Copyright © 2000 by Cora E. Cypser.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00 093128
ISBN: 1-892063-05-Printed in
Published by KIM PATHWAYS
Pieces of Yesterday contains poems that connect our
yesterdays to our tomorrows.
Dedicated to all those who have
garnered wisdom from their yesterdays.
The King’s Troubadour 1
Like The Ostrich 2
All Things From Emptiness 3
The Fallen Ideal 5
Humility, Not Futility 5
The Mustard Seed 6
The Adolescent 8
Feeling Immortal 8
Revelation As Gift 10
Song for Strength of Spirit 11
Today – 12
The Vision 13
Gift of The Trees 14
Autumn Is 16
For James 17
An Attempt to Visit Mao’s Tomb 18
An African on The French
To Those Who Fret Not 20
Accent on The Positive 20
The Foundling 21
God’s Dwelling Place 23
Catechism Class 24
Jays On A Rainy Day 25
Jays and Sun 25
The Child and The Flowers 26
The Loom of The Spinning Sisters 28
Animal Talk 29
Leisure Time 30
Voice of Spring 31
Will Power 34
The Return 35
The Blue Gown 36
Little Ones 36
Subway Music 39
Dealing with Frost 40
Wheels on Water 40
The Transformer 41
Generation Gap 42
The Self-Sufficient 43
Black Holes 44
God Has A Sense of Humor 45
Composer Creator 45
Art Work 47
Sing for December 48
Would You Want to Go Back? 49
Jesus as Sacrament 50
Tracks on The Beach 51
Between The Shore and The Sea 52
The Empty Plastic 53
Lonely Heart 54
Argument on Birds 55
Something from Nothing 56
Death as A Miracle 57
Youth and Age 58
Consolation in Solitude 59
On Pain 60
On Joy 61
Loving as A Replacement to Threatening 62
The Pyrite Pleuroceras 63
The King’s Troubadour
When I was a child, I thought as a child
and my thoughts were lilting and proud and wild
and I wanted to sing for the Great King
because it seemed to be a good thing
and my name might be known.
But now I am grown!
And I want to sing for the King
because he is kind
and his pain is so plain on his face
and his hands ask a song
and his truth and his right
shine across the black night
and show up the world’s wrong.
And I must walk singing
upon the wide earth
with steps firm and fleet
for to my surprise
when I knelt to be blessed
as the King’s troubadour
I found near my eyes
two blood-covered feet.
Like The Ostrich
We hide our hopes;
we hide our fears;
let no one see into our hearts
for years and years;
ignore all those who cross our path.
We do not show
our anger or our care.
We hide our true self deep inside
not letting ego out or others in.
We hide the sad side, bad side.
We hide the weak side, meek side;
let no one know our dreams
our aims, our plans, or our despair.
The mind is full of tumbling thought
but it won’t think like it ought
unless we bring it out
for sunshine and fresh air.
The ostrich mind hides in the sand
and shaking feathers face the land.
All Things From Emptiness
God caused them to be made
the fish in the sea from nothing
the ducks that paddle through the water
the swimming otter from nothing
the cat bird singing, laughing, imitating, from nothing
and all things that have their being on earth
these, too, from nothing
the giraffe, the sky scraper, the electronic brain
and the human, the wonder of the human being
from nothing, and the small, small things
that we can’t see with an unaided eye
the atom, the x-ray from nothing.
God made them all from nothing.
Phoenician Commercial Vessel
Eve is a keeper of things.
Eve keeps broken toy cars, headless dolls
chipped china, un-stuffed animals.
Because their spirits cry out to her–
“Please don’t reject me!”
“Overlook my imperfections!”
“Save me from nothingness!”
Eve is a folder of laundry
giving tender care to shrunken T-shirts
frowsy pajamas, permanent press blouses.
To keep her sanity
to keep a place for everything
and everything in its place.
Eve is a sorter of socks
matching this sock with that.
Socks must pair up like souls
like husbands and wives
like friends on journeys.
Two by two, we enter
Socks, shirts, un-stuffed animals
the Creator must smile on Eve
for taking such care of this creation.
The Fallen Ideal
The prince lies dead in his palace on the hill.
We who have walked beside him on the road
we who have fought beside him on the field
we who have drunk and eaten at his table
we feel the emptiness; we feel the chill.
We are too sad to repossess his load
To carry on, it seems we are unable.
Will he forgive the words we should have sealed?
Forgive the weeds we sowed among the wheat?
Forgive our running off when evil bode?
Can we commit ourselves to imitate
his great humility, his burning zeal?
Are we so lost we can’t forgive ourselves?
Does God forgive us when we are not able?
