Sunday, May 30, 2010

Morning Glories

Blue and dark-blue

rose and deepest rose

white and pink they

are everywhere in the diligent

cornfield rising and saying

in their reliable finery...

The reaper's story is the story

of endless work of

work careful and heavy but the

reaper cannot

separate them out there they

are in the story of his life

bright random useless

year after year

taken with the serious tons

weeds without value humorous

beautiful weeds.

A Haiku in response to this:

Coming to take us

You and me. Beautiful weeds

Death makes us all one.

Do you ever feel useless and fail to trust your bright beauty?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


...How many of us have weighted the years with groaning and weeping?..

I walk over the green hillsides, I lie down...

The grass cares nothing about me, it doesn't want anything from me, it rises to its own purpose, and sweetly, following the single holy dictum: To be itself, to let the sky be the sky, to let a young girl be a young girl freely-to let a middle-aged woman be, comfortably, a middle-aged woman.

Those bloody sharps and flats-those endless calamities of the personal past. Bah! I disown them from the rest of my life, in which I mean to rest.

I have been investigating a new field - interpersonal neurobiology. It is a way to look at our pasts so that we can rest in the potentially loving present. It is a multidisciplinary field that offers hope in the form of neuroplasticity. No matter our past, no matter our genetics, and no matter our perceived sense of our character flaws, as long as we can form attachments, we can heal. That hope is summarized in this poem.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,

there is a field.

I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn't make any sense. - Rumi

I awake hopeful this morning, running with a middle-aged carefulness through such fields of dreams.

From what character generalizations of yourself of others would you like to rest today?

Friday, May 28, 2010


This morning

two mockingbirds

in the green field

were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons

of their songs

into the air.

I had nothing

better to do

than listen.

I mean this seriously.

In Greece,

a long time ago,

an old couple

opened the door

to two strangers...

It is my favorite story--

how the old couple

had almost nothing to give

but their willingness

to be attentive-

and for this alone

the gods loved them

and blessed them...

Wherever it was

I was supposed to be

this morning-

whatever it was I said

I would be doing-

I was standing

at the edge of the field

I was hurrying

through my own soul,

opening its dark doors-

I was leaning out:

I was listening.

This morning I drive towards the gulf, 3 hours there and back to attend a half day training for rescuing birds in what I hear today is the worst oil spill in US history. To respond to such tragedy in the world, I wonder if you too feel a sense of supposing to do something this morning? No matter our gifts, importance, abilities, or resources, the hope of what we can all do is to lean out from our lives and listen to the world's cries of suffering, squeals of joy, shattering silences of beauty, and our own heart breaking?

Where do you "lean out" from your life?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In Pobiddy, Georgia

Three women climb from the car

in which they have driven slowly

into the churchyard.

They come toward us, to see

what we are doing.

What we are doing

is reading the strange,

wonderful names

of the dead.

One of the women

speaks to us-

after we speak to her.

She walks with us and shows us,

with downward-thrust finger,

which of the dead where her people.

She tells us

about two brothers, and an argument,

and a gun-she points

to one of the slabs

on which there is a name,

some scripture, a handful of red

plastic flowers. We ask her

about the other brother.

"Chain gang," she says,

as you or I might say

"Des Moines," or "New Haven." And then,

"Look around all you want."

The younger woman stands back, in the stiff weeds,

like a banked fire.

The third one-

the oldest human being we have ever seen in our lives-

suddenly drops to the dirt

and begins to cry. Clearly

she is blind, and clearly

she can't rise, but they lift her, like a child,

and lead her away, across the graves, as though

as old as anything could ever be, she was, finally,

perfectly finished, perfectly heartbroken, perfectly wild.

This is the first poem that I have written in its entirety - for I know of no other way to tell the story that left me crying this morning. Mary, you surprised me. Me, a Georgia born gal who thought I had seen everything.

Are you as blind as I have been? The world invites us to look around all we want in the pull and push of Yes, No, and in the end we are here to be heartbroken. Nothing else but this, which is everything.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yes! No!

How necessary it is to have opinions! ..

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly, looking at everything and calling out

Yes! No! The

swan, for all his pomp, his robes of glass and

petals, wants only to be allowed to live on

the nameless pond. The catbrier is without fault.

The water thrushes, down among the sloppy rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

Oh Mary, are you throwing a parable our way? We are to have thinking opinions of yes, no, yet you imply that we are at fault. Is it because of our opinions that come from paying attention? Are we saying yes to life, and no to our species? To thinking? To not being satisfied with what is before us? If you were a rabbi, I'd say you are using a rabbinic device in parable form that confused the readers. So that within all these contradictions there is only one thing unopposed - God. Is your God awareness? I don't think so because it appears opposed to opinion, to wanting, to being at fault. So what is your unopposed God? Perhaps in your world God too is opposed, and we, the reader, are left with nothing. And everything.

What is ultimate meaning for you? God/goddess?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beside the Waterfall

May 25, 2010

At dawn

the big dog-

Winston by name-

reached down

into the leaves..

beside the white


and dragged out,

into plain sight,

a fawn;...

and, thankfully,

it was dead.




the beautiful flower-like head,

breaking it and

breaking it off and

swallowing it...

