Sunday, December 10, 2017

Walking Dreams

Long shadows of winter woods crosshatch the afternoon road.
Sun strobing a windshield in strange Morse code,
delivers, not so much an invitation, but a summons,
the pull of growing light. Hip deep in such a year as this -
never what we intended, askew in storm and surge,
we walking dreams of grandmothers and fathers,
swim with the avalanche of history at our back.
Light as love, light as breath, light as legacy.
It comes from deep in time, a tiny germ,
a song we feared was lost, a turning point,
a pivot, a catalyst. The messenger,
a code of pulsing light among the trees, quickens us
like the voice of multitudes heard as from a distance:

Light as love, light as breath, light as legacy.

Winter Solstice 2017
Rosalynn and John Michael

Friday, December 8, 2017


don’t you love it          the way trees              trimmed
                                                         power lines

get right back up                  to reach for the sky

the severed limbs heal         how they send out               new wood           
                                             how relentless                     spreading       

                       light pushing its edge

invisible bridge                                we say phototropic            
this call and response         in supple bends and angles

some creep                      in the largo tempo of        oaks and redwood
others pick up the pace       andante of              mulberries and pea vines

as plants are             people are                    phototropic too      

seduced with light           
light of love                       
sun and stars

see how we wrap our limbs around one another          
                                         an arbor of hugs
leaning in        breaking open    to radiance        cardinal  and  irresistible 
                                               is it soul or breath     
how we rebound            from pruning        reach for the love again
invisible bridge                                          we say resilient

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Redemption, Years in the Making

My name is Paul Prince, and my mother is an addict.
                              I cradled her Addictions              and a trafficked woman  
from Ukraine
my grandmother took her in                       our home     the sanctuary 
haven of lost causes 
Trafficked woman and I married       had three kids              and
loads of piss and vinegar bickering  
     I’m an all-day sucker

My wife is a liar      her words bloom like barbs under my skin
                                                                    we share a welted shirt
                                                                         family heirloom
I think 
                       she thinks        she uses for fun           Coney Island without the crowd

I think           
                      there are devils    who camp in her heart           
                                              followed     her      from      Ukraine
                                                       another family heirloom  
she talks with Them in our sleep

I think
             I use because my mother uses                 demons live here too

On good days               I pretended we weren't Addicts        those days were minutes
On incarcerated days        I pretended I was a Victim of circumstance
                                                                                       those days      a YEAR
I want to be a Father              not a Victim
My grandmother is hearth    roof    a hug     a full belly        a FULL HEART
a place   my kids    can live     grow up      with         just              fairies and imps

the Welted shirt         I want to burn         the Coney Island          to bury

             My liar gutted the sanctuary and shelter 
                                took the kids
                                       wrapped in the Welted shirt  

I think
            I must be
            determined enough
to bring    us                 beyond                the circumstance 
                                                           that fools its victims

My grandmother is a fountain of MERCY
I know
                she won't            live               forever
she needs them home             
we need them home
                                        here is clemency 
                           yards            and             yards              of        it

I have a full-time job now with my uncle’s help
I'm working             on a Backbone                  my grandmother won't live forever

Inside me                           I feel a turnip seed      
                                   of hope       and     dreams
                                       HERE     a fallow field                  
                                       let hope plant its seed
                                       let hope plant its seed
                               grandmother              fountain of MERCY
                                                rain on me
                                                rain on me
                                                row by row   
                                    this life   this rancor   my dirt      
                                   turn to Green   the color of kindness                      
I think
             my kids will bury the shirt under the fountain 
             the devils           can turn                           to      birds

and     the Ukraine woman will plot    her own story
                                                          I mine

                                           My name is Paul Prince, and I am not my mother.

What happens when I read the news before meditation

I go to my cushion, I sit

with Iran Iraq, all shook up - 7.3, an inconvenient sanction,
with catastrophe to break its back.

I sit with red scarfed women, quiet as the dead -
with their broken city, broken body, broken song.

I sit with the ones who always will remember,
forgiving my amnesia, preserving us like a peat bog, tar pit.

I sit with my faucets of hot water and long showers,
my own safe place, a lifetime of golden yolk, delicious.

Under the same sky, I sit with ten thousand children
toting five-gallon buckets, minding minefields and mortars.

I sit with questions poking the soft soles of my feet.
when I walk too fast they pop open and swallow me.

