“I look for the words, Professor. I look for the words because I believe that the words is the way to your heart.” ― Cormac McCarthy, The Sunset Limited

Everybody Knows

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Continue reading “Everybody Knows”

A Street

I used to be your favorite drunk
Good for one more laugh
Then we both ran out of luck
Luck was all we ever had
You put on a uniform
To fight the Civil War
You looked so good I didn’t care
What side you’re fighting for

It wasn’t all that easy
When you up and walked away
But I’ll save that little story
For another rainy day
I know the burden’s heavy
As you wheel it through the night
Some people say it’s empty
But that don’t mean it’s light

You left me with the dishes
And a baby in the bath
You’re tight with the militias
You wear their camouflage
You always said we’re equal
So let me march with you
Just an extra in the sequel
To the old red white and blue

Baby don’t ignore me
We were smokers we were friends
Forget that tired story
Of betrayal and revenge
I see the Ghost of Culture
With numbers on his wrist
Salute some new conclusion
Which all of us have missed

I cried for you this morning
And I’ll cry for you again
But I’m not in charge of sorrow
So please don’t ask me when
There may be wine and roses
And magnums of champagne
But we’ll never no we’ll never
Ever be that drunk again

The party’s over
But I’ve landed on my feet
I’ll be standing on this corner
Where there used to be a street

–Leonard Cohen

When You Are Old

All Is Temporary

by William Butler Yeats

WHEN you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,

W.B. Yeats

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The Unfaithful Earl

Start your Halloween at Spillwords with “The Unfaithful Earl”

With one exception, no one in the pub that night had heard the story of the unfaithful earl with a spear in his guts…. At least, not since they were children.

It was a quiet evening. Truth be told, it was like most evenings in the little village.9767712_f520

This night was running down in the same way. Nothing moved outside, or inside, except for calls for refills by the few villagers who remained.

But just before closing time, Robert Mordrum, a local farmer, burst into the low-beamed gathering place just before closing, white-faced and speechless.

Continue reading “The Unfaithful Earl”

Jesus Was A Homeboy

by Kevin Carey

he came with a pillow sack over his shoulder

took the triple decker loft that leaked when it rained,

talked all day about the jungle, the piles of dope,

the sins of his m-16,

talked about it when he walked the floor at three a.m.

threw open the window and yelled into the street


talked to the guys on the corner who bagged his coin

and passed him weed and beat him once good

for going on too long,

talked day after day, night after night, talked to the traffic,

the cab drivers, the police, the priests,the nuns,

talked to the guys in the steam room at the YMCA

and the kids playing basketball in the schoolyard

who called him “Jezu the cuckoo.”

Talked in the rectory the night he flipped a table

at a prayer meeting for vets

walked home with his rosary beads around his fist

shaved his head and stood in the rain

in a white satin robe he bought overseas

a few men in a circle around him watching the suffering.


Kevin Carey is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Salem State University. He writes poetry, fiction and stage plays. His work can be found in several literary journals, The Apple Valley Review, The Literary Review, The Comstock Review, and The Paterson Literary Review.

Reading To My Kids

by Kevin Carey

When they were little I read
to them at night until my tongue
got tired. They would poke me
when I started to nod off after twenty pages
of Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket.
I read (to them) to get them to love reading
but I was never sure if it was working
or if it was just what I was supposed to do.
But one day, my daughter (fifteen then)
was finishing Of Mice and Men in the car
on our way to basketball.
She was at the end when I heard her say,
No, in a familiar frightened voice
and I knew right away where she was.
“Let’s do it now,” Lennie begged,
“Let’s get that place now.”
“Sure, right now. I gotta. We gotta,”
and she started crying, then I started crying,
and I think I saw Steinbeck
in the back seat nodding his head,
and it felt right to me,
like I’d done something right,
and I thought to myself, Keep going,
read it to me, please, please, I can take it.

