life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life

Archive for the month “April, 2016”

graceful surrender

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first


close in,

the step

you don’t want to take.
Start with

the ground

you know,

the pale ground

beneath your feet,

your own

way to begin

the conversation.
Start with your own


give up on other

people’s questions,

don’t let them

smother something

To hear

another’s voice,


your own voice,

wait until

that voice

becomes an


private ear

that can 


really listen

to another.
Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow

someone else’s

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in,

don’t mistake

that other

for your own.
Start close in,

don’t take

the second step

or the third,

start with the first


close in,

the step

you don’t want to take.

START CLOSE IN by David Whyte

Days of wine and focus

of hanging on

of staying strong

of keeping faith

of sitting still

of being silent

of standing in my own shoes

of letting go 

of allowing the mystery

of hearing the call

of accepting what is

of not crossing borders or boundaries

of opening and opening

of trusting the journey

of seeing the face of God

of surrender into something bigger than I can know

of making the daily commitment

of acknowledging the grace

of thanking for everything

of looking for the miracles

of talking to trees

of taking time to prepare

of expressing my thanks

of helping in time of need

of following my own path

of obedience rather than sacrifice

of love and love and love

of all things love




Sometimes the wind that strips everything

is the strong breathing of a yes.
The river of life wears away your little island

and bears you somewhere fertile. 
Receive the gift only departing can bestow,

the holy not in what is anointed
but in what is next,

the beginning beyond the silence beyond the end.
In thickest darkness is a door felt, not seen.

It gives. 
Beside you in confidence 

God is uncompleting the journey for you.
Lay your hand on the dark door. A voice 

says, “Come, join my becoming.”

Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Unfolding Light

There was a definite cracking sound

It came from that place inside

Secret Deep 

Like the milky way

Or the center of the earth

Or heaven

More possibly hell 

– At least half way to one or all of those places

Like winter ice in the springtime thaw

The sound was unmistakeable

Now i feel it moving outward from that secret place

Like an inchworm 

Made of glass

Or razor blades

I wonder if half of me will 


Melt down onto the floor

Like a bizarre murder in an action movie

Where the camera stays still


to catch

The guy who just got slashed through 

From the sword of justice

Looking normal 

for suspended moments 



The smile still on his lips

One piece slides to the floor

While the other stays upright 

To the delight 

of the eager




All of whom I know



risk it all  

We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world. We are a form of invitation to others and to otherness, we are meant to hazard ourselves for the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter, for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds. And in all this continual risking the most profound courage may be found in the radical and simple willingness to allow ourselves to be happy along the way…


LONGING by David Whyte

It’s not how we leave one’s life. 

How we go off the air. 

You never know do you. 

You think you’re ready

for anything; 

then it happens, and you’re not. 

You’re really not. 

The genesis of an ending, nothing but a feeling, 

a slow movement, 

the dusting of furniture 

with a remnant of the revenant’s shirt.

Seeing the candles sink in their sockets; 

we turn away, 

yet the music never quits. 

The fire kisses our face.

O phthsis, o lotharian dead eye, 

no longer will you gaze on the baize of the billiard table. 

No more shooting butter dishes out of the sky. 

Scattering light.

Between snatches of poetry and penitence 

you left the brumal wood of men and women. 

Snow drove the butterflies home. 

You must know how it goes, 

known all along what to expect,

sooner or later … 

the faded cadence of anonymity.

Frankly, my dear, frankly, my dear, frankly


Only the Crossing Counts by C. D. Wright

Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down

You could stand me up at the gates of hell

But I won’t back down
Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around

And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down

Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down

Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out

Hey I will stand my ground

And I won’t back down
Well I know what’s right, I got just one life

In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around

But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out

Hey I will stand my ground

And I won’t back down

No, I won’t back down

This day maybe be rough and bloody and heartbreaking but it is here and it is now and it is bursting with untold potential and possibility and our response to it is of utmost, urgent importance.

       – Rob Bell

the art

When they say 

Don’t I know you?

say no.

When they invite you to the party

remember what parties are like before answering.

Someone telling you 

in a loud voice 
they once wrote a poem.

 Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.

Then reply.

If they say 

We should get together

say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.

 You’re trying to remember 

too important to forget.


The monastery bell at twilight.

Tell them you have a new project.

It will never be finished. 

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store 

nod briefly 

and become a cabbage.

When someone you haven’t seen in ten years

appears at the door,

don’t start singing him all your new songs.

 You will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.

Know you could tumble any second.

Then decide what to do with your time.


The Art of Disappearing by Naomi Shihab Nye

there is terrible beauty in every human heart 
tell me a story that will live with me forever
love always shares grace always wins
you can’t miss if you show up
pay attention…
the message is always revealed at the appointed intersection 
letting go brings the right miracle
at the right time the song playlist repeats 
crazy love flows into mystic waters
deep calling to deep
honor chooses to say yes to the best invitations
making the call brings me the messages I need to build the new bridge from the friend bench of this manna-filled moment
there is always more than enough to share
gratitude buckets fill and overflow
removing scales from blurry, tearful, kaleidoscope eyes 
as perfect peace falls into rightful place
color shards blooming into new masterpieces of never before seen glory
diamonds dance on the water
flaming beauty evolves, drives me to my knees,
shedding shoes, and fear, 
as we talk 
I lift my face to the sun and free soar 
full wing, open soul, with the gulls,
who always fly in trust, never a shadow of doubt, that they are loved to the sky 
right here, and in every tick of time,
in, and in between, every click of the second hand,
around the bend of eternity and back again



just pay attention  

a poem can write itself in a moment –

a snapshot written in the soul –

a worded,

or wordless,

recognition of beauty,

the endless evolution

and creation,

which surrounds our steps

and walks with us

as we dance through our lives. 

