Mary Oliver, a wonderful poet, talked about our one wild and precious life
And yet, the longer I live, regardless how lonely I may feel,
I’m reminded my life is not mine alone, but shared
With all those around me, before and after me,
I’m connected and dependent, whether I want to be or not.
Without others, not just human, I would soon die alone.
Feeling lonely and being alone are two very different things;
Regardless of what I think or how I feel.
This life is not mine, but ours;
Best to spend it then and do what I can.
For I am never physically alone;
Rather completing a link I don’t always see.
Like one more grain of sand that makes up
A beach on a body of water,
On a planet amidst others, and others, and others;
So many others that it sometimes doesn’t matter
Regardless of whatever I am thinking or feeling right now.
The First Noble Truth of May
The younger we are the more anticipation;
The desire to celebrate the new.
The older we are the greater the hesitation
To suffer what we’ve already learned is true.
There is pain in every day
And joy if we can recognize it;
Wherever you find the joy
There is pain at the base of it.
“No mud, no lotus” it is said;
“No garbage, no flowers,” – oh, happy May.
However you want to say it:
Suffering is the one sure way.
We cannot avoid the pain
It’s the price for being alive.
Oh, there may be a silver lining
But pain is the main drive.
From birth pangs to growing pains
To sickness and death;
Might as well get used to it,
There’s pain in every breath.
Waiting for the Meds to Kick in!
Living in nature is such a wondrous life
And yet, when you’re allergic to so many things
Your eyes and nose drip and your throat is raspy
You need some medication while you listen to nature sing
Are the tradeoffs worth it; meds for natural views,
Natural sounds and natural ways?
So far they are, but like life itself
I foresee a day when the meds may wear me down
But in the meantime it’s so inspirational
Just to look around
Thank you Mother Earth, Thank you Mother Nature,
Everything feels better when the meds finally kick in.
Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First
Life’s been hard for a while now
Pandemic, aging and other duress
Her husband no longer cares for her
And her adult son cannot handle the stress
Too tough, too messy, too hard, too old
No one wants her help or care
Husband and son want out “Right Now!”
They both want her out of their hair
And so, she cries, she worries, she frowns
And then gives them what they want
She finds another place to live
Her own cross-town apartment
This wasn’t how she hoped life would go
This double-threat dose of strife
But she practices smiling inside and out
She continues on with her life
Maybe things will change in time
But Right Now she needs to breathe
She dons her smiling mask until
Her smile is something she can bequeath
To someone, anyone, if not the ones
She originally intended this love
For all life must continue on
Until sunshine returns above
Until someone returns her love.
Less Than 250 Miles Away
Another mass shooting, this time near the airport
That makes 130 dead so far this year.
TGIF means something different today:
For the newly dead and the others in their life.
And today’s headlines remind us
What we consider newsworthy.
How we sensationalize our despair.
Tell people how to go out with a bang.
Life is such a crap shoot
So much anger, so much grief
We’re born and we die
Some by design, some by misfortune
What the hell, what the …..
How can we respond to this?
I’m just trying to be a decent human being:
Oh, don’t want to forget: have a great weekend, now.
And So We Remain*
When I was much younger, it seemed to me, that adults were so confused.
Working so hard, gnashing of teeth, so much done in vain;
Attempting to ascend to the next class,
Acquire whatever products signified gain:
Status, cars, clothing, housing
All the paraphernalia of success so that,
Ultimately they could relax with,
The right group in the right place
Enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Of course, the right group was different than the one they were in;
The right place was much nicer, sunnier, more resort-like;
The right life so much different than what they had.
Yet with every new item, new toy, new thing,
They were so quickly left in the dust by someone else doing them one better.
“Keeping up with the Joneses”; such a fool’s errand; no satisfaction lasting very long.
But what about the beauties of life:
The rising and setting sun,
the position of the moon
the stars in the night sky
or the waves on a lake?
All available for free; available like the air that we breathe.
I’m much older now and sadly little seems to have changed.
*”And so we remain in this muddle all the days of our lives.” The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation, Mirabai Starr (Hampton Roads: 2013), p.143.
What Is Truth?
Your truth, my truth, does anyone own the truth?
Your god, my god, how many gods do we need?
To care for those who need care;
To heal those who are sick;
To feed those who are hungry;
How many gods do we need?
I know the thunder and lightning are scary
I know I didn’t make myself
I know somedays its wet and cold
And other days hot and dry
But I also know that when we are kind,
When we look out for each other,
Our lives are easier and happier
Our smiles tell me what is true
So spin some stories, if you like,
About the hunter in the sky,
The big and little dipper,
Sending comfort to all that cry.
