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Summer in Maine

The Farmhouse – Brooksville, Maine 2015

Once upon a time there was a summer different from all others. It was the summer Eric and Michael spent in Maine with their parents and Uncle Deven and Lala.

There were beach days brought snacks and they swam on Uncle Deven’s back, splashing back and forth with him, exploring the rock at Spirit Cove, finding pirate caves, a driftwood shelter, mussels, beach glass, shells to string and wear around their necks. There were blueberry pancakes Uncle Deven made, and lobster dinners with clams and corn and playing catch from Eric’s special rock, flying a balsam plane, blowing bubbles. There were ball games and horseshoes on the farmhouse lawn, playing catch with Pooh’s honey pot, playing in the red castle, games of Candy Land, reading One Morning in Maine and Tug the Pup books and Ant and Bee books. There were cloudy days of puzzles and hot dogs and the Magic Bridge and arms up to fly “flaps up and – up up and away into the sky where the seagulls fly” and coming in for a landing – flaps down and onto the ….. and a visit to the miniature houses in Stonington and Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant and the Fisherman’s Platter as we remembered it and the last ride forever on the Miss Lizzie, the mail boat, to Isle au Haut through countless islands and the long days of loving that summer in Maine.

Letter by Letter and Moment by Moment

 As I live one moment at a time, breathe one breath at a time so do I write one

l e t t e r   at a time – building a word and meaning and word after word building a sentence and a paragraph or the line of a poem or creating something that has no name – without genre – pure writing – – a density of letters that becomes story and meaning. I write the strings of my mind, stringing memory and imagination and knowledge – I string letters into words and memoires, dreams and hopes, into wants, needs and desire, into regrets and shame, pride, love, longing and finally find a place I belong – stringing letters and words into the mystery and discovery of my own true self.

When I write I find solitude is a quiet joy.

.Writing is shaking hands with yourself. Some people approach meditation or yoga as support for their lives. I write. My mind is in the ink. When I write I am meeting myself. Sometimes I chastise myself, other times I congratulate myself. It is a quiet place – this white page, these blue lines –writing my life in ink.

Sometimes I write in fragments. I write a story or, ruminations. Sometimes I merely watch my pen ink the page knowing it knows something I do not- as if the ink is breath and blood.

Sometimes I write horizontally, sometimes vertically. Labels or genres do not control me. I often abandon definitions. Here on the page I am free to create nameless forms, shadows, moments of illumination, of wonder and to plumb sadness.

Writing is a room without walls, a house with no address. Writing is a window to sky, ocean, wind and tide, a full sail and a wing.

Writing is a room where I pay no rent, a fully gassed vehicle waiting in its garage called time. The pen waits. The paper waits. Here I  remember a self I loved once or maybe loathed, one I forgave and one I need to forgive. The ink listens and I write. The ink introduces me to my mind. I listen to the ink and follow.

“At its core, writing is about cutting beneath every social expression to get to the voice you have when no one is listening. It’s about finding something true, the voice that lies beneath all the words.” Pico Iyer

The page is where I can meet the self I put aside to do my work in the world. I teach, I repair, I excavate, I build, I protect and defend. Then I leave these for a while and refuel. I say to myself, “Come sit down, and rest a while. Tell me about how you’ve been Self. Talk with me and I’ll listen.” I begin and begin again.

June musings

Classes are over, grades are in. I am able to spend some mornings in the sun at Marty’s café having an espresso over ice. If it is overcast I work inside and have a coffee and a muffin called “a glorious morning.”

I read. I write. I paint. I look towards blue sky grateful for the time to “notice what I notice.” (Allen Ginsberg)


To be vulnerable is dangerous and divine.

In a space of silence I learn what is.

There are those I love whose lives are shaking on an edge. I listen and embrace.

We are all so fragile, aren’t we?

This earth, oceans and sky all fragile

What would a world without dictators, tyrants, presidents, rulers and politicians with their wars and conflicts and one upsmenships look like?

We are so fragile.

“Take my hand. Speak to me. What are you now?” Muriel Rukeyser “Effort at Communication Between Two People”

Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama

Reflection for May
This morning I looked at my six-shelf bookcase filled with books on Buddhism (Tibetan and Zen), Judaism, Taoism, the Quakers, the Shakers, Native American religions and other world religions.
Lately I have begun to weed out some of my books, mostly novels, and donate them to the local library sale. I give away novels that I don’t think I’ll be teaching. I’ve also pared down my poetry books and it is time to look closely at the religion and philosophy books.
Just thinking about this caused an epiphany. I thought of my books by Thomas Merton and the Dali Lama. It was Merton who said that “the great work of the contemplative is Gratitude.” The Dalai Lama wrote that his philosophy could be reduced to the word Kindness. I have distilled 6 shelves into two words. Maybe that is all I need to remember. I will look at each book; read my notes and underlining and then carefully, one by one, consider a donation.

Mud Season

I emerge embarrassed at my absence from this column. Does anyone read it? If so, does anyone think I’ve stopped reflecting? I have not. As those of you living in the northeast this winter know it has been quite a white one. The weight of snow and grey skies.

Today, a Sunday, before heading to my favorite café to pick up The New York Times and enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts, I dropped a DVD into the library slot. In front of the library were proud green shoots of daffodils and short, tender crocus buds, emerging through the earth.

Mud season is here and on my dirt road it is especially tricky. I’m always happy for mud season though if I were more fastidious about having a clean car I’d find it challenging. Thankfully I have other priorities – reading, writing and teaching.

I guess this piece is a simple “hello out there” its finally spring and I am grateful for the warmth of the sun, the longer days and the receding snow.