Tuesday, February 9, 2016


                        THE PACIFIC
                           (for Matt)

at the horizon where sky and ocean meet
no boat or island    the pure curved seam
a conjoining of the elemental and infinite
I breathe it boundlessly for the first time

at the horizon where sky and ocean meet
I'm scoured clean    simplified   opened out
everything false and puny stripped away
the spirit starts shouting: Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

at the horizon where sky and ocean meet
to be obliterated is to be reborn    to know
nothing    the quintessence of all wisdom
dwindling ever smaller   I vanish into Joy


      Last summer I visited my son Matt in L.A., and we spent much time on the shore of The Pacific Ocean. This was only my second time encountering The Pacific--but in spirit, really my first. This time I absorbed the experience through every pore, and the above poem is one result. Another was a drawing I did a few months later, titled "My Pacific."


low    full    and dusky in the east tonight
ancient spellbinder    you compel my eyes
seducing my heart    even though I realize
you're just a barren cratered ball of stone

but that's only one of your countless guises
another--intimate companion of my soul
we talk when there's nobody else to listen
what passes between us   I'll never reveal

before oceans filled or mountains thrust up
you were there    when glaciers first froze
your shining glittered across their crevasses
shamans conjured your oracles--entranced!

this night it's just you   me   and the cosmos
beyond loving and loss    death and grieving
I drink deep from your well of what endures
time/Eternity    meet in our communion now


      The moon and I always have had a special bond. Most nights I look up to check where she is, whether waxing or waning, new or full. On this particular night there was a harvest moon, riding "low   full   and dusky in the east..." I was awed by her beauty, and felt an intimate communion between us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


                       THE HIGHEST

I fumble for words    there are no words
not for the Highest    no syntax matches
but I call it Thou    Thou transcending all
creating all    infusing all    embracing all

The Highest because lowest    the greatest
because least    ever yet never--a paradox!
music so fiercely sweet    I ache to hear it
silence so sweetly fierce    I gladly drown

every spoke converges at Thou    each life
pivots on the axle of that invincible bliss!
rain spatters    chanting the primal name
the sun blazes    refracting a cosmic smile

most wise because foolish    inexhaustible
because empty    never yet ever--a mystery!
truth so transparent    I can't perceive it
love so incandescent I'm too blind to see

I fumble for words    there are no words
not for the Highest    just awed devotion
this yearning ascent of my whole being
this translation of my soul to the stars...


      I adore Beethoven, and one of my favorite works by him is The Missa Solemnis. It's so richly infused with passionate faith, love and joy! After listening to it yet again a while ago, I wanted to express in poetry, however inadequately, the ecstatic spirit and inspirational message I hear in this music. In doing so, I discovered it felt necessary to pack every line with paradoxical metaphors for God. Classical music by the great composers has lifelong, implicitly--and sometimes, as here, explicitly--been a primary source of poetic influence and inspiration.

                     THE GIFT

all that these words can never say
is what I mean    all that these eyes
can't see is what I want to show you

take away    take away    take away
Who's left is The Gift    Emptiness
come awake    breathe that Emptiness

lost deep in Its silence    a Singing!
the no-sound within   beyond all sound
high  holy  sweet--Music of the Spheres!

we're just one fleck of sentient foam
scattered from a single moonlit wave
cresting on the Sea which has no shore

we're a somewhat squirmy something
wrapped around a Riddle    a Paradox
a Sky turned inside out--The Infinite!

for a short while we live and die--doing
this crazy rumba of stuff and nonsense!
then vanish into The Meaning moving all


       Paradox again. There's really no other way to even approach saying what's beyond words. The name of the game, when writing ecstatic verse, can only be to try to point meaningfully toward the Divine Mystery, realizing that beyond this, the rest is cloaked in a Singing Silence. It's a Holy Fool's game, and thankfully I'm just the Holy Fool born to play it!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


                     I HEARD YOU SAY IT

did you say it?    I heard you say it    this Joy
we feel now busting out--it's enough!  it's all
we need    this sheer Joy of Being    this Grace!

did you laugh it?    I heard you laughing!   Yes!
with such irresistible play    your zany voice
drawing forth my own scandalous laughter--

a hilarity zinging from the Cosmic Big Bang!
no thoughts    words    or meanings    just bliss
here    now    always    this uncontainable bliss!

did you kiss me?    I felt you kiss me    kiss me
like the full moon kissed last night    kiss me
how grass kisses each spring when it sprouts

did you sing the One Name birthing all names
our Secret Name    which only silence knows?
yes    you sang that Name    our Holiest Name!


     In these gloomy, stormy months of mid-January, we can let the weather's dreariness seep into our souls. But once we realize that the ultimate Source of our happiness, our Joy, is never outside us, but always and forever fountaining forth from the inmost core of our being--then we also know we have the power to return home to that Source whenever we choose. Such Joy is our birthright, the essence of what it means to be human, and Divine.

