Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Nature of Giving Thanks

I wrote this yesterday, finishing just before midnight. For that I am grateful. It rains here in Portland. Just like most Thanksgiving Days I remember as a boy. It's all good. I wish this were verse, but the poet is on vacation.

It started the first day of the month — after the commercial gleaning of our society's ghoul effect. The morning after Halloween one season of cultural indoctrination gives way to the next. It's as predictable as the moon-driven tide. 'Tis the season that bloggers, columnists and TV hosts are intent on representing and impressing the grateful heart.

I'd like to think I am different than they. I like to think. I usually try to post a few pleasant thoughts of gratitude and kinship, but some years the effort fails me. With the pace of life these days, I hit or miss. And as I start this piece, I'm not sure when I will post it. I am on vacation, somewhat, and want to relax and feel the blessings — not mold them to the purpose of impressing.

What am I grateful for? Or, what do I love?

If I were to summarize the thoughts of mine and most, I guess I would say: We are thankful for all the pleasures of love and possession. Woopi! What else is there?


Of course I am grateful for all the joys of living, but how do these come about?

Love is not realized without heartache. And nothing is gained without labor? The challenge for every reward often means pain before pleasure. As the earth turns and seasons advance, so too do the waves of fortune and the journey of soul. Are we grateful for that?

That is the reality check. Acknowledge the cycles. This is earth, where mountains bracket valleys and days break the night. We select our desires. Most do not choose the marsh or the desert, though rain and sun are both treasures. We want to control our environment the best we can. We live where we want, if we can. But the choice takes action. Are we grateful for that? I'd have to say, Yes.

But environment is more than material. Our pleasure is really beyond the realm of matter, energy, time and space. Because we are more than our bodies. In this season of holidays we reflect on what more that truly is.

This was a good day. So much input for reflection. Inspiration for thought. For all that, I am grateful. So much to do in preparation of tomorrow. Thanksgiving — even on vacation — is a time of stuffing. Here are just some of the highlights since Sunday when Marily and I left home:

1. The challenges of pre-trip prep and making our flight.
2. The flight—in coach. Three and a half hours from MSP to PDX.
3. Car rental at PDX.
4. Accommodations at relatives. Night one on living room hide-a-bed at Marily's mother, Edna's appartment. Two, in brother Jerome's guest room. Three, at Edna's neighbor, Karen, with cat watch duty.
5. From storage and to store for seasonal decorations.
6. Pick up daughter, Sarah, at PDX.
7. Grocery shopping for Thanksgiving Day.
8. Unplanned visit to two clinics for Marily's mother, with traffic and parking and hours of waiting.
9. Visits with family and friends.
10. Jet lag.
11. Culinary challenges: diet vs. enjoyment.
12. Getting enough rest.

If this were just a material world, these 12 points would be but a shuttle puzzle of sliding chips for what goes where and when. Utilizing energy in the constraints of time and space is only an exercise in engineering. But because we have peopled the earth — we humans, matters of heart and soul are not so defined. The box is bigger. The challenges and rewards are greater, and more complex. Are we grateful for this?

I would have to say, Yes.

In every turn since we left home, there are blessings: Suzanne, who brought us to the airport. The happy baby on the plane who did not cry. The $18 a day car rental rate. The kindness of clerks and attendants in this time of rush. The smile of a homeless person when she said, God blesses you in thanks. Good sleep when we finally turn in. And all else that is the meat of memories for stories in seasons to come.

I am grateful most for when human nature meets divine nature—and recognizes it as us. We are Soul. We inhabit these bodies and this planet. Somewhere between less and more we move ahead together. Freedom is in the choices we make. For these I give thanks.

I will bless this day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Master of Light

Poetry is born spontaneously of inspiration. I wanted a poem to share at a friend's birthday party. How would I tap the center of creativity to express sincerely some of the qualities Dave shares by his many talents? As I was driving home Sunday the midday sun on a wooded hillside reminded me of his photography and presentation of light therein. Then it started to form lines in my mind.

Have you seen the light today?
I see it on the sunlit birch stands
awaiting first winter snow.
It shows in weeping willow domes
golden-yellow with expression.
And in the marsh grass
stark against dark wooded hills.
Three green leaves atop a bare, young cottonwood
like summer's standard still flying.
Then the blue sky behind the skeletons
of black walnut whose leaves fall first.
Or the few maples that have not yet
released their claim to autumn
where red and burgundy once ruled.

Have you seen the light today
in the season's progression?
On the road home?
Or in the portraits
by the master of light?

Happy Birthday, Dave!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Storm of Possibility

It snowed twice already here in Minnesota. My first thought was of the garden. Last Saturday we went out and did more harvesting at 6 a.m. because the temperature was still dropping. Back inside seemed warmer after that work, and the light now showed new beauty. Ah, the season for poets. This morning, warm in bed and cuddling till demands of day, it started pouring through.

Storm of Possibility

We are blest
in this perfect convergence
of nuance at Winter's beginning
starts early this season of change —
a prod to creativity
in Light and Sound
the chill outside my bed.
Forces pull from floating in that peace
or vortex back to unconsciousness
more clear than morning light.

It's a hard choice
but spirits wait
some more patiently than others
for Masters live
in the hearts of dreamers
at that point between
events of relative knowing.

At this cusp of night
as morning calls to winter
a chill warms my place of true attempt.
I love an early snow.
It is a season for poets
to smooth complaints of cold
and crawling thoughts.
Quarantine the old
and clear the mind for Light.
A storm of possibility approaches.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

On Becoming

The tests of survival in today’s state of economy, culture and employ seem ever more challenging than in the past. When I was young I used to think I was born in the wrong age and longed for a simpler, more basic existence of life closer to the earth. Then after I got married we bought a farm. Life did not ease up. Working a full time job, raising a family and living by the earth was more than my sanity could reconcile at times.

