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A Good Friend

DSC_2920A Good Friend. . . .

There is a dark side to everyone’s personality, especially the sensitive one.  This dark side often  rides the sensitive so heavily that others find them burdensome.  Yet needful because being sensitive,  they are often  also understanding and responsible.  When one needs a someone,  they are always there, to  make the poultices,  change the beds and do the laundry.  Not to wring their hands and whine that they do not know what to do.

And that is the difference.  The dark side of the personality has learned how to make a situation better because they have had to learn through their own lives how to make themselves feel better.  They know what makes an other feel good.

It is hard to live with such a person but harder still to live with one who wrings their hands and runs away.  There is nothing within such a one that makes the connection between their soul and the other who is hurting.

A Good Friend

You stayed the night
while I lumbered my body
through a partition closing me from life.

While I fought
through a sea of memories
holding me hostage
to long and lonely years.

You saw me through
eyes of tears reflecting  the hardness
mine needed to smelt with coals
being fired in a heart of no use.

But you stayed, close as my skin
and had you pulled away
I would have understood.
You stalk me yet and I stand.

My eyes have shed their steel casings,
now ground as dust beneath my heel.
I look inward to softer places
and find the world not so hard.

You tell me you need to stay close
because you wish to claim
my strength if only by association,
but I ask,

of what heavenly use is a soft shell crab?



art by Claudia Hallissey



The Sound Loaf



The Sound Loaf

Evolution or God
(perhaps one and the same)
finely grinds the meal
ever so slowly
while I cannot breathe
with the dust in the air.

But there will one day
be understanding
with the digestion of the bread. . . .
The wholeness of the grain
so nicely baked till the hollow sound
is heard when tapped,
gives credence to the sound loaf.

I can no longer wait
for it all to cool.
It has taken far too long
for this bread to be made
and yet still to be digested.

The bellies are still
immature for whole grain.
Pablum is the mushed up cereal
of sort for feeding infants
too long in the pram.
I suffered the parents to grow up

and now have no time to wait for the children.


The Mind’s Sampler


(Do you ever wonder about. . . .

The Martha(s) will serve and clear tables and see to the children.  Mary will also do what Mary(s) do. . . .puff up the pillows and sit at the Master’s feet.  It is a tenuous thread that speaks of a psychologically explainable condition.  Yet it does raise the hackles.  It should as long as it is human skin one wears.  And when one does not. . . the rest will be observable.


It may all be illusion. . . but in this particular reality, illusion has a substance one must work with.


Getting lost in great crowds of people, great numbers, gives one a sense of immortality.  The great numbers are proof that the world continues to spin and as long as we are on the carousel and keep putting in our nickels, we too go around.  But comes a time out of sheer exhaustion even the make believe ponies stop going around.  And the time for sifting and sorting from too long on the merry go round has to be done.


The true state of genius is having the courage to say I don’t understand and ask for an explanation.  Understanding the basic premise makes it easier to build the pyramid as you make your way up.  The broader the base,  the easier it is to build on it.


We are all safe.  All safe.   The journey is not a trial run.  It is for real but like a class on the way to graduation, it must be passed eventually.


Kiss the moon into Being.  It serves to fuel the hot rocks of the day.

Photo by John Holmes


Stop it! Don’t Hurt Him! He’s My Brother!


When much is given, much also is required. At what price, at what value is understanding?

The Teacher

As I look back upon the growth areas of my life, I still see the influence of the child within me. My family alternated between deep affection for me and a perplexity they could not reconcile. Mother often blurted out that she did not know where I came from nor where I got my ideas. She certainly did not teach me!

The clapboard house we lived in had a wondrous mystery about it. As an ethnic family, we lived in the cellar. The upstairs was kept for ‘good.’It was whitewashed with a large furnace in the center. Every one of us had our corners in what I see as a huge area. Things were done in a certain way and values kept. Within the nooks of the cellar my sister and I had a huge double doll bed our father built. Our mother made the doll bedding. Against the wall of the fruit cellar my brother closest to my age had his space. A long table braced against the wall held all his balsam models. They hung from the ceiling with wires and smelled wonderfully of wood and glue. One’s head became quite light and one had to come up for air periodically. This brother spent hours over his models with the sensitivity of a surgeon.

The balsam was my undoing and his. I would sneak a piece now and again and happily munch on the coveted pieces of wood. I can still feel my teeth gently smashing into them for the sheer pleasure. I would be on the lookout for these rare strips on the floor. But one day in a fit of craving I walked off with a section marked for major work. Possibly a wing or side panel. When my brother found out what I had done his anger was monumental bringing tears and loud voices from everyone. He was in hot pursuit for revenge.

Suddenly my father appeared with the cat o’ nine tails. My father held it and tried to hold onto my brother. I saw what was happening and screamed the scream that rang through the house and the door and into the ethers and no doubt rings there still.

‘Stop it! Stop it! Don’t hurt him! I love him. He is my brother! He is my brother!

And my father did not know how suddenly he turned into the bad guy trying to keep his daughter from being killed by her brother. I don’t remember that the cat o’ nine tails ever came down on my brother’s psyche but it did on mine. I swallow slights and injustices and they lay like iron allies in the pit of my stomach. My behavior was that of a thoughtless sibling but the fear and horror of my brother’s punishment was that of a god witnessing the violation of another god. I could not articulate it of course, but I knew intuitively.

My words? Torn from deep within, perhaps screamed lifetime after lifetime but elevating that portion of us in flesh.

Stop it! Stop it! Don’t hurt him! He is my brother! He is my brother!

