Saturday, January 19, 2019

Ninth January Poem


Sister Mary Alvin tells me in Sunday School that the act of confession and the forgiveness
that follow clean my soul, leaving it white and innocent again, and I picture my confessed
soul as the spotless breast piece of her nun garb. No crack, no wrinkle there, nowhere for light
to get in. Also, faith, says Sister Mary Alvin, is like the way we all sit in the old clapboard
church assuming the roof will not fall on us. Six-year-old me wonders how it is that we trust
any of the buildings we enter to continue standing. In the decades that follow I look up at a bridge, overpass, ceiling and question. What about a civil engineer’s bad day, a smelter’s breakdown,
carpenter’s divorce or hangover? Despite the guardian angels described to me, people have died
in collapses. I feel betrayed by Sister Mary Alvin’s explanation of faith. And if she were wrong
about faith, how can I believe what she says about confession and forgiveness?

Eighth January Poem

Close Attention

This moment, after which nothing
will be the same, this moment,
now, as I write to you: nothing
but this moment, this time,
this now. Each moment a crystal
until all are strung
along the constructed time
of our constructed lives,
pearls or chunks of coal
or pressured diamonds from cave
or laboratory with the same result.
No, don’t stray backwards
to recall a wrong remark
or deflated ego. Don’t worry
yourself forward into next grief,
next homecoming, because this moment
needs your close attention
like a toddler putting sticky palms
to your cheeks to turn your head
toward him.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Seventh January Poem

Letting the Light In

Be fast enough to not take
the place of someone
holding cell walls,
axe, fist, or rolled-up
newspaper. Here, this pucker
inflates every molecule
in a massive cosmic explosion
as stony hearts, stiff necks
lift and I see it all clearly:
my death as light bursts
to strike me right here,
sins forgiven, slate clean of fog
in the otherwise natural world
over centuries, as water works.
Smooth retina can see it:
detailed lists on lined pads of paper,
the water of life working
past every flattened intention.

Sixth January Poem

January Lessons

Teach me,
falling snow,
fine as flour from a sieve,
to see beauty with a sharper eye
and more discernment:
curve of crow’s wing
wheeling above the midden
where I throw my winter compost.

Teach me, cold day,
the measure of my strength:
wearing warm wool and boots that grip,
striding through arctic gales.

Teach me,
even as kindling teaches me
to seize a hatchet by the smooth end
and find the weak spot
that will let the light in,
light the fire
that heats my rocker
by the stove.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Fifth January Poem


Waxing moon draws in
light, sun, hopes, dreams, preparing
for movement, goals met.

I suspend my thought
like a note held extra beats
until fully heard.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Fourth January Poem

Hiding Place

I pull a blanket of music
over me, my instrument
drawn close to my body
like a lost lover.
Hidden in the tower
of song, I gently rock.
Rhythms resound
marrow-deep inside bones,
inside cells.
Bacteria otherwise blind,
mute, now boil
with engagement.
Back out on the surface,
eyes close so no one can
see me and ears focus
to hear harmony, to sense
structure and shift.
Muscles adjust vocal chords
and place fingers just so.
Strings sync with vibrations
of space and time charted
against my heart.
Following these spectral
sound maps, I fly so far.
Minutes may pass, hours,
galaxies, a universe or two.
I disappear.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Third January Poem

 Mourning Without Guidelines

After Lorna Crozier’s “This Is a Love Poem without Restraint”

this emotion has no boundaries

no words like
white cotton pillow slip
smooth driftwood

these lines won’t hold back

one tear
another tear
no going back
come back

Second January Poem

Sorrow thaws in warm

bath of sunlit bird

song, daily avian

talk with seed and dew,

air and wind, seed

and dew. Tears form

without permission, cascade

of joy the secret outcome.

Friday, January 04, 2019

First January Poem

Tell Me

“tell me why I was born
why this monstrosity of life”

from Anna Swir in “Poetry Reading”

I turn quickly
to see black-headed trunkets
eat all the seed
but tolerate robins
while wind brings rainbow
peaceful patches of blue sky
colorful cloud hopes
of coffeed conversation
framed by winter’s grey
fir tops lit by sun shaft music
spotted in the underbrush  
serene source
of heart’s sorrows’ ease

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tenth December Poem


While I was practicing eternity the other day, the phone rang. It was God, asking to borrow some enlightenment. I warned, "This isn't my best work," but only received a sermon on achieving a peaceful heart. I left the overflowing measure at the end of the driveway. As I was bringing in firewood later, a bright light filled the sky so that I had to cover my eyes. When I looked, the chalice was gone and wildflowers sprang up just there.