Humility, Not Futility
What God has given to us
we are called to share in humility.
What the world presents to us
we are not to eye with futility.
For all problems, praise God
and ask for wisdom to care.
For all blessings, praise God
and ask for opportunities to share.
The Mustard Seed
Faith is knowing there is an ocean,
because you have seen a brook. W.A. Ward
We see the bud, and hope to see the flower.
We know the acorn makes a mighty tree.
We watch the second grow into the hour
and know the hour becomes eternity.
We leap the brook and know there is a river
and that the river flows into the sea
and when a kind word chances to come hither
I know the loving God has thought of me.
There an iron Mary stands
holding the little king
that he may see the fishing fleets
the shining sea, the church
the graveyard, and the cock.
Monstrous the statue looms
around the corner of the road
the powerful Mary and all-powerful son
surveying the small piece of world
I think the babe might like the cock the best.
Small children’s eyes
don’t wander quite so far as sea and mount.
They grasp the near-by sight, the thing at hand
the graveyard and the cock.
I think some artist of an earlier year
just might have made the cock
in order to adorn his grave
hoping to have the babe’s eyes
watching over him.
He might have thought–
“When Jesus looks at this fine iron bird
this Peter’s cock, how pleased he’ll be.
Perhaps he’ll even think of me.”
Such I assume when I don’t really know!
Humor us, Jesus, for the times
we claimed we understood another’s mind.
I will grab the sun and prevent its setting
for I am young and strong;
I shall hold the sun in my right hand
and the earth shall reel drunk-mad about me.
I shall snatch the rays of the sun
and twist them to a crown for the wild world.
Then I shall give a merry young laugh
for it is ludicrous that this world should be crowned.
I shall pull the golden clouds from the horizon
and give them to this drunk earth for a pillow
and it is ludicrous. So I shall laugh
for I am young and strong.
She stands there poised for flight
on the brink of youth
saying, “Take me to the stars!
I must have stars to make me happy.”
She stands there poised for flight
scarcely thinking of those who went before.
She asks for the sun
like it was of no consequence
She is gracious, but demanding.
She stands on the brink of youth
quiet and eager.
She must have dreams to dream
and to make come true.
Only when we treat others with equity
will we be able to live peacefully.
If we insist on superior rights
or gather more property
we will find ourselves living in fear.
When people gather together in fear
they will find an enemy to fight.
This will not relieve their agony
but will cause devastation.
When those who are afraid
resolve to understand the opposition
they will find commonalities
which lead to friendship.
Nothing but harm comes
from insisting on one's specialness.
Chosen? Elected? God made us all.
Thus, we are all the special ones.
We must see ourselves in each other.
When all of us see God's workmanship
in the faces of those around us
then God will dwell with all of us.
Revelation As Gift
God gives gifts of God’s own self
to each of us.
We can find God’s Spirit easily
in stars, in sunsets, and in flowing rivers.
We find the Spirit, too
in the garbage dumps of God’s creation
if we search diligently.
We can find God in words.
The scriptures speak to us
of different kinds of God
an angry God, a punishing God
a God of Love.
We chose our God idea.
We live out our God idea.
We can find God in people.
God is in mother love
in treasured friendships
but God also is revealed
in broken hearts, in wronged relationships
in the twisted and dysfunctional.
God’s process blossoms best
dredged out of anger and despair.
Song for Strength of Spirit
Give me strength for the day, Yahweh
to walk my road
to carry my load.
Give me light for the day, Yahweh
that I may see.
Please stay by me.
And while I’m asking
will you give me wisdom?
Will you give me knowledge?
Will you give me peace?
And while I’m asking
will you make me kinder?
Will you make me braver?
When I waver
will you urge me on?
Give me strength for the day, Yahweh.
we are in the presence of God.
We are immersed in an ocean of spirit.
we were in God’s presence
when we argued
for the less kind position
the one that would make
more money for the wealthy
and take bread
from the children’s mouths.
We were in God’s presence
when we cheered
at the bombing of another.
We were in God’s presence
when we threw our left over lunch
out the car window.
we will be in God’s presence.
Let us prepare ourselves
to rest in God’s presence
for God loves
to be present
My neighbor had a stream
running through his property.
He had a vision of a willow-lined pond
with water lilies
and a brood of ducklings
treading water behind their mother.
He dredged a hollow in the earth
removed great stones
built him a wall around the hole
dammed up the end
let the spring rains
fill the cavity under the trees
and sent a mental invitation to the water fowl.
Two ducks responded to this gift of pond
mallards with shining green upon their heads
a friendly pair, but not productive.
