In a Circle of Azure Light

I had just seen the half moon 

In a circle of azure light

And then a planet blinking 

Through the branches of a tree 

That danced with the singing wind

When the tinkling sound of bells

Reminded me that  goats

Were grazing  still

In those dark deepening 

shadows of  night.


How can we have such beauty 

And still close our hearts

To love.

How can we have come here


 for this little moment on earth

And still not hear the dove.


What are we doing

While we careen

 down the roadway of hate. 

How are we so distracted

By the ways we have 

Had to create

Such divisions, distinctions

Protracted conclusions

Based on emotions 

We never examine

Or sate.


We repeat the mistakes

Of the humans before us

The conflict the horror

The strife

Despite all our casings

Of advanced technological life.

We have come for the beauty

The grief , the delight

Even the horror of night.


But we continue to turn to our neighbor

As if she has not done the same

We call her by some other name

So that all of the sorrow we’ve felt here

Can have someone different to blame.

Ya Quddus, Kadosh, Kodesh



Holiness seeps in quietly

And soaks through every cell

Until there is nothing  left

but peace.


It has found me

WIthout warning 

In the midst of morning run

When a fragrant tree of  spring

The calling of a bird, 

Migrating in the air of every breath

Opened the flow of universe

Through doors of birth and death.


It has found me wandering 

In forests wet and green

When the patch of moss laid bare

under a curve of log

sent up its gentle scent.


It has awed me in those places

I least expect its grace.

In the midst of some cathedral

Built on dogma and distess

In the arches soaring upward

 We imagine flight

Where by some simple curvature 

of time and space

The vibrations of so many hearts

 Transform boundaries into light.


It has settled on me 

In the home

Of those women I have known

Whose every breath 

Has come directly

Through their beating hearts

In the  touch of hand on head

Cradled in a lap.


Yet it eludes me!

I forget it

When It is here in every moment

I wait to find it somewhere else

In memory or anticipation

In travel and in pilgrimage

Where the confluence of 

Time’s rivers 

In unending transmigration

Have left some silt of love. 


I seek it

Anywhere but here 

Where it nestles

Gently, present yet unknown

Its strength like  waves 

of  warm sweet breath

Of hibernating bears 

in caves.



This morning, in being still
For perhaps a moment or two
Everything was achieved.

All that wanting
All that noise
Bothering my body
Constantly crowding this mind
all day long
and maybe
Into the night
And in the silence
I accomplished
the whole of my life’s work.

When my mother was settling down
Into her last sleep
She murmured,
“I have accomplished”
And in floating away on the tide
Into the vast ocean of stillness
She found that that was that
And smiled.

What I find in the silence
Is that all this activity
All these mistakes
All this awkwardness and floundering
Is magnificent.

I swim in it.
I give way to what I am and
what is becoming of all that
in this moment

As in the waters of hot sulfurous springs
we find again the flowing emptiness,
the joy of finding we are nothing
All the noise we have drawn in
to make our way
wherever we have come to
is gone.

As when, in those days
and days without endings
between the worlds,
we floated in stillness
Beginning only now and then
To sense somehow
through the beating rhythm
Of everything we knew
to feel the vibrations
that would eventually
capture our soul.

Sing to the Weeds of Spring


Weeding in the garden

 at the end of day.

A day of rain that came and came 

and then stopped again

just as evening turned

And sun returned

Opening a window 

onto that brief passage

 of spring to summer skies


I weed the onions 

and think how grateful 

they now seem 

for all that space and light.

They will, I know

Suddenly expand and grow.


I do not pull weeds

But thin instead the plants

that now compete 

With those onions 

we planted, gently, in the spring

that I wish will grow

as big and sweet and strong 

As ever their heritage will allow.


The plants I pull

become the soil 

that will then nourish

All this ground 

And flourish from our toil


They are equal to the onions 

But take another place

In this garden

That will, with all that grows

 nourish blood

And become 

in time 

our bones.

Midsummer Dance



Lying in the tangled web 

Of the pains of life’s dark threads

The memory  of two butterflies

Rises  dancing in my head.


Yellow like the yarrow

Against the darkness of the trees

Sparkling in the sunlight from the vantage point

Of shade


I call out,

“See my darling! Look! “

And dancing for a moment with them

She is captured by their grace.

The Light Is So Unexpectedly Bright




The light is so unexpectedly bright
For this season of the year
The joy that rises when we hear
Those first light notes
of spring sparrow
Comes early now
while stiff, hard cold
still lingers
In the night.

What if winter never comes again
Will we remember
the crystal of the snow
The way it makes a show
Of whiteness
Of such purity
That delights us by what it conceals
And what it reveals
Of light and delight
Of cold faces
Of races
On sleds down hills
Crunching with the cold

What if winter stays always with us
And we must burn wood all the year
Will we fear what we hear
In the night
Will we shiver when we know that the fuss
Of the baby
In the cold cannot be told
To our soul
from despair.
Will we care?
Will our lives
still be dear?

