Moments of Presence and Intimacy

– Joseph Emet –

We are surrounded by beauty all the time, for we’re lucky enough to live on Earth. Mindfulness—paying attention intentionally and in the present moment—
helps us see and enjoy that beauty.
Paying attention and appreciating the beauty that surrounds us is also the first step in writing poetry.

The following is a collection of poems decribing moments of surprise,
and scenes and stories that revealed a world beneath appearances.

There’s a reciprocal relation between Zen and poetry. The poems I most enjoy have the same in-the-moment feel that is also at the heart of Japanese Haiku, traditionally the province of Zen practitioners. But not only Haiku. Insight and moments that distill the essence of life are the substance of all poetry.

The Garden is now,
the Garden is here,
in our backyard,
or nearer still,
Now has no end,
Here has no walls.
In Eden’s choir
all have a voice
singing along
in the key of life
the Garden’s for all,
big medium and small,
not just for Adam and Eve
and their dog.
Eden is now,
Eden is here
in someone’s eyes
whose heart is clear
singing a song
ears cannot hear.

On my path I saw a flower
“Strange colour”
I said to myself,
“and it smells weird.”
I continued on—
it was the Flower of Happiness.
Soon I heard a birdsong
“Such a funny call”
I thought,
“and so shrill.”
I continued my walk—
it was the Bird of Paradise.
Then I came to a clearing
with tall grasses and a stream flowing
“Not enough shade here”
I said to myself,
“and the sun’s so hot,”
I turned back—
it was the Land of Bliss.

Perfect lawns in uniform shades of green
apples wearing beauty cream
bananas in ironed uniforms
and oranges bright with makeup.
Dearest Earth!
You suffer from our notions of perfection
and would you believe, some of us have a fit
if a dandelion blooms without our permission.

Buzzing and stopping
then buzzing again
with the stubborn cadence
of a chainsaw operator
and not seeing the door
that opens to the side
towards paradise.
This is a fly with blinders:
It does not know
the way to paradise
is often to the side
and not straight on.

There is a garden under the sea
and one by the willow tree
There is a garden in the park
and one in each heart.
Walk gently and speak kindly
for there is a garden wherever you may be.

Walking in the woods, I see a small patch of snow
It’s spring, birds are singing, buds are out
And I have long shed my winter coat
Yet that white patch is still on the ground.
I feel an icy patch inside me too
Love has warmed my heart
But it has not yet reached every part—
I long for the month of May.


I wake up in Earth’s Garden
breathing its fresh air,
I get up, put on a shirt made of the fluff
from the cotton shrub,
and have breakfast
feasting on the Garden’s greens,
fruits and seeds,
I make tea perfumed with its herbs,
using spring water
filtered through its brown soil

Then I step outside
to a world of concrete and asphalt.
The garden’s all around
but it’s buried under a foot of cement
with an occasional shoot coming out of a crack,
and trees in the park.

There’s also a garden in the heart
that blooms under the same blue sky,
but alas, it also feels
the weight of the concrete
and the asphalt.

Who am I?
In the following poem, I describe the moment when I became aware that what I think of as “me” is the part of my body that does my bidding. That’s what I have been seeing in the mirror since I was a little boy. But there is another part of me that does not obey my wishes. Instead, it follows its natural, evolutionary path. That part keeps supporting my life behind the scenes—until one day it stops.

…is the lily in a pond
of blood and phlegm, bile and hormones—
its roots lie deep in the mud of reality.
Though it likes moonlight and fantasy
and sometimes philosophy
it’s more worldly than it likes to think:
it listens to the stomach’s call
and sways with love’s wink.
At night its petals slowly close
as life turns to dream
free from the prison of sense and reason.

The body in the mirror of my mind
is a bundle of muscles and skin—
muscles that look good and obey my will
play Ping-Pong, skip rope,
go to the stores and shop.
And inside the bundle
hide some squishy, slimy things—
genes, glands, blood and intestines—
they look a mess: of fashion
they have no notion.
They follow their own track
get hungry at eleven o’clock.
To “me” they pay no attention
They breathe, burp, sneeze and cough
and come down with a virus
all on their own.

Words grow bigger as I contemplate them:
“Breath” expands to take in trees and the sun
“Sand”—eons of pounding surf
howling wind, and grinding pebbles,
and “Gecko,” the whole of evolution.
Words—now each about the size
of the universe—no longer fit
into sentences, they have a life of their own.
Fast-running thoughts
slow down.

I’m still waking up from a dream
of a boyhood lived in a shoebox
the kind you throw away
when you get home from the store.
Except I kept it. My life
had to fit in that box.
As I walk farther away from it
the shoebox looks smaller every day
and I wonder at the moans and groans
still coming from it today.

Once upon a time
emancipation was for women—
it was being free of gender roles
that limit and constrain,
it was proving she can do what he can.

Now it’s men’s turn to break free
for there are no winners anymore
Mother Earth can no longer afford
racing cars, or recreational wars
Now it’s time for men to let go.

Let’s all go about our day
in a life affirming way.
Let’s all see emancipation
not as an ego contest
but as freedom from the ego.

Peacock Love?
The peacock does displays in courtship. That works fine in an affair that lasts for only a few days. But in a longer relationship displays are put aside sooner or later, and one’s true nature comes out. That can be a challenge for peacocks without feathers…
Love opened my eyes—not only to nature that is in myself and my intimate partner, but also to nature that is everywhere around: in the bird, the butterfly, and the flower.

You are the source
by the mountain,
endlessly flowing
with cool fresh water.

I drink with delight,
and satisfy my thirst
You keep flowing on
Singing the song of the mountain.

I prospected for gold in the bush
panned it in cool mountain streams
and melted it down to fashion ornaments
in homage to your charms.
I dug for diamonds in dark tunnels
tumbled them till the crystals shone
and chiselled them just right
to reflect your beauty’s light.
I dove with sharks in cold waters
so I could offer you a string of pearls
and trekked in far hills for amber
to reflect the honey in your eyes.
I offered you the Taj Mahal
sang your praises in song and poetry
all this and more I did lovingly
with my brothers through the ages
as I saw nature’s grace
reflected in your face.

LOVE 101:
Loving your mother
Taught by her. Course Description:
See a person with her own needs,
and not only a waitress who brings you dinner.
LOVE 102:
Loving your father
Some flunk this course
The teacher, they say
is hard to understand.
These two are prerequisites:
Fundamental courses
you need for success as a lover.
Without them, you flounder.
LOVE 103:
Loving your lover
Loving someone you also need
Feeling your need as well as your love
without letting one mess up the other.
LOVE 104:
Loving your child
A being who is also a you, a fresh one
yet different, and totally self absorbed
like you used to be.
Your child’s journey begins here
with your love,
it is the gift that will let her
love herself and thrive.

