Plum Tree Blossoms

There’s light upon the Colorado,
mountains aglow in the sun,
shining on the Wasatch and Sawtooth,
over the Canyonlands and Great Basin
to the deserts of Nevada and California.
From the high chaparral of eastern Oregon
pouring down the sentinel peaks
through the gorge of the Snake and Columbia
where the green swath of the Willamette leads
to the Coast Range and over to the grand Pacific.
Everything alive with the touch of life
that comes each day, urging the healing dark
to continue west, help the wounded and forlorn
to gather faith and awaken to this one moment in time,
the moment when the plum tree blossoms open
and spill out pink flowers in the first joy of spring.



photograph @Jesse.Brackenbury





















Reading of “Plum Tree Blossoms” with music by Aaron Copland


Washboard Road

This rutted track
with pot holes and cuts,
makes for rough travel.
Perhaps I should have
chosen a shorter course,
taken the highway.
Out on this spur
of lonely landscape
with wire fence
and barren fields,
two coyotes lope from cover,
a raptor watches.
Bouncing on the gravel
I wonder at my choices,
of wayward paths
and threadbare answers
yet the hawk’s eye catches me,
the coyotes’ freedom
in their winter coats.
Keep going I tell myself
rolling open the window,
just over the next rise,
further down the washboard road.




photograph by James Frid






















Reading of “Washboard Road” with music by Norm Smookler


Keeping Faith

Low clouds cross the valley
in a dry southerly wind,
the sun an occasional guest
during months of rain
feeding glaciers,
mountain rivers,
vast estuaries
rimming the coastline.
We depend on what we suffer,
aspiring to heaven as we slog
through puddles, our heads
hooded against the sky.
Bending with the wind
we find suppleness,
strength in letting go.
Carving totems
we raise our masks
to the blue gray heaven,
welcoming the giver of rain
and maker of clouds,
keeping faith before us
as we journey on.


























Reading of “Keeping Faith” with music by Tinariwen


Country Roads

When I think of America, the US that is,
I think of John Denver and Country Roads.
And just to show how out of touch I am
when I think of that song I am warmed.
I know about Vietnam and that gash of a wall,
the hollowing of our midlands
and desolate homeless camps
but those beautiful for spacious skies
are wedded in me to the hope of my father,
the courage of my mother
and I don’t give up.
God knows we need improvement
but there is a spirit to this country
that inspired the world
and what that was wasn’t buildings
or the stock exchange, iPhones
or fancy footwear, more like
Walt Whitman and Jackie Robinson,
music that dwells in minor chords
about Parchman Farm
and God Bless whatever we are
pure in the sound of John Denver.
Or maybe Woody Guthrie singing Do-Re-Mi,
Bob Dylan in his gravely elder rasp,
Joni Mitchell, stardust on the way to Woodstock
or Ella singing with Louis about April in Paris.
We’re a giant rainbow of lost dreams,
ravaged farmlands, unbroken people
and a spirit that won’t quit.
Country roads, take me home,
to that place where I belong.
Sing it John, in all your youthful innocence.
Sing it for us all.






















Reading of “Country Roads” with music by John Denver


Grace to Her Becoming

Beneath the weight of snow
the Earth rests
but does not sleep.
In root and caves beyond number
the tribes of spring begin to drum,
waters destined for rivers flow
and in the depths of her abundance
the burgeoning of new life.
Layer after layer
the white blanket
covers Earth’s repose,
winter peace
the grace to her becoming.
Our quiet welcome
acts midwife to her beauty
and in the warmth of silence
sound the infant songs of spring.




artwork by Susan St Clair Bennett






















Reading by the author with music of Agnus Dei by Netherlands Bach Society


Winter Well

South the sun rises
on winter mornings,
slanted low in bright light
and pale orange.
Trees sleep in rooted beds,
the sky left to crows.
Putting down the cup of fear
I turn to the well within.
When the door is closed,
the window shut,
a path opens
through dark earth,
below the tangle of root
and hardpan clay
where the water of life



photograph by Willard Walch






















Reading of “Winter Well” with music by Art Pepper.


Spirit Talons

Cold comes the morning
with light rain
and gentle breeze.
Strong winds
have laid down
but will rise again,
the ocean stirred
by the growing pulse
of winter.
My animal body
layers on clothes,
circles the earth bed
to rest in darkness
while I stay above,
spirit talons
grabbing the high fir
for a view of the sea,
hungry for what
the tide will bring.



photograph by Jim Frid






















Reading of “Spirit Talons” with music by Jack White


Time to Live

Smoke rises from a chimney
into the cold December sky.
Desire wants to lift above the earth,
see far like towering evergreens
but the land calls down and in.
Discover again your winter self
wrapped in elk hide,
stone faced and sober.
Stir the cauldron,
sing the ancient songs,
let the drumbeat
of mother’s heart
guide you in knowing
wild horse and flowing river.
You’ve died a thousand times;
now it’s time to live.




photograph by Patrick Orleman





















Reading of “Time to Live” with music by Van Morrison


Sisters of Peace

The need to fight, to oppose,
is older than red rock hills
rising from the desert landscape.
Springs of violence swell
from a righteous vein
to spread upon the dry ground
soaking evening’s quiet.
A crescent moon softens,
the dipper points to north star
but trouble’s impulse continues.
Across the stony ground
and abroad the night sky
comes the inspiration to lay down arms,
to let the calm of ancient light
bring healing to our troubled thoughts.
Over and again we choose our nourishment,
the paths we take on the fields of Cain.
Perhaps one night, may be this night,
we might follow Orion to discover again
the Sisters of peace and become once more
a home among the stars.




photograph by Robert Aughenbaugh




















Reading of “Sisters of Peace” with music by Franz Liszt


Within the Womb

Hidden now
the green life
and pulsing energy.
Gone to root
the life of trees,
as bears sleep
in burrowed caves.
Single bird song
breaks the quiet,
calling out her joy
to the cold gray sky.
Where I go
a greater light
within the darkness,
the treasure
of winter’s rest
curing my impatience,
as beauty grows
within the womb,
weaving colors
from the silence.




photograph by Louis MacKenzie






















Reading of “Within the Womb” with music by State Symphony Capella of Russia