There were lots of new directions since then, but every one was a choice of intent with the goal of understanding better true meaning in life. And I have come to find that life on this planet never gets simpler without the realization that true life is one of a higher bearing.

Yesterday in a meeting at work, in discussion of managing our workload during a twice-yearly, pre-conference ramp-up, our manger said, “It is time to act in a more masterful way in all we do.” I see some ease from that level—a stepping back to a place of balance, peace, and being.

Still, we continue in our stride, perhaps more consciously.

A poem:

On Becoming

A song of soul predominates this being.

The fabric of past -- rich,


and worn.

Yet now –

so much to complete,


And in its review -- an overtone

as a summer wind

a forest awakening.

How many years? How many weeks?

In which hour

is the turning?

New pages of cloth,

bleached by the sun,

renewed in autumn’s blessing

and bound in a book of becoming.

The seasons of life try each soul

by the song of divine intent

I am becoming.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Garden Life #2

Number one still defines the space. For now.

It's been cool this summer, but dry.
Even this past week of highs in the low 80s,
cool nights refresh, but the garden still needs water.
And it produces--abundantly.
The second crop of raspberries
pull the canes to the ground.
Romano pole beans hang
like the ice-sickles of Spring claiming Winter.
Cabbage heads are full to bursting.
Tomatoes, green, pink and red--
some on the ground, half-eaten by squirrels.
Peppers, butternut squash,
carrots, beets.
Still push to outgrow the season.
I wish that when the days were longer
I had had more time to weed and prune and plan
for the harvest. Now it comes.
How many weeks?
One more cold moon?
Before the frost
that ends this cycle.
Freezer packs
and hot pot's aroma.
Satisfaction of nurturing the garden life
and sweet berries for breakfast.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

David and the Giant

There is a giant in each of us.

He rested
Finally seeing
The turning points of dramatic import
Are balanced by others more subtle
Like the patience of a cat
In constructing the pounce
That never takes place.

Still in every moment
The awareness and possibility
Are knowing
The experience
As the sparrow
In its last breath
Before the sacrifice.

Ascendance is its own reward
Not knowing.
Nothing is ever lost
When we live
Within the unfolding.

He rested
And left his sling -- a tether
Alongside the slain giant.

How many more cycles
Till we see ourselves
As friend, as foe?
As Soul.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Twodot Montana

Roundup, Lavina, Ryegate, Shawmut, Harlowton, Twodot.

I use to live in Montana and still have twenty acres off Hwy 12 near Lavina. A friend told the story that my mind has etched in memory. So I decided to personalize it in verse:

The only thing I know of Twodot Montana
Is the time traveling west
On Highway 12
And a man standing
Atop his Ford Fairlane
Blue suit white shirt
No tie
And a badger circling
Intent on protecting
Her cubs
Just past the sign
To Twodot.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Earth Life

Left alone, the earth replenishes.
Biological life forms evolve.
Single-cells by the billions diversify
A million ways.
Repel and attract
Attach and entwine.
Combine with each other
And dine on the rest.
Chemical bath, energy field
And divine inspiration.
Soul in the mix.
But why?

What is life on earth,
But the infinite meandering
Of universal thought?
At one time, or before time,
Soul took a form
Known now as our body –
A vehicle to live in
And move in this realm.
Populate the planet.
And there was a mandate:
Do what it takes to grow.

What does it take?

First from the chaos came a need for convention.
Some rules for the game.
Say, start. And rest. And stop & go.
To grow we need a system of measure.
Time is the track of our lives. So slow.
And space is our place to hold.
Said, Do what it takes to grow.

And we have.
In cycles.
Growth and regression.
Progress and succumb to a downward force
That seems as strong as the Most High.
It is. And it may even win
If it were not for the spark of light
That is with us always,
The impulse to go where we’ve not gone before.
And return to our home once more.
Pioneer Souls, Go out. Grow.
And come home.

The earth has been kind so far.
Providing material resource,
And harsh-laid challenge
Well suited for adaptation.
And we have.

And yet there are the unending cycles
Go out and come back
And over again.
There’s got to be more.
What is the Way?
And where is my guide.

How many times have I been here?
When will I see your face

Thursday, August 06, 2009

My Garden Life

I thought of starting a new blog on gardening -- or my thoughts thereon. But all is one. Gardening is an artform. So is poetry. I will post my thoughts here occasionally--thoughts of the garden community that lives in my backyard, in my heart, and in the dreams of all who love life. I hope you appreciate the intent. And may these words inspire a new view of a love you may have forgotten. Let it grow.

My Garden Life --#1

What is Utopia? Can there ever be one?

Just as its origins in Greek suggest, I believe it is not. Or it is: no place. Perfection is a changeless condition. Forever changing by the plus factor is an improvement on perfection. Better is the continual change of life in process. Always growing. Always changing. Always opportunity for something better.

My garden life is that. In my garden the cycles of life are spiralic--always ascending. If not by the bean vine's physical form in summer, then by the release of its Spirit through nourishing my body, or by its life-essence focused in the seed for next season's destiny: re-emergence of Spring.

The garden. At one time the garden to me was a plot of production. Produce. Vegetables, berries. Roots and herbs. Flowers were periphery. Not the main page. Doodles at the edge of the grocery list.

There is a new view now. Acceptance of a softer reality. Marily nurtured it – persisting through my resistance:

“Nonsense, you can’t eat them.”

“Too expensive; they take up all that space.”

But she never let up. “I want beauty in the borders.”

Color and fragrance.

Window boxes like in Europe.

Red geraniums.

Cut flowers for the house.

Bouquets for the table.

