Thursday, April 19, 2018

In lieu of

When I think of the vast number of Christmas cards my mother sent and that our family received each year during my childhood, and the quiet labor involved, the patience, the thought, and the care that went into the process, and at the same time how every penny counted, and how hard both of my parents were working all through those years, and how hospitable they were, and how happily and naturally they welcomed company at any hour, I smile. And so now, it’s hardly a surprise that I still read and write daily, and do things the slow way, everything from scratch, as it were. And while we don’t send Christmas cards, we do send our love. That it’s but a click away is easy to take for granted. First we’re distracted, then we’re subtracted, and then we’re gone. Don’t you be the one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Canvas 1,192

Canvas 1,192

April 18, 2018

The grandsons are in the other room reading and doing homework.
I’m a grownup.

Canvas 1,191

Canvas 1,191

April 18, 2018

The idea of a sidewalk café in Paris in the latter half of the nineteenth century
arrived just as I was finishing the drawing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reading weather

Reading weather. Standing water. Hailstorms. Unstable air aloft. Massive cloud formations. Rapidly changing light. Dark in the room. Lamp time. Sudden sun. Blinding reflections. Misty veils. Spirit glass. Reading the weather. Reading the water. Reading the clouds. Earth book. Sky book. Life book. Even the pages have veins. Look down. Leaves at your feet. Taking root. Stand up. Stretch. Dance. Laugh. Can it be? Five minutes already? An hour? Old age? Infancy? “Oh, is this your youngest? How cute!” “Yes, he’s the baby of the family.” Yes, the baby. But look closely, because now he is a grandfather with a beard. And we, my friend, are glorious dust. By golly, you’re right — he does look like us!

Monday, April 16, 2018

This first half of April

This first half of April, rain is the name of the game. And wind. Lots of wind. The wind arrives by the truckload, and misty forklifts unload it pallet by pallet in the street, where it escapes its fine-flimsy packaging and shreds whatever it finds immediately at hand. From there it flies up into the trees, the redwoods, the cedars, and firs, and sends the crows off at odd angles. Then it pauses briefly to catch its breath and to listen to the rain. An inch here, two inches there, cloudbursts and cloudships, bluebell-soaking frond-furling fernlips charged with sweet care.

And how was your stormy night? How is your calm? How is your truth and your meaning, when need there is none? How is your light? How is your dark? How is your new life, now that your old one has flown?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Canvas 1,190

Canvas 1,190

April 15, 2018

The Alibi? Of course I remember. The beer was cheap
and there was no need to pay for smokes.
You just inhaled.

The place is gone now. The old-timers too.
Now we’re civilized. And you?

Page 176

The bookmark I’m using in Posthumous Keats wasn’t intended to be a bookmark. It’s a blue ribbon won by my brother in 1960 at Jefferson School, for winning first place in the broad jump. This is the same school where the playground was flooded periodically with ditch water, the resulting puddles teeming with polliwogs. Melted snow. Dream valley. The celebrated jumping frogs.

I found the ribbon in the wide shallow drawer of an antique table my mother brought home back in those days, from one of her “junking” trips with her friend, Maxine. The table is by the big front window in this room, and where I keep my old Royal typewriter these days, along with about fifty books, among them a complete set of the works of Robert Browning and Plutarch’s Lives. Melted valley. Dream lives. The celebrated jumping quill.

Sunday sun

The ragged, spotted leaves of an old biography, Sir Walter Scott, by John Buchan. Like the skin on my grandfather’s face and hands. Published in London, March 1932. Found yesterday in Salem on a thrift store shelf.

There’s a neighbor who waves at us on our walks. When he sees us, he is usually driving off. He waves and waves and smiles. Someday, perhaps, we will meet and talk. Now that I think of it, we have already exchanged words from a distance. It was one evening last summer, when his grandchildren were dangling from a tree in front of his house, swinging from their arms. “Isn’t it great?” he said. “It is,” I replied. Leaning on the everlasting arms.

