for Ely

my patient and friend Ely

died last night

after many years of battling cancer

in lieu of flowers

follow her:



that everything is alright

with God

even though we doubt



there is always something just around the corner

that will sustain us

even as we despair



humble and never-ending

especially when we are afraid

limitless participation


cradles life

on the North facing porch this morning

two dogs snore

charcoal gray striped cat stares

a couple of black flies and a tiny tan moth

frame the hazy humid valley below

after last nights thunderstorm

only the highest wispy tree branches

sway just a little

air handlers rumble

along with invisible airplanes above, cars below

the occasional piercing chirp of a mockingjay


so this is

how it feels

to chug the joy

that flows from the heart of God

drunk off love

Ode to the Cardboard Box

Oh, carrier vessel of all modern day goods:

I see you.


I witness your birth from my porch every day,

perched on a ridge overlooking the valley

where your great brick and stack mother rests by a river


like most births, it is sometimes difficult to watch.


the massive spiked metal trucks

handling 30 year old long leaf pines

feeding them in


it brings comfort to read

that 85% of Earth’s biomass is plant material,

mostly wood, the substrate for your body


mulch remnants spilled from the trucks

highlight the shoulders of highways

leading to your birthplace

a very small percentage lost to production

about the same relative amount

as the .01% of Earth’s living organisms

that are human

and without whom you would not exist


I don’t see the inner workings

that transform tree to pulp

the formaldehydes or ammonia that flow

nor the river whose temperature is raised

nor the solvents used to clean the final product

nor the fine particulates or dust from combustion


mostly what is witnessed from my isolated hilltop view

is the smoke

that verifies presence of the fire within


massive plumes rise from your mother

24 hours a day


smoke balloons upwards for a little distance

nearly eclipsing the mountains behind

then settles to blanket the whole valley,

city and region

and when the wind is just right

out of the northeast

the pungent odorous smell

signifying your entrance into the world

wafts up to my porch


and I see you again and again

throughout the day:


as my patients arrive for radiation treatment

coughing up grey pale phlegm

asking how a person who had never smoked

can get lung cancer


as I open

small and medium and large boxes

into which have been placed

the necessities and gifts

the desires and guilty pleasures

the hopes and dreams that

sometimes define a life


occasionally you are the highlight

on uncomfortable commercials

where people use you for their primary residence

and you serve as more protection than vehicle


today, I bow in gratitude


there is never a benefit without risk

no free lunch

even when served in the thinnest colorful box

Lost and Found

I am instantly lost

in the towered big city maze of the past

where a hazy remembrance of  life’s landmark events

serves as the only available point of reference.

I go there to uncover old wounds

allowing new air into stale, dark vacuum sealed places

that they may breathe again

become alive again

maybe even be repaired.


All of this

fueled by an irrational hope

for a future freed of past encumbrances.


After many voyages, I now know

this well intentioned exploration

alone by itself

does not work.


And then an unexpected breeze caresses my cheek,

I stop

simply come home

to this present here and now,

and unbridled love gallops in

opens, heals, forgives, then

I am freedom found.

At Depth

I do not find it that difficult

to know anymore

what is real and what is fake.


a young mother buries her murdered

high school daughter who made the decision

to go to school that day as usual


our president played with a porn star

his wife too distracted after childbirth

to pay him proper attention


just this morning an ordinary brown and tan finch lay

defeathered, picked apart on my porch cement—

had it seen the blue sky reflected

in our glassed door and flown full flight

into solid surface? Our cat likely

finished the job because

that is what cats do with twitching feathery things.


I followed my normal practice

of handling dead small animals

gently picked up the carcass and carried it

beneath a ginkgo tree to a planter

that holds perennial lemon balm

quiet underground now in early March

and I dug out a handful of black dirt

enough to lay the body to rest, then

covered it, patted down the soil and

said a prayer:


Help me to remember

when I see you again

at depth and always

we are lemon balm in full flower.


"the temptor came to him and said: If you are the son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread"  Matthew 4:3


barely submerged stones,

bread for bright green algae in this gurgling summer stream,

require no alteration

to feed my rumbling, empty



Sermon on The Hill

Today, on the darkest of days, December 21st, I had a dream.

It came in that slowed down space

between sleep and wide awake

where seconds seem like minutes and minutes like hours,

maybe that is why I remember it so clearly.


