Yet Blank Pages

Now I’ll gather from the darkness
for you my old friend and ally
a tracing of what may come
untarnished out of the east.
Too easy to lament,
to break down on the journey
while out on the edges
a lone hawk waits high in a tree,
a silver salmon breaks with salt
and begins his last trial.
The ledger where your name is written
and the yet blank pages of your story,
what will you write?
May the deep night guide you
and find you unbroken
with the promise of new light.

 

 

 


photo by Willard Walch


 


Seeds of the Future

Bare branches call to me,
striven of their summer glory
by the winds of autumn.
Crows mock their barrenness
from nearby rooftops
as burnt orange remnants
cling for these last few days
before falling to earth.
Below the asphalt
there is another dark
where lifeblood drops
into the old patience.
There time is for dreaming,
gathering strength
amidst the loss
of what once flowered
as roots sink deep
to the inner life
of stone and soil
and seeds of the future
wait in darkness.

 

 


 


Veins of Joy

Standing like a tree in autumn,
rain in my face with light fading,
I search down into my roots,
wondering if the veins of joy
will gift me again.
Those lonely people
in their thatched roof cottages,
the rail thin boy walking the roads
with a stream of dumb cattle,
sleeping in the rain, hungry
and cold to the bone.
The deeper veins are past them,
this I know, so like the giant evergreens
I send my tap root even further,
through clay and stones,
seeking the elixir, not once
but many times, day after day
if I am to lift my face to heaven.
Their words come to me then
in the dark of my searching –
you are not alone;
the vein you seek
you seek for many.
They keep me company,
bringing me back to the warm room
and the leaves of the maple tree
turning gold in November light.
The joy I’ve found,
hard wrought from the earth
and delicate as a feather
against the weight of trouble,
at least I know as my own.

 

 

photograph by Louis MacKenzie


 


Behind the Gate

Fog settles on the valley
as bright autumn fades,
leaves turn and fall
in the time of letting go.
I sit warm by the fire,
at peace in the change
like an old monk
preferring the calm,
the descent into root.
The world calls this empty,
the slow slip into darkness,
yet here in the quiet morning
soft light etches the fog
and the well of life flows full
behind the gate of silence.

 

 

 


 


Deep Rock Island

The night is a mystery
with tides swelling past
in dark shadow,
Mars a red pearl shining,

 

the dew so heavy
each blade of grass
beads luminescent.

 

The trees awake
with sun gone down,
sharing knowledge
with the stars.

 

I could drop into the sea,
wrap myself in darkness
or journey with the trees
to distant light.

 

Instead I’ll sleep
and struggle in dreams,
a stone for my pillow.

 

Morning comes,
great father rises in the sky,
birds flutter about
as wind brushes the shore.

 

I live in light and dark,
opening my throat
for the song from within,

 

lost and found once more
on the deep rock island.

 

 


 


The Search for Joy

I searched for joy, I did,
sometimes in the wrong places
and some that held a measure.
I searched in the sorrow
of what passed
and painful births
of what was to come.
The trees gave to me
in their unheard voices,
as did the streams
and rock strewn hills.
I thought I’d find it
defeating enemies
but even in victory
joy escaped.
I found it in two daughters
and see it still
in their shining eyes
and in a partner
whose blesses our steps
into each day.
I still search in the night,
walking among the trees
in the blanketing darkness
and on the point beside the sea
as the sun slowly rises.
Yet now that I’m old
I’ve found the hidden place
where it rested all along
like calm water and a fresh breeze
lifting me from within.

 

 

 


 


Woven Together

The weight shifts,
the stone of grief
lifts for breath.
Stories of sorrow
press the earth
as lights come on
across the city
and dawn tints the sky.
We are many
yet in our pain
we are one, one family
of the poor and wretched,
the rich and famous,
woven like cloth
by our joy and suffering.
This lifetime or the next
we will meet again,
our tears the water
of life’s deepest well,
ten thousand Buddhas
journeying together
to the farther shore.

 

 

Artwork by Eilish Hynes


 


Like a River

Grief runs like a river
beneath thin layers
of sand and stone,
carrying stories
of pain and failed hope
to an ocean of silence.
The great heart of the world
includes this ocean and river
pulsing with rhythms of sorrow
and new life born again and again
in the gardens of the gods.

 

 


 


Drink the Rain

Breathing more easily
the rain soaked ground
sheds the dull brown of summer
for a pale hint of green.
Arising like Lazarus
mosses come alive
with fir and madrone;
the slow patter on our roof
peaceful as a lullaby.
There is no altar but the earth,
no religion that returns us
like a cloud filled sky.
The beast says you need more
yet drink the rain
and drop your root
into the abandoned silence.
There’s no one to be but yourself.

 

 


 


Under the Miller’s Wheel

Who am I fooling,
the earth broke me
on the wheel of time,
ground me like winter wheat
for the coarsest bread.
Grind some more
I said in my bravado
and the earth was glad to oblige,
passing me under the miller’s wheel
until fine sifted flour.
Now make me food for all that lives
I dared in my foolishness
and again the earth was glad
to bake me in her oven
and serve me to the people.
Buttered and brown
I pass through faceless masses
until a small sad eyed child
receives a crumb, lifetimes pressed
into one moment of bread,
and put to his mouth I am whole.

 

 

 

Walker Evans photograph