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poems by Joneve McCormick ©







The Visitor

Like rain dropping into the sea
like mist evaporating
when boundaries disappear
I grow larger and larger


The shape-shifter that sets me free
unveils what I hold too tightly,
lives behind my masks and in them,
in stones too, and mere words


Faithful as a rising sun
love appears dressed in light
to unite with me, to create new life,
when I am willing.


Who are you?

You, who I cannot capture

You, not behind doors and mirrors,
beyond desires and fears,
pleasure and pain

Who are you
teaching that the less distance between us
the higher I soar with my own wings?


Back to the sea

I want to go back to the sea
where light and dark are one
– where I’m free, where I’m from,

a tiny creature live one marvelous moment
or a big one snapping up the little,
back to sheltering caves and reefs,

to sea waits and wiggles
where the will to be (not greed)
trumps right and wrong.

The sea sings, ‘the one who doesn’t know me is an orphan.’


Metaphors in motion

Some say we create our worlds
from memories made long ago
like the clam awash in pounding surf
on a wild and pristine beach
turning into bony jaws and frothy milk,
irritations into pearly teeth —
on to roaring motors quieted down
and car hoods opening,
robots that look like us.


Brown Pelican

Winged dinosaur, master fisher
I dream you are an ancestor
riding rolling waves with your mate
and circling high overhead.

You dive, spear first

reassuring, over and over

into the hungry sea where I toss.


Self Image Is Destiny

There was a little girl
with shining curls,
one in the middle
of her forehead;
daily she was told
they were beautiful;
they grew thicker, shinier
like the coat of a young alpha wolf.

As the girl grew older
she began to hear she’d caused
the hair of her friends
to be thin and limp
because she was claiming
the most care and attention
and she caved in, shrank from view;
her hair dulled, turned limp, fell out.

Then the hair of her friends
didn’t look so bad.
(It’s lonely at the top.)


Reflections (after Rumi)

A cloud passes unseen
you see the shadow it casts

Pulled from your source
you long to go back

Desire makes your heart skip a beat
in the lock of your fear a key turns

In time all images are spent
like gold plucked from a sleeve

You deem yourself a donkey’s slave
yet ride a magical horse

While you sleep in darkness
something within you shines

While your body fades to dust
you hop from roof to star

Your body is but a shadow
of a shadow of your love


A Reflection (after Rumi)

How does softness leave a petal,
or hardness a stone?
But the parts, when lost bless,
bring you to all there is,
the Friend you seek beyond them.


Killing the Christ
(written after reading comments by Benny Morris on ethnic cleansing)

Ethnic cleansing is sometimes justified
he tells his crowd
which shouts and cheers approval.
What goes around
doesn’t come around
when you’re armed to the teeth
and special.

St. Peter isn’t there this time,
just an old man
sucking an empty pipe.
Ghostly vampires appear
and a cock crows then keels over.

He tells his crowd there are signs
– it’s up to them, the chosen,
to kill the Christ wherever found
– their Beast is rising now
to scorch the land
and they’re to follow yet again
pitiless as a desert sun.


Orange Cord
(a suicide bomber foresees her death)

Dynamite with orange cord
strapped to her chest, eyes lowered
she calmly steps over raw sewage

cement rocks and broken toys
across fields and into a shop
busy with affluent, alien thugs

her veiled purpose to blow to pieces
thieves who drive her own
from their land and lives

who trash without a rest
stealing minds and bodies
like cannibals feasting.

She knows what she must do
she will not be broken
or pretend to acquiesce to slavery.

Pulling the orange cord held near her heart
she opens heaven’s gate
and throws devils into hell’s fire.

suicide bombers in Palestine


It’s Said…

(short poems and sayings)

It’s said, ‘You have to kiss a lot of frogs,’
wet ones, eyes bulging.
Many do, yet never find a prince;
find grinning frogs in their mirrors instead.


A green fish, nearly too old to breathe, rests
under October’s thin ice. Early snowflakes
melt above him. Soon fish and flakes will
leave the viewer, who says he owns them.


