Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Haiku: What If It’s An Ocean

What if the river
I have stepped into anew
Is a wide ocean

And what if behind
Lies another blue ocean
Origin of me

” You cannot step into the same river twice.”



Exploring the poetry of everyday life
More easily said than done these days
Time to reset and center myself
Face facts that changes warping the world
Seem to be settling in for a long haul

Poetry is not dead Heaven forbid
This lifeblood of humans flows deep in our veins
Hidden beneath horrors spewed out in the news
Goodness and glory in shapes still unseen
Kindness and God’s grace yet will prevail


Saying Goodbye

Belle died at noon on Saturday
She left in peace with family around
Her ninety-seven years a testament
To life well lived and loved.
A friend to us who knew her well
She left a vacancy not soon filled

This morning the swimming pool is blue
Sun and fair skies foretell a lovely day.
Belle loved the pool in Summer
And sunning on the patio in Autumn
When falling leaves transformed the color scheme
Before Winter sent Belle back inside.

We played our Scrabble-like word game Royalty
By the pool or in the Party Room upstairs
Belle was the queen who beat us all
At forming words some of her own creation
She seemed to pull letters out of nowhere
To fashion words sometimes bizarre.

Belle is gone and yet I see her everywhere
Dressed in her Thriftique classy clothes
Speaking out to bring justice to the world
Celebrating Seder with generations of her family
Including us as her adopted relatives
Teaching us the ropes to vote absentee

Belle has been freed from suffering.
It was a grief to see her bowed so low
My heart rises remembering the wonder
Of the very special person that Belle was
Now living on in vibrant memories.
I did not know loss could produce such gain.


Ode To the Last Responders

After the quake rips through the earth
Gouging and splintering, leaving for dead
Hundreds of loved ones and home as they knew it.

After the ship falters and sinks
Flinging the desperately fleeing immigrants
Into the sea of no return.

After the plane plunges to earth
Flown by someone bent on destruction
Getting his wish. There are no survivors.

After the brutal devastation and horror
Grief overtakes those still alive
And us the world watching.

Then they appear to pick up the pieces
Like a Greek Chorus in yellow hazmat suits
Or red or white jumpsuits – the last responders.

Assembled to pull us back from the abyss
Bringing a semblance of order to chaos
They harvest the dead to be decently buried.

We do give them honor.


Writing 201:Poetry – Haiku On Being Mortal

Ocean waves of fear
Flooding thoughts of freedom lost.
Tears fall on my heart.


Last Vestige of a Marriage

Last week I stayed at a timeshare resort in Mexico that my second husband and I owned and visited for almost twenty years. The resort was a dream place for us since we were not really luxury sort of people. A former girlfriend of his convinced him to buy it with her. She sold him her half after we married – hence time in this beautiful place was an unexpected gift to us. It was the place I most felt like a couple – away from his all-consuming work, cell phone and internet connection (at least for the first ten years).

Last week, now divorced, I went alone. I felt his presence everywhere. I remembered the first few years when the resort was new and almost humble in its beginnings. The “kitchen” was only a counter in the living room with a couple of electric coils covered by a roll-top-piano sort of lid. Not many people sharing time at this splendid resort last week would believe that things were once just basic and functional. We loved remembering how things used to be. Now there was no one I could share those funny old memories with. Thoughts of him filled the apartment I was in, which we had shared two years ago for the last time. One afternoon while I was waiting on a bench for one of the electric golf carts that transport everyone where they want to go, I felt a bolt of memory more intense than the others. We had sat on that very bench waiting for the same golf cart countless times. His presence was overwhelming. When I got home I cried. I hadn’t felt the physical pain of grieving so profoundly before. I didn’t know why my grieving had held off for so long. It has been two years since our divorce. Grief is a mystery and keeps its own timetable.

At the end of the week I went to the customary owner’s breakfast and update on new plans and programs for the resort. I learned that my contract had been flagged to remind member services to let me know of a new development concerning my contract, which I still shared with my former husband, as well as my three sons. The member services representative asked me if I was aware that my former husband had tried to have me and my sons removed from the contract. Since that was not doable, he made his new wife his beneficiary. I was stunned. My dreams and memories went up in the smoke of illusion. The cold hard dose of reality put out any vestige of my old flame.


Revisited By Loss

Today the prompts don’t work and nothing comes to mind.
No ideas new – or old – appear to keep me company.
For once I threw the towel in and moved on with my day.
With shopping cart and list in hand I sought to jar the muse
With a pedestrian task. At least I’ll now have bread.

As I walked past the empty lot beside my home
A sudden kinship with it sprang to mind and heart.
This week two years ago was when I said goodbye
To what I’d built, life I lived, dream that was still-born.
Of course, I thought. Old-buried grief has come to call today.


Alternative Vision

When I was in junior high, my friends teased me. They said that  I saw this as “the best of all possible worlds “, like the character in Candide.  In South Pacific Mary Martin sang that she was “a cockeyed optimist.” I preferred that comparison. And then came Monty Python’s movie The Life of Brian with its  sublime ending and the song “when you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle–and always look on the bright of life”. This I took to heart. I certainly no longer (if I ever did) think this is the best of all possible worlds but I’ve stuck with looking at the bright side of life – eventually.

