Monday, May 25, 2009

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with our foe:
To you from falling hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. If
ye break faith with us who die We
shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.

---Canadian Lt. Col. John McCrae
after the Battle of Ypres, Belgium, 1915

Sunday, May 17, 2009


They stand there
every Sunday morning
in black—
Their signs
“Peace” “Justice”
giving them voice, giving me

To the tourists and the families going to church
And the grocery shoppers like me
They speak, in silence
yet shouting,
shouting that the wars
this country is fighting
might make no sense
and there are other choices—
perhaps we should think about that
at least until the light turns green.

They stand there
black clothes, white signs
stark in the spring sunshine, blue sky.

This week, the lawyers and the colonels
and the former vice president
still defend our government’s torture
and imprisonment without
trial, without
and, perhaps,
we should think about

The light turns green, and I move on down the street
to put away my bananas and olives
to plant my geraniums, and

May, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Retreat, A Finding

but not really
I am still here, and the world still exists—
yet, I have run away, and the to do list is left at home
and the pile at work now lies unattended.

Nearby, the ocean waves crash, and the late afternoon wind blows
and songs and poems and other thoughts stir to life
and may find themselves flung by the Muse
onto my lap, and in need of being expressed
in whatever form may come about today.

Stripped of my daily duties, I find myself light and unburdened,
ready to take in the offerings of the Muse and
wrestle the thoughts that fly through
down onto the page, brought to light
at last.

Warrior poet that I am, ready for this battle
it is time to let the fresh wind blow
taking the stink of too many rainy days of late
and wipe away the dust, and move the rubble out.
Begone. I am free.

Down to the bones, down to the simple notes of the melody
the beat of the drum, the clear pickings of the guitar—
time for what needs to be heard, to be written
and nothing else.

Today, not a retreat, but a cleansing, a


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Country Walk, Country Tune

Real Spring is finally here, the kind of day where you aren’t bundled up in fleece and the first shoots of green leaves aren’t covered with frost. The wind doesn’t slice through you, biting at your skin.

It is the kind of day where a walk through the woods finds your nose smelling a light sweetness, and you think you are dreaming of honey soaked cookies fresh from the oven. No, it really is the smell of a wild flower, floating on the warm breeze along the trail by the river. Foliage is bursting out all over, delicate leaves and tiny flowers on nearly everything that is coming up from the dark richness of the forest soil.

The river races by below me, still fresh with the yesterday’s rain, but clearing, with the rocky pools a deep green, even a bit of blue, and the sun filters through the newly opened leaves of the alders, and the new, tight buds of the Douglas firs.

My camera and I enjoy the walk along the trail, taking in the trilliums, the bleeding hearts, and even the new Johnny Jump-ups, while the new fiddles of the sworn ferns and princess ferns unfurl. All too soon, the forest floor and this path will be shaded by the broad leaves of the Big Leaf Maples, the vine maples, and the alders towering above them. But, today, the white drooping flowers of the Big Leafs and the delicate double red flowers of the vine maple show their colors, and take center stage.

My leg muscles stretch and strain a bit, getting used to the slope of the trail and the newness of an hour hiking, and its warm enough that I sweat a bit, breathing in the sweet scent of flowers and the earthy river water, tumbling across the boulders and basaltic ledges of the river bed, washed nearly clean with last winter’s floods.

In a bit, I’ll be picking my guitar, and finding chords for old country songs, and waltzes, feeling the rich, long notes of the fiddle, and the high, sweet notes of a mandolin will fill my heart with songs of joy, of old times. And, the warmth of the day will be felt on my guitar and the sweetness of the wildflowers will sing through my heart, as I raise my voice with the others, sharing our chorus of the old country tune.

May, 2009