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The Invited Guest. . . .


                                                                              with hammer and saw and wood and file. . . .

Many of us when we find that our life is not working for us, no matter what we try and even invent, take ourselves to the doctor.  And when all the protocols still do not work, if we give it thought, we take ourselves to school or wherever we find quiet space and open the books, whatever our persuasion.

When we learn that Dante took Virgil as his mentor-guide we should wonder why.  And find our reasons to look for own guide-mentor.

I chose the Nazarene as my Mentor after much study and have never regretted  my choice.  It was not a reason based on faith for I had none.  But it was a reason based on knowledge and for me the right one. 

For you whose Faith has meaning,  I share with you this poem.  It was written long ago and has great meaning for me. 

It has meant a life of hard work, study and some lovely sparklers.

The Invited Guest. . . 

I once knew a good carpenter who,
with hammer and saw 
and wood and file
showed me how to build a chair.

I did and sat on it
and then decided I needed a table.
With hammer and saw
and wood and file,
I built a table and sat at it.

I knew I needed another chair
for an Other to sit on.
So with  hammer and saw
and wood and file,
I built it.

I then invited the carpenter
to join me at the table.
We lit a candle and talked
and a new world was born.
How did I know

I first needed to learn how to build?


When It Escapes The Knowledge of Others. . . .


We have those close to us  disturbing our righteousness when we shout ‘enough already!’ when the going is hard in our lives.  They utter words like we make choices to suffer.  For good, Fundamentalist friends no longer are so quick to speak their knowledge saying God must love you very much to send such burdens.

I scribed and edited (for space) the following journal entry of January 16, 1990. . . Who would pit themselves against situations that would force a do or die attitude?  Who would force themselves to grow despite attitudes about stress that cause illnesses, except by a soul who knows a something that escapes the knowledge of others?

Escapes the knowledge of others.  It is an ancient thought that has propelled man to prove himself capable of better and higher things.  And not necessarily in physical life.  It is an innate something and when pressed,  will utter some saying like who knows?  He will say he works for position, family, health and whatever.  But he wants to be qualified.  Qualified to pass higher judgment for a world unlike this one.

It is something learned and felt deeply from someplace else.  When questioned he truly doesn’t know up here between the eyes, but knows heartwise.   And with hand to heart unthinkingly.   Just knows.

So you work and study and learn and gather information and make connections because your facts speak your logic.  In the face of obstinacy and obtuseness your knowledge stands. And you alibi and excuse everyone else. . . . .

So to my readers who wonder why the ongoing days are so difficult,  when you give  your highest and best in the dailyness to everyone.    Your caregiving attitude is one you wear like a second skin.  It holds you securely with love.  Your light shines with cosmic force and is noted.   Life is matching the power you exhibit for ongoing work.  

This poem is for you. . . rest well Sailor, rest well.

Rest Well Sailor. Rest Well. . . 

So in this night when you lie still
and listen for the rain, listen for the wind,
listen for the stars
moving about the sky.
Listen also for your heartbeat.
It is steady and it is sure.

It beats for all of your commitments,
both loving and lovable.
You are an important adjunct
to this world and your good
you cannot estimate.

Rest well, sailor, rest well.
The seas have been rocky
but now we come to the inlet 
that will take us to port.
There will be no tug to bring in the ship.

She will make it on her own power.

photo by John Stanley Hallissey


Me and Mother Nature Have a Something Going On. .

(please keep in mind my understanding that all time is simultaneous . )

In the April 10th  1992 journal entry  I wrote of a prior conversation our second son David and I had before he left our Earth, (a philosophy major first before becoming a lawyer) about the benign nature of the Universe, being neither good nor bad.  Floating through my brain was Robert Frost’s ‘forgive me lord my little jokes on thee . . . and I will forgive thy great big one on me.’  He knew of what he spoke.  It made me weep once but now I think that is the way it is.

Susan Howatch , one of my favorite authors on her Church of England series, writes that some philosophers believe that human nature cannot grasp the concept of reality at all.  Charles Schulz said that it was ‘so futile’ as the reason he stopped cartooning. 

I think all is eventually universally good.  Otherwise and I still know it deep down,  we could not go on.  But how far out does one go for universally good?

I scribed the edited paragraph answer. . . Your lament of how far out is universally good is not valid.  Because for you to see it where you are, the last chapter would be writ.   No pages turning over or flying by with the taste of exuberance never to know again.  Imagine a life without it, any life? 

