Enough light to see the path; enough courage to take the step; enough sense to enjoy the walk; enough company to share the time.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Traveling Mercies: The Traveler, the Destination, the Journey

(for the 2014 Chi State Convention and to honor the women of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society, International, with special thanks to Epsilon. Dedicated to the memory of Kathryn E. “Betty” Breidenthal)

We've oriented our compass,

We've sighted our lodestar,
We've mapped our destination,
We've asked for traveling mercies.

We've booked our room,
We've packed (and re-packed),
We've checked the address,
(More than once.)

We've consulted our maps
And asked our friends for shortcuts;
We've fueled up
(At some cost.)

We've brought confidence and energy enough to share;
We've looked back and waved,
Calling, “We'll meet you there!”
And set out.

We're engaged in friendly chatter
When suddenly the road looks unfamiliar.
We've missed an on ramp, an off ramp, a road sign,
And we're lost.

We hem, we haw, we put on our Brave Face,
And our worry lines begin to deepen,
When some internal guidance
Softly speaks:

“You are the compass,

You are the lodestar,
You are the destination,
Here are your Traveling Mercies.”

And one of us cries,
“Oh, how lovely—a scenic route!”
We laugh heartily,
And our spirits are lightened.

We pull in to consult our roadmaps
And ask each other for directions;
A brief backtrack, a short side-trip,
And this time

We take the transition road smoothly,
Changing highways like the pros we are,
Signaling our lane changes,
Always looking ahead.

We look at each other and think,
“Where would I be but for you,
My companions, my guides?”
Then we remember:

Someone is looking at us, thinking,
“Where would I be but for her,
My companion, my guide?
I'd be lost.”

We are the compass,
We are the lodestar,
We are the destination,
We are the Traveling Mercies.

Someone is inspired by you.
Someone is counting on you.
Someone needs what you have come to share:
An act of intentional transition.

So, tonight let us gather
Nourishment for the journey,
Food for thought,
Sustenance for the heart.

Let us find enough of what we need:

enough light to see the path;
enough courage to take the step;
enough sense to enjoy the walk;
enough company to share the time.

We are the compass,
We are the lodestar,
We are the destination,
We are the Traveling Mercies.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

We Say: Tree of Life

We have always called this thing you feel now, "Weltschmerz."
But the song says: "Ain't you got a right to the tree of life?"
Please don't hang your death upon it.
We will not lie: Life can be a very lonely thing.

That is why we say: be kind.
We say: love the ones who love you.
Accept the kindnesses
Offered by the imperfect.
They are offerings of devotion.
Struggle as you must to see their perfections.
We say, who feel your feeling might be like ours.

We say: "Enjoy what there is to enjoy."
We say: welcome good fortune in any form.
We say: count pleasures like pennies.
Add them up.
They will amount to something, given time.
We say: they will make you rich
With the kind of wealth others need,
The kind that multiplies when divided.

We say: "Let your light shine."
We say: look at your native gifts.
They are abundant,
Good fortune you were born with.
You cannot store them up.
Hiding them under a bushel
Will only extinguish them.

We say: "Suffer what there is to suffer."
We say: help others often
With no expectation of return.
Help those we do not yet love
For the sake of helping
Even just little bit,
For the sake of the ones we do love.

We say: do it until it becomes a habit.
Then, we say: do it until it becomes a reflex.
We say: do it until it gives us the strength to love unrequited,
Strength for the day ahead,
Bright, cold, insensible of our being,
Strength to look on our own misery gently,
Having looked on that of others,
Strength gathered grain by grain,
The way our feet gather sand walking on a beach,
Strength to endure joy when it comes at last,
Strength to endure anything,
Strength to merely endure.
All illogically, it makes us feel less lonely.

We say: you are brilliant.
We say: you have as much right
To the sun, the warmth, the air,
The cleansing rain, the nourishing soil,
As the tree of life.
We say: please do not wither.
Sink your roots deep.
We say: we all need you.
You are the tree of life.

Monday, July 23, 2012


In the moment before you greet me
my mind pauses.
Far away somewhere
something says
Speak to your friend.
Closer by
is the time we have created together:
warm, clear, bright
behind my eyes.
Before them a man
again unfamiliarly beautiful;
I see you newly—


Sunday, July 15, 2012


Somewhere between the sand and the ocean,
where the water, unnoticing, caresses our feet,
our minds absently continue to think,
the thoughts gliding away on the receding waves.

And somewhere between the land and the clouds,
where the line of the horizon retreats to the twilight, following the sun,
our gaze chases, and our memory,
sailing forward toward midday and morning.

Our faces and our arms in unconscious repose
are warmed by the sinking sun.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Guest Post: Maricar N.

Who? What? Where? Why?

Who am I?

What type of person do I want to become?

Where do I look for answers?

Why do I harbor these feelings?

Which decision should I make?

