Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Would it offend your sensibilities
(And would that be so bad?)
If at this late date the proclamation
Would boldly state
That there are periods of scheduled randomness
And that one could place a winning bet on the seemingly unpredictable?
How can you be so certain that there are times of uncertainty?
Are unplanned events, well, planned; well-planned?
And does the fact that there is so much more
Make you lock and bolt the door
Or piss you off
Even more?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Quiet Spectacle

There is a quiet spectacle going on
In the background wheels churn the highway pavement sand rattling roadside leaves
The sound strikes a harmony with the near-distant drone of the refrigerator chilling the bones of the beast
The radiator punctuates this opus with contractive metallic claps and expansive off-beat rolls
A Christmas tree is swooning some and hanging low are Santa and his entourage of bells and balls stretching like a glass-blown cat
The lights themselves pulse and flicker radiating photons just moments short of going super-nova
Portals swing on throaty hinges everything is on the move and can be clearly seen by moving even slower, much slower
It is a quiet spectacle relatively positively

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Tree

A feather tumbled from the Christmas tree
And then a moth loosed up and flew out free
They came and spoke, as if they could,
Grow voice to speak from balsam wood:
There are stories here of days and times
That you might know from verse and rhymes,
Of quiet rain and searing sun
Of long nights passed and days begun
Of vigils held and moments mourned
Ovations received with outright scorn
Of births and deaths to celebrate
Not marked by stone to dedicate
The lives and times of pure plain stock
From wind and snow and earthly rock
The same old story daily told
The same great novel never sold.
And so they stopped and talked to me
This evening from the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peace Rant

Peace is being challenged
When you are strong
And encouraged when you are weak.
Peace is not being criticized
When you are doing your best.
Peace is a friend who knows what this is like.
Peace is a do-over,
Peace is a chance.

Peace is starting the day with a full belly
After sleeping under a dry roof.
Peace is clean water.
Peace is a purposeful day;
Something to do
To make the day full.
Peace is a book
To visit in
And a teacher
To learn from.
Peace is having someone to protect you
From those around you
Who do not know peace.

Peace is understanding the struggles of others
And sharing when you can,
And sharing what you have.
Peace is having a friend
And knowing that you are not alone.
Peace is hope
For both of you.

Paul Sanderson

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Late November Afternoon

There is a comforting certainty
In this late November afternoon.

The earth is relenting its color
To the sky
With an almost gaudy display
As if to proclaim
Good night, to this departing day.
While life on a smaller scale, close by,
Settles itself
With a hope for rest and renewal.
As it wagers on the dawn.

Mice snuggle
Back to belly
In their milkweed down beds
In appropriated bluebird boxes.
Crows lumber overhead
Crossing the early crescent moon
Soon to roost and whisper secret stories,
While sparrows dart in the underbrush
Making final adjustments in their space,
Giving one last fluff to their feathers
They will cool with the night and be still.
A small bee that a month ago would
Have been lost in a grander world
Of blossoms and flying things
Now sits solitary
On a stray dandelion,
Resting still
Within the grasp
Of those golden teeth.

A slow wind turns a hanging leaf,
A friend responding to an unspoken word,
Guaranteeing in benediction
Continued movement forward.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Order in Disorder

There is order in disorder,
So not to worry about meaning…
It will find us.

I have selected a random (really?) location,
Trail side on rocks
Once cast up
Then worn down.

A very tiny spider
Walks a single invisible strand
Back and forth
It is very alive.

Lunching with the trees
That dropped their leaves and waited
For my arrival.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


It was a time of innocence,
That was your gift to me
Your work and sacrifice.

Your applesauce,
You made each summer
From apples you bought
On rambling trips
To orchards in Vermillion
With your sister Eunice
Canned in our kitchen…
It protected me
For a few fine years:
Before the bomb
Before the blast of puberty
It softened the blows.
You kept me safe
For as long as you could…

It is a time more guileful,
And gifts are given and received more cautiously
Though we work and sacrifice and carry on.

