When the Dust Settles

You can’t judge your life
from the floor of the coliseum.
You deal with what comes
through the iron doors.
You hear the cheering,
the boos, the chants
for your elimination.
You have the memory
of loyalties, love
beyond reckoning,
dreams gone up in smoke.
When the dust settles,
the noise of the crowd
dissolved in the sweet
peace of aloneness,
you can look back,
deal with your regrets,
make medicine with what
cannot be changed.
Your place in the arena shifts,
you’re not front line in the fray.
You share what you know
with the young warriors,
keeping your balance
in deeply worn footprints.
Scarred and thankful
for all you’ve known,
who will be the last voice heard
as you exit the arena?
Your mother’s guidance,
your father’s words of advice?
The sound of your children,
their shining faces
brave into this world.
The loyal woman
who stood by you
in the fight.
Maybe only the voice
of birds and the wind
sighing in tall trees
beside the moving tide.
Just that will be enough.


photograph by Willard Walch


19 Responses to “When the Dust Settles”

  1. Tom Figel says:

    Nov. 10, 2019
    Don, no surprise to those who know you, you expect to triumph in the arena of the coliseum. At least you are not picking a fight this week with the nation’s powerful interior. Keep sending them home on their own shields.

  2. Eric Dunn says:

    A magnificent poem!

  3. Doyle says:

    The end of life is all around me these days, very near several whom I love. I will share these words with them. There is strength and peace in your words that will serve my friends well.

    Thank you for all that you do in service with your work.

    Blessings upon you.

  4. David Barnes says:

    Epic struggle, poetry of the great contest, (just a few lines from a song celestial, if you will) which each one may in season discover leads to the day of rest. Thank you Don — and I am reminded here, of Rilke’s lines about the One who often simply declined the fight — and the ones who discover, in time, and quickly we hope: “Just that will be enough” …

    “Whoever was beaten by his Angel,
    (who often simply declined the fight),
    went away proud and strengthened
    and great from that harsh hand,
    that kneaded him as if to change his shape”

  5. Taylor Goforth says:

    Fabulous. What Eric said! THANK YOU Don!

  6. Tony Palombo says:

    A timely tribute to a life well lived. Speaks for me. I love it, Don. Thank you my brother.🙏

  7. Jay Schwartz says:

    Don: A great remembrance of a live lived with all its highs and lows and wisdom gained. I must admit, however, one smart aleck comment takes away from my enjoyment. Who is this fellow who keeps picking a fight?

  8. Kaia True says:

    Lovely. A portal glance to any phase of life.

  9. Maggie Causey says:

    Thank you for this gift, my friend.

  10. Bill Dare says:

    Warms my Heart, Don.

  11. Veronica Lim says:

    I feel your strength as we move into our elder years, and I respond with my own strength. Thank you.

  12. Chris Dalengas says:

    Well old warrior and dear friend, very nicely stated!

  13. Allen Guisinger says:

    I honor your gifts of conscious memory and Truth. Thank you for sharing consistently with the world.

  14. James says:


  15. Stunning work, Don. Yes, interacting with the world of illusion can be stress full at times yet, who we are in truly beyond all that and this is good to remember at all times. This poem says it all.

  16. John Albright says:

    All is well, Don. Surely no regrets for any of the experiences you so beautifully state.

  17. Andrew Shier says:

    Must join the above voices and say Thank You for this poem, Don. For some reason I’m feeling proud…proud to be alive and living the way of life.

  18. Brenda Jenkins says:

    Incredible, Don. I am at a loss for words, as you captured it all, full circle. I will echo the phrase “love beyond all reckoning,” as this speaks to me at so many levels. It is good to raise one’s head today, and feel proud, like Andrew said, about what IS…and where I am in the journey of life. Blessings to you brother. I join you with the bird song, and and hear you as well in the voice of the tall trees. It is enough.

  19. Sigridh Kiersch says:

    I too feel that sense of pride Andrew mentions. To have participated in the Arena of Life. And in the end, the voice of birds and the wind sighing in tall trees will be all I need for comfort.
    Thank you, Don, for the beautiful gift of this poem!

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