Two ducks are diving for weeds near the rocky shore
a female and a male
exposing their behinds in a most ungraceful way.
A cozy intimacy radiates from the busy couple
as they move together on the unmarked waters
dining on tasty weeds
and turning toward each other
again and again.

‘Home’ is also this oneness with another
even on moving waters,
and the willingness to ignore
the vast spaces around.
The homeless have not discovered this yet
or have given it up altogether.

Our being together
sometimes feels quietly fulfilling
like soaking rain in a meadow
and sometimes explosively exhilarating
like the lightning between clouds.
I enjoy the misty breeze of your presence
and the warm splash of your laughter
But sometimes we get together
and sing nature’s song
in a way that I long remember.

We have so much energy, so much dedication
for ball games on television
So much love and care
for perfect lawns, for goldfish,
cats and dogs, for Santa,
Yet our planet is sick for lack of love
and dying for lack of care.

“You become human by being born,
but wise
only by singing the Earth’s song,
fathoming the ocean’s dream,
and getting tipsy on sunlight”
tweets the thrush,
and the rosebush
with a most delightful bloom.

Everything moves past the stillness within—
sights, desire, disappointment, sunshine,
and the delicious tickle of the wind on my skin
as I sit by the open window
of the speeding bus.
For stillness and motion
are not the opposites they seem—
am I still
while the bus moves? While the planet
whirls around?
Stillness is within,
The Zendo is within.

The fearful one, the contemptuous one
the impatient one and the know-it-all
had a cosy home here and had a ball.
Now they live in the doghouse
where they whimper and scowl.
Those characters are ghosts now
without a body since I let them go
though I still hear them sometimes
—but how they still manage to argue
I don’t know.

Curious. Some think of dying
as moving day when the self
now called soul, goes to a place
they call hell or heaven, a place
not found on Google maps.
But love whispers to me:
“Your next life’s all around:
it’s the next generation,
and the way you live now makes their world
more like hell or more like heaven.”

So different, ours from those of the bird…
We listen to our earphones, not to the brook…
And food?
Ours comes from the supermarket, not the garden…

‘Be Yourself’ is a saying like any other,
It may be wet and chilly out there,
but in the house it’s always summer,
and ‘Know Yourself’ makes us nostalgic
for something we can’t figure.

“Truth? It’s the oak tree in the courtyard”
Said the Zen master.
Why not the woman in the garden?
She was as true as the oak tree
but he had blinders on.

Buddha preached the flower sermon
without saying a word he held up a flower,
and the man who smiled back won his favour.
But he only won ‘cause women were not around.
They had been smiling back for years
at whatever they found.

« All beings are primarily Buddhas »
said Master Hakuin,
But he remained a monk, turning his back
on half the Buddhas
in his world.

Let’s start over with woman as the morning star,
the one who smiles at a flower,
and the truth in the courtyard,
and enjoy together
the everyday world.


The unconscious ‘knows’, 
and whispers its wisdom 
while I sleep
in words that don’t belong
to any language
known or unknown. 

Then I wake up
to a world where space
means ‘what’s between
the four walls of a room’,
and time is measured
on my phone.

In clear daylight 
I go about my business, wondering
what wisdom is about,
while the unconscious continues
whispering silently
somewhere deep down:

‘Wisdom is life—all of it
butterfly to elephant; and Love
life’s partner. It brings
the elephants together 
in passionate embrace
and renews life’s face

over and over.

Sights and Insights
In moments of intimacy with my partner, I gain insights into her reality—I get the chance to see the world with an extra pair of eyes. This tickles my heart and expands my vision.
It’s fun to see and appreciate another’s world. The mountains and the sea have their own ways of being, and they seem to enjoy meeting each other—the sea dances higher and sings louder, and the mountains get softer and slowly melt away.

The majestic mountains
rising above the plains know
the wind and the snow
but not the sea, the play of the dolphin
the soft caress of seaweed
or the colours of slippery fish
swimming through currents and tides
with glassy eyes.
Without knowing you,
I would be as ignorant as the mountains
are of the sea, ignorant of half the world
made of the same elements as me
but woven oh, so differently. . .

As the sun becomes a wild rose on the shore
so may flowers of love blossom in our hearts.
As the sea becomes a cloud in the sky
may our dreams light up our life every day.
As the cloud becomes a stream in the hills
May our days flow on like a river of song.

Blow wind, blow
Listen to the song, it’s everywhere around,
Love is life’s song—
You can hear it all day long.
Join the choir today, join and sing along,
Love is life’s song—
It goes round and round.

Now, while the garden is still in bloom
tiptoe on bare feet, come to my room,
we’ll find the moon in each other’s eyes—
it’s our turn in the house of love.
Each is a mirror for the other to see
beauty reflected in a heart full of love, as
on the green grass, under the blue roof
birds in the trees sing of here and now.

Love and Relationship
Love is a feeling.
Relationship is a story—the story of the way way love unfolds in time.
Classical poetry or religious texts do not talk much about relationships. Romeo and Juliet did not have a relationship. ‘Relationship’ is a relatively recent word. It was first used to refer to romantic or sexual relationships in 1944, but this use must have been slow to catch on. My two-volume Oxford Dictionary published in 1975 had not yet heard of it.
Our grandparents did not have relationships. They mostly had marriages and sometimes also affairs. My guess is that Buddha did not have a relationship either—although he had a marriage and a harem.
Relationship is a partner dance that includes a healthy level of attachment, bonding, and a strong sense of connection. You can love somebody all by yourself, even without the object of your love knowing it, but you cannot ‘relationship’ alone. Buddha’s teachings on love and desire are a bit lonely for me—they portray those emotions in a one-sided way, a bit like my infatuation for chocolate, rather than within the reciprocal comfort of a relationship. They prize emotional autonomy rather than emotional interbeing.
The next poem ‘Dance with Change’ starts with love, and then moves on to a relationship dance.

Through my love for you I express the love in my heart
I express my love for the mountain, I express my love for the meadow,
I express my love for the river, I express my love in song.
Learning to live with you, I learn how to live with flowers
I learn how to live with joy, I learn how to live with sorrow
I learn how to live with others, and how to live with myself.
Learning the art of love, I learn how to love the Earth,
I learn how to love every season, I learn how to love each day
With its sunshine, rain or snow. I learn that love and wonder are one.
Learning the dance of love, I learn how to dance with the wind,
and how to how play with the waves; I learn to dance with you
By moonlight, sunshine or clouds; I learn to dance with change.