He, too, if you're willing

had a face

like a flower; and then the red sun

which had been raising all the while anyway,


clear of the trees and dropped its wild, clawed light

over everything.

Our bodies break and are broken open. The wild light of life now escapes, helping us face that we are all flowers - dead child, scavenger, killer, appalled watcher, you, me.

What have you seen in life that is disgusting, that you wish wasn't there or happening?

Monday, May 24, 2010


May 24, 2010

What lay on the road was no mere handful of snake. It was the copperhead at last, golden under the street lamp. I hope to see everything in this world before I die..When I moved a little, it turned and camped its eyes on mine; then it jerked toward me. ..My heart was pounding. I stood a while, listening to the small sounds of the woods and looking at the stars. After excitement we are so restful. When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive.

I was once in a hunting lodge high in the mountains of California. It was the night before the opening of trout fishing season and I was sipping whiskey with the old timers. We got on the subject of snakes, and I marveled how each of these hardened men told stories of how they had been terrified when encountering rattlers. I inwardly scoffed at their imprinting to snake aversion, perhaps more greatly instilled in males than in females. The next day I was fly fishing on the Yuba River, my companion and I skipping over each other as we fished up stream in the clear pools. I was walking ahead of him when placing my foot down up came a rattlers head and tail, noisy, primal, urgent. I dropped my rod (a clear transgression against the mountain macho code), ran back down the trail, and flung myself into the space of fishing buddy, disturbing his quiet concentration. I lost all kinds of macho points in that moment, but recovered nicely when my male companion let me go first to recover my rod and to see where the snake had gone. Perhaps I'm not macho, but glad to be accepted into the halls of mountaineers who have a healthy respect for danger, and who do not turn from the trail or journey though fear is sure to be present.

What do you fear yet you continue forward?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Work - Selected Poems, Volume 2

May 23, 2010

How beautiful this morning was Pasture Pond.

It had lain in the dark, all night,

catching the rain...

All day I hang out

over a desk

grinding my teeth


Then I sleep.

Then I come out of the house,

even before the sun is up,

and walk back through the pinewoods

to Pasture Pond.

In the nights long hours, we catch the beauty after the grind of the day. What if we could wake to this dreamt beauty by a walk in the ponds, instead of the headlines of the gulf oil spill coming to shore upon the water edges of Louisiana? What if we do, and we just don't know it? What if all the elements in the world catch all the other elements - the rain, the oil, the birds, our stresses that lead to grinding of teeth? Then we walk in beauty - to the pond, to the oiled beaches, to the memorial services, to life.

What is for you your Pasture Pond?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

October May 22, 2010

What does the world mean to you if you can’t trust it to go on shining where you’re not there?

Look, I want to love this world as though it’s the last chance I’m ever going to get to be alive and know it. So this is the world. I’m not in it. It is beautiful.

Dying, we look, and find ourselves beautiful and gone like the bear, the fox, and the chicks from the singer’s nest.

White Flowers May 21, 2010

Last night in the fields I lay down in the darkness to think about death. Never in my life had I felt myself so near the at porous line where my own body was done with and the roots and the stems and the flowers began.

Dying, we flower.

Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine May 20, 2010

Who doesn’t love roses and who doesn’t love the lilies of the black ponds.

Look, so wide-eyed our orbits are like black ponds, eternity’s sunrise brings a smile reflecting through the heavens.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lonely, White Fields-May 19, 2010

Every night

the owl

with his wild monkey-face

calls through the black branches,

and the mice freeze

and he rabbits shiver

in the snowy fields-

and then there is the long, deep through of silence

when he stops singing, and steps

into the air.

I don't know

what death's ultimate

purpose is, but I think

this: whoever dreams of holding his

life in his fist

year after year into the hundreds of years

has never considered the owl

how he comes, exhausted,

through the snow,

through the icy trees...

turning this way and that way

through the mesh of every obstacle-

undeterred by anything

filling himself time and time again

with a red and digestible joy

sickled up from the lonely, white fields-

and how at daybreak,

as though everything had been done

that must be done, the fields

swell with a rosy light,

the owl fades

back into the branches,

the snow goes on falling

flake after perfect flake.

Tomorrow is my 10th wedding anniversary. I awoke this morning, in the lonely dark hours hearing the Barred Owl hoot, wistful and yes, saddened, that the ten years have gone by so quickly. Every one of those years, every week, day, moment, a precious gift that is gone. Perhaps not gone, but shifted for as I think back on the joy of that day, I can still taste the joy. Our wedding cake was topped with two owls, who were not just the theme of our wedding, but became the theme of our marriage, and our shared ministries. The gift of time pasts then is not gone, just given over to a better thing. Here is a poem that was included in our order of service on that day, ten years ago...

The owl has special wing feathers that quiet its flight,

So the prey never detects the predator.

One noiseless flap, two, and the small mammal is caught.

As out of the soul's dark night, love is suddenly there, upon us:

Talons and beak.

We succumb,

And turn our bodies over to the nourishment of a grander thing.