Eyes Closed Waiting

Old man, your eyes closed
you sit, staring nowhere
Open your eyes, see
what you are missing

That sad song, you hum
under your breath
brings rain, but
also too many tears

Old man, your eyes closed
you sit, staring nowhere
Don’t sit so still
for death will find you, and

across your lips, will write
all those silent words
only Grandmother Moon understands
Stop now, don’t follow her

to that place
where all shadows end
Our hearts still love you
Stop now, open your eyes

Finding Everything in a Fall Moment

Before snow falls
I shall walk barefoot
upon nature’s pastel carpet
of fresh fallen autumn leaves

Just the right place will appear
to park my tired bones, and
soak in fall’s magic
hugging me tenderly
as only a grandmother can

And, before sun sets, just
beyond the faded old barn
I will smile, in warm adoration of life

And once the sun sets
and the moon rises full
I will say in complete satisfaction
I have truly lived

Life’s Paradigm Shifts

Life changes sometimes, in major ways
Those markedly different, than what we know
Ways resembling tectonic plate shifts
building, unseen, over time

Paradigmatic changes: destroying old foundations
creating new ones, undergirding our being
Changes taking us back, to our essence
To the beginning seed, we didn’t know we were

Suddenly, there we find ourselves
like a new seashell, washed ashore
to be collected and transported, or
left as material for tomorrow’s beach

Easy answers escape us at these times
All questions new, too unformed for our lips
But one thing for certain
change is, and change we are

When Truth Inhabits Us

When we least expect it
truth appears, like a ghost
haunting us, helping us know
what eyes can’t see
but stirs the heart in deep places

Your truth, my truth
likely different experiences, yet
the ghost comes to each of us
faceless, formless, whispering
as the moon speaks to a wave

In its direction
we rise and fall with its tide
Sometimes washing over us
Always cleansing us

Hanging in there, but for what?

Give up, life ends
Hold on, life lingers with you
like an extra breath
you never knew you had

Like daylight savings time
you get more time to shine
Forget who you are, and
everything you lived for totals nothing

Swim to the ocean’s bottom
There you start over
like the sun every day, and
like each evaporating moment

Then, there is the time in between, when
nothing before or after
can free you, like
you can free yourself

Meeting Pleiades

So distant, high above, you seem
but your voice, clear, without words
Incessant light, whispering through me
No escaping you, now
that you fill me

In the early morning darkness
I glimpse you, and
for the first time, see
my face written in the stars
Not the face of a man, but destiny

No longer, can I think of myself
Those thoughts, hopeless
as an imagined oasis in the desert
But as my eyes meet the Heavens
you plant unity in my soil

And in one voice with many, I hear
Kimah, Al-Thurayya, Mao
Kartikeya, Hoki Boshi, Tianquiztli
fluttering in the wings
of a flock of awakening doves

Finding Our Way

Sometimes we find ourselves, lost
on roads, carrying us places
we never intended to go
Lost, not because of the road
but because our feet
always obedient to our inner compass
follow directions given them

At times, what we want leads us astray
carrying us in directions never intended
yet places reflecting, what we desired
thought we wanted
hoped for deeply
These times continue, until
the right compass is born inside us

Then, new bearings take root
New directions emerge
Right roads appear
And then, no matter where we are
what we pursue
where we walk
Happiness greets us

Our Younger Years

Younger years, what they brought
Laughs and tears, lessons taught
Late night parties, up till dawn
After three, all senses gone

Friends we made, without trying
Girls we hustled, always vying
Drinking beer, bladders bursting
Never too much, always thirsting

In the moment, we did live
No better thing, life could give
Filled with spirit, we met each day
So much meaning, words can’t say

Thinking back, restores our hope
Helps us now, better cope
Can’t go back, that’s for sure
But memories help, make us more

Parallel Universes Inside Us

Like me, do you wonder
about parallel universes?
Subtle places, inside us
not outside us
Yet, out of reach
with our hands, conscious thinking-minds
Deep pools for reflection
mirroring our thoughts, feelings, actions
in archetypal ways
Like an ocean’s bottom
is read by sonar

Some say, there is a rabbit hole
cutting through the universe
ignoring all space and time
Starting one moment before Genesis
ending one moment after Revelations
Seems more likely
this tunnel is inside us
connecting conscious and subconscious

Like you, I want to know…
whatever there is to know
about these places
how to get there
how to get out, once there
and back safe and sound

Does Continental Airlines fly there?