Marriage has tempered my stark ways and insistence. At first I thought it necessary to nullify the perceived-silly thought remnants of my mother still spinning in my head. Raving exclamation over the color of that rose. Screaming excitement for the first blooms of her petunias. To me it was exaggerated emotion for the ordinary all around. Nature on the farm was everywhere. It was all nice and always there. The gardens, the fields, the herd and flocks, the woods and creek with the tadpoles and frogs. The birds and cats and dogs. And wild animals, still quite often observed from a distance.

Even with the hard work of farm living, life was good. At the time it didn’t seem easy, but it was good. It was full. And though we didn’t have a lot of money, I didn’t experience Great Depression or the loss of war. Those stories that Mom and Dad kept fresh for themselves were of experience kept further than arms-length for us kids. Insistence of hard work, scrimping and saving, a penny saved is a penny earned, and clean up your plate ‘cause there are starving kids in China—all made us know that things could be worse, were for others, and could be again if we weren’t intent in no-nonsense, industry and our prayers, Hail Mary, Holy Mother of God.

So, out on my own and starting a family as a man in my early 20s, I tweaked a few of the values earlier learned.

  • First, I guess was admitting that enjoyment/pleasure was okay in itself—not just the satisfaction of harvesting a crop or bringing a pot of soup to the sick neighbor.
  • Second, hard work for sure, but some of it was really hard play to exhaustion.
  • Third was spiritual worth, though that evolved from mainline severe-ness, through new-age fringe and fluff, to dead-center fulfillment, which we all claim in our current belief. But this is for real. And if you don’t know, I can’t tell you. 'Cuz all us humans are as stubborn. And we all have to come to the knowing of truth in belief and fullfillment ourselves. Maybe.
  • And fourth, gardening.

Last night I noticed another zucchini ready to pick just before dark when it rained. This morning we enjoyed mint and nettle tea.

I am a lucky Soul.

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Clear as a cool summer morning
after the 4th of July.
Independence Day.

I first understood life,
my own life, on my deathbed.
That bed —- a bloody battle field,
in all its glory and horridness.
Acute, the senses.
Smell of the soaked earth
on my right cheek and in my ear.
The salt-taste of flesh by teeth
broken to rough sharpness.
I felt more alive than ever
in the pain.

Every action –- precise.
More the response to
a force inevitable
and certain in cause –-
rather than reaction
to a loose chain
of unrelated events.
Everything relates.
There are no tentatives.
No more unknowns.
All culminates in now.

Even the devious
glint in his eyes
seemed paramount,
and punctuated
in a flash of sunlight
on his blade’s swift arch,
as I parried it’s first strike
with my remaining forearm.

In that instant
I know one thing:
This life was over.
Fear no longer ruled over reason.
Destiny’s next card was dealt.
I played the hand of fate
with true intent.

This morning
I see it rained in the night.
Last night after displays
of clamor and flash
that studded horizon’s crown
the smoke of fireworks settled in
like the mist of that mythical city
hiding again the truth
from new seekers.

It is clear now.
The many blasts
and colors expanding
in light-blooming skies
and exquisite dreamscapes surreal.
Gone—with the last finale,
yet forever set and sound.
Vivid and clear
as the rose window
by morning light.
Preserved now
the imprint of truth.
A truce of consciousness.

I lay in the field.
And see it clearly.
The one truth coalesced
from the duality of life
on this small earth.
Evil-doers become sainted.
Hot flesh becomes fillet of Soul
cooled by the chill
of guilt and horror.
And light becomes darkness
and brightens again.
Balance. All opposites
merge into each other.

The one thing I know
is that death becomes life.
And life—death.
Independence from the perpetrator.
Freedom from terror,
from greed,
from fear.

The glint in his eye
becomes the Light of God.
Enmity resolves.
And all is one.
With my brother.
And one is God.
For God is Love.
And Love is God.

Two squirrels chatter
from opposite trees.
But the morning cardinal
sings again from ancient oak.
After independence
truth in action is Love.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July Sky

As the raspberries thirst, my heart also yearns. But relief could be any morning or afternoon. Yet evening sky just teases in its beauty.

Azure match to many shades of gray
Hues highlighted white and silver striped
A hint of pink and golden glow --
July sky still tries
To speak sweet joy,
but lies of rain.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rock Work

Rock solid. Stone cold. Heavy. Hard.
And the most plentiful substance on earth.
Stone cold, solid rock. Or maybe incendiary ash, or molten lava, shifting sands.
Tectonic plate. Continental shelf. Mountain peak.
Butte. Precipice. Cliffs of Dover. Rock of Gibraltar. Sugar Loaf.
What is rock, but the facial features and bold character of this planet we live on?

Limestone. Granite. Shale. Marble. Agate. Jade. Obsidian.
Arrowheads and spear tips. Clubs and forts and the ammo of catapults.
Crash the gates. Steal the gold.
Diamonds. Amethyst. Amber.
Coal. Charcoal. Carbon.
Sediment. Fossil. Coral reef.
Life. Death. Stone.

What is rock, but ancient memory preserved for ages to come?
Recorded. Set in stone.
Past, present, future.
We live. We die.
Generations of ancestors and progeny are but fleeting thoughts.
Civilizations rise and fall. All in the tick tock of rock rubbing stone.
Life forms come and go.
Rock—the witness. Doesn’t care. Stone cold. Unforgiving silent monitor of Soul.

Why do I love working with stone?
Pick. Hammer. Shovel.
Chisel. Mortar. Trowel.
Shape. Stack. Set.

Roads and walkways.
Steps and walls and monuments.
Columns, coliseums & domiciles.
Lintel, arch, beam and buttress.
Bridges, fountains, statues, cathedrals.
Sculptured art museum.
Easter Island, Egypt, Atlantis.
Druids, aliens, slave.
Past, present – Soul.