Yes. Whatever comes
We are who we are.
We are part of all this.
We are the same as we were
Through the ice and the heat.
Through the wars and the droughts
Through the bitter and the sweet
What we will do
We will do.
But the earth will not be through.



In The Soft Darkness




Memories of beauties past

Are buried deep

Down twisting tunnels

In some dripping limestone caves

Where they seep

Through still clear waters


Till, from the darkness

Coy, as if in playful hiding

A hidden edge will glitter


As if asking to be found

Friendships forged and then forgotten

Fields of light on golden trees,

Floating seeds like snow of cotton

A dance, a whirl,

An eye that shoots

a flame of love

through all those flying winds of time

To burn again a pathway

Through my rhyme.

We lie together in the dark

While thoughts rise up

like feeding fish

In  warm waves

left from making love

that lap along our shores

When all things flow with ease

In the softness of the night.

These bits of beauty reappear

Attached by threads

of tenderness

Pulled up to taste the water

By some softness of the light.

Yet memories of sad mistakes wait

In easy reach

savage tigers ever

at the edges of  our sight

Any moment they will growl

and snarl with terror

and with might.

As we walk along

our well-lit paths

they lash out and they bite

Their horrid teeth

Can leave us maimed and raw and scraped

Writhing on the ground.

And then from there

Pursue us even

in the moonless desert

Of the night

My body

Which has carried children

In some hidden place

Where the warmth that grew within my heart

Swelled them into form

And that first child now has carried two

In the womb that came from womb.

This body made of meat and bones and air

Is still tall and straight and warm

My heart still pumps blood in steady beats

And sends cells in steady swarm

Through legs that still will move below

As far as I will dare to go.

When I was young and held

That first child

in my womb

There was a concert in a room

In the city where I lived

A city full of gleaming white

and government

And twice as much of black.

In a great hall with people packed in tight

Women drummed on big clay drums

They’d brought back 

from someplace on that continent

from which we all have come.

They brought deep inside themselves

Alll that they had learned

From th women of a tribe

who  kept the knowing of those times

that are older than the old

Who knew the emanations

That unfold

From vibrations in the stillness of each cell

From that space that lies within.

Here, lying in this room

I still feel the echoes of those drums

In my now long- empty womb.

I may not climb steep mountains

Or run the miles

that once have passed beneath my feet

I may be too far away to hug my daughter’s daughters tight

Yet my hands still pull the weeds from earth that does not wish

To let them go.

My feet can push a shovel deep enough

To plant a tree

I carry logs and could split them if I would

I ride a bike for miles, perhaps in pouring rain.

If needed, I could sleep in tents out on the ground.

I do not care so much if there are pains

As long as I can sleep and dream.

My grandmother was not of my blood

But of my heart

When I see her first, deep in grottos

Of my mind

Her soft form

Draped in shapeless floral cloth,

Yellowed apron tied high above the waist

She waits up high

at the top of some steep stairs

Whose wooden boards

I still can feel beneath my feet

and whose air was made

Of wafts of smoke from burning slag.

I climb to her,

my parents climb behind

She gathers me in folds of flowers

Smelling not of summer fields

But of the meat of cooking stew.

Which drifts also through that rusty screen

Nailed years before

on that front door

Whose peeling wooden frame

waits for my small hand

To reach the wooden knob

and pull so hard

That eagerness will propel me

Almost backwards in this game

to tumble, laughing

in those warm and flowered skirts.

And then through into that one big room

Where all is shared in this rough home,

the oval table covered with a cloth

A monster of an iron stove

that burned the dirty coal

From the mines beneath the town

And a wooden rocking chair

Where I could sit in that big soft lap

And hear the strange words travel back and forth

Across some enormous space

from mother to grown son, my father,

in some language with a music

so nearly understood.

While lunch bubbled softly in big pots

On the stove that clicked with heat.

And soon, she will take me by my hand

And lead me up more stairs

to  two small bedrooms on the floor above.

In the first, her dresses trapped on wire,

hang along a wall.

No closet here, just fabric drawn across.

And a high wide bed with stool to climb

and plop myself on feather beds

where she and I will sleep.

And there, on the pillow to the left

I’m sure to find the fabric horse with mane and tail of yarn

Always of a different cloth. Eye bright with yellow thread.

She will neigh to me. And as I have done before,

I’ll grab this new fine mare

and hold her close.

Already, in my mind, she has become

A member of the small herd

That waits for her back home.

There was only once

I ever saw my father cry

It was the day she died,

When I saw him, in the small dim kitchen

Of our familiar home,

lean suddenly back

As if too weak to stand

And brace against

The cold white metal fridge

He sobbed.

The tears flowed and he could not

Even think to cover up his face

with hands I knew so well.

Yet, he could not but show

His face so raw, so open,

That I dared hardly look.

They traveled to see her buried

Leaving me behind

But I got my natter in

With my daring scheme

Of climbing through a basement window

WIth a willing friend

And making such a mess

The two of us, just eight,

Dared each other to such brave acts of gluttony

in that quiet kitchen, out of bounds.

