Saturday, January 30, 2016

Piety is a word one rarely hears anymore, that sacred state of deep devotion to God's love.

Friday, January 29, 2016

seed, soil, sun

'Soil is another ingredient needed to make food. This tiny layer of our Earth is made up of silt, sand, and clay, along with minerals, dead leaves, twigs, and a zillion tiny organisms. Each handful of soil contains more living things than all the human beings on earth.'

from the book
Seed Soil Sun: Earth's Recipe for Food
by Chris Peterson
Photographs by David R. Lundquist

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

daytime moon

just past gibbous
the still plump moon
swathed in trails of cloud
hangs cheerfully
above the parking lot
in the pale morning light
white paper moon
on gray fading

to blue sky
how i love
a daytime moon

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

for a long time
Oscar the Grouch
has been my favorite Muppet
his graveled voice
his shining trashcan home
the way the lid pops up
and there he is
grumbling at the neighbors
and making funny commentary.

if i could give him a present
it would be an introduction
to two cats
(if they wanted to be his friends...
i think they might like his
interesting habitation.
I see them standing on the trashcan top
peering down
at Oscar's fuzzy face,
sniffing, purring
and wondering what's inside
the Grouchy Muppet
and his shining house...)

Monday, January 25, 2016

the long road

the road is long
they say
a marathon
an odyssey
keep at it!
keep going strong!

let me off
this road i say
i don't want
to live
on any street
or highway

give me a nest
in a tree
or a den
under a stone
let me find
my kin
my kind
my furry friends
or feathered tribe

there is no exit
is their reply
there is no nest
keep driving doing
what you do best

i yawn
slow down
stop in a shadow
along the street
curl like a snail shell
fall asleep
and in my dreams
my kin i meet

Friday, January 22, 2016

List of Celebrities

Socks was a White House Cat.
Rin Tin Tin was a TV Hero Star.
So was Lassie. A TV Heroine Star.
Flipper, too, Don't Forget!
Only Lassie and Rin Tin Tin were Dogs.
Flipper was a Dolphin who swam
as fast as the dogs could run.
Fido was a Dog who never Forgot
his Human Friend.
Mr. Ed was a TV Horse
who spoke English.
He also Neighed Horse-speak.
Blue Dog is a Painting,
the Subject of many Portraits.
Tiffany is the Low-Profile Dog
behind Blue Dog.
Old Faithful is a Famous Geyser
a Natural Phenomenon.
Smoky the Bear
was a Famous Survivor.
'Only YOU Can Prevent
Forest Fires!'

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

farley and manny

'woof!' said farley the flying dog.

'i don't know where we are!' said manny. 'you're the guide here!'

'woof!' said farley. a leash appeared in mid-air. it was woven of strings of red, blue, and yellow. farley chomped on it and brought one end to manny. manny wrapped it around his wrist and held on.

farley, wagging his tail, carried the other end. 'wrrff!' he said, best as he could with the leash in his mouth. off he lept, soaring forward and off the ground.

'what?' said manny, and 'oof!' he was jerked up and into the sky, farley heading for the clouds with manny close behind.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

the grasses are taller than i am
beiges, tans, and greens
lit up by the morning sun

it's just a little street corner
a bit of outdoor nook
but in this patch
of tall tall grass
(visual music bending
light in the breeze)
i see a prairie
stretching out like the sea

I wrote the little poem above last night. Tonight, the refrain of a song from Alan Parsons Project in the 1980s comes to mind:

Time keeps flowing like a river
to the sea 
to the sea

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hokusai and Hiroshige

Hokusai, the Japanese artist, is perhaps best known for his series of studies of Mount Fuji which he completed toward the end of his life. The glacier-capped ancient volcano is something of a spiritual icon to the people of Japan, ever present, ever changing with the seasons, magnificent in its connection between the heavens and earth. Hokusai's art visually communicates that mystery and beauty.

Some years back, I was given a calendar with images of the work of Hokusai, including a famous image of a wave. I also lucked upon a book of postcards with images of the works of Hiroshige, another noted Japanese artist of the 1800s, and thus became familiar and enamoured with his work: People in colorful garb of eras past, walking in the night on wooden shoes through snow; a turtle on a bridge-post; cranes in flight and boats with sails.