Castles in the air don’t keep out rain and snow
Build yours here, with spade and hoe,
Fill it with light, make it glow.
Make peace with a flower growing on Earth,
Share your love and kindness with someone near.
Love is like sunshine, it’s warm,
Warms every heart, warms your own.
Hold someone near in your tender embrace today.
Castles in the air don’t keep out rain and snow
Build yours here, with spade and hoe,
Fill it with light, make it glow.
Imaginary lovers are not enough,
Share your love and kindness with someone real.
Love is like sunshine, it’s warm,
Warms every heart, warms your own.
Hold someone near in your tender embrace today.

Once I was angry with a dandelion
for being a dandelion, and with a rose
for not blooming where I planted it.
I was also angry with you
for all your whim and fancy
that did not match my fantasy.
That has turned to wonder now
wonder and admiration
for the countless ways
you manifest your being
and add your glow
to life’s flow.

We prize a holistic point of view, yet we do not have a commonly accepted word for that whole. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the word Interbeing, and sometimes Cosmos, David Bohm uses Implicate Order and sometimes just ‘whole’, other scientists often use ‘universe’ and philosophers sometimes use ‘reality’. Religious folk use God, but for many of them the word ‘God’ does not refer to the whole. It instead refers to the creator spirit, distinct from the created universe.
In this section, I use the word Nature. Nature appears in us as human nature. It shines in each of us through our character. It appears in trees, animals and in every being in peculiar and sometimes surprising ways.

Today choirs of poplar trees
sing backup vocals to birds and cicadas
under a sapphire sky.
Soon, autumn leaves,
and later in winter, snow flakes
will float down lazily.
Then, jewels of raindrops
will land with a ping
to signal the coming of spring.
I walk
breathing in a presence
without boundaries.

You know how it is when two lovers
undress for each other:
they are ready, they are open.
This blackberry bush has that look today
with a hundred blushing flowers
open to the sky and willing
as a buzzing cloud is ready to plunge in
and enjoy the nectar—flower and bee
coming together over and over.
The bee is tipsy with perfume and colour,
the flower with the tickle of little feet
and the murmur of wings that fan the air.
Not just this bush, but the whole meadow
is expectant and open
to a present that is forever pregnant.

Nature is an art gallery
that’s open
its art is there to see
and it’s all interwoven.

Buddha first saw it
in the morning star,
but it’s really all over
in every flower—whether it’s a human
or just a clover.

Still, seeing is one thing, being
quite another,
for Nature is not just ‘Mother’
and beauty is a light
that’s not only in the other.

In the harsh wind
the pine tree is bending and swaying,
With the floodwaters of spring
the grasses are under water.

It’s not just us humans who have a tough time
Life’s challenges affect other beings too,
But they don’t dramatize it like we do.

Nothing Exists Alone
“In nature nothing exists alone” wrote Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring. There is usually a two-way relationship between a being and its habitat, and a multi-way relationship between beings, each helping to provide a sustaining community for others. Lately, however, we humans have been taking all and not giving much in return. What we give—concrete and asphalt, exhaust fumes from cars, and pesticides sprayed from airplanes—is not very tasty or nourishing.
The following poem looks at chickens with a friendly eye. I was inspired by a friend whose chickens roamed freely in her yard. She was doing everything for them except eating them. I have a picture of one of her hens with a towel on its back drying out in front of the fireplace after a rainstorm.

Chickens strutting like royalty
and aiming each peck accurately
with eyes bottomless
vats of liquid energy—
you are part of my community.
all facing the same way,
and daisies
facing every which way—
you are also part of my community.
And so are beings I do not see
under the deep blue sea
and seagulls measuring the sky
under the white clouds…
Your energy is also in me
your truth guides me
and your beauty inspires me.

Natural Beauty
Wild nature is getting harder to find. ‘Lawn Care’ means control. So does ‘Landscaping’ and ‘Tree Pruning’. Our municipal parks are managed spaces with an army wielding weapons of grass control.
I notice that each woman finds her own balance between ‘Natural’ and ‘All made-up’, between the organic beauty and attractiveness of Botticelli’s Venus, and the artificial look of a missile-silo hairdo.

Seeing nature’s grace in someone is a boon.
It changes the way I see everyone.

A circle of rocks, the tallest crowned by a seagull,
The sea shivering in patches of blue:
It extends far till it joins the sky.
The waves are singing, the sun glistening
and two cormorants skimming
the surface on their way to another bay—
I have been here, looking out and seeing this
over many lifetimes.
Only an occasional thought intrudes
to mark this day with its time stamp.

The waves rise out of the ocean
foam and boil, and hurl themselves
again and again
at the golden expanse of soft sand
lying naked in the sun
After each passionate embrace
they separate
The sand glistens, wetter and saltier
and adorned with seashells
that just purr and roll over.

Nature or Nurture?
Yes, studies confirm that babies have an innate sense of fairness, but that’s not all they have. We are quite a mix, and quite malleable too—upbringing and culture have much to do with shaping our character.
Human cruelty and lack of mindfulness caused the death and suffering of millions during wars in the past. Now, it is raising the sceptre of climate change, with an expected two billion refugees from the hottest places on Earth, uncertain food production, and the extinction of many species.
Let us add mindfuness to human nurture. Let’s do it while we still can.

Nature’s child, nature’s baby
growing wise, growing healthy.
Brother wind, sister river,
Mother Earth are caring for you.
Birds are nesting, flowers blooming,
nature’s singing love songs for you.
Sleep soundly, dream peacefully
as the sun and moon watch over you.

The Earth keeps turning and seed becomes tree,
The mind that keeps pace is the mind that’s free.
Enjoy the changes, enjoy the day,
You’re also changing as it fades away.
Feel your love, feel your peace,
Stay with their light at every turn.
Enjoy the changes, enjoy the day,
You’re also changing as it slips away.


I asked the swallow about the meaning of life,
It turned a somersault in the air.
I asked the rose bush,
it offered me a rose for an answer.
I asked the sun, and it shone as bright as ever.
They smiled knowingly—
they were flying nature’s flag together.

I asked about love,
an oyster offered me a pearl, murmuring
No oyster, no pearl.
The rose bush grew a thorn saying
If you love the rose, get used to thorns,
Then they laughed together
each was a fun teacher.

Self as Story
Traditional societies kept their sense of identity alive by story-telling. Story-tellers not only transmitted their stories to the next generation, they also rehearsed them so that they would not forget who they were.
As I sat through my High School history classes, I believed that a story is an account of what happened. Yet, a story is also an account of how one sees or experiences what happened. You tell your story a certain way depending on your state, your beliefs, and your attitude. You tell it differently to your lover than to your manager.