Some have said that Sound and Picture
are more fundamental than the Word, better
vessels for magic, superior tools for the artist;
but, like fire, language is a gift from the gods;
words can create both sounds and pictures
and turn them into poetry. Words are wands.


Our thoughts impinge on one another
and shrink, energy hardens into mass
and we see worlds we call real?


A bowl of cherries is just a bowl of cherries.
A hawk circles over a farmer’s hens
while the farmer plucks cherries for his pies,
pops one into his chin.


Knowing one can have something
doesn’t mean one knows the cost.


One’s will to be all he can
guarantees his fall, on and on
until he completes his work within.


I would say to the warrior, Achilles
that poets, too, live in joy
and laugh in the face of death.


A slave is bound no longer
when he also sees
through the eyes of his master.


It is said that those who’ve usurped
the throne of their god
still worship their golden calf.


‘Impulsive’ is said to be
eager without looking
then – surprised!
Some with that habit
age to ‘old and wise’;
others turn old
with a vengeance.


Dancer and red fish dream,
one under satin,
one under stone;
glide like fireflies
from their covers.


His poem about a perfect lover
is well-crafted, but no one lives there.


The color red is said to bring
new beginnings and prosperity,
the darker shades elegance and power,
the brighter ones energy.


Body and Soul:
Dust thou art and to dust thou shall return
Soul thou art and soul thou shall remain


One who worships himself as God
is highly tolerant of his own evil.


What is permitted may not be forgiven;
listen to the still voice within
if you would walk scatheless through your days,
your own master, blameless.


For David, the Painter

‘Sometimes I want to paint
something as corny
as a sunset,’ he said.
‘Why don’t you,’ I asked.

‘Maybe you could paint it
like no one else has.’
But he shook his head,
‘I have an image to think of.’

He paints abstractly
and, instead of things, an idea
that life is an unending plateau.
His paintings remind me of sunsets.


Some New Scholars
(verse commentary, after Yeats’ “The Scholars”)

The Scholars
by William Butler Yeats

Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love’s despair
To flatter beauty’s ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?

They used to be forgetful of their sins,
now they seduce their students, pretend they’re
young themselves, but can’t remember when
they felt love without self-consciousness;
believe beauty is clever, not ignorant.

The older vacation in exotic places, the
younger wear disdain and good will; all wear
the carpet with their shoes; all think aloud
in the same domain of political correctness.
Few in the humanities or social sciences dare
have an original thought that works (I recall
one: “pecked to death by doves”; its source
was speaking of her friends).

All know the members of their crowd; it’s still
important to know the right thinkers. In a town
I passed through, those teaching for the local
college bought their uniforms at Sears; the one
with pecky friends asked if Catullus was an
astronaut, then confessed she’d mostly read
classic comics, adding that her specialty was
something else.


As a child…

I learned to hold spiders, snakes, toads and lizards,
the feel of life, stroking their small bodies with care.
Years later at an inland college
I saw a teacher in the faculty lounge
kicking a cricket side to side, enjoying its terror.

I dodged his shoe and picked it up; a scream
from across the room whipped deep into my back —
other teachers had been watching
and crickets didn’t belong except in poems.

I took it outside and put it on the grass, faded,
its presence scattered,but still beautiful and black.

(Childhood learning was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.)


for John Milton

When we’re young, arrogant lambs
with heart and wool
the world lusts after
we preen and swagger
all the way to hell
(called ‘the
fortunate fall’
by a poet)

change radically –
willing, totally –
crawl from the fire,
rise to the light
(called by the same poet
‘Paradise Regained’)

Those who stayed home
ask, ‘why look for trouble?’
and ‘who needs to be a hero?’
as though they have little
left to discover

but you reach
into hell and heaven
for secrets of the journey,
find Him planting His apple seed
that holds the fruit
of divine Knowing
in our Garden
with the thrilling snake,

choosing us
His seekers and finders
of Knowledge.

