How Sweet It Is

They’re small, the flowers
of mountain mahogany—
little white and red trumpets
with barely a scent, but
today, on a trail lined
with millions of tiny blossoms,
the air was hung with sweet perfume
and I breathed deeper,
as if with each pull
I could bring beauty into my lungs.
When I lose faith
that my smallest actions
make a difference,
let me remember myself as one of millions,
remember the wonder of walking today
through the bushes in bloom.
Hours later the scent is long gone,
but I can’t unknow
how sweet it is.

Riparian Soul

            for Kathy Jepson who lives and works in the San Miguel River Canyon
Some people are rivers—
always moving, always in flow.
Wherever they are,
life flourishes. They nourish,
they support, they sustain,
and they change the shape
of the landscape—
carving new paths around obstacles,
softening what is sharp.
Some people are rivers—
the lifeblood of a valley.
Forceful at times,
at other times gentle,
but constant, so constant
you could take them for granted—
like a woman with a headset
and a clipboard,
a pencil tucked in her hair
standing behind a curtain
so others can shine.
Some people are rivers.
You know who they are
because all around them
everything is growing,
everything they touch.
And you realize you can’t imagine
being without them—
everywhere you look,
you see how quietly,
how powerfully
they have transformed the world.

Surprise Treasure

There was that year
when my mother
turned used ribbons,
thin paper plates
and gold-painted plastic grapes
into a celebration.
Our small family sat
around an old oak table
and made hats
from the strange collection.
How festive it was,
so much more than enough.
Fifty years later
I remember the joy
when we tied those plates
onto our heads.
They were scraps, trash—
the miraculous kind
that needs only love
to make it shine—
scraps like this day, like words,
like ribbons of memory.

One Missing You

in the chamber of the heart
lighting a golden candle
offering you a chair

In Search

We must go in search of enchantment.
            René Magritte, “Surrealism in the Sunshine”
And so, my heart,
raw and torn,
went to the garden
and bid its hands
to dig in the soil
and plant zinnias,
lemon thyme, basil,
and osteopermum.
And what hurt still hurt—
but an hour later,
the heart emerged
raw and torn and
grateful for beauty.
All day, it remembered
the orange and purple petals,
the green scent of thyme,
the zinnias, their blossoms
so exuberant, the centers
surrounded by stars.

for my daughter

“Snuggle,” she said,
a two-syllable passport
to another world—
the world in which
she is more dream
than mask, more breath
than task, her softness
inviting my softness,
and I slipped beside
her dream-scented body
and curled myself
into her shape,
one arm draped
across her weight,
and matched my inhale
to her inhale, matched
my every exhale to hers
and listened as once again
sleep took her,
and she was not curious,
not smart, not funny,
not brave, but so deeply
herself, and how could I not
fall deeper in love,
a pilgrim in this realm
of sweet defenselessness,
the silken luff of our breaths
weaving around us
like a cocoon.

            Delivered at the Telluride High School Graduation, June 2, 2023
I don’t know how to make sense of the story
of how Finn is here, although he is not.
How he lives in the deep soil of memory—
still running with you through the playground
your bodies bright streaks of joy,
cartwheeling across the green valley floor
and tap dancing on this stage,
traveling with you to Mesa Verde and Ecuador
and building computers and graphing equations and writing code,
swinging golf clubs and debating politics
and dressing as a skyscraper in the Halloween parade.
Laughing in the hall and crying in his room.
I don’t know how it is we can crumple with grief
and still rise with hope, love, celebration.
And yet we do.
At the same time he is missed,
you, friends, grow more fully into yourselves
each one of you a sapling reaching not only toward light
but also reaching with your roots through the dark,
the necessary dark that anchors us, keeps us rooted in what’s real.
I don’t know how it is
we come to know our own lives better
because he took his, but we do.
We learn to trust that despite a great wound,
we can thrive, the way a tree grows around a gash,
trunk still strong, though a scar remains,
leaves still unfurling to gather sun.
I don’t know how we speak of sadness and joy
in the same breath, but we do.
Joy in coming together.
Joy in knowing heartbreak invites us
to become more spacious, more kind.
Joy in forging new dreams.
Joy in remembering the world as it was
and at the same time growing so bravely,
so beautifully into the world that is.

Oh friends, I am ecstatic to share with you something new, fun and deeply meaningful. Guitarist Steve Law and I collaborated on a new album, Dark Praise, fourteen poems with music that honors the dark and how it opens us to creativity, passion, intimacy, revelation, dreaming, receptivity, self-discovery. The album will release on July 14, but it’s available for pre-order.

We’ve made videos of all 14 tracks, and here’s the first, “Teach Me the Dark.” with art by Marisa S. White. For audio only, and to download this track on streaming platforms, visit here

Every other Friday, we’ll release a new video–which means I’ll be sending you new video links until December! Please share them!

I walk in the chill,
and the past
walks beside me,
smooths my tears,
holds my hand,
faithful as evening,
gentle as a shadow.
By the time
I re-enter my home,
it has slipped
inside me again.
We walk through
the door
as one.

Some Mornings

Before the eyes are open
but after the body wakes,
there is that gentle interlude
when the scent of the dream
lingers like lavender incense
and light enters the body
through the skin and there is
enough awareness to fall in love
with this moment but not enough
agency to stay in or to leave—
I imagine it’s what it’s like to be a bud,
to remain folded in on the darkling magic
until, like soft petals, the eyelids
can’t help but unfold
and the irises sip at the light
and half of the soul angles back
toward the dreamworld,
the other half opens toward life.

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