On Prayer

SunriseIf perfection may be found in prayer,
I find it best when I do not try to pray.
Perchance it comes with sunrise laughter on the hill.
Or with the touch you bring at night,
Or with sweet kiss that comes with morning light.

Such things go naked into heart,
Emerge rejoicing from my mouth
Or wordless as a sigh caresses air
Then passes ranging out of sight.
Surprised by art, my Spirit burns.

Sometimes I feel I’m loved for sacred flaws,
Wounds that last beyond all contradiction.
Here or there, while walking in the park,
I find no end to love but only lovely spoils,
When wonder echoes great Amen.


As Perilous As Grace

crystal-ballToday is devoted to devotion
As icy wind blows
Across world’s vast open space.

Energy within the spine
Leans upward toward curve of heaven,
Stretches infinitely as much as time.

Both universe and I turn,
Circumference circles out of sight,
Invisible as bird no longer in its nest.

And what of sphere within the sphere?
What of transparent bead unformed within
Molten glass with larger crystal globe?

So much concentrated within crystal
Inclination, sleeping yet awake—
Throbbing heart of universe we know as God.

Circle of my soul is touched, held,
Possessed by fate as perilous as grace,
Alone in night where every star shines best.

Heidegger once said that every man
Is born as many men
And dies as a single one.

I search in forgotten tradition
What has always been familiar—
To seek the unfamiliar Source in Being.

Years Ago You Sang to Me in Rome

Sang to me in RomeYesterday there was a letter
Sealed in white envelope,
Addressed by hand I’d never seen.

Opened with old screwdriver
Last used to open oysters,
Pried open to learn of dear friend’s death.

This oyster had no pearl—
Sucked out salty sea of tears, washed up
Like gnarled deadwood after storm on beach.

This morning there was thin coat—
Ice upon chilled waters of the lake,
Fish buried in mud; my heart buried in brine.

Years ago you sang to me in Rome—
Warm voice brought tears.
Now I wish you’d sing to me again.

Some say the dead are always here.
Yet I only hear the sound of water—
Tears running through a basement pipe.

Deep Blessing

Deep BlessingBorders of my life
Go far beyond horizon,
So know that whatever words
I find or choose to shape this poem
Cannot plumb the depths of who I am—
Width of years, clarity of tranquil peace or
intensity of storms I’ve faced.

You must read between the lines—
Come so close you breathe my breath,
Learn to view as though you see
Through my eyes this love, this source,
The world entire as One…
That infinite yet finite place where you and I
Desire union with the Whole.

I cannot love God except that I love you,
Trust your heart though I know you not—
This conscious act of primal faith a communion
More precious than any bread and wine.
I have lost whatever control I never had,
So though I tremble as I stumble through the words,
What matters are my warm tears—
Which I now share with you as prayer is shared with God.

Approach so close you hear my silent song,
Traveling through the world
Though I cannot walk, but only fly
As solitary hawk whose vision sees but partial view,
Cannot land or touch the Earth but only soar.
Did I say I see? How so, when I am blind?
Do you sense significance in what I cannot say?
My God, I pray you do this day.

For you, for me to glimpse the entire plan—
To encounter if only once the veil that hides
Whatever willful Light illuminates this constant evolution
Is Deep Blessing yet cannot be held within the human mind.
What shall we call this gift of benediction?
Though we know we daily live in sorrow, die alone,
We live in hope we briefly see behind the veil.
This is no sport, no game but life itself
Filled with futility to faintly grasp its meaning.

We are companions— you and I sharing
Spirit that draws us into itself— forward,
Closer to the inner core, autonomous,
invisible yet strangely real,
Daring us to be alive— Here at Home
I know that you and I are Souls who breathe,
Where Deepest Blessing is to say
“Always, it is okay.” for love
Seems forever all there is.

Awkward Love

For me, my daughters are as ghosts—
Invisible, they do not speak,
They only haunt the house,
Sometimes as unwashed shirt
That settles onto heavy chest at night.

Each day my heart takes a trip
Toward them once again—
Yet they back away with threats to
Bruise again with unquestioned lies
They think are only truth.
Oh woe are they and woe is me.

In my living room there stands
Empty high chair made of sturdy oak,
Once used by my mother,
Then my sister and myself—
Finally by my daughters, two.
Every day, I wonder
What is held within their minds.
Each day, I briefly live in horror.

Soon, like the heirloom high chair,
That will be taken to the consignment shop,
Sold at heavy loss and they will bear the price
As I move away, rhythm of my feet
Faintly fading in the dust.
There is only so much time to spare.
How many ways can it be divided?

With every conversation, every deed
We compose a song. I choose today
To play on white keys of the piano.
If others prefer black keys and sing in minor
Grief and hate— they are free to murder,
Live in grooves of sorrow and shadow.
I will welcome strangers to my home,
Feed them with an open heart.

Sometimes at night the thunder cracks,
At other times it comes with dawn,
Lightening strikes a stalwart tree,
Strong wind or fire brings it to the ground.
I watch and make sign of the cross,
Bless again the dust of Earth.

Today, great white polar caps of ice
Slowly melt away to flood the world.
In Africa, drought turns lions to
Attack rangers hired to protect them.
Such irony becomes the world….
Ancient Heraclitus who long ago transformed to dust
Believed he saw in nature and the universe
Constant tension resolved in transcendent harmony.

Imagine, he wrote, the lyre and the bow—
Both stringed instruments drawn taut,
Each allowed to pierce the heart,
To heal, to wound— but without the wound
Can there be deep healing in the world?
Every judgment offered may be
Followed with forgiveness. Maybe.

How often can you ask a ghost
To turn to seek a deeper truth?
How often must they go to the riverbank
Before hearts flow as water flows?
I pray they learn to swim,
To heal hearts and minds
That now seem as thin tin lids,
Blood drawn by sharp edge of mother’s tongue.
Forgive, I remind myself.
Move on. Move on. Let go.

You cannot walk the walk
Even of those you love,
Follow at their pace, pay their cost.
You must walk your own walk,
Run the race before you—
The only light upon the road
Shines as awkward love.

Wild Darkness

For Gerald

Last night the fire went out,
Slowly died down to remaining embers….
This morning the coals were cold.
Final whisper of smoke has dispersed
Out into wide wind of the world.

Here, within the human heart,
I lie in uncreating darkness—
Only silence in the empty space,
Once so warm with love.
In sleep comes dreams of stars.

In dream, I see myself so far away,
Crawling on knees as though I’m begging,
Find rest upon a weary scarp further West—
Plateau wide above lush valley,
Hidden where loggers cannot reach the trees.

One day my eyes will be open
As soul wakes to join the greater Soul,
Forgets the life I leave behind,
Completely free and at peace,
Belonging to wild darkness at last.

The World Wounds Us With Beauty

When Sun sets and dark comes early,
I walk outside to find the Source—
Now hidden, indistinguishable,
Lying still upon dark water of the lake.
Blackened Barlow Mountain haunts,
Stands upon horizon, outline veiled.

Whatever knowledge held in daylight hours
Now gone along with light.
Yet surely grace remains, burning alive.
Where is Stephen tonight?
Is he swirling among the stars?
Does he now float closer to God’s Love?

Here, it seems at best we live half-blind.
Tell me, friend…. Is it foolish or faith
When you pray and get no answer
And keep on praying from the heart?
Do you not yell at God in dreams
To leave you alone so you can sleep?

This morning there was an early frost,
Sparkling crystals gathered upon the grass—
I touched and burned my hand.
Blind to the fire inside the dew—
Forgot the lesson that the world
Wounds with beauty every day.