If I’d Only Been Allowed to Speak With the Dead

When I was born, my innocent soul
Was like a moth, ignorant it would be attracted,
Then burned in the flame of life.
Why was I denied the chance
To speak with the dead?
Perhaps that was my only hope.
 
Now there are still traces of questions
Scratched illegibly upon the walls of my veins.
The pain remains, sits there coagulating truth,
Lost within the extensive caves
Where light of consciousness rarely goes.
 
If there were justice, I would have died,
More than once…  As it was,
Death approached, returned again and again,
Hidden and seen, gently called by some force
Moving down dark hall so silently
I could not hear its steps or voice….
 
I once knew a woman who had a name
For each and every tooth in her mouth.
Such mystical wonders often escape me,
Reflection and introspection taken to such degree
Where I need help with my body, too stiff
To know who poses a request that I love as much….
 
I’ve finally learned to know the absence of love.
But I’ve only begun to know where love is present.
What is the shape of the eternal questions asked by love?
What is its smell?  Is love silky to the touch?
Did Mozart and Beethoven capture its sound?
Or did Francois Gossec capture it best
Only when he sat on afternoons in Paris
Composing his symphonies after watching the guillotine
Sever heads in the morning, the bloody sunrise
Framing death as a choral work of beauty.
 
Some say after we die we will burn in the flames of hell.
But what of inevitable flames that come in the morning?
Who intentionally put rocks on the path?
Why don’t the dreams and longings of youth work out?
Why must we be willing to get rid of the life
We’ve been longing for years and years,
So as to have the life that’s waiting for us?
Where is the hospital?  Who is the nurse?
I pray to God the dead have some of the answers….

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No Blame and No Excuse

Full Moon, no excuse

The year I learned the heart

Is merely an instrument imprecise,

Organ of the body that keeps

Blood rushing through veins,

Brain only asked to validate,

Endorse haste without complaint.

Later in summer, I learned

To buck bales of hay, hard work,

Sweating in blistering heat.

Sun taught me another lesson—

How easily I could

Feel sorry for myself.

 

So much in life is like the tides,

Rising until noon, falling in night.

It seems an arbitrary wind that blows,

Never ceasing, always flowing as blood

Outside control, unawareness has the upperhand.

 

There is no blame,

Neither are there any excuses.

Experience always comes too late to teach

Until we suffer pain.

High above old cheesy Moon

Weeps when we lose love again and again.

Storms upon the sea

Rage against the rocky shore

But still, the young man cannot see,

Walks blindly up a curving path,

Leaves everything as it was….

Lesson left behind.

 

It took stillness in the air,

An empty space to finally teach

How to be tender when kissing

Another upon the check.

God forgive my slow ignorance,

Many times I was not brave enough

To confess I was confused.

 

From cold distance, Moon may see everything unchanged.

But for me, now nothing is the same.

Perhaps at times I am still a lunatic,

Loving old Moon more than I should,

Thinking I have a handle on the truth,

Yet so much remains untouched inside,

Unseen, but no need to make excuse.

 

Sadness in the Air Today

JaJewSh

Sadness is in the air today,
As green slowly turns to yellow.
Nights can be chilly enough
To make me wonder about a hat.

Perhaps I might call all of this
Second nature….
But maybe, truthfully, it’s just Nature.
It’s all as clear as the October air.

It won’t take long for leaves to fall,
Strong wind or rain can
Take out either a leaf or a life in a single day.
No matter what— it’s Nature.

Eventually, trees will all be bare and naked.
It seems cruel to see them come to this.
Do they know? Do they care?
Is there within bark and core awareness?

Then comes darkness; then the snow.
Suddenly the consequences look black and white.
Wind comes along and whips the snow
Like stinging freckles onto your face.

Each flake seems to pause upon skin,
As though waiting for an opening
Or maybe it’s the snow that wants in.
A small piece of the world now wants inside.

Like any proper border, our walls
Never quite thick enough.
Do you wipe it off or let it soak it in?
Relax. Maybe I’m only talking about skin.

Come winter, when snow grabs you—
You can’t just brush it off….
Well, you can, but there’s always more.
In midlife, deep snow can cloud the whole world.

