The Sweet Smell of Starting Over

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Even the stars are made of this:

sunshine & sweet petrichor.

What comes from above,

and we are made right,

our thirst, our life—

forgiveness,

after years of anger;

we finally feel love again.

The earth wreaks well of redemption,

grace permeates the dry ground.

And, the only sound we hear now,

birds,

who sing of starting over,

or, at least that’s what we hear,

like the smell of fresh water,

among grass, and clover:

sunshine & sweet petrichor.

A Refuge of Birds

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Flood warnings, became flooded streets,
a gathering of mud, and other debris,
while in our yard, a branch broke,
from the old birch tree,
and in it, the grass nest,
a family of birds, now refugees.

And, I imagine them searching,
for a place to start again,
free of broken, flotsam dreams,
their past life, falling from this tree,
as the birch continued to bud,
and the grass continued to green.



For Cowboy, Heart of my Heart

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The horse that restored my strength, Cowboy. 2003-end of our reign.

If waif means thrown away,
we were waifs—
he, an orphan,
me, afraid of the world;
yet together, we were a magical beast,
fleet of feet, pounding ground
with a rumbling beat,
breath joined,
as in lore,
we were centaur,
& maker of the stars,
& shiny things,
creator of our kingdom,
our safe place to run,
abreast of sand, loose rock,
and sun smiling down on it all–
a coronation of soul,
of spirit,
and what will remain,
from that first day,
to the end of our reign.

Hog Lake Falls

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The ground sounds hollow,

an echoing cadence of hoofbeats

follows among ponderosa, & a caw-caw

of wood raven, forest spies tattling

on our prattling happy chatter,

while hawks circle the pool

at the base of hog lake falls,

& balsamroot whispers

about the perfection of it all.

I Am, Reflecting on Easter

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I am the peace of the creator
of love, breath, forgiveness, savior
rising like crocus, and hyacinth,
daffodils, and the fattening bloom
of lilac; imagine my perfume
in the waking hours of spring.
You will place me in mason jars,
and dream of fireflies, far-off
memories of those you loved
in the vast and moldering green.








New Soul

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Some, come into the world as old souls,
like they’ve been here a hundred times,
a bit weary, wise, or jaded, made cautious
by pain & an understanding of human hearts.
But not my son, whose eyes see the earth
as if he, and it, were just created.

Yes, from first breath he was a wanderer,
like his father in his lust for the world,
possibilities stretched out before him,
no person stranger, no place strange,
a modern day viking making his way
across an infinite, angry sea, with no map.

Unless, music is a map. Song after song,
his heart in waves of hard-plucked strings.
He sang loud, and I wondered how
he could pour himself out in front of crowds.
I see him, even now, upon the ocean,
his wooden ship, the waves, the sails.

Veterans of Dead Bones

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We are veterans of dead bones,
products of love, and its loss,
memorizers of last breaths,
and what letting go feels like.
The front line of memory gives way,
what we held in our hands,
dissolves, like water on clay–
muddy water, returning
to muddy ground, then dust;
it is a fate that awaits all of us:
empty arms, encircled of sacred air,
grasping at remnants
of what we valued there.

Things Poems Can’t Explain

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I searched metaphors to describe you,
the aspen’s branches beating against themselves,
waving for help, like desperate arms,

but that was the work of the wind.

The coyote, who devoured all except the head,
and what appeared to be a shoulder
of our girl cat, and left her among the weeds,

but that was the work of hunger.

Then I thought, maybe the foal,
when they drove off with his mother,
her whinnying, more distant and more distant,
as he crushed his tender body against the rails,

but that was the work of love being torn away.

No, in the end, I came up empty explaining
your helplessness against self-loathing,
our loss of hope, and leaving,

but that, it seems now, was the work of surviving–
surviving the things even poems can’t explain.

The Verdict of Trees

I surrender myself

to the verdict of trees,

better judges;

the quaking aspen,

shaking its many leaves

at me, or standing quiet,

as I plead my case—

waiting, the hardest part.

Trees, tell me

the verdict

of my life,

the verdict

of my heart

poured out in living,

where wind rattles

the bending branches,

sways the very tops

of our souls,

sometimes, snapping them off

during the darkest storms.

You, Me, and the Spokane River

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We rode dirt and mud,

through standing water,

like ponds, to verify

the sun, and life

of returning things:

Canada Geese, wood ravens,

mule deer, grazing at dusk,

and the river, surging

with the spring run off

of our souls, singing.

Dear Poet

Dear Poet,

Make them listen, with words

that rumble their insides,

and turn them outside,

fearing poets, again,

like they fear truth:

a mirror, a reflection,

a solid witness to a crime.

When you say you’re a poet

make the whole world tremble

when they hear it.

Life, Receding

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Another day, I’ve collected
over eighteen thousand
now, but none like this:
the birds have returned,
and the clouds hang low,
like the mist of what is
unknown, and I don’t care
to know, because I gave up
predicting the future
when I realized
I was always wrong.
The only thing, now,
is this poem, and how
it pulls me toward confession.
You see, a life recedes;
place a bottle in the ocean
and watch it slowly
carried away by the waves;
that is me and you,
this moment,
and this poem.

A Horsewoman’s Prayer

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Each season,
I say a prayer,
not for safety,
because want of safety
is always there,
but for Wisdom;
Wisdom to listen,
and hear
my horses speak
the magic language
of their needs;
Patience, to wait
upon the softness
of their hearts opening to me,
which is the exact part
that starts the journey of try,
without which, there’s nothing.
I pray for Courage,
when they, in communion,
ask me to fly with them,
either on the ground
at their side
or, on their backs,
where I can grip tightly
to Trust,
and Heaven,
and what it means
to be fully alive.

Christchurch

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Can you be in awe

of how much some

are expected to suffer

in this lifetime—

we are often given

more than we can—

I saw a moth

with a broken wing,

and though it struggled,

I could not crush it—

but placed him, instead,

among the leaves of jasmine,

and walked away.

The Trillium in Gig Harbor

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O, Jamie, it’s beautiful—

everything is connected,

she said, before dying.

And Jamie thought of trillium

blossoming beneath musty cedar

at the edge of the sound,

the whole world epitomized

in heart of flowers,

and spirit of ancient,

mouldering trees.