A Silent Encounter

 

The day is overcast

Sunless

Not unusual for Arcata

A town in Northern California

Blessed with Redwood Trees

Twenty miles south

Of the Oregon border

Where we walk the path

Around the lagoon

Of the Arcata Marsh

Looking for herons

Ducks     egrets

And other birds

That come and go

With seasons of the

Year

 

Tall reeds wave in the breeze

From the water

Bushes     small trees

Grow everywhere we walk

Framing the gravel path

That now leads us

Almost full circle to where

We began

And there     in the middle

Of the path

Stands a giant white egret

Like a spotlight

Its brilliant white

Shines in our eyes

Still as a statue

It signals

Come no closer

We wait

Still as the egret

But take our fill of observation

Never before so close to

Perfection

 

The egret turns around

The giant wings reach out

Fold in again

Then making an obvious decision

It walks regally into the waiting

Water

 

We remain motionless

In wonder

With gratitude

Then walk the rest of the way

To our car

Drive home in the gray light

With the memory of a brilliant

White blessing

“Arcata Marsh” by Brian McQueen www.McQueenArt.com

 

 

 

Thus It Is So

Beethoven composes his majestic Ninth Symphony

Mozart the sacred Requiem

Handel his powerful Messiah

Poverty is alive all around them

And children go hungry

 

Every age     every millennium

Carries suffering

Gives birth to those who live

Impelled to help

Gives birth to those who choose

To turn away

Leaving their powers for change

Lost

Like a blade of sea grass

Pulled with the tide

Into the deepest depth

Of the ocean

Thus it is so

 

Why

Voices II

Many Voices

Many octaves     many chords

Many songs

Float in and through

My awareness

The ocean’s voice sings a different song

As each tide comes into shore

Rolling out to sea again     a different verse

A different melody

 

Wind hums softly     gently

Wind shouts     wind howls

Demands my recognition

I search the sky for reasonings

 

Crows have gatherings

Fly in circles     land on a distant pine

Take off again     circle the pine

Voices raucous     harsh

Their dialogue     their language

Fills the air around me

 

Crickets sing in summer

As the sun goes down behind a

Sandstone cliff

Their rhythm in unison

Voices on key

They soothe my mind

Calm the beat of my heart

Welcome the night     soon to arrive

 

And your voice     my own Love

For me the voice of

All That Is

My guide     my protection

My Life

I hear your voice

I listen to its timbre

Am at peace

–January 2018

If Only I Could

Do you not see   truly see
Faces of children
Caught in the middle of war
As they witness     as they experience
Cruelty exploding around them
Their eyes wide with fear
Faces expressing bewilderment
Frozen in terror

Do you not feel   truly feel
A silent war like an infection
Coursing through the blood stream
Of our country
For me    guns are the virus
Gunshots into a crowded concert
At innocents in a store
A school yard   a movie theater
To claim a religion   an ideological
Ideal
It is war   wherever guns are used
To kill   to maim   to terrify
I abhor them
Would outlaw guns
Completely
If only I could

Where Have You Been?

Poetry Angel calls to me

Where have you been

I call back

I have been here where I am

I am here

Where have you been

She answers with what

I already know

She says

I have been by you

Inside you

Waiting for you

 

These are my excuses     Angel Friend

 

Words have flown around my mind

Like fallen leaves in autumn

Blown by the wind

To scatter hither     to scatter yon

Escaping from me

 

An operating table     a hospital bed

Food I do not like

Medicine I must take

A rehab center that’s      okay

My husband     my Love

Visits me     eats his dinners with me

My bed sits by two windows

I watch him ride by on his scooter

Going home

We wave to each other

I yearn to go with him

I want to go home

Get up     get out of bed

Walk     keep walking     walk

Physical therapists nudge me     nudge me     nudge me

They command    

     Walk     walk

 

You ask Angel Friend

Where have I been

I know what you ask

Where are my words

Where is a poem

A poem

 

Well     now you know

Life as a River

I think of Life as a river

That begins from its source

Somewhere unknown to me

Flowing around me     flowing over

Any obstacle that lies in its

Path

A large boulder     fallen timber

Always moving to follow its

Course

With twists     with turns

Changing     as landscape it flows past

Changes

To widen     to narrow

Continuing the journey

Until it joins another river

Or flows on its own

To the sea

 

