Inner Distant


What have we done?
And what will we do now,
in the face of its vast


For now,
we are unformed matter —
a million million chrysalides,
formless form.
We are in the in-between,
reduced to basic need.


Let something worthy emerge
from the seed,
the cocoon of this inward descent.
Each to each —
one day may we simply take flight,
and follow the sun’s tireless instruction.

Please, oh you gods.
Let it be so.


January 2018

You said to let it happen,
so I wait for the dream to keep finding me
in the teasing of a winter that doesn’t know how to be.

It is still,

Outside the holy door,
garden gate,
and inside the temple,
human renovations in our holy hands:
hearth to head,
bone and blood.

You said it and I wrote it down,

and I remembered:
then forehead to the dirt.
We hope we know better now.

We must walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait,
and walk and then wait —

make our Reverence at its threshold

(but not before we get there)

and Breathe

(and breathe).

I busy my hands with what’s in them,
perhaps to sing something new into the world,
kneel in the wind,
kneel to the moon,
and pray your hands are busy, too.

Big Bluestem

I got lost in the big bluestem,
higher than my head.

There are more witnesses than we can manage —
and they misread everything —
hammers and nails driving home my mistake.

You need summer still,
and I am starting the fall but —

still hanging on the sun where it gets caught up,
tiny seed stars in the wind and prism cloud —

our skins resist the fade.

We wait and hope it all comes at once —
and then we learn to do the work
and do the work
and do the work —

open the windows,
whatever the weather!

I am giving up on names.
And you, like me, are a maker of myth,
and, like me, let down to find it unreal.




How my back was broken for the untrue —
the closed hip —
the torrent that was confined there.

The damage,


How it still takes work
to keep it from being obvious.

Who would dive into that wreckage?


How the wild shadow witched me.

How the bluebird soothed
and courted me.

How this landscape was my only true love.

… . …

During the fall migration, on these cool but sunny, warming sorts of fall mornings (from 49 to 60 degrees F while I walked today), I come across a lot of mixed flocks of birds.
Robins and redwing blackbirds.
Cedar waxwings and purple finches.
And 3 different flocks of bluebirds mixed with goldfinches, 2 of them with some field sparrows, too.
Most of these are year-round residents.
Robins can be found in large flocks along small wooded waterways in the deep winter, usually on days when the temperature gets close to or above 30 degrees F.
Goldfinches can be found taking cover in the woody edges on cold days and looking for seeds among the prairie plants on warmer days in winter. They sometimes even pass through the backyard in the less frigid winters. You have to plant native things that they like to eat. Asters. Sunflowers. Coneflower. Black-eyed Susans.
There’s a value in attempting to re-create continuous habitat. Let’s do that.
Bluebirds can be found on the coldest winter mornings, if the sun is shining, quietly singing a single note at the top of a tree. They like the woody edges.
Filmore, the bird guy who long ago moved — to Arkansas? to Oklahoma? — told me that in winter, you could look in the nesting boxes and find sometimes a dozen bluebirds all nestled together.
In the last flock of bluebirds I saw this morning, I counted more than two dozen (along with a dozen or so goldfinches). One of the largest flocks of bluebirds I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps it was a successful year for them.
There were some loners this morning too, of course. A hermit thrush singing its heart out at the inlet, the evaporating fog over the cattails like smoke.
Saw a warbler of some sort. Blue-winged warbler, I’d say.
Later I saw a kestrel. It frightened a whole flock of goldfinches my way. They’re almost completely changed from yellow now.
Seeing the diversity of species in the relatively small acreage of the Marsh (without really trying! I forgot my binoculars today) makes me wonder how it would have been 30 years ago. Before we lost 3 billion birds. (