My grandfather’s a story
I’m another. He was a period piece
I’m today’s number,
the story as well as the storyteller
the star, the narrator
and the copyright owner.
My boss, my family, my lover
want to take over, but I hold the centre
I’m not a bystander.
The wind is also a story, and the clouds—
the weather report tells us
over and over,
but they remain subplots
that run parallel—
I’m still the main character.

The crow is calling:
“Caw, caw, caw—
I caw therefore I am!”
“I caw a lot, ‘cause
the more I caw
the more I am!”

Your party last Friday
reminded me of our High School dances—
the music promised love
the same promise was in our eyes
as we talked about other things.
The music continued on
loudly promising togetherness—
but we were not that close in our hearts
even when we danced with each other,
even when we sang the lyrics
full of longing, together.

On the way to my basement I stop
there’s a jumbo sized beetle on the runner.
I bend down to pick it up
it’s stuck to the rug with little Velcro feet.
A little tug and it’s in my fingers
but not wriggling as I expect—
it’s quite dried up.
One sunny day on its daily buzz
it had seen an open door.
It looked like an opportunity
but turned out to be
the end of its story.

The orderly comes
wheeling a gurney—it’s my turn
to become a medical object in green
topped with a white blanket.
We wade through the corridor
and park under the bright lights
outside the surgery door.
My body asks with a fearful voice:
“Did you make the right decision?
Choose the right surgeon?”
I signed the papers and made the appointments
but he is the one getting cut up to-day.
“Yes,” I say, in a voice too small
for him to hear, and again
go through the steps that led
to this moment—again, they are clear.
“Yes, yes,” I say, this time louder,
“I did my homework. We are in good hands here.”
Now he has another fear
“Things can go wrong, you know
If I am crippled in some way
will you still love me tomorrow?”
I am silent
till I say, “Yes, yes. I’m your buddy forever.”
“Then have faith in me,” he replies,
“and let’s both relax
I will heal, you’ll see, I know how.”
And we peacefully wheel
through the operating room door.

The sky is a blank page
and my mind is writing words on it
as I sit by the lake
this Sunday afternoon.
Three ducks come flying in
they chase the words away
waking me to the sound of the waves
and the feel of the wind on my skin.
The water’s high this spring,
and the trees on the other shore
look like they are growing out of the water.
In a little clearing I see a white cottage
snug in the bosom of nature
looking idyllic like a vision of paradise.
Now, I wake up once more
this time to the beauty around me
and wonder:
Why does paradise
always appear to be
somewhere else? The sun is warm here—
there’s one in the sky
and a sprinkling of others on the waves.
Two kids are running and playing
as their parents stand watching—
love and beauty are just as present here
as I imagined them to be
on the other shore.

I sit on rocks on the shore of Lake St. Louis
and follow the afternoon sun pointing
long shafts of light toward the horizon.
I embark, and ride a light beam
leaving behind my gray beard and phone.
In lightning speed I travel
across space and through time
to landscapes that have a familiar feel
with magic incantations, eagles,
and howls of wolves
echoing through valleys and mountains.
I see the face of my ancestors
on rocks and mountains, a face
with a strong chin, and deep, clear eyes
I know with the certainty of a dream
that this is as much my heritage
as my skin.
I can hear people speaking
with the voices of rivers and forests
as I breathe with the nostrils
of countless beings.
Then I travel back again.
It’s still the same outside
but I’m a little different inside.

On a sunny day in spring
Eve was in the garden
enjoying Earth’s beauty
with birds as company.
One robin in particular
in tweets quite spectacular
said over and over:
‘Let your self glow
and through all nature flow.’
‘You are the source of life
and not just Adam’s wife.’
‘Birds really talk!’
Eve mused to herself
‘Unlike snakes…’
And she thought of the story
some guy had made up
about her and a serpent.
‘That snake was scripted
This robin speaks from the heart…
Let that guy listen to snakes
I’ll listen to the birds’, she smiled to herself,
‘They speak of flowers and sunshine,
and they speak my truth.’

Hiking this morning, I chase away thoughts
as I chase away flies
Some sneak up on quiet wings
others announce themselves with violins
most occupy my attention just for a while
and disappear on their own—
a few have painful stings.
Here, one breath brings a perfume of flowers
another the green smell of grass and leaves
and now an odour of decay—
I’m stepping on damp leaves
and then, ah, a smell of spruce like incense.
I breathe like a bear now, and notice as I walk
each lungful has a different aroma.
But there’s a limit to my newfound smarts
as there are many no-name smells
that tell the bear their stories
but keep me in the dark
on this morning’s walk.

Mindful Seeing
Mindful seeing produces meaningful photographs, paintings, sculptures, and here, verbal images that ring true.
How is that different from just having the eyes open?
In mindful seeing, the mind is also open, and it is focused on what the eyes see.
The mind is free to pay attention to what is out there. It is free.
Indeed understood this way, seeing is insight.
The seer is more then just the eyes. The mind is the real seer—it sees through the eyes.
In my best moments, I have a holistic outlook. I see things in perspective.
Those are the scenes described in the following poems.

I walk
listening to the roar of the waves
and stepping on clouds, roses, and sunsets
A skilful hand made art
out of whatever was around—
stones, wind, and the waves of the sea.
I too have been shaped
by waves of time
rubbed against others
over and over.
There are also clouds
roses, and sunsets in my heart.
I continue my walk
as the stones murmur—
the sea is grinding them into sand
as it breathes with each wave.

In the luminous darkness
before dawn, the moon is shining
over empty streets and full houses.
It’s a reminder of wild things
and of nakedness—
as the-way-things-are
and not as seduction
or innocence.

Hiking in the hills above San Felipe
I heard a song.
It was a mountain
stream singing as it skipped
over rocks, danced around boulders
and raced with butterflies.
I followed along,
sometimes on the footpath above
sometimes on the sandy patch below
till we slowed down.
The song gurgled
into a cement pond
and disappeared into an iron pipe
to go flush toilets in the town.

Six pelicans are flying in formation
They turn right and left together
I imagine some kind of a pelican community.
I see a father and son sitting on a bench
I imagine a happy family.
A couple is walking in front of me
Hand in hand. I see them in love
Living together happily.
But the pelicans soon scatter to feed alone
The father is battling for custody
The couple just met this morning
On this Mexican beach
And will soon go their different ways
Leaving me alone with my fantasies.