My applesauce,
Picked from apple trees
that likely remember when,
And cooked in modern day hot waters
Can do so little
It only opens the door
And lets me look back
And see your apron through the steam.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sparks into the Sky

The trees are blushing this morning.
A sudden burst of early light
Has revealed them
Strutting modestly
In their flaming foliage
Mature in their nature
Radiant in their exuberance
Dancing close to the fire
They throw sparks into the sky
Without a care
Without a care.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hopes of a View

It is a day like any other
But this day has a vantage point.

Not unlike
Climbing the tallest tree,
With hopes of a view
Closer to the farthest horizon,
Yet yielding nothing
But more trees
Beech green and gray
Oak stretching tall
Pine whistling secret melodies.
Their past is written
In concentric loops
Both tight and loose
Dendrochronologies stored in locked trunks,
They show nothing of the future
They offer no divining stick
Hedging toward a likely bet,
Their stories tell only what was.

A leaf drifts.
It wobbles down
Turning slowly on a brief breeze
Then lands upon a compass rose
Of other leaves and sticks
And points the way
On a map I know I know
But cannot read
And so I am left to discover
My course
Having been so chosen.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where Peace Resides

I do not know
For sure
Where peace resides.
Is it on the in-breath
As we take in our lives,
Or on the out-breath
As we release out petty struggles?

Perhaps it is found
On that threshold
At that inspired instance
As in
Passes to out,
At a more perfect moment
That is created,
In the quiet brilliance
Of being?

And for certain
We are blessed
Now and again,
When out hearts
Are able to see,
On the inside
And the outside
And the in-between.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lichen Peace

Lichen Peace

I will bring you water
And you will grow our food,
Together we are better
In a world of peace.
I will ground us to the rock
And you will sop
The radiant sun
Together we are better
In a world of peace.
Together we will prosper
As we share
And work together
In a world of peace.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

No Longer

No longer larva or bud
But in full bloom
And wide-winged,
Two companions meet
And in the passion throes of pollination
With blossoms bending
Nectar rising
Proboscis thrusting,
They drink deeply in
Such give and take
And then move on.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Down to the Beach

I walked down to the beach today
Passing Queen Anne’s Lace along the way
And clambered down the rocky slope
And eyed the beach with newborn hope.

I crossed the rippled red-brown sand
And clutched a damp stone in my hand
The sun burned through the haze-fogged sky
And made me shade then squint my eyes.

I walked by pools of emerald wrack
I walked until I need turn back
I felt I’d trekked near half-way home
I felt I need no longer roam.


Ox-bowed streams run their braided courses
Draining the land of yesterday’s showers
Returning them to the sea.
Willets and sandpipers,
While probing the sand for their daily morsels
Play with the surf, I swear
Like children loose of foot and care.

I follow the tide
So mystified
Called to its far flung reaches
Listening to that sweet enchanter
Yearning to pay homage
To our mother-home the sea
A tribute felt phylogenically.

And after legging over a million traces
Of crab and worm and bird
I found the lip, the line-drawn limit
The boundary for the moment
The edge of land and sea.
And as I stood and faced this broad horizon
I felt that I was already half-way home…
And then from silent consideration
I turned with this brief benediction:
No, I already am home.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Patrol

I am on patrol.
I post sentry on each early morning
And then again late afternoon
Walking the tide-bathed sweeps of sand
Seeking but not finding
A horizon that may be hidden
In the uncertain blur of fog.

My duty is to watch and see
Listen and then hear.

I am new at my post
And alone,
Although I walk in parallel tracks with others
Who work the same shoreline,
We do not meet
And so I guess that they are phantoms
Who appear and then soon dissipate
Into the close cloud distance
And the kettle-drum wash and roar.

Are they angels from the past?
And if we met
On this challenged coast
What would they say,
If I could ask,
That I might need know?
Would they tell me
How to part the fog
And where to look
And what to listen for,
Or would they simply remind me
That what there is here for me
Is mine alone to discover?

Monday, June 29, 2009

I’m Afraid: The Character After 140

What are you doin'?
"Just sittin', reviewin'...

I don't Tweet because it seems shallow
I’m afraid.
Who wants to know that
I feed the squirrels?
Worry about my health?
Find sleep my greatest pleasure?

I spend time comparing
What I have been
to what I now am.
Trying to marginalize
the losses
Trying to bear-up through times
that become more unbearable,
While hoping for a good streak
even a short run that looks like
my "before times."

