That Man in Uniform

This fun little poem might give you some insights into someone I love so much…

 That Man in Uniform
 In his uniform, he stands fit & thin.
 If you look real hard, you can see his grin. 
 He has taken form, shaped by the norm. 
 His spine tail to tip, he keeps straight & tall. 
 His mind is aligned, his strength will not fall. 
 He has studied & trained, he’s ready to sail. 
 His shoes wink at you, his work is worthy. 
 The waxy luster a polished clue 
 about all he’ll do, with pride & no bluster. 
 His belt buckle shines, sparkles at your eye. 
 He’s a sharp diamond, that’s truth & no lie. 
 A stone that will not give a sigh or a cry. 
 His hair’s cut so short, gives you the idea 
 that he finds his way each & every day
 from many a snare, with greatest of care. 
 His pant leg creases, & the shirt sleeves too
 shout out about order, that never ceases. 
 oh, yes, & the need, liberty releases. 
 The ribbon & ore, medals across chest, 
 they always attest, he lined up abreast. 
 His foot to pedal, his legs toward shore. 
 That man, a sailor guy, 17 enlisted 
 a young seaman clean, of the yes-sir clan, 
 dressed in navy & white, oh my! 
 Rose up in the ranks, serving for 30+, 
 a true commander that man never shrank. 
 I dare say with glee, That Man, That Man, 
 He is My Father.  

This poem is part of an online collection I call All the Shapes of Joy.

A Place to Stand

Wysteria – Catania, Sicily, Italy, 2018

A Place to Stand

I’m looking for a place to stand, a place past

judgement and labeling, past anger and hatred, a place beyond

fear. My feet keep moving, stretching, searching, hungry to find space

where my heart can bloom and my soul can sing. I stay awake and pay attention because

this place is subtle, like the flavor of saffron lingering in my mouth. It’s a nuanced spot

that only speaks when you slow down, when you reach inside and listen deeply

to your body’s wisdom. The location settles you in a contented solitude, a seclusion

that moves you past the duality of good and bad, stability and freedom, attachment and aversion.

When you follow your embodied experience, you find a place to stand where

your being is washed in light, where your heart opens like a flower, where possibility

flows like a river over your feet standing along the stony shore. 

This poem is part of an online collection I call All the Shapes of Joy.

Eighty feet of beauty and grace

Norway Spruce brought down 8/10/2020 during Iowa’s Derecho
Eighty feet of beauty and grace

She laid there,
not dead, but certainly dying,
for weeks, prostrate
across the lush lawn.
She was nearly, but not quite,
split in two,
her insides ravaged by prior trauma,  
now exposed to the light,
wide open and vulnerable,
waiting for help,
someone to give her a proper burial.
The winds that day on August 10, 2020,
they took us all by surprise.
The weather people gave them a name,
a Spanish word we’ll not forget: Derecho.
Mr. StraightLine came with ferocity,
at about 100 miles per hour,
and he had endurance – punching at us
for nearly 90 minutes.
We were lucky ones, receiving
some sort of warning of the impending doom.
The sirens sent us to the basement –
with its glass door walkout and windows,
where we watched the row of trees
along the western side yard bow
from the strength of the wind.
This one, so big it would take 2 or 3 to hug her properly,
she angled and bent and tried to resist for
as long as she could, but those winds,
that straight line was her nemesis.
Finally, inescapably, not totally to our surprise,
with a thunder and a roar, she snapped.
Her roots ripped from the ground when
her trunk broke about 8 feet up from the earth.
She crashed across the yard, swiping a
grievous good-bye to one of her Spruce cousins,
the one in front of the living room window.
Mercifully, her limbs were cushioned
by the lawn, like a friend holding her tenderly,
her surrender.
Oh, why did she have to fall?
Eighty feet of beauty and grace,
probably 50 or more years of swaying
with the northern winds,
standing like a fortress to protect
the old farmer’s house, now long gone
and then the homes of Tall Pines neighborhood.
Her seven sister Spruces stand
next to her crumpled corpse,
saluting her from the south
and holding firm in their western line.
These girls are strong and resilient,
- or so it is hoped by those
in the paths of their potential future falls.
For their sweet girl, they will continue
their family traditions:
basking in the summer sun
soaking up the cool fall breezes and
shivering themselves sane through the depths of winter,
awakening to the hope of spring.
We remember her elegance
designed in the faraway land of Norway…
the way her limbs reached into the sky
providing shelter for the birds and squirrels,
shading the hosta garden below,
insulating a side of the house.
Our hearts ache for Sister Spruce.
We will forever miss you.
Rest in peace.