February 2nd, 2006

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Jane's Wondrous Poem from Yesterday!!

Dreams trundled through the night.

Like parcels, they arrived at the door of sleep.

Some were filled with flocks of old poets.

They were drinking the rain.

I cupped their dear faces.

Others were as unlikely as this earth.

There were trees without names.

Light, of the kind that is surprising to infants.

When I am old, still I will not know this place.

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Jane's Poem for Today!!

Jane is in Pasadena, staying at the Ritz Carlton, an old estate-hotel that has been renovated, and sounds wonderful with vast grounds and Japanese gardens. Jane did Tai Chi last night out on the grass.    We all must go there one day.  Her poem for today, a light, as usual,  for the stars.

In the high room of an old hotel, I opened the window to the night.

A crescent moon dangled from a palm tree.

From the verandah below, laughter and talk drifted up.

Like childhood, I fell asleep to the voices of grownups.

And awakened to birdsong.

It is dawn again.

Spring again.

How patiently my heart beats.

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This Morning For Me!

February 2, 2006

Today, Jane listens to my morning flow and calls it Life-Lines.  I am struggling to be here in some way of keeping my core, the essential part of my being alive, even as I feel myself internally probed by something injected from outside.  Last night, I felt I was invaded by aliens, as I felt the chemo on its search through my body.  It is like a flashlight swimming through me looking for what is dividing rapidly, and leaving the slow sleepers to rest.

My throat is sore this morning, and my feet, but I am feeling pretty well besides that, and yet, as Jane and I talk, I realize I am not looking for meaning in my writing this morning.  My mind is unclear, like this day I see out my window.  I am recording what I see and feel, in some way of anchoring.  I am here.  I am me, some me, and sometimes, the chemicals cause my legs to shake, and I sit with that.  I watch that, and perhaps, that is why today, I look out my window at the trees, and I watch them, just watch.  I am not looking for meaning today, or judgment, or even, discernment.  I just am today.  I am a duck.  I am a tree, dripping with rain, that has now paused, and yet, is still held in the folds of the leaves.  I am the sun on the other side of these dense layers of fog and clouds.  I am me.  I am you.  We are one!

I offer my snippets, my morning as it drops, like rain, from an inner, outer sky.  

For me today, there is no meaning, only being, in a life. 


Diving in

like a duck

tail up

to nuzzle below

what swizzles unseen

until grabbed in a  beak,


and taken,

like coffee,

with cream




sitting blank

mind silent

allowing a hand to come

and write

what bites nuance to rise

and fly buttons like kites

for the sky

to open

and star with light -






can I welcome the hand

that comes like an animal in the night

to write on my mind

like porcupines,

each spine held at an angle

to catch the light,

and bring it to the page,

an offer, sometimes,

of sight  -




the tree outside

is silent today

each branch hanging out

like a long gloved hand

dripping with diamonds,

water still shakes

and the breath awakes

in the round pause

of the pond

as it dreams

of lakes




everything reaching today

in the pause of the fall

of rain -

leaves and needles like fingers

waiting with bows

to fiddle

the sounds of the clouds

as they open

like grain

to sun-filtered light -




where to stop with a poem -

with a look, with the eating

of a lime -

where to pause the breath

and let it rest

that moment






where are the roses

held in my care

the flowers in cheeks

the organs in there,


heart, liver, spleen,

unseen -


Perhaps I don’t want meaning, only understanding at the most basic levels, forces molding cells, tissues, organs, me, you, an internet connecting us all, as one. 


I Want to Know!


I want to see inside,

to probe like chemo,

to be that light,

to discern -

can I activate fingers

to stir inside, like cilia

and see

and feel

the deepness

I hide -

I want to know Everything -

I want inside, out

     where I can see,

     what is happening,

     what churns and flows and ripples in me. 

I want to peel the earth

     like an orange

     and eat the seeds -

I want to understand the operation,  

     the motivation, the surge, the tides that reap -

I know it is an old story,

formation and creation,

the watchmaker and the watch -

what comes first,

the chicken or the egg -

I am wanting to go where only letting go can take me,

letting go - disintegration -

and I’m not ready -

I am a probe, probed.

I am here,

not ready to let go,

and so I hold my insides in,

contained in a shell,

like an M & M.

I am all the colors of the rainbow,

until I melt,

and that day is not yet here,

and yet, I want to know what ticks inside,

what motivates this being that seems to be,  a me. 

"Let go and feel the air blow through your holes,"  I am told.

I am the whale.

I sing the sea. 

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More thoughts -

This morning I am with my journey to Nepal, over twelve years ago.   I spent six weeks there, four of them in the mountains of Khumbu, Everest.

I climbed to 18,000 feet, pushed myself way too hard. I did not listen to my breath, until it was almost gone. I am doing this chemo journey differently that that. I am learning to listen. What I felt there is what I feel today, that openness to wanting to know what is inside. I walked in Kathmandu and took it all in, a chicken having its head whacked off, the bathing in the streets. I didn't put a scarf over my mouth.  I wanted to breathe it all in. I breathed in the burning of those who had died, and were cremated by the river, next to the bridge we crossed. 

