Empty Bowl

There are things I want to give you
that I forget at the sight of your handsome face,
so mature yet tender to the world that’s coming.
No one can spare you heartbreak
or bring the joy that you deserve
so I sit here with my empty bowl,
filling it slowly, drop by drop,
for the days when you will thirst.

 

 

 

photograph by Louis MacKenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Empty Bowl” with music by Andrey Korolev

 


In the Unknown Distance

It’s not a wide path
and it’s not straight.
Thorns and underbrush
tear at your clothing,
the ground rough with stones,
in some places bog.
Once in a while
you break out
to the bend of a river
where you stand clear
on a cobbled beach
or on the tip of a ridge
where the surround
of mountains
and forest green
come into view.
Those are moments of joy
and you store them
like dried fruit
in the depth of your pack.
Then you walk on,
not looking back,
with faith that somewhere
in the unknown distance
the village of belonging
will welcome you home.

 

 

photograph by Brenda Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “In the Unknown Distance” with music by Bonnie Raitt

 


For I Am Water

Tall firs alive with wind
as crows circle in the gray sky
and morning rises.
What strength of root
for those green sails to wave,
their masts held stable in the ground.
I hang on with aging roots,
the soil around me without comfort,
knowing my time may have passed
and I a ghost left above ground.
Cautious of becoming bitter,
acidic to the green world,
I grow quiet, dissolved in silence.
Then like a branch lifted by the wind,
I understand my errors are become
the roots that will hold me,
sorrow the knowing of the river,
how it rises and falls yet moves on.
I remember springs in the mountain cleft,
shining brown rocks where I stepped and fell.
The soft spread of green where creek joined river,
then the mile wide flow toward ocean sound.
There is no stopping, only the slow bending curve,
the high bar of gravel, for I am water
and where the river goes, I go,
onward to the welcoming sea.

 

 

 

photograph by Louis MacKenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “For I Am Water” with music by R. Carlos Nakai

 


Second Birth

Christmas 2022

 

In the season of snow
I pull against the restraint
of weary nights and biting air,
looking out across the valley
at the towering firs,
green against gray morning skies.
Crows gather on the hill top
in chestnut and gum trees
stripped for winter vigil.
Feeling more tree than mortal
I reach out to the wet earth,
gain purchase in the soil
and from dark root strength
lift each branch toward light.
Suddenly I’m airborne,
soaring into the beyond.
Mineral and animal yet
with spirit woven in my wings:
the joy to rise, a weightless grace
and a second birth of holiness
on this Christmas morning.

 

 

photograph by Thomas Kast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Second Birth” with music by Vince Guaraldi

 

 

 


Santa Shaman

Under steel gray blankets
the land rests,
soaked in winter rain
as cold air cleanses
the approach to solstice.
Santa shaman
roams with reindeer
in starry night skies,
drops through smoke holes
to deliver his gifts.
Not for gain this season
but surrender to darkness,
the terror of our souls
silenced and stilled.
On this night
the wondrous approaches,
softened to kindness
by immortal birth.

 

 

photograph by Louis MacKenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Santa Shaman” with music by Angelo Badalamenti

 


Instead She Flowers

Autumn sweeps the laden trees,
spreading treasure on the ground
we cart off to a distant mill.
The soil aches for return
of what began in spring
and came to summer fullness.
You’d think the earth would surrender
but instead She flowers,
rising from the meagre dirt
to fill the sky with color.
So I go down to feed the dark
bereft of autumn gold,
comforted by the welcome land
hungry for the nourishment.

 

 

 

photograph by Jack Leishman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Instead She Flowers”

 


Treasure of the Forgotten

Inner life is a tiny gear
in the machinery of the world.
Many perform in the factory,
giving themselves to production,
the wheels of commodity and exchange.
Yet in silence there are messages
meant only for the soul,
hieroglyphics that speak to the destiny
of the wanderer who is not lost.
On Cold Mountain there flows a stream
turbulent and vital over ancient stones.
Surrendering vanity you come upon poems
written on water and the long suffering earth.
Your legacy may be lost, your wealth dissolved,
but on those sharp edged slopes,
in that round roofed sanctuary,
lies the treasure of your forgotten Self.

 

 

 

photograph by Alexander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Treasure of the Forgotten” with music by Mikko Hilden

 


Until I Return

Gray seas, gray skies, wind over water
as ocean reclaims the inland sea.
Trees fall to their roots
drinking deeply of the early rain.
I gather my regrets and drop them
into the swirling cove
for the crabs to feast.
Carrying what I can
I journey back to the mainland,
the memory of salt and horizon
stored for winter.
Don’t blame my complaints,
there are bird wings in my thoughts
of moonlight and silence.
I settle in beside the fire
but don’t forget you,
dark nights and earth spirits
with me until I return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Until I Return” with music by Boccherini

 


Leaving No Trace

Birds flock on the tide
while dark clouds of rain
are driven onshore,
clearing skies over the island.
Gracefully they circle and land,
circle and land, gathering.
I sit quietly, sipping
on the early hours
of soft light and shadow.
The silent earth, teaching
deep root and letting go,
lightens my footsteps
until like the ancients
I leave no trace
but the imprint of kindness
left on the souls
I’ve dared to love.

 

 

 

photograph of Sweet Medicine by Rebecca Hynes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Leaving No Trace” with music by Ahura

 


From Cradle Return

Into the lush night
of a waxing moon
rich with silence,
I walk with certainty.
The well of earth opens
and down I go
to the caverns of peace.
Surrendering sword and shield
I stand beside ancients,
everything I’d learned
become a child’s story;
from the undisturbed
wisdom lights the stars,
births all creatures.
I find myself
a glimmer in Her eyes,
a spark in His fire
and from Their cradle
return to the dark night,
witness to Their love.

 

 


photograph by Louis MacKenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “From Cradle Return” with music by Nanci Griffith