I was standing unnoticed outside of the capital building, mid-day,

in Washington DC, on a grassy area just outside of a black metal fence

protecting the building and its inhabitants,

amdist others entrenched in their individual pursuits.


a security guard mechanically looking this way and that

at nothing in particular, a young mother pushing her sleeping child in a

blue and white covered stroller, a couple of men with grey green veterans hats

pointing this way and that and peering at a trifold laminated map.


and then something welled up from deep inside of me

an awareness that pointed to a previously unrecognized voice

that had been framing the last several months of my first waking breath

with feelings of insecurity, paranoia and unworthiness.


this awareness was previously focused on the political news of the day

and how awful such and who and where and what was

and now it turned its attention to something inside of me,

a being not me, and not other than me,

that could now be heard as though some unseen signal was tuned in

on an FM radio channel in my mind.


the voice first crackled, then with more focused attention, became clear.

it was spouting a manifesto directly aimed at the part of me

that most needs acceptance and nurturance,

statements meant to keep that fragile self cowered in a corner.


suddenly in this generic scene’s silent solitude, the wicked voice erupted through me

and I spoke, voice echoing widely as through a megaphone:


Blessed be those who would rather die than be humiliated

            They shall be universally loved.

Blessed be those who do whatever it takes to be victorious

            Collateral damage will be meaningless to them.

Blessed be those who harvest and consume without ever planting

            Their weighty might shall trickle down to nurture the lowly sowers of seed.

Blessed are those who offer iron fist protection to the insecure

            The cold comfort of their grave will be like a finely leathered living room.

Blessed are those who succeed solely on their own merits

            The commodity of celebrity will promote and protect their brand.

Blessed are those who live in steel certainty

            For they will never be wrong.

Blessed are those who eternally defend, attack and deny,

            They shall escape persecution in their own name’s sake.


and then I fell to the ground and looked around.

everyone had stopped, staring directly at me and all around my knees and legs

there was what appeared to be a broken mirror about the size of my torso

split into tens of pieces, and I reactively began to put them together

like a puzzle with linear spaces in between parts.


an older veteran gave me a piece of cardboard from the side of the road

that looked like the roof of a makeshift shanty,

the young mother offered some glue, and

sliver by shard I arranged the mirror mosaiq

and then hung it from my neck facing outward over my chest

using handcuffs from the security guard


the wicked voice was still present but subdued

and with it there was a humility, like springtime soil, that spoke through me:


Blessed be those who are persecuted,

 for they shall be set free.


and I stood and began walking about the outdoor mall area

as witness for others to see themselves in the broken mirror mosaiq,

and nodding heads and simple acknowledgments revealed that they now knew

it was their own brokenness they were seeing.


a moment later, a flash of light split through my eyes and

I was awake.

a sweet cool comfort gripped me and has not let go

as I see that my view of the wickedness “out there”

has a partner inside of me

and that this is part of the human condition.


and I will not return the violence by trying to make the voice go away

an eye for an eye will only plunge me deeper into the darkness

and only through embracing the whole

will the hours of light ever extend.

The Cure for Gluttony




            in simplicity of presence


right where you are

              will do

                         just fine


no reservation required

              security check

                           or travel of any kind


calm your body first

             look and ask

                          watch it respond


enjoy your breath

            unearned flow

                         primary connection

                         to every existing thing



            feet firm

                         in crisp constant

                         stream of thought




Harbin Walk with a Doc

We Walk Together


fresh born

You come to us as parent

to mother

You arrive as child


to daisy

solar rays

to sun

as plant


unseen gravity

unearned breath

shared by all



as doctor






            we walk together

in deep gratitude

to pavement


leaves and grass

which remind us:

            although we move apart

            we never walk alone

The Heart of the Veiled Universe Yearns for You

The heart of the veiled universe yearns for you:

full moon on a densely clouded night

wind-blown seed nestled in frozen soil

an infant’s sigh after midnight feeding


and yet

attention lies elsewhere


you remain uninterested

in the fragility at the center of all things

with limitless inclusion,


the security of known illusion


still the gentle wind whispers:

it does not have to be so heavy

the weight of what you think you are



release and abandon

your firmly rooted explanations


float freely

like a wispy white dandelion seed


for you are the seed

open air

fertile earth

sunshine, rain, leaf and flower


the infinite love in everything

waits eternally for your arrival