Category Archives: The Whirligig
This is my morning ritual, taught to me by the elders—women I met on holy ground. Turning to the east, I place a poem on my tongue, as though it were a communion wafer. Like the wafer melting in a faithful person’s mouth, I know the poem on my tongue will die if I do not sing it aloud, whether anybody hears it or not. So I sing: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Five times I sing the ancient words. And after the fifth time I laugh, for things all round me have joined the song: chickadees and caterpillars; butterflies and blacksnakes; mosquitos, mergansers, and marigolds. Everything with breath is praising the Lord. And the song is glorious.
the old stone Buddha’s broad lap
now holds an ocean.
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Maple, poplar, oak—
the names of my forest friends
linger on my tongue.
Women keep weeping
because roots of war grow deep,
and church bells go mute.
In the plum tree’s shade
my skinny little daughter
rubs two shiny coins.
Mother Earth, sounding
oddly like my own mother,
says, “Mend your ways, child.”
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My hopes are dashed and scattered,
There’s no more grace to spare,
For flyaway potatoes
Have landed everywhere!
They’ve landed on my shoulders,
They’ve landed on my knee,
They’ve landed in the ocean,
They’ve landed in the sea.
Some folks would call it bounty,
But I call it bad luck
To live in Tater County
And drive a tater truck.
Perhaps I should be grateful
For taters, lanes, and such,
But after three bad crashes,
I am not grateful much.
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Everything stirs up my blood:
Leaves and grass, and squishy mud.
Dancers in the field don’t need
Anything but chicken feed.
Don’t give garbage to your cow!
Stop this nonsense, stop it now!
I wish I could see the light;
Hear bees whisper, “It’s all right.”
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(NOTE: Nothing profound here. Just enjoy the sounds of the words as you read them aloud.)
Chocolate muffins linger on,
Tingling tongues until they’re gone.
Wasted apples clog the sink
Quicker than a rat can think.
Asked to whirl through vats of dye,
Pinwheels stop and wonder why.
“What’s in it for us?” they ask.
“What an idiotic task!”
Blueberry pie, tasty treat!
Reading tea leaves—oh how sweet!
Mystic signs of grit and grace—
Scrub your hands and wash your face!
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In a field of strange surprises, one chipped cup appears;
Yellow roses near the lip have faded with the years.
A clothesline pinned with tables, along with rusty tools,
Earns heaps of raw derision from mouths of Sunday fools.
They say the world is flooding and seas are black with ink.
But who knows what the truth is, and who knows what to think?
The end of time’s upon us, and dust coats every shelf.
But what’s the use of cleaning? Just leave that to the elf.
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In this morgue, this dismal place,
A blind beggar hangs his face
By the mirror on the wall
In the stinking bathroom stall.
Sipping brandy in the loo,
He remembers what to do:
Look for a new walking stick,
One that will not clack or click.
Sideways now he tilts his head,
Living man among the dead,
Happy man with no tattoo—
Love will show him what is true!
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