My father on Sunday morning, work shoes on, having already checked on the water in the vineyard. Morning paper on the table. Sunday sun. Day sun day. And he looks up. He is waving too.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Grave-Digger

I feel to take out the storage tubs, to throw out the old notes and gripes and who knows what all else. The truth is, I no longer remember what’s in them, and know only that they take up closet space, neatly stacked though they may be. The ghosts of former selves.


The Grave-Digger

Once, as I was burying one of my dead selves, the grave-digger came by and said to me, “Of all those who come here to bury, you alone I like.”

Said I, “You please me exceedingly, but why do you like me?”

“Because,” said he, “They come weeping and go weeping — you only come laughing and go laughing.”

Kahlil Gibran


John Keats has returned from his walking tour through the lake country and the highlands, to find his younger brother, Tom, dying of consumption. He will be his nurse — he, with less than a thousand days to live himself, a truth he knows well in his bones.

White space is a blessing, you know, whether or not the wind fills your sail.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Canvas 1,189

Canvas 1,189

April 13, 2018

Click on him. He won’t mind.

Of ink and snow

In Virginia Woolf, the biography I mentioned the other day, there’s a photograph of a press she and her husband used to print the books they published through their Hogarth Press. You never know how things will strike you. The press reminded me of an old metal tractor seat, rusting in Depression-era prairie grass. It’s only now, though, that I think of a dust bowl of ripe cherries. But I don’t mean to be funny. The Press was serious business, to which Virginia and Leonard devoted great amounts of time and painstaking labor.

I woke up with a dream this morning, the essence of which is this: We thought we were returning the same way, but it was soon apparent that we were miles and miles off course. It was beautiful. We were on a winding path through the woods. There was a river. At one point there was snow. I say we, not knowing who, with the sure joy of knowing it does not matter.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Canvas 1,188

Canvas 1,188

April 12, 2018

My father-in-law passed away before our first child was born.
But he knew she was on the way, and was pleased.
Back then we did not know ahead of time what sex a child would be.
By the time our last was born, we could have known.
But we asked not to be informed. That feeling has not changed.

A bell on the hill

This for your body, and this for your soul? Not so, not so. The idea that there are two realms, one spiritual, and the other profane, is a thing of the mind, born of habits and beliefs not sufficiently examined. Put down your fork and your spoon. Chew your food well, and in each bite you will taste a miracle. Savor the sound of the voices around you. There’s a bell on the hill, a cloud in the sky you have never seen and never will again. And the sky itself is not the same sky it was yesterday, or even a moment ago. It has changed. So will you. Know this well. Then let it go.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Canvas 1,187

Canvas 1,187

April 11, 2018

Haven’t made a drawing in a while. Nine days.
Not much has changed, it seems. Other than everything.

Flow gently

The years go by, and I sit here and write about tulips. The tulips go by, and I write about years. I go by, and the tulips and years write about me. Flow gently, sweet Afton. Flow gently, the yellows, blood-reds, and pinks. Flow gently, the stone walls behind them. Flow gently, the mosses so green. And when I am a grown man, and I am a sown man, remind me, O sun on my grave!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Stardust on rye

There are days when you are certain a simple glass of water and sunlight will do, when no other nourishment is necessary, when hunger is your best companion. Around noon, you think briefly about sitting down to a great cosmic sandwich, stardust on rye, but soon enough the feeling passes. Then you start thinking about lemons. The sun is a lemon. So is your eye. This thought also passes. It is replaced by garbanzos, or chickpeas, if you prefer. But you hold your course. In a little outpost just past Orion, someone is selling beautifully fashioned walking sticks made from trees grown all over the galaxy and beyond. Each walking stick is named for one of the great masters of haiku, and you don’t think it odd. Rather, what could be more appropriate, life being the eternally brief thing that it is? You purchase one. It costs only your soul. Behind the counter is a god with a face lined like a wind-webbed sahara. Or is it a mirror? “Your change.” And you are pleased, because change is why you are here.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Holy Willie