I used to be,
But now I'm just...
reviewing, though there will be no test.
waiting, though there is no rescue
smiling, my sad first grade smile.
waiting, but not responding to your tweet.

I cannot kick myself in the ass
although I could use that.
I would like to embolden my outlook on this day.
the sun is out
I have a pulse
It might be possible...
but for now
It is hard not to close the door
and take a mid-morning nap.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

BFF in the Self-service Lane

Who's your daddy?
Well I'm my daddy...
And who's your momma?
Well I'm my momma.
And who's your best friend forever?
Well I'm my best friend forever!

Somehow while growing up
I learned that liking yourself too much
(or maybe even a little)
was a bad thing,
A Baddddd thing:
"Oh, he's so conceited"
"He's so full of himself"
And maybe even
"He's so stuck up."
Words no one wanted to hear.
Some kind of social felony.
(and you could get sent away
to a distant island, all by yourself)
A faux pas few came back from.

And so I was counting on you, back then,
My ersatz BFF
To take care of "my self"
Me my mine
To shine a light on my darkness
To make me feel sublime.

And frankly old friend
You didn't do it all that well,
(granted, you didn't likely apply for the job,
a job no one was trained for)
So as years have passed I have tried
To count on myself
To take care of myself
Which, contrary to our careful upbringing
Is OK.
(Oh the joys of having a self that is full.)

And I remind myself that if you like me
It is probably because
You are taking care of yourself
In some important self-serving way.
Well good for you!
(and since your so nice, good for me too!)

So nowadays we can be BFF,
Just in a twisted-back
Off the track
Doesn’t lack
Pick up the slack

Eh, who's you daddy?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hors d'oeuvres

Act One
The Premise

Would it shock you to know
would it cost me to admit
would it amuse you perhaps
to know
my ulterior motives?

They lie there just under the skin
don't they?
sub rosa
sequestered away
hidden from view
some not so subtle
while others are buried and denied
sub terra.

They are the little tunes
that I whistle in the dark...

Act Two
The Scenario

At the party
we stand elbow to elbow.
You know me from work
or as a friend of a friend
or maybe we are life long partners,
and we talk
maybe business, a little pleasure
mostly innocent chat
maybe a flirt
and you take an accounting of me
as I make an inventory of you,
(to be filed after while in a social dossier.)

I am looking in your shadows
listening to your in-breath
referencing your nuances
against mine,
and in those moments
and later that day and days to come
these morsels,
as tasty as any hors d'oeuvres,
are digested
and recomposed
and tucked away
for another time,
to play again in scenarios not yet conceived,
like a line from a verse that is not yet written.

I let them churn a bit in the gut
ferment and brew
until they become a shadowy reality
pulsing quietly and randomly
crossing the hot line from the head
to just below the navel.

Act Three
Is It a Want or a Need?

These motives are not mean things,
but they are surely selfish.
And likely much more of a want
than a need,
and devious in degrees perhaps
like half truths
and strategic omissions
these, my private thoughts about you.

So why this game of "if" and "then when?"
this game within the game
sometimes playful
sometimes with a sting...
Is it perhaps the need for a fall back plan?
or perhaps the need for a life more full?
Girdings for some contest or coming battle?
Social acumen?

Or a little danger,
Exotic and mysterious,
to tweak the dormant glands?

maybe you don't have a hidden agenda,
(are you're so open and rational?)
Maybe you don't have an ulterior motive.
But I say they are there
yours and mine
and maybe you just haven't looked...?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Earth New Day

One spin
And just the light
Of this new day,
Forgiving and forgetting
The joy and pain of yesterday.

A gentle warmth crests the dune
Warming my brow
It enlightens me to the possibilities
Of peace prospects:
A time without the harsh edge,
Without the struggle for survival.

Turn out into the day!
Let the sound from within
Sprout roots,
Sprout wings.

Feel free to begin.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Which do you trust?

The rope or the hand that holds it?

As the foot stumbles

And the eye wanders

There is a catch

Somewhere between the heart and the spine

That we gird.

Is it armored in faith

Or denial?

