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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunrise, Sunset

There are no more dragons,
so they say,
and we are all the poorer for it,
come what may.
What wondrous flight
they might have taken,
by day or night,
on some far isle alight,
to lay down eggs, begetting
life of power and might,
with fiery roar
upon that distant shore.
The ancients toiled
in fear and strife,
eyeing magic in the sky,
a daily challenge to their life,
with majesty at wing,
lustrous green and gold,
but not for you and I, they sing,
there are no more dragons,
we are told.
How sad for modern man,
facing the sunset of an
evolutionary scheme,
or perhaps, it is
simply in God’s plan,
that we don’t grandly dream.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Summer of '67

How long does it take,
I wonder,
for a war to become
a tourist attraction?
What’s the rotation time,
I ponder,
for foxholes to fill in,

The only war that matters
is the one you fought in.
All warriors know this.
So many wars,
yet only one was the worst.
It’s the one you fought in.
Because it happened to you.

That year I went to war,
all thrumming energy,
rising above the cacophony,
struggling beneath the fear,
wishing mightily to be invisible,
knowing I had put myself there,
the trace elements of ego
so visible in God’s microscope.

For a little while,
I died that day long ago,
thought I was going home,
no sadness, no fear,
no swell of clinging to what’s here.
Day and night,
the bombs cast their light,
yet from tunnel bright
a chiming bell,
calling my return to
the work undone.

Time enough remained
for service and, more,
for pain, guilt, lessons
still to master, before
this life’s final peace
brings an end to war.

Friday, July 29, 2016


Lullabies, Classical, Blues and Scat,
Be-bop, Jazz, Funk like that.
Country. Bluegrass, Rock and Roll,
Opera, Calypso, Rap for the soul.
Afro Cuban, Orchestral, New Wave,
Honky Tonk, Broadway, Ska for the brave.
It don’t matter what form it might take
Life without music would be a mistake


Da Vinci declared
that within the we
are included
those who see,
also those who
see when shown,
living among
their very own.
it is also true
that, in addition
to these two,
there are those
who can not see.
Keep the first and second.
Lose number three.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Village of Okauchee

They still do fish fry
in every corner tap
on Friday nights,
and all the restaurants
dim the lights,
have an overpriced
family style, la-di-dah flap.
It’s not all fried, but it’s
mostly frozen cod,
and there’s too many potato choices
and, yes, my god,
they even serve salads
instead of creamy cole slaw,
if you ask,
which, honestly, should be
against the law. Really.
Growing up in a country village,
there were only a few choices,
Magowan’s and Roundy’s
and my family’s favorite,
by a chorus of voices,
Stitch & Mary’s on the lake,
with all the joy
anyone could take.
Friday was fish,
always perch, always fried,
and fries and cole slaw and little rye rounds.
Saturday was chicken,
always fried, to put on the pounds,
and mashed potatoes and overcooked squash.
The men all smoked, the woman danced,
we kids played pinball, easily entranced,
and drank some deliciously sweet lemon drink
that led to type two diabetes, I think.
No wine that I remember,
but lots of beer for the older ones,
and usually an Old Fashioned,
just to top off the fun.
Sunday was church and a picnic,
But not in the winter,
and sometimes not the church part either.
I’m pretty sure
none of this was healthy,
but living where
we do now,
with lots of specialties
but no traditions, no wow,
the memories are savory,
the recollections sweet,
and somehow we’re still standing
on dream-filled feet.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Brown season is here
There’s smoke on the horizon
We must mend the roof

White snow still on peaks
Summer thirsts for its melting
Let’s clean the windows

Orange Navels are eaten
Valencia’s unfavored
What of the apples?

Red flowers open
Pomegranates in waiting
We must make sun tea

Pink roses whisper
Bougainvilleas scream color
Pastels still enchant

Spring’s colors faded
Summer blooms now in season
Seedlings need water

Epi’s bloom briefly
Cactus flowers much the same

I must call my Friends

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


When one can not
find an exit in the fog,
one might stop,
sit in meditation,
in quiet contemplation.
In doing so, one can
discover unexpected moments
with a beauty all their own.
To survive the fog,
one must be willing
to become oneself,
to trust.
Like a blind dog, running
headlong into the dark,
one must accept whatever comes,
including the brilliant phosphorescence
of a new way of seeing the world.
To escape the pea soup
of not knowing,
simply make room for everything,
joy, grief, misery, relief.
As a spider weaving a web,
starting from nothing,
first grasp the difference
between silence
and simply being quiet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Few Earthly Delights

