Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Die

Darkness looms
on folded wings
cold and undeniable.

But its flight stalls,
as life rages on.

Red Infection flares
in your pale blood,
your tired heart savaged
by thin assassins.

Should you go now
into Dylan’s good night
where faint stars
call softly to your wasted soul?



the gentle void
deeply breathe dark waters,
and all your pain will drown
in a sudden flood of




fierce soul shrinks
from this gracious night;

You fight for bitter light.

Raw pain is better
than vacuous rest
In death’s stark nest.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Real Hope

“The real hope is not in something we think we can do, but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.” Thomas Merton

Spring proceeds,
despite the cold
Pacific winds.

Storms that should have
blown through months ago,
now come lately,
blustering that late is better
than not at all,
and gather clouds, complaining of the hour;
they huddle and decide to get it over with
all in a day, and squeeze
fountains out of the
heavy April air.

This is the moment!

At last the iris arises,
sleek, and slender, and plain
curvaceous head,
concealing glory

‘til rain all finished,
the  sun having drenched
time and emerald space
with his golden flame,

the flower unfurls,
and stirs to nectarine passion
courteous bees, and
lingering birds.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Silent Watcher

Silent watcher,

see how the sun pales,
as gray clouds enshroud 
jaded day?

Just tell me that you love me, 
and I'll breathe you 
a new world.

The fiery bird
will rise 
impossibly high
into the leaden sky. 

as I fill your eyes
with desire!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daily Life

Life must provide a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices become manifest. Thomas Merton

What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. Thomas Merton

Waking each morning, ex-
pelled from my space,

else has taken my place!

So rising to join in the common fray
compelled through the breathless, common day;

I stop,

and I choose,

and I breathe,

and I pray.

May 4, 1970

Morning was already warm, the sun beat
my sweating brow as I walked to the Oval,
past green Jeeps filled with tense soldiers,
past the detritus of last night’s battle:
torn flyers, shattered glass,
spent tear-gas canisters still reeking,
past garish, red ON STRIKE! posters,
to begin another chaotic day.

Because ugly war raged in Vietnam,
sharp tension hung over Columbus,
a grey, stinking haze imposed
on this brilliant
spring day,

So we lined up; the concept was simple.
student marshals, green armbands as our shields,
stood between swearing students
and nervous guardsmen,
whose black bayonets
wavered mere inches from our necks.
The idea was easy; being students,
other students
would respect
our vulnerability;
and not being demonstrators,
the guardsmen would
respect our lives.

It worked fairly well
until a rumor
about death
at Kent State.

Angry, bold, silent,
sweeping aside all respect,
they pushed us back,
into the bristling line of steel.
I looked behind me
and saw rifles lowered
to shoulder level,
aimed right through me,
and hearing the smooth, deadly glide
of bolt into waiting chamber,
I dove to the ground
and joined the fleeing, terrified
rush of children.

That evening, safe in my parents’ home,
far from the deserted campus,
I watched the news with my father.
I saw hard-hatted construction workers
angrily beating students, just like me,
on the bloody streets of New York,

and muttering about getting what they deserved,
my dad looked at me,
and saw my

Suddenly silent
he turned off
the TV.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Out of the Hard Blue

Out of the hard blue it comes
throbbing, powerful, flinging dust and small stones,
as it clears the swaying tops of neighboring redwoods,
and gives the empty,clear, and calm air
substance, color, and turbulence.
We shield our eyes and turn away
from the spinning propellers as the
helicopter floats slowly down
closer and closer to the playground:
ten feet, six, five, one, done;
and lightly resting on gray pavement,
on the hopscotch lines and painted stars and planets,
the roar of its motor drops from banshee scream
to diminished moan, and finally to whisper
as blurred blades slow, and the flight finishes,
and all motion stops.

Then the school children take over, shouting
as they rush, straining against teachers’ restraint,
to see this amazing machine come to visit.
They gape at what is usually a speck in the sky,
but here it is huge and amazing,
up close, and so real!

After peering in windows, and touching gleaming doors,
and the short speech by the pilot,
(so cool in shades and blue flight-suit)
the scheduled visit ends, and the helicopter
springs again to life, and leaps
into brilliant May sunshine, into
the hard blue sky, and
quickly disappears.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The way to find the real "world" is not merely to measure and observe what is outside us, but to discover our own inner ground. For that is where the world is, first of all: in my deepest self.
Thomas Merton. Contemplation in A World of Action

I look out my window
and see what is real.

Trees, bark encrusted,
rough my hands; cool
leaves, cherry blossoms,
white and vibrant, writhe
in the bee-blurred light.

Yes, these things
are real,

and yet,

turning inward,
to our secret room,

I find you



Saturday, April 14, 2012

I Hear the Cars Race

I hear the cars race.

On the still night streets I hear it,
the rush of combustion, confusion of speed.

Power can slip through young fingers
like the leather leash of a big dog,
slashing tender hands.

I pray that they can hold on
or the beast will surely turn
and crush them
like a

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Aubade: City Rain

City rain falls down
gutters, steep canyon walls, to
chasms passionless.

No rushing life, no
dark soil can restore grey pave-
ment to muddy joy.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources. If I trust You, everything else will become, for me, strength, health, and support. Everything will bring me to heaven. If I do not trust You, everything will be my destruction. Thomas Merton Thoughts in Solitude

I trusted my strength,
lifted weights, made
muscled arms strain
to overpower everything.

Young fool!
thinking blood
can forever freely rush
from throbbing heart
to grasping hands.

One day
into a morning mirror
I looked

and saw my father
gray and failing.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

empty spaces terrify

From aimless seas
islands loom
like clouds.

They call to us,
weary sailors all,
and promise
soft sand, palm trees,
and beautiful natives,
lusting for new blood,

better than this interminable dance
of crest with trough,
azure fusing endlessly
with the unbroken
cerulean sea.

For, you see, we love enclosures,
tight, soft places,
cushions beneath our feet,
shadowy corners,
smoldering coals.

In dark rooms
our eyes grow wide
and summon forth
mystic sight:

ethereal forms,

dancing light.