my grandfather’s son

Posted by Gerry on October 9th, 2014

Wilmar, San Gabriel, California 2002

As my grandfather’s son lay dying this is the story I whispered in his ear.

My father was my grandfather’s son.
The grandfather said to his son,
“I need to see that son of yours.”
My father’s son went with his father
to see his grandfather as he lay dying.
The grandfather said to the boy
as his father stood by his side,
“I see greatness in you. You can do something great.
I want you to know that.”

Emotionally and physically and in many ways of being in this world
My father’s son saw in his father the goodness and the foibles as only a son can see.
My father’s son learned hard work and respect and decorum.
My father’s son stepped back and stepped aside as time and distance and detachment proved more powerful than blood and expectations.

The years moved on and the greatness may have emerged.
My father’s son also lived the heritage of a people who did not express emotion easily.
Precision and accuracy, and even humility, were manifest.
However, emotional honesty was masked by words, or, no words.

My father’s son knew of the father’s good deeds.
And time showed the power of prayer.
Yet personal access drifted away and connectedness was lost.
My father’s son saw his father try too hard to reconnect.
The father could not admit to judgment or misdeeds.

My father’s son lost his connectedness to his father;
not his love or appreciation of his father’s goodness,
but a connection was lost,
perhaps given up by both these men.

My father’s son mourns his father’s loss and honors him.
My father’s son regrets his father missed some unspoken thing,
because he could not say it, or did not know how.
My father’s son would be genuine in saying, “I will still strive for that greatness.”

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 06/16/12

Somewhere in California
A night bird sings in the middle of the day
Like a prayer on the wind
The song flies up to heaven

Somewhere in California
A butterfly struggles
To pass through time
To a distant land

Somewhere a love
Which is long and deep
Breathes a sigh
As the loved one sleeps

Somewhere there are the last steps of a long journey
To reach where the power of prayer
Is not obscured
By the limits of the body and mind

A soul’s journey
To lift and give and strive
To join the goodness
Which is the birthright
Of all men and women

Somewhere my father dies
Somewhere my mother cries
And prays
Somewhere my sisters and brothers stand by

Somewhere I sit
Somewhere I cry
Somewhere in California

Somewhere in California
The mountains rise
And the mountains break down

Somewhere on the western shore
The rivers flow down to the sea
The people move and live
And struggle

Somewhere in California
A man moves on
To join the world of spirit
Somewhere in California
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 06/27/12

In the end all the dreams just scatter
Like a kaleidoscope that lost its symmetry
Across time and space no matter what humans think
In the end potential flows every which way

What might have been and what had to be
Blend in memory like history
The truth or the perception matters not to me
Now has passed into the past
That neither grief nor sorrow nor wishes nor prayers can renew

In the end all the dreams just scatter
So vivid in our sleep, or the days of youth,
As time and distance mix together
To form imagined dreams and foggy memory

The past has flown down past the shore
Though no one is standing there
All are in the river of scattered light
Moving on like a kaleidoscope
That was never meant to have symmetry

Time swirls in eddies mixing hopes and dreams
The light of deep pools of thoughts gathered once
Evaporate as some relationships do.
Upstream gathered together
Then downstream mists of thought

Down to the sea of being flow our dreams
Some complete; some unfulfilled
As water distorts the light
so time or thought erodes our dreams together
In the end all the dreams have scattered

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 07/17/12

The grace of the Creator finds the souls
The father who did the best he could
May his soul rest in peace
The young woman who struggled and strived and fell to evil
May her soul rest in peace
The child who lost her life from the death brought by war
May her soul rest in peace
The son, the daughter, the child, the adult
The joy and the sorrow that will not be known
Because their souls rest in peace
May their souls rest in peace
May their life’s lessons be made clear to the souls yet to find peace

[All Souls’ mass at St. Rose]

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 11/04/12

dangling leaves

Posted by Gerry on October 6th, 2014

Fall colors

Wind through the trees
Blows leaves that flutter
In their last attachment to life

The buds of Spring
And green Summer
Give way to orange
And brown
Of life moving on

Leaves are like illusions
Or lives blown by truth;
They last through time
Until contradictions
Or wisdom
Blow them away

The flutter is caused by
The stem clinging to its source
In a gale force

The sputter and flutter and denial
Both stated and internal
Of any person resisting
Acknowledging the truth
Is like those stems
Destined to separate

In the depths of winter
There may be a few leaves
Still dangling
Old beliefs die hard
And illusions linger
After long and bitter truth
Blows down upon the disillusioned

The blue sky of reality
Cold and stark
Is laid bare
By the winds of truth

Until a new Spring
<><><><><><><><><><><> 12/09/12

Fall leaves

Light on a redwood tree

Posted by Gerry on September 27th, 2014

Redwood Tree, Armstrong Woods, Guerneville

Find a place to stop and sit while light and orbit shift
To here and there, or there and here, or where we are to be

Light on redwood bark of a thousand year old tree
Hues of brown and sienna and sepia and coffee

At a point part way down bright glare makes light white and scattered
Masking clear vision of strands of bark as if the tree were tattered

Each strand of life perhaps a soft light of recollection
Lives passed as lives passed, hallowed in loving connection

Images or stories reverberate in time
Spectrum of our lives entwined

Intermittent shadows dark, in time our minds may ease
Like bright memories become diffused histories

