Tuesday, November 17, 2015



they were gathered around her
the old women    converging on
the eldest one    she looked lost
frail    shrunk in her wheelchair

they were gathered around her
worried by her sudden faltering
spinning a warm cocoon of love
hands    eyes    voices    presence

they were gathered around her
the guardians    all ministering
their solidarity primal as night
each heart a stay against death


   I observed this scene in a senior living community, where I work part-time as a security officer. On one level, it was commonplace, everyday. In a deeper, more universal way, however, it seemed almost mythic, an archetype embodying how the Old Wise Women of all times and places draw together in a protective circle of love to care for one of their own. 

                                CARPE DIEM

juicy blackberries and banana slices over granola
soaking in a bath of milk and cream    along with
half an "everything" bagel    a glass of apple juice

morning slants in stripes through the mini-blinds
capping a good night's sleep and a luminous dream
about a sacred child and a father with cobalt eyes

an old man can feel like a flea under death's armpit
yet alive and still kicking on this sun-drenched day
what else can I do but slingshot my voice in praise!

outside my window a cold wind racks the branches
inside raggedy slippers all ten toes curl and uncurl
heartbeat by heartbeat I kiss each second as it flies!


     Just being in the moment, here and now, truly, deeply experiencing through all our capacities, fully awake--the heart overflows with praise! As long as we can still revel in such simple, humble pleasures, the only response must be an unequivocal Attitude of Gratitude!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


                           THE MUSE

                                 "Are you the one who came
                To Dante, who dictated the pages of Hell
                To him?" I ask her. She replies, "I am."

                                                                       -- Anna Akhmatova 

across ninety years    half a world away    I'm
there    that singular room with Akhmatova
we wait beneath the towering Russian night 
until    tossing aside her shadow-riddled veil
the "beloved guest" overwhelmingly arrives

Akhmatova receives the stringent messenger
she can't know    although she already knows
The Muse will dictate to her the harsh pages
of another hell    keening the cruelest agony 
a mother who cannot save her doomed child

when the austere Invisibles command a life
the soul ignites    ravished by that reckoning
we remain small    fractured and incomplete
but some Power--vast   unafraid   imperious!
possesses us    cascading through the cracks


                             The Muse

     Browsing in the poetry section of a book store, my hand happened to pull from the shelf a selection of poems by the great 20th Century Russian lyric poet Anna Akhmatova; and the book "happened" to fall open to her 1924 poem "The Muse." The poem stunned me, especially the lines I quote at the beginning of my own poem "The Muse", which I wrote in response to hers. A few days later I drew my vision of Akhmatova's Muse, and in the process had another revelation: Dante's Muse, and Akhmatova's, and my own Muse, are one and the same. 

                       Night Comes On

one bright star glitters low in the west--
     caught at the fringe of a long dark cloud
         the sky deepens from blue to indigo

two dark clouds sprawl low in the west
     a vee of geese wings toward the horizon
         the sky deepens as night comes on

the sky deepens    night comes on as Earth
     peers like a watery eye through the void
        one bright star glitters low in the west

seven wild geese arrow toward the horizon
     over the streetlights and crouched houses
        the sky deepens from indigo to black

a last faint glimmer of dusk drains away
     cold wind splinters into a thousand stars!
        the roofless sky deepens    night comes on


                   Night Comes On

         One night, as I left work, I looked up as a vee of geese winged across the evening sky. That vision stayed with me, until it found expression in the poem "Night Comes On." Then, about a week later, both vision and poem inspired my drawing. Too often, we look, but we don't see. This time I did both, and so was reminded how astonishingly beautiful our world can be.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015



clinging to the underside of a leaf    fragile wings
folded    as raindrops strike its surface    my soul
lies low in the magical darkness     far removed
from timetables   deadlines   checklists   agendas

if there's some secret passage to another world
it's this    where time dissolves into timelessness
here every splash of rain is rare    strange    new
listen    our sentient planet's murmuring to itself

have you a safe refuge for the absconding soul
a holy place beyond the clutch of life or death?
without one we drown in obsession and illusion
go now    take flight    your hideout's in Eternity!


     Any moment we can Wake Up and tune in to the Divine and Miraculous which is always here, all around us, hidden in plain sight. But most of the time we're asleep--too caught up in brooding over the past; too distracted by the present, or too anxious about the future. A couple of Wake-Up catalysts for me have always been trees and rain. In this poem they come together, and the epiphany is magic!

                 TOUGH LOVE

intimate    elemental    a cold wind
stalks outside    agitating branches
just beyond my flimsy windowpane

winter's coming it warns    and one
will break you    will be your last

of those close companions I trust
it's the wind that pulls no punches
unsentimental    straight to the bone

tough love    taking my breath away!
but hugs and kisses don't always work

strange    to feel comforted by chaos--
the sky's slap!  emptiness with attitude!
a rough bodyguard named The Universe

some night I'll plunge into its gusty void
and keep going--star after star after star...


     This poem can be considered the macrocosmic Yang to the previous poems microcosmic Yin--with wind the elemental agent, rather than rain. As "Hideout" expresses how the Eternal is secretly present in the smallest discoveries all around us ("To see a world in a grain of sand..." -- William Blake), so "Tough Love" evokes the Awful Sublime of the Infinite, that undiscovered country on the other side of death.