Must a man forego his dream
because his ducks appear homosexual?
Gift of The Trees
The oak and willow kept us warm that winter
blaze after blaze of spitting, crackling wood.
The oak had dropped his leaves in early summer
prey to some insects’ sorry appetites
giving us sign we should be using him
for heat instead of shade that year.
The willow we cut down because his limbs
lashed violently against our wires.
He was a youngster who had grown too tall.
We felt remorse, but had no other choice.
So both trees kept us warm. We felt their friendship
radiating to us, glad that they could be of use.
Early Greek Sailing Vessel
Time is one of the dimensions of love
our chance to send out feelers towards divinity.
Time is one way we make a connection to God.
From past time, we develop faith.
From present time, we learn to love.
We look to the future, and show the quality of hope.
We accept God’s present time as God’s statement to us.
In our allotted time we learn the world is sacrament
the holy material through which souls acquire being
and are enabled to think beyond that being
to what is beyond our being.
Only by touching the here and now
can we conceive of the Totally Other.
By touching the garment of the messenger Christ
we come in contact with Totally Other.
If we ourselves were Totally Other
we would not be able to reach towards God.
What bird will sing
dragging a broken wing?
when God comes walking across the grass
encouraging the living and the dying.
God murmurs to the oak tree–
“Be your most glorious;
turn red and shout ‘Glory to God!’
You must work well for me while you are able.”
God talks to the maple.
God speaks to the dogwood and to the alder
and God commands the willows and the birches.
Of course, some obey better than others
and some are designed to obey better than others.
God summons the whole autumn world.
They answer Gloria
when all appears dead
and seems not to hear God’s voice.
But when the snow comes, Beloved
we must not forget the spring.
Remember that God said
“I will renew all things.”
We must not forget the spring.
This child will love the birds
though he’s no Francis.
But see how they cavort
here by the window sill
where his crib is.
This child will make great music
though he is no John
chanting the word across
the darkness of the world
but he shall have love in his heart
to spread abroad.
He shall be baptized James
a strong man, burning with zeal
working and singing
that others may cherish
God in their hearts.
See that hawk soaring
up above the treetops?
He shall soar
that the hearts of all
may follow him in his flight.
An Attempt to Visit Mao’s Tomb
We drove under flags to Tian An
where the red star shines and flags wave.
Can it be they wave for us
first a line of red
then a line of multicolor–
miles of flags.
The police believe the flags rise and fall breezily
for an important visitor
but we sense something different.
The breast of
rises and falls in joyous breath
for us, the common people
and for the thoughts that common people bring
to share with thoughts that other commoners think.
Caring people bring more
to other caring people
than leaders sharing power with other leaders.
Premiers do not care for thoughts of commoners.
Surely, we would have visited the tomb
of Premier Mao
but the line was much too long.
We could not pay respect to history
but we felt surging history
in the de colores flags
and in the community
that is alive in
The flags spoke to us
curled bravely for us.
An African on The French
The black man from
walks like a king.
His face reveals nothing
but that he is wise.
He walks placing his feet silently
like he had learned
to walk silently in the jungle.
His back is straight.
He is tall and his head is up.
His face looks strange to me.
His nose is too flat and wide.
His eyes are too Egyptian.
But he looks
like he had thought of God
and time and eternity
in the jungle silences.
Hannibal, too, proudly walked
with his elephants.
To Those Who Fret Not
Fret not - you are of more value than many sparrows. Matt.10:31
Are we of much more value, then
Wherein does value lie?
In praising you, oh God
or in our inner make-up?
Is it that we have more
spirit-energy than birds?
But, if so, do we use it?
It seems we do not praise you
half as much as sparrows
though we have louder voices.
Accent on The Positive
Moses talked on the mount
to a fearsome God and heard
“You shall not–”
Love looked on a father’s face
and the word was shall.
“You shall not
hurt or harm or wrong–”
The Word spoke out
“You are fulfilled in love.”
Humankind, guided by instinct, copulated
and brought forth
an idea of the creator
as loving and forgiving.
Many did not see how their society
could possibly accept
mercy and suffering
with abusive power
so left this birthed thought bloodstained
with her own placenta
naked on the hillside
as customary with things female.
But a human, Ezekiel, came upon it
discarded through social custom as worthless.
The human Ezekiel, cleaned it, nurtured it.
The human Ezekiel with God’s help
brought this seemingly worthless thought
Our kindlier instincts, brewed by God
are more dependable than custom
and do not deceive us.
Fisherman blue jeaned
red shirted comfortable
commander of a slight gray rowboat
with ripples outrunning–
your reflection, sir
is ripples outrunning.
