Poetry

  • Pebble Tossed

    “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

    – I have lived my life as a pebble tosser – picking up ideas and projects, molding them with my thoughts and intentions, and then gentling tossing them into the water of the world to see what impact they might have. Sometimes the ripples are immediate and obvious. Other times they seem to come back to my shore years later, like an echo bouncing back across the canyon.

    I have recently become fascinated by how the ripples caused by others have touched my life. A book recommended, a gift given, an insight shared – all tiny ripples that make me who I am. When I was younger I used to think of myself as a rock, an island of self-made determination. Now that vision has expanded. I see the rock was just one pebble on a vast shoreline, a shoreline that is constantly in flux, constantly changing with the ripples and tides.

    This site is about those ripples.

  • Observations from Nebraska

    Chickens don’t have fingers.
    Buffaloes don’t have wings.
    Gas stations should not sell sundresses.
    (They should stay in their lane.)
    My hands are ALWAYS invisible
    to touchless faucets.

  • I slapped a girl

    I slapped a girl.

    I was 10 years old
    riding the bus home from school.
    Why did you do it? they asked.
    I didn’t really have an answer,
    but you did.
    You saw it all
    from your hiding spot under the kitchen sink.

    You saw the truth behind the adoption.
    How she needed another knick-knack for her shelf,
    something to adorn the room where
    children weren’t allowed to play.
    An item to be seen, but rarely touched;
    a dress-up doll to signal to the world that
    the American Dream was alive and well at
    7321 Rozena Drive.

    You felt the slow rolling of the earth
    that started on Vivian St.
    I didn’t like ballet, or piano, or flute.
    I told ‘Miss Judy’ she wouldn’t be “correcting”
    me with the yardstick in her class anymore.
    Did that start the sonic booms at the dinner table?
    The ones that sent the spidery cracks up the walls at
    1208 Purdue Ct?

    You heard the constant drone of the TV;
    Days of Our Lives and The Price is Right,
    Wheel of Fortune, Columbo, Canon,
    The Streets of San Francisco…
    Anything to drown out
    the cold wet silence seeping
    under the doors and permeating the rooms at
    18 Princeton Circle.

    You even directed our own daily game show of
    Who’s Home Today?
    Will it be charming mommy,
    just home from shopping with her friends?
    Or compulsive mommy,
    exhausted from ironing the bed sheets?
    Oh no, so sorry, you just won raging mommy.
    Watch out! She’s been pacing her cage all day at
    3407 Lakeshore Drive.

    I slapped a girl.

    I was 10 years old
    riding the bus home from school.
    They concluded that I must have seen it on TV,
    but, Mr. Smirnoff you knew.
    You saw it all from your hiding spot
    under the kitchen sink.

  • “Poetry is the shadow cast by our streetlight imaginations.”
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • Nepenthe

    I should have known she would lose her mind,
    forget her name,
    along this ragged stretch of Big Sur coast.

    It is called Nepenthe after all.

    Nepenthe – the mysterious drug of forgetfulness.
    Nepenthe – eraser of all sorrows.

    I have experienced this once before,
    long ago,
    this redwood and surf induced amnesia.

    Right here at this spot, my cat escaped the car,
    ran for the trees,
    and surrendered to the lure of the forest.

    I searched and called, and made deals with God.
    He never came.
    The cat forgot he ever had a name.

    I can see from her eyes it’s not far away,
    that feral state.
    My dog now hears the song of Nepenthe.

    The jeers of the mountain jays drown-out my voice
    in her ears.
    The smell of ancient duff fills her nose.

    Someday you will run with these jays forever,
    but not today.
    Today, Greta, we are getting back in the van and heading south.

  • A Visit to Lake Shrine

    The turtle
    in its quiet pond
    knows nothing of
    the world beyond.

    The yogi
    on the bench above
    is searching for
    eternal love.

    And I sit
    somewhere in between
    just trying to see
    what can be seen.

  • Good Friday

    “Have you heard the trumpets?” he asks.
    He has. Once in Wyoming, and
    once in Israel.

    The pilgrims in the hot springs
    nod in recognition and
    soak their blisters.

    I am a tourist in the waters.
    It takes me longer to understand what
    he is talking about –

    The voices of angels.

    I didn’t make the long journey to
    touch the healing soil of
    Santuario de Chimayo.

    But, yes I have heard the trumpets.
    To me, they sound like the calls
    of migrating swans.

  • The Herd

    We walked among the grazing herd,
    their nostrils flared,
    their dark eyes stared,
    their big ears tracked our every step –
    like sunflowers following the sun.  

    We knew our hearts had passed their test,
    they did not move,
    let us pass through,
    inviting us to quietly join
    their afternoon prayer circle.


    Last week a dear friend and I went to the Drala Mountain Center to honor his mother who had recently passed away. As we exited the Great Stupa a herd of 26 mule deer emerged slowly from the woods; rustling through the dry grasses searching for new young shoots. They allowed us to walk down the path and through their group. Several walked slowly alongside us, like our own personal team of docents translating the healing messages of the forest.

    Rest in peace Jan.  

  • March Snow

    The Sami people of northern Finland have over 200 words for snow.  I wonder if they have one for you:

    For your arrival on gray storm clouds that expand to fill the sky, dropping down into our valley and obscuring the view,
    For the way that you silence the newly awakened spring chatter of the forest,
    For your ability to erase the gritty piles of last month’s snow with your bottle of white-out,
    For the way that the branches of the ponderosa, laden with your weight, bow down a little closer to the earth,
    And the dazzling way you dress Mount Rosalie in a gown of the purest white.

    Greta and I stand at the glass door, waiting for the nomadic reindeer herder to whisper your name. Until he arrives, we will just call you magic.

  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up. But the writing is a way of not allowing these things to destroy you.” John Edgar Wideman

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