Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It's one of the most solemn nights of the year -- so full of anticipation.  We hold our collective breath as Hope is born yet again into a needy and strife torn world.  At this moment of Miracle, I discover gifts -- light, snowfall, laughter, music, and the tiny heartbeat of a titmouse at my window.

Peace to you all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall Morning

The air is sharp with cold and mist rises from the mat of wet leaves.  Rays of light, like beacons of old, pierce this early morning gray and illuminate a path to the east where the sun pales day by day.  

We slip towards Solstice, Yule and the Moon of Long, Cold Nights.  

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote! because Silence is Complicity

I'm off to vote for Barak Obama.  It's history today in my conflicted country where race, gender, age, background, disability, who your parents are still matters with a deep, mistrust of anyone "different".  I wanted to be voting for Hillary Clinton, a woman of my age and politics.  But, I will vote whole-heartedly for Barak Obama, an African-American man.

I have been moved by the stories and interviews with black Americans, who say they never expected to vote for an African-American presidential candidate in their lifetimes.  The oldest have ties to grandfathers, great-mothers who lived and died as slaves.  We met people in Kenya last year who were proud of this man who had ties to the Luo tribe.  

It's what our world should be -- meeting its promises to all peoples. 

I am reading E.L. Doctorow's THE MARCH -- about Sherman's march across Georgia and up the Carolinas.  It's a brilliant book that mixes history into stories that leave such a bitter taste of war and its aftermath.  So, I read about our Civil War and its brutalities.  I think about what happened after that War -- into Reconstruction, into the push west where the same warriors (like Sherman and Custer) turned their weapons onto Native Americans... where force, fear, humiliation, poverty, Manifest Destiny, the  KKK, Jim Crow, lynchings, political cowards, and that endless racism gave one kind of people the perverted power to lord over others.

So, as I said, I am going to vote for Barak Obama and then, I will be present and active in this endless struggle for peace and dignity and human rights -- in a sustainable and healthy world.  

And, if the old white men who have ravaged our people and resources think they can steal this election too, I'll be there on the streets, as we should have been in the year 2000, but weren't.  

Monday, September 01, 2008

Visual Haiku

In writing, we talk about Voice, the unique way our writing sounds on the page. When I use pictures, I wonder what is the equivalent of Voice.  Vision?  Light and shadow?

Here, it's late afternoon.  I stand at the edge of Small Greenough Pond on the northern border where Maine meets New Hampshire. Black Mountain looms to the west and swallows the sun earlier than expected.  The air is fresh and still. Pickerel weed tells me it's summer, and the faint ripples hint at the rich life below the surface, beyond what I can see.

Voice and vision.  Image and word.  I need both.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


From Cranberry Lake to Oswegatchie,
Indian Stream and  Stillwater,
We found Big Moose and the Enchanted Wood,
Not that we was looking, mind.

Up to Whetstone. Carthage. Phillie.
Driving fast and sleeping light.
I held that knife to my bosom.
Held it firm. Held it tight.

"Damn that man," my sister muttered.
"Damn all Hell," Aunt Sassy cried.
Race past Plessis and Keywaydin.
Getting close. I'll give  you that.

Drive in slow-like. Cut the lights.
Creep like possums, bite like lice.
Sassy slammed the old screen door.
Listen to that dead man snore.

Grab them papers, deed, the box.
Rifle money, break the lock.
Race that Packard, black as sin.
Fly through Oxbow and Bonaparte.

Sassy sings us like the lark.

Author's Notes: This poem came from a workshop with Liz Ahl. She gave us parts of road maps, four odd words and one object. My object was a small, delicate pocket knife. We had to use two of the words we were given. I used "screen door" and "black". The prompt was: write a road trip poem using your object and two words. I love what happens when I have wide boundaries and seemingly unrelated ideas to put together into a nourishing stew. I really don't know where this one came from -- but I like it!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Summer Mind

Nothing says summer like a walk on the beach. Bay View in Saco, Maine.

Friday, July 11, 2008

On the Northwest frontier of New Hampshire

Last night I joined in a writing activity with Pakistani educators who are attending an institute at our local university. It is teachers-teaching-teachers in the finest tradition -- global in nature, respectful, and open.

We wrote about our cultures' traditions and ceremonies, and then shared our writing pieces with those at our table. We listened to one another's reflections on weddings, funerals, Thanksgiving, the Solstice. We spoke of big changes happening in our countries. We said later, you see how many things we have in common.

One man wrote of his homeland in what the British named the "North-West Frontier". It's where Pakistan and Afghanistan share a border, a place of long-lasting conflict and struggle. It's also a place of beauty and contrasts. It will soon be renamed Pukhtunkwa to cut away another mark of colonial rule.

Today, Barry and I rode to northwest New Hampshire to explore and kayak. We found a small lake with a noisy beaver, a silent loon, and a quiet family of Canada geese. We paddled there much of the afternoon, just the two of us with a chorus of birdsong from the trees that crowded to the shore.

It was a place of beauty and peace. How utterly different from the northwest province of Pakistan where my government, its allies, and local rivalry wage war even today.

In our history, this corner of New Hampshire would have seen war between French, Indian, English and colonists. The Connecticut River was a marker, a way to move people and goods. The indigenous peoples were driven out and the rich bottom land became the immigrants' farms and created wealth and power for a few.

It is an ancient struggle and a question to be answered by each generation. How do we live with one another without killing and coveting what they have? What is peace? And why is it so difficult to live.

I wonder if one day, a man and wife in northwest Pakistan will be able to walk freely in those mountains. Stop for a picnic. Admire the views and the quiet day. And return home with the full hearts and peacefulness that comes from such simple, human pleasures.

May this come to pass -- and may we all in the world do our part to make this happen for all peoples.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fire and Ice

"What is dying? A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon, and someone at my side says, 'She is gone'. Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large as when I saw her. The diminished size and loss of sight is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says she is gone, there are others who are watching her coming. Other voices take up a glad shout: 'There, she comes!' ... and that is dying."

Godspeed, Ruth. "Look," they cry, "she's here!"

("What is dying" is part of a poem written by Bishop Brent, an Episcopal bishop in the Philippines. He lived 1862-1929.)