Is true trust so stratified,

To a point so rarified

That to me or you

It no longer matters

And is no longer challenged, but rather

Dances on the edge

So very close to love?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No Need for Alarm

"No need for alarm..."
(Which surely sends a chill
in a world fraught with peril)
No need for alarm
I have lost a shoe.
One that I wear frequently,
And although it is a big wide wonderful world
I can rule out most of it
and limit my search to somewhere near
the shoe that I still have.
It is the right one,
so possibly it has run away
no longer able to tolerate its proximity
with the left?

I do live with a ferret.
He eats cat kibble
but when he is loose
he porpoises around
randomly attacking small object
and dragging them away to his secret lair,
which is usually under the bathroom sink
or behind the toilet.
(I've tried baiting him with the remaining shoe
to see where he takes it. No luck. And it will
likely take some time before he is done with the first one.)

So it makes me wonder,
what am I missing in my search,
a clue to this puzzle?
A need to think outside the shoebox?
This is a curious riddle
and either I solve it
or I admit to the possibility
that I am losing my mind,
One shoe at a time.
But, no need for alarm.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Late Winter's Midday Snow

There is no maneuvering in time
no rush to the front of the future
looming large in the next moment
or perhaps a dream of fright-less hope
or drifting backwards to gone days
as sweet or bitter as those might be.

Just now, the midday
with its great gray belly of clouds
Hung distended across the sky
wanting in their pregnancy to release
the water that they bear
and in the cold moment of urgency
let loose a deluge
of broad ragged flakes
which thrust down with great urgency,
a down pour
like a flooding river
fat flakes but without a swirl
and backed by pine or
budded branch
they fly headlong
across the wood.

Birds struggle bent-backed
as they cross the path
of falling flakes
in search of seeds soon
buried by this late winter's storm,
which for the moment
changes courses
from passive
to active
and runs the imagination
'round circles edge.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Springtime Story and King of the Maples

A Springtime Story

Hidden and but subtly told
your springtime story does unfold,
A rare feat of pure alchemy
is there for those who care to see.

By eating seeds of whisker size
a transformation before the eyes,
Of feathers muted black and gray
turning gold a bit each day,
Then finally your true colors show
a feast of beauty for all to know.


King of the Maples

On some fine day soon
the sun will stream down
a wedge of light
thrust through the gray bellied clouds
and pour upon your golden shoulders
and crown you king of the maples
amidst the red bud regalia
where you sometimes hold court.

You do not fear to share yourself
among us commoners
and distribute your riches almost carelessly
but none the less generously
and by doing so
you sometimes save a soul or two.

For you have labored
in fields afar
and battled against the same hard foes
and in your soft mannered victory
you have truly turned to gold.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No School Monday

Let's play hooky

And squirm like the fish we are

off the barb

so imposed or

self imposed

And have run-away

if just for a day?

from the layers of crap

Assumed nobly

and/or unwittingly

until they reshaped us

into some barely recognizable form

the mirror refuses to acknowledge

like a comb-over

like clownish make-up

like a ski mask

like a shroud.

Yes let's take a vacation

from ourselves

and visit with the friend

we used to be

and dust him off

and watch him

from across the room.

Maybe, if we invite him

he will come to school


Wouldn't that be such a fine day?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Feeble Tools

They are such feeble tools
And vulnerable,
When once laid down
And played in place
They should stand…
But instead they crumble
And falter.
One moment they are ablaze
With life elemental,
And then the next
Cold ash on hard ground.

Yet I reach for them
To try to build
My structure.
Word by word
A modest temple
A simple prayer
Stitched together
That I might gain a foothold
And perhaps return to draw more deeply.

Even now they work
But with the dullest edge
Not whet
Not stropped
They make a rough border
They cut so poorly
That I need to put them down,
Set them aside
And just listen.

It is there
In the quiet,
Fundamental and well written.

It is there,
Just be still and listen
Ever so silently,


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Butter Bean Soup

Butter beans…
they look of lima beans, gag beans once upon a time,
But now good…
(how does that happen?!)
so now they are dropped into the cart
a jury of one has rendered its verdict.

"Chop fine, carrots, celery and onions"
The knife tills its way through…
"Does this look right?"
“I’m going to use chicken broth instead of water
do you mind?”
“It says ‘basil’ but there was none fresh at the store,
perhaps I will use the frozen cilantro?”

The fish splash in the nearby tank.

