Hip Deep

Long waves of blue-grey clouds
connect the valley to the sea.
Across the coast range falling rain
as branch and creeks begin to fill
and the sound of water
echoes off tree lined canyons
to the soft green spread below.
Earth is woven with fine filaments
each strand strengthening the next,
the wind in the trees adding their message
of the evergreen life on a cold morning.
We interrupt, we neglect to imagine
yet find ourselves hip deep in the mystery.
What will connect us through these years of winter,
come alive in the open bowl of our hands?
Follow the clouds and welcome the threading
woven in the hours before first light.
Indeed we’re more than the earth has made.





Holiness of the Unseen

Ice shelfs divide,
green land turns to desert,
winds churn vast ocean.
The veil of the mundane
torn to fluttering rags
reveals the depravity of isolation.
From the abode of silence
the tuning fork of the almighty
gathers sound into one unerring pulse.
As the temple of artifice crumbles
the holiness of the unseen
breaks through dismal cloud
and the earth is covered
with the sound of birds.




Ancient Shore

I speak to you in the gray dawn
knowing you here in the quiet,
there in the cold morning air;
between you and I
only this moment
of sacred space.
Path of the immortal,
pulsing with energy
recreating the ancient shore
here and now.




Mia Stalnacke Photography


Rivers Resist

Smoke rises through brick and clay
into a grey morning
the color of frost.
Ice layers the streets,
cold penetrates into our nest
beside the gas fire.
It takes more than flame
to keep the weight of winter
off a fearful heart,
to stand like old trees
faced into the wind,
swaying from depth of root.
What comes looms shadow-like
over bright aspiration,
the inevitability of glacier
against our stick-built domain.
Let what will not hold
dissolve into the grey sky,
what will break go down
maple soft under winter’s weight.
Rivers resist the freeze
because they flow.




Path of Winter

The sun begins its journey north
and days slowly lengthen
yet hope is scarce,
a sense of dread
weighs upon the people.
Words can help but not to heal,
something older must be found.
Beneath the earth strength gathers
winter dark in stone lined caves,
not the time of rising but of rest.
Ice can break the oldest trees
but within their roots
the force of spring awaits.
Go down with the rivers,
the deep peace of evergreen.
Restore from the root
and let the well of darkness fill.
What must come will find its way
as we follow the path of winter.



photograph by Patrick Orleman

photograph by Patrick Orleman


Endless Renewal

Sky brightens as the morning warms,
smoke from a chimney lifts in the air.
Ground’s unthawed, the ice is gone
yet the planet’s fate demands our care.


Serious times, we preach to the crow
perched on a power line over the street.
Scarred by abuse the land still breathes,
rivers run course through rock cut deep.


Plowed over grasslands, the heartbreak of concrete,
bird-sounds forgotten and thoughts of our birth
each bear forgiveness and something like joy
in the endless renewal from the heart of the earth.





Gen. Wesley Clark Jr., middle, and other veterans kneel in front of Leonard Crow Dog during a forgiveness ceremony at the Four Prairie Knights Casino & Resort on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.


Oregon Rain

Last night it rained, Oregon rain,
so hard the chimney sang
and this morning more rain,
more dark, Oregon dark.
There is a cave in Ireland
that birthed Queen Maeve,
the darkest cave in all the land
but not to match our winter.
Big drop rain in the forest,
brown bark soaking down
through the deep soft soil.
Summer trees drink the sun,
hoarding heat in their honey pitch
but in winter the dark’s drunk deep,
absorbed and stored in root and rock,
the dark that spring-light calls
to rise and return the earth to color.



 photo by Willard Walch

photo by Willard Walch


December Night

An invisible weight falls like snow,
thickening on hearts frozen
where their better selves lay slain.
Strength once rested
in a straw-filled manger,
needing no adornment,
and I must ask myself
what is it I bring
to this winter night?
I may be alone
under this burden
but I think not.
Despite the frailty of isolation
I reach out from my solitude
with the whisper of a voice,
a gentle reminder
from our common mother,
we are all related,
in the eyes of our father
children newly born.
Light will follow darkness
yet to travel safely
through this long night
I will carry my share
of the burden
and remember always
we are friends.




Photo by Patrick Orleman

Photo by Patrick Orleman


Gifts to the Solstice

Snow covers the mountains
with ice down to the valley floor.
Rivers run fast but the banks are frozen,
icicles hang from the broken trees.
How deep will cold set into the soft earth?
How pliable will we be under winter’s cover?
The harsh words of troubled hearts
fall like freezing rain
yet in the dim winter light
something more is asked,
questions from the core of the earth
far beneath the ice and snow.
How will you warm us
children of Adam?
What fire can you light
with the spark of eternity?
We are old but we remember.
What gifts will you bring
to this dark solstice?




What Trembles the Mountain

Memories of the animals fade
with the addiction to more.
The season asks for repentance
but the hymns of division
and adulation of things
defeat going down and in.
I shape a cave
in the rock of my mind,
surround it with silence
and let the water of renewal
gather under dark lava.
I chant until my body goes liquid,
all thoughts of vengeance
dissolving under the weight of stone.
No one can hear me
but my grief trembles the mountain,
melting the ice of indifference
as the subtle warmth of faith
seeps into the dark days of winter.