And I myself
how do I reflect to you?
We never know what reflections
we are sending to each other.
God give us the grace
to reflect God’s love
Norman Vessel, IXth Century
God’s Dwelling Place
The whole world is God’s church
a holy place
the holiest of holies
and we must worship Being
every day in every way
with holy hands and helping hearts.
Whichever sex we are
a man, a woman
the holy God supports
our living and our breathing.
Each breath we draw in
that is holy breath.
Each hand we take
within our hand
each hand is holy.
The whole world is God’s church.
We cannot thrust
this holiness of Being
He rose from the dead, the wise men said.
What would you do, Little Boy Blue,
if the whole wild story turned out to be true?
Terrible enough to see a man die
under a wild and threatening sky
with gore pouring out and expiring sigh,
terrible enough that he died for you,
through your own fault, too, if you take as true
what we’re telling you, Little Boy Blue.
How can you know if your sin hurts him
if that’s God on the cross who made us living
and hung the stars and etched the earth
and the moon and Mars, and is always giving?
Little Boy Blue, they say your sin poked the sharp nails in.
Is it true? It is sad to think that a lad like you
could hurt a man or hurt a God. Do you think you can?
But suppose it’s true, Little Boy Blue? What will you do?
And suppose it’s true that like they said
he came back smiling from the dead
and’s forgiven you, Little Boy Blue?
Suppose some morning without warning
he comes like lightening from the sky? How frightening!
Will you and I hide from his eyes, Boy Blue?
Then would we die?
Little Boy Blue looked me straight in the face.
“If it’s like you said, it’s a disgrace.
I‘ll kill the world. I‘ll kill it dead!”
Jays On A Rainy Day
The jays sound the same – on a rainy day – anywhere
but I am gladder to hear them here than – anywhere
and the iris bloom in the same way – here
as they do – anywhere
but I’m gladder for my iris than for iris – anywhere
but I will go
wherever you want me to go – Yahweh Spirit – anywhere
even though there are no iris and no jays – anywhere.
Jays and Sun
Blue sky and warm sun and green woods
and here comes a flash of blue wings
and the call of a jay.
From high past a tree that points proud
to the sky, he comes and he sings
saluting the day
and saluting his lady and love.
“Come, my love, with the wings of blue.
Come quickly, most fair!
I have found us a crumb,” he calls.
“Come, Love, and I’ll share it with you.
Come quickly and share!”
He waits while the blue of her wings
settles down to the brown of the ground
to partake of the prize.
Then at once she is dashing away.
Next, his turn. Then triumphant with sound
pursuing, he flies.
The Child and The Flowers
She stood among the flowers
with her long corn silk hair
in its fat braids
wreathing her lovely face
where the small tight curls
escaped the stern brush.
All I could say was, “Vas es dat?”
and she told me their names
until we came to zinnea
and we were both so pleased
that zinnea was the same
in her tongue as in mine.
Not far from her garden was the church
and there, too, blossomed flowers
on the dark slabs of the dead.
How the living remembered
those who had gone before!
Such a riotous cemetery!
And there under great stones lay quietly these others
who had once had fat blonde braids
and stood in gardens talking gravely
those whose hands had stroked a zinnea.
Many sunrises in the past
by the sea of Galilee
a man spoke out
that God was love and love was God
and both of them dwelt within him.
Because of this
some said these three
love, God, and man
formed Holy Trinity.
Today nearby that selfsame sea
the friends and foes of such a man
the children of his loving God
debate land rights and fight with might
inciting hatred, causing fear.
Yet this same God, the power of love, the willing friend
still wants to dwell in each of them.
XIIIth Century Sailing Vessel
The Loom of The Spinning Sisters
What is the meaning of this design
embroidered on this endless tapestry
of burning reds and flashing oranges
and jet blacks?
What means this material stuff
cascading in a flush of stars
from the mind of its creator?
What is the sensuous sense
behind the jumble of colors on the loom?
What the force of thought
that made the frayings
and the ravelings on the floor
lying there like a crushed rainbow
flung down in play by a thoughtless child.
Pick me a meaning, an inuendo.
The meaning may be
that we have evolved here to see
this wonderful tapestry
and to marvel at it
and to marvel at its maker
and to marvel
at the way
we are related to its maker.
Soft noises from beyond my window
slowly nudged me from my slumber.
Was it a turkey gobbling a gentle warning to its young?
Rising and looking out
I saw a deer urging a fawn to hurry.
The fawn obeyed, moving ahead
turning her head from side to side
trying to see the reason for the urging
following her mentor
the expression on her face wondering
“What is the thing that I should fear
that I might know which way to run?”
