We’ll Go Down Singing

The Hollywood cowboys
maybe a few of the real ones
in their big hats and pistols
would go down shooting.
The rangers I know slog
through mud and loneliness,
blanketed by suffering.
Yo y mis amigos
ride the fence lines,
wander into the untamed,
watch shooting stars
and walk through deep snow
to climb the big trees.
You won’t see us in bright lights
nor on the front page.
If you look we won’t be there
unless you stretch your sails
or challenge the mountain.
Listen in the moonlit dark
and you’ll hear us in the distance
calling out like night owls,
determined to go down singing.



photograph by Peter Castonguay


Songs of Earth

There is only today,
really just this moment
of gray cloud and May green
as tall trees luff in the breeze.
From our hidden core
rung tight with years
we feed new growth,
tender leaves open
and breathing.
The touch of life upon us
we struggle and strive
and move toward light
while still we sing.
Our roots release
into the high top
the songs of earth,
the mortal cries
of what must pass,
our unspoken joy
yet rising.




Soon We’ll Cross

Bent over in spring rain
the hill is steep,
climbing from river
to promontory rock.
Bowed but not broken
I keep inside my coat,
one foot in front of the other,
absorbed by difficulty,
treading on memories
and lost hope
but continuing.
On the wind blown top
the trees grow thick,
low to the ground
in facing gusts,
yet from here
the river stretches
wide to the west
where the gorge opens
to the welcoming sea.
Looking far brings peace,
healing to these sore eyes,
knowing the distance
will soon be crossed
and the home we’ve sought
just there on the horizon.




To Seek the Shining Face

Fishermen troll along the shore,
lines down in a cleft below the sea
where otters swim sleek and mercurial.
Seals bob along, slow and patient
as I sit above the tide watching,
thinking of Jupiter’s fiery light
and the night song of trees.
Daylight is too rational, too stamped by time
to go below and look for treasure
in the soft beauty of the land, the mystery of the sea.
Yet I will go, loosening the jacket of the known
to swim the depths for something lost
on the edges of memory. Like fishermen I troll,
slicing slivers of soul on a sharp steel hook,
dropped with the faith of all who’ve gone before
to seek the shining face beneath deep waters,
the heartbeat of God within the pulsing earth.





Place at the Table

I disturbed the geese,
two of them apart from the flock
standing in purple camas,
complaining in goose talk
as they flew off across the bay.
Alone now except for the swifts
and the calm water of slack tide,
the first breeze that comes with the sun
lightly stroking the water.
The green world rises with fearless grass,
the color purple splashed along the rock
in the fullness of spring.
We’re all guests at this feast,
tasting again the beauty of the beloved,
feeling our way like the searching tide
into the deep clefts of the stony shore,
finding our place at the table,
thankful to be alive.





Morning Breeze

You don’t have to correct the world
nor the billions of people.
The stars were placed long ago,
the weary moon constant in its track.
You just may have to let go
and give yourself
to the soft morning breeze
with its gentle hint of rain.





To Join the Living

Spring is rising
as mountain snows melt,
seeking out what lingers
of melancholia and fear
stored in winter dark.
We launch into the river,
skirting between freighters,
under steel web bridges,
finding our pace
in the wind driven chop.
Time to come out
and feel the urge
of falling water,
the hot touch of sun,
to join the living
as our old friend waits
in his ice clawed cave
brooding over December.



Watercolor by Eilish Hynes


Beyond the Door

Cleansed of stress
and ill feeling,
root fed and purged,
I relish the inner space,
the sympathy with what rises.
Deep green has touched the earth
though cold winds stir the sea
and spring waits
while the ancient balance
holds the churning wave,
the tall swaying trees.
Letting go I am found,
emptied out I am full;
beyond the doors between us
a land rich with peace.




Steady Voice

The winds are up from the south
pushing white caps over grey water,
a Pacific storm reaching over the Olympics,
Vancouver Island, to the inland sea.
Most of the shorebirds are hunkered down,
Canada geese tucked into lee cover,
otter laying low in thorn lined bowers.
There’s excitement on the wind,
as if the ocean were breathing upon us,
carrying messages from the far east
of change and new life.
Gulls flare up into the gusts –
storms won’t put them off –
but there are no sails within sight
and we too take shelter.
The sea has begun to roll,
the long fetch of southerly wind
bringing the broad channel awake
yet far below in a stone-lined canyon
the dark is unperturbed, the water still.
The depth will not roil as the surface churns,
a steady voice in the gathering gale.
I want to arc like the gull, dive like a whale
into the darkness, but I keep my post,
calm in the great change upon us,
finding myself in the wind, the wave
and the deep grey sea, vast and unmoved.





To Pillar the Deep

Before the altar of morning,
with the rise of spring
in grey cloud rain,
the soul rests in silence,
steady and full as the sea.
The long arc of history
compressed to a tremor
passes through bedrock,
yearning for the unmoved.
To pillar the deep,
strengthen the stillness,
heart and mind
become quiet as leaf,
weightless as bird,
fountains of peace
for the earth to live on.