“Reading to My Kids” by Kevin Carey from Jesus Was a Homeboy. © Cavan Kerry Press, 2016. (buy now)

Drizzle by Cemal Süreya — Leonard Durso

Originally posted on Leonard Durso: The stars were on the sidewalk As if at the Prophet’s coming Because it had drizzled the night before Dizzy like a cloud, I left her house Skipping, skipping on the stars Pleased as punch in the moonlight Playing hopscotch As at the Prophet’s coming Because it had drizzled the night before.…

via Drizzle by Cemal Süreya — Leonard Durso

My first — AM Roselli was here

Well, what can I say? My moment of truth has arrived. Come mid-December, my first book filled with my heart and dreams will be out there orbiting reader-land. I can only hope it will alight upon many a curious traveler. I honestly don’t know how love of the monster will be received. I’ve created a […]

via My first — AM Roselli was here

Where There is Hope

Everywhere, “People wish to be settled,”
 Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded us, “but only insofar as we are unsettled is there any hope for us.”

I’ve been a full-time writer now for 34 years. And the one thing that I have learned is that transformation comes when I’m not in charge, when I don’t know what’s coming next, when I can’t assume I am bigger than everything around me. And the same is true in love or in moments of crisis. Suddenly, we’re back in that trishaw again and we’re bumping off the broad, well-lit streets; and we’re reminded, really, of the first law of travel and, therefore, of life: you’re only as strong as your readiness to surrender.

–Pico Iyer

Wyoming Highways

Dawn in the high desert country near Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Dawn in the high desert country near Cheyenne, Wyoming.

by William Notter

Most of the traffic is pickup trucks
caked in bentonite from the methane roads,
or one-ton flatbeds with dually axles
and blue heelers balancing on the back.
But the blacktop slicing through rabbit brush flats
and weather the color of heated steel is perfect
for opening up a highway-geared American car
from the days of cubic inches and metal.
You could wind that Detroit iron up
to a sweet spot well above the posted limit,
where torque will casually pull the grades.
The car would rock on the springs, and growl
from deep in the carburetor throat
yanked wide open, gobbling down pure light.


“Wyoming Highways” by William Notter from Holding Everything Down. © Southern Illinois University Press, 2009.  (buy now)

Shared because I’ve spent time in Wyoming, and this is good description, and because I love the lines
“But the blacktop slicing through rabbit brush flats
and weather the color of heated steel is perfect
for opening up a highway-geared American car
from the days of cubic inches and metal….”

The Buoyancy of Light



A blistered moon falls above a blasted land
Where thin winds flip grains of sand;
Where once a shallow sea sang sweetly to the moon,
And sheltered bizarre creatures in the shallows and deeps.

But for 100 million years past the rocks have forgot
What humidity feels like, and know only dust
And thin breezes,
And the silence of forever.

But still the moon rolls past, night after night,
Playing its pale beams over the sands, looking, looking,
Sending seductive waves of gravity,
Searching abandoned places,
Reaching out to nothingness,
Not knowing futility, only
The buoyancy of light.

(revised/new art)


Dog Days


Guest post

like dogs, summers come 
young and exuberant
grow old and lazy and sweet
die too soon
eventually, we’ll get another one
but there will be a little less room, in us,
for it

–by John Stanfield

Note: John is just getting started in this and would appreciate feedback and comments.

A Writer I Like

‘Morning…. This is a writer friend I’ve recently found, and think you might enjoy her work, too.

Nine days ago, a new couple moved into the apartment next door to mine. I should just let you all know right off the bat that i’m nosy. Actually, i prefer to refer to myself as naturally curious. I love to know what’s going on around me as much as i can. It’s not that […]

via New Neighbors — It’s All In Perception


List-lovers…. this is for us.🙂


  1. A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
  2. A day without sunshine is like, night.
  3. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  4. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
  5. God gave you toes as a device for finding furniture in the dark.
  6. Torch: A case to keep your dead batteries.
  7. Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don’t.
  8. The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.
  9. It is said that if you line up all the cars in the world end-to-end, a man would try to pass them.
  10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

Adapted from another blog

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Not Jesus In A Pop-Up Camper, But…


It wasn’t Jesus in a popup camper, but it was alright.