A few examples:

the way a weeping cherry tree delicately drapes pink branches 

against the blue sky. 

the way a jagged cut tree stump

covers itself with luxurious moss 

and pours out green English ivy all over the ground around it. 

the way the tires of a bulldozer 

make such interesting patterns in the sand

on the way to the salt water. 

the way dandelions keep on

cheerfully spreading wishes

and polka dot sunshine

no matter how many times they get labeled weeds.  

the way the smell of an orange 

colors your hands,

long after the fruit is consumed. 

the way a great conversation, 

of kith and kin,

on any ol’ friends bench,

can take you miles and miles

around the moon 

and back again

changing the course of your day,


even your life. 

yes, poems are born

in the senses. 

no need for pen or paper, 

poems are created 

while paying attention, 

in the heart of 

our ordinary,


living of life. 



We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?


   – Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society 

refining thoughts

This won’t last long.
Or if it does, 
or if the lines make you sleepy or bored,

give in to sleep, turn on the T.V.,
 deal the cards.

This poem is built to withstand such things.

Its feelings cannot be hurt.
They exist somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.

Pick it up anytime.

Start it in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like.
Look, there’s a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he’ll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you’re busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it’s sex you’ve always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party’s unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don’t think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this 

is a poem for the entire family.

Right now, Budweiser is dripping from a waterfall,

deodorants are hissing into armpits of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
saying farewell.
I don’t know what music this poem can come up with, 

but clearly it’s needed.

For it’s apparent 

they will never see each other again

and we need music for this
because there was never music 

when he or she

left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer than life.
I want you to look at it 

when anxiety zigzags your stomach

and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I’ll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don’t give anything for this poem.
It doesn’t expect much.
It will never say more 

than listening can explain.

Just keep it in your attache case 
or in your house.
And if you’re not asleep 

by now, or bored beyond sense,

the poem wants you to laugh.

Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry by Stephen Dunn

The purpose of poetry is not to create literary criticism. It exists to delight, instruct, and console living people in the sloppy fullness of their humanity.


    – Dana Gioia

Sometimes my words


inside my pen. 

Hidden within the

inky blood,

refusing to flow. 

Dammed up

blockage of

frozen heart,

stubborn mind,

unwilling soul,

refusing to know,

what is already known –

heard 10 thousand times

between the lines

of shaded eyes

refusing to grow. 




Thank you whoever tuned the radio

to rain, thank you who spilled

the strong-willed wine for not

being me

so I’m not to blame. I’m glad

I’m not that broken tree


it looks sublime. And glad I’m not

taking a test and running out of time.

What’s a tetrahedron anyway?

What’s the sublime, 3,483 divided by 9,

the tenth amendment, the ferryman’s name

on the River Styx? We’re all missing

more and more tricks, losing our grips,

guilty of crimes we didn’t commit.

The horse rears and races then moves no more,

the sports coupe grinds to a stop, beginning

a new life as rot, beaten to shit.

Whitman grass stain,

consciousness swamp gas,

the bones and brain,

protoplasm and liver,

ground down like stones in a river.

Or does

the heart’s cinder wash up as delta froth

out of which hops frog spawn, dog song,

the next rhyming grind, next kid literati?

Maybe the world’s just a bubble, all

philosophy ants in a muddle,

an engine inside an elk’s skull on a pole.

Maybe an angel’s long overdue and we’re

all in trouble. Meanwhile thanks whoever

for the dial turned to green downpour, thanks

for feathery conniptions at the seashore

and moth-minded, match-flash breath.

Thank you for whatever’s left.


Spring Reign by Dean Young

on the edge of flying

the verge of breaking through

standing in the pouring rain

hoping to find you

somewhere in the darkness

of this dark and stormy night

questions with no answers

crashing through my soul

bloody battles all around

as I stand within my pain

holding on to faith in something

in the middle of this night

at the end of living

not knowing what to do

tears, they match the weather

flooding from my soul

release me for a moment

there’s work for me to do



find photo sources at

color me green

within the spaces between silences

there grows a green vine

with beautiful fruit











running down our chins and elbows

until we fill with joy

and laugh with delight 

until we face our sorrow

and allow our salt to run and heal our wounds

until we feel what we need to feel

and let these emotions have their way with us

until we embrace this mystery 

and open our arms to life


my friends, 

is how I define the word:





photo sources found at /al513/shadesofgreen

love came calling


Love came to tell me,

‘there is nothing that does not include me…

from your breath

to the neighbor 

who is hard to ‘tolerate.’

Everything is love

it’s all connected

it’s all life’s about

So, Love came to call,

to tell me,

to make sure I truly understood, 

what love looks like. 

The real thing

is costly,

is all powerful,

all encompassing. 

Yes, love came 

and stayed,

whispering in my ear,

every damn day

reminding me,

‘There is nothing

that does not include me…






love o’ my heart 

I will make you brooches 

and toys for your delight

Of bird-song at morning 

and star-shine at night.

I will make a palace fit for you and me

Of green days in forests 

and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, 

and you shall keep your room,

Where white flows the river 

and bright blows the broom,

And you shall wash your linen 

and keep your body white

In rainfall at morning 

and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music 

when no one else is near,

The fine song for singing, 

the rare song to hear!

That only I remember, 

that only you admire,

Of the broad road that stretches 

and the roadside fire.


I Will Make You Brooches by Robert Louis Stevenson


 This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.  

         – Rumi


Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time.  


    – Ilsa Lund, Casablanca

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