Morning Coffee

Wake up, smell the coffee
brewing since 5 AM
Sweet hazelnut aroma, drifting
like a tantalizing cloud, into the bedroom
stirring us, tickling us awake

That first sip, like a first date
magical, overflowing with curiosity, desire
Some mornings, transporting me
to ancient Turkey, Ethiopia, Persia
Never McDonald’s, though
some swear by its brew

Two mugs later
wits about me
Hitting on all pistons
Mind, body revved
All systems go
Ready, to face the world

Dancing Words onto the Page

Write, defying reality with your words
Bend it, like no gravity holding it in place
because there is none
other than your hesitation

The blank page reaches out to you
lusting for your touch
At times, gentle as a summer breeze
Other times, rough, impatient as the shark’s jaws
clasping big ideas riveting readers

The page, your partner
brings emptiness
drawing out your heart and soul
into the magical creative dance
you only learn as you go

Waltz, tango, disco, rumba if you will
your way to unvisited places
Those where you leave your scent
like some wild animal
marking uncharted territory

Really good ideas often hide, sometimes
like a stealthful great horned owl
camouflaged by darkness in high branches
Listen for wisdom in your words

As the dance ends, remember
any finish line, one you draw with your words
Trust them
They always seem to know the time

How Important is Sports Really?

Old habits die slowly, if ever
I like sports
Not as much as in my younger years, but
it matters to me
if my favorite teams win or lose

Right now, I’m pissed at myself
Letting sports scores determine my mood
I’m grumpy as hell
It’s the close of baseball season
My team, the Cleveland Indians
lost yesterday to the pathetic KC Royals
How could they?
What were those idiots thinking?

Every game matters, from here on
if the Indians are to win the Central Division
and make the playoffs
Now they face the Tigers
in a bitter 3-game series
Detroit will be loaded for bear to erase
its 4 1/2-game deficit with Cleveland
Grrr…

Intellectually, I know
sports is not that important
Emotionally, I’m a midget
when it comes to sports’ importance
All my high falootin spiritual training is useless
in the face of my well-ingrained
“we gotta win to be happy” life philosophy

Ok, let me get hold of myself
What’s most important in the world?
Our nation is fighting a stupid war in Iraq
The planet is severely environmentally stressed
Millions of people go hungry everyday
Our kids are short shrifted in school
The economy is teetering on recession
These are important issues
Now I have my priorities straight

Shit, what’s this breaking news story?
My high school alma mater lost to Bellaire
by three measily points on Friday
How could they?
Those friggin’ idiots…

Books

Filling our heads with ideas
Ones we might otherwise not think
Opening our hearts, making them flow
Creating memories, lasting forever

Stepping into another’s shoes, and
stretching our sense of self
Revealing make-believe worlds, and
birthing new ones needing to unfold

Bestowing upon us powerful words
changing our worlds
Teaching us order and flow
in times of chaos

Loosening us up
keeping us from turning into stone
Giving us meaning and hope
Letting our eyes feed our soul

Being Tagged about Books

My Reading

I love books and read all the time. Like most poets, I read a lot of poetry. I err to the side of nonfiction. Always have. But I am reading more fiction now.

Total Number of Books Owned

Never counted them. Not as many as the library, but I own many books. I estimate there are a thousand books in my downstairs library. Probably should give more away once I read them.

Last Book Bought

  • Bottled Butterfly by Penny Lauer. It’s her first book and I found it a delightful story.