I sit with dilemma, with a thready song, pretending
that my fingers can touch the grief of red scarfed women.

I sit in webs of hope, take notice of a pileated messenger,
hammering away for the little things that deliver us.

And when grace tips me on my head, I am
an ocean-dreaming puddle,  a puddle-dreaming spring.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Things stripped away float home

In finely grained nonchalance,
a subtle evolution has split me open.
I rise from leathery exuvia,
latest chapters lived and sorted.

Home, misty morning webbed in
lapis lazuli and down, unveils its still life:
mater familias, black coffee, first fire - in silence
to hold my reverence for half past four.

Jupiter has entered Scorpio, melts me together.
Love wants to return, every chapter and verse
gentled within my fault lined family. Collected -
a bitter biography to galvanize me,

an old hen to hunker down, wait out the storm,
water snakes to wrap my wounds, an itching heart.
I’ve built a rugged gravity of warts and tears, it
waxes like neap tide - things neglected are still ballast.

These tiny shells of forgettable days crunch underfoot - I
have sand in my teeth, and fruit heavy in easy reach.
Here is a cloud bank of dawn along the horizon -
pink and florid. A universe to unfold me, a new skin.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Somtimes A Door Is A Bridge

Come through, there’s
a gnat has jiggered across my nose,
an aeronautic whirligig – a tiny door.
Beware the flying dervish, my friends,

gyre and gimble in the wabe.
With a Jump and a jive and a heave.
“Wilderness is not a luxury…” *

This Tao Way, a wild walk – all mimsy were the tumbles-in,
all lunatic and pickled, these sapiens in the soup.
The tires that squish, the guns that splatter!
Beware the galumphing gentry.

And what a virtual parody, flattening
rain forests into 2D screens.
  “Granma said they was dead people walking around.” **

Three times a day, an orangutan stepped
from its cage into the limelight,
costumed as a clown. Ridiculous the tuxedo
to cover his bruises – the cheers to drown his despair.

Which is stronger faith or fear?
Oh shun, the dunderhead delight chasers.
“And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the Ant.” - ***

Come through, shame has sullied her shadows,
she folds apology into paper cranes,
melts bittersweet across their wings.  
Now rests she by the witch hazel,

anonymous among the tweets and twitters,
her regret naked in the feed. This is a true story.
“Flying insect population in trouble.” ****

You heard about the bull elephant
sentenced to life in chains? Nepal.
No plea of self-defense heard, his crime
laced in ivory. Oh, pachyderm with eyes of flame.

Honest anger to milk your life.
No one mapped his calamity,
“A scar is what happens when a word is made flesh.” *****

We wrap our troubles in plastic,
and oceans stretch downstream like souse meat.
What matters less - to fail or to die?
Give me a loose scarf of squid, alive and breathing,

Give me days to shape us in story arc,
hubris, blunder, crisis, eureka, humility.
“Superman don’t need no seatbelt.” ******

There’s a Colorado warehouse - 1.3 million
seized body parts – rhino feet, polar bear rugs,
leopard heads, bucket of dried seahorses.
it’s a tip of the iceberg, bridge to nowhere!

One, two! One two! And through and through…
What matters more - to run or to stand?
“The heart … broken open …the whole universe.” *******

Here is a robe of Indian Summer.
Here, a hijab of forest song.
The refuge, simple - a scent of cedar, a raven muse.
ball point and paper. Vitality lives here -

the congress of simians, a vestige of frogs.
Every vanished species – an amputation, a ghost limb.
 “Praise the bridge that carried you over." ********

Consider how essential, the gnat and the spider,
then look into the eyes of a kit, fennec fox,
on a short rope, busy market, freshly nabbed –
nay, I stand tongue tied, my dissent tangled in fleas and fur.

“a war against nature … a war against himself.” *********
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son,

…and shun the frumious Bandersnatch!"

* Edward Abbey
** Forrest Carter
*** Oren Lyons
**** David Haskell
***** Leonard Cohen
****** Muhammad Ali
******* Joanna Macy
******** George Coleman
********* Rachel Carson

Other obvious lines borrowed from The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Sunday, July 2, 2017

An Answer So Simple, It Makes the Question Impossible

France hands its future
to the millennials.
Statue of Liberty beams across the pond.
How to stem the tides of refugees?

Heal every home
Bury the hatchets
Sing with the bees.