Archive for the poetry Category

The Poems

When starting out, I was so excited
that anything showed up, I thought
I was done. But somewhere along
the way, I realized they are alive
and I wasn’t wrestling them into
view. They, respecting my effort,
agreed to be seen. Not to be re-
vealed, but to be loved. Now I
circle back in the morning to see
what they need from me. Just more
of my attention which starts with me
undressing what I know. For the
longest time I thought I was revising.
It’s more a conversation in which I
keep learning how to listen. And
when I do, they will after a time
pull aside a cloth or cloud to make
obvious the reason they have come.

On and Off the Path

It’s the light above the path
that points to the path that
makes it a path.

The way the sun off the moon
lights the oar with the peace
we were looking for while we
sleep it off adrift in the boat.

It’s the light above the heart
that points to the heart that
makes each path necessary.

The way going there always
brings us here. The way loving
another always brings us
to ourselves.

It’s the light we drop and
leave that makes each
giving a path.

The way a carpenter builds
home after home; knowing
that the sawing, the planing,
the hinging, the building
is his home.

It’s the light we are but never
see that makes each soul a path.

The way the blossom of all
we feel and all we hide makes
the search for beauty unnecessary.

Regarding Peace

It was pressing like a weight on
my mind and I sought his advice.
He appeared as he does in dream.
I said, “It has all concentrated in
a mass of worry I can’t extinguish.”

He seemed impatient with me
and chided, “Drown it out—”

I was offended, felt discounted.

He placed his knowing like a
hand over my mouth, “No.
Drown it—out—” and gestured
to the space around me.

I didn’t get it.

Suddenly, a basin appeared
with a broken log in the bottom
and a waterfall began to fill it.

He came close and whispered,
“Flood your mind with the pace
of creation and the worry will rise
like this log and float away.”

I watched the basin overflow
as the log began to float.

Then he spoke like a bell
in the center of my worry,
“Surround what presses in
with indiscriminant being
and you will drown all
worry out.”

In the Back of the Eye

What the heart sees from under its break is
always true. When I had cancer and Grandma
died, that moment erupted, a silent explosion
that sent her away and deeper into me at the
same time. When the sun came up behind
that mountain on the way to Santa Fe, my
soul somehow knew it was safe to creep back
into the world. When I was afraid in every
direction, the only place my heart could chew
was in the meadow of now. It’s as if we carry
a very soft emblem of the fire of life way inside
and we are hardened to keep it from going out.
Then one day a bird we’ve never seen pokes at
the window and we think nothing of it but every-
thing within us knows it’s time. And the hard-
ened places start to crack and the heart stirs
from its waking sleep. And all the softness
we’ve carried since birth is suddenly at the
mercy of wind and rain. Now when I see you
rubbing your hand, I feel all the things you’ve
held. Now when I see the snow cover the trees,
I hear the story of every tree. Now I am forced
to stop on track 19 at Union Station, letting
everyone rush on by, feeling their filaments
of soul flicker.

The Better Way to Go

One at a time, they come off the plane:
looking for someone, arriving alone,
returning, beginning. They get off.
I wait to get on. Suddenly, it’s not
just the 11:35 to Chicago. But the
immigrants leaving Europe. Or the
thousands filing in and out to see the
lost Buddhas of Cambodia. Or the box-
cars with no exit. They get off. I wait to
get on. It doesn’t matter where we’re going.
I want to stop the old man shuffling. He
seems to carry a secret. It weighs him
down. It makes him search the floor
for the crack to the underworld he
was told would be here. We are
coming and going. Born. Dying.
In and out of life. Only no one
knows whether getting on or getting
off is the better way to go. The old man
pushes through the revolving door. He’s
looking for his baggage. Here’s another
with a limp in her heart. It makes me
want to stand and simply hum the
one true thing I know, hum it till
it starts to ring. And what if I could
sing it till it undresses all our cries?
Would anyone recognize it, know
it as their own? Would some join
in? I’m asked to board. To get on
with it. She looks at my passport
to see if it’s me. As if to say, Are
you you? I think she understands.

Her Name Meant Light

—Forgive me.
I loved a woman who loved the earth.

I met a man who was going there,
where you had lifted the faces of children.
He now works where you are buried.
He scratched his chin and said, “I know
someone is out there, beneath a tree,
but I don’t know who she was.”

When you were dying, your thin
wrist in my hand, I knew I’d be here,
in this day, busting with my sense of
you before people who never
heard your voice.

Forgive me. It is impossible
to keep your memory alive.
Even your father never sent me
the picture that split me with an ache,
the one with long brown hair
from years before we met.

He never sent it, though I asked
three times. And now like all memorials,
the spirit’s gone, aerating the earth
and stone is stone, tree is tree
except your ash has fed its root.

Forgive me. I keep writing your name
but can’t out-write the wave of life
that sweeps you from the sand.

No matter how I sing of you,
there’s always someone who appears
just as I’m finished. I can’t keep up.

Even when I stand before strangers
and say, I loved her so, my words rise
in the air above their hearts
and I can’t stay the silence,
the merciless patient silence
which waits for every cry to fade
into that sea of God
that frees us
of our names.

Signs of the One Essence

The tops of clouds that no one sees
illuminated by the sun.

The inside of the heart that no one sees
softened by the soul.

The warmth waiting at the center
of all silence.

The calm waiting at the center
of all feeling.

The coolness waiting at the bottom
of a lake.

The emptiness waiting at the bottom
of all ideas.

The first sign of light that stirs
small birds to sing.

The wordless beginning that awakens
those encumbered to sigh.

Understanding is only the movement
between seasons.

For Those Trying Too Hard

Don’t be harsh with yourself.
The oar hits a rock and splits.
We find a branch offered by
the storm and carve another.
The tongue hits a falsehood
and burns. We baptize our lips
slowly in the truth and learn to
say yes, one more time. Even
with our eyes closed, the sun
is near. Even with our wounds
healing, the heart, hooded like
a falcon, is ready to fly.

Stairs Made of Water

Imagine climbing stairs made of water to
a doorway of light, through which we both
leave ourselves and find ourselves.

This is the moment of unity that musicians
and artists and lovers know when they give
themselves completely to their music and
their art and to what they love.

I Promise You

I was in a circle of those who
climbed from the sea of their lives
onto the shore of a day like today.
We were tired, alive, aglow, broken.
And out of a sudden silence
a young woman stood and sang
You’ve Got a Friend and when she
voiced, “You just call out my name…
and I’ll be there…” I saw you all.

No vow has meant more to me.
Yet there was the time I couldn’t
get there. And the time I was afraid
to come for some dark reason too
familiar for me to understand.

I am sorry for the wounds my
absence has caused.

We try like birds awakened by a
piercing tone of light to fly to the
sun of each other’s need. And
always wind throws us off.

I am so sorry not to be
what I promised.

But like a whale whose tears
only add to the ocean that slows
him down, I swim to you.
I swim to you.