Monday, May 18, 2015

Music Says

You can plan and dream
You can craft your future
Like a child with a toy
And still
When the moment comes
When you find the experience
Stepping up to greet you
You’re never ready
You’re never prepared
For the first kiss of reality
The bright light in the darkness and the sound
Of recognition that
Tugs the corners of your mouth into a smile
And you can wade into the sea
With all the other travelers
Writing music
From the edge of your heart
Catch your breath and just
Go deeper

The ragged edge of anticipation
Sinks into Friday night
Like a long lost friend
Realizing the interval
Between the dream of love
And its negation is as thin
As a whisper of air
In a cracked doorway
You can almost dare yourself to cross the boundary
And entertain the unadorned idea –
It could be (no, really) – it might be –
Just stop and close your eyes
No act of will allowed
You got to take a breath

And what do you do
When someone asks you to make a memory?
It has to be an endless sort of idea –
Nothing flashy or fly by night –
You just have to give yourself
The time to think
And remember good times by the fire
Golden light speaks in a
Universal language

There’s a certain feeling as you’re lying in bed
Your arm splayed out to the night
And the molecules in your hip
Are settling
And you remember your body
As a familiar home
I’m telling you now, give thanks for it
Keep track of it
And when that sense of wonder
Comes upon you – when it fills your lungs
And makes your heart beat faster,
It’s not just your

Don’t we all love fiction?
You know you get drawn into it
Even against your will
Ain’t it fine?
Ain’t it worth it?

What’s really weird is
People laugh at stuff I’ve actually done
On a serious tip
Sometimes it takes years
To be able to laugh at yourself
It takes a stranger
To see the advantages, don’t it?

I’m glad I stepped over that threshold
I’m glad I fell
I’m glad I took the chance
To make that mistake
I’m glad I have the old scars
That turned into some kind of
Elegant tattoo (who knew?)
Are jubilation and resignation
Two sides of the same coin?
Perhaps a slight adjustment
To choose heads or tails

I know what my secret is
I know how to keep a fire going
It’s something I learned in my old age
How to cup my hands around
The base of the flame
And feed it with the
Ineffable joy of non-attachment

Someone who can hold himself
Who can hold himself back
What I’d give
You can smile and say
A lot with such a one
In a small space
And let the water plunge
Over the waterfall
On its own course,
That desire that builds up,
We knew it all our lives
It’s not feigned nor forced
What people call destiny
Is just what can’t be sidestepped
No matter how hard
You did or didn’t try

(May 15, 2015)
Written during a performance by folksinger Chris Trapper at River Station, Poughkeepsie, NY

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Happiness isn't distraction
True happiness doesn't necessarily smile
It comes from a deep sense of place
And understanding

The mystical golden sunset
Sinks behind the charcoal trees
Under the dark cerulean clouds
Of an uncertain Spring

The little bird
Sings his same
Three notes
Outside my window

Soon I'll cut vegetables
And add to the soup
With coriander and turmeric
For company

If company
Is too strong a word
Then sustenance
Will do

I didn't see the art exhibit
Or the sand mandala today
But the sky etched into my consciousness

A man below
Sings the same
Three notes to
Entice the bird

I salute him silently
Without words
And he disappears
Into the elegant trees.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Birthday for Margaret

Even her freckles have freckles
That was a phrase someone said when I was young
I think of my mother
Whose skin is always happy
Like a summer day
Not overly freckled like a devoted sunbather
More like a sprinkling of fairy dust

She will smile and the world
Has to smile back
She seems to have enough love
To fill the room, the yard, the road, the town
And all for miles around
And then beyond that to the open fields
And to countries her feet have never touched

It’s the mark of an open heart
To frown at injustice
And just as quickly to apply the remedy
My mother has a remedy for every ill
She taught me home medicine before it was in style
She taught me tolerance and progressive thought
Before they were commonplaces in the land

She wears her age with ease
It seems her face just gets more beautiful
Her walk more steady
Her hands more sure
Her voice more lilting
All those experiences and memories
Don’t seem to crowd her at all

Maybe it’s her energy
Like lighting in the springtime
She can jump to a topic or activity
What would you like for dinner
Let me read you this article
Do you need a sweater
We should visit our old friend

People think ninety is a ripe age
But Mom hasn’t ripened yet
She’s like a magical tree
Still bearing fruit
That’s ever-young
And the twinkle in her eye
Is well-earned

She wears her beauty naturally
Like her hair never colored
Her eyes free of makeup
She never shows an ordinary vanity
Yet when she looks in the mirror I’m sure she sees
The Fairy Queen herself
Looking back.