Last Book Read

  • Bottled Butterfly mentioned above. It’s set in Newark, Ohio in the 1930s and 1940s. A feeling type book that takes me back to my childhood. Not as far back as the 30s and 40s, but back to the 50s and 60s in small town Ohio.
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. First written in 1937. It’s a metaphysical book about the law of attraction and how to get more money and whatever else you want to flow into your life.
  • The Bible by several known and unknown authors. It was a required reading for my current course on Understanding the Bible with Culver Nelson, D.D. Nelson teaches religion at Pacific School of Religion.
  • Reading the Bible Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg. It is a highly informative and valuable book about the historical-metaphorical approach to the Bible. This is a required read for my Understanding the Bible course.
  • Physics of the Soul by Amit Goswami. It is required reading for my course with Dr. Goswami on the Physics of the Soul. The book is about how quantum physics offers new and exciting insights into the soul and reincarnation. Goswami teaches physics at the University of Oregon.
  • The Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo. It is required reading for my course with Dr. Obadiah Harris on the Stages of Spiritual Growth. The book is is about the evolution of consciousness and the cosmos.

Five Meaningful Books (Actually Seven)

  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Read in senior English in high school)
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (Read first in high school)
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Read first my freshman year in college)
  • The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (Given to me as a high school graduation present)
  • Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley (Read first in a college advanced philosophy seminar)
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki (Read first in the early 1990s)
  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1960) (Read first in my early college days)

Aurora Antonovic tagged me.

I am tagging:

Andrew Lockhart
Nasra Al Adawi
Dan Shimp
Gautami Tripathy
Pat Paulk

Words for My Work

My work: helping communities, businesses prosper
so there are good jobs for people
Not what I set out to do…
what I discovered, after graduate school
that’s helped me prosper
Beats selling snow to Eskimos

Thirty years, been my work
Researching, planning, staging decisions
testing new ideas, opening doors
raising money, resolving conflict,
evaluating progress, and
occasionally pulling rabbits from hats

Fulfilling work, mostly
but demanding, stressful
Always selling my wares
keeping my name in front of clients
Admin sucks, especially taxes
Getting checks in the mail, much better

Dealing with egos, a part of the job
especially high-minded politicians, business CEOs
At times, big shots roll over you, like tanks
Being a lightening rod, for new ideas
and when change is needed
Sometimes your butt gets fried

Poetry helps me balance
Averts self-combustion
Keeps my right brain alive
Something else is brewing
Somewhere between consulting and poetics
Stay tuned, it feels alchemical

Missed You While You Were Gone

Three days, you’ve been away
I’ve missed you
like Charlie Brown missed Lucy
when her family moved across town

Last night, out of habit
I set out two cups for morning coffee
Seeing yours empty this morning
filled my heart with loneliness

Cleaned the kitties’ boxes
without you asking
Fed your bird friends…
all twelve feeders, to the brim

Sensing my missing you last night
the kitties curled up next to me
Lily kneaded my arm
till she fell fast alseep

Even with the sprawling cats
our bed felt king-size empty
without your warm cuddly body
nestled next to mine

The slight hint of perfume
you left on your pillow, reminded me
I’ve loved your sweet scent
from our first date and kiss

Can’t wait to see your black Infiniti in the drive
and watch you size up your slumbering flowers
We hug. I sniff the baby soft nape of your neck
You coo: “Boy, am I glad to be home”

On the Occasion of the Eastern Star’s 2007 Pie Sale

We love our pies
Fried with butter
Hear their cries
Our hearts aflutter

Make them, sell them
Give ‘em to your mutter
Not a one, can we condemn
Better than bread and butter

Dutch apple, cherry
Raspberry, coconut cream
Take a bite, please don’t tarry
See your smile, face all abeam

Each a favorite, to someone
Pick a pie that speaks to you
Buy that apple for your son
Send that blueberry to Katmandu

Eastern Star, since 1958
Those pies they bake
We can appreciate
Buy one now, for our sake

Written for Della Murphy and her
Eastern Star chapter, Lexington, OK.

Taking Sri Aurobindo’s Life Divine to Dinner at Cracker Barrel

Study consciousness
Eventually you’ll encounter Life Divine
Not nirvana itself, but
Sri Aurobindo’s 2,000-page opus
on consciousness and the cosmos

Not light reading any time
Especially not over dinner
at an exit ramp Cracker Barrel
35 miles southwest of Rolla, Missouri
But with a paper on Life Divine due Saturday
The tome was my travel companion

Everything was fine
until an older couple sat down next to me
They size me up, I size them up
They smile, I smile
The woman speaks first
“That there’s some big book”
I reply: “Yes, m’am, it sure is”
We continued studying each other
I hoped she would probe no further