After I was born, I lived three days on this earth without a name. My parents never told me what names they considered, but it took them that long to decide. And of course the date of my birth was recorded, and was celebrated every year as birthdays are, thus reinforcing the idea that I was, am, and will always be a certain age. But to me, my name and age feel like unnecessary distractions. I don’t need them. I was fine without them when I was born, and I will be fine without them when I die. In between, having a label and use-by date seems downright silly. Here lies one whose name was writ in water, as Keats said. And the poor gentle genius has been hounded by eternity and immortality ever since. Which brings to mind this verse from Robert Burns:

Here Holy Willie’s sair worn clay
Taks up its last abode;
His saul has taen some other way,
I fear, the left-hand road.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Posthumous bees

It’s rained two inches since yesterday morning. I walked early, during one lull, and I walked again after lunch during a light stretch. But I didn’t walk in the evening because it was raining so hard the street was a mass of bubbles all the way across.

I spent most of the day reading: Leopardi’s Zibaldone; Posthumous Keats, by Stanley Plumly; Los Hijos del Pueblo: Historia de una Familia de Proletarios a Través de Veinte Siglos, por Eugenio Sué; Virginia Woolf, by Hermione Lee; and Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary.

I was like a bee among flowers, but I didn’t feel I was working. Do bees feel they are working?

Yesterday, as I do every day, I noticed two Folio Society volumes I keep together in our main sitting room. One is called The Diary of a Village Shopkeeper. The other is The Diary of a Country Parson. I open one or the other every now and then. They were written in the eighteenth century. The writing is simple: I felt out of humor today. I saw the widow So-and-So. I buried a child.

Lives lived. Not as distant, not as long ago, not as unrelated to your own as you might think. In fact, immediate, present, and impossible to separate. Like the honey of posthumous bees.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

In passing

For the sake of others still living, we pass over the most painful, personal stories. We do not confess, we do not tell all. And yet these stories do not remain entirely hidden, if they are hidden at all. As the alert listener and observer knows, they inform the ones we do tell. And of course there are hints and references — clues, if you will — we offer to the world, and as much to ourselves. Lines in drawings and poems. In the end, nothing is withheld. I think of my mother and her mixing bowl, her flour, her dish towels, her counter lined with canning jars. I think of the face of the light of her soul. And how she pulled me up from the depths of a dream like a heart from a well, simply to say, “Welcome home.”

Friday, April 6, 2018

The fear of death and the desire to be remembered

It was their little ritual. Every day, the fear of death and the desire to be remembered joined hands at the precipice. Looking down, looking at each other, trembling, the fear of death said, “You first.” And the desire to be remembered replied, “But no one is watching. Let’s wait and see if anyone comes.”

The precipice yawned. “It’s always the same with you two,” it said. “Why don’t you go home and talk it over. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Finally, one day, feeling braver than usual, the fear of death and the desire to be remembered came to the very edge, and — some say they jumped; some say they slipped and fell; some even say they were moved by a great moral earthquake. Or was it birth?

No matter. No precipice either. Only the sweet blue —

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Here’s something else I remember: our collie, Butch, sitting on the cool concrete floor of the equipment shed behind our house, wagging his tail and simultaneously sweeping. A clean spot formed in the shape of a fan. At the outer edge of the fan, dust collected. Butch was the nicest dog. He let me sit on him, against him. I was about five then. Tractor. Metal. Wood. Hammer. Saw. Cultivator teeth. Welded and busted parts. Fifty-pound sacks of sulfur. Depression-era tools, pitchforks, shovels, handles, worn out cotton hoes. Work table. Grease. Oil. Black widow spiders. Coffee cans full of nails. “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” “Yes we do.” “Well, then, you’d better let him out.” How many times did my father repeat that joke? A piece of plywood or two-by-twelve. Drive in some nails. Stretch a few rubber bands. Put the wood at a slant. Set a marble rolling and watch it slowly bounce its way to the bottom. Your very own life, your very own pinball machine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


I said to my mother, I said to my father, “I have nothing to do.” To which they wisely replied, “Do nothing, then.” And so I did. I did nothing as I wandered past the orange tree. I did nothing as I walked between two long vineyard rows. I did nothing as I plucked the buds from wild chamomile. I did nothing so well, paradise smiled. And I am doing nothing now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

For the nonce

Quarters, nickels, and dimes go into a pretty glass vase given us a great many years ago by my eldest brother and his wife. Or it might be a candy dish. It has twelve fingers not all the same length, held open in such a way as to suggest a flower in bloom. From tip to tip, the piece measures between five and six inches, and from top to bottom, a little less. It’s quite heavy. Here on the smooth desktop, it’s easy to give it a spin, intentionally, inadvertently, or in between.