Called to dinner,

We left dishes smeared with chocolate cake,

And ice cream melting on the ground.

So it was when they returned,

TIred out and worn

with all that drinking

Of vodka toasts, the tears, the tales

The uncles and the aunts

that take and take

They could not just sit in peace at last

But must feel instead the anger blast

The disappointment surge

And I the shame

Of that mistake.

Where am I in all this shifting imagery

of human minds

Grandmothers of all kinds

We move about as if on some huge and

Checkered board where chess is being played

The queen that travels every way

Through space

And also time.

Grandmother now, I lie awake

Floating on these tides of love

Wending my way along the paths

My spirit chose to take

While the tigers, for these moments,

Slumber tamely as the dove

And the rhythm of my lover’s breath

Lifts me in its wake.


I Sleep for You

I sleep for you, my beloved,
My darling one,
I sleep for you when you do not sleep
When your love for another keeps you awake
Hanging on the sound of her breath.

I take a remedy for the pain in my head
That took up residence
During a night of sobbing
For your pain.
It penetrates the membranes of separation
To ease the searing in your head
You have no choice but to endure.

I sing to you the songs I sang
When you dozed in the crook of my arm.
The Broadway tunes,
The song about a blackbird singing in the night
Knowing it will ease the flow
From day to dark.

I breathe in light and breathe out strength
Straight Into your lungs, into that body you drag
From one act of love to another
All day long, one day after another
With no rest.
I breathe for you.
Long, greedy breaths
Filled with life.

I walk through the forest,
Seeking beauty for you
Filling your nose with drafts of moist earth,
Filling your aching spaces
With the music of the pure blue sky
The vibrating gold of an autumn leaf
As it flutters down.
I drawn it in, deep, so deep,
and fill you with it all.

It is you who are seeing it, you who are smelling it
You who hear the slight call of a bird
Fluttering into winter
As the wind moves all the leaves
Of burnished umber
In a dance that enchants your every fiber.

It is you, my beloved, whose cells multiplied
Here inside this body.
Now as then, I breathe for you,
I cover your feet in the middle of the night
Without thought
When I am cold
As my mother did for me
As you do for the bodies that emerged
From the chemistry of cells
Deep within the earth of you.

My blood nourishes you
As the sunlight coming through my window
Here in another faroff land
Penetrates our eyes.
Laughing, breathless with joy
I hear my heart crack
And break from all moorings
As when a rock cliff splits
WIth the unending force
of wind and water.

And again I break away
From all I know of me
Flooded with these hot tears
Of molten love.


Walking in Both Worlds

In the woods
a presence floats along
Up over rocky places
Rough and steep
Finding a place to make its way
Attached as it must be
To the pull of earth
Hearing bird song once,
then again in some other now
And then again

The flies that bite when motion stops
Bite, and bite again 
Tasting what must be sweat on flesh
Causing a pain somewhere
A sharp prick
And are gone
Themselves made of emptiness and light
With some slight sound
A buzz, perhaps a hum.

The air moves all around
The shadows, green and black
Shift back and forth , pushed here and there.
The sky above is blue.
As if of nothing but itself
A sense of heat and dampness
Sings with its liquid notes
Water somewhere on the peripheries of sound.
The deepness of the green.

Up and up through heated air and cool
where other spirits are themselves
Awake. Or perhaps these trees, enormous
And so full of what they have become
Of air and earth and water, quiet
Are asleep and dreaming of this presence
As it floats along
As if in some gel
Of stillness, brewing heat
and love.



For Beauties Lost



I cried today
For beauties lost, small moments passed
Sifting through as if an hourglass
Each grain shining as the force of time
Pulls along without a sign
That it too will fall from view
To be caught in well-springs deep within
Where it will glitter briefly
When light slants through, bright and true
And pulls tears of joy and loss
From a heart full since broken
More than twice

My daughter stands by some device
In front of rows of chairs and wooden stage
Violin to chin, making music sing
At some young age,
Such sweetness danced behind my eyes
That tears welled up and I wept
For such a moment deeply kept
Somewhere hidden within a cell
Where only dreams are said to dwell.

And then the moment when,
Having watched and run and breathed
With such abandon on the grass
The ball at last with one swift pass
Arrived just where he’d known it should
My blond young son had kicked it straight
With a slight lithe leap, it flew so neat
And so direct to find
The middle of that net.
Bouncing back, we clapped so hard and cheered
My heart so filled with beauty it was seared
Forever, soaked with love within my mind.

And now, in this moment where I sit
I hear the liquid strains of violin
Coming from a box within
this box that seems to move me right along
Driving past woods themselves alive with song
Blossoms drip from apple trees
Where savage flowers in random beauty grow
Below, so many forms I’ll never know

The liquid that has touched my cheeks
Is that which makes all essence flow
Amidst this green that spring makes grow
I drown in some sweet sorrow
We’ll call love.