Still and again, I am, in a word, astonished.
I find myself home after 50 years on the road.
Back in myself, my many selves largely combined,
I’ve endured, mainly ordinary disappointments, some worse than that.

But all that is stored in albums on the shelf.
If I had a fireplace, I’d build a fire and sit,
With a big dog I don’t have, and a cat or two,
And flip through the memories again,
Sipping brandy and smoking a pipe I don’t have,
As I quit smoking.

Continue reading “Not Jesus In A Pop-Up Camper, But…”

What It Is Not


Let’s talk “Poetry” for a moment, if you don’t mind.
Some things have been bugging me. I’ve been reading…

So many lost lusts,
So many ‘why doesn’t he love me’s’
So many sacrifices of dignity,
Conflations of attraction and connection,
So many confusions of sex and love
So many dear diary’s, soulful sobs, self-pity,
So many anguished tears on so many pillows.
So many tearful gazes over the waters,
Like so many before, like your great-great-grandparents,
As though tears alone justify, define poetry.
As though that’s enough.

So many odes to aimlessness,
So much self-indulgence,
So much teenager-like angst,
So many assumptions that
The most common feelings in the
History of the planet… the galaxy, maybe…
Are at all insightful, fresh, helpful.

Continue reading “What It Is Not”

What Comes With The Dust


“We dye our hairs under many colors to disguise our gray souls. My girl, we don’t mature by merely growing old, but by the damage time causes in our lives. When there are holes in our hearts, scars on our souls, and patches on our wings, then we know we have grown.

–Gharbi Mustafa

Give One Yielding Hour

Give one yielding hour,

All forgot in the moment.

Pretend to care not, if you must.

But you may be believed not.

Yet be.

In that hour, completely.

Then turn away,

Step again onto the twisting path.

Choice is loss.

The Lake of Innisfree


by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Walnuts or Roses?


Note: The nice people @Spill_words have republished this today.

When you’ve been together as long as we have—
the grown children are off making their own mistakes,
and careers have been dropped like bad habits—
the arguments tend to be about basic things.
We no longer tolerate easy answers.

Just the hard ones, such as those about walnuts and flowers.

One of you wants to plant the trees everywhere,
Knowing they’ll grow 100 feet high, and three across.
Their fruit is good, and their wood makes sublime furniture.
This all comes with foresight and patience.
Remembering a father saying one day, a few years before he died,
“Plant a walnut tree and generations will thank you.”

Continue reading “Walnuts or Roses?”

Simple Needs

465525“Ah yet, ere I descend to the grave, May I a small house and large garden have; And a few friends, and many books, both true, both wise and both delightful too.”
― Abraham Cowley

North of Tombstone, 3 am – A Poem by Doug Stanfield

A piece from a few months ago is up on Poetry Breakfast.


Poetry Breakfast

North of Tombstone, 3 am

Shadows and silhouettes, backed by a waning moon,
Slide past like California’s fading promises,
Distant and confusing.
Off to the south, somewhere over the sand and arroyos and cacti

Is Old Mexico.
A few miles, no more.

A small town slips into view,
Safeway. Ace Hardware. The usual.
A Benson Fuel glares at a Shell station on the other corner.

Ten-thousand tons glide to a stop so softly it would not wake a baby with colic.
An old woman with a bonnet lifts a travel bag over the curb,
Joining our travels. Where can she be going before dawn, alone? El Paso?
Chemo, hoping it works this time?
Or just to visit their daughter and the new grand-baby?

Her husband watches as she climbs on board,
His hands shoved in jeans pockets, looking dried out like the land…

When the train accepts her he turns…

View original post 266 more words


Trail Mix… Don’t Forget Trail Mix


Do Not Go Where The Path May Lead, Go Instead Where There Is No Path And Leave A Trail

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


pastan-330by Linda Pastan 

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn
“September” by Linda Pastan from Carnival Evening. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2009. 