In the early morning cool
early risers stand watching the horizon
expectantly. I join them.
The dawn is near
as the sky turns rosier
The sun appears, just a sliver at first
but suddenly radiant beyond imagination
naked and without preparation
no script, clothes or makeup
just a flood of light—
the sky is instantly bright.
I walk on, the fire blazing in my eyes
still. Dawn felt instant though it was slow—
it was building up for an hour or so.
Before that, the bright moon gave hints
and the stars winked in agreement.
A new dawn breaks within me each day
a new poem comes, a new song is in the air,
you look different, so does the squirrel
in the tree, and again I marvel
how new is today.

The street looks different tonight
my neighbours have new decorations.
The same houses, carefully locked up—
with two cars in the driveway—
have exchanged the ghosts of Halloween
for the bright lights of Christmas.
In another few weeks
there will be snowmen
and then red hearts for Valentine’s
while the moon shines in a cold sky
and the Earth goes ‘round
carrying the same old burdens as before.

A wailing choir like children crying
I turn and look
and see a truck
with the occasional pigtail and snout
sticking out.
The pigs had not expected this.
Their caring owners, in a sudden change of mood
packed them tight till their bones cracked
now nobody’s listening to their agony
nobody’s even bothering to look.
We like human tales
like that of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark.
His story happened a long time ago—
I was still in High School I think.
And what was his problem exactly?
I forget. But the screams from that truck
are in my ears still.

Nature sings with a different voice
through each creature. I hear
the robin’s whistle, the dove’s mourning
the willow tree’s silent song
and fall in love with the choir—
a love mixed with a longing
for closeness as well as for belonging.

Contentment gets a boost when we appreciate what we already have.
But feelings of contentment are harder to reach if we do not know what we have, or take it for granted. Usually they do not arise at all.
Let’s make lists of what we have as well as wish-lists.
Both are necessary—wish lists make it more likely that we will get what we want, but lists of what we already have bring contentment…

Like the oak tree in the woods
Like the daisy on the path
Like the swallow dancing in the air
Be yourself, be yourself
Like the sun that warms us all
Be yourself, your true self.
Let the traffic speed away
Let the others have their say
Let the children be themselves and play
Be yourself, be yourself
Like the Earth that holds us all
Be yourself, your true self.
Mind your spirit all day long
Let your talk be like a song
Let your walk be like a dance
Be yourself, be yourself
Like the moon that lights up the night
Be yourself, your true self.

Walking in the woods
I notice the sarsaparilla:
Its leaves have small holes
tiny creatures have feasted there
and fed their young. Now ants
are climbing. Why?
They won’t tell me.
The old pine’s trunk looks unkempt:
There are gaping holes, and mushrooms
peeking out.
A perfect state is rare in nature
Leaves are crooked,
branches broken, and trunks lean
this way or the other.
Do you feel a little haggard sometimes
and used up?
No need to fret
you are not alone.

Watch the rosebud open and watch the seagull soar
Watch the waves roll on and the clouds drift
There’s no time apart from sun and rain
There’s no space apart from the wind
Life flows on.

I admire
the bird and the butterfly
for they’re in flow,
and the sun and the willow tree
for their being is also their doing.

But I’m not like them—I belong
to the human race. Go to therapy
to find out all the things I am
and then to a Zendo to discover
I’m none of them. I need meditation
for living gracefully.

Live like the linden tree—
it lives not for itself alone, but also
for bees that thrive on its nectar
and birds that nest on its shady boughs.
Bloom like the linden tree
with joy not only your own
but that of the endless dawn.

The grasses sway and dance
with the wind; the sky is endless
and the Earth full of song!
A loving heart sees beauty
in every face, it sees butterflies
waving the colours of their teams,
flowers in their fancy gowns,
and bears in their fur coats
all dressed up for the big event:

The words of the rose:
its laughter:
bright red petals.
The spirit of the rose:
a beauty that inspires.
The heart of the rose:
a bowl of nectar
its secret:
a oneness of being and doing.

The mighty St. Lawrence flows
in my kitchen sink. This water
gave birth to nymphs, sirens
Botticelli’s Venus, the loon’s cry
and the transparent wings of the dragonfly.
I open the tap with reverence:
Perhaps the next drop that comes out
once moistened a dinosaur’s snout
or rose up to the sky on invisible wings
to become a cloud.

The sailor controls the boat
not the wind. The sailor
knows the wind.
Sail through a relationship
as your lover
is also the wind.
Sail through life—
with a hand on the rudder.
and ride the wind.

I need to breathe air
that has passed through pine needles
bubbled through mountain streams
and filtered through your hair.
I need to feel the ground
under my bare feet, be seduced
by flowers like bees, and watch
waves racing, and clouds shape-shifting.
I need to hear the Sirens’ song
from the Earth’s daughters
and like Odysseus
be filled with longing.

Happiness makes you beautiful, like a spring meadow in bloom,
Where daffodils and lilies grow, and grasses sway in the wind.
Happiness is a flower that grows in a pure heart,
Enchanting all with its fragrance, and sowing seeds in the wind.
Please walk with tenderness in a spring meadow in bloom,
Where daffodils and lilies grow, and grasses sway in the wind,
The tender flower of happiness is more precious than gold,
Enchanting all with its fragrance, and sowing seeds in the wind.

Lay down your burden; lay down your load,
Give your shoulders a rest; give your heart back its wings.
Then, pick it up again; pick it up out of love,
And carry it with joy, it feels lighter that way.

Hear the whole forest in the song of each bird,
Taste all of nature in the honey of the bee,
Look at trees with wonder, they are part of nature’s dream,
See the glow of sunshine in each leaf, in each flower,
Come home to your garden,
Come home and join the choir,
Find your voice, and sing from your heart.

King Solomon got carried away
and collected 1000 wives
and watched his jewels fade away
like picked flowers. . .

Krishna had a different disposition
—I like his position—
he danced, played the flute, and moved on
leaving behind fond memories
and intense longing. . .

The Garden is a treasure trove—
with sunshine like liquid amber
dewdrops like pearls,
spring flowers fresh
with each creature hugging the others’ beauty
and the self that wants to own it all
is in exile from it already. . .

This section has poems that describe special moments—some because they were surprising, and others because they were so poignant with meaning. The series begins with Freshness, a poem that describes this section in its own way. I wrote the next one, The Heart Has Wings—as I sat and watched the ocean in a remote cove in Mexico. Outwardly nothing extraordinary was going on, except that everything was extraordinary in itself. This poem feels to me like a photograph that distils the essence of a moment.

Freshness: The look of Now
in the Garden.
Warmth: Sometimes a ray of sunshine
sometimes a bowl of soup
sometimes the touch of your hand.
Love: Concern that lights up a face
or warms up a voice.
These I remember still
and relish
at the end of the day.

