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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The United States is a misnomer

The Destroyed States of the Americas has an honest, forthright, sound.

Countries steal other countries all the time.

England stole my ancestors’ country.

But I don’t live in other countries, I live here,

On the rubble of a civilization so advanced 

That Europeans could not even see it.

Here where I live:

Their names: Nipmuc, Mohawk, Nonotuck, Norwottuck, and

Deadly battles with English names: Turners Falls, Springfield, Deerfield, Hatfield.

Out west today, the meager leavings of their land have money-making dirt.

So out they go.


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Clench the Fence

I lied.

I said she said okay,

But I hadn’t even asked.


Lying to Grandma,

that’s how much I wanted to,

I’d even lie to Grandma.


The project courtyard had fenced in grass,

no larger than a tiny garden or

a tiny prison cell,


And that day it was covered in snow,

smooth, unbroken, clean snow,

like in Alaska or some mountain somewhere.


I clenched the bars of the fence

and stared in

and wanted to so badly,


just a step,

just to enter into this tiny wilderness,

right in the middle of Queens.


“Mom said I could,” I said

That was my lie to Grandma:

“Mom said I could go in there,”


but then

I realized

I wouldn’t fit.


The bars were too close together

I was a skinny six year old but

I was too big a human to fit.


I wasted a whole lie,

and Grandma told,

and I got punished.


But I already was punished,

and the fence kept the wilderness safe

from humans like me.



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Pawn Shop Mirror

This mirror has spots melted into the glass,

Age spots like rust in the upper right hand corner.

The glue holding in the glass is leaking from the frame.

It seemed a good idea at the time,

Buying a mirror at a pawnshop.


The mirror is curved; we hadn’t noticed.

So our chins droop down a bit

And our foreheads are long.

We do not use a mirror to see ourselves anyway.

A mirror is a toy for making faces.


It is a little too low on the wall and the sink drips.

The overhead light throws unflattering shadows.

Grandma lives there, and a bit of Grandpa;

Sigourny Weaver makes occasional appearances,

As, on bad days, does Mussolini. 


Can Dorian Gray be somewhere near?



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The Car Runs Fine: A Tribute to Ernie’s Garage

….and then the handle fell off

the passenger side,

the car runs fine though.

The blower doesn’t work

except on high,

the car runs fine though.


Needs new wipers,

the tires may just last another winter,

it runs just fine.

The window doesn’t quite close

on the driver’s side,

but that’s okay and

A little Bondo will take care of those holes.


When it won’t start in Park,

it’s sure to start in Neutral,

If not, it might need a jump start.

Once it gets going,

the car runs fine.


Just change the oil,

keep the gas tank full,

use a hanger to prop up the muffler,

and you’ll be fine.



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Spill Your Guts: Poems in Time of Political Upheaval

Spill Your Guts: Write Poems in This Time of Political Upheaval

Poetry and Pizza

Wednesday evening, April 4 2018, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Ashfield Congregational Church, 429 Main Street, Ashfield, MA

If you have never written a poem, now is the time to write one.

Come together, not to write letters and emails, but to put yourself onto paper. Anger, frustration, humor, disbelief, belief… spill it all out.  Why?

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” – Oprah

Alice Barrett will lead the session. She has written some of the worst poems in history, so she will be not be judging anyone’s writing. She has also written some good ones, so she can be of help.

For inspiration try:

Before The Vote After a book of poems by Jane Yolen

Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now edited by Amit Majmudar; and which publishes poems about the news.


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

what        and       who

would you be

if tomorrow

all   guns      vanished

like     children   who   died    in schools



Sponsored by Ashfield UCC Missions and Social Justice Committee

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A Rainbow Fell Before Me

A rainbow fell before me

On a dusky pale road.

It sounded like a bird.

It sounded like boots splashing in a puddle.


A rainbow fell sad upon a road.

The road curved away

Leaving her behind with

A bird,

A tree,

The wind.



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