Spiral Staircase

He bursts in to clang

the double helix, 

resonating joy.

I’ve always tuned in to

this cantillating with

each strand as it’s subtly


by the corresponding long

chains.  Even as a teen, kneeling

by a crumbling gravestone

listening to the tiny clear

salute-bell of kin.

But he flings wide

an unexpected development.

The magnetic pull of three

geese honking over the lake,

a solitary gander struggles

apart, and they’re followed

by two large separate flocks

veeing noisily through

my awareness.  Right now

the tribes of ancestors

sing hallelujah choruses

at each heart-opening,

this grandson holding the bold


life, singing across

a new day, wet and gleaming.


Inspired by: Unexpected, Develop

All These Mirrors

“Your holiest pain might come from your yearning to change yourself in exactly the way you’d like the world around you to change.” — Rob Brezsny

I climbed a hallowed mountain

last week, with familiar bloated ache

that I call tummy pain.  The ageless mystic

basically said: When are you going

to stop monkeying around

and play big

like the warrior you truly are?

I may be old, but I’m no wimp.

I rose to the challenge,

setting my intention like a heedless

knight starting an impossible quest.

We parted ways as my horse clattered

toward the fearsome dragon.

That was easy, I decided right before

seventy shards of glass

shattered me into a quivering mass.

I couldn’t move, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t breathe.

It took two full days before I could even wonder:

did I ask for this? I certainly requested

immediate aid, and it came pouring in

melting the sharp pieces, a flow

of molten energy finally shifting.

I forced down bone broth before

the next wave hit, and I embarked

on the grand tour of pain,

challenging my perceptions

of my own strength and will to live.

I’d thought pain was no stranger

but this was like being yanked

out of a riptide just before it drowns you

and plunging headlong

down a rocky waterfall, slick

and deadly.  Never catching your breath.

I constructed my own cave,

became a mystic to tune in

to all the disturbing images

in human existence, the ones encoded

in our very DNA.  I knelt in gruesome

battlefields while my ancestors

spat at each other while slipping

in their spilled blood.  When there are ancient

pieces of yourself so despised,

you feel helpless and worthless

and you writhe in agony, wondering

where is the remedy?

The surgeons stand ready, knives gleaming,

but what do you cut out

when the key is locked in your very cells?

I’m standing at the edge of the cave

this morning, looking into a downpour

with darkly grumbling low clouds and fiercely

thrown arrows of pure

flashing light, determined to explore

this question:  what can I change

in myself that I most want to change

in this world?

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: explore

False Innocence

When I was 10, I lived in a new addition,

a neighborhood of houses on winding roads

plopped right between cornfields and woods,

Indiana farm country.  I was never allowed

to ride my bicycle to the drugstore

where other kids bought sodas and sweets,

but then I have always scorned shopping.

With no adult guidance,

if I wanted, I could spend the entire day

smashing down little rooms in the corn,

following trails in the forest,

or the creek meandering

through my kingdom.  My friends and I

would scoop out mud,

collect logs, and create deep pools

from our clumsily-constructed dams.

We would creek stomp, look for frogs,

collect rocks and travel to distant lands

as long as I responded promptly

to my mother’s echoing

dinnertime call.  I learned quickly to go far, far

early in the day and slowly make my way

back home, so that I could appear

with an innocent look belied by mud-caked

jeans, dirt-encrusted fingers and toes.

When my own sons were young,

right after we settled near a big park

with an interesting creek, the police caught a man

who was frightening children.

And so ensuing explorations were curtailed

by an ever-present watchful adult.

They paid the consequences

for atrocities committed seven generations back

by their own ancestors who seized

the fenceless lands and did unspeakable

things to the children who lived there.

How do we confess to our descendants

the very foundation of this so-called freedom?

How do we admit to ourselves

that this headlong rush to disaster

— the one we call daily life —

is based on the unbearable grief

we’ve built our lives upon?

Can we ever open our hearts

to claim those dark deeds?

To confess:  this beautiful home is built on bones

savaged by the brutality

I carry in my very DNA.

I cannot claim innocence,

not any longer,

for my grandchildren are doomed

if I stay silent.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: meander