Enjoy the wind, enjoy the sunshine,
enjoy the waves, ride them like a seabird.
Fill your lungs with the blue sky
fill your eyes with the bright sun.
The heart has wings
Open them and fly.

The traffic slows down
as a police car lays down flares.
We inch along exchanging conjectures
and hoping our plans for the evening
won’t be thrown
off by the slowdown.
Soon we see the ambulance
then the oxygen tank
and tubes running down the asphalt;
a huddle of bodies around somebody
and a motorbike
lying on its side.
“Looks like somebody else’s plans
suddenly changed,” I say,
“Plans for tonight, tomorrow,
And perhaps the rest of his life.”

Children’s castles, lovers’ footprints
Starfish drying in agony
All gone
As the surf wipes clean the beach.
Let your breath wipe away yesterday’s words
This morning’s thoughts
And the tightness that remains of them
Till there’s only this moment’s freshness.

Yesterday I’d been by the lake
to enjoy the calm weather, saw
the ice floes gently moving
with the current, like white clouds
in a blue sky, so I went again today
expecting more of the same. But the floes
had disappeared, leaving behind
only little tufts of icy snow; a cold wind
was blowing, and wavelets
were hurrying across the water
whispering, “windy, windy…”

“Love thy neighbour…”
You must be kidding!
He has other concerns,
Family, golf, work,
I’m no more than a distraction for him.
“Love thy brother…”
How? I do not see him often;
The ten years between us were long as a century,
I was no more than a distraction for him either.
There’s something missing in this old rhetoric
I muse, something like,
“Love thy lover, and love thy children,
Love them well, with all your heart.”
And this Sunday in the park
That’s the only love in sight
As couples saunter hand in hand,
And children run with delight.

Jesus promised so much—
peace, love, simplicity—
these promises come to haunt
us at Christmas
we need one another
in order to forget them again
especially when the longings
are as vague as they are deep…

The sky
grey wads of cotton
with holes of darkest blue
and looking through,
I see two bright stars and half a moon.
A couple of hours ago the sun set
against neon-orange mountains
with snow white valleys looking on.
Now, the moon sails in an ocean
of luminous islands.
Below, white sands glow
as moments flow
each with its treasure-trove
and over the water, far away
lightning sews dull red threads between clouds
like electricity between two lovers.

The day fades away and leaves behind
stories of light, and birds in flight,
The moon’s a bright dream in the night,
It’s the sky’s dream of the sun.
Fades the light, day turns to darkness,
love to hope, work to prayer.
Fades the light, sounds turn to silence,
find your own light, in the dark night.
The day was once a necklace of pearls,
each moment a pearl that shone bright,
In the soft light of the stars,
light a candle, wear the necklace of light.

Love is not complete without kindness
Kindness is like a verb in that it unfolds through action. In that sense it is similar to love. But our language is quirky: you can love someone, but you cannot ‘kindness’ them. Instead you can be kind to them.
‘Being kind’ is like other being words, such as ‘being sweet’, ‘being funny’, or ‘being natural’. We all know people whose kindness is anchored in their character. They have a sense of kindness like some others have a sense of humour.

In the poem ‘Moon’, the kindness of caregivers and parents suffuses the whole Earth.
As I reread the poem I become inspired all over again. There is an urgent message there, although I did not put it there consciously.

I do not see the moon
from my window tonight
only the cloudy sky
luminous like the early dawn,
this milky light, suffusing all
is the moon without the moon.
There are other moons
I do not see from my room—
parents, lovers,
and mother bears—
all those who ever held
a dear one to their bosom
and her heart in their own,
it is their light
that makes our world bright—
and that light travels
through generations
on and on.

You were stuck with three males,
like an earthling among aliens—
what a place for an innocent girl to find herself in—
your husband a stranger
your sons not much better.
Like nuts, we remained in our shells
As you sucked on your cigarettes.
My older brother exercised seniority
As you watched from your corner.
I mourned for you, a mourning without love—
for love you need a teacher,
my teachers came later.

Noah had a heart big like the sky
with room for all beings—
he didn’t pick and choose.
In his ark the lions sat like royalty
stealing furtive glances toward the gazelles
only occasionally.
The rabbits stopped bolting
though they still looked right and left
and the chickens scampered
up on the elephant’s back
at the sight of the sly-walking fox.
Noah held each creature with a love
that redeems and no blood was shed—
so says the story.
The rainbow his emblem
the dove his messenger
he did not favour any colour
any creature over any other.
And after a year he let them go
without attachment
just like he had let them in
without preference—
they were his heart’s treasure
not his investment in commodities.

Flowers in the meadow, flowers on the tree
Dressed in colors fair, perfume in the air,
You bloom when you’re ready, and display
A heart full of nectar, light and beauty.
There are flowers in me, like those in the meadow,
and those on the tree—but don’t tell the bee,
Love and kindness live in us, they’re in every heart,
With a bit of sunshine, they bloom handsomely.

Kinship with Animals
It seems to me that till about a century ago we treated animals better. There were still shepherds playing the flute while tending their flocks (I saw a few of them myself growing up in the Middle East), there was no deep sea trawling, and factory farming had not yet been invented. These practices are witnesses to our alienation from nature today.
Nature is inside us as well as all around us so that alienation from nature also means alienation from our own nature.
We ‘factory-farm’ not only other animals but ourselves.
This is the background for the next poem. That poem motivated me to put this collection together. I had long admired seagulls turning summersaults in the sky, eagles soaring without a wingbeat, and squirrels having fun in the backyard. In this poem I express not only my admiration, but also my strong feelings of kinship with animals.

With love in my heart I see flowers in your eyes
The sun shines bright in the moon at night.
I see people with roots, people with fur
People with feathers as my roommates
In a house of light, a house of song
A house that breathes and blooms.

A river we don’t see—
As we pet the fur and hear the purr—
the cat river flows through houses
and streets, and unless dammed by a vet
becomes a waterfall cascading
through the landscape spraying, straying
and spawning little streams. Then
it flows peacefully, nurturing
the little streams with the milk
of kindness, teaching us
a simple lesson: kindness
is also wild, and wildness, also kind.

You live in nature’s house
with the sun for a lamp, and a cloud
for a lampshade.
You are lean with the work of life
while I go out for a workout.
You get the weather report first-hand
while I watch a second-hand version
on television
you live nature’s vision.

On the outskirts of Bordeaux
I gaze at the old chateaux
with cute little turrets, windows
so tiny, walls so thick. Why does one
need all that stone to feel at home?
What does one know of the wind’s howl
and the moon’s magic
behind stone walls three feet thick?
Then I see the squirrel in my yard
with questions in its eyes:
“Why do you live in such a big box
away from the pine’s perfume, and
why do you sleep through the dawn?
Why do you read poetry from a book
when it’s everywhere around?

