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Sister Spring…

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Sister Spring
you’ve been gone so long
i didn’t think you’d arrive
but you did
you slipped in unannounced
when winter wasn’t watching
your rain falling like tears
blessing everything
cold winds
turning warmer
you bring life
rebirth
and make me remember

Sister Summer…

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Sister Summer

You enter so quietly

With subtle beauty

You arrive almost unnoticed

Until you are here

And when you approach

You bring with you

Such vibrancy

Not just in color

But all the senses

Flowers bloom in your presence

Offering themselves to you

Even the weeds bloom

Returning on queue

With you

Your hot days

Yield to gentle evening breeze

Awaking cricketers

And other nocturnal things

Which also yield to you

You turn things

Upside down, right side up

Long days

But then you leave

As quietly as you came

Stay with us

Sister Summer

Your comfort

Is welcoming

Becoming

Happiness.

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I catch a glance of you
And then you are gone
Like a shy lover
Playing with me

You’ll lift the veil
Briefly
To reveal a glimpse
Of your natural beauty

You make me work for it
Your beauty
Your love
The happiness within

Sometimes you’ll hide
For days weeks or months
Then return
Unannounced

But it’s a riddle
Happiness
Because you are here
Always

Natural
Like a flower
Returning after winter
More vibrant

Closer than my breath
My heartbeat
You are I
And I you

Like a golden pearl
I need only to look inside
Then you’ll glow outward
Lighting the way

The search for you
Happiness
Is endless
But effortless

Only I
My false self
Which is illusion
Make it difficult

I
My True Self
Knows you
Soul deep

Stardust…

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The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.
― Carl Sagan

The great mystics concur
We are
In some inexplicable way
Connected
And that when we harm one
We harm all

Sacred texts tell us
Too
That the creator is in us
As we in them

Researchers say
That we have common ancestors
From which we’ve all come

Modern science
Proves
That we are all
Made from the same stuff
Stardust

Six of one
A half dozen of another
All of this
Says the same thing
To me
And I am not alone

So if this is true
That we are connected
Related
Stardust
Divine

And we know it

Why, then
Do we do the things we do

For if we truly believed
We should be jumping
For pure joy

Each day
And Every day
Because it is all a gift

Question to self (how far would you go)

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how far would you go
if you lacked resources
for basic necessities
what
would you do
to survive
how far would you go
to help
offer aid
if you
had too much
would your heart
be hardened
or
cracked wide open

Life Flows…

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This is a short poem I wrote today. As hokey as it sounds it was inspired by this tulip leaf growing in my teeny front yard. I’ve lived in this house for nearly 20 years and have not planted tulips. Mostly I plant vegetables. But each year this single tulip re-emerges. And today when I came home from a coffee shop, on a particularly unseasonably cool and wet day, I noticed the tulip leaf which had pushed through the cold ground reaching for the cloud-shrouded sun. The flower will soon follow, as it does each year.

life flows
like a river
after a spring thaw
from one event
to the next
life flows
sometimes in bursts
sometimes in wanes
life flows
from one lifetime
to the next
we learn
from everything
each thing
life continues
it is continuous 

evening

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the day fades
night slithers in
another day in life
tomorrow is new
another chance
to be alive
to live
moment by moment
but for now
it is evening

A New Day…

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6am in the rain.

The sound of raindrops on my umbrella.

The sound of tires on wet pavement.

House lights come on.

Street light go out.

The city begins to wake.

I like how the air smells,

How the light looks.

So I snap a photo.

Then hop a bus to work.

Another day begins.

Bourbon Street at 6am

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the air is thick

even at this early hour

humidity engulfs

smells from the night before

and the night before and the night before

ooze from the buildings and street

beer, sweat, bleach

slap you in the face

tingle your nostrils

stragglers from last night

drunk revelers

stumble

city workers spray the street clean

for tonight’s show

i’ve walked this street

many times

years ago

at dawn

on my way to work

accompanied by prostitutes

then as now

bourbon street

at 6am

you are different

but very much the same

The Angels Were Bowling.

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I woke with a start.
Early morning thunder.
I didn’t get out of bed.
I lay there and listened.
The angels are bowling, I thought.
That’s what my mom would tell me.
A few more crashes.
And then the rain came.
In buckets.
I lay there listening to this, too.
After breakfast and coffee I went out.
For more coffee.
It had stopped raining.
For now.
And the air hung heavy.
So did the clouds.
Off and on, it rained.
For most of the day.
Droplets cover everything.
Drawn up to the clouds.
As a mist.
From far away.
Then released.
And here they are.
Droplets everywhere.
Nourishing, rejuvenating.
Beautiful
.

