Spanish Moss

spanish moss tree
Live Oak draped
in Spanish Moss,
wilting with it
as if weeping
in the sweltering sun.

Autumn never comes here,
only peripatetic monsoons
which bring heavy, soggy freshness.
While through the rain, shivering still,
remains this mossy tree in a breeze
(like sultry girls shimmying
on bars late at night).

After the storm’s passing
the sun dies
an inexorable death, leaving a
saturnine penumbra of tropical magic.
Yet, there remains the dance of
this figure swaying to
quiet, secret music-
jape of the lives we live.


For Barbara, until we meet again.

This beautiful eulogy was written by my housemate, Joseph, who was quickly becoming friends with Barbara.

How can you.
In spring.
At Easter.
Was it Good Friday, Barbara?
Will you rise again the third day?
Master, had you been here, my brother had not died.
Had I heard the phone ring
Had I heard the phone ring
We were going to color easter eggs
Maureen Beth Katrina Me
and Barbara
Saturday we were going to color Easter Eggs.
Have a jolly old time.
Make new friends
Have a jolly old time
For easter, for spring
For rebirth.
If a man die, can he live again?
Beth had bronchitis.
Maureen had to rush to help a friend.
Sorry, no easter eggs.
Sorry Barbara.
I called, left a message
Sorry, no easter eggs
No celebration of rebirth
Later, I’m sure, sometime. Hope you’re well.
You called. No one heard the phone ring.
Was the blade in your hand when you called?
No one heard you call.
No one heard you calling
No one heard.
If if if if. If only. If.
No one caught you.
Could I catch you? Could anyone?
You looked into me:
Hungry eyes, longing eyes, I held your eyes as long as I could
I’m not Gabriel.
I have no silver trumpet.
I cannot hold your soul
Slipping slipping slipping away.
How could you
In spring.
The roses will bloom, Barbara.
How will they bloom, knowing you are not there?
Will they not blacken, a sudden blight
turn your yard to mourning?
No, Spring will come
Roses bloom.
They whisper: For roses know. For roses know.
Roses, trees, they have come, they see:
Human lives burning light bright flames
Little lights burning burning burning
The roses know,
They dance, they hold her
Her suffering soul nestled in their velveted petals.
The roses know
Sorrow. They hold deep in their dark velvet heart
The roses know
Roses know it is spring.
Roses wear thorns and wrap themselves in velvet
Velvet: dipped in blood.
We pruned your roses together.
Cut out the dead
Cut out the old and useless and overgrown.
Cut back to the fresh, bleeding green of life
Cut it back.
For it is spring. Time.
Time to: Let death go
The soil whispers of dead things falling to the ground
Dead things: slipping apart to feed
New glowing green rising from the soil
It is spring. Let us whisper: rebirth.


Rhythms of the Seasons

Enjoy! And best wishes for a joyous holiday to you all!

machine of faith

The rhythms of the seasons 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, past.
Faster they spin, compelling us to fill fragile 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 by the slightest incline,
the longest day tipped, we star 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

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 counterpoint of our lives,
barely pausing to reflect
over the abyss which lies beneath
the fragile music we make.

The photo is of a small section of a large, useless, tinkling, colorful machine. It was built over a period of 25 years or so, part by bit, by a man who made it just for fun, and for his children’s entertainment. Now it’s an obscure tourist attraction. It’s housed in a little hut, perhaps 20 ft by 15 ft in the middle of nowhere, next to his house, where his wife still lives. I think he was a farmer. He used found objects and toys and trash, whatever caught his eye. It all fits together in some way. When turned on, the whole thing whirs and clicks and clangs and flashes. Being in the middle of Bavaria, it was normal and appropriate to find a crucifix perched in the middle somewhere.

There is something comforting about this scene, which is almost alter-like. The colorful chaos and glitz surrounds the peaceful icon. Sorry it’s the wrong icon for the season, but I sort of like the twisted irony of it.

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Seasonal Poems to Warm the Soul

Happy Winter Solstice! I may not be religious in the traditional sense, but I understand and cherish the importance of the “spirit of the season”.

As many of you know, Jesus wasn’t born in December, but his birthday was placed near the pagan Roman holiday of Saturnalia by Constantine to encourage pagans to join the church. The celebration of light and rebirth appeals to all.

Over the years I’ve written various poems for the season. Some are just ruminations on the mood, some are about the solstice, but all, I think convey universal sentiments. I’ve linked to some and printed others in a list here. Enjoy.

Poem, with photo of yellows roses in snow

Rhythms of the Seasons


Sacrificial Tree (two poems)

Jingle Ironies

A Simple Gift

Inspire Beauty

Beauty calls and yearns for your attention,
it gives rise and dimension to your soul,
a reflection of your truest goals.

Lest we forget, our hearts are fueled
by a love enduring beyond our lives.
And beauty is its chaperon,
a spark through the dark nights
on the long walk
to the light of the mountain top.

All we have is each other.

May the comfort of love be with you.


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.