Breadcrumbs in the Stream

©Doug Stanfield 2014

The sound of a train’s horn somewhere in the valley at night

Creamy thighs flashing under a summer dress, cool and molten at the same time

The smell of coffee when the sun is just over the mountain

A robin hatched by the kitchen door, back in the yard, hunting, says ‘hello’

The look of an old door, the view out a window, an old house that shelters me

Fireflies in June that send me back to a more innocent time

Old places, ancient sorrows, hot winds across a desert far away

The way a tree moves under the hand of an invisible thing

The way the sun sometimes comes up like thunder,

The cacophony of voices– lonely, lusting, lost– thinking they’re the only ones

A dream, impossible, conjures up a past life, of running in the jungle to simplicity

Good times, lifelong loves, the joy of hearts connecting,

Seeing the ordinary for the first time, realizing it is extraordinary…..


Breadcrumbs cast out on a moving stream, shining for a moment, floating on…



I’ll drink to that! @spill_words

The Hanging Road

The Hanging Road, the path in the sky the owls follow from the world to the Camp of the Dead
The Hanging Road in Cheyenne belief is the path that owls (see, this idea is not from Harry Potter!) follow to carry messages back and forth from the Land of the Living  to the Camp of the Dead

The rider and horse moved onto the narrow path into the wilderness, to Cloud Peak,
In the mountains of the Big Horn sheep, to where the Old Ones hold council.

Her hooves were sure–More sure than his heart. This
She sensed, so the big brown mare gave him loan of hers.

Her breath blew in gusts as the path steepened and the air thinned.
The shadows of the pines grew darker, the air chilled.

The day sank into the west behind the peaks, hour on hour, step by step,
Into the camp of tomorrows, into the undiscovered country.

Continue reading “The Hanging Road”

A Dab of Bly (Robert, That Is)

Robert Bly, American Poet

“I know men who are healthier at fifty than they’ve ever been before, because a lot of their fear is gone.”


“Tonight the first fall rain washes away my sly distance.
I have decided to blame no one for my life.
This water falls like a great privacy.
Letters sink into the desk,
The desk sinks away, leaving an intelligence
Slowly learning to talk of its own suffering.
The muttering of thunder is a gift
That reverberates in the roof of the mouth.
Another gift is a child’s face in a dark room
I see as I check the house during the storm.
My life is a blessing, a triumph, a car racing through the rain.

Continue reading “A Dab of Bly (Robert, That Is)”

Trigger Warning: Writing is Hard

John E. McIntyre, Baltimore Sun Editor

Text Link if the one on the image doesn’t work: Trigger Warning


As Is Poetry


I just happened on this quote this morning, and thought it summed up the sometimes-aimless nature of my writing the past couple of years, wherein I fail to hit what I’m aiming at more often than not. But this defines my goals:
–to pare the words down to the minimum
–to find the balance point in any thought or situation
–to make my peace with the nature of things.

“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”

― Laozi, Tao Te Ching

What If?

Dancer on Dock

What if we weren’t the responsible ones, for a change?

What if we weren’t the ones who let someone else screw up and

Kept on doing the right things?

What if we … could just run away for a while—just for a while—

To some anonymous, peaceful place where email was banned, the phone

Didn’t ring, the air was warm and we were all alone for an afternoon?

Where my heart didn’t ache,

Where there weren’t the old problems and worries,

Where we could be carefree children again, with no grownup cares?

Continue reading “What If?”

