybe I meant that standing as a witness is freeing. It's a release from indecision, a release from wondering how to react.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Separate Paths

Serendipity. While pushing my grocery cart I heard someone say hello. When I looked up I recognized a woman I once worked with wheeling her cart in my direction..

I wanted to ask her whether she's still making huge kites and entering kite tournaments, but she was interested in telling me who was retiring and who was staying.

I recalled her explaining all about fighting kites and sled kites.
She told me about the new people and how she's an old timer.

It's odd how conversations travel such different paths. Listen, I thought, creating kites that require a team to fly are far more interesting. But she continued telling me who is left and who is gone.

" They'd like to release me and get a tall , young blond. But I'm just going to stay on and on."

Too bad I didn't think about sharing how much I enjoyed listening to her talk about flying in the clouds.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Writing a Newsletter Release for a Workshop

Faith is what someone knows to be true,
Whether they believe it or not.
--Flannery O'Connor

Do you write? Want to write?

Muriel Rukeyser said, "The world is made of stories not atoms." imagine all the stories left to tell when we read scripture. Between the words are gaps, spaces ready for our stories. In Ruth we read that Ruth and Naomi left Moab and traveled to Bethlehem, but all we know of their travels is contained in one line, "So the two women went until they came to Bethlehem."

Imagine a conversation between Hagar and Sarah or imagine that you are Lot's wife. Wherever spaces exist we can create stories-- insert ourselves into the spaces.

Flannery O'Connor said that every story she wrote was about redemption and grace, yet many of her short stories never mention either. The story itself was the conveyer.

Perhaps you want to write a spiritual memoir, a psalm, a prayer, a hymn or even a short story.

We're open to all types of writing-- poetry, lyric essays, short prose pieces, interior monologues, joint ventures. Just bring a pen and paper and a willingness to play with words.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

This Release Won't Work

happened anew,
played over again
I think time,
a Möbius strip
replays itself

Monday, June 03, 2013


The blues is an art of ambiguity,
an assertion of the irrepressibly human
over all circumstance, whether created
by others or by one's own human failing.
—Ralph Ellison

Authentic and ambiguity go together. On the surface they appear as odd companions, but I feel comfortable with the link.

When Polonius says to Hamlet ,to thine own self be true, he's warning him to refrain from deceiving himself.

When I am attempting to be who I am—not looking around for a different role, I am most comfortable with ambiguity. Uncertainty and doubt release me to consider how complex life becomes if I wrestle with my responses to differing circumstances.

I think that being authentic means settling into ambiguity.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Unsent Thoughts

Regret makes a cold supper.
—Charles McCarry The Miernik Dossier

Regret, a canker sore, you check with your tongue
a place to return to and cycle around in a circle
a litany of different words, changes in direction
a homesickness
for what can't be altered

to release regret
means learning a new dance

Saturday, June 01, 2013

The Release of a Presciption for Avoiding Numbness

How do people adjust to hot and humid weather? Perhaps you just ignore the obvious. That's my new mantra.

A mantra isn't only a repeated word or phrase. It's also a alleluia, a canticle, a hosanna, an answer.

Answer to how to deal with any uncomfortable situation--create another scenario.

A scenario is also a framework, a précis, a game plan, a book.

What's important is to avoid detachment or apathy. One must always avoid indifference, inertia, or nonchalance.