Never before have I heard deer communicate.
Language and the understanding of it
who can interpret? What are they saying?
The cat purrs out comfort and peace.
The moose lowing in the woods
calling another moose
the chattering of monkeys
evolves beside the human’s calls and yodels.
The ancestors spoke
and we can sense the meaning of their sounds.
When I am startled by a mouse
my EEK is heard quite far away.
More formal words are harder to interpret.
What do the people say?
Are their noises
kind noises,– warning noises,– cruel noises?
There are moments in our lives
when we can reach out to serve others.
What we do with our leisure time
is very important to the plan of our whole life
and to the existence of our Mother Earth.
XIVth Century Sailing Vessel
Voice of Spring
Listen to me. I am Spring!
I am the voice of love and life.
I am apple blossoms.
I am red maples.
I am greening woods.
Harken to me, and hush your laughing lips.
Be quiet, you smiling girls.
Be quiet, you merry old men.
Be quiet, you young men
with the warm blood racing through you.
Be still for I have a message.
I am Spring.
I am come to tell you of empires fled
and new ones made.
I am come to tell you of dead religions
and a living God.
I am come to tell you of broken hearts
that were healed.
Listen to me.
I am Spring.
I am Spring.
I am fluffy white clouds in a blue sky.
I am a sudden downpour.
I am violets.
I am come to tell you of broken hearts
that were healed.
I am Spring.
I dwell in the tombs beside the sea
and I dwell in the mountains beside the shore.
Wildly I range my dwellings free
and no man bothers me anymore.
They know they cannot temper me.
They used to bind me up in chain
and like some dog upon the ground
I’d roll and break with little pain
the links with which they had me bound
so now they do not fetter me.
I cut myself with stones and cry
wailing my pain from hill to shore
trying, yet too afraid, to die
and no one bothers me anymore.
They know they cannot comfort me.
Why, look, now, downward by the shore!
It seems a boat is beaching there!
But no boats land here anymore!
I can’t see well for the lake’s glare
but I’ll warn them not to come near me.
I’ll grab my chains and wave them wild.
Shout, till it echoes through the graves.
Then they shall see I am no mild
and kindly man who gently raves.
Then they shall quickly go from me.
But what is this? A man advances.
It seems a step, a face I know.
Yes, look, he’s giving friendly glances.
I saw him once quite long ago.
But why’s he here to talk with me?
Why come you here to be with me?
‘Tis not your time upon this sod.
I would roam here beside the sea.
You are the Holy One of God!
Oh, leave me in my misery.
Have you come here to censure me?
Your time has not yet come.
Who are these men you bring with thee?
They cannot chain me, no, not one.
They cannot fetter me!
Oh, leave me, I am full of devils.
They call me “Legion” for their horde.
They change me with their terrible revels.
I am not worth your mercy, Lord.
You should not treat with me.
But if you will; I see you will–
see yonder that large herd of swine
standing on the rocky hill.
Cast there my hurt by power of thine.
Then leave and do not bother me.
Now sudden like a crash of thunder
I feel a new life full on me.
Look, there the herd of swine asunder
have hurled themselves into the sea.
Oh, Lord, that you should notice me!
What is will power? Can it be
but the concentration of particles of thought
upon an object?
Now if we admit that every molecule has with-in–
a radiation, an attraction, a polarity
then it is easier to admit
that brain thoughts generate radiations
by their interactions.
We can measure some brain waves.
Others we have no means to measure.
These waves doubtless have their frequencies
like radio waves.
Thus we can talk glibly
about being on the same wave length as someone
when we agree with him
or say, “We got the message,”
when our thoughts coincide with his thoughts.
Take these waves, these radiations, these with-ins
and concentrate them.
You use an energy to concentrate.
Can they be expanded, contracted?
It seems so.
They are a force
and lesser forces fall before their impact.
Organize your forces
and you can move mountains.
What joy in the return of a friend!
Creep softly, moon, across the heavens.
Blow softly, winds, those gray-black clouds
that scud along and almost veil the moon.
Guide my friend to my heart’s home.
Guide my friend through rain
through thunderstorm and turbulence
to sit by me, so we can watch you, night, together
as moon and clouds move onward softly.
What joy to remember a friend!
Always the friend comes back into the heart
and leaves only with the promise of returning.
Friends do not leave us desolate.
There is always the joy of remembrance.
Portuguese Carack XVth Century
The Blue Gown
Munching emerald green
the silk worms spun white gloss
doing their own good thing
a task God made them for.
Lithe golden fingers
strong from bowls of sun brown rice
the weavers wove the thread
doing their work for God’s glory.
Mary, you heard God’s word.