On The Decay Of The Art of Lying

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)


by Mark Twain

Observe, I do not mean to suggest that the custom of lying has suffered any decay or interruption, — no, for the Lie, as a Virtue, a Principle, is eternal; the Lie, as a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man’s best and surest friend, is immortal, and cannot perish from the earth while this Club remains. My complaint simply concerns the decay of the art of lying. No high-minded man, no man of right feeling, can contemplate the lumbering and slovenly lying of the present day without grieving to see a noble art so prostituted. In this veteran presence I naturally enter upon this theme with diffidence; it is like an old maid trying to teach nursery matters to the mothers in Israel. It would not become me to criticise you, gentlemen, who are nearly all my elders — and my superiors, in this thing — and so, if I should here and there seem to do it, I trust it will in most cases be more in a spirit of admiration than of fault-finding; indeed if this finest of the fine arts had everywhere received the attention, Continue reading “On The Decay Of The Art of Lying”

Humble Brag


The nice people at Spillwords (and I know some of you are published there, too) have published “The Tunes of Life”, this morning. The link is below, and a visit and a vote would be awesome! (I’m offering a bucket of half-tone dots in a drawing later–and that will only make sense to those who served time as ink-stained wretches in the past.)

Meanwhile, “The Swan” was voted poem of the month recently, so I’m having a little trouble being my normal humble self. I’m sure I’ll get a flat tire or bounce a check or something today to bring me back to reality any minute now. But at the moment…..🙂

I Had This Dream…

I was tired from the trip back to the East a few weeks ago, and fell asleep in a chair while watching a movie about Earnest Hemingway. “Hemingway and Gellhorn.”

My brain kept listening, though. It switched on replay in that weird way dreams have of flipping certainties around but still, somehow, making a kind of insane sense.

In a black and white 30’s newsreel way, a group of people is looking at a movie of the Spanish Civil War.

“The Spanish War is just the warmup act for the next Word War,” Nicole Kidman/Martha Gellhorn says to Clive Owen/Earnest Hemingway. And she was right.

Continue reading “I Had This Dream…”

I Knew An Old Man, Once

Working hands-1509

I knew an old man once who’d been around,

Who was young, once, and strong and made things.

He worked on the railroad, laying rails and timber

Until a machine came along that could do it faster.

Then he worked in a factory that made cars.

He stood in one spot and hung doors on Fords,

Just the passenger side for a week. Then the other side for a week.

And he started to dream about Ford doors chasing him,

Continue reading “I Knew An Old Man, Once”

This Old House

Front Door

This old house is made of wood and paint and memories, but
Lately, the sense that our time here will end has hovered on my shoulder,
A faint melancholy of knowing that one day I will walk out one last time,
Hand the keys to someone who won’t know any of it.

That spot in the dining room wall where a teenage
Tantrum left a divot in the plaster from a chair tossed in anger.
Where the same child discovered the internet, found a girl
In California and talked up a huge long-distance phone bill.

Where B&B guests gathered from around the world
To chat at the table over Bismarks and sausages and coffee on
Their brief swing through this old house, and our lives.

Continue reading “This Old House”

Why We’re Here

The election in the US has brought attention to a part of the people that has been misunderstood, and looked down upon — sometimes with justification — since the very beginning. I am talking about the relatively poor, non-college educated white class, predominantly of Scots-Irish ancestry, that’s spent most of the past 250 years in the mountains and hollers of Appalachia. This is a huge area that stretches from Maine to Georgia, and culturally influences even more territory.

We modern Americans like to sort of gloss over our origins, sometimes. I know enough about my own family history to smile at the old joke, that Americans “have been thrown out of some of the best countries in the world.”

My ancestors were non-conformist religious refugees, Quakers, from England and then Ireland, who took advantage of William Penn’s offer of refuge in Pennsylvania. They fled civil war, after 100 years of the beatings and trials and property confiscations and, in the case of at least two of them I know about, a mother and son, execution at the hands of the Crown at York Castle for refusing to bend a knee to a magistrate.