Alas, my dear sister-in-law passed away in 2003, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed when she was in her thirties and their two sons were still kids.

Yesterday — I use the word lightly, with a sense of love, gratitude and smiling disbelief — I needed to go to the bank. And since our supply of coins was overflowing, I decided to roll up at least some of them. I stopped at four rolls of quarters, and four rolls of dimes. Sixty dollars! And that was leaving all of the nickels behind, and at least part of a roll each of quarters and dimes. Giving them to the teller, I felt like a kid. A quarter, a dollar — they still have the same meaning they did way back when. A penny for a gumball machine, or the sidewalk scale in front of the jewelry store. With the help of one or two others, a dollar for a Christmas gift, found on Christmas Eve in a little shop on L Street downtown.

I did not attend her funeral. Distance posed a not-insurmountable problem, but my mother having Alzheimer’s disease made the trip impossible. Of course my brother understood.

Over the years, the glass flower, the open palm, the vase, the dish, has been on the piano, on this table and that. Now it’s here on my mother’s desk. For the nonce, as she would say, as if words were a wish.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Deep, Easter-rich, and ready

Yesterday afternoon I fluffed up the two planting areas I’ve carved out of the front lawn in recent years. The ground is in beautiful condition, and although it’s too early to plant because of likely frost ahead, it is deep, Easter-rich, and ready. Last summer, the dahlias went berserk there, some of the larger varieties growing trunks almost as thick as my arm. If they weren’t hollow, we could have used them for firewood. Oh, and the bumblebees were out, plowing around, bumping and thumping the front windows, at once oblivious to and delighting in the dandelion flowers all around. Because the lawn isn’t really a lawn. It’s a hillside, with grasses and flowers that come and go in their time.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

I love our ghostly presence

I love our ghostly presence

how our voices linger in the street

when we move on

and the wind is down and the air is calm

as they wait for our return

to conjure bodies

which appear to some

to be or not to be

the chosen ones

Friday, March 30, 2018


Just before I got up his morning, I dreamed I was now friends with the neighbor’s dog, Rambo. He was smiling, I was smiling, and I told someone nearby, “It’s hard to believe I used to be afraid of him.” Then the scene changed. I came home and found a strange animal waiting in the grass near our door. It was a small horse with a pleasant expression, but with sort of a hand-puppet head that reminded me of a llama or camel. My sense was that it had been abandoned because it didn’t look like a regular horse. It was white, with a wavy-woolly coat. My decision was effortless and immediate: he could stay as long as he wanted.

Yesterday evening I saw Byron again. He was all smiles and ran to greet me. The woman who lives at his house told me he is twelve years old. I said, “Ah.”

Two days ago, while looking out the kitchen window, I saw a maple seed spinning its way down. It landed near the base of the fig tree. I wonder what it thinks of that.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

A song on the stove

I made some good coffee this morning. The taste varies, you know. I use an old pot. It’s the one my parents used back in the day. No special science, simply a perking paradise of memory and aroma. We’d go camping in the mountains and the pot would go with us. Or company would come and the pot would rejoice at the sound of laughter in the kitchen and living room, stories being told, and clouds of cigarette smoke. The back door slams. Kids and cousins, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors known since childhood, those who miraculously survived atrocities, depressions, and wars. A song on the old gas stove. Experience. And yet each cupful is fresh and new. I remember what I remember. I forget what I forget. I let go of everything but the handle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

