Tag Archives: wisdom



How readily, how easily
he weeps these days
sometimes for nothing more
than idly watching
a small spider creep along
a sunlit crack of wooden floor
or for a long familiar meaning
that he keeps inside of him
but cannot find the wording for.

Those around him, how they try
to make him happier— they
keep saying please don’t cry.

If not the master of his fate
he always thought himself
to be the captain of his soul,
knew how to quietly
gulp back a sob and keep
a trembling chin under control.

How well he learned to deal
in what society had taught him
someone is supposed to feel.

Society means less and less
to him with age. He doesn’t care
to reminisce or wistfully to dwell
on disappearances, or assuage
the thought of death with chat
of grandkids who are doing well.

He only wants to hold the book
and read the page he once marked
with a pressed white asphodel

and sail his bonny brine-tossed ship
star-eyed upon the mother ocean
deep in love with every rise and dip.



for J.C.

For many years you don’t get it.
You know you haven’t gotten it.
But there’s still time and
maybe you’ll get it.

You cultivate the persons, places,
things that appear to have it.
What you get there is proof
that you still don’t get it.

It’s above you, beyond you.
It’s all Greek, which you don’t speak.
You need more experience,
you need more education.

You need the magic formula,
the password, the key.
You need a teacher, a mentor,
a confidante, confessor, referee.

You have tried hard,
been nice to people–
maybe nicer than you should.
How long can this go on?

Until you don’t care anymore.
Then in a desert breeze,
a written word, a flower’s heart,
you hear the temple gong:

you already have it,
you’ve had it all along.

Originally posted in July 2013



Are they trying to be songs,
those small urges nudging the heart
toward the throat, wanting to live on air?

Very like songs they are,
fragments of song, ideas for a song
swimming upstream to a belonging

with mute swans on the clear
mirror of a mountain lake
gliding toward the inevitable.

But what if they’re off-key?
Sung wrong?  What indeed.
Try to remember what

someone looking for the lost chord
midway up a mountain in Tibet
said, and which I pass along:

a bird does not sing
because it has an answer;
it sings because it has a song.

Prelude to a Necessary Song



It’s a child-mind
not yet inked with idiom
that dances undiscouraged—
squeals, flails, flaps and honks
the wild goose chase—

she runs at pond’s edge,
arms wide, grasping toward
the fast escaping geese.
What does she think to do with one
if caught? They’re almost bigger than
herself in her exuberant red cap.

I watch, leaning on my stick,
knowing the lost cause.
The few souls passing my park bench
smile and nod. Perhaps they’ve also known
the feeling once, of chasing God.

Her grownups call the child
to supper, sleep, away.
The light of day is lessening;
the geese have gone
wherever geese must go at night

but there’s still time
to gather those wing feathers
the goose-chase left behind.

I could do that
if I had a mind.