Night Basket

The soft colors of budding trees,
deep greens of fir and cedar,
the startled look of squirrel,
the steady gaze of crow,
the sound of breaching whales
and high pitched cries of eagle,
human faces vast in number,
the star reach broad and clear.
On and on the roll call of creation,
ten thousand times a thousand
and still the surface barely scratched
while here I sit, a pin prick of light
within the fathomless gift.
Perhaps tomorrow I will count the birds
or soft-bellied slugs on their journey,
the herring as they ball and run
and these old man hands
set upon the page.
May wonder keep me open
when darkness descends,
the edges of mystery unravelling
into the waiting arms
of night’s starlit basket.



photograph by Patrick Orleman






















Reading of “Night Basket” with music by Ahura


Tir Na Nog

Paudriag spoke to me
though from afar
his voice both close and quiet,
reminding me of the green sloping land
and north the sea, shining and alive
with ancient music.


There is a place for him
and many gone before
who traveled to America
where they’d never rest,


returned now to Tir Na Nog,
forever young in the old land,
looking over the ocean,
soil deep and wet with rain,
full of peace.





















Reading of “Tir Na Nog” with music by James Galway and the Chieftains


Perhaps Today

Perhaps today
the heartland will rise,
prairies sing their ancient songs
as broad lakes join flowing rivers
unceasing to the sea.


Though the noise of progress
may demand attention
beneath disturbance
are the clear tones of earth,
quiet as a dirt road,
fields green with spring.


Perhaps we may forget
or set aside the thoughts
that don’t become us
and let the deeper strains
of harmony find voice
in our words.


As whales intone
their plaintive melodies
traveling the deep ocean,
perhaps today we may
follow our halting footsteps
and come again
to the open gates of Eden.




photograph by Maija Butters






















Reading of “Perhaps Today” with music by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason


Plum Tree Blossoms

There’s light upon the Colorado,
mountains aglow in the sun,
shining on the Wasatch and Sawtooth,
over the Canyonlands and Great Basin
to the deserts of Nevada and California.
From the high chaparral of eastern Oregon
pouring down the sentinel peaks
through the gorge of the Snake and Columbia
where the green swath of the Willamette leads
to the Coast Range and over to the grand Pacific.
Everything alive with the touch of life
that comes each day, urging the healing dark
to continue west, help the wounded and forlorn
to gather faith and awaken to this one moment in time,
the moment when the plum tree blossoms open
and spill out pink flowers in the first joy of spring.



photograph @Jesse.Brackenbury





















Reading of “Plum Tree Blossoms” with music by Aaron Copland


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.


























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.


Spirit Talons

Cold comes the morning
with light rain
and gentle breeze.
Strong winds
have laid down
but will rise again,
the ocean stirred
by the growing pulse
of winter.
My animal body
layers on clothes,
circles the earth bed
to rest in darkness
while I stay above,
spirit talons
grabbing the high fir
for a view of the sea,
hungry for what
the tide will bring.



photograph by Jim Frid






















Reading of “Spirit Talons” with music by Jack White