The Shape of Today

I said, "I dreamed I was a bird eating
a couple of seeds before flying off 
to a bird bath for a sip of water."

She said, "Imagine how many persons
sat inside their homes looking out
windows upon your performance."

I said, "I should have charged admission
in exchange for the free food and drink."

She said, "Watching in the here and now
may make room for a note or two 
in our journal to be read in twenty years."

I said, "I am fortunate to have many days
to be joyfully remembered in the distant

She said, "The ordinariness of today
shapes the shape of the days bringing
a close to the banquet of life."

A Banquet

How many more horrors must humanity create
before some sort of deity deigns to arrive on the scene?
I have created my own share of trouble causing hurts
I never meant to inflict upon those whose love surrounds me.
Paradox happens, says a cute bumper sticker with a picture
of the sun shining through some storm clouds.  Some (many?)
helped others escape through fences and borders carrying
babies against their breast while many (most?) watched
the events on the evening news exclaiming with outrage
from comfortable chairs.  I have trouble with being simple
when a learned mystic calls for simplicity in the attentive
heart.  In my mind complexity has no home in places
where fires rage and to pause and practice any form 
of mindful breathing as bombs fall all around is a form 
of madness.  The world as infinite manifestations 
of multiplicity gets up and gets dressed every morning 
and may pay a visit, if the quiet is just right,
to a place where food has been laid out for a banquet
in the midst of fallen down buildings where ashen-faced
people arrive as if delivered by angels.

Notes from Daughters

We should not miss the further complexity
of being a human being by pointing to
one flaw after another and dismissing any
innate goodness in our nature.  One bad apple
just tastes bad and should not be brought
to the banquet table.  Beware of those who tell 
others what to do because of the length 
of their list of rules.  Visit, instead, places of adventure
tucked away in valleys.  Sit behind a roadside
lemonade stand and sell a cup or two for a quarter.
And on days of sickness pull out those notes 
written by daughters in unsure handwriting 
filled with I love yous and You're the best daddy.


"Eat up the darkness 
with wit, wine and wisdom." - T.S. Eliot

We are made in a place not our own.
The holy books say I am clay.
Breathed into when I was not looking.
Prone to eat darkness in darkened rooms.

It is not our fault when those who confess
to love us leave home when we return to stay.
I can puzzle about their motives all night 
while my daughters run around on the lawn
with sparklers looking like darkened fairies.

Was my grandmother looking into a darkened
future as she held her youngest great-grandchild
against her chest for the last time?

So often there are too many miles down
a long and darkened road which keep us
from being in each other's presence.

Why, then, must either of our darkened minds
lift a finger of accusation against the other
as if pointing at a flaw somewhere defines
a simple treatment that would heal us?

Wonder for a Day

To find moments for being gentle in the midst of strident
cries gives rise to the necessity to trust the stories
sharing directions that make sense.  Other stories do not 
have to be mine.  Meaning for one is not meaningful 
for another.  As one theologian writes, We must be
diligent in the pursuit of proximate answers and solutions
to understand the ultimate problem of human existence.
How many people look upon their existence as a problem?
I believe that beginning my morning with yogurt in the same
wooden bowl I have used for years starts the story of my day.
While living, I can continue to read to gain some wonderful insights.
Whether or not the omnipotent God cares is not something
I find myself caring about, knowing that to do so is somehow
a disservice to the complexities of life.  Small notes of love tucked
between pages of my journal create all the wonder I will need
for a day.  

Before the Sun Rises

How is it that people being ordinarily moral cause
universal suffering?  I have been the recipient of 
those looks implying I hold all real virtue in the room
and, frightened, I excused myself by running in 
terror through any open door I could find.  Indifference
to the fate of self is one way to seek the welfare of others.
Another is to challenge the pride that tends to grow
when in the midst of a group.  What is rare, not at all
normal or to be expected, if found, should make things
easier.  At least that is what I have been told.  How can
the words of a poem be sinful, as in missing the mark, 
while alleviating the suffering of another?  So many
point their fingers at the greatest immorality of society
without any sense of ought or thou shalt.  Their versions
of harmony come before me bland and without reason.
Give me instead a note from a daughter thanking me
for taking her out to lunch or to live again the morning
when I lay on the floor with a baby resting and drowsing
on my chest as I rubbed her back, both of us tired from
waking before the sun came up to lighten the day.

The Second Moment

I said, "I dreamed that I couldn't 
even communicate my own 
accountability blocks."

She said, "So many intellectual
and emotional framings sound
trite in this day."

I asked, "Was I blocked or simply
not in the time and space
to talk the necessary language?"

She replied, "If you must lean,
lean into those connections
that don't yell and scream."

I said, "There was a piece of gold
in the dream.  Someone whispered,
Wait for the second moment."

She smiled.  "One really does not
have to know.  Feeling like there is
something present might be enough."

To Marry and Die

Not all heroes and heroines 
must marry and die.  One must
be born first.  Born into reason,
nature and spirit.  Filled with
a bit of mystery.  Stirred
by the hands of fate.  And witness
the flowering of a day lily.  And
the sighing pshaw of the chickadee.
Each moment may bring surprise
but more often than not it will 
be followed by another moment.
Sometimes my day passes 
trying to get at the meaning
of yesterday.  Did I worship
everything meaningfully?  And,
how important was it for me
to do so?  Maybe greeting
a passerby is more than enough.
Enough does not have to be the best.
Time still follows the worst which, 
though crushed, can no longer witness
how it becomes history.  Perhaps,
and again perhaps, what is worn
and what becomes do not have
to marry and die.

In Between

I often wondered what my daughters experienced
while away from the home visiting grandparents.
Now, I wonder where they are, now that they are away.
When they return will each bring a little note of love
filled with x's and o's like they wrote when they were young?
"xo I miss you very much.  But I'm having a blast. xo”  These
words fill the space in between the longing to have time
for myself and missing them so terribly, like I often do now.
The mystics claim that the soul finds its perfection in 
what is absent and, uniting with absence, somehow
the magic of soul-filling happens.  I have yet to see that magic.
I was once a man of faith believing that all things are possible.
Now I try not to spend so much effort understanding the 
ineffable mystery so often fallen back upon by those in the know.
Unmoving, I move towards the ash tree growing outside
my window where years ago a seed dropped to the ground.
I do not ask for it to fill me with wonder.  I do not desire 
to place a swing around its largest limb.  It is and I am.
My daughter sat up straight in bed one night crying out
after a large crack of thunder as lightning tore the tree
apart.  I spent the next day picking up pieces of bark
from my neighbor's yard.  Some believe that fences make
good neighbors.  I apologized for the mess my tree had made.
I guess meaning depends upon whether or not we believe
stories must have a beginning and an end.  One implies 
the continuity of life; the other, the inevitability of death.
I try to live in between where often the space is small
and sometimes crowded with memories.  There, there,
is the place where I have a chance to be taken by surprise.

A Birthday Present

It's not like I need to begin again.
So many years have already passed,
full of burdens and bursts of possibilities.
I should applaud myself for no longer
falling into the trap of substituting
new illusions for the abandoned ones.
And, yes, there remains a sublime madness in the soul.
In this birthday season of ice and cold
when the wind blows with an edge,
the amaryllis blooms, sending color
to the outermost rim of consciousness.
Now, I am more and more sure of grace.
I have watched those most close to me fall
and then get up to brush off debris from their knees.
Some have chosen to sit for a while
and I often think, Should I have joined them?
Is the rim too fragile to hold both of us?
But, there I go again, something I have done
throughout my time alive, asking the questions
which envision some sort of answer that ties
a birthday present up with a bow.