What if I'm not good enough?

Where would I run to?

Why am I so confused?

Who am I to ask these questions?

Because the Media Says So

I'm fat, because the media says so.

I'm ugly, because the media says so.

I'm not perfect, because the media says so.

I have to buy these, because the media says so.

I have to buy those, because the media says so.

Rape is okay, because the media says so.

Violence is okay, because the media says so.

Murder is okay, because the media says so.

Blah, blah, blah, because the media says so.

Dear TV,

Dear TV,

Desensitize me.

Glorify falsified truths.

Let us sip your dripping cup of

Tainted information.

Two teaspoons of propaganda,


Advertise materialism,

Sell our morals for our greed.

Disregard the wealth of individuality.

Turn off the life of a soldier

By the trigger of a controller.

Manipulate and weaponize fear.

With a slight chance of rain,

Come and cleanse a sinful conscience.

*Please stand by…



& Repeat.

Maricar is about to graduate from high school. She has quite a way with words. These three pieces are part of a larger cycle written in response to her experience attending a performance of "Green Day's American Idiot." At university, Maricar will prepare to enter the medical professions. I am honored to have worked with her. Thank you, Maricar.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Portrait: The Princess In Exile

"Maybe"—yes, small doubts there,
Even though she was born knowing. This
Ladylike creature remembers
In her bones lifetimes as a queen,
So this life feels unfamiliar,
Scanter of domain,
And somehow harder work.
          Making a silk purse of a sow's-ear situation, as
          Only the true royal can, she
          Reconnoiters a new path to a different throne,
          Affirming her nobility.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The languages of hands
are older
than the languages of words
The meanings are older
The languages of bodies
are older yet
Joints and skin
movement, containment, contents
have their distinct syntax
boundaries required
for discernment and sensation

You ask me to explain
my devotion (with words
     you mean)
but have not our hands already
spoken volumes on our behalf?
And have not our bodies clearly
cried joy, old friends, long parted
(ancient partners of a different sort)
in reunion?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Guest Post! Erin M. Feldman

Watching and Waiting

We are watching the emptiness fill. No,
we are waiting. Waiting
and watching.


We can hear the waves lapping
against the hull. We forget the man
in the bird’s nest.

He is waiting, watching.


Or, we are seated on the porch,
drinking tea and eating - something.
We ignore the woman

drifting closer, the woman
waiting and watching.


Or, we pretend the sky isn’t pressing closer,
isn’t sticking to our skin with its yellow-
greenness and moisture.

We can still breathe.
We can still wait.

The emptiness is not filling.
We are watching and waiting.

Erin Feldman works as the marketing communications manager at TouchSystems,
but her passion is to grow her writing consulting business, Write Right. She has her Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and graphic design. When she isn’t busy working at her day job or building her business, she reads and writes poetry, draws, runs, or tries to find people to go salsa dancing with her.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Post! Ruth Long


Like pieces of a puzzle
you are scattered
across the room
detached, cool as
the moonlight spilling into
the window and stroking
       the line of your jaw

a cat climbs through the window
and your mouth twists
into a momentary smile
enigmatic as a falling star
dark as the midnight cloak
that shelters us
until dawn creeps in
     on stealthy paws

Ruth Long is a reader and writer who enjoys living on the razor's edge between poetry and fiction and passionately believes that the two can happily co-exist.
You can find more of her writing at BullishInk.Com 
On, Poetry Posse!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Songs of Motherhood

IV. Word
(to my mother)

To thank you enough
I have finally found my way
            (my truth, my life).

I give you this oath
(which is your gift to me):

Although for every hour by which
I have shortened your life,
I would gladly give in trade
a day of perfectest joy,
instead, I will redeem
every minute of grief
you ever spent on me.

It is my griefs have saddened you most,
and ever having saddened you is my most grief.
I will set now all griefs aside;
I will be now as happy as you always hoped.

I have known you
longer than I have known breath
from the inside, out,
and still have barely the gist of you
(curious and humble,
grace seeking grace)
who gave substance to my idea,
knit me together
from threads of your own fabric,
then passed the needles on to me.

I give you this oath
which is now mine to keep
(your gift to me)—
and every day will now become
my mother’s day.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Songs of Motherhood

She teaches love

Sprung full-fledged into being
                       at the conception of her child
             and newly created at every
                                     new conception

             She, the goddess
             She, the universe
             She, all-provident womb
                       and totality of her offspring’s
                                     first self-knowledge

             Her gaze, the first mirror
                       seen over the horizon
                       of the soft, round taste
                                     of need satisfied

             Creatrix and creation indistinguishable
                       The mystery of her generosity is this:
 though giving ceaselessly, she makes no sacrifice
             All she gives, she gives to herself
                       through her creations

Her progeny spin out, as droplets of water
                       from the ocean
At the moment they are realizing their separate being
             she is recognizing the unity
                       of her essence with them

