Sunday, November 19, 2017

Summer Communion

Accept its gifts as wafers on the tongue:

the grounded freedom of bare feet on stone
the kiss of sun on my hand's back
the secret breeze at the nape of your neck
the taste of ripe berries ready to fall
the shadow of roses on a wicker chair.

a single fuschia flower petal
spins suspended on a spider's strands
as bowing hydrangea blooms
dip their heads in dappled water

and somewhere over my right shoulder
a songbird has outlasted the crows

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Place Where Birds Come

May this be a place where birds come
where songbirds come
trilling resistance to hoarse despair

where determined dandelions press
through the broken back of concrete
and moss moves to meet them
while berries bob and hang
heavy with ripeness and ready to drop
where spiders find the needed stillness
to weave their winking strands
and monarchs ride the breeze
etching their shadows on lifting leaves.

Come into this place of birds and bees.
Notice the texture of living things.
Drink the sky and eat
huge helpings of sun-glazed air.

-CJM summer to fall, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer Homework

Summer is here.
I shall spend my days
Studying clouds
Honoring blossoms
Auditing trees
Feeling my toes.

I shall pause
And hear
And touch
And know.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Forest Time

This place of moss and mist
where dark loam feeds and liquid air drips
and giants kiss eternity -
this place stops time.

Inside this world of earth-born movement
even the air gestates.
Life exhales and slakes,
creeps and burrows,
leaps and scurries,
climbs and flutters,
nourishes, suckles,
spinning a spiraling web
of reincarnation and revelation.

As I breathe these whispers, wise and evergreen,
I come to believe heaven is covered in moss.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Crayfish Time

Photo by Peyman Zehtab

Crayfish time lingers and bides
In its underwater world
Crawling and drifting through ancient molecules,
Wary and defensive, its weapons poised.
Inside this tiny crustacean’s armor
Beats the heart of a dinosaur,
Primal survival lurking beneath
The cool, calm surface.
A callous cannibal. A secret, solitary scavenger.
Death’s cousin.

I swoop in to snatch it up
In a heady delusion of mortal power.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Hummingbird Time

Hummingbird time zips and hovers with
Millisecond shutter speeds
Darting between atoms and moments
While my now stands still.
Rest is movement,
A blink is loss,
And energy the magic that drives the world.

I pass patient hours
Hoping for its fleeting kiss of beauty.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Life Is too Short

That's life,
My father, who is
naturally too
Irish, said. It's short.

Life, said my mother
is more than enough.
Too many people come up
short just by giving in.

In this life
our task is
to eat-drink-love-laugh too
much so we don't come up short.

Life pushes you. It
is a party guest with
too much to eat and drink
short-changing the waiters.


Life is too short to
  crush hard-boiled eggs
  count gray hairs and lost loves
  eat boiled potatoes without butter
  spend your last nickel on toothpaste
  grind your teeth at 3 am
  lick cupcake frosting alone
  squelch a red-headed spirit
  iron a funeral shirt
  chase after unresolved chords
  deny yourself peppermint sticks
  lasso empty promises
  explode airy castles
  flood your soul's doorways
  choke on inconstant love
  serenade a fickle mailman
  say nothing to the boy with dimples.

Short, too, as life, is
  Christmas morning
  the savoring of an eclair
  the bloom of an iris
  the butterfly's sojourn
  the chance to be heard
  the leaping gait that scales fences
  the twinkle in your blue eyes
  our days of courtship
  our nights of bliss

  the pause before the tsunami hits


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Supply and Demand

My life is a failed economy
with lagging productivity
and an overabundance of scarcity.

The shelves in my stores are empty of
Time and Love
and Patience
and Wisdom
and Sanity -
and Me.
am in very

When demand outstrips supply,
the price

I can't afford myself anymore.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Rococo Souls

We have rococo souls:

brimming with crevices,
laden with whorls -
a carapace here
a curlicue there,
festooned with odd embellishments,
with sconces on our battlements,

in velvet gilded with fleur de lis -
no stoic spartan spirits we,
no simple hearts, no plain ascetics;
like troubadours, we're peripatetic.

