times

…times we fall through
moldy, scratchy thatch
to stiff, pine planks,
losing memory, stones
and sonnets. forgetting.

There is a strange emptiness I often feel at the first day of cool stillness in Fall. Today is overcast. The wet air leaches warmth, persistent in its chill. Persistent and immobile. It is here to stay, moving in. Memories of languid, long, endless Summer days float just beyond reach. The reality of suffering in the South is no dream, however. Their’s is aching, palpable emptiness, loss. They have no luxury of daydreams.

Yet this calm chill comforts me, reminds me all things change. It is time to recharge, request a new sheet, a clean slate. Time to move on, shift gears. Let Summer memories become the dreams they now are. Let tragedy’s lessons sink in, brand their mark on memory.

The garden outside my window is still rich with green textures. The long, fragrant, golden trumpets of Brugmansia herald (and hope for) a few more sunny weeks to come. All is not lost. But never the same.

At work I am having to work closely with those in power and money, the trustees who support my orchestra, but also control it. I used to assume they were automatically corrupted by their power, but I’m beginning to see their genuine interest in my art, in the success of my orchestra, even though I may not always agree with them. They know things about money and success I cannot know from my position. They have experience we can use. Our orchestra needs them, whether we like it or not. It’s never black and white.

Thinking of events in the world, in the US, my country, I feel frisky with a new kind of hope. The suffering of millions in the South will not be in vain. Our eyes are open. We see the chilly, calculating responses of our current administration, which seems to be more of a power machine than human leadership. And we also see the fervent, human response, the support given by millions; human responses, neither conservative nor liberal, just human. We see each other’s hearts, that we are not so different as we thought. We see where we could go if we came together to solve problems.

Our enemies are not each other. They are the power systems which corrupt and mislead. We cannot afford to be mislead. We only have each other. We only have each other and one small planet.

The chilly air settles into my bones. It’s time for action, for change. Especially since I’m late for work.

Poem for Tim

I love you
more than I can stand,
less than I need.
Where is the bed,
the sweet sheets
to hide our shame
and our ineptitude?
Are the stars enough,
the milky blanket
which shields us nightly?

I am numb, paralyzed
until you touch me.
Kiss me,
Unleash the flood.
let me pour
over you,
through you
into you.

Rhythms of the Seasons

The rhythms of the season hypnotize us
as they go ’round and ’round and ’round,
faster each year as we age,
building to some distant, palpable climax
while receding from another, ancient past.

Faster they spin, compelling us to fill fleeting days
with meaningful events.
(love may deepen,
hate grow brittle,
poetry more necessary)

To and fro, light to dark, the pendulum swings
stupendously, irrevocable across the map, throbbing
in every molecule with its unabashed preponderance.

No sooner sweet Summer arrives
in her full sensual glory
and vapid dissipation,
then be the slightest incline, the longest day tipped,
we start the slow, poignant slide
to the depths of
Winter.
Thus we arrive again at this valley
of Yin,
whose darkness and gravity turns us inward
to our sweetest, softest, most delicate
center.

As if by sheer will (and hope and need)
we nudge the gyration
back toward light,
we indulge in glitter and compassion.
We reward love needed and given
with earnest countenance.
We search our souls for cheerful ways
to decorate the days.
We celebrate the counterpoints of our lives,
barely pausing to reflect
over the abyss which lies beneath
the fragile music we make.

This was one of Barbara’s favorite of my poems.

Another Year

This poem was written by my grandfather on my father’s side, the Welsh side. He was a coal miner in Wales until the age of 21, when he asked his beloved to marry him, then shipped off to the land of opportunity. The year was 1921.
grampop Thomas, 1921
He forged an impressive career in the US, working his way up the ranks of a fairly large shipping business in Philadelphia. He eventually became chief engineer. He was a wizard at building things. He often made toys for me and my sister. During the last decade of his life, he was king of the retirement community’s workshop; he had to instruct others in the use of the lathe, a complex and delicate wood cutting instrument. I still have numerous finely lathed lamps around my house.

His charming Welsh accent never left him. He always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell. I don’t know now many times he asked me “So, are you going to become a genius… (which he pronounced geniASS with emphasis on the Ass!)”

He sang in choirs all through his life. He is the reason my mother was able to continue her musical career after marrying my father. He is one of the reasons, indirectly, why I am a musician, along with my sister.

He often wrote beautiful, poem like notes to us. This poem was probably written in the early 1980’s. He was a gentle, upstanding American citizen. He died in 1985.

Another year has reached an end.
‘Tis Christmas time in gray December
With thoughts of giving, as we spend,
of bad times past we rare remember.

Throughout the world a spell is cast
And thoughts of love and peace takes hold.
As we hear again as in the the past
The greatest story ever told.

True, greed and hate will still abound.
In hardened hearts who have no creed.
They specialize the year around
Using God to state their greed.

But thanks to Him, a son was born,
And Father, son and Holy Ghost,
Though many laugh and many scorn
The spirit of God is worth the most.

The atom bomb, the power of man
To most of us, has caused much fear.
These threats of hate, since they began
Have plagued us all the year.

But bombs and threats have gone to pot.
The day of days is here again.
When the power of man is soon forgot
And the King of Kings, once more will reign.

The yearly log will close with cheer,
Another chapter in life’s great tome.
a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
I hope you have one in your home.

Wind Chimes

Wind Chimes at Sunrise
Thoughts on time
in tones of blues
or orange, bright
pearls of sun
drip down these tubes,
while air slips through
their purple scales,
random chance, dares,
wishing only for harmony.

Wind chimes remind us of the persistent nature of change, and teach us to make music with lessons learned from impermanence.

Click here to hear the chimes of a “Balinese” scale hanging near my house.

I have several sets of medium to large chimes hanging around my garden. Their scales are neither happy nor sad, but mysterious and questioning. I never tire of hearing them. Their music ranges from one tone lingering across many seconds to a joyous cacophony of 30 bells clanging in response to active wind.