Poem – Message

Now is the time of lightness,
of leanness. Teardown.
Travel simply.
Take little with you.
Consider what you carry
(and this isn’t just about supplies)
Life is a journey
even if
you never leave your own town.

Don’t plan far ahead.
Don’t scatter your resources.
Read one book at a time,
do one craft at a time.
Finish one thing
before starting another.

This is the time of winnowing.
Those who carry too much,
are spread too thin,
will not survive.
Only those who can
conserve their resources
mental emotional physical
will make it through.

Become childlike again
or for the first time.
Try without expectation.
Color without lines.
Create without a need to be perfect.
Trust the process to work out
without your direct input.


Journey to the center (story picture poem)

Let us go on a journey, you and I.

We begin at the entrance to a Japanese tea garden.
It is springtime. The cool moss welcomes us.

We walk along the path, admiring the views.
We meet our guide,
who tells us that
the path is the purpose
of the journey.
The goal is not the tea.
The goal is a state of inner calm
and centeredness
that we attain
from walking the path.

We walk past the house.
We are leaving the known behind. Our journey is far longer than this.

Garden detail, Kyoto, Honshu, Japan

Garden detail, Kyoto, Honshu, Japan

The stepping stones continue,
leading us further onwards
and inwards.

They continue over water. It has gotten warmer. Is it summer now?

Will the water ever end? And another surprise – the glory of fall leaves.

It is so awkward to cross using these stones.
We have a hard time admiring the scenery
because we have to watch our feet.

And then we think
– who set these stones?
Who had to get wet
so that we could be dry?

Even though it seems we are alone,
there are many signs
that there were others
before us.

The path leaves the lake and takes us to a forest.

The air is cool on our bare arms.
We smell the crisp green pines,
hear the distant songs
of unseen birds.

We see stone stairs,
dense, imposing.
They are leading us to a large red gate.

Our guide tells us this is a Torii gate,
to mark the difference between
there, and here.
To mark sacred space.
This is no barrier,
it keeps no one out.
It simply alerts you to a shift,
a change.
Is it the land,
or you,
that is different now?

We see other gates shortly after this one.

The gates continue,

wave after wave of them.

They are like immense bells,
ringing over and over,
reminding us to be here,
that we are here,
be present in this moment,
notice this.

And yet we are still not at our destination.
The path continues over more water,
but thankfully there is a bridge this time.

We are still stunned by all those gates.
Where are we being led to?
Who has prepared this way for us?

The path continues into another forest.

While the path goes upwards,
the air gets misty
and the trees grow closer together.

They are so close together
that they arch overhead,
making a cathedral.

And now there is snow.
Will wonders never cease?
Wasn’t it spring just a moment ago?
How long have we been walking?
Look, ahead – there is a house. The path leads right to it.

Our guide leads us to it,
telling us that this is our destination,
yet it is not the end of the journey.
We push open the unlocked door
and walk inside.
We continue upwards,
ever upwards.

Now the stairs twist and curl,
like ribbons on a birthday present,
like snakes,
like a double helix,
like the beginning and the end.

We reach a landing.
Further stairs are ahead.
Someone has lit candles for us.

What is at the top?
The same that was at the beginning.

We have brought our
We have found our
here, too.

(all pictures are from Pinterest)

The erasure

They finally came. After months of broadcasts on all known media (radio, television, Internet, newspaper, shortwave, telegraph, TTY, dolphins, psychics) saying it was coming, that they were coming, it had finally happened.

Nobody knew who was sending the broadcasts, or where they were from. Agencies and detectives and amateur sleuths all over the world tried to answer those questions, to no avail. Séances were held. Runes were consulted. Wires were tapped. Still the messages came, and still no one knew the source or the author. Television anchors were told to say nothing that might frighten the public more than they already were. Talk show hosts were, as usual, under no authority or ethical standard, so they said whatever they felt, regardless of truth or concern for how their prattlings would harm.

The beings, or spirits, or aliens, or whatever they were had tried to communicate with our earth for far longer than people realized. They had subtly influenced moods and desires since before 2000, like a silent alarm, like an odorless poison. They were the reason for the Y2K panic. They were the reason preppers stocked up on ammunition and canned ham. They were the reason people began to mis-trust the authorities and began to take matters into their own hands. Urban farms, homeschooling, anti-vaccine? These were their doing. Layer by layer they had painted a picture of paranoia in our brains to divide us, keep us off balance.

Everyone was affected to some degree. It was only those who didn’t consume mass media that maintained some semblance of control over their actions. All those who watched TV or movies or listened to the radio got multiple doses of the message, and it was cumulative, just like any other poison. A single bee sting is annoying, but not fatal. A thousand stings is another matter.

When they finally came it was almost a relief.

It was a cool day in August, one of those days that was not too hot or humid with a few clouds in the azure sky. The morning had gone peacefully for everyone for a change. The disturbing dreams have finally stopped. Even the news reports were calm for a change, with the latest plastic surgery of one celebrity being the lead instead of the usual threats of war from petty tyrants trying to get the world to notice them. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day, until the skies scissored open with the dimension-melting sight/sound/smell of their ships at 11:11 AM.

People started to see sounds and hear colors.
Time ran backwards and sideways and stopped.
Everything suddenly made sense
but there were no words
anymore to explain it.

And then there was nothing.

The silence was thicker than the darkest night, a crushing subterranean weight, more alienating than being trapped in the Marianas Trench in a powerless submarine.