Language and meaning
Language does its job best when it transcends itself, and points at something beyond words. Japanese Haiku, Homer’s epics, and Rumi’s verses are particularly good examples of that. As I write this, I notice that we know these through translations. Perhaps this shows that it isn’t the particular words that these poets used that touched us. It was something behind those word, and it still comes through in translation. Could the essence of poetry lie in ‘translating’ an experience into words?
A poem’s not only a polished jewel but also a tender bullhorn—it says something that needs to be said. And what’s more fitting than pointing a finger toward nature, with its beauty as well as its everyday lessons?
It was a robin that was speaking in the next poem. I on
ly tried to transcribe its tweets

I heard a robin tweet one morning
while looking in my direction:
“Your hooting and cawing is hard to figure
I listen and just marvel.
Why so serious and pretentious?
And where is the sound of joyful singing?”
“Let’s chirp about important things—
about love and the day’s blessings.”

You’ve been singing
for so long—
yet we still don’t understand.
We do not understand the joy
of being so light you can fly
or the fun of finding a red berry
on a green platter
and audiological analysis
isn’t yielding any clues either.

The donkey is carrying another bundle of wood
it has no use for
for reasons it does not understand
yet it does this all day.
It does not see or care
that after each trip
there are fewer trees in the hills—
it’s just one of those things.
I know how it feels
I know the bubble in which it lives.

Social animal, the dog.
Now it is scanning my face
with eyes like antennas
and making ingratiating gestures.
Then it hears barks
and is off running with two others
after a biker, tail wagging, in blustery mode.
Then that’s over, and it goes into pensive mode
turning this way and that, eyes vacant,
before tuning in to an itch somewhere
near its tail
to settle in for an orgy of licking.

I went to Machu Pichu to see the ruins
and what caught my eye
was a lama grazing and pooping
and grazing some more,
its sense organs—eyes, ears, nose,
taste buds—all at the front end
its attention all on the grass it’s eating.
There are no eyes at the rear end where
the poop comes out. The lama doesn’t care
or even see where its waste goes
it only sees what satisfies its hunger.
Are we all that different?

The snowstorm this evening
is a visual feast. I watch it like a movie
from the comfort of my sofa.
I live in a perpetual spring
in the house or in the car it’s the same thing
The weather report is just interesting.
It’s different up a tree: not just white
and fluffy but also cold and windy—
the snow the birds know has a sting.

We evolved in interaction
and sometimes friction
with bears, wolves, forest and prairie,
but now the old family’s gone,
and all that’s left of it
are cats and dogs.
Elks don’t come around any more
for they don’t like public transport—
the horns get in the way,
and bears stay away
for they don’t have the money
to buy the honey.

A fly flies, but a bird does not bird…
But to me
it birds all the same
as it sings, makes its nest,
lays eggs and sits on them,
as it hops and whooshes by,
or plays hide-and-seek in a tree.

Nature sings its song
through the bird’s flute
and the elephant’s tuba;
I listen and fall in love
with the whole orchestra.

Ecology with Love

In the not too distant past, we used to look at the Earth as tough and durable. We came and went, the Earth stayed. In our time, the fragility of the Earth has become painfully evident.
Let’s look upon the Earth as another living being. The Earth longs for some of the love we show our intimate partner, our children—even our dogs and cats.
Two things usually stimulate love: Fond memories, and beauty. Both are in bundles here—our fond memories are also memories of our life on Earth, and the beauty of sunsets, oceans, and forests is the beauty of the Earth.

I’ve arrived, I’m home here
for thousands of years now
and been walking on the grass
hand in hand with you
smelling the sweet air
hearing small birds sing
with joy in my heart.

Each moment is a window
into eternity
and each moment I arrive
barefoot under a tree
singing my song to you
and whoever’s around me,
flowers, trees, the moon, the sea.

I’ve been here before
or someone just like me
and been watching deer eat grass,
strawberries, and thyme
I’m the one who’s been
this way a thousand times
and I’m here now, once more.

Cottony rings surround the peaks
And misty scarves float over valleys
Clouds have descended from on high
To hug the mountains with fairy arms
Like angels from heaven.
I must remember:
This beauty is always here
Even when I am not here to see it.
It’s part of my inheritance.

They fly, they soar, they dive,
for pelicans, eating
is not separate from flying
hoops in the air.
They would not understand
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
We wait for our bread
at the restaurant
at the checkout counter
or at home, slowly dying
with each mouthful
from not flying.

We are taking care of the dog
and the cat
and taking good care
of the fish in the tank
but the Earth is sick
and not getting better.
We are taking care of the house
and the yard
and taking good care
of the cars in the garage
but the Earth is still sick
and not getting any better.
We are taking care of each other
and the children
and the children are taking loving care
of the stuffed animals in the playpen
but the Earth is still sick
and still not getting better.

Eating a handful of strawberries
I don’t want to taste anything else
from strawberry heaven I don’t wish to part.
A plum is its own heaven, a different one
I am there when I slowly savour a bite
and lose myself in its deep, rich flavour.
You give me a taste of heaven too
and the blue jay I crossed this morning
as it played in a puddle in the sun.
These heavens are the only ones I know
and they are all here on Earth.

I live on a mountain, I live by the sea
I live in a valley, or by a stream,
I live on the Earth, the Earth is my home,
The home of my body, the home of my mind.

The wind blows through grasses, the wind blows through trees
My breath is a wind that blows through me
It livens up each organ, each cell,
It sings in my voice, it shines in my eye.

This is my song, a song for the Earth,
The Earth in my bowl, the Earth in my cup
and when you are there, the Earth in my arms
A song for the Earth I hold day and night.

Love the apple tree
not just the taste of its fruit
Love the rose bush
not just the perfume of its flower
Love the honey bee
not just its honey in the jar
Love the garden in the spring
and in the winter.
Love the sparrow
not just its voice and its song
Love the river
not just its water in the shower
Love the artist
not just the colours of her flowers
Love the Earth, in the spring
and in the winter.


Day after day, the sun goes round
Day after day, Earth’s blessings abound.
Each breath is her gift, but to her
no candle is lit.
My love for the Earth grows through pain
like a crocus through snow.
I wake up to Earth’s beauty each morning
I wake up with a broken heart
Birdsongs are full of sunshine,
drops of moonlight and dew
They make hope arise and grow
like a crocus through snow.
Somewhere between running and flying
so delightfully flowing…
I ride on streets
painted with branches and leaves
and flow through scenery
decorated with houses, dogs,
and my favourite willow tree.
Walking is a joy—in the woods,
on sandy beaches and mountain paths,
feeling the earth with my bare feet,
smelling its smells, and keeping nature
But on my bike, perspective speeds up:
a tiny tree
grows as I come near,
only to disappear,
and houses change size

Be in the moment—
and see eternity in this moment,
Be here—
and see the universe here,
and see trees and oceans in your breath,
and feel the taste of the Earth,
And feel the forces that move the Earth.


