The singing night

the air is singing the stories of
oh – hear it!
only interrupt the path of our arresting
and attend even a moment to
the smell of the night
the familiar way the lobster sticks to the soft smoke-grilled shell
and the tendril of crab in butter
you gave me
the bite of mint floating in bourbon
photo (3)
if we lean into our senses
 we will hear what underlies it all
insect cymbals rattling, banging
and then falling
like a starling’s murmuration
lyrical, other worldly
and such a friend to the ear
and heart
this isn’t Puget Sound
where the night hush
sinks into the ground with the dew
and only the “whash” and plop of the waves
on the rocks
these singing nights
are heavy wool blankets
and fire breath
pull it in, blow it out
and feel it
rising and falling
like labor
and love-making
and the changing embers
glowing in new shape and form
which is friendship
last night we heard a whole song
in and between soul-filling
the glow of the fire
the word of the ivory-fingered gospel
and the picking of strings and story
of mamas and look-out towers
of failure
and birth
and the epiphanied treasures
that are mystery
we heard a whole song of songs
and story
in the treasury of music
which is our lives
each one
soft to the touch
to love and lyric and laughter
such beauty
and truth
is almost
too much to bear
Posted in Music, Poetry, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kentucky Sunday

a wild bouquet of 3-year-olds
fling themselves into water jets
and sit down
before dissolving into
a crowd of guardians and water play
oh the racket!
of 5-year-old boys
who are deliriously
being doused by buckets of water
almost as gleeful
as their dad
who has a couple of them
over his shoulder
sopping wet
and squealing
it is into this calescent
Kentucky Sunday
the kind that could stifle
and divert every kind intent
that we call for
bloody marys
maybe 2
no celery stalk
but olives
which shipwreck and sink
to the bottom
of the glass
bloody mary 2
we sit in this summer field
you tell truth
which spills out
like the sweat on your brow
uncaged stories
as redolent and wounding as
I’ve heard
and this heartsong
only a patch in the acres of
your tender and
interrupted pilgrimage
you cry
for the love of a friend
and rehearse with me
the binding and releasing of
wonder and fear
wonder and fear
 the tugging of discontent
and the unexpected gardens
where loneliness leads
you are art
such honesty
I did not earn
but you gave
i neglected to thank you
birdcage man
we don’t know
what weighs down the pockets
of those we hold in our hearts
or only in 
rocks or nails
or a day old piece of leftover fish
wrapped in a napkin 
who knows?
the scripts written
for and by you
are with you
and being harvested
even now
like those 
sprouting children
too soon the day collapsed
into home grown carrots
organic broccoli
and cheese
and the friction
of insect legs that sing up the night
much too soon 
as you left
i thought
“maybe this is what holy is:
being trusted enough
to hold the darkness and light
of another
in your heart
and to love it all”
Posted in Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mint Julep

It is just enough
to break open a midwest summer
just add
gossiping insects
sultry walks
embarrassingly disobedient hair
“The Ohio”
I sink into a cool night
with a slight breeze of cricket-song ~~~
I swish white sugar and water
in the bottom of a glass
muddle some mint
plop ice
then bourbon and
bring on the guitar!
It takes little,
to be happy:
home grown mint,
a place to call safe
and a voluptuous summer night  
Today I could kneel on the ground
in praise
Posted in crickets, God, Poetry, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment



how close together are the tracks

of good and evil

intentions and proof cannot contain them

a choice made for healing

wounds someone else

empties out in a bowl of tears

fiercer than a Kentucky rainfall


you may have lived years

doing what is right

for someone else and even for you.

only to

find yourself

straddling the universes

of resentment and hope

like waterskies

with your weak legs and a choppy lake


I am distraught

I am angrier than chaos

I am hopeful and relieved and expectant


And isn’t that life

unforgiving and principled

resistant to change

and bound for it

which is just fine in theory

and so bone-piercing

when it


Posted in justice, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

unlock your heart

unlock your heart
so love can fall in it
no reason to shutter
the door
is it so big
so hard
so scary
to let yourself love and be loved
do you think you are so special
to live behind
a gate peeking out
at me and
the world
what about
the sunsets
you say you enjoy
are they any different
than the waitress
the barber
the old woman on the bus
who needs
help getting her bag 
up the stairs?
are you really
so precious
so fragile
so complete
to not fall in love
every day?
Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Let me cry

smokey mountain1I can’t get the stench
out of my hair
and my clothes
the rubberish burn
composting bananas
and soup bones
and lettuce
and feces
the man tearing off
labels of 
plastic bottles
to sell
the wet naked babies
cleaned with dirty water
who have never known anything else
the wedged in shacks
made of boards, mesh and plastic
the mamas and papas
smiling at my
smiling at their childrensmokey mountain naked boy
the slow motion cats
too gaunt to play
and the blue sky
in octagons and slivers
corrugated metal 
3000 families
live in this dump
scavenging to survive
another day
no birth proof
no education
no healthcare
reed-thin bodies
and herds of children
Smokey mountain 2running
the pop cans
glass shards
and my junk
Forgive me
for shelter
for Starbucks
for my fat belly
for not knowing
my privilege
Forgive me
for washing machines
and 3 meals a day
Forgive me for 
my unwillingness
to quit buying
and tossing
for praying
for an end to the cold
for not knowing
for not seeing
for thinking the world was 
about “mine”
in the millions of choices I make
Let me cry
don’t comfort me
-not now-
let my broken heart
stay in pieces
it would be
any other way
Smokey mountain 4 boys
*Smokey Mountain II is home to 3000 families on the outskirts of Manila. Most of them are undocumented, uneducated, and are migrants. I am working on connecting to a org there that helps these families. Send me a note if you’d like to know more. 
Posted in Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In The Underbelly

thailand girlsin the underbelly of Chiang Mai
I met a shoeshine boy, maybe 8 
midnight eyes
pleading face
he vanished
into the lady-boys
fat old white men
groping Asian girls
I almost gasped when
I couldn’t find him
there was
a baby sleeping
on a tottering
wood table
no sentinel
no arms
no soft bed
she could have rolled off any time
or be swept into
someone’s backpack
and disappeared
in a heartbeat
thailand kids 
around the corner
a dozen school-aged kids 
4s, 6s, 10s,
divvying up teams
as if it they were at a
someone’s back yard
or a little league
but it was 11pm
in the hazy red light
a karaoke bar
“come upstairs for the show!”
a dozen meagerly clad girls
and hourly rates
bar on bar on bar
I’ve never known
like this
an empty belly for days 
the fatigue that comes from
wanting me to
take care of 
at 40
I’ve never lived
in a hut
or a shack
or in a drug zone
I’ve never walked
30 miles 
carrying my wife
or child
for medical care
been seduced by a job
as a waitress in another
with the promise of
more than enough
thrilled that I
could be the one!
the one to tip the scales
in favor of enough
and maybe even
an education
I cannot judge
only sit here
on my back porch
with the doves
and my morning coffee
and wonder
What if it had been me?
in the red light district
Posted in justice, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments