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The numbing cold that has swathed most of Canada during February prompted my mind to wander into uncharted territory.
Cold slithers down
from the far side of 60 degrees, latitude.
When it’s that cold,
when tears turn into salt hailstones
and spit ricochets,
the scale doesn’t matter.
But even a polar vortex
retains measurable warmth.
Heat itself ceases
at absolute zero —
on the Kelvin scale, minus 273.15 Celsius —
a temperature beyond which
there is no beyond.
When it’s time for me to go,
I drift to the edges
of the bubbling broth
and then I slip
into the night outside.
Tags: death, departure
I added a picture to this poem, so that you would have a better sense of the scene that prompted this reflection. You'll have to go to the main page to see it, though.
Fresh snow coats the spiky crowns of evergreens
into narrow cones of shining white
steepled against a brillig sky --
a vast convocation
of pointy white hoods.
Do spruce trees also
have pointy little brains
beneath their whited hoods?
Tags: KKK, spruce trees, snow cones
This poem grew out of seeing the sliver of a new moon, suspended in the night sky shortly after sunset. Net time you see such a moon, try reciting this poem out loud to it.
Hail to thee, silver crescent in the sky.
Tell me what you think you are.
Are you the universal sickle --
whetstoned symbol of seasonal harvest,
a harbinger of hope
that reaps the plainest grains,
to feed the famined millions?
Or are you the scimitar of Saladin,
white-hot steel tempered in the algebra of zero....
Tags: moon, crescent, Saladin, Damocles, sickle, scimitar
A friend is going through a deep depression. I tried to imagine myself inside his skin, and out came another poem. It begins
Dimness descends like a curtain.
Murk buries me, plugs my nostrils,
seals my ears; I hear nothing,
not even my own thoughts.
I wallow in my private pig-sty.
I want to move, but my muscles
have turned to water; every step feels like
wading in molasses....
Tags: Depression, misery, despair
“The fog,” Carl Sandburg wrote, “comes
on little cat feet.”
arrives on kitten paws,
This poem when my friend Arlene Erickson, hearing about what ministers have been taught in most seminaries since the 1950s, demanded, “Why haven’t we ordinary people been told any of this stuff?” Something about the content led me to put it together in lines vaguely resembling the discipline of iambic pentameter.
“Behold,” he said, “thy path unto salvation.”
“What path?” I asked, “for all that I can see
are thickets of incomprehension; thorns
that reach to snare unwary travellers,
quicksand salivating for a sucker,
roots that rise to trip my thoughts; and tigers
burning bright, crouched to leap with tooth
and claw upon my slightest flaw.
Tags: Traditional theology, progressive theology
Like many of the Psalms of lament in the Bible, this poem combines disillusionment and hope. Rather than the psalm format, though, I have chosen to locate it in the pre-Jewish myths of Zoroastrianism.
Ahura Mazda kneels in the sand
Patiently building a castle.
Grain by grain it rises.
Towers of trust.
Gates of welcome.
Living spaces lit with laughter.
Banquet halls full of sharing.
that a single stomp
can reduce the castle to rubble.
Tags: Ahura Mazda, Ahriman, good, evil
I have never been able to meditate the way some others do. Either I fall asleep, or my mind races. So I wrote about it.
Silence is a pool, deep and green.
I sink into its welcoming womb.
I empty my mind
thinking of nothing
nothing at all
but nothing abhors a vacuum....
Tags: silence, words, meditate
It’s easy to say what I don’t believe in anymore – an all-knowing grandfather God who sits on a cloud somewhere up there, out there, distant but keeping an eye on everything, delivering rewards and punishments,, and upsetting things here on earth with what we call “acts of God.” But then people ask me, “So what kind of God do you believe in?” And I find prose can’t do it; poetry at least comes closer.
Faces talk around a table
knees warm around a campfire
voices sing in a circle
hands clasp in the darkness
and in between, among, around them
hovers a shining....
Tags: God, shining, presence