My body aches from lifting and hauling and placing. But I love working with stone.
Brick and block. Concrete, cement. Sand and water.
Life and death and stone.
Soul on a planet of rock. Shocking, but true.
Solid and liquid and gas.
Matter and energy. Space and time.
And stone.
The elementals collude.
Earth and air. Fire and water.
And always, the Spirit, the stone
And Soul.
There is a plan. Can I know it?
All biological life is merely changing fashion for stone.
We are fleeting.
In this world, but not of it.
Buddha. Arjuna. Lai Tsi.
Jesus, Paul and Peter.
Popes and presidents and Czars.
Dictatorships, republics.
Communist, fascist, socialist.
Democracy, freedom. Enslavement.
Chaos and disorder. Revolution.
Greed and gold.
Power and fear.

The planet and stone and Soul.
I love working with stone.
And as the body toils, the mind works through every possible solution.
Level and plumb. Pitch and camber. Pressure and balance.
Thought provoking. Stone.
Rock work. The means to time travel.

Which great-grand ancestor was the mason? Who taught me this?
Was I the master, the slave? The climber? The miner?
I built a retaining wall last Saturday. And inlayed some brick along the front walk. Lots to do yet before the project is complete. But I love the work. Rock work.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ocean Blessing Desert

Ocean doesn’t know this desert’s hope.
Yet every storm is of the current
Caressing hills and valley rich—
Giving life before depletion
In its distant crossing.
Rare the rain
That blesses here.
Maybe this spring, or next.
I await your touch, your kiss.
And tomorrow’s new sea blooming.
Blues, gold-yellow, scarlet, orange.
And green as valley’s summer.
Sweet days of life renewal—
Your love and blessing.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Rain Dance

It hasn’t rained in too long here. They say it is a record. But I, and my garden, fear not . . .

Rain Dance

I know how to make it rain
And it’s never failed yet
Takes a talent
All but the arrogant can learn
Rain dance of determination
Barefoot and free
Naked if you don’t have a better dress
Fresh from the store
Or a raincoat for sure
If you can’t
First stand alone
When you’re out in a crowd
Shout out your song
Without breaking silence
Except to those with the ears
Listen to the ancients
Hear the word of your soul
Understand the ocean
The sun, and the sky
And the spirit of creation
That made them and we
Every tree and seed
And bird that sings there
For shelter and food
And rain.
There is a rhythm that links us
A connecting chord
Strike it once with imagination
Pluck it twice. Anticipation
See the clouds approaching
Forming from thin air
There is nothing like
A storm front
Of love.
Live like the sky is the cover
Warming just you and every lover
For soon the wind is a tempest
to carry the scent of parched soil
Being quenched and satisfied.
Boughs of oaks lift their leaves
Exposing their undersides—white
Petticoats of no shame
Saying, Take me!
There’s only one chance left
Before the rain
Open your arms in adoration
Open your heart to this blessing
Your mind to the knowing
There’s just one force
Of love.
Rain feeds the leaves and the grass
Rain feeds the furrowed fields
And my brow
That once doubted
The power
Of love.
Feeds the rivers with creeks
The creeks with rivulets
The dripping, not stopping
Dropping from dark clouds
Coalesced from white wisps
Out of thin air
And seeded by love
All feeding the ocean
Of mercy.
Fed by all rivers, all souls
Sky is the height of my reason
Love is eternity
And rain.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Law of Allowing: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

I usually post pieces of this nature on my ShareTree blog, but I believe this is worth the space on River-Tree Whispers.

Last night we watched the movie, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Watch it if you dare. After seeing it, as well as a few other significant news items lately -- like the forced medication of Danny Hauser, and the torture memos -- I decided to distill into words my outlook on the matter of liberty. Here goes:

There is one law -- the Higher Law -- that all others or based on, either in support of, or in defiance of that law.
  • The Law grants the freedom to do anything . . .
But because we live here, and the Higher Law is manifest in this world of opposites, it proceeds in statement as:
  • . . . except denying others the same freedom.
And because the passivity of allowing has an opposite activity, it continues:
  • Only the defense of freedom will assure it. Passivity in its defense is activity in its corruption.
* * *

There is awareness and there is action. Where do I stand?

What do we do when we become aware that freedom is denied to another who is not being justly defended? Should we speak out, state the obvious and make others aware? Or is not doing so passivity in defense of The Law? Passivity, I believe, will result in heightened action -- either in defense of The Law, or its corruption. Revolution need not be violent.

* * *

Be aware that
what and when and where
to speak and act
is best guided by
a more direct connection
to The Source
of the Higher Law.

The Spirit of Life
does not degrade it.

* *

There are no Others. We are all Soul. Soul is a spark of the Divine.


Saturday, May 16, 2009


the poets and philosophers
and others
who talk to themselves.
Or is insanity just apprenticeship
to mastership?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wisdom of Brothers

I have a brother down-under. We trade stories almost every day. I know it hardly seems possible that the two of us, with such dissimilar lifestyles would ever even touch base more than once or twice a year. Yet the depth of this morning’s conversation helped me see once more that our connection is deeper than kin, and more complex than the crossing of chromosomes in the evolution of race. Let me take you there.

We were both relaxed in our places, I on the recliner in my suburban home, and he in sandals, maybe barefoot. Yet it was as if we were together—met half-way on a tropical island—paradise of color and ancient sea breeze. Time did not call, but left us to the whim of every past event we shared in recollection. Slowly flowed the river and quick, like an egret’s pick for minnow-bits after waiting with evening’s shadow to claim the east bank. He told me once he watched one for hours, not knowing how patience could apply to his world of survival. Then, he said, the gangly bird, white and sure, turned and looked at me, looked me in the eyes. I became the egret. I was surrender. Home on the wind.