6/8 time

A downy woodpecker, a pair of flickers, sundry nuthatches, scrub jays, robins, bushtits, a varied thrush, an Audubon warbler, starlings, crows, and others in between — these were our visitors yesterday, and not one of them rang our doorbell or asked us to sign anything. They were the bells. They were the signs. They were the weather, the atmosphere, the movement, the pace, and the mood. And for some strange reason, I just remembered the metronome atop my dear piano teacher’s grand piano, near the west-facing window in her spacious, old-fashioned, ground-floor living room. A bit of vineyard, and Road 96 beyond. Sparrows and blackbirds. Mockingbirds. Buzzards and pheasants. Jackrabbits three feet tall. A 1956 gas-powered Ford tractor waiting in a patch of dry weeds. A country salon. Barcarolle. The hush and satisfaction of a little boy she in her Texas accent called Mr. Bill.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Speaking of dogs, early in the morning the day before I met Byron, I had the good luck to become acquainted with a one-year-old representative of the Great Pyrenees clan. She didn’t speak Basque, or assumed I didn’t and so withheld that talent. She was tall, pure white, with soft, gentle eyes. I say pure white, but the white was comprised of many subtle whites, whites within whites, so to speak, and anyway, the light was dim and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. She was at the end of a leash considerately held by a friendly man named Bruce. But somehow, in introducing ourselves to each other, Bruce forgot to tell me his companion’s name, and I forgot to ask. She welcomed my attention, thought briefly about licking my face, but didn’t act on that impulse, as Bruce has been kindly teaching her how to conduct herself in public. Then she sat by patiently while we concluded our chat, I observing that she looked like she’d gladly sit there forever, Bruce saying she would. Then he gave her a little tug, she looked at me one last time, and we parted.


Yesterday evening on the sidewalk one street over, I met Byron. He saw me from his driveway when I was still a couple of houses away, then waddled with his short legs in my direction, pausing first to moisten some plants by the curb, his ears almost reaching the ground. “Byron,” I said, “is that you?” And he replied with his mournful, gleaming, basset hound eyes, “Oh, what a world.” So I encouraged him with a scratch behind the ear and a rub on his head and nose. Then we walked together to his driveway. The garage door was open. A light was on. But no one else was about. The door into the house was also open. I raised my voice a bit and called, “Byron is out.” No answer. I continued on. Byron, though, stayed behind. He knew not to follow. And anyway, he isn’t young, and a few yards for him is a mile. Just as a mile for me is a precious, beautiful lifetime.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Life in the slow lane

I’m not naive, dumb, or out of touch. Well, naive, maybe. Dumb, a little. Or a lot. But out of touch? Perhaps to the extent of my innocence, which is or isn’t much. As if one could measure such, or arrive there by degrees, through a forbidding desert, on a slowly moving bus. By which I mean, why not total and complete? Because if I say so, it proves it’s not? Or does it simply prove my luck?

Canvas 1,184

Canvas 1,184

March 25, 2018

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Canvas 1,183

Canvas 1,183

March 24, 2018

My action, my experience

This is my experience : that whatever and whomever I condemn, to that extent I condemn myself, and blind myself to love. It isn’t a question of right or wrong. It’s one of physical, mental, spiritual health. Without it, and perhaps even with it, how much can I know in any clear sense? And yet, there is the understanding, or at least the feeling, that I must act. This, then, is also my action : to say aloud, “I do not know,” and to live. May yours be as sweet, whatever it is.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Canvas 1,182

Canvas 1,182

March 23, 2018

The wise old man

The wise old man noticed he was hungry. Then he remembered he had no food. “Ah, yes,” he said, “there is that.” A very serious-looking man entered his hut. “You owe us your taxes.” The wise old man gazed around the empty space and said, “Everything I have is yours. Take it.” And so, impatiently, the serious-looking man dismantled the hut, put the pieces in his cart, and hauled them away. Sitting calmly where his hut used to be, the wise old man smiled. “Free at last,” he said. A little bird arrived. Finding nowhere to perch, she settled atop the wise old man’s head and began to sing. The wise old man joined her. They sang awhile together, high and low and in between. A cloud arrived. It began to rain. It rained exactly one bowl of warm, wonderfully cooked rice. The wise old man ate the rice. As he ate, he offered some to the bird. The bird was no longer on his head. She was now a young woman, now old, now his wife. “Dreaming again,” she said. “Who knows?” the wise old man replied. “One can never be sure.” And all was well. Hut or no hut, bird or no bird, all was well. Now, you may ask in what way the wise old man was wise. In his wife. In his wife.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Canvas 1,181

