Taking Root

Radical faith
returns to the root of love.
Radical love
returns to the root of change.
Radical change
returns to the root of hope,
 
which is the unfolding 
of the wild rose,
 
whose stem and whose thorn
break trampled leaf-litter to bud,
drawing from dirt, fragrance,
 
whose rippled sheets of overlapping petals
stow away pollen,
that outlasts the storm.
 

Hunger and Thirst

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Even the grass is not the shepherd’s
but for the sheep.
The catnip lies in wait for the stray cat.
The dry riverbed’s sole purpose
is to channel rain.

Surely the housewife who said,
“Hunger is the best sauce”
knew hunger
draws us close.

Thirst longs to be quenched
like earth before the monsoon.

At the crossroads of ocean currents and trade winds,
we sway
like a sail that fills with wind.

Our purpose, apparently,
is to receive:

My lungs
draw in air
without toil,
not unlike
the wildflower’s roots
who take nothing
but receive all.

Even my ears—
I suspect—
are stationed on earth
to hearken to bird song
chiming at the feeder,

and nearby—
the pulsing
of hummingbird’s
wing.

Cradle Song

You shuffle between midnight piano melody
and this crazy deep-down wail
 
like hummingbird’s double harmony:
 
whose only axe is flight,
whose wings beat faster than a child’s pinwheel,
 
who repurposes thread of spiderweb to sew a nest,
who transposes snare to song.

The Widening Gyre

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“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
–William Butler Yeats

Each morning one winter
I rose to claw and scrape
ice thick as orange rind
from my windshield.
Then, driving east,
I watched theatrical colors
light up the hogbacks.
While gloved hand gripped
the steering wheel, my mind
fashioned lines of poetry.
But poems slipped away like ice
melting down sunlit stems.

According to an article I read once,
the gold-tinged hogbacks on the horizon
are radioactive. Earth’s uplift
brings to surface and releases
stored radiation. Hike to see
the cliffrose buds explode into blossom:
On one branch, you count five petals,
but on another you may find clusters
of nine petals, or thirteen.

I’d like to believe that life cycles on without changing
much. The frost-heavy windshield, a display of Belgian lace,
same thread, new designs. But even as we stand
the ground beneath our feet lurches
and implodes.

What was hidden comes to light:
As if seated in our midst, the unknown—
an uninvited guest—explosive as a landmine,
charges and ignites.

Shattered

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Fragmented into a thousand pieces
the first casualty was my focus—

Once rainwater filled a water table, then
Froze: a thick layer of ice floated above the cold water,
All of a piece. When children lifted the disc
From its confinement,
It shattered into countless pieces.

Though I’ve heard the grasshopper has a thousand eyes,
And does quite well.

Attending Marvels

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Between miracle and doubt,
between the words of faith healers
and the stoicism of rationalists
there’s a sweet spot—
called hope.

Behold
the stars in the sky
that never stop shining
even when obscured by cloud or smog—
or light.

Behold the seeds
that spread their wings,
that travel on my boot,
that hibernate for years
until the rain and warmth of sun
awaken them.

Between a rock and a hard place,
cactus bears fruit,
hummingbirds take flight,
and the bee ensconces itself
on the shoulder of her lover,
the flower.

Hoofprints of mule deer
crisscross narrow canyon corridors
where rain only accentuates
the cliffrose’s musk.
And though I’ve witnessed
my share of marvels,
still I crave more.

Stardust

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In the vastness of the universe
You are a speck of dust
From which light reflects.
You are also the eye of the needle
Through which God slips
Like thread to spin
The vast reaches of the galaxies
And stars whose dust you are.

Amazing Grace

44951E6E-DFF3-4F66-B455-C9EF02993CEEThere are waves
that beat against
a wooden vessel
like the mallets
that beat a story
And in the hold
there are bodies
bolted down

And when the waves roll
and the ship rocks
there’s a clang of iron
like a hammer
coming down

There are waves
that rock against
a wooden vessel
and there’s moaning
in the hull

There’s an anchor
and a landing
iron clanging
voices coughing
as the ship’s hands
haul the bodies
in to dock

There’s a market
and an auction
and a mallet
like a hammer
striking
when a deal
is rung

There is iron
flesh
and silver
and a hammer
striking
“done”

There are judges
in the markets
walking aisles
to weigh
the cargo’s
worth

Then
there’s iron
shoulder
muscle
and a bullwhip
lashing
flesh

There are feet
that strike
the earth
like mallets
and there’s rhythm
in their labor
like the raging
in the wind storm
striking hull
and mast

There’s a roar
that shatters
iron—
and arms
that hoist a new flag
and there’s thunder
in a trumpet
blast

There’s a vessel
plowing oceans
with a stolen
human cargo
and there still
are many more
to come

Let It Rain

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Let it rain.
Let the rain fall in a steady stream.

Let the rain fall on the roof with the rhythm
of a handyman nailing shingles.

Let the rain saturate the hardened earth
and satisfy the root
that thirsts like a newborn infant.

Let the rain fall on our shoulders
and mold us to its contours
like rock weathered and worn by rainstorms.

Let the rain flow like fine wine
flowing at the wedding of Cana.

Let the rain pool into its liquid shapes
sinuous as a cat that pounces.

Let the rain murmur.
Let the rain sing a lullaby,
a post card from the ocean,
a mariner’s hymn.

Let the rain begin and end
in this moment suspended in time,
my shoulder blades clasped in your arms,
the bough above us, and the bud,
reflected in the puddle,
concrete now molded into shimmering mirror.