Soul Kitchen

Down I go once more
into the soul kitchen
where the winter soup
is slowly cooking.
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 an ancient recipe
into 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


 


Walking Hand in Hand

Between the storms
thick clouds break
to reveal patches of blue
and light to the east.
The sound of the wind
diminishes to near quiet
leaving an absence to the ear,
a sense of what is coming.
We confirm with our eyes
yet it is the invisible wind
that moves the sea,
the ubiquitous spirit
that supports all living.
From the depth of darkness
and morning light,
in the rushing wind
and touch of the eternal
there is the power
to bridge despair.
The sea will part
despite our trailing enemies
and threats of impending doom.
We may lean on the staff of faith,
footsteps guided by an inner compass
centered in Zion and certain of Eden
as we walk hand in hand through the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Walking Hand in Hand” with music by Steve Earle.


 


Campground of His Ancient Home

Digging through the underbrush
he cut his way through thorns
to the clean swath of river.
Guarded by boulders
and shear stone walls
the blue green water
flowed protected and fast.
He laid down on the gravel beach
and drank from the river,
his thirst of many miles
defeating all ceremony.
In the far distance
he heard Grandfather’s
hi yoka hey calling to him
and the sound of Grandmother’s rattle.
He had come so far to meet them again,
to sit in their cornmeal circle
and know the truth of his battered spirit.
A cool wind blew down the canyon
refreshing his washed face,
causing him to look up
to the distance he had yet to go.
All doubt was gone
for he could hear them calling
and picking up his worn pack
he set off, gamboling the boulders,
ready to strike through any barrier
for the campground of his ancient home.

 

 

 

photograph by Louis MacKenzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Campground of His Ancient Home” with music by Little Wolf


 


Hooked to Bedrock

Gray seas reflect the cloud filled skies
as autumn light begins to fade
along the northwest coast.
Winter cold is settling in;
winds increase into light gales
with only gull and crow
flying above the shore.
I draw in with the forest,
letting my soul find warmth
by the inner fire
as winter opens its story
without remorse or prejudice.
Shingles have blown from the roof,
a few windows crack
yet the four corners are strong,
the house unmoved.
Put your faith on the shifting tide
or far off horizon on summer days
but within the arms of winter
better to find your footing on stone,
hooked to bedrock like the old juniper,
shriven and worn by many years
while holding the grace of life
for the thankful earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Hooked to Bedrock” with music by St. Petersburg Chamber Choir


 


Storing Honey

Quiet and still
the island rests,
summer’s movement
on land and sea
abated by the cool air
and shortened days.
Breathing in moisture,
exhaling in rhythm
with the trees,
I slow my desire
for motion and sound.
Layered like clouds
and deep as the mountain,
the one life will find me
at peace with the giants
beneath the earth,
storing honey in my soul
from the waning light
as the land turns down
into autumn.

 

 

 

photograph by Willard Walch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Storing Honey” with music by Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure


 


Time of Descent

Darkened clouds cover the valley,
welcome rains arriving
with the turn of season.
Gently comes the fall
as vibrant green fades
into russet and gold,
a quiet time, not a death,
a time of shedding leaves
and descent into root.
Even the old growth must yield,
allowing life force the way back
to the benevolent earth
where wisdom lies deep and still.
When we let go we fall
into arms of belonging,
embracing root and darkness
and the germs of new life
that await our resting souls.

 

 

 


photograph courtesy of Thomas Kast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Time of Descent” with music by Jay Ungar


 


Among Falling Leaves

Equinox 2021

 

Clouds reach down to the gray sea,
the waters calm on a windless morning.
Trees begin their slow descent to root
as autumn approaches, birds returning
to the green grass of September rain.
A full moon, orange and bright
marked summer’s close,
time to leave the high branches
and touch the ground once more.
The nights grow long
with solace in the dark
and winter stars rising.
A time to grow quiet
among falling leaves,
listening to earth song
as the tone changes,
melody deepens
and the land sings
in minor chords
the blues of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Among Falling Leaves” with music by Jack White


 


Hole in the Clouds

Heron croaked taking flight,
prehistoric wings and angular form
reminders of another time.
Like a hole in the clouds
or stirring of the sea,
I am part wind, part forest,
part native to the water.
I’ll tell you the story
as I remember
however incomplete.
This is your home,
body and blood,
yet in the helix
of your innermost
star seeds woven in light
brighter than morning.
You won’t figure it out
by unwrinkling your paper self
to somehow read the eternal.
You’ve got to live it,
beyond the pastures you were fenced in
and ride on into the wastes.
It’s drier out here and stony ground
but in the moment you cross the line
you’ll breathe the clean air you were born for
and your story will make perfect sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Hole in the Clouds” with music from Sister Drum by Dadawa


 


Song of Freedom

Steel gray water like polished silver
shines in the dull light of cloud filled skies.
Dolphins feed the tide line,
dorsal fins gracefully arcing
as they surface and dive.
I might seem to be alone
yet I am bathed in a vast community,
life it is in all directions
that rises with the sun and stars
both day and night in the eternal presence.
I should tone it down, speak in the mechanics
of physics and biology. I should but I won’t
for I only have so many days and the music
of my soul will only be sung if I let it.
I worship where I will and refuse the idols
of ideology and vain precept.
Aboriginal in my origins,
boiled in the kettle of a hard city,
I know what it’s like to break the chains
of fear and dependence.
I won’t go back to servitude,
bow before the altars of gold and cold marble.
What tree would vote for the axe,
desire to be cut down and milled to brutal standards?
The prison walls are as fake as the collar around your neck.
No one binds the soul. Ask the monks who kneel in snow
in the gulags of their oppressors.
They smile at the blows of ignorance,
knowing who is really bound.
Each day I follow the breadcrumbs of my heart
and choose life, to breathe the air of earth itself
and send my blood to every cell with the song of freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading of “Song of Freedom” with intro music by Bruce Springsteen