Category Archives: Prose and Poetry

Deep Down Time

Today I appreciate having some

Deep Down Time

to explore the richness underneath

where I can live through the space

in between my thoughts

I find a fertile ground where

thoughts and words emerge

like a giving back

after all that’s been taken in

and tended to like a gardener would

Though I can never be sure

exactly what will spring forth where

and am always surprised when

some volunteers show up

What comes might wrap itself into a poem

or provide an intention for the rest of the day

or a project for the days ahead

What I know for certain is that

my connection in these moments

feels true and whole

Not a searching or imagining but

a grounded sense of the path I’m on

even when the outcome isn’t sure

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In These Times

Today we are all preoccupied with 

The Before Times

Hoping to get transported back there

Wherever there might be

Some of us are even longing for 

The Far Back Times

Of course those memories are often 

based on hearsay

We are in fact still in The Pandemic Times

though seeming to work our way out

And then there’s the continuing

Racial Injustice Times

And also the Burning Times leading to the 

Misogynistic Times

And now The Climate Crisis And Time of

The Sixth Extinction 

We don’t have Time to be longing for the

Far Back Times or even

The Before Times

What we must do is see where we are now

And choose what we want our

Next Time to be

As individual souls

And soulful communities

And soul searching societies

Our Time is here

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Whiteness Undone

Whiteness is a power source

It’s a category we don’t choose but emerge into

A label that separates as it was designed to do

and blinds many of us to the harm it does.

What does it mean to unplug ourselves from whiteness?

Is it possible for each of us on our own to do this

or undo this as it were?

Seems either we assume whiteness is simply The Reality

or we fear losing Power if we turn away from its legacy.

What I wonder most is not so much

how we choose our way out of whiteness

It’s instead the why of it that worries me

Business as usual is a comfortable route

and keeps our focus narrow on the day to day

We need the bigger picture

the one that shows us that you can’t just be anti racist

you can’t just pretend that white supremacy doesn’t apply to you

you can’t think you way out of whiteness

It’s history that’s grounded you in this

and history that’s been rewritten to make you believe

you are who you think you are.

Who would you be if you were not white?

Perhaps you could be just this body that

descended from ancestors carrying their storied history,

born out of a lineage that survived and thrived

by helping each other along the way.

You can be one among a community of others.

It can be community that holds you to the task

that keeps the ground from caving in

that allows the spreading of new growth

coming into the spring of whiteness undone.

Imagine being held in such a community

and remember this

so you can recognize it when it happens.

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Winter Pause

I found myself pausing in the middle of this day

deciding what to do next

And realized that pausing is not something

I generally do

at least not in this way

‘Generally’ means moving from one thing to another

not stopping to look around

or think about what I want to do

There have been years of going and doing

This, however, is the year of slowing and stopping

imposed by a pandemic

on top of aging, cancer and the

slipping of the Polar Vortex

I imagine this is enough to allow a pause,

to welcome a surge of gratitude for this life

unfolding as it is

before taking the next step 

into the next moment

and the tomorrow after that

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Clarity and Distraction

Reassuring to sit in meditation and have 

the lens of your mind clear

Not that it happens every time

But today Clarity stepped out

and showed Distraction to the door

Have you met Distraction?

A rather jumpy character she is,

not wanting to settle in one place 

or stay quiet for very long

She also gives more energy to some

rather than others, making them seem

more serious or dangerous or true

When they are not

But when the rush of life is carrying you

it’s so tempting not to pause and really

look at what Distraction is offering

Clarity on the other hand is like 

the knife that cuts down to the core,

exposing what one’s true intention 

can be

She shows you the simplicity of it all,

making it possible for you to simply

rest in what is

Clarity doesn’t give you the answers –

just the focus you need to find them.

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More White on White

Letting go of whiteness

means letting go our identity

Maybe not all of who we are

Just the ground on which we stand

We might have to experience

being groundless for a while

Until we see and feel

Who we really are underneath

all that default whiteness

After all this identifying as white

is in our cells

Is in the air we breathe

from the time we’re born 

Hell – even before that!

So it’s going to take 

a kind of rebirth

Not simply a relearning

It won’t be easy going

It will require effort and

supporting one another

to remove this cloak of whiteness 

and reveal who we truly are

Hoping all the while

that we can love what we find underneath.