There are those who do not know  exuberance.  The dailyness numbs one’s creativity.  But there are books to reread, knitting to pick up or something to give another go at the morrow.

This entry ended with telling me to pack up my few  illusions and get some sleep.  And why I had so few illusions baffled the teachers.  I scribed the following poem from that entry.

Nighttime  Conversation  . . .

I say. . . That spring will be a long one and
the summer will be a cool one.
You say. . .
It is amusing to hear your pronouncements
on the weather.  You feel its feel upon your face
and monitor your response with some rare things.

You and Mother Nature have something going on.
Or is it you listen to the birds singing their song or

the earth whispering to the sun that its arthritis is

not healing?  Or perhaps the night song is the one
that the sun hears in the morning and in the night
you listen in and eavesdrop?  Perhaps that is all

there is to your murmurings on the condition of the
weather?  But in your arthritic state why is it you
revel in the cold and dark, drawing up your gown

closer to your neck and whispering how old you get
because you love your comforts?  Is it too much just
to say my bed is the most comfortable and my tub

long enough for this creaky body to lie down?  And
why the guilt?  Asceticism went out with the hair shirt,
you know.  There is nothing decadent about wanting

to stay warm nor relieving one’s congestion.  Ahhhhh . . . .
you civilians. . . when will you learn?


photo by John Hallissey


To Break The Waves, enough it is. . . .

(sometimes in the midst of memories, I need to be reminded of what mattered most.  And if I need this, perhaps a reader does also.  The memory is now fresh for me.  I appreciate the chance for reprinting a favorite one.)

After having been told a zillion times that no one would want my head,  I have decided that I truly would not want anyone else’s head either.  Because then I would not see the world that I love the way I do.  I would not see the pine trickle of a branch pulling itself courageously out of the trunk of the tree amidst a  half dozen other twigs and marvel at the beauty of it.    Or  hear the  young grandmother puzzle at the toddler wondering why is this child so angry?  And another placid?  And see the connections in all bornings   from their source already bent.  Chance, you think?  My head tells me of no coincidences.

Understandably there are some who prefer to think everything is newly chaste.  But each of us has a history and life is a gift given.  It is with hope that we uncover its gems.  And profit from its lessons.

If You Can Bear The Truth. . .

If they should ever ask you
from where comes this knowledge
and you can bear the truth,  tell them.

It was written in the stars that I saw
with inner vision,  shining exuberantly
with a vitality that bears description.
It was hung and dried by a sun that had
dried my ancestor’s tears
for a million centuries.

The lyrics have pressed my ears
in moans that I find unbearable.
Does not everyone hear the cries?
If they should ask you,
tell them this.

It is the music of celebration,
when one, even one is freed from
a lifetime of servitude to anguish
clogging the throat.

This music is heard down long lines
of generations and will be mated
in their genes.   They will glory in
their freedom and they will live forever.

So if they ask you and you can
bear the truth, tell them.

It was taught by my Spirit
spilling into my heart with no reprieve
and into my mind with no relief.
It is a lifetime of no alibis and
a coping system diffused.

My teacher has no name,
still the imprint is within my genes,
implanted within my ancestor’s memories,
resting within me.

They do not rest while I cannot.
My songs continue, if only for me.

Enough it is for me to break the waves.


Photo by
John Stanley Hallissey


The Spirit Within Speaks. . .

In reviewing  this poem,  I was surprised to see the journal entry so I read it anew.  And the last paragraph of the two pages typed was the lament that I had a head with so much to say I felt I was going to die.  And I wrote the words of St. Paul,  ‘it is I who do it, yet not I, but Spirit within’, when I listened with tears running down my cheeks as Gladys Cooley Nicholson read my poetry on npr’s WDET, in a deep voice powerful with meaning.  She honored my work.

To strike a balance with the desire to create and overwhelmed with what it takes to submit and follow a prescribed path to publish, my need to create won.  So I independently studied and created  at night and the need to maintain property and people took  the work long days.  Commitments made options unavailable.  One of the non negotiables in life is sometimes there are no options.

And you are given with grace, in time,  a wise granddaughter saying,  you just suck it up Gram, just suck it up.  She is mine. 

Perhaps a bit boring, but nice to leave with no regrets and commitments intact.  Amen.

Time To Go On . . .

