POEM: Hommage a Mary Oliver

You do not have to get over it.

You do not have to saddle up and hit the trail

and light out leaving behind everything you once loved.

You are allowed to let the wounded bird of your heart

sing silently in the dark for as long as it wants.

Tell me about hurt, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile there is a hot cup of tea, or coffee.

Meanwhile the birds at the feeder, cardinal, bluejay,

goldfinch, are waiting to be fed.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clear air,

can still catch your attention as you cross the street

as the cars wait for your passing

as you look out the window from your desk.

Whatever your wound, no matter how long it takes to heal,

the real things of life will wait for you to catch up

with them, will call to you to refill the feeder

and drink your tea before it gets cold.

Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash

(Originally written in response to her death in January 2019; reposted today in honor of her birthday.)

POEM: The man comes around

Old man, I never listened to you
until you were already gone from us
and your voice drifted out of the radio
as if down from heaven, old and broken
and full of power, still. As a child
I hid when you came on tv, man in black
with your big guitar, but later in life I heard you sing
when I needed a voice that was older than mine,
wiser, sadder, more grateful, more humble.
All your addictions, recoveries, marriages,
crimes, conversions, your darkness and brightness,
you crushed in your hands and made into a song,
distilled through your heart into bittersweet droplets
that I taste one by one as I grow older myself.
Here I am now with my joints giving out,
wiser and stronger than I ever imagined.
Old man in black with snow-white hair,
with weathered face, no longer nimble fingers,
mention me to Jesus, you two were always close.

(For Johnny Cash on his birthday)

POEM: For Pixie


All the world’s a stage, and all the Tarot merely scenery,
a painted backdrop for an amateur display.
All the world’s a stage, and all our comedies and dramas
re-enactment of the myths, rehearsal of a few enduring plots.
All the world’s a journey, and Pixie’s Fool goes tripping through it,
feet light as feathers, eyes raised to the sky.
Only the Fool’s dog knows what’s in that bag of tricks,
the wanderer’s bindlestaff over one shoulder,
its humble length an axis round which all the worlds revolve.

(For Pamela Colman Smith, Pixie to her friends, born on this date in 1878, illustrator of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot)

(Image by Daniel Albany from Pixabay)