If it was mine, I’d have given her the world,
everything in great shape, shiny, like new,
and she’d probably have liked that,
would have appreciated it too.
But I have owned so little of it,
not much of it mine,
so I have given her instead,
a daily homemade valentine.
In the past, my gifts have varied,
some patchouli oil, some seeds,
like for the Cosmos I didn’t care for,
but flowers perfect for her needs.
I’m a bit wiser now,
(well older anyhow),
still own little of the world today,
and what’s it matter anyway?
I recently located the best gift of all,
better than top shelf or anything up above,
almost forty-six years into marriage,
I’ve never been more in love.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

On a Sunday in Summer

On a sunny, summer Sunday,
I throw on my cleanest finery,
which, as it turns out,
doesn’t have much to say for itself.
It’s fine, though, I’m still up for listening,
headed to one of my safe places,
the most spiritual of spaces,
seeking some joyful calm,
a message of balm,
leaving struggle at the door,
feeling peace, and what’s more,
finding a non-anxious presence
in an anxious world,
hearing that still, small voice,
its beauty unfurled.

It’s Sunday at Seaside,
where love and good and light,
are real in our life,
just as real as toil and strife,
where “effortless effort”
is written in invisible ink
on our nonexistent name tags.
There’s music and prayer and meditation,
a break from the madness, a soulful vacation.

I have no name for the effect,
but I do know what to expect.
Others will speak, I will listen,
and an unseen current
will course through me,
and I will see
that change is challenging
but hope is tangible,
and grace is possible.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Still Dreaming, But...

Thought some about retirement,
working 24/7 in those early days
also about quietly basking
in a summer sun’s rays.
First had to put nuts away
for the long winter ahead,
fussing about future finances,
about a more secure homestead.
The work’s been done for a while,
and there’ve been homesteads eight,
all of them quite nice,
a few of really great.
Now late winter approaches,
there’re still nuts in the bank.
We’ve had a lot of good luck
and some hard work to thank.
That doesn’t mean, though,
that we’ve stopped our dreaming,
occasionally planning
and adventure scheming.
We have more time now
for the things we hold dear,
but not for future fussing,
the future’s already here.
So, what of past thoughts,
when we thought we might roam,
well, to tell you the truth, it’s
just easier to stay home.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Lemonade days,
Watermelon nights,
Backyard cookouts,
And seaside delights.
Fireworks explosions,
Sun tan lotions,
Root beer floats,
No need for coats.
Frilly light tops,
Beach time  flip-flops,
Traveling nation,
Happy staycation.
Seasonal pears,
Prizes from fairs,
Shakespeare in the park,
Carnivals after dark.
Thundering skies,
Bright fireflies,
Sandal-free feet,
Ice cream so sweet.
Hopscotch skip,
Family road trip,
Poem some new rhyme,
Travel in time.
Bonfires with friends,
The heat never ends,
Swim in a pool,
Try to stay cool.
Trashy novels galore,
Marshmallows and s’mores,
Rolling in grass,
Sweating ice tea glass.
Adventures by biking,
See nature by hiking,
Oh say can you see,
How well I can Frisbee,
And watch how I play
A mad game of croquet.
Hammocks for napping,
Butterfly trapping,
Relax on a swing,
To America we sing.
Just yakking and lazing,
Nighttime stargazing,
Daytime blue skies,
Making mud pies,
Telling white lies.
My how time flies.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's Summer and We Write of Love

Things I Love About You

I love your laugh.
It’s like a shot
of really fresh orange juice,
early in the morning.

I love hanging around
on the edges
of your interest
and your curiosity,

I love your honesty
and that
you love
all living things.

I love it when
you eat my cooking,
and only complain
a little bit.

I love your
sense of style.
It lifts me up
from blandness.