Of course, it drifts into private corners,
Accumulates, endures deliberately
Just for the sake of it…
I wonder if it wants to last.

From inside the house, looking out,
I envy the snow.
Soon it will disappear,
But it doesn’t seem to care at all.

Call it snow; call it chalky paint;
Call it a mask or moisturizer for your face.
Blink your eyes and see both world and Self,
White like snow and without complaint.

 

Blessed Are You…

Pierces With BeautyBlessed are you who rage at injustice,

Yet are at peace deep within the heart.

Blessed are you who are numb from mourning,

Who have known loss yet still love the world.

Blessed are you who are sick and tired,

Who cry at night as you try to sleep.

Blessed are you who are tempted to turn away,

Give up, yet refuse to yield to absurdity and despair.

Blessed are you who keep breathing deeply,

Inhale pain of the world and breathe out prayer for the world.

Blessed are you who hold onto self respect,

Who tend to your needs as well as the needs of others.

Blessed are you who keep calling out, organizing, writing,

Testifying to truth, seeking solutions.

Blessed are you who keeping listening and hearing,

Resist each day the darkness that surrounds.

Blessed are you who’ve been broken to pieces,

Bear raw pain beyond words, who walk slowly,

Refusing to abandon the weak, homeless and hungry.

Blessed are you who are alone yet not lonely,

Who bear witness in crisis centers, hotlines and hospitals.

Blessed are you who rise from prayer to march with prayer,

Who protest as you weep from heavy injustice.

Blessed are you who are aware divinity resides

In those who are despised, abused, violated,

Who live in fear of those who hold more power.

Blessed are you who are traumatized, raped,

Yet know in your bones a presence of goodness

Forever resides in your heart, who know of the beauty

Within those who are rejected as damaged or old.

Blessed are you who seek healing in wilderness,

Who trust the wildness of unbridled imagination.

Blessed are you who stay tender yet fierce,

Who stand against violence, prejudice and unfairness.

Blessed are you who work to repair, transform hate into love,

Who forgive yourselves when you stumble and fail,

Who forgive those who do not ask for forgiveness.

Blessed are you who daily learn lessons from pain,

Who welcome grace that is free yet can be costly.

Who know in your soul you are more than you think.

Blessed are you who give away love, who refuse to hate,

Who transform hurt from healing freely given,

Who labor together each day to make the world better,

Who bless everything and everyone they encounter,

Who embody all that flows unseen, without need to grasp or understand,

Trusting their touch will heal more than they will ever know.

Unseen Hand of Autumn

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There is an unseen hand

Behind the cooler nights of autumn.

Geese rise and sound their call

Even before the rooster’s cry at dawn.

Summer’s playful heat

Left with lesser light.

 

Early green of spring

Began with flower,

Soon to fall as leaves

Outplayed with speed and strength

To catch the Sun and feed

Slumbering core to grow another ring.

 

September green upon the hills,

Still intent it fades well gauged,

Preparing for finale staged —

Knowing deep within the shorter hours,

Yet one last campaign must be waged,

Knowing in the heart, this time may be the last.

 

Even body’s bones feel weariness of age.

Time for green has lost its heat at last.

Yet whatever reds and golds to come

Will charm the eye with brilliance not outclassed

By any other season—shrub, tree,

Sky so vivid blue, fades to gold as evening comes.

 

Mute swans upon the lake take flight,

Circle round three times before they land again.

Ducks and geese take more direction,

Fear not only winter but now the hunter—

Silently he stands, hides within the rushes

Praying to kill, bring sound of danger,

Sends lead when powder fires upon one spark,

Spreads demand of such ungodly power,

Until barrel and perhaps a life is spent.

 

Send prayer instead those survivors

Hailing darts that bring sudden death—

Friends and neighbors fall mid-flight,

Make havoc of the need to rest or riot.

No good knowledge, not cunning of the mind

Stop coming of dark winter’s edge and night.

 

The Midas Touch

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Early morning light,
Walk upon black sand,
Fire of volcano from years ago
Burned into the world,
Released the deepest gold
Scattered in the air, the trees,
The grass against blue water’s edge.