So I have a sympathy for the people who are still stiff-necked and proud and poor, those who get stomped on by the elites on either coast. At the same time, it’s fair to judge that culture as inferior in some ways, and to realize that they’ve learned how to be poor, stay poor, and resist any outside ways. [Note: my wife, who is of Scots-Irish ancestry, objects to the term ‘inferior’. I don’t mean it in the moral sense, or in the sense of not “being as good as everyone else.” I believe that all cultures have good and bad traits, in the sense of how well they work as adaptations to life’s circumstances. As admirable as Scots-Irish culture is in most ways, it doesn’t work as well as some others, such as Jewish or Indian, to drive young people toward academic and financial achievement. Sorry dear.🙂 ) The very traits that make them who they are, the good things, also make them keep doing things that mire them in poverty.

But let’s give them a little slack, too, and remember that a lot of us are here because our ancestors were too damn hardheaded to adapt, to assimilate. We are here because someone with a name very much like mine, or Ferguson or O’Farrell or MacDonald or Sandburg picked a fight with the King of England or France, and the Church of Rome or the Church of England.

That’s who we are, too. Stubborn and tough and not partial to anyone telling us what to do or how to live. And, yes, frequently dumb.



And the people walk out of the grocery store

Carrying tons of food away in plastic bags every day,

While bean counters pronounce this as a good thing.

But the people say, loading bags into the back of

The minivan, trying to keep the milk jug from tipping over,

“Well, we have to eat, don’t we? I hate the bean counters,

Because I haven’t noticed them offering to pay for the milk,

Or even to load the bags in the minivan. But we have to eat.”

There used to be highschool boys and girls who would help, but the bean counters

Decided we wouldn’t care if they cut them out, and they needed the profit.

Then they decided we could load our own carts, so they could

Have more beans to count. And jobs for high-school kids went away.

Then they figured they’d save even more beans

By making us check out our own groceries, with machines

That never really work all that well.


But the joke’s on them, as they’re finding out too late

That the machines make it easy to slip extra stuff in the bag,

Skipping the scanner, in those bags we pack ourselves and load ourselves–

Since we can count beans, too. And there’s no kid to tell a joke to any more,

Or ask how the football team will do this year.

And so we wonder, making sure the milk doesn’t tip,

What has happened to those kids who aren’t learning

How to work and be useful and to have some spending money?

Who won’t realize that adults care what they’re up to?

But the bean counters can’t be bothered with such unimportant questions.


The Swan, on Spillwords

Photo by Richard Calmes
Photo by Richard Calmes

It was nice to wake up to see that this one was featured on today. If you go, don’t forget to vote!🙂

Do You Solemnly Swear?

Carl and Lilian Steichen Sandburg
Carl and Lilian Steichen Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

“Do you solemnly swear before the everliving God
that the testimony you
are about to give in this cause shall
be the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth?”

“No, I don’t. I can tell you what I saw
and what I heard and I’ll swear to
that by the everliving God but the
more I study about it the more sure
I am that nobody but the everliving
God knows the whole truth and if
you summoned Christ as a witness
in this case what He would tell you
would burn your insides with the
pity and the mystery of it.”

In the poem of collections, “The People, Yes”. 1936, Harcourt & Brace; 1990 First Harvest Edition.

A Farewell Song Of White Clouds by Li Po (Li Bai)

“…And may you lie in a bed of white clouds.”

Leonard Durso

The white clouds float over the mountains of Chu–
As over the mountains of Chin.
Everywhere the white clouds will follow you on.

They will follow you on everywhere–
With you they will enter the Chu mountains,
And cross the waters of the Hsiang.

Yonder across the waters of the Hsiang,
There is a cloak of ivy to wear,
And you may lie in a bed of white clouds.

Go swiftly home, O my friend!

translated by Shigeyoshi Obata

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Happy birthday, Bill.

William Ernest Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Summer Sounds


10334420_477963595736461_9042973705824638941_nCicadas, and the birds that hunt them.

A neighbor’s lawnmower.

The whisper of the maple leaves in a cool morning breeze.

A dog, barking for show somewhere over there.

A catch in the air, ever so faint, a momentary pause.

News of the first real cold front coming down out of Canada.

