Mystery at the Door

believing in a thousand

fragile and unprovable things

—Mary Oliver

It’s not even distance that matters:

how many miles, how many years,

how many inches on the map. I believe

in the leap, the untying of strings,

the improbable learning to fly.

I believe in the wings that beat in the chest,

the sky concert where song unfolds in the breath.

I believe in praising the ache as it blossoms

in heartbreak’s bountiful soils. In scouring.

How a whispered yes unleashes ninety-nine butterflies.

A kiss becomes wave. A blue flames ignites the universe.

Blink. Unblink. Reach. Receive. I believe

in unbuilding the walls that we’ve made.

I believe in opening. Unproving. Praise.

Poem for When You Are Far Away

“In one of his sermons, the Buddha described reality as a display of pearls—each pearl reflects all of the others, as well as the palace whose facade they decorate, and the entirety of the universe. This comes down to saying that all of reality is present in each of its parts. This image is a good illustration of interdependence, which states that no entity independent of the whole can exist anywhere in the universe.”

—Matthieu Ricard

In this pearl, a dead end rung with pine.

In this pearl, sweet sauce and ripe mango.

In this pearl, a warm midday breeze.

Your face. My face. Winter’s blue sky,

all strung on the same long strand …

and now the moon waxes milkier,

slight tinkle of frost clinks the crystalline air,

and there in that pearl, the lemon of summer,

and in this one, the aloe for all that burns.

Which is all. The pearls turn, turn, turn

to mirror, to echo, to reflect all that shines.

No. I am trying to say something more.

That everything  shines, my love,  see it here

in your face reflected, oh! shining, in mine.

20–Palm Reading

Palm Reading and Genuine Gratitude


last night we shared our hands

the palm reader exposing the

lines we came in with still

we have to fill in the story

lines tell these our feast mates

the details of lives lived

knowing we are kin

to stars and whales and each

other person sitting in the circle

of love that is our birthright

whether of DNA or blood

or just the bones of our humanity


your lesson is love or guilt she told us

or maybe joy I added joy the pure

ecstasy that follows gratitude

so what are you so grateful for you

want to dance and sing and thank

god almighty for her amazing gift

maybe your forever lover or your robust

body, your keen or plain old happy

mind, your capacity to kiss and

handle touch or give a dollar to

the guy who plays guitar like a

troubadour in the mall

in front of Borders or the small

time we had to go outside and

sit with the half-moon of grace

the food we take for granted

our lesson of love or guilt

or have we learned those lessons

some of us who have grown

old and weary learned to be grateful

for age in the shadow of Hollywood

now that’s genuine gratitude

Apparently I Was Taken Seriously

O love, O pure deep love, be here, be now

Be all; worlds dissolve into your stainless endless radiance,

Frail living leaves burn with you brighter than cold stars;

Make me your servant, your breath, your core.


When I asked to be love’s servant,

I was sent a spool and asked to coil the length

of the November’s wind. I was sent a net and told

to gather all the midday blue. I was asked to sieve

the moon’s reflection from the pond and then

to count the breaths between the dawn and

evening’s dim. Build a fire from stone. Put it out

with bare hand. Build a bridge with my spine.

Make a soup of tears. I did it. Did it laughing. Obeyed

every wish. Sit with silence, said love.

Sit with fear. Sit alone.

No work harder than nothing,

nothing to be done.


at 3 A.M. I woke to hear the

words of Christ in my waking sleep

it is more blessed to give than receive

and i knew the blatant error of this

world culture  so different from the

potlatch giveaways of our continental

ancestors who understood this simple

truth to give is where the happiness

lies beyond what liberation taught me

in the sixties beyond what getting paid

became the path to work beyond this

get to give i find the deepest pleasure

in work and play the day makes sense

in the open hand the free we call it

free from strings from greed from need

even the promise is that if we give in sacred

secret then a grateful universe rewards in

multitudinous abundance more than any

charge  or fame or grandiosity could give








sing the world because the world might just end

and so I sing along with every song—

the river’s drum, the refrigerator whirr,

black hum of the highway, murmur

of dry grass, the rumors of fire, mumble

of hunger in the cavernous belly

and all those silvery sighs of the stars—

and if the world did end I would leave it

with a song on my lips, with your song

still riding the stirrup of my middle ear,

and with the sky’s vast language still spiraling

in my lungs, my blood, my grateful dust.