Kentucky Sunday


Feeling this poem today for some reason, so thought I would repost. It is NOT summer. There are 10 inches of snow. But the longing in me to be known and honored are sinking in my belly. So here. This.

Originally posted on Prose, Poetry and Ponderings:

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

View original 182 more words

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2014 was a beautiful and awful year.

We lost and almost lost dear friends and family. We worked so long that we felt we couldn’t work any more. We sat happily with good coffee and sunshine and companionship. We loved harder than we ever had and sometimes that still wasn’t good enough. We discovered family at new depths. We were sick and wrestled with our demons. We ate. A lot. We shared our excess. We witnessed the horrors of greed and ignorance and racism and poverty. We tried to be part of solutions.

Through it all we experienced our aloneness and the joy of being held in each other’s hearts.

The river of our lives is carved through force and over many years. Stones, fallen branches, sand and mud, wind, water, sunshine. Good or bad? No, it’s just what rivers are made of.

Still we hope and pray and open ourselves to the possibility that we will find more consistent strength for the journey, and the ability to continue in the only thing that really matters…

… to befriend what comes

… and to expect that the love we make and are visited with is enough. american river

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Since Saturday

blurt it out

the fear you have been holding like a sword
across your chest
which has been shimmering and shaking in your hands
since last saturday

“I fear I will be broken”
you text

but the truth has already spoken itself from your lips
the blade has been removed from the scabbard
that keeps you from me, me from you, you from your own liberation

you don’t know it
but I cried last night
treasuring the stories you poured straight into my heart

… the ways you both love and hate them
… the ways you have walked into the fires of lust and compassion
… the ways you were careening toward grace even from the pit of the well

“A day without going backward is a day going forward”
you text

You whom the world rejects
You who invites the poor to stay with you for a year or so

while you take the couch

You know something, you are someone
I need

every day
spin me into the dance of the
barefoot, abandoned, unshaven
who know what it is to be damaged
and who want to be whole

it is there I find some peace

borken pot

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YOLO: What makes your body happy?

About a month ago my OB Gyn told me I had “concerning” cells in my uterus and that I had a good chance of having cancer.angry uterus

Can’t I just go to El Salvador and Guatemala first and then do the surgery afterward?” I suggested as if I was immortal. (I was very excited about an important work trip.)

She peered at me over the top of narrow reading glasses. “I…. wouldn’t do that if I were you.

Still I made my case.

Eventually her tiny 5′ body turned from the computer screen where she sat in a short, hot pink tuliped skirt, fishnet stockings, and tall spiky heals which she somehow managed to make look classy (I kid you not) and said…

Shannon, I know this is not an easy time for you. And that your work really matters to you. But I don’t want you that far away from me.

So I sat quietly for a moment letting it sink in. I could feel my eyes fill up with tears. She was right. It had not been an easy time. I had been bleeding for a couple of months and already undergone some “procedures”. But this was the big one:  uterus, ovaries, all the reproductive connectors. I was getting neutered! Or spayed! Or something like that. And then there was that “C” word.

As if that weren’t enough, I had moved to Kentucky only a year and 1/2 prior and left my entire family in Washington State, including my precious college girls. Oh and I was in the middle of a divorce. That’s all. So my Doc wasn’t exaggerating.

After a weekend of feeling like I was staring up from the bottom of a dank muddy well, I came up with a plan. I would have THE most fantastic week responding to the question: “What makes my body happy.”

The question is “What makes your body happy?” not “what makes you happy?

And the answer came: good food, companionship, fresh air, touch and music.

A number of years ago I began a re-orientation in my life toward gratitude. I grew up in a family where one “expects the worst and if good happens, you are pleasantly surprised“. I hope you didn’t. Really, this way of thinking can cramp your life and suck your mood into tiny little entropic vortexes that will wreak havoc on you and all those you love. I was feeling pulled into that old way of being. A good friend gave great advice when he told me to live in what is, not what might be. Thus I began my YOLO week.

Facebook friends didn’t know about my upcoming surgery. They seemed tickled by it when I posted. I went out for drinks with people I liked. Just one drink – I really was good to my body. I went on a night walk with a friend and his dogs. I sat by the Ohio River. Walked in a rainstorm. I stopped by my favorite coffee place regularly. I listened to a local band I know playing Latin music. A friend and I went out to eat at my favorite restaurant. We were there 4 hours. I went to a movie. I made pumpkin pancakes and bourbon vanilla syrup for friends and we all jammed on my music. The hardest part was the touch part.