A gallery like no other. Here
no fees are charged
and there’s no owner.

Beauty is the criterion
for each work’s worth,
and the muse for its creation.

These artworks are alive—
they bark, moo, and sing; and some
open their wings and fly.

another sip of coffee, and I see,
this artist is one with her work,
and she must be beautiful too, for

that’s the nature of her art.
My fervent wish? That we follow
along, and take beauty to heart.

Change and Sameness

Nature practices creative repetition, like a song that sings different verses to the same tune.
Day and night follow each other like a spinning wheel. Yet each day and each night is also different in some way, sometimes in many ways.
The seasons go around, but each year they come back a little differently.
Endless variety in the same packaging is Nature’s way.
If you go to Times Square in New York and watch the river of people, it looks the same, day after day, year after year.
Yet, the drops in that river are all different, each with a different story to tell.
The flow of time through day and night is easy to see.
The flow of life through our own birth and death is a little trickier—when our own death is near, we forget all about change and sameness and the wheel of life, even though the next version—the next generation—may be standing by our bedside.

By the light of the moon, and the glow of a fire
I sing and make my home in song.
In the dark of the night, when the world fades away
I find my home in the light of a dream.
And when I wake up, after all is said and done
I make my home in the world I find.

As I walk, I hear small birds singing
Singing in the bushes, singing in the trees
Singing of love and of the joys of summer
But summer is over, and winter is soon here.
In the warm sun of autumn I stand watching
As the butterflies play a game of tag
But now the leaves are falling, they are yellow
And soon they’ll all be covered up with snow.
Like the breeze I move across the meadow
Enjoying the colours, admiring their glow
Like the breeze that blows across the water
Making waves but leaving no trace.

It’s August. The maple’s
thick with leaves
and looks its best.
Yet it did not grow those leaves—
nature did. The tree just noticed it
happening: “Hey, look,
they are sprouting all over me.”
Like a young girl notices her breasts
swell. Like a fledgling notices
feathers burst out of its skin.
Getting old is similar—
it’s nothing personal.
Knowing that makes it easier.

Once upon a time there were no doors,
no walls to separate us from one another
so we watched ‘mother-change’, ‘father-change’,
‘child-change’, and ‘sky-change’
Then we built houses
and hung photos on the walls
so that ‘sky-change’ became a sky
that never changed
and ‘mother-change,’ a mother
who never aged.
Now we live in two worlds:
The changing one outside—
living, unpredictable, unknowable,
and the fixed one inside
made up of pictures of one another
and of this that and the other.

The dawn is breaking
Like a curtain opening,
And nature is flowing
Without even moving.
The petals hide the rosebud’s heart,
Leaves hide the singing bird,
There’s also something hidden
And I keep wondering each morning:
Why does everything feel so new,
Haven’t I been here before?
And the answer appears out of the blue:
“Yes, but not today.”

I’m leaning on a waterfall, embracing a cloud,
I’m sitting among flowers in the sun.
The waterfall becomes a stream, the cloud drifts away,
The flowers become seeds, and scatter in the wind.
Days turn to memories, memories become dreams,
Dreams fade away, and leave behind a song.
A song of wonder: I was there, I sang
With the waterfall, the cloud, the flowers, and the sun.

We are all rays of the shining sun
laughing and crying in Earth’s garden
as the garden goes round and round.
We’re giddy with life and the sweetness of love,
feasting our births and mourning our deaths
as days and seasons race by.
We spin round and round with all other beings,
drink from the fountain, enjoy the cool shade
as our life passes on like a dream.

Peace or Truce?
Perhaps ‘Peace’ is too ambitious a notion to aim for. ‘Truce’ may be more realistic.
Here is what the Cambridge English Dictionary says about ‘Truce’:
‘An agreement to stop fighting or arguing for a period of time.’
It gives an example:
“We’ve got to spend the weekend together, so we might as well call a truce.”
Do you think we can bring about Peace once and for all in our minds so that we can forever contemplate winning and losing with equanimity?
My personal experience says ‘No’…
Our peace is often short lived, and more like a truce.
And truce needs to be reconfirmed day after day to become more like peace.

The gift of a quiet mind brings us peace and healing,
The gift of a quiet heart makes love sweet.
Winning or losing, peacefully breathing,
Watch the snow fall on cat’s feet.

Sitting by the lake, I watch the sunset
yearning for Peace.
But where is it?
The colourful sky that feels peaceful
is full of violent black holes
and nuclear explosions.
The moon is pock-marked with countless blows
from hurtling rocks.
and this lake, unpredictable and quick to anger
has swallowed up a few.
In my backyard my cat
with engaging green eyes
died under cruel wheels
because a burly tom
would not share the yard with her.
Now a fat bully of a squirrel
chases all others up one tree or another.
The spruce is waging an underground war:
nothing grows under it, or near it
and the wildflowers wrangle
over every inch of soil and sky.
Closer still, tiny beings fight
for control of my guts, mouth and skin
Where is peace?
Perhaps there is no such thing—
only love and acceptance.
With this lovers must grapple.

The past left us Swaziland and Ireland
but now we long for Peaceland.
It left us Pakistan and Afghanistan
but now we long for Ecostan.
It left us flags of competing colours
but now we long for a rainbow flag—
a graceful arc holding all in its embrace.
The past left us a Holy Land contentious
and sectarian, but now we long for
a Loving-Kindness-Land over the whole Earth.
It left us traditions
that favoured one people over another
one gender over another and one species
over all others
but now we have a vision
of an Earth without such division.
The past lingers on, with its strange aroma—
a mix of perfume and the stink of rotting corpses.
The present beckons to us
to start over again
using the heart for a compass.

Let there be
peace on Earth,
And let it begin
with me.
Let there be
peace in my home,
And let it begin
with me.
Let there be
peace in my workplace,
And let it begin
with me.


The world has become
a big Condo Complex
and our United Nations
the Condo’s Management Bureau
‘cause our instincts trump reason.
But today’s not the season:
Babies grow up, and live on—
make a baby, make another human.
Let’s not call the playthings down there
Reproductive Organs, for
they don’t just reproduce, that’s a side effect
they have lots of fun.
Let’s consider the Earth our baby,
Give it our care and attention
It’s fun that will save the Earth
and not more reproduction.