Canvas 1,181

March 22, 2018

Bring the blossom

As a child knows to scratch the ground

just where the earth most needs it,

love brings the blossom down

to please it —


bring the blossom,

my vow is not to seize it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Just long enough

Resting against an old wall, I grow moss —
here just long enough for worlds to pass away.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Canvas 1,179

Canvas 1,179

March 18, 2018

In the river remarkably still

In the river remarkably still,
a reflection of clouds, and of you.

A reflection of you, remarkably still,
and of clouds, and the river.

Remarkably still, a reflection of all:
the river, the clouds, and you.

In the river, a reflection, reflecting itself,
remarkably still.

And what is the river? What is this calm?
It is, remarkably, you. And it is still.

And it is still the remarkable river,
and it moves.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


What will you be today?
A petty judge? A lighthouse?
A solemn tree? All three?

And what of me?
The condemned? A cloud?
The sea? What of we?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

first kiss

plum blossoms . . . the old man


into a soft pink cloud

Friday, March 2, 2018

Canvas 1,164

Canvas 1,164

March 2, 2018

Breath coins

Are you aware of the rise and fall of your breath? Or do you take it for granted, as if your nose and lungs are furnace filters that should have been changed two months ago? And if you are not aware, and if you do take it for granted, then it is only logical to ask what else you are not aware of, and what else you take for granted. Because your breath, after all, is your life. And what is that life? Is it a busy, distracted visit to a noisy, cheap arcade, in which all of the machines must be thoughtlessly fed with with a rapidly depleting supply of your breath coins? Or is it a clear quiet morning after rain?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Is it snowing, or are those white butterflies?

Is it snowing, or are those white butterflies?

Let’s ask the cedar. She’ll know.

But what of the daffodils?

And the butterflies themselves?

Yes? No? Maybe? Something else?

And anyway, this all happened yesterday.

Or was it a thousand years ago?

A thousand years, and the butterflies melted on the ground.

Or was it the soft, warm back of the one I love?

Let’s ask the snow. Let’s ask them both. Let’s ask them all.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Of kingdoms

It is a petty kingdom that engenders fear and commands respect. It is a peaceful one that encourages hope and acts with love. And that these kingdoms exist in the mind and heart, is what must first be understood.

Canvas 1,162

Canvas 1,162

February 26, 2018

Canvas 1,161

Canvas 1,161

February 26, 2018

Sunday, February 25, 2018


Life is strange. You’re on the road, moving right along, when you come up behind a slowly moving garbage truck. The truck is so full, its door doesn’t close. As if the stench isn’t bad enough, at every little bump, blobs of garbage fall out. Some hits your windshield. Then the road begins to wind, and, wouldn’t you know it, there’s not a patrolman for miles and miles around. You can’t pass. There’s no place to turn around, and even if you could, you need to go forward, not backward. The cars stack up behind you. Everyone’s honking. Some drivers are cursing and shaking their fists. More garbage. And more. And more. Finally, after what seems years, the road straightens, and a passing-lane presents itself. You step on the gas. And as you pass, you look at the driver of the garbage truck, he looks at you, and he seems crude and ignorant beyond description. Then, obviously for the sheer pleasure of it, and because it is all he knows, he gives you an obscene gesture. Next stop? The moon. Or maybe hell. On second thought, you’d better not stop at all.

Ask yourself

When you say peace is your goal, or happiness, or truth, or love, or enlightenment, what do you really mean? Do you mean you believe that there is some kind of special magic that will miraculously become available to you in the future that isn’t available to you here and now? Is it a destination you feel you must reach, the distance of which seems to vary from day to day? Is it something that must be achieved or earned, and only through prolonged arduous labor? Are you afraid that if it comes effortlessly, it won’t be lasting or real? Are you convinced that you are too busy, or that something or someone is always in your way? — you, with the sweet luxury of this moment, and buttons to push, and a mind capable of marveling at the stars?