A Day in a Life. Journal entry 5.14.17

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“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

 ~Allen Saunders (but often inaccurately attributed to John Lennon)

Sunday.

I wake before the alarm goes off,

and I lay there for a few minutes.

Thinking.

When I go downstairs I turn on the coffee maker.

The dogs scurry about.

They act as if they haven’t seen me in 8 years instead of 8 hours.

I feed them.

Franklin, the finicky one, just looks at me.

I have to feed him a couple pieces of food by hand to get him started.

Coffee ready and dogs in the backyard,

I check emails, the NY Times, and scroll Facebook.

Looking at the clock I realize I’m running late for church,

and I’m scheduled as head usher.

Showered, I wheel one of the bikes down the plank on the porch,

and when I do I notice a tulip in a neighbor’s yard.

It’s withered.

Just yesterday it was in full bloom.

Nothing is permanent, I think to myself.

I snap it’s photo.

As I pedal to church the air feels good.

It’s chilly but the sun is out.

It’s Mother’s Day, and during worship the pastor speaks of mothers.

I think of my mother, who left us too soon.

I think of a specific time and tears well in my eyes.

I hold back tears as I ready myself for collection.

So many years later and I still feel.

I am grateful.

On my way home I stop at a coffee shop,

to read and write.

But it’s crowded and I can’t focus,

so I leave.

I have an egg sandwich for lunch and feed the dogs pieces of the crust.

I lay down and am surprised that I fall asleep for just a few minutes.

After a few stretches I sit on a cushion in front of the small altar,

which is off to the side of the room.

I pray, asking mostly for guidance.

Then I meditate for a few minutes.

I have to pick up photos from a show that came down last week.

But it’s raining, so I make coffee and scroll Facebook,

and wait.

I use my large bike, and a trailer, to retrieve the photos.

The gallery is about two miles away, and I push hard into a strong headwind.

I huff and puff but know that the wind will be at my back on return.

The reward.

Pushing the bike up the plank I notice the tulip again.

Now is all we have.

I switch bikes,

To a shorter one,

then head to the JCC for a steam and swim.

I love riding this particular bike,

but there is an incessant click in the crank,

and it’s gotten louder.

The street is slow and crowded,

I keep pace with traffic,

but I pull over to the side to inspect the sound.

When I do the person behind me beeps

and yells an obscenity out their window.

I make eye contact as they pass and say nothing.

I feel sorry for them.

Angry and saddled to their car.

When I swim it feels good.

In the buoyancy of the water nothing aches.

The steam room feels even better.

I have leftovers for dinner.

Rice-and-beans with roast vegetables.

My dogs stare at me while I eat.

I don’t give them any; they’ve had their meal.

It’s still early so I decide to stop out for a couple beers.

As I pass my neighbor’s I notice the tulip again.

It’s beautiful, even in its weathered and wilted state.

A snapshot of life, I suppose.

Real life.

I walk to the tavern.

It’s still light outside but dark inside.

The first sip of beer tastes good.

If fizzes across my tongue.

When I return home my dogs greet me as if I’ve been gone for two days.

I sit on the floor and let them crawl all over me.

This is now, I think.

Now.

Tomorrow is tomorrow.

Another day in a life.

But now is now.

And it’s beautiful.

But sometimes I need reminders.

To remember.

To return to now.

And that’s okay.

“Every moment and every event of every person’s life on earth plants something in their soul.”

~Fr. Thomas Merton

Winter.

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Winter
You arrived so suddenly
It was a surprise
You hid in the shadows
For a long time
Camouflaged
Pretending to be Autumn
Gentle, sweet Autumn
But the door was left ajar
And you entered
Swiftly
Like a slap in the face
It stings
And now you are here
Muffling
Blanketing
Making everything shimmer
In your beauty
But please
Don’t outstay your welcome

For the Ghosts of Greenwich Village…

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For the Ghosts of Greenwich Village

As I sit in a basement bar on Macdougal Street.

I feel you.

Your presence is palpable.

Kerouac.

Ginsberg.

Gibran.

Wolf.

Thomas.

And so many others.

I feel you as I walk down the streets.

As I sit in the bars and cafes.

The same streets that you walked.

And some of the cafes that you worked in.

Drank in.

The same streets that you called home.

That inspired you.

And today as I sit in a basement bar.

Drinking a cold beer,

I thank you.

For changing things.

With your art.

With your words.

And for inspiring so many people.

Still; today.

And for—in a way—changing me.

Even if just a little.

That is enough.

Thank you.

