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Sharply Colder

Sharply colder
in the night
while many slept
trust me
you’ll notice
the minute you leave home.
Something is changed in the air

Red Paper Heart

dreamed I tucked my heart
away, outside my body,
into a blue pottery mug
usually reserved for pens
and loose coins
from red construction paper
small and bendable
it could fit anywhere
I chose to send it

Unexpected Holiday

Wake up! It’s time.
Go back to work
and while you do your job
begin to hum a bit,
remind yourself to ask
(over and over, sung with joy)
who else is lucky enough
to wander halls full of
strangers and distraction,
frequent tragedy, bravado,
goofy scattered sweetness,
a few familiar hearts, and oh
the occasional burning bush
of unexpected miracles

If Buddha Raked Leaves

Billy Collins wrote a poem
about shoveling snow with Buddha
and now, remembering the quiet camaraderie
of that poem, I wonder if Buddha would
help rake the leaves (more yellow than golden
now that they fill the yard instead of the maple trees)
I’d give him the good green metal rake
and offer to use the second-best, black plastic one
myself–the one that’s a little bit broken
with a huge crack in its center.

While we rake, I’d talk to Buddha—
not foolish enough to expect an answer
even if I were a Buddhist, nor to demand
he dispense wisdom on top of yard work.

I would just rake for a few hours, beneath
the wide sky, companioned by his calm
in my beloved once-familiar country.
I would just rake next to an ideal
of how to move through the world holding
Serenity like a calm saucer for the steady flame
which I Believe, I Believe,
burns in the center of each of us.
By Buddha’s example
I could learn how to live now
and where to search out wisdom—
Is it in poetry or conversation
Is it in news or protest marches
Is it in staying home
holding your beloveds close and
closing the door to the world
Is it in the storm of social media
where the bereaved and furious,
the shocked and scared
Congregate and Plan

You’re invited too—whoever you are,
come over and help Buddha and me
rake leaves and breathe
while we grapple with how to live here, now.

Fall Forward

According to NPR
there are thirty-three
Springfields. However
behind the barn is the
Autumn field, stubbled now,
and magic. On the far side of
this field waits the future
Barely visible through underbrush
and evergreens. Stumble towards
it and decide (decide every day)
to be encouraged by the way
the leaves break your fall—
all the leaves who fell before you—
and notice how beautiful the still falling
leaves and the trees they left
and how the night sky shines through
the emptied branches

Morning Constitutional

On days when the time shows up alone, enjoy the process. Luxuriate in the pen scratching across the paper, leaving its little tracks like the snowy footprints of some exotic animal who has wandered in and is leading any eyes willing to follow on a long, meandering path. There are days when the path leads to an unexpected punch line or a twist late in the tale or to a tiny candle brightening a dark window, but then there are other days, days exactly like this one, when it is just out for a ramble, stretching itself and not so much leading the eyes to a conclusion as taking a daily constitutional.

Hide and Find

Enormous branches from the trimmed maple,
branches large enough to hide behind,
race in circles around the yard
Red-leaved and carried by wild children deep in
A Game. The rules, apart from all that running,
require calling to each other—
Find me
Help me
And then they do.
And when they do
find each other
the branches shiver in a breeze built of laughing

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