Beyond Our Identity Masks

So much, we associate with our lives
More than we imagine
Things, people, thoughts, feelings, experiences
So much more
All markers, definers, identifiers
Yes, identity builders

Each of us
in our own way, seeks
to be somebody, something
Almost always, it’s about being
something other than what we are
Often, mistaking our shadow for the one
coming before casting the shadow

Yes, ambition, aspiration, goals
can hinder us, if
they steer us away
from the simple joy of being
without anywhere to go
or anyone to be

We work so hard
to define our likes, dislikes in life
All because that’s why we think we’re here
Beyond our judgments there is more
Undefinable, ineffiable, ever changing
Something we feel
Something we know
because we are that

Old Dolls

Not old women who still look great
Literally, old toy dolls
Handed down to you from your Mom
An original Shirley Temple Doll
Flowing golden locks, rosy pink cheeks
A tiny flower on her off-white satin dress

A Patsy Doll, the rage in the 30’s
Chubby cheeks, sky blue eyes
Her pink dress a little tattered, but
still suitable for playing hopscotch
in the red brick alley
where your Mom twice skinned her knees

Others, even older, maybe a hundred or more
Smiling youthful faces fixed for eternity
Eyes gazing beyond where we can see, and
beyond all memories

They sit together in the antique chair
in the back bedroom, where
you keep your Dad’s ashes
In the memory room, where
we slip away and remember, and
where tears seem to come from nowhere

North Chagrin Reservation Photo Shoot

Click here to see a few of the many photographs taken during our recent hike through the North Chagrin Reservation near our home. The reservation is part of the Metroparks District. It is a wonderful woodland forest filled with birds, deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, raccoon, squirrels, chipmunks, and once in awhile a black bear. The shots of the Great Blue Heron were great fun.

Erie Street Cemetery

Erie Street Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio
Note: Click picture to enlarge it.

Old, faded, worn
In so many ways, forgotten
But so alive with spring
A reminder, life after death

One of Cleveland’s first real cemeteries
For so long
overtaken by the growing city
Now engulfed by the dying city

One hundred and fifty years ago
green fields, wildflowers all about
Now boarded up buildings
and pot-holed streets on its perimeter

Pink magnolias, flowering white dogwoods in full bloom
Even the dead weep at their sight
The elms, nearly gone, but stately oaks and sycamores stand tall
in the sweet mid-afternoon breeze

Death seems so temporary on such a spring day
Like the thin disappearing clouds
streaming across the bright blue sky
Like the faded names on the grave stones

Pictures

Snapshots, clips, short life frames
Telling stories about people, things, and us
Especially us, how we see the world
How we position things to see them
How we frame our worlds, and
What we hope to capture
And create in life

Creative pictures are best
Those offering different, unusual views
Those capturing what’s there, and
Creating something nonexistent
Out of the raw material we encounter
Creative pictures demand an engaged heart
Not just our eyes to materialize

Photographic skills help
But alone they create nothing
They’re just the stage
On which our imaginations perform
My best pictures plant seeds in others
Seeds from which important questions grow
Like who am I, and why am I here

Overpowered

Can you fathom spring’s rapturous beauty
Overpowering you like a herd of wild monarch butterflies
Gently pummeling you into submission
Coaxing alive the eternal newborn inside you
Forever tickling your fragile imagination
Till tears of joy stream uncontrollably down your cheeks

And finally
Out of sheer desperation
You allow yourself
To plop down in a bed of cool green clover
And watch wistful clouds coast
Across a cornflower blue sky

Truth Dost Tarry

Fear not, truth dost tarry
Lingering long and wide
Stretching every so often
in sunny spots between now and eternity

Fear not, truth dost tarry
Filling our souls with light
Even during our darkest nights
and most unconscious moments

Fear not, truth dost tarry
Lingering long after our lies, deceit
decoys, avoidances and confusion
Even as total blindness overtakes us

Fear not, truth dost tarry
Awaiting the day, hour and moment
when we’re ready to receive its gift
and live with open eyes

Avian Chorus

Every spring, the birds overflow with music
A choral extravaganza bursts forth
Cheerful voices, echoing through the trees
Filling our ears, virgin melodies of spring

They call back and forth
He to her, she to him
Romantic, downright alluring
These overtures, even a tad risqué

The cardinals, most persistent
But the robins sing their parts on cue
Even the silences in between, beautiful
It is then our hearts can sing

Amidst this avian music, new life
Dogwoods explode in color climax
Daffodils, tulips pop all about
A reminder…the Hand of God at work

April Moon

be with the moon
don’t judge her
question her motives
or movements

don’t read more into what is
like us, she is, and
like us, she needs no name
only a bit of light to exist

be with the moon
this fair april night
we too wax and wane, and eventually
give rise to morning

while the sun we praise and worship
never forget
it is the moon
that gets us through the night

No Strangers to the Underlying Beauty

People everywhere want just one thing–
to be and feel loved
Honored by another’s presence
Lifting up their deepest sense of being

