Another Autumn Poem

The sun blasts orange through the trees,

A last grasp to cling to the day. It’s rays tear

Through the branches, reaching out to us,

Pleading for us not to let it slip below the hill.

We watch unmoved, or perhaps a little sad.

We too will slip below, but not yet.

We watch, curious to see what we can learn

From the beauty of that last grasp.

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A Heavy Rain

I am standing in the rain,

Just standing here, looking into the grey air,

Getting wet.

The sky is raining down all that is worst in our nature

As if these things had always been with us,

In threatening clouds above us,

Waiting for some thundering rage to let loose.

Soaked to the bone,

I pray for forgiveness for not looking up into

that coiled storm we knew must break.

It is not too late to build sandbag dams,

Or perhaps I’ll stand in the rain

Until I am swept away.

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Hallow E’en 2021

Who’s that knocking, knocking at our door?

Their cloths are tattered, their eyes too big;

They smell of dregs and speak in tongues.

Like trolls, they sleep under bridges,

Demanding a token from each passerby.

Cover your ears, they have a banshee wail,

loud devil music, and cry long into the night.

Like Hungry Ghosts, they feed on crumbs.

Go lock the cupboard, we can’t feed them all.

They creep alone at night in silent deserts,

Springing up where you least expect them.

One might marry your niece;

Our blood and their blood might mingle 

destroying us all.


Knocking, knocking, knocking.


Who is that knocking, knocking at our door?

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White birch bark is curling on one of the south windowsills.

It is a silvery grey, actually, with black smudges.

My wife collects these wide silver strips from the forest floor,

Gathers them gently and places them on windowsills.

She wanders in the wood with our black dog,

pausing to assemble tiny people from twigs and moss,  acorn caps and

bits of Play Dough from her pocket.

The little people are all different yet clearly know one another.

She carefully arranges them in knotholes, peeking from under roots, on forks of branches.

A most alert hiker may catch a glimpse of one.

She comes home with yet more birch bark to curl in the sun.

Tonight she says, “It’s almost winter. They will soon need little houses.”

She gathers the birch from all the windowsills and sits back to examine the silvery bark.

She stands the curls up, lies them down, puts one on top of the other.

She draws tiny windows with Magic Marker.

She smiles. “A little work and these will do nicely.”

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Spring Tanka

Spring Tanka

The first seeds planted

Settle in a cold wet ground

A bit too early in spring.

   The seeds and the gardener

   Place bets against another frost.


The first seeds planted

Settle in a cold wet ground

A bit too early in spring

  The seeds and the gardener

   Are dusted with cool faint rain.


The first seeds planted

Settle in a cold wet ground

A bit too early in spring

  Jewelweed and gardener

  Both species of impatiens.


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Autumn Haiku

autumn cold –

watching a coup

slowly melt

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The Making of the Book of Kells

Some monk somewhere made slow delicious love to each letter,

holding each word close to his hand, his face, his heart.

Was it the sound of the letter that revealed its intricate shape?

Slowly, after listening and sleeping and waiting for it to speak?

Or did the sound of the whole word open the canvas before him?

The pen was carefully crafted, the nib stroked and stroked again.

The ink was pounded into being, 

then left in long curling trails to slowly dry on calfskin.

With these he created creatures which will never be seen elsewhere.

They spin and devour and tangle and do not rest.

But one look at the deer, or the winged ox, the endless dragon, the knotted lion, or the birds, oh the birds,

One look and this creature nests in your mind,

appears in your dream,

or out of the corner of your eye

when you need it close.

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How Haiku Saved My Soul

Haiku instructions:

  1. Stop
  2. Look around
  3. Listen
  4. Smell
  5. Feel your skin
  6. Take a breath

Optional: write a few phrases.

Suggestions for opportunities to write haiku:

  1. In a forest
  2. On a mountain
  3. On Main Street Northampton
  4. In front of a fire
  5. Standing in line at WalMart
  6. On a march for justice
  7. Holding a sign at a protest (carry a pencil, back of sign is useful for haiku)
  8. Changing a diaper
  9. Etc.

How to judge haiku:

  1. Did I complete instructions #1 through #6? Note if you missed one.
  2. Did too many thoughts get crammed in? i.e. Did I try to make a point? Was I trying to be clever?  Or spiritual? Note if you did.
  3. Did I try to use 5-7-5 syllable form? Did it help or hinder?
  4. Did a pebble of my world view shift a bit? Note if it did.

Thus did haiku save my soul.

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Lessons 2


A burning sun

slowly going down to drown –

Mogami River



One feather of sunlight

settles on the icy lake

gently gently



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Lessons from a master 1


Spring passes

and the birds cry out – tears

in the eyes of fishes



Where summer walked

oaks stand naked over

crusted rivulets


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