The Works of John Milton



I’ve often wondered
which friends I should value more,
those who exploit my weaknesses
or those who stand by me.

The latter offer love;
the former, loss
followed by opportunities to rise
I wouldn’t have sought directly.

Wanting to know my world
and find the treasures hidden in it,
what can I honestly say now
other than I’ve been lucky?


3 haiku

red and yellow leaves
crackle under marching feet
whispers of winter

an old man has died;
raindrops fall on melting snow
robins peck at it

I am getting old;

it is springtime on the beach

and I wear a coat


Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F, “Pastorale”, Op. 68.
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Paavo Jarvi

Germans were able to produce great quality and were hated by those who couldn’t and who wanted to destroy them. Devils find destroying what is godlike both satisfying and doable, that’s how they make hell and others like themselves.
In “1984” George Orwell foresees a world in which human creation is replaced and what is human is destroyed – see beginning of this video.


I want to be where He is

I choose a poet for my teacher
whose song gives greatness form,
a maker of gods who knows what I seek.
Why would I choose a different guide
when that’s who’s leading?
I have eternity in which to grow
and believe, and thank those gods,
that a man named Homer visited earth.

only caught

He plays on rims of chaos
testing his intent to live
and disciplines self
by choosing not to obliterate
certain foes and faithless friends,

remembering his drive to kill
before being killed must be on edge
– else he could forget, grow hapless
and life be lost — maybe his;
he’s come close when playing
with all he’s got for a good cause

not certain if he’s right or not
which doesn’t make him wrong —
he’s only caught


The Fallen Angels

Words can freeze revealed truths
and transform meanings.
Following dogma
many grope towards the light
and fall or stumble,
warriors losing battle flags
sacrificed to profane causes.

Until they need to reach
far within and beyond
(sometimes called “suffering
and the last straw”)
followers fail guidelines
they haven’t sourced,
not unlike mothers bearing
children with malignant marks.


Thanksgiving 2006

I’m not the body
I move, own, am tied to
giving thanks today
as I consume the flesh
of friends Tom Turkey,
plants I love,
along with air and water…
What is this communion,
one form devouring others,
transforming, mind giving credit
for the privilege
to a god?


I am

In the leaves
and between
I flicker across trunks
weave ribbons of light
slither up bark
swing branch to branch
flatten and fade
gleam, upright
nothing and everything.



“The only tyrant I bow to
is the still voice within.”

Knowing the difference,
he chose between dying and living.


Regarding Van Gogh’s Advice
Not to Be Afraid and Not to Try
to Make a Painting Pretty

It takes courage not to try
to make a painting pretty.
Few souls can resist,
the desire to please requiring
that ugliness be hidden.

Tell it like it is,
beautiful and ugly,
the best you are able –
serve no other master!
Was that commandment made for man
who has so much to worship, and forget?

A Van Gogh baby is big,
drooling, eternal –
a fat promise
held by a vigilant mother,
her apron wrapped tightly
over simian bones like a second skin,
strings hanging like tails.

It is in related gestures too –
their straight backs,
a jutting hip,
a small leg dangling
and hands ready to reach –
that love and attitude
raise immortal heads.


(prose poem)

Early on in school, I learned long fingers indicate aesthetic bent
and vision. Felt discouraged, until I saw pictures of chimpanzees
with very long fingers, long arms too, especially adapted for
grasping and swinging.

One of my professors remarked that in his experience people
with wide triangular eyes have benevolent souls and those
with round eyes evil ones; his own eyes were remarkably wide
and triangular and when he saw me looking, noting their glint too,
he frowned. Every time he heard his round-eyed dog bark he
put it in a closet, on a vegetarian diet; it lived five years.

We make many things better or worse because someone
has to lose, we think; so why not play more games like
who can be more honest with good will?


Ideal world

Many have longed to be free,
self-governing, safe, in a space
where every being has a place
and is understood —
a heaven here and now.