                         SLAPHAPPY PSALM

You're not here    but everywhere    there's only You
in the rhythm of my breathing now    the grace of
Silence singing    the dance of my fingers on keys

You're the Secret my scandalous inner child knows
that Cosmic Joy for which he willingly throws away
all his glitziest playthings    even mimicries of love

You're my Clown's Face flipped on its ear laughing!
My Flash Gordon Decoder Ring    a wild Jump Start
as my soul's dead battery recharges at forty below!

You're the Apple tossed up    but not plunging down
the Ecstatic Maypole I cavort round like a holy fool
the Jigsaw Puzzle I'm boggled by    can never solve

You're a Whiplash Windup on the pitcher's mound
that tasty Sweet Spot where my bat smacks the ball
the Sting of the line drive I just snared in my glove

You're Outrageous Bliss    the Universe's Bull's-eye!
the Tickle    the Giggling    the Joke    the Punchline!
inside  outside  upside  downside    there's only You


        Where does God live, if not in every single moment of our lives. Experiencing Divine Presence means waking up, raising our consciousness, staying centered, savoring every instant. When we can do this, we realize that each sensation, each activity, each encounter, is Holy. When we can do this, then each breath we take is a prayer of gratitude, a psalm of praise!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016



getting old    living alone    another winter
wind cuts deeper    ice more treacherous
night slices down from beyond the stars
how much I long to hold you in my arms

sister   father   mother   brother--all gone
only I've lasted of that splintered family
yet their ghosts still haunt my journeying
how much I long to hold you in my arms

I'm a deathless spirit in a dying animal
bones crack--chilled by the cold and dark
spring's far away    hope seems orphaned
how much I long to hold you in my arms


     We all know them, don't we--those times when inner and outer weather converge to an almost despairing loneliness. Emily Dickinson wrote: "There's a certain Slant of light,/Winter Afternoons--/That oppresses, like the Heft/Of Cathedral Tunes/--Heavenly Hurt it gives us--/We can find no scar,/But internal difference,/Where the Meanings, are--". To be human is at times to feel that "Heavenly Hurt." What makes it bearable, if we endure humbly and patiently, is the rebirth which may arise from such depths.


dead winter    leaden sky
     the lake frozen over
          my heart too 

          then I see it

       tangled among
the fir tree's branches
       broken open--

       a milkweed pod

inside    bursting loose
    feathery chutes
      awake    unfurling

   the seeds are ready

   the seeds are ready!
look    how they spill
         into my hand

       I release them

my heart laughs
      they float free
        on the cold wind 

whirling!    dancing!


    My heart is ever waiting for spring, for renewal, for rebirth! The smallest sign, even in the dead of winter, is enough to lift my spirits. To see those milkweed seeds whirling and dancing on the cold wind! They reminded me, revitalized me. As Chief Seattle said: There is no death. Only a change of worlds."


Tuesday, January 5, 2016



at certain times    if we're graced
with a small favor from the Gods

these words we stammer    whether
joy or pain    love or awe    catch

just the momentary    aching gust
of one of Their own pure outcries

it's then we breathe a vaster being
we're raised for this soaring instant

above our tragic deafness    lifted
to that sphere where all is singing!

music so rare    so piercingly sweet
we can hardly bear it    but we do


     Where does the most soul-piercing music come from? It's not a human invention. We're born to be antennae for signals from a higher, wiser, purer world. And when, even in spite of our smaller selves, such Heavenly Music does break through our earthbound consciousness, for this timeless instant we're lifted out of our animal mortality, into that vaster eternal sphere where all is One.

               MUSIC OF THE SPHERES

images are useless at showing the invisible
words pointless for saying what's not here
but they're all I have    so they'll have to do

without seeing emptiness    hearing silence
we go crazy    things and noises eat us alive
the inner lifeline to our Holy Source is cut

there's a Melody surpassing every sound
a Radiance too intense for incarnate eyes
a Meaning beyond the senses or the mind

Bach comes closest    Glenn Gould serenely
nails it    playing The Well-Tempered Klavier
note after note probes deeper into Mystery

yet not all the way    never to that shudder
of Boundlessness    like visions and poems
they lead us to the brink    inspire us to leap


                              Music Of The Spheres

      The music of Bach has long inspired me, and none more so than the First Prelude of The Well-tempered Klavier. So I suppose it was inevitable I would try to evoke that "Heavenly Music" in both poetry and art. First came the poem, then the drawing. Then I lugged my boom box to a local poetry open mic, where I recited my poem, to Glenn Gould's playing that Prelude--while also exhibiting my drawing! It was a marvelous multimedia trip, and one of the most fulfilling experiences of my creative and spiritual life.