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
Warm sun pools and shines more brightly in your home
Why is that?
worn beckoning rugs and life-soft chairs
a sentinel portrait
rich green and red dirt-colored artifacts nestled
within white walls of recent pain.
Witness dancing dust across
the bird in the kitchen,
your crazy dogs at play in the yard.
Most fairies here are somber yet
there is heart even joy
in those faces and those fucking cool guitars, Jesus,
and the tools, and the found things,
and the workshop, and the garage, and
in the art, art everywhere, far too content to be clutter
far more useful than things designed only for use.
The love here isn’t just palpable.
It knocks you down. It feels
like your missing tooth and bloody face
shining out from pure bliss.
It’s a sweet, well-caught ball at the fence.
Doors and windows shift widely open for these souls.
The one still walking the dogs, still finding community,
creating art here in person
and the one moving only in sunlight
guiding his strong gentle hands
then shifting to starlight to stroke his cheek
in the too-dark night.
That’s the thing about the sun at your house.
She’s still with you in grief and at 4 a.m.
That’s the thing about your art. It’s still with me
here in grief and at 4 a.m. as
I whisper “Thank you” to the darkness—
uncertain, still, about who…
which who is it
that I thank?
I found a perfect dead bird
on the deck, outside the window
victim of violence
a deceptive white light through too-big windows
his perfectly groomed feathers
grew darker as they moved
from his pale yellow-gray head to his almost black tail
I spent yesterday willing him, rise
please open your beak again, open your eyes
shake precious soft belly, hop to perfect black feet
dance again, go!
but he was gone
This morning I carried him deep into beauty
laid him to rest
in the tall grass of a clearing
beside the cabin
in woods and in sunshine
his family around me
we told him he’d be missed
that he was, is, loved, by everything around him
In saying goodbye
I fell to my knees
wept like a baby
for beautiful Orlando
I vowed to slow down and notice
to listen more closely
to love louder and better and more.
Then we all did.
Muse #1: Mine
This is My home
I am allowed to
retreat and rest
speak my mind
make a significant difference
fully embrace grief
Muse #2: Yours
This is Your home
Will you invite me in?
Want me to stay?
Ask me to return?
Muse #3: Ours
This is Our home
Can we all feel this moment
as Mine and Yours and Something Special
down into our bones?
Muse #4: Privilege
Privilege is being stretched while feeling loved.
Any place, any moment, any sensation
within which we’re learning, feeling the edges
–while being loved–
and so can grow
to appreciate differences among mine, yours, ours, and home.
And any moment
within you and without
that you can find a space where you are loved.
This place, this moment, this sensation
today is privilege.
Any moment we can stand up for this place, moment, sensation
for weeping selves and hurting others:
imagine this a given, the default, the real for all
is privilege too. Breathe in and just imagine…
Muse #5: Home
My Old Pal Reflection
Cat Paw Presence
Time for Play