You let great God fill up your heart.
You deserve a gown spun of God’s wisdom
fashioned by God’s skill, colored like heaven.
So they made the gown for you.
They dyed it blue.
We are all God’s little ones.
We gather at the feet of majesty
beseeching a blessing.
Crying out our hearts we gather
at the feet of tenderness and mercy
binding our hearts together
striving to build a world
cemented with love.
Who colors the sea
with the dark and the light
when the wind blows hard
and the foam blows white
so that part is the sea blue of day
and part, the deep blue of night?
Who colors the sea
in pale clear green
when the sky is gray
and the sun’s not seen
and out where the sky
meets the sea, it’s ultra-marine?
How did it all begin
this blue of the sea
more blue than the sky
when the wind’s not free?
God has made it for you.
God has made it for me.
Let me grow fond of your
soot-black alleys, city of
Let me love your dirty curved streets
and your pigeon infested buildings.
Let me learn to look beyond your squalor
to the choppy ocean stretching beside you.
Let me remember you for gray wharves
and blue ships and white gulls.
Let the smoky haze be an incidental.
Let me grow fond of your
quaint alleys, city of
Let me love your twisting streets
and rows of yellow brick
and red brick and gray brick
and stone apartments.
Let me find beauty in you,
that I may be happy here.
Naval Vessel XVIth Century
There is music in the subway
as it rushes, as it rattles
as it sways through the tunnels
in the loud deep dark.
There is rhythm in the subways.
There is rhythm in the people
as they sway, as they stagger
as they lurch in the cars.
There is song in the subways.
There is wild night rhythm.
There is loud track music
in the tunnels in the dark.
with high sand dunes
and a wind that raced
to the sea.
Dealing with Frost
Many people have had to deal with frost
with the glitter of frozen droplets
across a green field
with the knowledge
that this meant the end of growth
the coming of wilt and blackness.
Jesus dealt with it.
Térèse thought gentle thoughts
about the frost in Lisieux
the wasting of summer’s abundance
the signal for harvest.
Can we think as gently
of age that stiffens our limbs?
Wheels on Water
and bare legs
pumping bicycle pedals
from underneath umbrellas
and plastic bags
and even some
out in the rain
with no protection
Marty takes old chairs
that are dingy, ugly, broken
and transforms them
into works of art–
some scraping, sanding
a bit of stain or paint
a lot of polish
upholstery that is just right.
He has the artist’s eye
that makes complete
the final product.
Marty’s job concerns
are criminal justice.
He plans probational practices
dreams of alternatives
to warehousing a broken people.
May Marty be as successful
with dingy, ugly prison practices
as he is with antique chairs!
I’d spend the whole starred night singing to
the dream stirring guitars on the summer beach
until the police came to chase us home
if I were young again.
I’d wear jeans jazzed up with patches
embroidered in purple with peace symbols.
I’d bike barefoot in the rain
and hike rather than use a car
if I were young again.
I’d wear owl eye-glasses, and no make-up
except wild, way-out eye shadow
with my hair in disarray as nature found it
like my daughter does today.
Why do I so criticize the things in her, then
that I, too, would do if now were way back when?
When I found no music
I made music of my own.
The human soul is like that–
inventive when alone.
When there was no poetry
I wrote my own verse
and made it to my liking–
lyrical and terse.
When there was none to love me
and fondly speak my name
I hid my hurt heart bravely
and, thank God, you came.
XVIIth Century Sailing Vessel
Some scientists believe
that particles of light
bent back upon themselves
can magnify light’s speed.
If light can leap
at twice the speed of light
the spots light leaves behind
appear as swirling holes of darkness
which we fear
as sailors fear
the whirlpools in the sea
as humans fear
the spiral that appears
as lack of love
and call it sin
shuddering and shunning
those afflicted with such malady
when healing and forgiveness
would serve life better.
Some people use God as a club
with which to strike others.
They fail to see
we are all sisters and brothers.
God Has A Sense of Humor
a big belly laugh.
when she sees
what strange ideas
we hold of her.
She laughs when she sees
what strange ways
we seek to please her.
a big belly laugh
a gentle loving laugh.
God, if I should dedicate a sonnet
I should make it up to you as Master Poet
for you have sung the earth up as we know it
and put us here as grace notes on your music.
I did not realize
until the film was developed
The peacock displaying feathers–
The sea bird with bright blue feet!
Then the sea
proclaiming blue to all directions
and our jackets
the green of leaves
waving blue shadows;
and my daughter’s eyes
blue with emotion.
How blue is
XVIIIth Century Frigate
What is Michael, the red head, doing?