Plato had in mind a realm
ruled by wise philosophers;
he said poets could not be allowed,
were hard to lead and told stories
of gods and goddesses, how they lived
before, some say, man fell to earth.

Others, mostly from the East,
teach how to get one’s self back
and the freedom that comes with that.
For as long as it takes
a seeker must look within for truth
and experience the karmic rule
that over time inflow equals outflow
like the breath — for everyone
and everything — there is only now.

Lapis Lazuli by W.B. Yeats


New York City (1996)

In touch
with the heartbeat
of the world
we have a sense
of action snowballing,
of impending upheaval.

In my neighborhood
a darkness beyond the ordinary
has been settling in
for a long while.
It penetrates the daylight,
walls of buildings,
pores of faces.

We know it is never too late,
but is there a future here?
That is an incredible question
in this City of high energy
where people of every kind
live together in a harmony
unheard of elsewhere.

We play out our dramas
deep in the womb
of a sleeping volcano,
await the purifying fire.


5 haiku

big white fish hiding
under red October leaves
closes, opens lips


brief as a firefly
a goldfish glides under weeds
in dusky water


carp swims up my scroll,
turns into silver crescent
predicting long life


elegant bamboo,
the lucky kind, curls 3 times;
yellow base means death


my boots sometimes sink
climbing over a snow bank,
ice cream cone steady


The gnostic

To follow the Christ spirit
manifest in that one
who was a son of God and knew it
even in the bloody eye of his storm

allowing truth
open to what the winds will bring
open to dying, to being born
is too difficult for me.

I opened many doors once
and turned my life authentic
but love won’t bear another undergoing
I think, looking back –
still, today appeared a hurricane
and I am walking through it upright.


The agnostic

The agnostic is caught in his mind
by his god and by his devil
to be and not to be:
maybe devil and god exist; maybe neither
maybe mist was always rain
and rain a shining river.
There are no answers, he believes,
but the questions are eternal.



Feet flatten,
holes grow,
a push and pull
wearing down concrete,
leather and bone.
Like wind and roses,
stone and sun,
like us,
each shoe’s life
depends on crafting,
what it is made of
and what it rubs.


The magic footprint

Whoever puts his foot on the side of the cliff
in the place a giant footprint is stamped
will be granted the wish there he makes for himself.

In our town, this is a living myth.
Over the past 30 years, four have tried;
one fell into the sea and broke her hip,
the others say their wishes have come true.

I decide with certainty
what will have come to pass for me;
un fait accompli already, each postulate
manifests on time like magic
if I let it be.


The King of Siam

My betta fish is emerald blue
with a mouth wide as his head
and great thin billowy fins

When I come close
he darts to the top of his world to dance,
hungry or not

and expands like a haiku
far beyond his lines
in a space now named Siam

I turn into an ancient warrior
under his spell
– wild, cold, artful –

listening for the first sounds ever made
beyond ocean floors
and glittering stars


Not easy to forget

Blue lights danced through corridors,
around corners in his sleepy eyes
playing find and lose
with the timing of a master,
the power of a magnet.
He was a drummer who kissed runes
of wisdom and wit, understood in depth
and found the rhythms in my marrow.

But when I melted he quickly sank our float
saying,”I’ve enjoyed this intermission.”


If You Were Mine (and other lies)

You left me in the early hours
not waiting for the pale yellow
of a flower
or leafy trees to shine,
fleeing to softer lights
before the sun
could touch my arms.

Traitor, you are,
yet I love your heavy-lidded eyes;
I would shield you, were you mine.
You would not need to be

a faithful lover as you think.

Together we would swim
through purple-flowered seas
and wild beams of the moon
until the start of time

If you were mine.


sign of the tiger

Though often alone, I’m seldom lonely.
Born under the Sign of the Tiger,
I can spot a demon or thief miles away
but do not close in
unless loneliness holds sway


You and I

I know, from dreams, we played with Minos,
ran in Minoan marathons
and later met on Everest,
spying for different queens.

