The Guide

Last night I dreamed I met my Guide.

He hoisted me onto his back and
trudged away from the cove
up the side of the mountain.

I asked him if there was anything I could do
for him.

I said, I do not want to be a burden.

He replied:
Then lighten up.

Old Mint and Chives

as I was putting the garden to bed last night
I smelled the fragrance of old mint
and chives

and thought what a long time ago
we said goodbye.
hidden under the leaves

Even the stars were out late and moved so slow
they hate to let go
so they go on shining
even when they’ve died

if travelers from another galaxy took pictures of us now
they would see a planet from a million years ago
covered in ice and wild seas

But if a traveler tried to talk to me
they would find someone
with a beating heart, a mind,
I’m still standing
after all these years

sometimes it seems like yesterday
that you kissed me

I can only reminisce so far
and then wish you well, wherever you are
and watch the fragrant falling stars.

This Longing

There’s an island off the coast that
I never went to.

I think there’s a blue grotto there –
we’ve all heard about it –
where wild women, their hips swaying as they work,
sing, and sigh.

Where the guitar-players with manly chins
stubbled and dark,
and strong white teeth
laugh, and stroke
the familiar cat that passes by.

There’s the sound of children playing
in the swell of the waves.

We follow the cobblestone road
under a sky that’s heartbreaking blue
to the yellow house with the peeling paint

on the edge of a beach that’s smooth as a pearl.

But none of this matters.
All I want is to be with you.
The island fades; the city is razed
in my heart

and the huge flowers wilt
like longing that flees
before the day.

Dusk

If I’m supposed to be in love
with the world, like this, as it waits
draped in soft, long dusk

Show me the purpose.

The twilight melds into light from the honey moon
and the night never is dark.
there’s just that strong silver shade

We’re all in it together, all bathed in it
swimming through the short summer night
wading through silverblue marshes
and the rustling tall grass

into the forest
where the shadows are very still
and things are not what they seem.

Morning

The spring morning lightens the dark
and the heaviness of thunder
like a huge rock crashing to the floor
shatters the spring dawn.

I lie in my tent, and listen for the rabbit
and the baby bear to come
softly – through the pouring rain.

Today they feast on jasmine and Russian olive
and a wet, pink flower that has not yet been named

and I read your letters and gather up my sorrows
and put them all in a small waterproof sack
and rise again
to meet the day.

The Best is Yet to Come

The huge mountains
shoulder the clouds and lumber into the distance.

the rivers gather strength to break through the ice
the life of the acorn bursts through its crust
like a miniature volcano

The years move on.

Breathe in the grey dawn,
find the great ship,
feel the rising wind.

Say goodbye to all that’s gone
because the best is yet to come.

In the Heart of an Igloo

I have fallen in love again
the winter brought me here
on a boat of snow and slopes:

I can write again.

and the snow flakes
have become fat and wet
and press against my body
like the tongue of a lover

I went deep into the heart of the igloo
and there you were:
My pen. My paper. Heart into words.

I have fallen in love again.
Let me be the paper; and you the pen
Take me – I lie passive as the storm rages outside
Write me – I lay myself naked before you
You are the One
I am your Queen
and your Slave.

Late November

as the year decays around
and the rotting leaves and faded moss
are hammered by gusts of wind
nailed shut by the iron trees
sealed with frost

the worried squirrels are lost
and leap from the mourners
trying not to freeze.

But the dawn that breaks
over high mountains knows
where to go:
inwards; past the rocks, deep below
where the decay turns to earth
and in the earth seeds will grow
and the fragile beauty of the spring
takes its time, but all winter long
there it is, deep below, sweet-smelling, small,
an acorn, a baby worm, the mysterious seed
that promises a full-blown rose.

Still One Heart

If you should find your way out of this town
think of me sometimes
when your bicycle reaches the crest of the hill
or when you sit by the fire telling your stories
or as you lift your eyes to the horizon of the desert,
set down your cup, pick up your bags,
and go on your way:
remember.

I never thought you’d really leave
I never realized there was so much attachment
to the past.
Or how strong was the rope pulling us apart.

Now there’s only the small town,
the cobble streets, the wise men,
and it’s time to rest.

Yes, it’s time to lie down
and gaze out of the window
and think of you again.

And we look at the same stars, the same moon;
and watch the same sun rise and set.
We’re standing on the same earth: two minds
four hands, four legs, and twenty toes
but one heart.
Yes, still one heart.

Hope in Autumn

Even the bloodied sky flies
trying to get away
scratched by crimson leaves
hurled like rain to the hard ground
and bandaged in old gold and brown

Yes the sky is pierced by silver needles of the birch
White bark, white skin,
pinning the white snow onto the shocked earth

Which tries to be quiet and to hide
from the grief and tumult
of a long-awaited death

and the dreaded pain of rebirth.

The Veils

Lift that veil and you’ll see clear:
the mountains in the distance, your dear face, even the sea,
and the words you speak
to me.

Now lift the next veil
Amazing: more light, more sense, more sparkling gems

Then lift another
and another
All through your life, let your friends
help you, and your work, and your play as well

until the last veil is lifted
and all is revealed:
you have found yourself.

This Stone, This Dawn

The time being is being in time
right now – here – this moment
this breath, this smile, this piece of stone

We all know that. It’s what the sages say.
but it’s gathering the energy to stay
this way
that is so hard.
like a great wave crashing over us
and sweeping away back out to sea
we’re back to long ago
or thinking about the next big wave
or what’s below.

But see – even while we wait
we’re soaked in the ocean of time
of being
the waves are only brief images
like a shimmering mirage
in the desert heat
or a single heart beat

yes the desert is time – not the mirage
and the heart is time – not the heart beat
and the ocean is time – not the wave

Be mindful of that – and be at peace
You’re always here: this moment, this breath,
this stone, this dawn.

Listen To Those Crazy Crows

Listen to those crazy crows
after the thunderstorm

caw – caw – caw

like birdsong wrenched from the throat
of a black-feathered prince
enchanted in a fairy tale

why am I here
who put that spell on me
caw – caw – caw
look at this old watermelon they threw out
the sun is nice and hot
come sit on this branch, my dear.

caw – caw – caw

I am a crow up high
on the branches of a delicious pine
and my prince is disguised too
so that we can hide from the angry king
and the witch and the goblin
and seek and find…

safe in the blue sky we cry
wrapped in our feathers that make us invisible
we hide
screaming our jokes, our injunctions, our news …
yes, we’re having a tremendous time.

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