New Book Out!

I am delighted to announce that a little collection of my Christmas & winter holiday poetry and prose, Heart-Treasure for the Mother of the World, is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Blackwells, and wherever fine books are sold. Links below. You can see a preview of the first few pages too.

At 111 pages, with whimsical illustrations (thanks to Dall-E – thanks, Dall-E), Heart-Treasure for the Mother of the World, is the perfect present for anyone on your list who:

* Enjoys reading

* Enjoys gifts

* Likes to carry around objects of a similar size and heft to a typical paperback, just ‘cos it feels reassuring

* Needs a book-sized object to complete their bookshelf decor

It’s $14, about the price of a cup of coffee if you like to drink your coffee with a small pizza. Or 12 quid in the UK, which is about the price of a kebab if you also drop all your change on the kebab shop by accident because it’s 4 am and that’s what you do.

And there’s 50 pieces in there, with illustrations, so it’s a fun little book, I promise. Some of the pieces you may have read on this blog. Now <dramatic music> you can own the complete collection.

Paperback and e-book available now. Millionth customer gets an extra poem free. Thanks, all!

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The Armies of Everyday Salvation

Three or four women, at least,
have rescued me from the jaws of death.
Maria pulled me from traffic
when I had wandered, garrulous, into Albany.
Emilie cupped my skull in her hands, just above the steps of the altar,
and just before the stone emptied the contents after a faint.
Ellen – of blessed memory – and all the crew
of the seminary soccer team got me to the hospital
that time when I was blood, adrenaline and fear.

Though unnamed, whatever OBGYN
helped me emerge from the darkness
probably deserves a mention, as does my mother,
who, in darkness, brought me forth.

So I know that Soteria and Salus are real, and yet
I would also bow my head
to the saving graces of the everyday.

A woman asked what I was reading, while I was ordering
at the beer stall of the local college league baseball field.
Together, we amiably sallied into the lives
of fictional characters living by the Ganges River.
I parked myself at an empty picnic bench, and recognized nearby
the local trivia king, who a few weeks back,
and with no help from me, had won us both a coupon.
I remembered him – though he seemed at abashed at the honor –
and we were joined by another lonely person
(for I was lonely, or had been)
and together we talked about the starting pitchers
various teams boasted in the nineteen-nineties.
Eventually the conversation petered out,
and we all went our separate directions,
with the shared excuse of food.

It’s little details like this
that summer uses
to bring paradise to life.

And – I say this with the utmost respect –
if we are to be saved,
not just at the final gates,
but in every transitory moment,
don’t we all have a role
in the armies of salvation?          

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Whose are you?

I belong to my alarm clock and the six am shuffle
that since my childhood has been a queer calling.
I belong to the coffee machine,
and the aroma of the Sierra Nevada highlands
that I have only seen with others’ eyes and hands.
I belong to busyness and the founding myth
of the White Anglo-Saxon, Protestant,
I am counted by the businessman in the stars.

Yet more precisely,
I am owned by the clouds,
who bring down the rivers of life,
I belong to the clouds,
who bring succor to the heart in the evening.
I belong to snake shedding her skin
and the infinite miracle of the tadpole,
I belong to the shtetl
where my grandmother spun.

I belong to the nameless ones on my left,
and to the faceless ones on my right,
I am carried by forces that are no longer capable
of being described
but are, within the several spheres, as alive as you and me.

My neighbor, and my very soul, lies bleeding in the gutter.
My neighbor, and my very soul, arises from the dirt,
in a different form, and foreign to me.
The tiniest of bugs own my future within the cradle of their antennae.
The banyan deer is my master and teacher.
I am a follower of the rising of the corn,
rising like a helix around the beans and squash,
before the plants come to fruition, I am not.

I belong to the nothingness that predates me, and gives me form.
And to the clouds that kiss me every day,
whether I notice or not.
And I belong to you, dear piece of the stars:
what would you have of me?

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Possible side effects may include

Possible side effects may include
dizzy spells
fatigue
nausea
a debilitating sense of wonder
dry mouth
actually getting excited about vegetables
or at least trying really hard to
that feeling of melancholy that comes
like the tide, washing your feet
and then receding
but also soaking into the skin
tree envy
chills
the seasons passing before your “I”s
getting sentimental at odd corners of the 7-Eleven

Continue reading
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Your Monday Blessing: Earth TV

Relax, because the aliens
watching you on Earth TV
must be into stripped-down, artsy,
not-overly-dramatic cinéma verité,
if they’ve been watching you, faithfully,
thus far.