Canvas 1,160

Canvas 1,160

February 25, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018

Canvas 1,157

Canvas 1,157

February 23, 2018

Sweet anonymity

The widest embrace is sweet anonymity.

A star explained it to me.

To live is to burn. And to love is to live brightly.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

We know what moves us

We know what moves us. We have our callings, our talents, our gifts. Many we keep hidden, even from ourselves, behind feelings of fear, regret, failure, hopelessness, anger, guilt — behind hardness, toughness, pride, and pose. And yet when we least expect it, they will surface in beautiful ways and make themselves known. And suddenly we understand that we have surrendered, and are free to blossom in a world that is astonishing in its beauty. We understand that strife and pain and ugliness is, and has been, the necessary breaking of our shell. Yes, we have the same arms, legs, and daily cares, but they are all transformed. We no longer torment ourselves with blame and a thousand should-haves and what-ifs. We have set all of that aside. It has served its use. Now there is nothing too small to notice. Indeed, there is no small and there is no large. We no longer compare and pit one against the other, saying this is above us and this is below, this person is worthy, this person isn’t. And we give thanks. We are as thankful that we are still able to tie our shoes, as we are for our ability to give, receive, feel, and inspire love. We are thankful peeling an onion. We are thankful for a beautiful bridge. We are thankful for the stars. We are thankful for a laugh, a tear, and a song. And we carry on. And are carried along.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

If I have time

Evil, it seems to me, is an acute form of ignorance.

If I have time to be angry, then I must also have time to love.

And if I love, I have no time to be angry.

And time itself is an illusion.

Will these words reach you before we are gone?

Will they reach anyone?

What can that matter, if we love?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Canvas 1,156

Canvas 1,156

February 20, 2018

I made this with my right thumb,
but the index finger was also involved,
as if together they might have been grinding
some dry basil over a pot on the stove.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Many are called

It seems to me, that by the time it reaches the ground,
a snowflake must live a thousand lives,
each with its own sweet childhood.

And it seems to me, that by the time it melts,
we have done the same.

And when the melting’s done,
we’re off in flight again.

So close your eyes.

It’s no crime to be at peace with this world.

Love isn’t a fool’s errand.

Live and speak the truth, but always remember,
there is nothing noble in your anger.

A calm, quiet, private decision is all that’s needed,
and then see if there is not a revolution.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Heaven and hell

A pebble in a child’s pocket, a feather, a shell.

A child in God’s pocket, a star, a well.

God in a pot on a stove.

Soup in a bowl.

Where is heaven, Master? Where is hell?

And the old man smiled.

I too once asked foolish questions, said he,

And brought his spoon to his mouth.

And when we die, and leave this world?

Maybe when we arrive, we will know.

But for now, I beg of you, please, sit down.

This is better warm, than cold.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Canvas 1,152

Canvas 1,152

February 14, 2018

Old-fashioned valentines

Beautiful old-fashioned valentines. There’s a box of them here in my mother’s desk that she kept from her grammar school days. Delicate, simple, intricate, ornate, all with familiar names. Off to the library, now, to high school, to marriage, to war. Home again, home again. To clothesline. To family. To a walk through the park. And what have we here? Someone’s initials, in the heart of the sycamore?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Twenty degrees this morning. Up since four, reading, coffee. Now to write a few words, then out for the first walk of the day. Just a few words, for what is there, really, to say? Like the birds in the trees, I’m free! I’m free! I’m free! and may, at any given moment, fall dead at your feet. But not really dead. For such is the nature of this dream. That you trust only movement you can see. While granite nears and beach cliffs recede. An old photograph in the family album. Is that you? Is that me? Habitante du ciel, passagère en ces lieux!*

* Dweller of the sky, a mere traveler here! (Lamartine)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Canvas 1,151

Canvas 1,151

February 12, 2018

I made this with the little finger of my left hand.

Go gently this day

Go gently this day, dear one,

for you may well be the angel we need,

not quite knowing, yet sowing,

the deed.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Canvas 1,149

Canvas 1,149

February 10, 2018

I made this with the little finger of my right hand.

Friday, February 9, 2018