The fat rump of late summer has settled in, humid and hot.

But if you listen–and if you tend to see the rain cloud in every silver lining, like me,

You sip your morning coffee and listen harder, feel the breezes more,

Because we know in our bones that everything moves on,

That only a fool would have lived his life in hard pursuits

Without realizing that all those moments, like this fleeting one,

Only come once and are gone, as surely as heavy ol’ Summer

Will rise one day soon and move on south, making room

For other precious and holy moments that need attention, as this one does.

A Ghostling, in Training


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy….

I didn’t think it would be like this.
I could have been convinced, mind you,
But I was skeptical, in a benign way.
Unmoved except by facts, I said.
“Show me a ghost; I can’t take your word for it.
Let me talk to just *one*,” I’d say to earnest believers, knowing they could not.

Show me. Prove it.

I even went looking on my own. 

We once camped at Gettysburg when my sons were 8 and 10—
Under a full moon, no less.
I wanted them to visit such a place, to get a tiny taste of
The grand sweep of events, even though they were too young
To grasp much, and were more interested in lightening bugs
And climbing on a cannon or two.

As I recall, it was a humid, sticky summer night.
That typical time in July when the night stays hot 
Well past midnight, the air coming up straight out of the Gulf 
With humidity so high it’s like breathing
Through wet gauze, or the exhaust of a clothes dryer,
The air full of bugs, bats
 and the mating calls of frogs in some boggy spot …
And the occasional owl-hoot-whooo through the mist.

It was the kind of night  you can feel the Earth
Pulsing, moving, breathing, desperately fertile; you can feel the
Sudden small deaths in the grasses, feeding more life.
I imagined it was a night like the night before the battle 14 decades before, 
A spooky night, pregnant with meaning, deadly and glorious,
Full of shadows and fears, of the clank of muskets and of men crying.

I couldn’t sleep… too hot, too curious,
So once the others were asleep, I walked.

The crunch of gravel underfoot gave rhythm to the cicadas’ song,
All along a blueish-silver path, with pockets of mist twisting, rising, on either side,
I passed many monuments, frozen glories, massive in the gloom.

Down a grassy slope to a ridge, then beyond, to a low stone wall,
I looked out over rolling tall-grass fields glowing in the moonlight.
Pickett’s thousands had died out there, and more, all around.
I stood by the low stone wall, a place of horrible, final, desperate endings,
Once littered with bodies and gore and wreckage and screams, but now neatly tended grass
Resting quietly in the humidity of a July night.

But I neither saw nor felt any unhappy spirits.
Of all places, you’d think there would be at least
I listened for them, with my ears, with my doubting self.

A coyote trotted across the far edge of the field,
A single cloud skittered across the moon, casting deeper gloom.

All I got that night
Were a few mosquito bites.
It went on like this for years. Me skeptical, waiting,
expecting nothing, getting nothing.

Until my body died (under circumstances
I’d rather not go into now).
Let’s just say that it was ‘messy’.
And, much to my surprise, I’m still here.
Sort of. Enough of ‘me’ to dictate these words into
Another’s dream, at least.

For how long?
For a while, I guess.
Until I can figure it out.

So I try to keep as busy as one can when you can’t touch the world,
And can only observe the world through a thin, scratchy barrier that
Makes everything look like an old newsreel
From London in November of 1940 during the Blitz.

But things are different in many ways.
I listen in on people’s conversations,
And drop in wherever and whenever I want.
Time and space are no longer limited as they were,
I visited my own past, and while I found some answers,
I came away from that feeling that my own existence
Was only ordinary. Was I a treasured child of God as I’d been taught?
I still don’t know. God hasn’t told me.
Maybe, though.
I have so much to learn.

Having nothing better to do, I spy on people, though:
Satisfy my curiosity about certain people, and strangers,
Listen to their conversations, and,
If the cosmic wind is out of the Pleiades,
To their thoughts. It is all open to me now.

