Friday, July 13, 2018

The Basket

I am an astronaut awash in stars.

I am a shipwreck survivor,
  collapsing at last on the shore.

I am a burrowing hermit crab,
   slipping in and out of safe darkness.

I am a weary traveler resting under a tree.

I am carrying a basket of souls,
   and being carried in the basket.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Memorial Hill

Sitting on the hard edge of the past
our conversations punctuated with stars
and lack of sleep
we tangle and untangle
thoughts, selves, souls, hearts, limbs.

Behind us, the Memorial -
calcified, unchangeable -
petrified lives engraved in granite,
an homage to the carnage of glorious war.

Before us, rolling into verdant growth and open air,
a hill, cascading down from our feet to
a field, wide and waiting for play, and
a forest ranging deep and rising away into
sky, vast and shifting and rich with sunrise,
the scents of lifting flight
and all the blooming atmospheres of tomorrow -
of what could- may-will be -

This pause, this sitting-on-stair,
this meeting of flesh on stone,
is all that we can rightly call
Now -
a thin edge -
a molecule of a moment -
a word that falls into space -

a kiss to vanish on your face.

-Amherst College, Reunion 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Breath and Twine

Have the courage to breathe,
Breathe compassion,
Compassion for the world as it is.

Is there room to breathe free,
Free the fluttering wings in your chest,
Chest that rises and falls,
Falls with the ocean waves -
Waves of despair and hope?

Hope swells, crests, sweeps
Sweeps the shores -
Shores of souls,
Souls entrusted to our care.

Care comes in boxes of twine,
Twine around fingers, hearts, lungs,
Lungs straining against the world,
The world as it is.

Is there a way to weave,
Weave twine into baskets,
Baskets that hold such a wavering thing,
Thing that ebbs and flows,
Flows through our fingers,
Fingers that weave twine,
Twine into baskets,
Baskets that hold hope?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Dormant Tomorrow

Buried in darkness -
Dormant, asleep -
Growing in secret,
Preparing to rise,

Past selves are reborn
when new voices shout,
demanding peace
as only the young can.
Tomorrow belongs to them.

And us?
The gray ones
Weary with wisdom
And life
And loss
And the slow ticking pace
Of our worn and beating hearts?
We step with soft footfalls on this earth,
behind the stomping feet of their warrior dance,
tending the next row
of sleeping seeds.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Disembodied Endings

Dying in this furtive world
Illuminated only by breath
Seven dragonflies dance across the sky,
Each one a sin, and a virtue.
Make mine bold, glittering, aquamarine.
Bring nectar and ambrosia to the farewell feast.
Our days are numbered like the hairs on your head, or the
Diamonds that float across infinite waters.
In time, the world will float, too.
Endings are like that -
Dire and magnificent.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Right Now

Right now birds are singing.

Tomorrow I may fail
or you may die
or earth may burn

But right now birds are singing.

Birds are singing
and the air is cool
the oranges are sweet
and the coffee is warm.

Later, tears may come
or fear
or broken bones and promises

But right now birds are singing.

Birds are singing,
my heart is beating,
my lungs are breathing,
my home stands,
and love lives.

Right now birds are singing.

Friday, June 22, 2018

My Heart Cries Havoc!

My heart - oh, my heart -
cries Havoc! Mercy! Kyrie!
"Unthinkable" has vanished.
All, all, all is thinkable:

Waters poisoned forests flaming islands drowning -
Wolves at our doorstep with teeth of bullets -

And the children -
God, the children -
Dead, dying, futures mortgaged
Shot down in schools
Homeless in hurricanes
Motherless mobs with
Jackals as nursemaids.
A cage, a cage, for their tender age!

All, all, all is thinkable -
imagined, enacted, decreed and designed -

In a punch in the gut on the morning commute
A bumper sticker flaunts two stark silhouettes:
"Your son," the figure on the restroom door,
"My son," armed with the rifle-death-machine.
"Come and take it" demands the man
With the banner of death by the hotdog stand.

Oh, God! God! God!
What threats are here made,
taunts are here laid
down at our feet?

What will we - can we - wear to shout
our pain - shame - defiance - unity?
What rainbows? What colors? What ribbons?
What orange vests with lists of death?
What shroud, sackcloth, or ashes would be


"Enough" - an impossible word.

God! Oh, God! Has this world ever learned?
Do we need another flood
to wash clean our sins
of cruelty, violence, greed and despair?

Oh, God! Havoc! Mercy and kyrie!
My heart! oh, my heart!
Break my heart, break!
Oh, Absalom! Oh, fallen sons and daughters!
Fallen on the battlefield of these
thinkable tragedies!

And you who watch and teach and lead -
you who stand and speak and rule
you who make and buy and spend
and end your days when you begin -
arrest your beating hearts.
Drop into time's abyss with me
and see:

In this yawning moment
Your next words matter -

the way light matters or air
or the sun, stars, cosmos,

or this green earth that we
burn so callously
crumbling its nourishing dirt
into garbage dumps
and choking its living waters
with plastic poisons
that suffocate sea turtles -

Oh, god! Can't we see?
Every death is mine-yours-ours.
We choke and gas
We massacre

We are the ones
who swallow the plastic
who immolate our souls and our futures
under this brown, sulfurous sky
while children fall - pop! pop! pop! -
to the thinkable tragedy
of our indifference.


Cyberspace is a place where nobody hears,
A soul-less Beast - all mouth and no ears -
An impotent hydra with infinite heads -
A machine made of fury, a furnace for a heart
Gorging on our madness
While we, the blind, gouge out our own eyes,
Bash in our own skulls.

Oh, God! Havoc! Mercy! Kyrie!
Let poets scream and wail!
Let artists paint with blood
and writers carve warnings on living bone
while teachers count carcasses
from dawn to dusk.

Hearts of mercury, lead, and fumes - awake!
Wail! Wail and break.

Is there not one soul living to heal the wounds?

My heart - oh my heart -
cries Havoc! Mercy! Kyrie!