And there was the Museum of Mobridge. We viewed the displays of glass and steel, historical vignettes of lives we never knew—each somehow becoming part of us in the eternity of now. From the mezzanine, where we had tea and strudel, we watched the morning light on two levels change the forms from crimson, gold, and ships dancing to the beauty of maidens in the secret of our dreams. Caves of illusion re-lit with wisdom unwound and not worded—even by Rumi, Keats and Thoreau. It’s told in many forms by all.

We took many journeys. More than usual this morning—to heavens and hells. Comfort and protection in the brotherhood of wisdom dreaming. Better to drink with a friend than alone. And better if its water after long days of thirst. Oasis in the desert. Lights in the darkness renew. Danger only comes with fair warning, and fortune is not free. Soul equals Soul, they say. He does. And I . . . .

I’ve never met my brother outside my recliner or rack. I’m not even sure in what age he lives. There is this daydream world together. Nights too we journey. Its contemplation is an exercise of Soul.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Moment in Eternity

Whether we see sacred space
in a temple
or a dollhouse
. . . and experience
. . . the freedom therein . . .
that moment
is eternity.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Full Gallop

Dad told me stories of he and his Uncle Crist, a horse trader and sheriff.
While driving a herd to Eureka, South Dakota, dad drove the wagon.

It was several day's journey.
At the end they raced a hailstorm home to cover.

When I was 10, we had a white and black pinto.
He was jumpy at first.

Dad taught us a lot
about horses.

(this morning's page from my journal)

Full Gallop

First is trust

by touch and whisper
velvet strokes
and scent shared
till silent's question
answers only
to riding bare-back
at full gallop.
Hold back nothing
in love.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Walk in the Borderland daily
Come and go at will
Between two worlds
One always waiting
Meeting where darkness
Becomes the light
And silence calls me

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creation: from Secret to Celebrate

Don't even think it
to yourself
till it is ready.
Silence, ye thinkers!
Crosswords instead.
Or numbers dropping.
But when it's ready
your heart beats the drum
and Soul knows.
Speak. Say it out loud.
And write it
in song.
Sing what your soul knows.
Sounding the drumbeat,
the heart song
for freedom.
thought Creation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

this moment


lock eyes with a baby

discover truth

for soul

is only now

till eternity

calls me

to the next



A Song, a Dream, a Flight

Ears of disbelief
on a day flight to Pheonix
song of a treefrog
I'm certain.
Where is the plumwood?
What seat carries dreams?
A boy of nine once
I walked the woods path
at night. Quickly.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Creative Endeavor

A passage from The Art and Craft of Novel Writing by Oakley Hall prompted the following.

Some say the craft of fiction writing is the use of skills learned, borrowed or stolen from past practitioners of the craft in recreating events for others previously existing only in the mind of the author. This may be true in part, but I believe this system is but a small, limiting part of the creative endeavor.

Yes, we do pick up skills from others. Our teachers, and the reading of our preferred authors give us a framework for creation, but the foundation of story, its genesis, already exists—on another level, a field beyond the mental realm, in the experience of all. Furthermore, the teachers of great writers are more often past masters of the craft that work directly with, though most often not even conscious to the current apprentice.

Creation to me is not so much the manipulation of ideas and language for mood and possibility, but more the reading of what is and the acceptance of pure inspiration. And this applies to all true art, whether it is of a factual nature or rendition, or of the fanciful. The story, the song, the dance of light and color in performance and visual arts—are all already in being. We could not imagine them were they not of a living form. The idea that we must channel our creativity through the laws of physics is quite elementary in the evolution of culture. Recollection and tuning-in, with the masterful assistance of one’s non-physical staff, are the skills predominant in the art of evoking profound experience in the being of others. So much more than mental reality, a creation in performance or observation evokes all the senses, not just the five physical ones.

To watch the still expression of a mime,
to ponder the Mona Lisa from the bench in the Louvre,
to whisper a word in the ear of your lover
or to imagine it, or all of these events
are … dot dot dot . . .

Who wrote it?
I just transcribe.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Awake - Asleep ??

Still trying to gain an understanding of the mind's working in that altered state while trying to stay awake. It happens all too often lately.

It’s not like the place of comfort upon awakening from a night's sleep, where the moments linger in bliss and it doesn’t matter if you succumb to slumber a few more minutes or seconds or thirds. For past experience prepares the body, the mind for a degree of alertness. Whether the transition is drawn by the tail of a snail or the start of a jackrabbit jumping the restless leg anxious and running, there is always peace knowing the place you came from. There you can return should the day turn out wrong.

This is different--a reversal of awareness. Though as unreal as the process of gaining consciousness, it is not a place of peace. More the torture of returning to a hell thought long gone and never even then deserved. Still it would be so good to just give in to the blackness, like the sweet death of afflicted pestilence. No. There is the bounce back and forth – light to darkness, from life to death. And an expanse in between where the inner and outer senses mingle...
an attempt to grasp my psyche’s dynamic
in that space between conscious thought
and passive reception of impression’s whisper
I see an amorphous image—
formless, yet spherical,
a cloud of silver,
a tree of tissue teased by breeze
and seasons color.

Symbols, words, thoughts in a storm, swirling
I try. I try and fail. I try again. I try to catch with my mind
like the mouse clicking to capture or escape in a game of video pursuit
variable, flowing, fleeing
the leaves of a tree
in a fire storm
life or death
no answer...


Friday, March 13, 2009


All I want is to hear the truth.
To tell the truth
To live it
But what is truth?
Is it the record of objectively observed events?
Or is it the source of initiation
of all events?