When did we first meet?
It was yesterday, this life;
you harpooned me from across another room,
love and lust penetrating in equal measure.
You wait now for me to do your bidding,
then go about your business.

Again you tell me not to dream,
you need your freedom.
I can give that now before you need it,
skipping all that was in-between.
I love freedom too, in my nest as well as out.

We have said hello-goodbye many times.
When the untold suffering to come
propels humankind-in-need to find new ways,
maybe you will see me whole
when we meet up.


The Future’s DNA

A caterpillar inches along
toward a changing of its ways.

Before its egg is made and laid
a seabird forms its wings.


Chalk and Board
(or Cheek and Tongue)

Vice makes virtue possible to know,
like white chalk on black or green,
thus there is no role I would not play —
sage, madman, robber, king —
changing skin and gait
on a Shakespearean stage;
the more identities I can have
the more knowledgeable I can be,
act deliberately,
not re-act mechanically
and be fooled by Loki spirits
hovering near.

This reminds me of a dream
in which a traveler lost his way

but that was before I found my devil
looking out just for me
while I hop leg to leg
finding-missing parts,
loss to gain back to back;
the devil with a stash of scalps
who tells me I’ve been chosen
and others haven’t.


Plea to a friend, to act wisely

When have you or I
stopped pursuing folly
before many falls?

There is a Zen saying
that some horses only need
to feel a whip lightly,
others in the marrow of their bones.


Questions Emerging From A Dream About Eating A Pet

Does food, like medicine,
heal separation?

when we eat we make what is
not us, our own?

is eating, like touching, a way to know
the illusionary nature of form?

are rules made to be broken
in ways that work

like – bite off more than chewable
if very hungry (and learn what you learn)?


Meditation Poetry


Lord of Heaven
give me your blessing.
Color me with your light.

No other can purify
like You, the Ocean.
You make me light.

You are mother, father,
sister, brother,
child, friend, companion.

Satguru, Lord of Heaven
show me what I am,
what I am becoming.

You are the Star guiding
me home, the Lover
who inspires me to transform.

I belong to Light.
I am Om, Om Shanti.

(Satguru means “the true teacher”; Om Shanti means “I am a peaceful soul.”)


Child of God, do you know who you are?

Do you know who you are?
Is your self-esteem high?
Deep is the ocean
of unlimited love,
the Mother.
The child who knows her
is not an orphan.

Child of God,
do you know who you are?


From Small Bird Bones
(Published by The New Press, December, 1993.)

My Daughter’s Footsteps

Snowflake footsteps
drop at my door and fade.
I wonder, then know
what she wants to hear…
my daughter
who I’ve ignored
all day, again
(having other things
to do)
asks with her
snowflake footsteps
that I tell her I love her.


Small Bird Bones

My cat’s eyes
shine with tenderness,
his tail furls
and curls with intention.
Soon he will meow long
and scratch the screen door
until he’s too tired
to see the fallen sparrow.

I want to let him go,
see his black body fly
like an elegant arrow –
have it over with –
but hear my first cat
high in a tree,
small bird bones
caught in his throat.


à la Baudelaire
L’Invitation au Voyage

Allons en voyage, mon frère
mon amant

où ensemble nous nagerons
à travers les sauvages rayons

de la lune, à travers
les mers violettes, en fleur

où il n’importe que tu m’es menti
mon cher, où le soleil

brille quand nous voulons
et nous nous aimons.

J’aime que tu existe.


The Misogynist

(for Jack Noyes, who hunted butterflies and black widow spiders)

He told me what he did
to women and insects
was simply a matter
of getting to know them.

He said all men kill
the things they love
and find their joy there,
that I should understand,
being a woman.


Child with a Shell

He touches its teeth
fingers its inner ear, smoothly glazed
like a pink fish-belly.
As he feels further,
whiter, smoother,
echoing sounds from the center –

Broken open,
he holds the empty hull
wondering where the sound has gone
and looks for another shell.


