An Old Tree Falls

For Robert Bly


He had gotten old
last time I saw him,
hair thinned white
though still
with fire in his belly.
He’d lit that fire for many,
bringing wildness
and passion
to the inmates
of boredom.
We won’t find
another like him
until we drop
into the dark pool
and recover the face
lying below
deep water.



photograph by Manyu Varma

















Reading of “An Old Tree Falls” with music composed by Turlough O’Caralan




Janitor in the House of Soul

I’m janitor in the house of soul,
working each night with broom and mop,
pushing my old cart through the dream time.
The body sleeps while I toil
vacuuming the worn books and shelves
filled with records of relationship.
In winter months there are lots of visitors,
inquiring about family stories,
reading the how to books of salvation.
Not the librarian, only the janitor,
I dust the long tables and chairs
for those who do the winter work.
You can spot the studious
with bent shoulders and bowed heads
turning the yellowed pages of ancient tomes,
lips silently moving as they repeat incantations.
I keep to myself, one hand on the cart
and one on the beads I carry and thumb,
hailing Mary and hallowed be the Father
while I mop the tears and scrawl a few notes
of those I’ve loved and forgiven
before the lights go out in morning.



photograph by Edward Leon





















Reading of “Janitor in the House of Soul” with music by the Memphis Sanctified Singers


Soul Kitchen

Down I go once more
into the soul kitchen
where winter soup
slowly cooks.
All the heartache
and worn out beliefs
of the living and long gone
simmer over a low flame
in the iron cauldron,
releasing the inedible
up the spirit flume,
melding the useful
by ancient recipe
to what will feed
through solstice dark.



photograph by Louis MacKenzie

















Reading of “Soul Kitchen” with music by Huun-Huur-Tu.


Guided in the Dark

The ocean roared
with strong winds,
sheets of rain
and white capped waves.
I awoke in the night,
gusts shaking the cabin,
rattling my sleep, and now
in dim morning light,
I drop further
into winter’s cave,
wrapped in wool
and warm by the fire.
The ocean will have its way
for months to come,
driving storms
through the inland sea,
washing the dry islands
with streams of rain,
scouring the forests,
upending the beaches.
The time to go within
like burrowing otter
and dreaming bear,
to let the winter gods
guide us in the dark
that we might remember
and prepare our spirits
with the promise of new birth.




photograph by Louis MacKenzie
















Reading of “Guided in the Dark” with music by The Watersons