The Teacher said that out of the heart’s abundance the mouth will utter its words. Innocently out of sheer frustration, out of love, out of hatred will come the heart’s abundance. What we grant to ourselves, we must grant to others and sometimes in spades.

(Excerpt from The Last Bird Sings
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Journal Entry Excerpt


Excerpt from a journal entry

I write and say. . . . .

It is necessary for me to ask why;
otherwise the peeling of my heart has no purpose.
Why implies a reason, doesn’t it?
So don’t start by saying it is not enough
just to live and breathe and see and feel the anguish
of hurt that should never be;
implying that this life and earth are not enough
in themselves because we might get too lazy?
I can’t believe that.
Just looking and feeling the North wind is enough
to stir my senses;
to lift me from my bed to get on with living;
to raise the dust out of corners
too long neglected and lift
the filthy and sweaty labors and point out
that these are gifts of life in themselves.
These are the beauties along with the first snow
and the harvest intact and sealed and the
presence of souls who find a reflection
of what they hold dear in the eyes of an Other.
These are so.   I say these are so.
I say because such a world exists
and there can be a large measure of happiness
in just such a world.

Or you think what I see is a rose in a field of weeds?


Needlepoint roses gifted from Diane Rybacki


Excerpt From The Last Bird Sings. . . . . . . .




Excerpt  from The Last Bird Sings. . . .

 The one who chooses to come with an open head is the miracle among men.   Are not all babies born this way and we masterfully close them up?

                                    The Teacher

It is not the happy child who upsets the apple cart of the adult content with his satisfying existence.   It is the contrary one, the one who cannot find a putting place for too many memories for a short life who discharges his anger on those who should have some of life’s answers.   To find one’s parents, one’s only gods in flesh not equal to the task is a hard morsel to swallow.  It is still another event without a putting place.

 It was a cold day when I was excused from school for religion class.  My walk to the church found me pushing open the heavy door to the basement with shouts telling me to keep the door closed!  There was an acrid odor to the room, part from the wood burning furnace and the clothes from the children hanging damp and smelly.  The smell of the candles drifted down from the sanctuary and the toilets never functioned properly.   It was a potpourri of habitation.

 I scrambled to my seat and sat.  My hands were cold and I sat on my hands with bitten finger nails so no one would see how weak willed I was.  My parents were more concerned about putting food on the table and not worried why I bit my nails.   The priest stood directly in front of the class and right next to my desk.   His hands were wrapped inside his sleeves in the chilly room.   His crucifix dangled a breath away from my face.   My bitten nails were evidence of my sins.   The priest smelled heavenly.  Neither my brothers nor my father smelled like him.   I thought he must have hot water all the time to smell like this.  He was clean shaven and his backward collar was like poster board around his neck.   He wore his shiny black biretta with a tassel.

 “Class, take out your books!”   An imperative.

 He did not move an inch.   I sat there on my hands and started to sweat in that cold room.  I finally reached for my book.  The catechism began:

 Question:         Who made the world?

 Answer:           (in unison)   God made the world.

 Question:         Who is God?

 Answer:           (in unison)   God is the Creator of heaven and earth and of all things.

 And we continued.  I sat there and answered with part of my mind and did not believe one word.   I knew better.   I knew because I knew.  Big people with big bodies did not know.   They told lies to cover up what they did not know.   This priest in his three cornered hat did not know.  He carried his swinging crucifix that frightened small people.  He was not saying what I knew because I was closer to that place of beginning than he was.  Already I could figure this out because I could count on my fingers.  I knew because I knew.   There was not one person who could convince me that I did not.

 “Veronica”, he asked  “do you not know the lesson?”

 “I know the lesson, Father, but I do not believe it.”

 The buzz around the room would not stop.   The priest rapped his crucifix on the table and shouted for quiet.   I had started something and the end was just beginning.  I felt heat rising in my body and my face getting red and my skin felt slippery.   I was going to burn up and fry to a crisp.

 “Why do you not believe this lesson?  It is the holy word and Christians believe.   What is it that offends you?”

 And the child that I was answered,   “because it is not true.   It is not what I remember.   And it is not true.   I don’t know for sure everything, but these words are not true.”

 And in the smallest whisper, the whisper that no child in the room heard,  I mouthed these words to the priest.

 “There is no one God.  There is All God.”

 His face grew white and his jaw shook.  I heard his teeth click.  And I became sick.   I ran to the lavatory and I vomited all my distress with the world that only added to the smell already there.   I finally wiped my face with toilet tissue and made my way out.  Everyone had been dismissed.   No one was about.   I tied my hood on my head and put on my blue coat with the little fur collar.  I put on my boots and went up the stairs through the door that did not swing shut.

 I trudged on home and knew I would hear about this day.   My brother was there and would tell in detail what went on.   And my mother would be embarrassed over and over.   I wished there would be a whipping because a tongue lashing would last forever.

 “Just who do you think you are?”  would be voiced over and over.   And no answer to that but I am who I am.   I don’t remember exactly what happened but I do remember the priest visiting and my mother bidding him welcome when he said I come in the name of Christ.   They talked and I heard my mother say over and over that she did not know where I heard these things nor who taught me.  Not from her she said,  not from her.

 I was left to ponder for the rest of my life where these thoughts did come from and what I was going to do with them.   I would be hearing over again, you think too much.  And somewhere on the way to growing old  I finally answered with the phrase,  “what’s a mind for?”

 The Rabbi Teacher said it.  “Knock and the door shall be opened.  Ask and you shall receive.”  But be prepared for truth for it will roll like thunder.


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