The arrowhead maker

Does he know how to make heads
from living as a clam in sand
where relentless surf pounded shell
and sharp beaks found their mark?


The Swans of Isla Vista

The swans swim together
mated for life, dive to their shoulders
necks stained with algae;
they sip along the water’s surface
necks coiling, uncoiling.

On the riverbank
in late afternoon
each grooms its white body.


Invocation to the White Goddess
(The Celtic Muse)

Isis of water, earth,
Fire and air,
Hear my prayer.
See with me,
Touch my tongue.
Let me speak to pierce the hearts
Of all who worship you.
Hold me as your child,
That I may know
What is real.

(Ref. Robert Graves, The White Goddess)



My teacher
(for Minoru Kawabata)

He taught painting in Manhattan,
a wisp of a man, almost transparent,
who knew his world
and what he intended came about.
He didn’t seem to know he was famous.

He found living seeds of promise
on every student’s canvas
and ways to coax forth their powers;
he showed us to more deeply care
and we grew as artists.

Beyond wisdom, missing nothing
he chose the precise words and gestures
to calm the space and lift our spirits.
Though he spoke little English,
he touched our hearts with such elegance
that we outdid ourselves.


Manhattan, I’ve loved you…

from the moment I arrived,
I knew I’d been chosen.

I love your love, your savoire faire,
your wider skies,

your lights, theaters, fruitstands, harbors,
smells of perfume and salt water,

the magic of your ships and towers,
your tales of freedom and tomorrows,

the tongues and colors of your people,
all your styles,

your open eyes,
all that you make possible.


Knocking on heaven’s door

Those who knock on heaven’s door
know what opens it,

playing, building in that space,
painting, weaving, singing, healing

In that place Spirit turns
words into wands,

water into wine, crosses oceans,
rockets to the moon and other universes

Some call their knocking change of heart
and what comes forth, amazing grace

Some drum up sacred sounds,
dance with them and grow a world

There is no end to what can be,
knocking on heaven’s door


The fairies

They still study with Merlin’s coterie
and honor sundry desires
like their cousins, the angels.
Knowledge yet keeps them light
and their wings brightly rainbow
while much they do be hidden
but fewer appear fully-formed
when today’s reality experts
go on their paid vacations.

Some say fairies are migrating
to places unknown, for security reasons.


My friend tells me...

my short poems are my best.
I start with the wind at my back
and get scared
shut and bolt the door
ramble on
and on and on
as though the wind
is still there

(regarding “short vs. long” poems:
The Poetic Principle by Edgar Allan Poe).


The poet

is a misfit
those who would disable her
she’s trouble
like plato’s escaped prisoner
delights in discovery
in seeing
and seeing further
though she may be
blind like homer
and when her faith
wiggles out of its cocoon
into a poem
it sometimes has wings


My Father

Compassionate warrior, philosopher, poet,
my father showed chivalry to women
and good will to all

I learned from him what is possible,
not what is common now;
he chose to be guided by honor

When I need to discover higher ground
within myself, and hold it,
he is my beckoning star.


Chinese formula poems

Wafting in fragrance
a peach blossom falls.
Blown into the bushes
a love letter is lost.
No one sees.


Hidden in weeds
cat watches crow
pulling up a worm.
Overhead a plane purrs
trailing smoke.


Under dark sky
pink buildings glow,
a man looks up,
takes deep breaths,
forgets to hurry.


6 short poems:


soft and warm
reminds me of you
touching my arm.

New day
(for Oedipus)

The blind king no longer hides and by midday light finds every corner.
Perceiving players and plots unite, the inevitability of truth,
at sundown the king declares all is well and vanishes.

erotic tingles

I squeeze your hands
and run my fingertips
across the tips of yours
then between your fingers, up and down,
then all my tips against your palms.

You shiver; life is good.