All is open there, and yet, it is not. Certain functions are private, and there are certain monasteries that are tiny entries tucked into the rocks.

And, then,  there is Tengboche at 13,000 feet. One can still breathe without noticing each step. It was newly re-built when I was there, a splendid monastery with drapings of gold. I turned 44 there at the foot of that monastery, and, early that morning, there was a special ceremony. My friend and I entered, along with all the monks, and, were served, along with them, a sweet,milky tea. There was deep, gutteral, chordal singing, and horn blowing. I felt I was present at the beginning of time, at the Big Bang, and, I felt the inhalation, and exhalation, the continuing formation and reformation, of everything. I feel that now. I re-form on the breath, in and out. I can know my insides. I do know them. I blow them in and out, many times in a moment. I send my breath to you. You send your breath to me. We whisper and shout our breath back and forth to each other. I feel joy.  I am joined.   
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Honoring Mothers -

Today, I am going to attempt the Cascade Trail with Karena, to honor her mother and my own. Her mother died last Monday, January 23rd. Mine died February 18th, 2005. I want to honor the time of my mother's passing, beginning now. My grieving process for her was interrupted with these health problems of my own. I want to return to helping her pass, even, though, I know she is delight in light at play.

This is my offering poem for my mother today.



          I sit among the stones,

          still and silent,

          spacious as a field

          of Arctic terns,


          pole to pole -


          the sea in me is vast

          the waves

          forming and reforming,

          opening and closing,

          like the sail

          upon the mast


Amazing!  I hear a tapping at my window.  Two chickadees are trying to enter.
I choose to image them, as my mother and father, letting me know they are here.
The imagination is ours to choose.  I choose to feel my parents close, tapping at my window, little Chickadees, in flight with ease!

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Cafe Gratitude!

Elaine asked me if I had heard of a group of cafes called Cafe Gratitude! I googled it, and, among other things, up came this column by Jon Carroll. It seems we should all try Cafe Gratitude, and feast!


Jon Carroll Tuesday, August 10, 2004


I confess to having had what Herbert Spencer would have called "contempt prior to investigation" about the word "vegan," the concept of veganism and vegans themselves. Vegans, I figured, were people who were too snotty to be vegetarians.

But then I heard about a vegan restaurant that, for several non-food- related reasons, was too good to pass up. It's called the Gratitude Cafe.

I went with a woman named Tree. OK, that's only a nickname, but there is something very special about going to a vegan restaurant with a woman named Tree. She had persuaded me to try the place out.

"I am flourishing," I said to the waitress.

"Good choice," she said.

"Also, I am effervescent." She wrote it down.

Tree said, "I am fulfilled. No, wait, I am plenty. No, I am fulfilled. And maybe a side of I am generous." She closed her menu. "You'll like this," she said. "It's a great place."

It did look like a pretty good place -- the ceilings were high, and the dining area was filled with soft light -- but it did choose to name its dishes in that very odd way. Tree's selection, "I am fulfilled," was a "large cafe salad with avocado and live toast." My selection, "I am flourishing," was "live falafel with hummus."

"So, now, about this live toast. It seems to me that any toast, however it is made, is going to be pretty much dead on arrival. And certainly, when it goes over the tongue and down the esophagus, it's really, really dead. There are acids down there -- it's a hellhole. You wouldn't want your living toast swimming in something like that."

"You falafel is living, too," she pointed out.

"That's less surprising. I have had falafel served by certain street vendors that could easily survive a nuclear attack. If war ever breaks out, duck behind a falafel."

Tree said nothing. She understood that, by bringing me to this restaurant, she might experience a certain amount of backchat. Indeed, the Gratitude Cafe seems to anticipate japeries -- the door at the back of the room has a sign that reads, "I am the rest room." They might be vegans, but they weren't dour.

On the counter was a napkin holder filled with colorful bits of pasteboard about twice the size of playing cards. "Oh, this is a great game," said Tree. "Pick a card." I picked one. It said (and here I paraphrase), "Think of something good about yourself. Praise yourself to the other players."

"Well, this is a great little recreation," I said. "I'm not sure of all the rules, but I do like the game play."

"Praise yourself," said Tree. I was warming to her with every passing minute.

"I am evolved and serene enough to go to a vegan restaurant without giving the waitress a hard time," I said. I was really feeling good. Tree picked a card. "Tell the other players three things you really like about them, " she read.

"Man, this is better than charades," I said.

So then the food came. And here's the truth, my beloved readers: I came to scoff and stayed to cheer. I mean, I know my hummus, and that was darned fine hummus. The olive thing was sort of a tapenade and was, dare I say it, bursting with flavor. And "I am effervescent" was an apple, ginger and bubbly water drink that spelled refreshment with every mouthful.

You know all those vegans who say, "No, really, it tastes good." They actually have a point. It's not just like eating hay and twigs. A person could actually be happy at a vegan restaurant, and even feel like praising other people.

I would have loved to stay for the "I am adoring," but duty called. Maybe next time.

And that is Jon Carroll on Cafe Gratitude. Let's all find our ways to praise.
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Harvest Time!

Henry David Thoreau in Walden Pond:

There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand.

Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been.