Perhaps King Midas, sitting on his throne,
Reached out his hand and touched the Sun—
All alone, he poured such blazing pain,
To survive upon every ocean shore…
Still it smolders in his name.
Alive so many years, he never knew
His touch of gold left his daughter dead.

I Am Grateful But Not Happy….

Clarity Will Come

I will be honest.  I am not happy.

No need to deceive or lie when you’re as old as I…

Now is the time to reveal as much as I can see.

I’ve recently slipped away from death again,

 Just as I did when I was three and was hit by a car,

Wheel grazed against my face when I rolled

Down a hill outside the church.

Thank God, for me, the street of life has been long.

There have been soft pillows when I went to sleep,

But so many lost or forgotten dreams.

 

When I was five, I was thrown

While riding bareback on large trotting horse,

Held onto reins, pulled under beast,

Saw the face of death until hooves

Clipped against my head,

Finally knocked me unconscious.

I let go of reins and fell safely into blackness.

Eight times darkness has come and circled close.

I am like a beef stew, still simmering on the stove,

Invisible chef saying I’m not sufficiently tender,

Apparently for some unfathomed reason

Not yet ready to set upon the Table.

More lessons to be learned–


Battles to be won or lost before peace comes…

 Praise God— I still have work to do!

 

But why should I be happy

When I look outside and see the sky…

Clouds billowing as sails,

Birds as distant yachts upon the roiling seas.

Who will hold my hand as it trembles on the tiller

When I tightly turn to port when day is done,

Gybing across the southwest wind,

Seek a place to anchor for the night?

I will be honest.  I am grateful and I am not unhappy….

And I hope for another year and more…

 

How is the sky where you live today?

Here, limited visibility and the air thick,

Moist heat forcing me inside again,

Curtains pulled against the sun.

Do you see clouds against horizon of your dreams?

When I was young there were no clouds….

The sky eternally blue and I could see forever.

After sunset, fireflies and stars came out.

There were lamps that were lit in evening corners,

Music played late on the radio, and I failed to

Notice love was absent in the house.

 

I will be open— my life is no tragedy.

If you were here, I’d take your hand,

Look softly but intently into your eyes and ask,

“Has someone ever loved you fully?”

When you were young and alone,

Did you often think of death?

Did you ever spend a day outside upon the ground,

Watch blue skies, white rags of clouds

Sucking fantastic sweetness from the searing air?

Even now, do you feel sad when watching sunsets?

 

Did you lose yourself at the age of eight

 While staring into coals of fire at night,

Have fears of hell instilled….  brush your hair,

Striving for a perfect look, insides unseen,

Alone with sleeping pain you hardly knew was there

So many wasted wishes, each one the same —

With every birthday cake a prayer

God would take me Home and not

Throw me into cold flames of Hell.

 

Speak to me.  What is love if we are only birds

Flying as yachts among the clouds that block the sun?

Are there terrible questions that

Must not be asked, for shame,

Unspeakable shame to ask…..?

 Love for me is someone giving a hand to hold,

Yet another chance to stop hiding—

Open all the windows and as light fades into dusk,

Perhaps the promise of an honest kiss.

 

Who knows you well enough to know

What answers you are afraid to seek?

Speak to me, my friend.  I am here.

Should we speak plainly or merely in metaphor

As we shamble down the street?

Do you want to hold hands

Or walk two feet apart?  Who are you now?

Are you happy when alone within your skin?

I am not happy; I am grateful and I am not unhappy.

And I am not afraid.

 

There have been too many births and deaths….

Even  those unnoticed are mighty.

More will come before winter snow.

Perhaps we should look no deeper,

But since my youth, I always want to know….

Or would you prefer to sail upon a quiet surface?

 

Can you bare to read the wrinkles on your face?

Shall we sail together upon white-capped clouds,

Say prayers as we fly upon  deep blue sky,

Raging clouds casting shadows at high noon?

Be forewarned, you cannot leave fingerprints in blue.

As gathered darkness comes, will there be answers

To our terrible questions or will the silence reign

Upon dry minds that thirst in prayer for more?