A cultural, natural, and historical legacy was so clearly documented through the art - mostly woodblock prints - of these two men. Forgive me if this post contains any errors - I've sometimes confused the two artists, would love the opportunity to learn more. What an adventure it would be to study their lives and works.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

'for this pain
we have no words'

and they said
no more.

water tumbling down
the snow-melt creek
filled the silence.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


the little dragon of the kingdom
didn't breathe fire.
he ate corn chips
and nachos
and gargled with
soda pop.
he lounged
on a tree branch
hidden among the leaves
that were green as he was.
his big sister
floated down from the skies
her scales like giant sequins
of shining purple.
she told him
'you'll be bigger than me
but not yet.
Hiding in the tree
is good for now.
Just look and listen
and rumble from above.
You'll stay safe
and learn a lot!'
she spun back into the sky
and he knew there and then
it was time -
oh, yes! oh, woe! -
it was time to roar
and leave his hiding place
in the tree.

Monday, January 11, 2016

One of the most challenging things for humans to learn is to not-think. It's a skill we have as infants, and rapidly lose as we learn to understand word sounds, to match those sounds to objects and actions. Much of our mind's activity becomes linked to language, which is intricately marvelous and fascinating. However, something is lost in the process. In one of the Catholic Schools I went to as a kid, we had meditation practice. Sometimes, this was time set aside to think about certain aspects of our behavior and beliefs, or about stories from the Bible, but sometimes it was practice to let go of worldly thoughts and just be aware. Be empty. Listen. We were taught this was a good way to experience the presence of God.

Friday, January 8, 2016

incidental instruments

When I was a kid, our aunt wrapped a paper tissue around a hair comb. 'Hold this to your lips and hum,' she said. A pleasing buzz issued forth. Humming a melody into the comb produced instrumental sound - perhaps like a kazoo.

We had small electric fans in our house. Calling 'ahhhh' into the whirling blades also produced amusing vibrations of sound.

A friend put dry beans - like pintos - in an empty beer can and used it for percussive sound in a local band.

There's an old tradition of using a washboard for rhythm. Kids run along wood fences making rattling rhythm with sticks, and as grownup musicians recreate such effects on stage running a stick, thimble, or wooden spoon against a washboard.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Central Texas, where I live, is known for its fields of bluebonnets in spring. Bluebonnets are such a lovely local icon. How many paintings have I seen with a field of bluebonnets and a weathered wood windmill in the background? Quite a few.

Certain plants and trees mark other places I've lived or visited in the past. In early March in Paris around 1996, Forsythia was in full bloom - shrubs laden with shades of cheerful yellow abounded. Around June, 1976, Scottish Broom lined the highway parallel to the Straits of Juan de Fuca in northwest Washington State. In spring, 1965, south Louisiana had azaleas, mounds of pink, some shrubs as big as a Volkswagen Beetle. Around that year, there was such an azalea bush one noonday alive with hummingbirds, two or three dozen, darting in and out among the flowers. Their fluorescent feathers sparkled in the sunlight. In Abuquerque, New Mexico, September 1987, Pyracantha shrubs were weighted with berries, a fiery display of little orange spheres. That same fall, the Colorado Rockies shimmered in gold, robed with the graceful white-barked Aspen Trees.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

i think about
lawn mowers
and those
(mostly men)
who are close to them
who know them well

we complain
but some of us
are a bit compulsive
manning the mowers
at very regular intervals
and feeling satisfied
at the helm

do lawn mowers
have souls?
why do some mowers purr
and others sound 

agitated or angry 
and roar?

some people mow
small sections at a time
others go round and round
the circumference of a large lot
and work their way to the middle

i worry about mowers.
we may never know
what trees and grasses
might grow around us
if mowers weren't around
keeping things so trim

and i remember grasshoppers
leaping in all directions
to avoid the blades and noise

but even as i worry
i too have a fondness
for lawn mowers
i confess

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


This year's
is marked
by old thin man
crescent moon
meeting Venus -
quite a conjunction
a pre-dawn brightness
in the East
that shows the way
to 3 Wise Travelers

Monday, January 4, 2016

'old moon'

'old moon' rises
in the eastern after-midnight sky
like a bright croissant
a pleasure with a cup of coffee at dawn.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

sacred spaces

There are landmarks and special museums, mountains and lakes I have visited in my six decades that bring me much pleasure to remember. There are also places I remember for no apparent reason. I've given this some thought. I don't mention these locations because what made them so large in experience, the air so sweetly mind-expanding, may have been that relatively few humans lived, worked, or visited there. The balance of nature, the experience of life - even in the stones and in leaves already shed for the winter - safe, calming, exhilerating, sacred balance was to be found where man had not dominated, where nature was not subordinate to human progress and experiments.

That said, such an experience can still be experienced, in tiny spaces, when encountered, not hunted down.