I love that
we can be
together for hours
and not talk.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


So many voices,
so many choices.
Where will it be?
What shall we do?
Will there be many?
Will there be few?
At the beach with a peach,
or in the park with a lark,
a twosome romantic,
or a field trip pedantic?
Potato salad, fruit salad (hugs),
chicken salad, tofu salad (ughs).
the kind mom made,
or ice cold beer,
like dad held dear.
Hummus and crackers,
or, better by far,
black bean salsa,
Texas Caviar.
As for the games,
there’s none that’s
that’s a loss,
from a three-legged race
to a messy egg toss.
There’s badminton, Frisbee,
horseshoes as well,
and the pie-eating winner
will be easy to tell.
Whatever the choices,
just get out in the fun,
and never forget,
it’s supposed to be fun.

Monday, July 18, 2016

from a Beach Boys' title

Today we are charged to name a poem after a Beach Boys' attempt:

You’re So Good to Me

You’re so lucky,
I said.
she asked.
you have had me
to love.
She laughed.
No, really,
I am so in need
of love, and you
have loved so well.
I tried,
she said.
Oh, way more than try.
You did so well.

And now?
Who will you love?
she said, at last

responding to a summer quotation

“The quarrels of lovers are like summer storms. Everything is more beautiful when they have passed.”    ― Madame Necker

Twelve Words

Please forgive me.
I forgive thee.
Thank you.
I love you, too

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Marie Elena

I think of her often,
living far away,
in a smallish place,
a friend to so many,
all living vastly flung.
I choose to think of her
with a broad smile,
sometimes a loud laugh,
at all times huggable.
I never consider
the possibility of frowns
or headaches,
or any other form of discontent.
It’s my daydream,
and I’ll have in it what I want.


Long ago, in our
small Wisconsin town,
where every need was met.
Just one grocery store,  
one diner,
thirty-two taverns,
plus five churches,
no less, no more.

It was between wars,
our fathers back from
overseas, our mothers in
the home once more.
Rationing over,
gardens still in style,
but frozen dinners had
their place for sure.

There were comics,
radio too,
pin-up girls galore,
Slinky’s, Silly Putty,
a fat-tire Schwinn
our greatest treasure,
save for sun and shore.

When the carnival
came to town,
there were posters in town,
shouting, "clowns, a Ferris Wheel,
games all around."
We tried ring-pegs, and
darts thrown at balloons,
and bean bags tossed at
boards on the ground.
There were wrestlers,
and goldfish in small bowls,
a ping-pong ball toss to win,
midst the noise of the hucksters,
 the freaky old clowns.

The thing I hold on to,
remembering now,
are the smells of the popcorn,
and corn dogs, cotton candy
spun out of nothing but air,
man how they'd wow.

It was the best of
a life filled with smiles
more than frowns.
In a life too complex
it’s a joy to recall
the day that the carnival
came to our town.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Capital F Friends

One of us will die first, one left behind.
One of us will remain, it’s just the kind
of deal we’re dealt, a true fact of this spin
of the wheel, however we feel, and it’s in
understanding this we can have the best
of this life, this true friendship, the real test
not in who dies first, in who longer lives,
but it’s the here and now which gives
a chance for joy to the two of us, a daily win,
not waiting for the future for our lives to begin.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Lake

That lake was everything to us,
bathtub in the summer,
a shortcut to town during winter,
source of food and fun.

darkly deep, muskie wide at one end,
shallow, bluegill small at the other,
a squiggly channel in the middle,
looking like a misshaped dumbbell.

Economically poor,
but we didn’t know it,
we all had a boat of some kind.
Mostly, they were rowboats,
aluminum if your dad had a good job,
an Evinrude motor on the back if
there was a rich uncle somewhere.

That lake had its mysteries,
ate a human or two every year,
sucked them down into the weeds,
next to the cars it swallowed every spring,
the ones driven on to the ice in March,
at the American Legion ice fishing jamboree.

In late spring, early summer,
before vacationers’ traffic clouded the surface,
you could drift idly,
see the ancient tree stumps below,
wonder what the land was like before the floe.

If you had a motor,
or a young person’s energy,
you could get out to Stumpy Bay,
or to Stone Bank,
where the best fishing was.

You’d see birds of every type,
small crabs near the shore,
could stare at the sky,
see where it joined the water, 
and if you stayed out late enough,
watch that lake swallow the sun,
waiting for the star show,
catching a night bonfire up the hill.

That lake was everything to us,
and I bet, on still days,
it served as a mirror
for God’s morning primp.
There are 10,000 lakes
in the state next door,
even more up north, in Canada,
but we only needed one,
and it made us richer than we knew.