Come to me in the night,
your body off, soul to soul;
we will fill the space,
move without moving, making love

3 Easter chicks

black and yellow peeps on pronged toothpicks
one with a wounded red thigh
is pecked non-stop by 2 needle beaks

moved out of reach
he screeches incessantly

After all controversy surrounding Christmas …

there is a winter solstice
carrying the promise
of another spring
and a Christ within
wiling to be born.


Warmth Enough

The blue spruce was white against the sky
and clumps of shadows frozen gray that March,
a pale year, our coldest month in many winters.
My uncle’s beard glittered with crystals,
he said a mackinaw was not enough
or the fur-lined boots he wore;
the cold paralyzed his fingertips
through fur-lined gloves; still,
he was hunting because he liked to hunt,
and his fingers curled with warmth enough
to pull the trigger. A squirrel fell from a branch,
flickering crimson across the snow.
Then another. He said we had our dinner
and floundered through the drifts
to pick up the bodies.
He said he wasn’t dependent for his meat
on any city’s butcher.


Aunt Heather

A black and white snapshot shows
aunt Heather, six years old, seated at a piano
staring hopefully at a page of music.
Short sleeves puff against her pinafore straps,
plaid ribbons tie back her braids.
Her third, right finger is on a key,
those on each side point upward like a spatula.

Though Heather had a teacher,
she learned to read numbers instead of notes –
that seemed easiest, she said, but
only notes were in the second book.
(Her teacher said she lacked interest.)
Heather made me promise, on principle,
not to depend on teachers
and to keep to difficult paths.


C’est à l’intérieur...

Le soleil brille
sur tout le monde,
sans juger, mais
c’est à l’intérieur
que je suis heureuse,
ou non.

Où es Tu, mon Dieu?
Où suis-je? C’est moi-même
que je dois retrouver,
comme toujours,
pour sentir Ta chaleur.


It Is Inside…

The sun shines on all
without judging,
but it is inside
I am happy, or not.

Where are You, my God?
Where am I?
It is myself I must find again,
as always,
to feel Your warmth.


Letting Go

Out of the cave I called my home,
beyond the mere life of this body
the universe is disrobed.
There is no place now to fall,
no desire to shrink.

I see myself burrow into earth,
hover over the sun
and walk down a street —
I can see everything I’ve done,
pretending many roles.
I can transform into a living cross
or a mummy wrapped in white
spiraling in space
if I choose,
as I’ve chosen before.

Beyond this mere life
I’ve traveled many roads
in the all-seeing eye
creating the world;
I was with Homer and Aesop,
in the water Christ walks on,
in hurricanes and harvests.

Don’t say it cannot be,
that these and other things
don’t or didn’t happen;
I know what I know.

And here is my test for truth —
the exact consideration,
and what works:
beyond this body’s walls
where I live
the machinery of bondage
in heaven and on earth
is vanishing.


Life digs itself

Following Ayn Rand, some critic claims
an avatar only has power
to the extent he is believed,
without considering this might be true of Ayn

And so the eternal game continues:
life digs itself

eggs hatch
bees make honey
thunder breaks

All of us have been in places
no sane person would choose;
mystics say life experiencing itself
is the purpose

And that the avatar is born,
or becomes, so empathetic
he is able to dig anything
and transform it, mind or matter,
bring forth life from death

Critics secretly believe he negates
their own discoveries
and protest, watching from a raft
at risk of flooding

From mist to shining river,
egg to feathers
flying with power,
seed to ancient stick:
life digs itself

The poet Rumi calls it creation dancing
in a passion for God


Pegasus Dreaming

An eyelid rises
in the middle of his forehead
and Pegasus gallops forth;
the drums of time
beat on heaven’s door:

rum a tum, om ta rum
rum a tum, om ta rum

While Pegasus dreams
his playground forms,
a watery mirror
Narcissus runs toward, knowing
a god will meet him.

rum a tum, om ta rum
rum a tum, om ta rum

He watches in a trance
the wings below
shining with light
not knowing how to let go
of what is drowning.

rum a tum, om ta rum
rum a tum, om ta rum


I had

I had exotic plumage once
soft, brilliant green, gold, red

I turned into a swallow
frail and lice-ridden

What was I thinking?