We have rococo souls.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Portland Skies


dove-feather clouds infused with sun
kiss my skin with mist
in this place of solace-scented rain
and flannel-soft skies laced in light
a thousand moss-drenched trees
signal life

do not call this sky overcast
it's cast just right -
a watercolor masterpiece
a shade without compare
not the gray of ocean waves
or shadows or ash or death
not even the gray of a lover's eyes
this is a grey you long to touch
a depth without deception
glowing with the promise of divinity
knowing the sacrament of pain
and blessing it with hope

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Diagramming Spring

Discover the survivors of winter in a single noun.

Blink in sun-dazed surprise at the verbs that follow.

Write their green tips across a line of golden light.

Separate the first crocuses from the blades of grass.

Find the songs of returning birds that modify the reborn world.

Dangle them below the perfumes of the earth.

Do the same for every word that sings of new life.

In the long, extended days, trace the endless branches of language
Until there is nothing left but honeysuckle and afternoon walks.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The World Has Entered My Classroom

The world has entered my classroom.
Past and present and future,
Islands and oceans and continents,
Sit in a circle on my classroom floor -
Watching, waiting, wondering, wiggling,
Weeping, quarreling, pouting, giggling,
Pouring their everything into my heart.

War and Poverty fight over erasers.
Famine and Terror fold paper airplanes.
Racism blurts out impulsive answers
While Sexism quietly waits her turn.
Slavery and Suffrage and Civil Rights
And the royal lineage of African kings
Doodle absentmindedly in the margins of their notebooks.

Gunfire and bombs explode from
The grinding of the pencil sharpener and
The fingertips of unthinking playmates,
While lessons drift away on ocean breezes
Lost in the rustling fronds of palm trees
And the scent of orange groves.
The taste of coconuts tangles with the fear of police
As deportation hovers over hunched shoulders
And haunts tired eyes.

The world has journeyed here
Across rivers and mountains and oceans and deserts
By plane, by bus, by foot, by truck,
By rafts and boats and ships
Whose timbers now rot in underwater graves.

The sounds of a thousand dialects tickle
The tongues that chatter away at hard-won silences,
Mingling mysteries and histories of Chuukese and Vietnamese
Iraqi and Cherokee, Haitian and Jamaican and Filipino,
Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru,
Russia and Ireland and Sierra Leone,
Germany and other places lost and unknown
That brought forth these faces.

How can I carry the world in my heart?
It's too big, too big, too big for me.
Its stories sizzle my skin and burn through my fingertips.
Its sadness and cruelty, courage and beauty
And laughter and pain drown my blood
And flood my veins leaving me
Unable to contain the tidal waves.

The world has entered my classroom.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Reeds,   bend but do not break.

Eagles,   soar above the fray.

Swans,   remind us to value grace.

Insects,   break down massive oaks.

Squirrels,   prepare.

Tigers,   attack.

Ants,   collect.

Nursing mothers,   feed your young.

Cats,   protect your territory.

Every soldier has a weapon.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ocean: The Women's March January 21, 2017

Our ocean teems
With beautiful, violent life
Stretching past the limiting horizon
We embrace continents,

Wave after wave of us
Ebbing, surging, cresting, flooding
The city streets with our bodies,

Pouring into every open space
Carrying our words, our fight, our sons
Our daughters.

Welcoming wind and rain and snow
Our roaring waters swell.

Stand in awe of our majesty.
Beware our raging storms.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Novus Ordo Seclorum: January 2017

A vague cloud of ether gathers
Spreading its ominous stench.
The sun rises on a terrifying world.
Our spirits huddle, our leaders hide,
Benumbed, afraid, or stupified.

Wake up!

Brew dark and potent change.
Speak incantations that conjure dragons.
Wrestle gods and angels for practice.
Cry havoc against the foe.
Join the battle with pens and pitchforks.
Do not go gently
Into this new world order.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wolves and Sheep

“Tend my sheep,” the master said.
They called him teacher too.
Are you sheep, dear ones?
In times like these, you should be
fierce and strong, pack at your back,
teeth bared and ready to attack.

Rage in the temples if you must, dear ones
for we have let you down.
There is a time to every purpose
and this is no time
for sheep.