Monday, July 11, 2016

take 10 phrases and make a poem

Old men can’t help themselves,
it’s the nature of the beast,
the looking back,
the wondering about change,
about the passing of time.
What of the lake,
so needed in the dog days of summer,
those lazy, hazy days from June to September,
when there was no A/C to crank up.
Is it still a playground without toys,
loved by local girls and boys?
No matter the age we make,
one can’t forget the days,
the unfettered joys,
shared with friends
that time has taken.
We ran through sprinklers,
back and forth, back and forth,
kissed by the sun before retreating
to the shade of an elm,
enjoying an ice cold glass of lemonade,
the kind our moms made.
Is the sky still cloudy in summer,
white puffs portending the arrival
of the thunderheads to come,
rolling in from the plains?
Do children still see them
like pages from a book,
stories ever changing,
always rearranging,
they, the authors, arguing
about the plots – is it a rabbit or mouse?
No! Can’t you see the kangaroo?
And the summer nights
under the stars,
the sights and sounds, the Northern Lights.
Still filled with crickets, owls and fireflies?
Mothers calling? Children whispering, telling lies?
We couldn’t hear them,
sitting, listening to the gentle waves
lapping at the shore,
not catching them like those California surfers,
just wishing we never had to leave our beach,
never, not ever,
just wanting to stay young and happy, evermore.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Early Anniversary Card

We’re growing older,
married nearly 46 years now,
but it doesn’t mean
we’ve lost any of our wow.
We’ve had many tropical moons,
and several sleepy lagoons,
yet there’s no less love,
none that we lack,
and I still love you
to the moon and back.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

What Are Days For?

The sky is vast, and sometimes
seems not of our world.
Even as the clouds weep,
and the earth cries out in pain,
it is possible
to love throughout the day,
to find joy midst the suffering.
Walking through our world,
it is possible
for every living soul
to have innate Buddhist wisdom,
being and acting as harmless
as they know how to be.
It is possible
to smother anger and hate,
to cover them with
charity, sympathy, tenderness, benevolence.
It is possible
to practice radical humility.
It is possible
to notice that what is convenient for us
is inconvenient for others.
It is possible
to slow down,
walk more slowly on the earth,
be healing and strong,
rejoice in the day.
What else are days for?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stopping by San Diego on a Sunny Day

This city mine, for six years now
is making its most seasoned bow
to guests and locals, everyone,
its sandy beaches and sunshine, wow.

We’ve grown accustomed to the sun,
we feel entitled, everyone.
The nights, while cooler, still hold their cheer,
no holding back the mid-year fun.

Our friends back east are very clear
about what matters, what is dear;
it’s family, and friends who matter so,
kept close at hand, in hearts, so near.

But the humidity’s too high, this I know.
I have promised no sweating, not ever, no.
I have rays to catch, snowbirds to tease,
I have rays to catch, a tan to show.

(thank you, Robert Frost)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Rainless Southwest Summers

Long, dark Ohio winter nights
gave way to sunlit days.
Frosty Dakota evenings passed,
now t-shirt wearing time.
Flowers bloom in Georgia
within the lowland haze.
New England churches freshly painted
from doors to bell tower climb.

Snowmelt is finally finished
as rivers fast and wide
released their fearful pressure,
and small northern towns rejoice.
Greenhouse shoots became
growing plants outside,
while Midwest farmers prayed for rain
with fervent, married voice.

Eastern cities are primed  
for what will be
until September calls, as
the awakening unfolds.
Visitors arriving on
their pilgrimage to see
long desired objects,
tourist tales waiting to be told.

The northwest has a too-fleet
visit from the heat,
and even that is tempered by
summer winds and rain,
but most are glad to be
without the snow and sleet
of winter, and welcome back
the season’s expats, yet again.

In the southwest the summer is
viewed more with a touch of worry,
as Snowbirds leave their second homes,
some east or northwest bound.
Winter’s days of sun and warmth
yield a different story than
in the nation’s other reaches,
where summer does not wound.

Southwest falls and winters,
and most clearly, spring,
are the reasons people visit,
and why many choose to stay.
but those remaining after March
know this one true thing,
that for this beauty, summer’s
heat is our yearly price to pay.

