for the morning sky
then silence
carving inner space,
hollow bone, empty reed
ready for heaven and earth
to make their music.




Photo by Peter Castonguay



Winding through the broad valley
the Willamette runs north,
the aorta of country life
pulsing through the earth.
The life most know
fuels along the highways,
the roar of cars and fast pace.
Falling from the mountains
the river can be white and rapid
but through the vast farmlands
the run is leisurely and deliberate,
around islands of sand and gravel,
backwaters and shallow channels,
glinting in the summer sun
through fields of hops,
slipping quiet and unnoticed
beneath the many bridges.
We are changed by the river,
closer to our original selves
after days and nights
bathing in the river tongue.
To live in that way
dissolves the mirage
for a few precious moments,
draws us closer to source
in the ancient way.
Leaving no trace,
the shore gently shifts
in the summer winds
and our marks upon the water
dissolve in the river’s path
ever onward to the sea.





Solace of This World

Out along the line of trees
leaves riffle in the morning breeze
as the sun slowly rises
bringing heat to the valley.
A few clouds circle above
without the storm force of winter.
Cars flow down the avenue,
people intent on their drive to work;
more heat off the asphalt,
music plays, the white noise of news.
In the mix of the city,
ingredients added,
stirred up and baked
without sign of the baker.
I go within, past the sound
of garbage trucks and banging cans
to the solace of this world,
accompanied by breath
to the silent space that waits,
comforted while the world streams by,
the peace of the inner well
deep and cool and clear
in my empty cup.





Time Bound Links

Along a mountain trail
beside the Clackamas,
buried in wooded beaches
rimming the Columbia,
lying in high dunes
between Sand Lake and the Pacific
you left fragments of your soul
remaining in time,
so even though you’re gone
you’re not.
I find the shards
embedded in earth.
Picking them up,
desiccated and brittle,
I recall the days of their making,
then with weightless reach
I lift them to the sky,
blow my breath
across the fragments
and they’re gone,
airborne and returned
to the timeless.
No gravestone or marker,
no imprint of the sacred,
just time bound links
on the long chain of life.




Poverty of the Pilgrim

The ocean lifts its skirts
to follow the moon
and across the inland sea
a great wave of water empties.


Running like a river
toward the opening void
the bays and coves
throw themselves into the chase,
the vast expanse giving up its wealth
for the poverty of the pilgrim.


I toss my importance into the tide,
the swirls of the ebb gathering the weight
like a thin branch on the water
lifted by the passion of the sea.


The little I have passes
in early light without goodbye,
leaving me exposed
like the weed covered rocks,
weightless and dry,
open to the mystery.




Finding Some Comfort

I wake up with the world,
climbing out of the dream
into the freshening wind.
The tide is already rushing,
seabirds busy on the rocks,
a lone seal fishing in the current.
The day won’t wait for me
which helps defeat gravity once more,
light the gas stove with fuel
that’s come ten thousand miles,
brew tea that began in India,
put in a few drops of honey
from the Oregon highlands
and ignore all this mystery
for a walk out on the point
to greet the sea and the tide that’s moving.
I can feel all the places my bones have been broken,
the arthritis a gift from my ancestors
but next to the stones that kneel in the sea
I’m barely a blip in the long song of time.
Some say we fell from a place on high,
some we rose from the murk and sludge.
I say I’m living, in and out of time,
asleep and awake in the arms of the spirit,
finding some comfort like the grey momma seal
astride a green rock out of the tide,
feeding her pup in the cool morning air.





Avoiding the mass,
afflicted by crowds,
isolate and internal
I circle the beloved,
an orbiting satellite
without friction or gravity
in the silence of space,
surrounded by stars
yearning for home.





Say the Goodbye

Wind drives up from the south
against the ebbing tide,
the surface chalked with waves.
I look out from the cabin
until the hour comes
to leave for the dock.
Time for another goodbye,
constant as the rain
and about as welcome.
Shaped by the moon
I empty again and again
trying not to wonder
when the seed of joy
will find its season.
The wind might lift me off this rock,
carry me to the ocean beyond.
I could get lost in water
and swim among whales
but for this morning
I’ll just head down
to the long wooden pier
and say the goodbye.





Scraped Bare

Hollow as a reed,
empty of the hoard,
wealth of silence
the rock of faith.
Live this life
with thirst,
scraped bare
for the rising.





Stars Beneath the Earth

We should brighten up,
move forward, give up
what’s dead and past
except what’s dead isn’t past,
their stories like buried stars
within the darkened earth.
When we dig that ground
up come vampires, saints,
martyrs and their killers
as we unravel their knots,
sort their tangled skeins into smooth threads
to weave our coats for the winters to come
while stars beneath the earth
shine on in silent glory.