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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The dream continues

Lower South Falls

February 7, 2018

And meet here an angel

We return to the well, and meet here an angel,

Filling the jars of all who come.

Some leave with water, some with earth, some with sorrow,

Each, in turn, a great measure of love.

And some remain, trembling,

The light strikes them so.

These receive dawn.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Canvas 1,147

Canvas 1,147

February 7, 2018


Yesterday morning I heard the towhee again. The robins were also out and about. But what surprised me was the dove, which, for all the world, sounded surprised itself. What else? Years and years ago, when we still lived on the farm, a hen flapped down from its roost and stood in the dimmest light of dawn, not quite knowing why, or what she’d done. She was a kind of ghost, and so was I, looking on.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Butterflies and bee toes

Am I being vague? I don’t mean to be. I love words. And they love me. We’re naturally hesitant, wondering, each time we meet, who will be the first to speak. What should we mean? We aren’t nails hammered through wood. We’re more like butterflies, or bees with pollen on our toes. Documents? Manifestos? We laugh. We can’t all be bibles or epitaphs. Some of us must be free.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Night replies

Everything is so familiar. And so strange.

I am here, I am not here. I am, and I am not at all.

Then your hand passes through me.

And I think, what a wonderful reminder.

And ask, how have you conjured these bones?

And night replies, perfume.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Nothing to say

I have nothing to say today, except that when I was out for my early morning walk, I heard a towhee spinning its song. I say spinning, for those few notes seemed a kind of musical galaxy. I couldn’t see the bird. All the better.

Friday, February 2, 2018


The old man, they say, has lost his mind.

But we do not lose what we give.

And it is cold where they wait to be known.

It is cold where they wait. It is cold in the ground.

And what is the mind, once it has flown?

You might ask the river. You might ask the snow.

You might, when it lights on the stone.

The old man, they say. And he laughs. And he loves them.

And we come and we go, we come and we go.