She fires a follow-up question
“What’s it all about?”
I breathe deeply, finally a few words come out
“Well, it’s a religious book”
At this point, her husband jumps in
“Is that right. Too big for the Bible!”
My stomach knots
I’m a gonner if I tell them about Life Divine
I fudge: “It’s a companion text to the Bible”
Their eyes cross at this point

The woman is at me again: “You a religious man?”
What could I say?
“Why yes m’am, I am”
She hisses, showing her missing front tooth
“I just knowed it!”
“Can’t you tell Herb, just lookin’ at him?”
Ole Herb smiles
I count three teeth missing in his mouth
“Yep, I agree Thelma, you kin just tell”
I’m thinking…oh shit, now I’ve really had it

I try to change the subject
“Food’s great here. I had the chicken and dumplings”
“Sure is. Herb and me eats here every Tuesday”
She’s a bulldog, refusing
to let go of the meat of our conversation
“What church you go to?”
Shit, I’m really dead now
Can’t tell them I’m a cross between
a Tibetan Buddhist and a Unitarian
I lie: “Nazarene”

Herb and Thelma look at each other, and
in unison say: “You here for that Nazarene revival?”
“I’m afraid not, just here on business”
Thelma’s back at it
“You always been a Nazarene?”
I fire back: “Sure have. My whole life”
“We’re Pentacostal
Lord’s blessed us with some fine preachers
Hey, you look like an evangelist to me”
This has gone too far
I feel beads of sweat on my forehead

Suddenly my waiter shows up
I think; there really is a God
“Anything else for you sir?”
“No, just my bill, thank you”
The young man hands me my check
I push a twenty his way
telling him to keep the change

Hurriedly I say goodbye to ole Herb and Thelma
They look confused
I feel for them, but
no amount of words
will heal their confusion
We exchange goodbyes
and I’m gone

I get to my car
Oh shit, I left Life Divine
sitting on the table
I rush back into the restaurant
Heading for the table
I see Herb walking my way
waving and screaming
“Hey, you forgot that big religious book on the table”
I thank Herb, praying
he did not open the book
and see the long-haired bearded Sri in his ashram
Herb looks in tact
I’m relieved

Driving back to the motel
the Sri and I resolve ourselves to room service
for the rest of the trip

Pondering Something Larger

We’re borrowed, from something larger
Not borrowed like a cup of sugar
from the next door neighbor
Nothing that simple, or sweet

We can’t quite grasp this something
therefore, no idea its size, our size
In this case, size REALLY doesn’t matter

This something, beyond space, time
any physical properties, dimensions
No location; neither here nor there

This something, identityless
No face, gender or name
like Yahweh, Jehovah, Brahman

Neither this nor that, because
it has no divisions or parts
like a car, body or solar system

Since we’re borrowed
we don’t own ourselves
We owe it all
to this something larger

Washed Free, Starting Over

torrential downpour, all night
washing away, everything
we worked for, created together
things hoped for, not yet realized, drown
in our own hopeless tears
the ground we planted our lives in, gone

with all lost, we still have each other
two seeds washed clean, waiting
for the morning sun
flooding us with hope, lifting us up
readying us for the new garden
where only new beginnings grow

Fourteen in ’65

Fourteen, the perfect age
Awkward bliss
Time stood still, and
everything in life led to something
Life lesson at fourteen:
Adventures have no deadends

Girls, a mystery deeper than Saturn’s rings
but, worth losing sleep over
Cars, faster, noisier the better
Even in ’65
’57 Chevies, still tops

Vietnam, flaring up
beyond what anyone ever expected
LBJ, President, though he didn’t want to be
Most still wished, Kennedy back from the dead

Churchill, dead, five days after my 14th birthday
Just a famous name to me
until hearing the TV replay
of his We Shall Fight Them on the Beaches speech
Then I understood
why you must fight back, and
even sometimes, pick a fight

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction
I Can’t Help Myself
Wooly Bully
My Girl
You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’

Top songs, 1965
Songs still playin’ in my head

We’re 42 years past 1965, but
it’s not too late
to stop in the name of love

A Fall Day Robert Frost Would Adore

Rust-colored leaves, tumble helplessly
from the big front yard maple tree
No wind
Just their time to let go

