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.




Credit: www.maxpixel.net






















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.