About seven years ago I suddenly lost most of the sight in my left eye. I had glaucoma in that eye which did not respond to pressure-lowering drops. In the same eye, I had experienced two minor episodes of  blockage in the central optic vein leading to my retina. Both had healed on their own. Then came a perfect storm of eye pressure through the roof and a blockage which left me with severely impaired vision. My right eye still worked fine, though  I’ve slowly lost all sight in my left one.

At first I was stunned. It took a while to get used to the idea. I was fearful and hesitant about walking around outside. I had no depth perception now and stepping off a curb was an iffy proposition. Walking on uneven surfaces, like the bumpy grass patch in front of my townhouse,  was a challenge. I thought about it and realized that neither the curb nor the grass had changed. Only my vision was different. I decided to trust  my feet to know where they were going. I’ve learned a lot about muscle memory. Another problem was I now had a  blind side on my left. Driving on the freeway was out, though I still felt safe driving around my neighborhood. Walking on the sidewalk presented a new lesson to learn. I wasn’t aware of people coming up on my left side. Sometimes I drifted into their paths. Then aha! I discovered on a sunny day with the sun at my back I could see people’s shadows approaching an act accordingly.

Life went on much as usual. I began to like the new world I lived in. I discovered that not being able to do everything myself meant I had to rely on other people. One day I took the bus  down town. I had learned to trust the yellow painted railings to guide me down the steps and off the bus to the sidewalk. On this day I didn’t get off at my usual stop. I made my usual safe, if not graceful, descent from bus to sidewalk and was on my way. Except that this stop had an unexpected little step up to the sidewalk level that I tripped over. With a sinking feeling  I felt myself pitch forward. And before I hit the ground two men waiting to board the bus caught me by my arms and set me back on my feet. Another person who had seen my near fall and rescue commented “That didn’t take long.” And we all went our separate ways. My life intersected with those people that afternoon in ways not possible when I was a solitary person driving my car.

I am connected to the world in new and surprising ways. I trust that I can open my front door, walk out into the universe and have awesome adventures that teach me new things. I like “chewing on life’s gristle”.




Writing 101,Day Four: The Serial Killer

In the posts for assignments about music yesterday, many writers talked about losses of relationships and sadness and moving on. I reflected that I married my two serious relationships and later divorced them when things were not working  out. It was a different time. I’m sure I felt loss after the divorce of my first husband, the father of my children. Tomorrow would have been our 55th wedding anniversary. We divorced in 1990 after thirty years of marriage. I married my second husband in 1995. We were married eighteen years and divorced a year ago. My story is not about divorce, though, but about what followed.

My first husband and I  were high school sweethearts. We had the traditional 50’s wedding. It was followed by the birth of three sons, buying our first home,  performing the expected male/female division of labor, and in the 60’s (not in the original playbook) growing apart into a parallel marriage. During our marriage I was alone in body and soul. I created a life for myself but was still lonely. I went to theological seminary to get a Masters of Divinity degree.  When my last son went off to college I completed my degree and only then felt free to strike off on my own. I asked for a divorce and received it. I pastored a little 150 year old church in a semi-rural area not far from the city where my former husband lived and where our sons returned to from time to time. My primary emotion during the upheaval of divorce was anger – an expression of my feelings not “allowed” in the context of my marriage.I learned to use  anger to fuel my breaking our of a very stuck place. I grieved what I could not give my sons in the way of a stable family and home. I did not regret my new freedom.

Several years later I went to my 40th high school reunion. My former husband was there with a lovely woman who was now his companion. Another classmate arrived with a photo album of pictures he had taken during elementary school, including one of me. He showed me the picture and asked if I knew that he had been in love with me in the 6th grade. I laughed and replied “No”. I wasn’t interested in boys then. That was the beginning of many conversations and my eventual decision to move to the city where he lived and marry him. I thought my sons would think me giddy but I was determined to follow my bliss. We had an untraditional wedding and lived an unconventional life. We had a great story! But not a true foundation. In time my husband spent more and more time with his work and later his grandchildren. Again I created a life for myself.  Now that I have left him I have so many memories that are triggered by music, reading about the places where we traveled, having supper alone, picturing the space I lived in with him, remembering my dreams of “what might have been” and  feeling the emptiness of living alone for the rest of my life. And knowing that I am where I belong. I’m grateful for my tears and the softness inside that reminds me of the good things we had together. He has a new wife now who suits him well. And I’m beginning a new life again, back where I started.

In the midst of my marriage to my second husband, my first husband re-entered my life. By then two of my sons and their families had moved back to their original home town. We’d all get together in one of my son’s home for Christmas. By then the family had grown to sixteen people, including my first husband’s companion and my second husband. As years went by my first husband and I reconnected over our long history and sharing grandchildren. When I flew to visit family he would pick me up at the airport. Now that I have moved back to where I began, he regularly invites me out for coffee and our conversations continue. In March he, his companion and I traveled together to our 60th high school reunion. The other day while we had coffee he was trying to think of the name of a cousin of his he hasn’t seen in a long time. I came up with her name. Later I realized that I am the only person on earth he could have had this conversation with. I know he has my back as long as we’re alive, but this is far more than that assurance. We are in a place beyond marriage. There is a saying that in Ghana you don’t know where you are going and you don’t know how to get there yet you arrive just the same.