Lucky Penny

Its head was bright and new
its tail stuck in a concrete wall.
When I gave up trying to pry it loose
the penny quickly faded
and its space expanded a thousand-fold
on to a lane of soft spring colors
in early 19th century France
where carriages rolled over cobblestones
and elegant ladies strolled
in high-waist gowns and bonnets.

All I had to do was take the step
but knew I might not have the power
to come back, being ambivalent
about changing habitat and habits.
Remembering the maxim
“better safe than sorry,”
made to order for such occasions,
I walked away, looking back to see
the wall close up without the penny
and another chance.


(October, 2008)

The leaves on my money tree are filled with sunlight
but my IRA is nearly defunct.
Thoughts darken, turning to bankers and other wall street thieves
dreaming up new strategies, and to greed and sabotage;
I look at the gold-lit leaves —
they could be an omen of prosperity,
but then I recall Pandora’s safe box.


The Saint

Like a tree whipped by winds
a saint leads a twisted life,
turning time and again
towards light to straighten
until, beyond the pull of opposites,
she glows like a sun.


Mummy Rest

I spend my nights
in a case grown large,
watch serpents in the noon sun
swallow their tails,
at dusk
glide into river reeds.

Nefertiti will bring a womb
for me, soon to be her son,
hoping I will not blame
this time
but remember
the small thought
that begins
life in death
death in life.

Everything that is
vanishes; after sensation
that most delights me.

We sat on thrones
built by slaves,
their songs
captured in the stones,
found, whether king or footstool,
man does nothing
he does not choose —
but much he will deny.

An old woman
inches through the drizzle,
taps her stick
along the foggy shore
looking for something washed up.

We will begin again —
new, transformed


Middle Way

I have found beginnings
of my middle way,
coming round full circle
after touring the world
in many pieces
and putting them together.
I can see truth and wisdom
on paths I believed
opposed my own;
what seemed contrary
belongs now in my larger world

where, almost surprised
I find myself centered,
somebody at home.

It is better to live one day as a tiger,
than for a thousand years as a sheep
. (Tibetan Proverb)

I agree but would prefer to be
anything I choose
neither trapped nor fleeced
captured only while I’m willing.


I am Kali from the West

I come into this world
from Spirit like any male deity
but am often perceived by the fearful
to be less holy.

In mortal form, men believe I am flattered by propositions
and pleased when they tell me who and what to love.
They think I am fulfilled when they force obedience,
saying what they want is what I must want —
like all they hold in thrall.

Few in this drama guess the rage in my heart
and my secret plotting to render the bullies harmless,
fighting each other to mutual defeat, shorn of luck.
I drink their blood afterwards, wear their teeth in my necklaces.

Here is my story in a myth:
In a time out of mind a Spirit visited earth
to destroy what is decayed and corrupt;
She carries a snake for a staff, dancing East to West and back.
Between one noon and the next many mortals fall into Her crypt
and all become slaves who would enslave Her.


On the Road

rocks turn to dust, seeds are barren,
a tail of greed wags the dog
(the one who kills
the goose with the golden eggs)

half beasts slouch
toward succor and safety,
fall into fires
with withering angels

never say die
whose path is holy


not wanting to end up on his horns
she refused his friendship
and ended on a sword

some approach suing for redress
and soon find weakness
with their arrows

in a world ruled by struggle
there are choosers and the chosen,
each depending on the other


young girls, coatless in winter,
pull in eyes;
the big fish don’t always
catch the little

wolves dine on fresh lambs
until the lambs turn into tigers
(the tigers into saviors)

one with great love and knowledge
walked on water
beckoning others to follow
and they still believed in death



I’ve looked at moonless waters, treading them
burned and frightened,
and I’ve looked from high places
in the light where love rules.

I listen to the still voice within
which knows without thinking,
correct myself as needed,
pay attention.


Read two interviews here.

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