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White on White

I searched for poems by white  poets 

on the subject of racism

To close a gathering of white folks who met to talk about race

I found none

All that I found were by Black poets and they were

Tremendously Powerful and Evocative

Why are white folks not expressing such

emotion about our commitment to undo racism

Are we not really committed

Are we expecting Black folks to do all the work

As if racism was their problem and 

They are the ones needing to solve it

Is this another case of having drunk the Koolaid? 

We who identify as white

just don’t see the racism we support

And benefit from 

Every moment 

Of every day

Day 

After day 

After day

We are the ones

who must do the work

and write the poems

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Haiku in the Time of Pandemic

Raindrop sounds strike glass
Outside stillness painted gray
Daffodils bow down


Spring arrives on time
Pandemic spread continues
Housebound all are now


Colored masks appear
Smiles hidden from my view
Passing eyes connect


Tiny sparrow sounds
Hidden in the leafless bush
See me walking by


Wailing ambulance
Chases virus laden souls
Fearful of their lives


Bodies stacked in trucks
Out of reach of families
Mourning absent lives

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Remembering the Path Ahead on Martin Luther King Jr Day

How do you listen to the one who says Haven’t we moved beyond all this?

What are you thinking when you hear What we really should be talking about are Those White Supremacists? 

How does your face not contort when you hear from that white person’s mouth the words I’m not racist?

The best of course is What are you talking about? I don’t see color.

And you’re dying inside. Or you should be.

Something in you should be rebelling and thinking how are these people my friends.

Do you open your mouth and ask What did you say?

Why is it you can talk to someone who denies human caused climate change? How is that easier than responding to racist attitudes?

You can talk about what a person believes or an idea he has but maybe not about the personhood that a history of privilege has shaped.

Does that feel too personal?

Martin Luther King Jr had much to say about FEAR. If you read his quotes, will that make it easier?

Certainly much of what lies beneath Climate Change denial is FEAR of losing our lifestyle, our comforts and having to CHANGE?

And we’re hard-wired to FEAR what is unfamiliar to us. So maybe that is elemental in RACISM but that’s way too simple an explanation.

The bigger FEAR in racist attitudes is feeling that one’s BEING is threatened by this person in front of me.

The bigger FEAR is that if he is equal to me than I am less than I believe myself to be.

In the comparing of myself to others I must come out on top.

Or I will be less than…

Are we so ungrounded that we must live in a way that supports the core belief that I am better than another?

How do we shift to open hearts and minds?

We must be RADICAL and RELENTLESS!

No one deserves to be treated less than another and no one is better than anyone else.

We are all connected to the best and worst of us.

WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO.

GET TALKING!



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Between the Words and Me

IMG_0402I just read the New York Times review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book, “Between the World and Me” and am struck by the response. The words in the review seem to be formed at some distance from the work itself.  I’m surprised because this isn’t the kind of book that requires you to step back so you can see more critically.  It’s a work that demands you step in close so you can see, as Naomi Shihab Nye has pointed out, the “words under the words.”  This would help in keeping one from writing about confusion in Coates’ use of the term “American Dream” or his “hazardous tendency to generalize” or describe his tone as “Manichaean.”  However, I can imagine the anxiety of facing the authenticity of Coates’ experience and feeling the need to turn to some old ways of responding.

I wonder what it would be like to take in Coates’ words in a different way.  Suppose as a first step, you could simply witness what is being said, without bringing in assumptions and judgments.  I suspect you might say, “How can a reviewer review if without judgment?”  Our minds are judging almost every moment of every day – the point is to be aware of the causes and conditions that allow them to arise.  So, set them aside and see the words; create space for listening with your whole body to the full experience before you.  Being open and accepting of what is presented in front of you leads past the line of defense that might arise.  Openness allows the value of the other’s words to land in you so that you can appreciate the other and tolerate a connection that may have a raw aliveness to it.

We who are not black, who didn’t grow up with that history rooted in our being, have never simply been able to witness the experience of those who have.  There is always the temptation to distance oneself, to shut down, to defend against, to smile like it’s really okay now or to attempt to identify with the person in front of you.  I suggest that none of these reactions are going to move us forward to a more just place.

What’s needed is to begin with offering yourself as an open and accepting witness.  Really listening to the person who has the courage and strength to speak or write his own truth opens the door to see that your own truth is reflected in the words under the words.  Appreciate that once spoken or written, listened to or read, these are the words that can carry all of us forward to the more just and equitable world that is possible.

Thank you Ta-Nehisi Coates for your strong and beautiful voice!

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