October 1982…

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So recently I came across a box with some old things in it. One of them was a composition notebook with some lyrics/poems I had written. One of the poems, which was untitled, was simply dated “October 1982.” At the time I was out of high school for a just few years, both my parents had all ready made their earthly transition, and I was working as a cook in a Greek diner. The thought of a blog or the internet at the time would have been science fiction. So I wrote things down. This was one of my earliest journals. I would have been 21 years old at the time. In many ways I feel like I’m a different person since then, but at the same time I am very much the same. What struck me about this particular poem was my voice…I could have written this today. Some, I think, who may have known me for a while, were surprised when I attended seminary a few years ago (after being a cook for much of my life). It’s not as if I had this sudden epiphany, I’ve been me all these years. I’ve just finally had the courage to say so. Or maybe things simply bubbled over. Anyhow, when I read this poem I realized I hadn’t changed all that much in 34 years (okay, my knees and back didn’t hurt back then). Anyhow, here’s an excerpt…

You may not believe in

organized religion

but the truth of God is real.

Everybody is

created equal

no matter what their race or creed.

We are all the same.


Urban Simplicity.

Sister Autumn

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Sister Autumn

Sometimes you arrive so gradually

That I barley notice

There’s a slight shift

Balmy days

Give way to cool nights

Warm breezes

To chilly winds

Early nights announce you

But I don’t listen

You deceive me

Flowers still bloom

There are leaves on trees

But here you are

As if the door was left ajar

And you slipped in

Quietly

And sat down

With just a whisper

But now that I look

I see you

And I smile

Warm days and chilly nights

You are my favorite

But you know this

Your embrace

With freshness in the air

Is all-encompassing

And it comforts me

I hug you with all my senses

And I don’t want to release you

Because it’s your brother

Winter

Whom I’ve begun to dread

And he’s just behind you

For him

There is preparation

But for now

I solely embrace you

Sister Autumn

With your incredible beauty in decay

Signaling another cycle

Another year’s end

A reminder

But for now

Your embrace is enough

It fills me

And I overflow

Urban Simplicity

A photo and a few words…

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Between Storms

Crash!

Kaboom!

This is how I was awakened predawn.

It was a thunderstorm.

Lightening lit up the room like a strobe.

Boom boom, in rapid succession.

But slowly in subsided.

So did the rain.

I rode my bike to work that morning.

The handlebar lamp barely piercing the darkness.

Clouds rumbled in the distance.

In the far flung edges of my world.

Out over the Great Lakes.

The angels are bowling, I thought to myself.

As I pedaled.

That’s what my mother would tell me when I was a child.

Flashes of light lit my way.

Followed by rolling thunder.

There was absolutely no breeze.

The air hung heavy.

Everything dripped.

The sky was alive.

After locking up my bike,

I stood there.

Looking at the sky.

Taking it in.

The sound of thunder.

Getting closer.

The flashes of light.

More frequent.

And then the rain came.

I was between storms.

Pictures and words…

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Fluidity

What is life?

This life?

That’s what I find myself wondering.

A series of events?

Experiences?

Relationships?

People drift in.

And they drift out.

We work.

Love.

Worry.

And like drops of water finding our way,

we eventually return.

We return to the great ocean from whence we came.

Dissolving into one.

Becoming one,

again with the great flowing source.

But this…

This very concept…

This is what we should strive for now.

That’s what I think.

What I feel.

Here and now.

But it is so difficult.

To remember.

Because we’ve simply forgotten.

Though we may seem separate,

we are still from the same source.

The same living ocean of life.

But for now we appear as droplets.

Urban Simplicity.

A Very Brief Poem About Things…

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There are so many things

So many little things

Everyday things

Things ignored or unnoticed

To be grateful for

Advice on writing from Charles Bukowski…

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Image found here.

So you want to be a writer…

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you

in spite of everything,

don’t do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your

heart and your mind and your mouth

and your gut,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit for hours

staring at your computer screen

or hunched over your

typewriter

searching for words,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it for money or

fame,

don’t do it.

if you’re doing it because you want

women in your bed,

don’t do it.

if you have to sit there and

rewrite it again and again,

don’t do it.

if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,

don’t do it.

if you’re trying to write like somebody

else, forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of

you,then wait patiently.

if it never does roar out of you,

do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife

or your girlfriend or your boyfriend

or your parents or to anybody at all,

you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,

don’t be like so many thousands of

people who call themselves writers,

don’t be dull and boring and

pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-

love.

the libraries of the world have

yawned themselves to

sleep

over your kind.

don’t add to that.

don’t do it.

unless it comes out of

your soul like a rocket,

unless being still would

drive you to madness or

suicide or murder,

don’t do it.

unless the sun inside you is

burning your gut,

don’t do it.

when it is truly time,

and if you have been chosen,

it will do it by

itself and it will keep on doing it

until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

A Parable from Kahlil Gibran

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Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams.” Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.” Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again — and she was a blade of grass. And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such a noise! They scatter all my winter dreams.”

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