When the Dust Settles

You can’t judge your life
from the floor of the coliseum.
You deal with what comes
through the iron doors.
You hear the cheering,
the boos, the chants
for your elimination.
You have the memory
of loyalties, love
beyond reckoning,
dreams gone up in smoke.
When the dust settles,
the noise of the crowd
dissolved in the sweet
peace of aloneness,
you can look back,
deal with your regrets,
make medicine with what
cannot be changed.
Your place in the arena shifts,
you’re not front line in the fray.
You share what you know
with the young warriors,
keeping your balance
in deeply worn footprints.
Scarred and thankful
for all you’ve known,
who will be the last voice heard
as you exit the arena?
Your mother’s guidance,
your father’s words of advice?
The sound of your children,
their shining faces
brave into this world.
The loyal woman
who stood by you
in the fight.
Maybe only the voice
of birds and the wind
sighing in tall trees
beside the moving tide.
Just that will be enough.

 


photograph by Willard Walch


 


Song for the Children

Sunlight angles from the south
brightening the last autumn leaves,
Earth folding in her beauty,
sending trees back to root,
laying down winter blankets,
freshening every river and stream.
We’re children, busy about our games,
chalking pavement, skipping rope,
the grownup Earth too large, too old.
East of the mountains, the land
brown and rough like elk hide,
grass fields quiet and still.
Over the coast range
ocean raises her skirts
sending dancing waves
to cleanse the stony shore,
begin the long rain.
Outside my window
the flowering cherry
goes down in russet and gold,
eyes slowly blinking before the big sleep.
Inside of me an alleluia rises,
free from the mind maze
and intolerable categories,
ready to sing a farewell to autumn,
welcome the dark melodies of winter.
Fallen leaf, cold stark mountain,
river of glory, this is my song
and I sing it for the children of the earth.

 

 


photograph by Rebecca Hynes


 


Moon Gone Dark

In early morning hours
with dawn a blush,
moon rises in the east,
cloudless skies,
a sliver of light.
I watch her go dark
quarter to eighth
to this last slice
before departing
for days of rest.
I feel that time,
light slowly receding,
draining idle thoughts
and difficult dreams.
Then the coda of rest,
that sound cease,
light depart and healing come
on wings of darkness.
There is fear of permanence,
but the moon speaks softly
in the pale sky:
let the cycle be.
There is dark,
full and blanketing,
and once more
there will be light.
I watch her slowly fade,
yielding as the sun begins its rise.
I follow her
when not seen above
only felt and understood
in the beauty of her passing.

 

 


Photo by Gavin Spear


 


Night Gift

Flooded with moonlight
the bay lay rippled
with soft northerly wind,
the sound of owls
echoing in the forest.
Her beauty spread
upon the lonely shore
a gift in the quiet night
to any who might awake
in these darkened hours.

 

 

photograph by Rebecca Hynes


 


These Gathered Wings

Spirited away in the dark night,
I travelled to distant lands, other times
of strange expectation.
I return tired, the night work
taking more than day.
Crows circle in the morning wind,
the light of the sun a golden streak
on the rippling sea.
Always the going and return,
my heart wants rest,
to come still beside the moving water
and know I might remain
even as the tide rushes south.
To navigate the works of man
has been my love and calling
yet now I want to find mooring,
a deep set anchor in this sheltered bay
and settle in with the ancient stones
to weather fast the storms of winter.
I’ll grow like moss upon the rock,
speak each day with the quiet trees.
Silent as eagle I’ll stare across the sunlit water
and let the warmth find me
inside these gathered wings.

 

 


photograph by Linda Ethier

 


 


B Flat Blues 🎶

Before first light
trucks clang on the street,
the noise of traffic,
a glimmer in the east.
Wind stirs the trees,
hints of yellow showing
in the slow turn toward autumn.
I’m ready to let go the burden,
the many faces of might have been,
and take heart in the morning.
The B flat blues plays
somewhere in the distance;
as leaves fall
that mournful sound
turns the pain of regret
into music.

 

 


photograph by Louis MacKenzie


 


Marrow and Bone

The way you travel
on the time bound planet,
to follow or not
the deeply rutted road
or find yourself
in a dark wooded valley
unknown to everyone
but yourself.
When stripped down
to marrow and bone,
the only resource
what you harvest
from within,
stay with the river,
wear down your boots;
remember freedom
is not for the weak
or easily frightened.
That cabin in the far clearing
with smoke from the chimney,
keep walking pilgrim,
it may be yours.

 

 


 


Path of Gold

I haven’t yet turned
with the trees,
holding back
against cold air
and blanketing clouds.
Not wanting winter rest
nor root darkness
I struggle for light
as the sun moves south,
before the bath of rain
and darkened cave.
Holding on,
yet knowing
I will follow
the path of gold
and let go
to the waiting earth.

 

 


 


Quietly the Darkness

Day and night begin to balance
in the slow turn to autumn;
hints of yellow and gold,
fog on the water,
sunlight dimming.
I go toward the dark
ready to release
and find again the roots
that feed the world unseen.
Earth has spread her leaves
in the great dance of summer
and now the rhythm changes,
a lower octave begins to sound.
I have shaped and made
what I could of clay and light;
soon the rains will come
filling the rivers,
blanketing the mountains,
winter to teach
once more of origin.
Gracefully the leaves will fall,
quietly come the darkness.

 

 

 


 


Kindness Like a River

Night slowly retreats
as moon and stars set
while in the east light shines
through a hole in the clouds.
Time is on the march
or so we’ve thought;
behind the ticking clocks
imagination fuels the way,
crushing each gate of limitation,
laughing at the notions
of heaven afar.
Heaven is kindness
waiting like a river
for us to join and flow
through the canyons
of time and place,
returning once more
the human blessing.
If we visit distant worlds,
seeking something
far and away
they who live
in the vast brilliance
will only smile
and ask what we have made
of garden Earth,
how we have tended
our home among the stars.