Stateman-like bluejays, squawk nonstop
Warning all, red-tail hawks circling
eyeing plump mourning doves, in pairs
in the red cherry trees

Two baby garter snakes
wearing bright yellow necklaces
like those girls wear to a debutante ball
writhe on the dusty garage floor

Flowers, enroute back to seeds
Their nectar, still sweet, enticing
monarch butterflies to cling
to their sticky honey

The older man, leaning
against the weathered wooden fence
a spitting image of Robert Frost
casts an approving look my way
I know then, nothing more need be said

At Day’s End in the Forest

Retreating September sunlight
Last traces…
creamsicle-orange glows and streaks
poking through tree openings
Marking day’s end

Rustling sounds draw closer
White-tailed doe, spotted fawn emerge
from forest darkness
Young seedling leaves–
an awaited bedtime snack

Sun’s last rays slip
below an outstretched horizon
Pale blue-gray evening light
descends upon forest shadows
Doe and fawn disappear into their own footsteps

Wanting

I want. All of us do
I become what I want, and
so do you
Like a car’s engine
desire drives us
in the direction of our wants

The Devil’s playground, some say
the root of all suffering
Uncontrolled, victimized by our desire
Too much wanting
and wanting for wanting’s sake
surely leads us all astray

Yet, what is left
when all desire, taken away?
Should we even want
an end to our wanting?
Can we end what is
at the very seat of our soul?

Surely what brings us pleasure
also brings us pain
True of time, money, even laughter
and so much more
A price for everything
no matter what you name

Temper we can
how much we want in life
Done best through sacrifice…
Saying no to more
Passing on second helpings
Giving to others with less

Yet, with our temperance
is there ever an end to wanting?

To Be Young Again

Thoughts race backwards…
when I was a boy

There were challenges
but mostly adventures
not necessarily problems
Growing up issues you outgrew

Life was simpler, certainly than now
Less money, more freedom
Fewer commitments, more open road
Not quite Jack Kerouac freedom, but
lots of room for imagination, and fun

Ideas came easier then
Wild ones, like
being the best baseball player ever, or
a famous world adventurer
Back then, it was ok
imagining beyond your reach
Now, I’m not quite sure

No retreating from the present
Things are great, just different
More people and things to consider
even around small decisions
That’s what adults do, I guess

It’s ok to play hooky…
at least once in a while
Let that inner child dream, play
imagine something beyond his reach
Hey, maybe I’ll be a millionaire

The Rhondas

Three 30-somethin’ gals from the sticks
dressed to the nines, country western garb
singin’, playin’ their hearts out
Stompin’ up and down on the stage

The Rhondas, they call themselves
Don’t know why, but the name fits
Means “noisy” in Welch
Maybe that’s why

Harmonizing, sweeter than honey
Songs ’bout backroads West Virginia
down an’ out factory workers, dirt-poor farmers
distraught mommas, agonizin’ over aimless kids

Just three ole country girls
See ’em walkin’ barefoot down sunny dirt roads
Filling their lungs with music
Lettin’ it all out on a Sunday afternoon

Fire on a Chilly September Night

Dancing fire, rhythmic orange and yellow flames
rising and falling in waves, licking chilly September night air
Crackling voices, speaking glowing light in shrouded darkness
The alluring tango, igniting promiscuous desire
flirting with wild, deep-seated passions
once touched by fire, causing us to burn out of control

Ghost white smoke on flame fingertips, reaching
high above, into another world
untouched, throbbing, beckoning
inaccessible, like our passion
before the flames set it ablaze
consuming all we held

Then the dancing stops
Passion runs its course
Light surrenders to the silence
We lie motionless
as the fire pit grows deathly cold
and the inferno falls fast alseep in darkness’ waiting arms

1 in 13,983,816

$330 million
Last night’s Mega Million lottery prize
Not much to Bill Gates
To most people, a whole lot of money

Like Grandma’s apple pie
four winners, four equal pieces
I’m not one of them, though
I bought 50 tickets, hoping
God would smile upon me
sharing His abundance

1 in 13,983,816, the odds of winning
Only God navigates those betting waters
Odds of marrying a millionaire: 1 in 215
Sounds like a better bet
I didn’t do that either