He’s gone to the state university
where the ivy curls on the brick walls.
He has grown a beard
and his hair is up-ended and frizzy
so that his face is like a sun
in a small child’s drawing.
College has become a place of freedom
for him, or would you say a place
where he is no longer free
but must do as his peers.
He came from the Catholic high school
where the white cement Virgin stood guard
smiling her approval of the school yard
and the world. The black children
walked by on their way to public school.
There they eased their frustrations
chalking dirty words on the walls
and cursed the cement Virgin
because they were not rich
or Catholic or well-educated
and felt unwelcome at her school.
Michael knew it was wrong for them to spread grafiti
but the white Virgin did not go on to the university.
Now Michael, the red head, colors chalk flowers
on the red brick walls in amongst the ivy.
Sing for December
for it is a warm day in December
and the wind moves gently
for it is thinking of rain.
It is thinking
“I will rain once more
a gentle, soft rain
before I turn cold and blow
and spit snow from my mouth.”
Ah, sing, for it is December
and it is warm
and it will soon be cold.
Sing of how the season changes
and soon the snow comes
making us forget what it was like to be warm
and to have gentle rains;
making us feel only the stinging cold of the snow
and the slippery ice underfoot.
Sing of a warm December day
whispering that soon it will rain.
Sing, too, for the cold of December.
Sing the cold wind, for often the cold wind blows
and the clouds fly gaily across the top of the sky
while the sun winks in and out behind them.
Sing high noon with the clouds zipping.
Sing high noon on a cold windy day.
Would You Want to Go Back?
If I could go back?
If I had to go back?
Who wants to go back?
What is wrong with today?
I am one who must go forward
in the rain or wind or sun
to some goal I cannot see.
Who talks of going back?
Back to the old dreams?
They are all bruised
Back to protecting arms?
I know now how they needed protection.
Back to the spring
that murmured on the hillside
knowing how they have plowed it under
and backed it up into a swamp.
Jesus as Sacrament
on the fertile ground
of our souls
like a big, round host
a green field
past bubbling brooks
of blood-remembering wine.
Jesus smiles, “Let me lead you.
I have seen the great scene. I understand.”
Jesus sighs, “It seems like contradiction
feeling the unreal, but take my hand.”
Jesus lilts, “It’s out of love I show you
that this stage is but a preparation
for another land.”
Tracks on The Beach
Sea birds with webbed feet
and a man
walked here this morning
on the sand
and he frightened off the birds
as day began.
As the sea turned silver
with new light
he set the large web-footed ones
and did it give him sadness
XIXth Century Vessel
Between The Shore and The Sea
Between the water and the sand
is the spot where I stand
for he’s not quite two
because the water is so wet
and the sand is so dry
and to mix them both together
is so much fun to do.
On the sopping wet sand
is the spot where I am
for he’s some over one
for the water is so nifty
and the sand is so sifty
that to mix them both together
is such a lot of fun.
Between the shore and the sea
between the spirit and the flesh
is our place
all the days of our years.
Using life’s great abundance
we join grace and tumult.
We learn how to mix
smiles and tears.
The Empty Plastic
A transparent plastic bag
filled with a high of air
danced its way across the airport runway
escaping from purposes and previous duties
prancing first on one pointed corner
then pirouetting upside down
filled with the unseen wind
that billowed it with visible joy
flapping it to frisky freedom
all in one positive direction
until at last it sagged
caught up against a waste can
giving several feeble billows
like an airport wind-sock
then wrapping itself
securely on its captor.
I shall watch for you, Lonely Heart
until the stars come out
and then I shall part the long strands of star gleams
looking for your face.
I shall wait for you, Lonely Heart
until the evening train sends its mournful note
across the fields.
Then I shall rise and look for you.
I shall wait until the world whispers, “Night is here.”
Then I shall throw my cloak of love about me
and go in the dark
and seek you
to the uttermost reaches of your loneliness
and when I find you
I shall lead you gently to the Universe Companion
who is all consolation.
XIXth Century Chebec
Argument on Birds
The oriole is a braggart
and a loud mouth.
He makes his wife do all the work.
Jim says “no.”
He wants to think the best of him.
“The whole world needs a song.
We must have singers to cheer on the workers.
His wife knows him best.
She doesn’t seem to mind.”
The sparrow is a pest.
He’s in the way
always living off other people.
Jim says “no.”
He likes to think the best of folk.
“He is a cozy little thing
who just wants love.
God must love sparrows so.
He made so many of them
and he knows when each one falls.”
Surely the hawk
could have been omitted
in God’s plan for salvation.
Jim says “no.”
We need those who soar
who pull their strength
from others and the earth.