And yes, of course! I watch them flirting, lying, flattering, cheating, having sex,
It was one of the first things I did in the early days.
(And if people aren’t actually doing it,
They’re mostly thinking about it.
We humans are a horny bunch, that’s for sure.)
It was just…  not as interesting to me—in my new condition.

So I drifted off, disoncerted, a little disappointed—but relieved, somehow.
I started listening more deeply to the ebb and flow
Of life beginning and life ending;
Of an ocean’s-worth of desire and striving and defeat;
Of confusion and loss and sadnesses;
Of happiness in small things, and contentment.
It is a gift, and yet no blessing, to see things as they really are
But to no longer have any part to play.

And yet…. through it all, I learned….
What I used to call time passes. I feel some of it still
I feel myself becoming a part of all I see, as though I am coming home.

I finally discovered the undiscovered country.
Everything that was, is and shall be,
All that I see, all the others, present past and future, are really parts of me.

And with that, I am a ghost no more.

The Sea Moves Always


Carl Sandburg:

The sea moves always, the wind moves always,
They want and they want and there is no end to their wanting.
What they sing is the song of the people.
Man will never arrive. Man will always be on the way.
It is written he shall rest, but never for long.
The sea and the wind tell him he shall be lonely, meet love,
Be shaken with struggle and go on wanting.

Middle Age

Brené Brown
Brené Brown

‘I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

~ Brené Brown

Spillwords: “The Dead Need Light”


On (@Spill_words) If you visit, please leave a vote. It’s moving up in the rankings!.

Original post:




The dead need light,
As much as the living need music.

They crave the kind of light
That brings babies’ faces to mind again, and
Spring blooms, and waves dancing on a beach they once knew.

Eternity is a long, long time,
The darkness is all.
But still… they remember

The way the stars sweep across
the sky on a clear night,
the way a bumblebee looks as it
lumbers around, amazingly.

They need the lights of Paris,
twinkling with promise
drawing a halo of innocence around
young lovers by the river.

The dead crave to see, again,
your two eyes, open, soft and
moist with tears, catching the light
of a streetlight in
breathtaking flecks of gold and green.

The dead remember, with a hopeless ache, the way
moonlight played on the lover’s
hip as you slept, a fleeting memory of touch
burned forever in light,
of no more than a hand lightly stroking
just to make sure you were real.

As Sun Sets

tajMahL_ Amir Ghasemi

(Posting again. We seem to need this…)

“Fair goes the dancing when the Sitar is tuned.
Tune us the Sitar neither high nor low,
And we will dance away the hearts of men.
But the string too tight breaks, and the music dies.
The string too slack has no sound, and the music dies.

There is a middle way.
Tune us the Sitar neither low nor high.
And we will dance away the hearts of men.”

—Sir Edwin Arnold, “The Light of Asia” (often misattributed to a saying of Buddha)

I Believe

It’s not Friday, but feels like it should be.
Maybe its the wine. Always blame the wine when you’re feeling low.
Get a little drunk and go off and read your favorites,
And thank the good Lord that there’s video.
Enjoy this little offering. And have some wine.

I Believe
By Jim Harrison

I believe in steep drop-offs, the thunderstorm across the lake
in 1949, cold winds, empty swimming pools,
the overgrown path to the creek, raw garlic,
used tires, taverns, saloons, bars, gallons of red wine,
abandoned farmhouses, stunted lilac groves,
gravel roads that end, brush piles, thickets, girls
who haven’t quite gone totally wild, river eddies,
leaky wooden boats, the smell of used engine oil,
turbulent rivers, lakes without cottages lost in the woods,
the primrose growing out of a cow skull, the thousands
of birds I’ve talked to all of my life, the dogs
that talked back, the Chihuahuan ravens that follow
me on long walks. The rattler escaping the cold hose,
the fluttering unknown gods that I nearly see
from the left corner of my blind eye, struggling
to stay alive in a world that grinds them underfoot.


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