Is it time to go on?
Just one more garden in blossom,
I think,  just one more winter.
And I wonder if I could
appreciate them anymore or
berate the ones who cannot see. . .

Will I be able to look at snow
and see as a depth to remove
before I can move or will I
see a feathering dust of density
and walk through it
like the man on water?

 Will I ever be able to look
at this evergreen outside
my study window and not see it
as a thought form?
Or will I take its trunk
in my hands one day and like
paper mache bend it out of existence?

It is sturdy and it grows.
It takes space and cools
this room I sit in and
is a haven for the birds that
trust its branches will hold their nests
and the spidery tines will hold them.

Will I never mow the lawn
because I will by a thought,
landscape the Earth?  Am I
a dreamer in motion . . .

like speech, aahhh. . . my thoughts stutter. . . . .


July 01, 1982   journal entry
Poem Written April 01, 2016

photo by Joe Hallissey Sr.


Our Light That Shines. . . .

Sometimes we find when we are not on good terms with ourselves,  life is not sympathetic to how we are feeling.  Yet we fulfill what is demanded and later are grateful that someone stands beside us when we are in need. 

We hope that whatever we offered is regarded not with impatience we might have felt but accepted in the love that we deeply feel.    And  our good intentions are noted because we are at heart, decent people.  

Somehow to be known as decent speaks volumes in these times.  The lack of decency looms heavily on us as a fall from grace as we have relived the recent assault on our democracy.  We wonder the effect  of our behavior as viewed by those immediate and far. 

Times test our mettle and these times have.  Yet always we hope that how we relate in the small things will be our light that shines .

Light Touches

Your light touch
on the small of my back
gains for me a courage
lacking sometimes
to even climb the curb.

I appreciate that.
Somehow beneath the layers
of what I hold to be
the who of what  I am
is a someone still of note..

Comforting to lay my hand
on the side of your face
to note the structure
of the child no longer a child.

As the mother of you sons,
born of the best of who we as parents were,
Nature shares her secrets
letting me know that the goodbye kiss
on your foreheads still tells me
you are not feverish.

You know my secrets also
as you hug your children
and show them that
no matter how old you grow
your light touches reveal the depth
and speak volumes

of their place in your hearts.


artwork by Claudia Hallissey


We Are The Music. . . .

I was nicely surprised by my niece Linda to receive a photo of this wall quilt displayed in her home; from an exhibit in Oak Park, IL in 2012.  Linda graciously nudged my memory to help remind me.  As in all memories,  coming forward, tightly wrapped,  deep within time’s measure. . .familiar territories. . . .to find we are the music. .

Following should be why the time and why the difference.  Some of the  why’s  in our lives deserve our thought and some will require great courage.  To even get to a why in thought requires footwork but we know that and avoid the work while we can.  Rules change even while we breathe and I have learned to anticipate.  Rule one, start now.  And good luck.



Lullaby Last

The moon assists the drama,
heralding the arrival
of the event,
locked within memory.

A place, deep within time’s measure
nudges from familiar territories
the clockwise turn of events.

Incense, sweet hay,
pungent holly, sweeping palms,

The eye follows the moon rays
to find the final beam
lodged in our heart.
The ear strains to hear the lullaby last

to find we are the music. . . . . .


(if you have one of my quilts,  I would appreciate a photo to nudge my memory.  It is a gift when I look upon something hand done and see what was accomplished.  I guess I took seriously not to let the left hand know what the right hand was doing or something like that.  This was a real pleasure to see. )



Out of Nonsense. . . comes Sense. . .

Life before Covid had us all Monday morning quarterbacking at the water cooler about the weekend’s highpoints.  This time we witnessed the dancing in the streets with the election’s electoral count yesterday.  And with Mary Trump, professional Psychologist and niece of  the incumbent president, along with the almost hundred year old eyes researching the why’s of life,  we have some answers.

And truth being companion, all of us have come from families with mental problems.  The one seeking therapy is seldom the one causing problems, as my favorite philosopher Sydney Harris sighted, but the one having difficulty understanding them.  One of our David’s last questions to me, his mother,  was how did you know to do it?  Sheesh. . .he whistled when I did not know what I did.

Because it was not new to my thinking for all my life, it is evidential now.  And I read journals with new eyes. 

I scribed April 3, 2017 . . edited for space only. . (you crashed our gates and got us off our duffs because your family, your sons were the crux of your heart.  We never knew those feelings with our progeny that you had.  They were clones of ourselves.  They were not our creations.  They were yours.