And “salt to taste”
Some like more than I,
but I cast the tie breaking vote:

The pot simmers
and soup silently cooks
the goodness of many
textures and tastes
creates and brews something new.

I could eat it right out of the pot,
who cares?
No, place a clean bowl and spoon
Napkin and glass,
a table for one,
Lets have some dignity and decorum.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cold January

It is below zero this morning
we are dead smack in the middle of January
Janus is standing in my doorway
and arctic cold slides in
testing my toes
finding the cracks in my armor
exposing the inevitable vulnerability

The birds arrive at first light
and refuel
eating seed and suet with gusto
driving away the deep chill
of nights on maple perches
nothing moves them then
as they slip into metabolic slumbers
not even the sudden shot and shudder
of frozen sap will snap them awake
they need to be that still
that simple
to survive

Yet now with the dawn
they flurry to the feeder
and fill their bills
joyfully refueling
building the grams of fat
necessary to make it through
the next cold January night
such are their lives
such is our plight

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I Asked the Sun

As darkness shut
Its eyes on me
I asked the sun
Come back
Once more
To touch my skin
To warm my bones
To streak and skid
Across my floor.
I am no longer fearful
I only long
For what I know
And choose to wish away
The tease
And taunt
Of this
A dimly lit
Cold winter's day.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I Know I Know

I woke with a start.
It was the black of night
And there was a mouse
Chasing a macadamia nut
Across the wooden floor.
Odd how odd sounds will wake me:
The plow truck scraping the road---still asleep
The radiator clanging with heat---still asleep
A mouse chasing a mac-nut---wide awake.
I call them mac-nuts now
Because the guy at the camp ground did.
He gave them to me as a gift.
We had spoken earlier that day,
My brother had given him some apple-bananas…
The mac-nut guy had been trying
and trying and trying
To light a fire
To cook some oatmeal.
He politely refused our help
And struggled:
Lacking fuel
lacking oxygen
lacking heat?
And finally he had ignition,
He certainly had patience.
He cooked his food
and fed his son
who was proud that his dad
had just bought a quarter acre of land
lava field in Hawaii.
So the mac-nut man shared a small bag
Of the round nuts with brown shells
Raw, and good that way.
I stuck a few in my suitcase
and brought them home,
hoping that the ag-inspection wouldn't be a hassle.
I set them aside,
but the mouse found them.
A small mouse
Trying to get a grasp on a nut
Too big to bite.
And so it rolled and rattled me
Out of my nest.
I did not see the mouse at first
just three random mac-nuts
Rolled out on the floor,
but when I lifted the sleeping bag
off the floor
a tiny blur of grey scurried off
and under my bed.


I set the middle-of-the-night-traps:
One that catches-by-the-neck
One that has a one-way tunnel
A no-kill catcher.
I don't like to kill mice
But I can't sleep with them under my bed.
It would only be a matter of time before they were pooping
In my silverware drawer.
I bought the no-kill trap
To assuage my conscience,
But what would I do with a live mouse?
Let it go outside in the January cold?
I wished the mouse away,
Sometimes that works,
I wished that he might find his own solution
But that implies that he has a problem
Doesn't it?
So I grabbed the sleeping bag
And headed for the couch,
Downstairs and a long mouse journey away.
It is comfortable couch
but not sleep comfortable.
So as I tossed
I listened to the radio.
Someone was reading E. B. White
Something about New York City
Where my son just moved
Somewhere near Little Italy
And I thought
I remembered, somehow
to find the piece
and send it...
He is an intelligent guy
And it might serve him, someway.
I remembered in the morning:
Night and sleep being something of an eraser.


I wondered how I knew some things,
While other things I have learned-experienced
Well, drift-off.
They seem to disappear
Like cream stirred into coffee
I know it’s in there
But could I get it back
If I wanted,
Could it be cream again?
There are many things I know:
Like how to plant peas
Or change a tire
Or a verse from a poem
Or a phone number.
But there must be a million
Things I might still know
If I could get them back…
It seems that
that only happens
In fortunate moments
Drifts of memory
Loose connections
Suddenly drawn tighter
I don’t know these old friends,
Until they spark and return
And remind me,
In some secret ceremony,
That there are things
I know I know.