It’s not the small reminders,
like the early heat of May.
With nights still cool, it still
allows a dance or two, a song.
It’s that we know
spring’s rapid days
too soon are summer’s,
too often, too hot, too long.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer Triolet

A thought arises, lingers not, departs,
as our summer too soon becomes the fall.
This is true in writing, in all the arts.
A thought arises, lingers not, departs.
We must soon act on what is in our hearts,
lest we would forget, lose our soul, our all.
A thought arises, lingers not, departs,
as our summer too soon becomes the fall.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Where did it go, the first poem
before the keeping of things?
Did it just evaporate in a summer’s sun,
or incinerate in a winter’s fire?

Where did they go, those poems
created before the written word?
Were they, like dreams, soon forgotten,
fading in their fragility, simply fallen away?

How did they begin, the first poets,
walking side by side on a summer’s day,
or sitting alone, staring at the flames
in a cavern, free from cold?

What happened to those poets,
the beginners of the craft,
did they simply die alone, in reverent solitude,
a mere glimmer in a summer sky?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Getting Over Things

We are all
just passing through.
What’s now so old
was once quite new.
Things rise and fall,
they come and go.
Such impermanence
is just what’s so.
This is a happy thing,
not one of futility.
It can bring joy to one
practicing radical humility.
So, please awaken,
discover your Right Stuff,
be content in learning
how much is enough.

Feelin' Groovy

As inevitably as winter leads to spring,
leads to summer, fall follows.

Today looks to be a good day,
nothing too grand, nor magical
simply a few hours of quiet enjoyment,
some idle conversation with friends,
cheered on by the crisp sunlight of early summer,
hands shielding eyes against the glare,
smelling the ocean in the thin clouds,
down here, close to the border with Mexico. 

The frigid mornings of winter are gone now,
but summer still sleeps,
not quite ready for her big entrance.
We are just past the solstice, and she’s still young,
so, satisfied, we capture bits
of today’s breezy brilliance,
enlivened by the simple pleasure of it all,
grateful for this good day.

As inevitably as spring leads to summer,
fall must follow, and then again winter.

As assuredly as heart leads to joy,
love soon follows.
As completely as love leads to sharing,
peace eventually follows.
As securely as peace leads to calm,
life truly follows.
As predictably as life leads to death,
new life always follows.

And so it is. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Our Love

Like Hippolyta and Theseus,
with our love unfurled,
we bring order, stability,
steadfast loyalty,
bright light in a dark world.
Ours is not a dream,
there’s no magic in our art,
though to others it might so seem,
we simply play our part.
Cupid’s arrows never struck,
with mysterious love potions,
no magic flower picked by Puck,
creating dreamlike notions.
No accident, no stroke of luck,
we do not bumble,
seldom stumble,
satisfied each day
with what life has had to say.
No star-cross’d lovers,
hoping for do-overs,
no need for enchantment,
T’would just impede our way.
We’ve turned our dreams into reality,
true visionaries, we let life be.
Even if our love were a dream,
it would need to be embraced,
but no golden palace, no silver hill,
no white elephant need be chased.
Our love, like life,
though not a dream, remains
unfathomable, indescribable,
it simply sits there, glowing.
We cannot grasp it,
so we simply
bathe in its perplexity,
revel in its complexity,
be content in never knowing.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Okauchee Summers

It was a small town, just a village,
not even incorporated,
but it had elm trees and lilacs, a big lake,
and back then,
the homes weren’t yet outdated.
We were poor, but it was all of us,
 so we didn’t know it.
Everyone had gardens, fished and hunted,
wasted nothing that cost nothing,
shared their bounty, their friendship,
and neighborliness, they showed it.
Daytime fun was free, mostly in the lake,
but there was also tag and war and hide-and-seek,
and man oh man, the noise we’d make.
Neighboring farms had silos of corn and piles of hay,
and you don’t know kids if you think
we couldn’t turn that into play.
Nights were for crabbing, and fires and more,
on holidays, sparklers, marshmallows,
 y’know, non-chocolate s’mores.
But the best parts of the nights were reserved for the skies,
the stars and Milky Way, the awesome fireflies.
We’re blessed with more bounty now,
perhaps more reasons to smile,
yet, if I could go back….(oh, just for awhile).

Friday, July 1, 2016

Here and Now

There are no angry winds
in the Pure Land
of the Present Moment,
merely soft breezes to caress
as we walk,
hand in hand
with all living beings,
living fully,
cultivating compassion,
gathering flowers
of mindfulness.