At some point in our span
all of us need help from others.
Something from Nothing
In order to make a universe out of nothing
Great Force would have to wrench the nothing into two
so that its parts could resolve back into nothing
for nothing will be nothing.
To make that first small atom
Great Force would have to pull the nothing into two
make two parts that would re-unite to nothing.
Great Force would have to will these parts
an infinite distance from each other
so that they would not re-unite.
Then when they were safe apart
Great Force could make one universe here
and its negative universe THERE
an infinite distance away.
Our universe tumbles through space
at a vast speed.
Where are we going so fast?
Are we trying to catch our negative universe
in order to re-unite and be nothing
or are we still hurtling away from it
infinitude by infinitude
from the initial impetus Great Force willed
to that initial atom?
If Great Force created a universe and its negative
at infinite distances from each other
surely Great Force could create
an infinite number of universes
at infinite distances from each other.
Death as A Miracle
It may seem that
God is choosey with her miracles
unless you count your whole self
as a miracle–
the product of a careful evolution.
Then you can see
that there are crowds of miracles
upon the earth.
Then, too, you might just count
the whole earth as a miracle.
The stars in heaven shout of miracle.
Thus you might well believe
that God is prodigious with miracles
both those of life and those of death
for death, too, is a miracle
that we have yet to comprehend.
We have faith
that Spirit can arise within.
We know not where It’s from.
This Spirit being born in us
can rise from death.
We know not where It goes.
Youth and Age
The world may seem quite evil
but it has a heart of gold.
Youth expects things to be joyful
but turns bitter growing old.
“The woods are full of boogies”
the old man said.
“The streets are lined with ruffians.
You are better off dead.”
The sweet young girl knew better
and tossed her curling hair.
She found nights full of starlight
and thought earth very fair.
“Grandpa, cease to mutter
about such foolish fears.
Dead is too long a time
too many wasted years.
We must gather diamonds
while the bright lights play
and put jewels on the necklace
of each and every day.”
Consolation in Solitude
Who goes there? Who goes there?
Is it just sunlight walking through the leaves
or is some angel stepping down a hazy stair
brushing her gown against the trees?
Can it be some wee thought sped
on wings of mind from one most dear
that brings a warming here in my retreat
like some sweet comrade hovering near?
A moment hence I sat
all solitary on my stone
but now, quite suddenly, I know
my soul is not alone.
What is this pain I am holding so close to me?
It is to me as the sun is to a June sky;
it shines all through my whole being
like the sun illumes the whole day–
great big swollen hurty thing.
But now it is lessening and quieting.
It is to me as a single star to a June night.
It no longer throbs through me.
It is there as a gentle pain–
a little catchy pain.
I lie on silken sheets and wait
until the cup flows and runs over
with the silver droplets clinking and splintering
down the cool outsides of their container
clattering when they reach the table
like miniature horses with sharp hooves.
I relax and let this cascade of joy
run off across the polished table surface
with its overflow of love
to what may lie beyond my vision
the table legs, the rug, the rough-hewn floor.
The whole room is saturated with joy.
as A Replacement to Threatening
The TV treats wars as if they were normal
when, in fact, wars show our world
to be very, very sick.
When swaggering and power and threats
turn into guns and tanks and bombs
it’s time to ask if threats are wise practice.
What do psychologists have to say
about threats and name calling?
Aren’t they the surest roads to violence?
The way to peace is
to transform enemies into friends.
We are asked to love our enemies
to bless those who curse us
to pray for those who despitefully use us.
Love is a very difficult goal to achieve
but that is why we were created–
to achieve love.
The Pyrite Pleuroceras
On viewing a pyrite-filled ammonite shell 185 million years old
A shell strewn on the beach would be enough
to make me marvel after you, my God.
How many years are needed for your hand
to form an ocean-echoing nautilus?
That takes but a mere finger-snap of time
compared to this fine fairy shell
fashioned in filigree of foolish gold
and set in polished rock.
How many ages churned their tumultuous way
as you turned its delicate frailty
from bone to stone
made bold in gold its sinuous curvature?
Sir Francis Drake
Francis, the Pirate, re-robbed
the robbers of the Inca gold
and re-stole the silver others pilfered
from the mountains of
to please Queen Bess of
Today cities filled with wealth
are the heirs of this design
to influence a sovereign.
Our nation takes its cue
from a queen’s greed
a captain’s lust for power.
Where are they now?
Who are the royalty today?
Who sails the wheeling ship
laden with wealth?
The gold, the silver, resources
pried from the indigenous
re-appear in our pursuit
of stocks and bonds.
Our greed continues on
consumes us all.