So you can do without the car chase,
and just swallow, with a slight furrow of the brow,
that cutting remark of the overworked supermarket teller.
This isn’t Sopranos. Your fans
don’t need to see every vendetta explode into light.

They must, for their own reasons,
like the way the way that you put the bags in the trunk,
and then take a moment,
eyes squinting under the sun,
thinking about something or other,
there on a Tuesday afternoon.

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Your Monday Blessing: I Went to the Market and I

a slight chill in the morning

a slight chill in the morning and
peace in the heart

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart, and
a room to clean

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart,
a room to clean,
and a cat

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart,
a room to clean,
a cat, and
the world on fire, as usual.

a bit of a chill in the morning,
peace here in the heart,
a room to clean,
a cat,
the world on fire, as usual,
and me, wearing this sweater, breathing in and out

a slight chill in the morning

a slight chill in the morning

a slight chill in the morning and
peace in the heart

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart, and
a room to clean

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart,
a room to clean,
and a cat

a slight chill in the morning,
peace in the heart,
a room to clean,
a cat, and
the world on fire, as usual.

a bit of a chill in the morning,
peace here in the heart,
a room to clean,
a cat,
the world on fire, as usual,
and me, wearing this sweater, breathing in and out

a slight chill in the morning

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Arjuna at Antietam

At Antietam,
Arjuna looked across the sunken road,
at his brothers and his teachers,
gathered for the slaughter.
And he turned to chariot driver, and asked,
“Great teacher, show me America.”

And Uncle Sam pulled down his beard,
and in the gun barrels of his eyes, Arjuna saw
the Vegas Strip and the pre-dawn hunt of the Lenni Lenape,
the shade of mountains on the Colorado River,
the thousand-and-one colors of the Kwik-E-Mart.
His lips shot off fireworks and wrote the blogosphere;
jewels of sweetgrass and petroleum,
gems of methamphetamines and glutamate hung from
skin as radiant as the fires beneath the space shuttle.
in her multiple arms, ze held the first flight of the airplane,
and a mournful trumpet in the French quarter,
and Harriet Tubman making her way North, and back South again,
and the atom bomb,
and beef brisket, and the first sight of Ellis Island,
and the steps Coyote made for the Salmon people,
and the runoff of Dow Chemical,
and a man, lynched under a tree,
and freedom,
and music,
and the local school board elections.

All this, and more, Arjuna saw, in a single muzzle flash.
Afterward, he sat upon the ground.
“Get up now,” said the charioteer,
“Enter the field, and find what glory you can.”

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Losing Faith

First, we lost our faith in the old man in the big chair,
and then we lost our faith in God.

We lost faith in the New York Yankees,
the military-industrial complex,
progress,
and the Electrolux microwave oven.

We lost faith in the absolution of the electric chair,
and the grace note of education.

We lost faith in Jimmy Swaggart and the Holy Ghost.
And Casper, the Friendly Ghost, went out the same door.

We lost our faith in Dr. Fauci, and the Bomb,
the Princeton Review,
and the milk of human kindness.

We lost faith in the earth’s ability
to be larger than we are.

We stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,
stopped singing Staying Alive,
stopped believing there was really no business
like show business.

We lost faith in Captain Jack and Aquawoman,
and all their teams of lawyers.
We lost faith in men,
and then stopped believing her.
We don’t even believe us, anymore.

We lost faith in the historical record,
and tell no tales
without first consulting our lawyers.

We lost faith in clipping coupons,
and personal computers,
and redemption,
and cast all upon the heap.

We put aside childhood dreams,
at the appropriate time,
and grew too old, even, for wisdom.

We wandered out from once upon a time,
threw out the old unicorn bones,
and yet discovered no home
in the present moment.

We lost faith in conversation
as our opponents tore us to ribbons in the press;
we lost faith in conversion,
as we saw nothing in our opponents
worth turning to anything.

How very good we are
at scorching everything
that is no longer useful to us.

Still, I have heard it is in the desert
where faith is found.

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Your Monday blessing: At Least

At least
an elm tree
sitting amidst birdsong
under cloudy skies

At least
this much peace
right now

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Passover

Even today, Passover is a miracle.

Last night, there were houses not skipped by plague,
Bullets found their way through windows and bone,
And in so many guises, the horrible
moment – the long-feared moment – paid its visit.

This happens again and again,
to those who break down at the bedside,
and those who toss and turn within.

And you, who have woken to a so-called ordinary day,
you reckon all these things and curse God,
you wonder at the makeup of the stars,
when even now, the moon of your heart
is gazing at the world, waiting for your permission
to turn itself towards mercy.

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