We saw this in those dark brown eyes
of the two young Costa Rican girls
in that small village near Tortuguero
Not only their eyes, but their half smiles said:
Lift us up just a little higher
that we may see slightly beyond
Help us remember that the same beauty
in these sweet flowers all about fills us
Helping us get through the swirling darkness, falling
once the sun has set

You are not of our world, but
at the same time
you are not strangers to this beauty
filling the flowers, and all of us
May we, for just one moment
stand together with you in its presence

Be the Witness

be the witness
he who watches
the one trapped
on the treadmill of life

be the witness
the only one who truly sees
without creating anything
or being anybody

be the witness
he who is disinterested
in life’s comings and goings
but sees them all

be the witness
the one who sees without eyes
hears without ears
and knows without thinking

The Timeless Realm

timeless realm of god
there our souls also dwell
wedded to nothing, unbounded
abiding in the light–
that which comes before
not separate from us, because
we are that, and more

there rests the iguana
in the early morning sun
the same timeless sun
giving light to us–all of us
not just the parts we wish to see
but the whole of us, and everything
there we are one with the iguana

A Love Poem from Playa Conchal

There is something about this moment
The one we shared together
Leaving us breathless
Taking us to a place we’d never been

There is something about this moment
The way it holds us together
Lifting us up toward the sun
Sweeping our hearts away

There is something about this moment
The way it doesn’t last
Making us appreciate it even more
Assuring us love is always now

To Mary at Playa Conchal

I love the way
the clouds hang free
in pure blue sky
The way a sunset
settles like a orange and yellow butterfly
on the horizon
The way the gentlest breeze
lifts our spirits
and breathes hope into our dreams
And the way your smile
invites me to be
just who I am

Arenal

5:12 am, Arenal erupts
Thunderous roar, breaking early morning silence
like some soaring fighter jet, rushing overhead

Even grousing howler monkeys grow quiet
and the singing birds still themselves in nearby trees
as something more powerful speaks

Clouds cover her cone
Only her faint outline visible
Her presence we feel, so vast, uncontrollable

Respect she instills
Her bellowous voice
A reminder, our humble place on the planet

Finding Lost Parts of Ourselves Cruising Down the Tortuguero River

People like us take nature vacations
to find lost parts of themselves
Parts they never knew they had, until
they’re overtaken by that lost part
on a cruise down the Tortuguero River
Letting the wind blow their hair in all directions
Surrendering to the shrieks and grunts of the male howler monkeys
snapping their brittle sense of reality in two

Whatever we found that Saturday afternoon
with the wind in our faces, and
the sun beating down on our backs
has awakened something DEEP inside us
Something telling our souls to return to this place
where the green sea and leatherback turtles
come each year to lay their eggs

Tico Mothers’ Reflection

Everyday, large buses fill our dirt road
Stuffed with gawking tourists
following the same road
our ancestors did to find this place

These strangers peer at us
like some carnival sideshow attraction
Their squinting eyes miss our world
The place we live, and matters

While the buses slow, enough
for the strangers to snap their pictures
So little they will ever know
So much we will hide from them

So few of their dollars, francs and yen make it our way
Just barely enough
to make us dream past our rusted white icebox
made in 1939 in Evansville, Indiana

Just enough they leave behind, to make us wonder
how long before our sons and daughters grow restless
with their Tico roots, and trade
their Costa Rican country life for some LA ghetto

Costa Rica from Upon High

first impressions last
it was love at first sight
as our plane edged toward san jose
our dream of costa rica came to life

there she was…
an endless sea of dark green velvet
rainforests, lush, deep, beckoning
lakes sparkling like pools of diamonds

her rounded, layered mountains, interspersed with smoking volcanoes
reached high into the cloud-speckled sky
her jagged coastline stretched into turquoise blue water
we were lost in her sheer beauty

suddenly cleveland seemed so very far away
from a distance this latin lady struck our fancy
now, we breathlessly awaited our first slow dance
to hold her close-up and smell her sweet perfume

Lost in Thought

useless, so much what we think
no beginning, no end
one steady stream…of unconsciousness

shifting directions, like the wind
like water, seeking the path of least resistance
often like a bad storm
causing us to run for cover

addicts, all of us, to our minds
to our indiscriminate ideas
wretched habits of thought

no way to think your way out of it
only makes it worse
one thing seems to work…lose your mind
hang out a bit in the now
somehow, thinking minds can’t live there

power of now

The Ancient Tree Drummer

I hear him
Making holes again
Hollow places in dead trees
He’s very old, you know
Prehistoric!
Pterodactyl-like, I think

With his red crest
bobbing up and down
He seems very proud
Cocky, I’d say

His drilling stops
Oh, I hear him
Odd cuk wucka sounds
She makes him wait
I know he’s listening for her
Finally she returns his call
His pecking resumes

Strange fellow–
that pileated woodpecker
Feasting on ants and beetles
Deep in the old forest
where there is plenty of dead wood

The hollow tree is his drum, you know
He plays a driving beat
Latin rock, I think
He’s ancient, you know
I hope I see him

Andrew over at Past Tense reminded me of this old poem.