A stone is thrown into a lake
The smooth surface is disturbed.
A wave of liquid compression
is radiated outward
and at once reflected back to the source.
Each wave spawns a duplicate
but lesser child—
all in depreciating effect
resulting from its own reactive offspring
which passes back through the source
to follow in successive generation
its mother’s mother
until the reactive force
weakens to the point of
imperceptible motion
as the final tail hairs of
this long line of events
the thread-bear coattails
of great grandmother.
Yet each radiates out,
and back in when it reaches shore
and any other object in the lake
including other waves
seeded by similar events—
affecting the genesis of many new family lines.
A disturbance, an action
a decision of conscious manipulation
or blundering unconsciousness
applying an element
of truth.

What is the original element?
If truth exists whether it is believed in or not
Is it static?
Or ever-changing?
If my belief
does not align with truth
does my acting from it
have any less effect?

What wave will regenerate without depreciating?
What act will most benefit myself, my mother, my Source
And all life?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

High Cuisine -- It's About Love

It's not poetry, but also of the heart.

It's About Love

The other night while enjoying my bowl of soup, I had to reconsider what really makes food good. This was not just a warmed up can of Campbell's. Marily makes a pot of soup most every weekend in the winter. We enjoy it in the evenings the rest of the week. And she does other cooking on the weekends too, for our lunches. For her it is a way to eat good and save money. That, I appreciate. Not just with gratitude for a job well done within our household budget. What others may consider left-overs, I relish with joy. I realize now that what Marily has done for me all these years is not just her best effort to fulfill certain traditional duties in our marriage. It is a matter of love.

This week's soup was apple-brie. Last week it was vegetable bean. Other dishes we've enjoyed over the past few weeks are butternut squash, cubed and steamed, over ravioli and wilted spinach, Swedish meatballs in cream sauce with Chardonnay, on brown rice, and crusty butter-crumb vegetables. Why is it all so good?

It's the love. I have to say, the love. We do eat out occasionally, probably twice a month on average. And we enjoy some good meals out. But why are they good? Again, it's because of the emotional experience. I can't imagine having a pleasant meal at a café or restaurant by myself. It is the friend or friends we share the meal with. Or even better—just the two of us. Menu selection, ingredients and technique are a small part of cuisine. Love is the larger part.

And of course, besides the love shared in the company of others, there is the same energy applied by the chef. Is that why some restaurants stay in business year after year, and others fold? Is it the love that is put into the recipes and presentation by the chef? And the staff? Love infused into what we do, I feel, is the key to success.

Think about it. We love our cat, Miles. We treat him with love and he loves us. He is a living, breathing entity sensitive to energy, to feelings—to love. Food too is of a living life-form. Life detects life. All matter can be considered a storage device for energy. Energy it re-radiates. Transformer of life and of love.

Food, being closer to life than say, a rock, has perhaps more potential to redistribute energy. But anything we handle with positive intent will pass on the uplifting energy. Our craft is an art when we give it our love and out of love.

Marily puts a lot of that love energy into her food and cooking. It starts the day before when she is thinking of what might be the menu for the following week. Upon awakening Saturday morning, or maybe even half way back from a dream, the decision is made. As I start my day of writing, or basement cleaning or needed repairs, Marily is starting an orchestration of kitchen utensils, grinding flour or chopping vegetable. Checking the culinary score sheets and amending the recipes as she proceeds has advanced the quality of her productions over the years.

I am a lucky man. I would have it no other way than to be married to such a woman. I'm a lucky man. But it didn't start with us. Marily's mom has always been an excellent cook, as well. She passed on the tradition of loving service to her family.

My mother too. I remember taking Marily to mom's kitchen after we were married. I wanted to have her learn to make the bread I grew up with. She learned it well. From a city girl to a gourmet chef, who uses the harvest of my garden through the winter—I couldn't ask for a better partner. In March we are still enjoying recipes with the butternut squash stored in the basement and Ramano beans in the freezer.

Marily's Swedish and Italian heritage serves us well. With love. Love nourishes, love heals, love grows.

See a related peice about my garden: The Kitchen Garden. It is in poetic form.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Lightning and Fog

Have you ever had a time staying awake at the keyboard?
Not that it has ever happened to me.

I write, but I should have slept more the night before.

Sleep. So good. But trying to stay awake. Not so. First the fog, then—a cold-sweating wave of torture. Worse than the pangs of death remembered of past incarnations. O, give in. I give up. Take me out of this condition of schism. I try to stay alert—forcing thoughts of consciousness, of reason. Rationale. Objective observation. Simple math or alphabet. But it does not hold. Milliseconds seem like minutes, and minutes—hours, while lifetimes of strangers pass through the visions dancing. Advancing. Retreating. Edicts and off-hand compliments. Criticism of each unexpected appearance—saints applaud and demons mock this stream of unconscious flocking. Though grand insight and dull devotion intermingle in this distortion of space and time, a wealth of story, intrigue, inspiration unfold in silent succession. Plot and character pours forth from the final place of muse reflection. Song-writers, poets and mystery writers take weapon and battle to death for this. But death stops no pain, and not is retained. Memory gives way to a starry voyage. A river of light. The cave of echoes mocking. The fog is closing. Soft. In peace. And Snap! A crack of lightning. Bolt awake. No going back. And forth—the raging storm of peace. Succumbs to apple pie, the crumbs of hope and holy stones complete. It's all a dream somewhere. The fog and shocking truth that all is of a plan. Harmonic in its light. A stab now right to soul. So lonely in the snow. Keeps calling. All in the last seven seconds. Calling me awake. Takes a gentle rocking, despite a desperate attempt at return. But no. It’s not to be. Eyes clamp and chin drops. Hand to key repeating Vs, unending. Tapped the place of ancient passage. Slipping. Slipping. Sleep—so good. Damn the keeper of bad dreams.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Kitchen Garden

I garden. I eat. I love.

