I walked alone in the
Because I felt the pull of
I knelt beside the
To better see the
And then to my
A warm light touched
And the whole place began to
Or maybe I just
I couldn’t believe my
And dropped down to my
I reached out to
I want you to celebrate yourself.
Shake off your dust.
Find fierce stones that speak to you
hold them, gentle now, then
drop them into rivers
wrinkle your wide-eyed face to focus
as they sink
oblivious to the current.
Muck arrives through always-clear
water and we receive her nourishment: learning again
what we’re here to attend.
Listen until you can hear
your own cells singing, the blue bird said to me today.
Then, sing. Sing! Here, like this…
Dust burns wild here. The smoke
makes us wretch, too. Still
I offer my tears and somehow hosts
of forgotten children and ancestors
heal right along with me.
Our tears aren’t pulled from us by
some too-strong past, group, or being.
We offer them. We offer them gladly, most days.
So, I speak just to you now—
one offeror to another.
You are being called, right here.
Listen again to one blue bird on a gray day.
Attend her. Attend the voice that comes to your window.
Could you have been wrong about her? Is she really the bully
you imagined her to be yesterday?
All she seems to ask me now is this:
Step into the world.
Get closer. Listen. Celebrate yourself.
Celebrate until all the birds
arrange themselves comfortably
on nearby branches to hear you,
joining the celebration and singing the song
that you learned from them…
Shake off your dust.
Let’s celebrate ourselves together here.
I want to be that hummingbird
following flowers from
Bellingham to Baja
I want to be
cheering all the others who
follow their ancestral dreams
back and forth across
When the wind strolls
in, my meadow friends
dance and bow.
When waves rush
to crash across
my ocean friend, wide beach
smiles back at me and the eagles
on wind above etch sky-to-horizon greetings down
all the way home
so strong, having learned to be carried.
Can you hear the old playground laughter
between the creaks of empty swing-sways?
Hear playground teasing
within little sister crow’s
following big sister eagle back and forth
back and forth
boat house to nest
nest to boat house
boat house to nest?
Smile in self-recognition as
red-wing blackbird then begins
to nag big-sister crow.
Can you cherish the faded flap-flapping flag
forgotten by neighbors in their rush to return to the city?
Cherish wind: an
absent spacious presence?
Cherish sand: a
shattered toe-hugging perfect imperfection?
Cherish the polished-cream beauty
Here stones, books, and gentle evening light
invite themselves to play—
sated, triumphant, wildly creative,
complete within themselves, which feels completely inappropriate.
Silent and awkward at just the right moments.
Welcome. Please come in.
Humans invited here are few and far between.
Only those who gleefully join the chorus
certain their voice improves upon books
dancing warm light
And those certain of nothing at all.
All those invited
come to play
certain of little more than sea
Lost accidentally or on purpose.
quiet enough within most days to hear it.
I’m so glad you asked me in with that sunbeam
when I was a crying child.
I’m more glad that invitation
is absolutely everywhere now
when I look for it.
see her there
that wide open tree out my window
the one with gray arm branches, no leaves, and peeling bark?
holding divine moss in perfectly twisted hands?
the one that all the flickers love?
I am breaking, she says,
Here in this valley between home and field
among healthy trees and young green shrubs
small ponds at our feet
ivy and blackberries
winding up and up and up and still
some of the worried
younger trees and humans
are turning blue with fright again
You are breaking, my friend,
How long have I been here?
you wonder, looking
so dead to some
so teaming with life and generosity to others?
Maybe 300 years.
Lately I’ve been creating warm rotted wood
teaming with ants, bugs
bird nests, diamonds, dripping
mosses, catching dewy golden drops
spying into windows
dancing on roof tops
For 50 years while you flew around here in terror
I’ve been standing right here
offering everything you need
waiting for you to look up
Let me be her!
let my sap harden into a million rent-free ant condos
let birds and hives find my joints the perfect place for nests
let chickadees hide seeds in my bark to re-find
when winter’s ice claims all our ground
let billions find life in the soil, where my branches fall
let me rejoice in being fully here, fully home as home to all and dead to some
We are breathing, break
and just break.
May that be me!
content and confident
teaming with life
talking to busy humans more than 50 years after my death!
May I also always be breaking,
tears and laughter
birds and trees
seeing to that very that.
Ridiculously proud of the pussy-pink hat
—a sort of low-tech asshole detection device—
a kind woman knit for me and placed, very gently
onto my bare head.
What a gift she is.
What a gift you are.
Let’s re-gift the pink hat to the crows in the yard
Ooo! Or maybe to the women in town running the thrift store!
They’ll know who most needs it next.
tree, birds, women, hat
for 46 years of remarkably patient and perfect lessons
How to Breathe and How to Break
How to Shelter, Even In Death
How to Live Strong and Laughing and Untamed
Together In Unshaken Wonder
Since the inauguration two weeks ago, I’ve been having nightmares. I was too freaked out to share them, until I read Sherman Alexie’s new poem Autopsy about his dream that his passport was bleeding. Thank you, master poet. For sharing your pain. I woke up the other morning and jotted this down quickly, before the nightmare could fade…
First they cheered their new savior
Their hearts swelled
imagining that beautiful new world
no enemies near
wealth without fear
They saluted or swooned when he walked
in the room…
Well, except the women, who
shrank almost imperceptibly
inward and back, smiles intact
eyes averted and blank
hands gently cocked, ready to defend
when he approached
to hug them.
Then they watched their new president
his pals with dark smiling eyes
suits and ties
destroy their institutions
generations of work and promise
became ash at his feet
and still they cheered
for soon, so soon now, they’d have nothing to fear
Then they watched as he cut
with our oldest allies
provoke others into terror and war
They watched neighbors beaten
in the streets
When the homes of natives went up in flames
they grew silent, confused
they turned back to FoxNews
where they could read about
The Best Cabinet Since Lincoln
How to Use God to Defend Against Liberal Jackals
(go check that out if you think I made it up)
When they looked outside each new day
they wondered why
millions around the world
marched in the streets
against the savior, who well, sure
may look like a dictator
but they knew he wasn’t
because he was their savior
So they did what they’d been taught
they kept preaching kindness
while they watched babies
terrorized at their borders
and in their heartland
They preached compassion and forgiveness
please, don’t be crude
don’t say pussy
don’t bother me with your petty politics on Facebook
all the while
white guys with dark eyes
poured gasoline on tepees
on women, on nature, on life herself
and dropped the match…
When the world went up in flames
the day World War III began
they didn’t even notice
thought they’d be saved by their new president’s best buddy
There they stood, plain to see
two great men: one bad, one good
and both, sadly,
long since dead.
And they didn’t even notice.
Until their water became too expensive to drink.
Until mom got cancer
nobody could afford to treat.
With no EPA, scientists,
journalists, backbones, or basic human decency left
poison peddlers flourished
bees across the homeland died
more than half the crops
They found themselves
looking for rest and work
anywhere they could get it
A third of their children
died that first bitter winter
another third of them
drowned crossing rivers
the gentle earth gave them stones
to mark their passing
Most of their grandparents died
in one spot
because they were too weak
to climb their own savior’s wall
one mass grave for them all
So that’s how we showed up here broken
bleeding and starving
with literally no place left to go
at the world’s front door
Afraid, no more. Of