Breadcrumbs on a Trail

I walk alone from the dark night
leaving behind tormented dreams.
Why trouble over details
when the house is on fire?
The soul needs solitude and silence
like a creature food and water.
Shouting across barricades,
fists high in the air, do you wonder
whose world this might be?
So convinced of agency
that morning light
will not affect your equation?
Serious questions I know,
but I drop these behind me
like breadcrumbs on a trail.
Somewhere ahead in a sharp bend
where the river runs in rapids
I’ll pause for you beside the high rock.
Have faith in the maker of mountains
and just let go. The river is calling.

 

 

 


Crow Medicine

The black body of crow
sits heavy on a leafless branch
surveying the street with dark inquisitive eyes.
A low winter sun slowly burns off the fog,
lighting the gray city with hints of warmth.
The colors of autumn have dropped to the earth,
the palette of winter here for the season of rain.
When I was younger I’d walk forested canyons,
the air rich with evergreen smell and spray
from rushing creeks and rivers.
I hold them now in my mind,
letting them tell their stories in words,
returning their gifts to the people.
With crow I study the street,
calling up the ancient memory
I see in the bird’s dark eyes.
None of us are really apart
though the world will tell us so.
This is crow medicine
you hear them barking
from their murder in the trees.

 

 


photo by Dimitar Donovski

 


Cave of Winter

Cold as fog
the soul of the earth
descends to wet darkness,
taking the color of leaves
and smell of grass
to the cave of winter
for the deep sleep
of renewal.

 

 

 


Song Line

Down the river canyon
water flows on and on
from mountain lake
through long desert rifts
of lava and ponderosa pine.
Farmlands flank the shore
as it flows to the Columbia
and out to the waiting sea.
Beside the rapids
I hear the old song
of the earth family,
the sound of water
over glistening rock
holding the deep magic
of ancient time unbroken.
Out of that cradle
the new earth is born
down through the ages
again and again,
creating a song line
older than stone
fresh as the morning.

 

 

 


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