How was I going to do that? I have truly missed the tenderness of touch, in all it’s forms. But given my personal life transition, I was in a quandary.

Sure, sexual intimacy would have been nice, especially since I was losing all my official reproductive organs  — and for a moment I toyed with asking a male friend to “fill in”.
You know. Nothing intense. Just sit and hold me and stroke my hair or something. But the only ones I felt vaguely close enough to sit that close to were gay. That would be awkward. Plus, I have a thing about how people smell. And what if agreed upon “friend” hung out with me for an evening and I couldn’t bear his smell. Maybe I would run a craigslist ad! THAT wouldn’t likely go over big in my Christian subculture. Strange things go through the mind of a woman about to lose her “girls”. awkward santa

I settled for dogs, hugs and kisses from friends, the warmth of prayers and good wishes, and a lovely knitted prayer shawl which accompanied me after surgery through my return to the hospital for a nasty infection and eventually home again. My touch came after. I think that is a good omen.

To sum it up, I loved my YOLO week. And really, it only took a little extra effort! In a way, it was not particularly different than any other week. Perhaps it was a little concentrated, but it had all of the elements of my normal “at home” weeks with a bit more cash outflow. The only thing that took any organizational effort was creating music. I simply MUST do that more! Music makes my body the happiest.

Part of the joy was my heightened awareness of being grateful for the things that make me happy and healthy. I didn’t succomb to anxiety and grief over being so far from home. Granted, 3 of my closest family member took turns caring for me – flying from WA, ID, and LA. I am blessed. But it took intention.

I am still learning about gratitude and recovery. (It could have a bit to do with the instant menopause I have been placed in.) But as I write this I am remembering the literally hundreds of people I know who prayed for me, called me, sent cards and flowers and brought food, who reminded me that I am strong and loved. What a rich life I have in friends and family and colleagues. This is all I have ever wanted. Well, and good coffee.


The cells they were most concerned about had not developed into cancer. Hallelujah! We will watch some blood tests for 6 months to make sure no errant cells escaped the uterus (they often evolve into cancer). All is well.



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Holding My Breath

IMG_1526 ridiculous dog
“stay down!” 
i say upon our first greeting
coffee in hand
there is an
effortless morning rain 
into scattered white and pale blue
supervising crows
issue orders
surely the animals are in charge
a hand-pulled espresso
in a pottery mug
my 40th:
and wine
a cold rocky beach
on the bookshelf
there is a photo of the children
5, 3
tucked into a red tree
with tevas
so fiesty and sweet they were
and are
my baby goes to college
and again
with intention – and not
it does not matter…
we do what we can
to hold it at a distance
a cloudburst catches us
machines die
children grow up
dogs learn not to
eviscerate every
computer cord
you receive a phone call
you know what comes next
today the wall
of change is 
a tidal wave
i feel like i am
holding my breath
say good-bye
to what was
and what i imagined
dreams and ideas
and such gorgeous and treacherous realities
i know only three things
i love deeper than i thought possible
i have been loved so hard
even the wrong things
can be done with love
 you are loved
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beyond purfection

beyond perfection

is where you will find me

i slipped around it

through a vision

which revealed the other side

could be found

by refusing to

make myself any crazier than



what a relief!


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weeding and weeping

1:2 weeded gardenstep into the garden
cedar trees and alders sentinels
the greyed bench
tipping back now
needs to be righted
my ½-weeded garden
sweet woodruff and oregano
larkspur and foxglove
and horse tails
that grow
while I travel
and work
and attempt to make sense of the world
of myself and of youceltic lady
you who tend to your
gardens of love and belonging
every single day
i am weeping
and weeding
i feel it in the dirt
the every day smile of my women/children
grilling with family 
making music
but mostly the amendments
of laughter and nurture
the afternoon sigh
and yelling at the dog
who just slurped my coffee
we will never know
what might have been
what good will come of
we do what we do
because we have to
or need to
and such a gift it is and will be
we cannot know we
are shadows
until something 
heartbreaking shifts
or how empty and lost
and blessed
we were and still are
the rosemary may be overwhelming
the butterfly bush
-one would never think it-
the himalyan honeysuckle
still thrills
with trickling red flowers
the hummers are warring
for their sweetness
and i am just here
and weeping
in my gardenhimalayan honeysuckle
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