 

From My Window …

… I see     I feel

Morning sun

Touching the life of the

Sycamore’s new leaves

A hyacinth not yet in

Bloom

From my window

I see other windows

On a hill across

The Riparian Way

Like tiny lighthouses

They shine beacons of light

To me

As night closes day

 

From my window

I hear sirens on El Camino Real

Their sound grows fainter

As they move farther away

Then one abruptly stops

Called here

To the community

Where I live

 

From my window

I send a prayer

  

Too often

Someone I know

Someone I don’t know

Passes away

Death is no stranger here

But life is far more familiar

I feel the void

When faces go missing

I never get used to it

Life lives with death

Two parts of the whole

 

Every fall

From my window

I watch the sycamore’s leaves

Dry out

Their color green changing into

Old gold

Falling to the ground

In graceful slow motion

Then welcoming her new leaves

Every spring

 

The sun rises

Over the distant hill

Goes down over the distant

Ocean

Moon rises

Over the distant hill

Sets in her own time

Over the distant ocean

It is an orderly Universe

I closely observe

Closely observe

 

From my window

Reconciliation

Mother

When he went away and left you

He left me too

And we lived together

You and I

One woman     one child

And I wanted to grow up

To love you both

But you’d come home

From a job that drained you

That made you curl up tight

Inside yourself

I knocked and I know

You tried to let me in

While he went away

And sent letters of love to me

And I cried to live with him

I didn’t understand

 

My best friend told me this

People say your mother

Has a chip on her shoulder

I didn’t understand

 

Believe me Mother

When I tell you

I don’t remember

That time in your life

When you were ill

When your legs were weak

And you used a cane

When your eyes saw double

And the threat of disease

That would waste you

Hung over us

A girl of fourteen

Awake     awake     whose eyes

Could see     whose brain

Could think

But Mother I don’t remember

I just don’t remember

 

Mother

We are healed now

And the years between

Have made us friends

I need you Mother

When you die

No one else can care as much

—1975

Midnight

Midnight for me is

Mysterious     unattainable

For Mother has me in bed

By eight o’clock     always

Eight o’clock

Hard as I try

When my eyes open again

Morning shines into my

Window

I want to know     midnight

What it feels like

Who is there     what do they do

In midnight

 

I would like to see

Winged horses

White like Pegasus

Unicorns     dancing bears

I want animals that speak

My language

To have conversation

Be friends

Colors swirling around us

Rainbows     even angels

With halos     with wings

Oh     will I never know

Will I ever know

What it feels like

To be awake in

Midnight

 

Years pass

My beloveds sleep

In their beds

Here I am

Notebook open     pen in

Hand

It is quiet     so quiet

My sanctuary of peace

And the clock strikes

midnight

—February 7, 2017

 

Beyond The Word

images-1

As a little girl

I hear disparaging comments

Made by the adults

In my life

Judgments of people

Even people unknown

Walking down a street

In a store

Though these words do not consume

Sunday dinner conversation

Around Grandmother’s mahogany

Dining table

They are spoken often enough

To create in me

Aversion to judgmental words

Criticism

I hear them     shrink into myself

Sadness moves into a corner

Of my heart

Doesn’t move out

 

My childhood is a patchwork quilt

Of remembering

Scenes of places     faces     voices

Yes     voices

For I have come to understand

It is not words alone

That cause pain

Even more

It is the tone of voice

I hear it

Clench     constrict

Hold my breath

It has always been so

 

Mother seldom speaks of father

Who leaves their marriage

When I am seven years old

But her tone of voice

When she does speak of him

Lets me know the depth

Of her bitterness

I feel devastated

Helpless

 

Now I understand     accept

My reactions     my despair

Surrounding this election cycle

I am witness to

Words never heard before

As they hang in the consciousness

Of everyone who hears them

Vocal tones of ridicule

Scorn

Project the words into the atmosphere

And the feelings they create

Invade like toxic fumes

From the tragedy of

9/11

 

Now     at 84

Words   tones of voice

May still sting

Bring distress

But it is my voice

My words

And what they do

To others

That matter more

I praise

I bless

I forgive

 

I breathe

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