The Kitchen Garden

What do I know of food, but love?
Marily prepares it
I eat and love it.
It is the love that nourishes.
The love superimposed on every molecule
in every morsel.
She is among the best I know
at doing this, surpassing mother
and grandmother
and every old lady
who lived in a shoe.
Better than bakers dozen
and fairytale cook of stone soup.
What do I know?
I don’t cook.
I just eat it.

But wait!
Who grew those potatoes?
I did.
Who planted the carrots
and hoed in the row
keeping the weeds to their knees?
Tomatoes bowing to sun
and growing red
peppers green
while moon offers harvest tips
before the beans can climb the fence
escaping to neighbors
'cause a garden won't walk out the gate.
Shovel and clipper, a wheelbarrow load
and squash à la carte
side salad salsa
and blueberries à la mode.
I know, I know.
I grow ‘em.

Ever wonder why homegrown is better than bought?
I found out as a boy on the farm.
Mom was the gardener and cook.
Dad milked the cow and plowed till dusk.
On our 20 acre plot
we had a garden and a barn
an orchard and grape vines.
Once mom made dandelion wine.
It tasted great before I was old enough
to know.

We knew all living things were by the love of God.
We worked together for the food.
Even hard work was good
on the farm.
Someone told me once—
was it Mom or Aunt Louise?
who made goat cheese
like none other:
It’s not the food that feeds you.
Love those seeds before you plant them.
Hold ‘em in your hands
give them your breath and teach 'em
what love is. Put them in your mouth.
Caress them.
They’ll learn to know your needs
and track all past disease to present.
Infuse what’s needed for prevention
in their pods and roots and leaves.
Peas and beets and spinach
need clean water.
But better that you first
soak your feet in the bucket from the well
and water after dinner
when the tree-line hides the sun.
Or in the morning before it rises
higher than your shoulder blades.
And grass is not to mow,
but for sheep and goats to eat
providing what is needed for those beets.
Brown the springtime garden before it grows.
Love your seeds before you plant them.
Walk barefoot on the dirt.
It works to love
the plants you grow
and let them know you.

Life is love's expression.
Love is God in food.

© 2009 Ardi Keim

(For more on Marily's cooking see High Cuisine.)

Sings from the Window

Our writers group meets for an annual retreat at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Today is the day.

Sings from the Window

View to the west this winter day
an abundance of life
and the light.
Chickadees in trees preening
and swiping their beaks.
Woodpeckers exploring each bark crevasse
one red-headed and another
black and white.

Two cardinals at the feeder and more in the bush.
A fat crow sunning in a high branch
overlooking the footbridge
and frozen lake.
Two, no three others
now light to form a tree-top flock
and call themselves
to sovereignty.

A fiefdom of other birds
join the lower ranks.
Most of them
I do not know and need not.
Their beauty is
the knowledge of Soul,
a waking dream
of Thanksgiving,
of Gratitude,
of Love.

I rest in this peace,
this retreat of nature
and supernatural ambiance.
It sings.

© 2009 Ardi Keim

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Out of the Blue

Note the right-hand sidebar icon of the book Out of the Blue--Preparing for Other Worlds under Recommended by River-Tree Whispers. This book of spiritual poetry was written by a good friend of mine, and includes one of my poems in the introduction.

An example of her work is reproduced below. It is a favorites of mine in the collection:

by Melanie Payne

Like the air we share
Not belonging to one
More than another
God embraces us individually
Simultaneously cared for
We share atoms with ancients, newborns
All life
Connected at the core of survival
With each encounter
All are blessed
Both teacher and student
From first breath of life

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009


The original version of this poem was written in my spiritual search about thirty years ago. The nature of Soul is of Love, of Truth, and of Freedom. Recognizing we are all of the one divine Source is the starting point of that true nature.


Free to look into your eyes
and see that you are me
that we are one
despite apparent differences
the union of spirit
is strong and eternal
though ego plays the games
spirit reigns.

We need not know
or see, or play
just be.
Then and now
forever after we
are Free.

© 2009 Ardi Keim (written ~1979, rev 2/21/09)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kissing Baby Feet

Love comes in many ways. Once I made a Valentines Day card for my wife. It said (I wrote), "Valentines Day - big deal - just another day - I love you more." Pure love can fit convention. Often it doesn't. Then there are babies. Thirty-some years ago--our daughters . . . . And ever after.

Sweet as a spring bloom

Warm like fresh bread

Autumn leaves

The forest scented

Kissing baby’s feet.

© 2005 Ardi Keim 1/29/05

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Moments We Share

Words to encourage
A smile or a glance
View from the window
A call on a chance
Symbols of heart time
A line from your poem
Our journey’s mile
Winding road home

Love for our children
Their trials and joys
The moments we gain
To mend hearts and toys
Lifetime of volumes
Verse linked by gold
Turn back the covers
Soul never grows old

Skyline of white tops
Trail through the glades
Bridge of the Gods walk
Crossing the page
Like art in the great hall
And South Seas salt air
Eternal these gifts
The moments we share

--Ardi Keim 7/20/02

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Eternity of Gaze

One from the past...

Eternity of Gaze

What words can say is already said.
Sounded so untrue
when repeated outside the head.
Better in song of heart
or dance—the message of soul—
when the melody leads
true steps of love will follow.
Better still: the smile in your eyes.
Can I look at you awhile?

The color of my love
is not framed in black and white.
There is a golden glow
that only silence holds.
Eternity of words
in this forever gaze.
I see in your face the sun at midnight.
A total eclipse cannot hide
your light.

What words say
can only hint at what is right.
In the sleep and in the smile
I heard you say the word of soul.
Can I look at you awhile and read your love?
Is written in your heart,
is mine to hold.

