Poem: Meditation at the Diner

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Meditation at the Diner

It is loud here.
Music blares.
The people at the counter are boisterous.
The hood over the grill is running, a drone.

You breathe deeply.
One. Two. Three. In.
One. Two. Three. Out.
Repeat again
and again.

Slowly, your mind stills.
Slowly, the noise fades.
None of it matters.

You need this peace.
Your sanity lives there.
Your God lives here.
And if you can grow silent enough,
long enough,
you find
you live there.

About this poem

It has taken years, but meditation is an everyday thing, an any-time-I-need it thing.

And I need it often.


PS – yes, I am at my favorite diner as I write this. No, my diner does not have a Buddha statue in it. But the Thai Basil restaurant in Manchester, Vermont does. That’s where I took this picture. It looks like my friend Barry Parks.

Poem: Recipe on the Fly

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Recipe on the Fly

It is a labor of love.
Step after small step.

The ingredients matter.
Fresh is better, but you can work around that.

At times you follow the recipe.
More often you do not.

You wing it, hoping
forty some odd years have taught you something,

that the mistakes you have made,

About this poem

Pretty much the story of my life. I leap off the cliff, building wings as I go. My signature phrase may be “I’ll figure it out.”.  Mostly, I do.

Oh, or it could be about cooking.


PS: The picture was take at the Wilson House, in nearby Hebron, NY.

Poem: The Color Spills Out

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The Color Spills Out

The problem is, I am not yet dead.
My paintings do not have the stench of a tragic death
or a storyline of misery and suffering.
I enjoy myself too much, enjoy
that mere act of painting, of experimenting,
Success or failure less important than the doing,
the finding what will happen if….
I hang them on walls, too bright, too garish
for this world of landscapes and perfection,
too loud for some, not bold enough for others,
not quite mad, a bit absurd.

No one is supposed to love their life this much,
treasure every mistake and wrong turns,
to ready to claim the error of their ways and
the stray brushstrokes.
I lack the pretension and promise of the dead.
I lack madness, frailty or a casket story.
I live. I love. I paint.

A few buy.
A few question if it is art at all,
dragging their children away as if I were dangerous,
a brightly hued disease that might corrupt their culture,
and leave them with exuberance that can’t be explained
and therefore cannot be trusted.
I would not trust me either.
Joy is dangerous stuff.

About this poem

Once, when I was doing an outdoor art show, a mother was walking past my tent with her two young children. Children love my art. It’s bright. It has lots of color.  So her kids were pulling her towards my tent.

She took the hands of her two young charges firmly in her own and dragged them away. The last words I heard her say was “Come on. We’re going to look at the real art.”

Poor kids. Their art probably looked like mine, bright and colorful. And suddenly they were told it was not real art. We probably lost out on the next Rothko or Pollock.


PS – The painting in the header is one of mine, called “The Color Spills Out.”

Poem: A Better Dancer

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A Better Dancer

You are not yourself this morning.
All the same pieces are there,
but somehow rearranging themselves in time and space,
nothing quite meshing with the other,
a strange mental puzzle, incomplete, and too early
to know if all the pieces are even available.

You are not yourself this morning.
You want something more, something predictable,
something done, not flailing in the wind like some tattered flag
on the field of a battle you never chose,
unprepared and waiting for the charge,
the tension of defeat in the wind.

You are not yourself this morning,
your normal state
in a world where most of what was certain
no longer is, It has left you unprepared,
yet better able to dance when the bullets fly,
and so perhaps you are indeed yourself, but
simply a better dancer.

About this poem

Nothing this week has been settled or routine. It caught up with me this morning, as the line that kept rattling in my mind was the first line of the poem, until I realized that actually, that lack of routine has become my routine.

Tippity tap. Tippity tap.


Poem: Less Than You Believe

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Less Than You Believe

A bench in a room.
Less a deprivation than a declaration
that enough is less than most believe.

Her head in my lap, napping.
I feel her warmth, her trust.
Her love seeps through sleep.
Enough is less than most believe.

An adventure ahead.
Even at your age, there are worlds to explore.
The tickets are on the desk, waiting.
Enough is less than most believe.

About this poem

We make life too complicated.

The picture was taken soon after I moved into my house in Vermont, after I had done wiping out walls, stripping the paint on the floors, and painting. The bench is from Indonesia and is one of my favorite pieces in the house.



Poem: Outside, It Snows


Outside, It Snows

It is snowing outside.
You are sitting in your favorite diner,
hands wrapped around a cup of coffee,
the warmth seeping into your skin.

It is snowing outside.
It is late in the season
and you have not seen the ground
since October.

This is life where you live,
here in the valleys of Vermont.
Winter is the longest season,
It enters the mind like snow through a cracked window.

You shut your eyes.
The winter has become oppressive.
The sameness seeps life from your soul.
You are as buried as the grass.

You shut your eyes and remember spring.
You know it lives, there below the snow.
You know this. It is the mantra of an old man
who has survived much and knows

nothing remains forever, knows
winter is not the assassin it seems,
merely a sieve for the survivors
and the patient, those unwilling or unable

to wait out winter.

Perhaps your day will come.
Perhaps someday you will lack the will to wait.
But not now. Not today.
You shut your eyes and remember spring.

The colors are real as real.
You can feel the sun. You can feel her hand in yours.
You feel, for a brief time, strong.
It is enough while

outside, it snows.

About this poem. 

I was feeling utterly uninspired this morning, so I scanned through my pictures and chose this one, taken just down the road from my house in West Pawlet, Vermont, and wrote to it.

Oh, and it’s snowing outside.