Sometimes I am quiet for hours,
Keep words in pockets,
Learn to live in silence.
For me, this is no painful privacy
Moving away over distant hills
But rather emerging here
In presence of delicate light.
Afterwards, I find it hard to talk,
Walk around the house from room to room,
Not quite confused, but wander in tranquil haze,
Slowly untwisting from where I’ve been,
Yet cannot find words to describe
What has happened or where I’ve been.
Perhaps I’ve been away in deep woods,
Far off the common road of thought,
Transcended all the rules….
Then I hear a truck pass on street outside,
A dog barks, a bell rings and awakens….
Realize I’ve been called back, aslant,
Back on Monday’s road,
Leading down to the sea and back
Still walking, realizing there is far to go.
It is time to fetch the water….
Bring solace to our thirsty hearts,
Watch the fountain flow in spring.
Even in hard times, don’t grudge the water’s
Chance to fill the cup.
White marbled stone polished smooth,
Bronze turtles guarding corners,
Standing at the juncture of the road.
Soon surround with flowering plants,
Quiet songs in summer sing,
Strange power springing through the rock,
Refreshing as we walk past.
Time grows short.
I write repeatedly outside the reach of pride,
Give witness to a deeper trust
Whose roots are ancient, holding fast to
Spirit’s love upon the human cross.
If only you could see Elysium as I do,
Surrounding every mountain valley,
Floating upon rivers of delight—
Ah, the sights I see when eyes are closed.
Do you see the arc of moral justice?
How does one tell the story to younger
Generations raised within corrupt religious traditions
Who’ve learned to scoff indignantly?
Sad are those who live within high towers,
No windows admitting grandeur Light,
Trapped in small whirlpools of ignorance…
They only know fear of death and vengeful war.
Unable to sense the breathing cosmos in the old,
They swim and drown in grinning darkness,
Fail to see occasional sparks of sustaining hope
That Great Light will one day come again–
Drive away lurking shadows
Until all grief is swept away in rubble heaps.
Descend to the depths. Only in great silence
Does one hear the Inner Voice.
Be constant with authenticity
That your suffering teaches.
Here is the path that leads to lasting peace.
There are no textbook names or dates to learn;
No cheap grace that being good bestows.
Entrance is only allowed to those with scars,
Who have overcome the pain of foxhole fear,
Have found the door where passion burns–
Hold the Sword that gives an august blessing.
Tenderly, pass on the Word and sound alarm,
Let free the swarm of captive butterflies,
Ask of hearts a saving trust, even when you know
You cannot save yourself in such dark times as these.
Surrender illusion that you alone are master of your fate.
Mark the day with joy when hope is fastened
By love upon the human cross to save,
Where all of life shares a common hope.
Each time waves wash over my feet
I call your name as though it were morning,
As though I could see anything without your light.
Whenever wind blows over mountain,
I hear it calling your name,
Hear it whisper inside of my heart.
Spilling over my thoughts and then my soul,
Wash away the aftermath of past,
Sailing my love far, far beyond the horizon.
Send wave after wave to cover my face,
Drench with love this wondrous place
Like a saltwater pearl brings exceptional truth.
So vast, this ocean of love.
Whenever I swim, no island to see,
Only mystery right here on the beach.
Down the road from where I live,
Hidden by forsythia branches,
Found old crumbling door leading to root cellar,
Vine leaves whispering as they
Brush against each other.
As I approach, they hush green breath,
Embarrassed by the way they creep,
Hide a secret obscure in deep,
As if by deflecting sun and human eyes
They could in peaceful coolness keep
Roots out of sight, deliberately concealed.
Entombed, these roots speak only to themselves,
Pretend the conversation ended
Just minutes before I arrived
To brush the fading yellow flowers aside….
Bare their skins as though ashamed,
Fearful that if touched by human hands,
Their beauty would be panned,
Boiled, forked and eaten publicly with salt.
Sometimes I travel to a parallel world,
Sojourn in dancing light,
Spellbound in reflected windowpane,
Watching soaring hawk break free,
Ocean waves crashing upon hard rocks,
Wind whispering inside of rain—
Almost anything might do.
There is no reliable key to portal.
Swept into different sphere,
Find myself lost— or found,
Drifting for an instant or an hour,
Humility devoid of apprehension.
Here, animals give words to dreams.
Stars are close as clouds reflecting Sun.
Tonight, I may be caught again,
But always I return… at least thus far.
Always I am charged and changed,
A little, but enough to want to write a poem.
True, I sometimes stutter, cannot find the words,
Hobbled like wild beast beside the path.
Do you know where you’ve been
When you’ve been caught up again,
Sitting, shimmering outside front door?
In Memory of Katherine
Every year another one of the old ones leaves.
One day they’re there on the porch….
Suddenly another one goes and I feel
Absence moving as shadow across field of vision,
Perhaps a glimpse of someone walking over the hill
Often without having chance to bid good-bye,
Leaving me more alone with particular private
Grief, tucked as a small, smooth stone into the
Darkness of a pocket.
I’m not sure what time of day it is for me,
How close the hour when dusk gathers
Long shadows stretching, unadorned
Along this country road that leads, I hope,
To another road beyond the hills and, I hope,
Eventually down to the western sea.
After storms, I sometimes see seagulls
Blown many miles inland, watch them carefully
In the silence that yawns after departing gale.
There’s never a flock, at best two or three
Screeching in confusion, as though
Suddenly lost in a strange world.
Staring into the bare branches of trees
Where birds are huddled against
Invisible fear, I watch my thoughts walk past,
Wondering how it will be.