Not everyone looks upon children like you do.  Mostly it is a matter of biology.  Clones.  With you it was your heart.  When the hand was outstretched after the birth of your  youngest, your question was who will care for the children.  They were of your body, your creation and commitment.  This is a remarkable difference in thinking.  . . . .

Years later when asked (feeling called)  will you follow me and you looked upon the face of your 10 year old  and knew his world would fall apart if you left.   You could not.  The Nazarene said what good to save the world when your own house falls apart.

David knew you saw the connection between parents and children.  You saw when parents could not parent because the parents could not parent . .ad infinitum.  The fathers could not father because the fathers could not father and mothers could not mother because . .the mothers could not mother. . this is the lesson for all.  You write that what is learned on one hearth is learned on all hearths. . . learned love by the hand on the brow by the father and at the breast with heart of the mother before the child is ready to go out the front door.  We need to grow up to parent.  Children cannot be left to have children.  We have the results of a world of children.  An eternity of children.  Time now to grow up.)   


In the Dead Sea Scrolls,   the Nazarene speaks and tells the disciples that a man cannot be a father until he is at first a son or a brother.  Somewhere in his history he has learned the love from a father and be the cherished sibling of a brother. . . to be able to parent. . . .

(Excerpts from) . .  Not A Borning. . .     

The woman labors
and brings forth a daughter  like herself. .
and brings forth a son, dressed in male skin. . .
she knows both well. . .

The man sees a brother like himself
and is dismayed.
The mother sees a sister just like herself
and aches. .

Neither prepared themselves to uncover
what each could not release. .
the begetting was easy to do

But to borne meant unearthing. . . .   


artwork by Claudia Hallissey


I Am Glad We Are Found. . . .



Wherever we are, it seems only meet and proper to have August cease its summer heat and prepare mentally for the oncoming North Wind.  It seems it has forgotten about us blistering in the heat.  I am glad we are found.

Though conditions prevent our entry back to the classroom in many places,  mentally we option to rekindle old friendships in favorite books.  Or fortunately in new books if we are able.  Like a stretched out old sweater I hug tight around cold shoulders the winter of long nights in a quiet corner.  

I welcome you to join me.  Today we pretend to hug each other but one day the hugs will be for real.  Promise.


It is August
and there is
a sliver of breath
inside the sill.

The deep breath of autumn
is, I think, a matter of time;
perhaps only in the memory
of the child anxious
for the world of new books
to open.

Anxious for the toys
of summer to be put aside
to make space
for new thoughts.

An old lady now
but still waiting with anticipation
for the long, dark nights
to be filled with time.

It is necessary.
It will take an entire season
to adjust mind, body and soul
to a new way of thinking. . . .
about who I was

and now who I am.


photo by  Joseph Hallissey, Sr


Welcome Nora Claire ! . . . to our World. . .

My prayer . . . we welcome Nora Claire to this world.  Welcome her in thought.  Deluge the sisters in harmony so that their lives will sing in delight their variations.

Songs will be different but the love sustaining will be profuse.  I wish that every newborn would be welcomed in joy and  abundant love.  And would have untiring help in their guidance.

Such an utopia I would create with all worlds, no matter their kind or kin.  Dream with me for the power resides to dream and create in all of us.

It is not in my memory bank that anyone I know has had such a birthday gift!  Nora Claire was born on this Grandmother Great’s birthday, Monday. . .May 25th 2020.  Emma E. is not only a firstborn in her family, but now is a sister to Nora.   Her resume, along with her talents grows,  as Nora begins her stint in this classroom.

It will be a merry chase for these parents I think.   Like many of us who take this corona crisis seriously,  they have been in lockdown for the past two months.  Begins now another phase with everyone called to the floor.  Emma E. has learned words a 2 year old has not had to learn before.  Words like likedown, shelter in place and face masks and orders like we have to stay at home every 2 year old knows now.

But we are fortunate that in this world crisis,  we still find life generous and loving.  That we will contribute to keeping it generous for the newborns as well as we can.  We want each and every soul desiring space to find life good in every dimension.

So we welcome our Nora to the clan and keep her in the light.  She is an on schedule baby so her vitals are normal and good.  And we hope that the sisters will find their lives together to be double their pleasures.  (And. . . .quietly now. . . .  the parents find the two of them only half the trouble. . )


photos by Harrison and Merideth  Hallissey


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