                       Becoming one by becoming many
                                     pupil and matrix
                                                  she teaches love.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Main Sequence

High above the ground
above the orange pink lavender freesia
layers of sunset
that lie behind the black palm trees
past the languorous eucalyptus trees
and the hovering moths that flicker
and past the collage of sounds
rising from the earth the blacktop
the chanting crickets
the warm-evening conversations
the clink of glasses
the traffic sounds
muffled by years-deep foliage
beyond the indigo richness
couching the pearl of moon
beyond breath
beyond reach
and beyond
a blaze a fury
of silence
heat of polymension
thickening in the mass of time
a glitter
a pretty
a diamond
an ancestor

A "main sequence" star is a star in its prime, emitting light and heat (and like most things, 
shrinking toward middle age…)

Monday, April 30, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXX

Brush of fine gray hairs
Marking time in tiny lines,
My face, your parchment:

Dig not deep thereon.
Write "mirth" instead, and "grace,"
"Welcome," and last, "peace."

April that was here
Now shall pass into a May;
All shall pass in time.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle)" XXIX

If there come a day
When I can no longer speak,
Read to me, instead.

Tell me what you know
Of yourself, of me, of us;
Talk about the world

And how it has changed
For the better, where you are.
Be my voice for me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXVIII

The day's fine and hot,
And the reservoir is full.
Geese stand by the lake.

Centuries away, 
There's a different kind of

Friday, April 27, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXVII

Blown dust veils views of
Whitecaps on the Silver Lake.
Strange, hot winds breathe, "Change…!"

And mile-high mountains
Are completely hidden in cloud,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXVI

April's in love with itself,
Pollinating all.

Such a narcissist!
Frolicking with bumble bees—
Trollop in the raw.

Samantha Gluck, Collaboratrix Extraordinaire, was in the spirit, and gave us a second stanza! Poetry party! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXV Middle School Guest Poets!

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Guest Poets, also Ghost Poets!

I heart Katy Hickman, who teaches middle school downstairs from me. Her students dash off haiku with, well, dash, and she's letting me share a few with you. But we're not telling who did what…

Lizards live on trees.
Certain lizards camouflage;
I wish I could, too.

What's analogy?
Comparing with something else—
That is the meaning.

Why have slavery?
No one should suffer that way—
We are all humans.

Live in the moment
Don't mind what the people say
You only live once

I will not divulge
my bizarre desire to sing!
I guess I just did…

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXIV

Image: National Geographic

Delicate and bold,
April's hummingbird arrives,
Visits the flow'rs.

Quixotic, sublime,
Masculine, he is much like
Someone I once knew.

"You were fun at first:
Lots of laughs, cute debates, but
Now I'm bored with you."

All those things he said,
sharply focused, pierced my heart,
needlelike, precise.

He loved me the best
that he could, but the truth is:
he never knew me.

For L.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXII

Earth Day

Early morning songs
announce the joy of young birds
in green trees, blue skies.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XXI

That April night, when 
My life was about to change,
I never knew it.

I thought to myself:
What would I do without you?
I could not go on.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XX - Tanka

We enter this life
with nothing, and have to give
what we've been given,
so in sharing of ourselves
this tired world creeps heavenward.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XIX

Tiger in April
Your prowl: strategic. Your words:

There in the long grass
you couch in mock repose, eyes
upon your quarry.

You tell me you have
no ulterior motive;
what should I believe?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Fool! [not] (a "haiku" cycle): XVIII

Apostrophe: cinquain, American style

Fly, black
and fizzing here
and there, harrassing my
hard-earned, longed-for lunchtime quiet:
buzz off!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XVII

   Violets are gone.

Roses are coming on, and      

     Gophers in the lawn. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XIII

Is there half a moon?
Clouds cover all the sky—not
Possible to know.

Farmers' Almanac
Says it will be like this for 
Almost the whole month.

April is supposed
To bring us cherry blossoms.
Instead, it brought pits.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): XI

The sun goes down on
another warm April street.
There, a man walking.

Tiny in his hands
An infant, only weeks old,
Pressed against his chest.

His attentive mien 
Reminds me of the seahorse,
patron of fathers. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April Fool (a "haiku" cycle): X

The sun's coming up
On a new day. It’s April.
Still I haven’t slept.

"Can writing provoke
An existential crisis?"
Not now—I'm brooding!

April Fool—No April Fool! Guest Post Instead!

War on Silence 
by Iain, known as Beowulfsson

Today, O Silence, I make war on thee.
Here and now, I declare my sovereignty.
Your power is broken over me.

Today I stand strong, tall and proud
Before the hushed and awestruck crowd.
Today I shall strike you down.
Today I will take your crown.

Today you will fall at my feet.
Today I take your royal seat.
“Who will stand with me?"
"Who will open his eyes and see,
Silence has no power o’er thee?”