Then, just as suddenly, there was only now. The past wasn’t even a memory. It was just a word. All mistakes, all forgotten grocery lists, all insults, all arguments, gone in a blink of the eye. Gone too were first kisses. baby’s first laugh, that perfect day in October when the sky is the blue of watery dreams and crisp like a Gala apple.

All of it.

Somehow they knew, whoever they were. They knew that what was holding us back was our near-pathological need to catalog the past into neat (and not so neat) piles, holding onto memories and snapshots and train tickets and receipts for ice skates and ice cream. Somehow they knew that our need to separate those piles into “good” and “bad” was our secret un-doing, our un-humaning, our un-being. Somehow they knew that our “bad” pile held us down, became a pattern for our future, made us think we would always be cheated, be robbed, be abandoned. Somehow too, they knew that our “good” pile equally enslaved us, making us feel that we could never feel that exhilarated or proud or delighted ever again.

Our collective and individual past being erased was as great a blessing to us as a tornado or a house fire. It forced us to stop holding onto the dried husks of what it means to be truly alive. For too long we thought that the artificial joy of our memories was what made us human.

Overnight, the scrapbooking industry was rendered irrelevant. No one could even imagine why they had spent so much of their lives (and money) gluing memorabilia into organized books, accented with metallic rickrack and die-cut stickers. No one took photographs either, choosing to see their lives through their own eyes rather than through a viewfinder.

Why save the past anymore?
It was meaningless.
Only the present moment,
a moment eternally composed
of beginnings,
was valid.
In that moment
could happen.

Poem – snow day

snow day

Remember that feeling you have
when you look outside
and everything
is covered by snow?

It was forecasted
but they didn’t know exactly
when it would happen –
what time of day,
or even if this day or the next.
But it was coming,
that was certain.

And while you were asleep
the snow appeared,
making everything white,
everything new,
covering the world
with a silent calm,
a soft pure light.

Every prayer,
every reconciliation,
every bridge mended,
every addiction cured,
every honest conversation,
every deep listening

is a snowflake.

The world will change
because we will change it
because we were changed
a light comes on
and we share it, we shine it.

A new day is coming.
A new day is here.

Poem – afterlife

Nobody can tell you
where the flame goes
after it is
blown out,
so how do we know
where the soul goes
we die?
How do we know
there is more,
there is life after life?

Is it a bedtime story we tell
(our children, ourselves)
to keep away the boogeyman,
the things that go bump in the night?

Now is all we have.
Why worry about
the afterlife
and waste the life you have?

Live before you die.

If there is an afterlife,
let it be a bonus,
an extra.
Don’t let it be your only,
because it might not be.
Don’t worry
about whether
it is
or is not,
because that steals away
from the life you have,

The Varda

The Varda was concerned. It looked out at the scene before it, wasteland, all of it. Stones atop stones atop dry earth. The desolation stretched out as far as The Varda’s eyes could see, and The Varda could see very far – at least on the right side. The left side was nearsighted, but not just in distance.
The Varda had six eyes – two for each head. Each head had different capabilities and most certainly a different personality. The left saw the past, as far back as human history began, but no further. The center saw the present in all its glory and sadness. The right saw the future, shifting and uncertain to human eyes, but solid and sure to The Varda.
The Varda was just that, The Varda. It had no other name. How could it? With three heads and one lion-like body, it was three beings and yet one. This confounded everyone but made perfect sense to it. To name each head was to ignore the very reality of its oneness and unity within itself. It was the very example of cooperation and harmony. World leaders should have studied it, but didn’t. They might have averted this tragedy.
The Varda was always “it” – never he, or she. How could you determine gender? It did not reproduce, so it had no need for the simple distinctions of language. The Varda was simply The Varda, and nothing more.
All around The Varda were the cries of pain and confusion. The earthquake had ruined the centuries-old village with its monuments and temples. Shrines were in shambles. Homes were reduced to the clay that they had been molded from.
Enough earthquakes had happened in the past three hundred years here that the people had stopped building anything higher than a single story for their homes, or out of anything more substantial than packed earth. What was the point? It was easier to rebuild if there was less rubble in the way. Sort out the few meager belongings, set them to the side. Wet the same earth over again, pack it into simple wooden frames, let it set for an hour, pop it out and let it dry. A few days later they could rebuild the house – the same, or different this time. It was like forced redecorating. They had come to accept this as their normal.
It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t normal at all. They couldn’t see this, because of their limited sight. The Varda knew better. With time stretched out before it like a topographic map, it knew the dips and peaks of human history. It knew whether the people it watched were going to have a hard climb up the mountain of difficulty or an easy time of plenty in the valley of content.
Time was flat now, even for The Varda. It didn’t like this, not one bit. In all its eons of life, it had never felt so blind, so lost. It was missing its one way to guide its people, to keep them safe.
There was no way The Varda could let them know how lost it was. Their pain would only be magnified. It had to adapt, to learn how to see just the now, the present. Right now, all three heads saw only what was in front of them and nothing more.
It had started when the volcano erupted. Started? Perhaps stopped was more accurate. The three-part vision had turned off silently and slowly, like day fading into dusk. It was so gradual that The Varda didn’t even realize it until its sight was darkness, all flat and senseless. It could see, certainly, but not with the sharpness or meaning or surety that it had known all of its life. This was different.
Now The Varda was just like the people of this land. Time to rebuild, but this time it would be different. It would have to be.

Poem – now is not the time

Odd how
on my lunch break,
my own time,
I always worry about
what I’m going to do next
check my schedule
think I’m missing something

meaning that
I’m missing
the most important thing
which is
my time
right then.

Trying to multitask
means I’m not doing
the task
at hand.

While worrying about
saving time
I end up
losing it.