But let’s not argue over gods
Let’s not fight over truth
Instead let’s share blankets
A Friend’s Life Matters
He asked me if I thought he’d make it
Survive his open heart surgery
“Yes, I do” I replied, clear and plain,
“There’s still a lot for you to do”
He said he wasn’t afraid to die
And agreed that much remained yet undone
He showed me his office filled with papers
He talked about the requests for his archives
He recalled his written yet unpublished work
And his thoughts for more to write
He talked about his second son’s wedding to-come
He looked forward to a granddaughter’s visit
His beehives needed tending
He could get back in shape easily
If he could only breathe easier
It wasn’t asthma after all
But need for an artery bypass or two
He wasn’t afraid to die
And there was still plenty to do before he died.
His life still mattered
What A Baby Can Teach Us
Inside, outside, now I lay me down
Not for long, mind you, nothing lasts very long
But for now, and maybe tomorrow, and maybe another month
Noticing my breath I am grateful once again
I can notice and appreciate their every little breath
Regardless of the outcome, or the income, or any welcome at all
To sleep perchance to wake up, what more could I ask
Merrily, merrily or maybe not so merrily
We row our boats. Oh, what a delight it would be to dream
Or even just to sleep the whole night through.
NOT NEW, BUT NEW FOR US
I remember before my parents divorced that Dad always had a new car
He was a fan of the slogan, “New, every two”
But after the divorce I didn’t see him for many years
And my Mom never had a new car of her own.
When her car broke down or stopped running
When the car repairs were too many or too costly
She would just trade up to the next best thing available
Never new, but better, at least for a while.
Until it too “broke down or died or whatever” she would say,
“Time for another new car.”
No, her cars were never new, but they were new for us.
Like most marriages, most cars don’t last very long.
One Tree, One Lonely, February Afternoon
In the middle of a field, far apart from the others, that lie in the woods to the West,
Stands a tree, all alone, exposed on every side; a tree looking different from the rest.
How did this tree end up here, all alone, in this place? Does a tree ever have a choice?
Perhaps the seeds of our ancestors blow where they will and all we have is our voice,
To the tell truth as we know it, however small that may be, in whatever field we find ourself.
Sometimes, what stands out, catches our eye, until it ends up on a mantle or a shelf.
Alone and lonely are two separate states but sometimes they’re intertwined,
Like the branches of a tree, one lonely afternoon, in a late February state of mind.
Sunrise before the Sun appears
Slowly, the black sky turns blue and the bare winter trees reveal their emptiness;
From this direction, I cannot yet see the Sun but know it’s there, somewhere to the East.
I’ve lived for more than sixty years and seen many sunrises in my life;
Each mark a new beginning: will today bring “fresh Hell” or fresh yeast?
Or am I a co-creator, fashioning my own universe?
Is the cosmos a blank page inviting each artist to design
Whatever near future they desire, whatever near past they leave behind?
Do sixty-some years expand or restrict? Can we resurrect or must we resign?
But now, the blue sky grows brighter and feathery white clouds materialize,
Orange and yellow highlights announce that the full Sun will soon be here;
And now, my mood grows brighter reflecting the nature I see;
Here and now is oh so pleasant, no past nor future to fear.
I Need A Change of View
I need a change of view, not just sight but heart too.
The snow has fully melted and Spring cleaning comes to mind.
So many things to do, so many things to undo.
Mend the fences, pick up branches, groom the trails, what are the chances
That all of this will be delayed, once I find
More urgent repairs needed once the puddles have receded?
I need a change of view. Looks like Spring will more than do.
A Man Needs An Exit
Six inches of snow on a 300 foot driveway and the only tool I have is a shovel.
The driveway connects to a gravel country road not yet, nor likely never to be, plowed.
My wife says not to worry “It’ll melt in a week and there’s no need to leave the house anyhow.”
I say “More snow on the way; I’d rather shovel twice than have more than 6 inches tomorrow.”
So, I go out, slow but sure, I shovel width and length, I’ll shovel all day if I must.
You see a man needs an exit, another way out, to avoid a slow death inside the house.
Call it cabin fever, call it what you want; a man never wants to feel trapped.
By weather or by woman, it’s important to have an exit, cleared well, in advance.
So when she asks why I shovel when I could just wait, she knows the answer clear as day.
“Just to do it now, and maybe twice if I have to”, is all I will say.
Mother Nature Doesn’t Care
A second impeachment trial fails to convict
What appears to be an open and shut case.
How does a criminal go free, time and time again,
Is there any justice at this time or in this place?
Are our words just delusion, our government just a farce;
Does not truth mean a thing anymore?
Another snowstorm in full swing and
The forecast says there’s more;
Enough with words and acrimonious display;
Political theatre won’t get me very far.
Mother Nature doesn’t care about who’s right or who’s wrong.
It’s time to shovel out the car.