(c) 2002 Ardi Keim 3/7/02

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shedding the Mask

Before the battle
Donning chain mail and plate
Wrought shield and sword
Gave him comfort secure
Even knowing the enemy
Would claim its portion
In life and limb.
He rode onto the grounds of destiny
With confidence – virile and strong –
Intent on his duty
And the dance of his charge.

But after days of execution
Precise and of chance
Seeing the slain – comrade and foe
A weary portent of final fever
Crept onto the field.
First, more a false thought
Like a glance off the helmet
Or arrows to underbush.
But now, predominating,
Overwhelming his being,
Corrupting his dream.

He wanted to shed the armor
To gain new life
Revive in strength
And mount again his steed
Stripped of all but cinch
Stirrup and grip.
Take flight and annihilate
The heaviness of fate
Of hate and righteous anger
By the lance of light and heart
Is Soul renewed.

The war in the higher world
Is charged with pure intent
By the shock of truth.
No longer the battle commands
Of darkness afar
And deviant deed.
No longer the deceit
of mask and cover.
A new battle rejoined
When was it first?
And when will we march again?

Today, padded and fit
For two more months of winter
And its multiple of worn reality
Of users debt froze fast.
I tire of the mask and cover.
Spring comes as earth turns
Slowly. And lightning strikes
The flyers of false keys slyly kited.
But also it lights
The pine tree of freedom.
Shedding my mask I see.

Really it was just another below-zero winter day that inspired this. It aint Spring yet? No. And other storms do threaten.

Addendum 1/31/09:
If you detect a slight political tinge to this post, you are right. Covering snow drifts with snow seems clean, but the dirt and dog dung is all exposed soon enough. I feel all stimulus plans and bailouts are just a lot of fluffy ferry dust blinding us with false promise and hiding a worse storm ahead. The snow mask isn’t all we must remove. Freedom (economic and otherwise) comes with responsibility—not schemes to pad the pants of the devious and well connected.

I really didn’t intend on getting political and preachy here. If you’d like to have my expanded view see my Share Tree blog and my post on Financial Responsibility.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lonely Hours -- Two Recollections

The fist is mine written April 7, 1998:

I cannot remember it's start this time, but life is good for me. Times were good, and they were hard . . . I don't remember bad. There's a balance in its memory--playtime joy, fantasy adventure, even heartfelt hurt. I now treasure the hard times, for looking back, they're good.

I do recall at three, or four, or five years old, for sure. We walked the field, my sister and I, in sun, and flowers, and wind on wheat. We followed thistle and grasses wove in the fence--the rust-wire fence that led us post-by-post to the pasture furthest south and east from the house. In these two acres with the three oak trees, and bramble near the corner post outside the gate, the hours slipped by as we were blessed with bachelor button and dandelion--over the hill, down from the barn, by the creek.

We didn't hear Mom calling, or know her frantic search--or know why she shed tears upon our gift bouquets.

Nor did I understand my sobs, when later Mom would read the poem she wrote of this account: Lonely Hours. She read it many times to family and friends, and uncles and aunts. And never in that time, and to the age of reason, did I hear the poem without my heart being wrung and wrenched of tears. I'd often leave the room before its final lines. Or Mom would forewarn the reading, so I could retreat outside. But still within my heart, what was the pain I felt? Even in silence the oft repeated rhyme cried loudly for relief.

This morning I glanced at the portraits of my daughters on the wall. I paused and understood, as tears formed in my eyes. There is no shame in crying--for a mother's love. And no misunderstanding can hide a boy's heart from his mother, or his daughters' from their dad.

I wrote that piece after our daughters had left home already. At times someone would ask, Do you miss them? My answer is always: No. I love them. Same with my mother. I don't miss what lives in my heart.

Our girls are now about the age my mom was when she wrote of the above incident. Here is her poem:

Lonely Hours

My feet ache, still my heart is glad.
The small ones left; it made me sad.
I scolded them a while before
And all because they slammed the door.
It woke the baby and made him cry
And, oh, for peace so much longed I.
They asked me, then, what should they do?
I paid no heed. Before I knew
A silence rare fell all around --
Those little ones could not be found.
Perhaps they thought of what to do,
But where were they? If I just knew.
Oh, please, God, help and keep them safe
And I'll be good and never chafe
At little things they often do
And noise they make the whole day through.
I called and called -- no answer came.
I ran and ran 'til I was lame.
Down to the creek -- they were not there.
Where could they be, that tiny pair?
I called some more; the plane o'er head
Drowned out my voice. Oh, were they dead?
Up through the lane, top of the hill --
No children there, it was so still.
Hastening on farther away
Next through the field I made my way.
I called and called and called again --
Only the rustling of growing grain
Blown by the wind was all I heard.
Where was Mary? Where was Gerard?
I fear and hope I sped along,
Shies were clouding, the way was long.
Shading my eyes the better to see
Two objects small beneath a tree.
And there they were quite unconcerned,
Those two dear ones for whom I yearned,
Their tiny hands clenched with flowers
Gathered by them these lonely hours.
Thank God they're safe and I must weep.
Oh, happy heart, but aching feet! . . .

I have to say, I think mom's rendition is the better one. Another one of her poems can be read in my eulogy for her in August of 2006.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Catching glimpses of other characters on our stage, scenarios unfold, sometimes intermesh with a scene or lesson of our own.


Two trains pass not stopping.
Otherwise there’d be doors opening
and passengers exchanging places.
Maybe names, and even
affinities forming.
Long wait at the station
into nowhere on this line.

We pass on the platform everyday.
Don’t look at your face
and you never open my eyes with yours.
What would happen if the train stopped
and we touched each other
on the Express to Central?

I could see forever in your eyes.
Or has the conductor
already signaled ahead?
Sliding doors, passing cars,
and hearts never fully opened.

(first published in 2005)