Movement of the planet around the sun
Marking time or marking us, each one

Light so bright now gone away
And tomorrow will be another day

Trees do not spend a thousand years in shadow
Despite rain or fog, bright sun will not be laid low

Light so bright deep in a heart
Where to end and where to start

Find a place to stop and sit while light and orbit shift
To here and there, or there and here, or where we are to be

<><><<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 09/17/14

The Walking Tree

The bottomless courage of the heart

Posted by Gerry on September 13th, 2014

062813 UCSF Mt Zion - In the Meditation Room

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”
Blaise Pascal

Bottomless courage of the heart
Is discovered in the moments when the bottom falls out
Sometimes it happens in an instant
Sometimes months and months
Discovery of the bottom occurs as the movement is down
And down
Keep going down and no bottom is found
Hence the bottomless and no solid ground
The heart holds itself and everything else
On the trip down
As the heart sees or feels the sides and keeps going down
And down
And the heart holds on to courage
Courage of the heart is to be in the bottomless
And hold on
And find courage to bounce
Or arise or rise up
The bottomless courage of the heart
Is discovered on the way down
And formed on the way up
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 09/12/14

080308 Albee Creek Redwoods - God's summer home

A visit to the ocean

Posted by Gerry on September 4th, 2014

090114 Pacific Grove-8

On the edge of the lands
A poet stands
Looking west
Hoping for the best
Waves on rocks
Like ticking clocks
Comforting rhythms
For those who were given
Time to find
Some peace of mind
A place to watch for signs
Of how to feel and see our times
Seabirds swoop and glide

I have to make an aside
Sitting on rocks being profound
The water my footrest found
Waves splashed onto my shoes
And in a simple way just proved
While I sat here the planet moved

Back to sea birds gliding
And little crabs striding
In underwater worlds
Tiny lives in ponds unfurled
No one watching, no one caring
Except the lonesome poet staring
To see what is revealed
Transient feelings healed
Heart and tears
Overcoming fears
Beyond the maudlin
Sticking words in
Honoring past
Like looking glass
To places been
Visited again
While the unknown flows
One thing he knows
Future portends
As heartstrings mend
Ocean currents
All the torrents
More birds glide by
Breezes on the lower sky
The tide did rise
My foot stool hides
Now in the crabs domain
Showing what was always plain
The earth will move
And should improve
The poets evolving vision
Seabirds mission
Glide down the coast
And make the most
Of lower sky
While seals swim by
Kelp beds waiting
Light and shadows invading
To hungry seals
Fish revealed
Horizon line flat and fine
As waves at shore define
A changing edge of shore
Symbols perhaps of more
A future fine and steady
Once the poet is ready
To breach the rock edge
Of ocean with a pledge
To live here and now
Not then somehow
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 08/31/14

090114 Pacific Grove-7

Two white butterflies
Splashing of foam feels like home
Under ocean blue skies
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 08/31/14

090114 Pacific Grove-4

The water jumps for joy
As it reaches the shore
The sky may be gray or sunny
The ocean is still overjoyed either way
Nothing gets in the way of its happy leaping
Even though rocks try to
The water swells with pride
As it reaches the destination
Bright little crests emerge
As if they couldn’t wait to leap
Up in the air
Moving to the edge of sea and land
Finding a happy place
To jump for joy
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 09/01/14

Two white butterflies
Always two white butterflies
Traveling along
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 09/01/14

090114 Pacific Grove-2

who owns the sky

Posted by Gerry on August 23rd, 2014


when the wind swirls and around mountaintops curls
no one knows how patterns grow as the wind will always flow
down ravines air careens
pushed or pulled in patterns full
of meaning for those who wonder
who owns the sky

the sky is seen across time or dreams as limitless open space
meaning derived or arrived by happenstance in each place
by effects of interminable wind, blowing up or down again
half way down or half way up never clearly seen
except askew by the few who can see in between
sometimes seen as gates of heaven
moving life forward mystically like leaven
who owns the sky

the wind like breathe of God comes down
shaping space, then clouds, then ground
moisture gathered up above
comes down as snow or rain like love
to bring life’s beginnings or push us on
every night then every dawn
each day or evening like the ones before
buffeted in movement or in lore
though each day uniquely given
events or legacy somehow driven
blowing, swirling, whirling spaces
shaping or renewing faces
of land, or rock, even mountains moved
by wind and sky until it is proved
who owns the sky.

desert sky 1

August 19, 1994

Posted by Gerry on August 14th, 2014

Desert scenes

For * and **

I hate what this world has done to you,
Children of the desert.
Deserted in your own home by those who should love and guide you.
A child of three tender years
A child of five bitter years
Children of the incompetent
Children in the dust
God save you. And God save us.

Tears flow like rain on the desert.
The sadness of those who don’t even know you
Does not know the depths of despair which will haunt those of us who do.
My August is bitter and bleak, when the middle of the month will bring you to mind all the days of my life.
Like a little girl from my past,
who died at the incompetent hands of her mother.
My sadness is like the fire of the hot ground
on the soles of unshorn feet.
God save you.
And God save us.

The little heart of a child should not know such darkness.
Perhaps you don’t.
But the tired heart of your elders carries the weight of your lost lives.
We are not responsible for you,
we who are sent to respond to you.
Or are we?
Your parents could not have foreseen this.
Or could they?
Your God could not save you.
Or did he?

Like the summer monsoon in the barren desert.
Our tears, both silent and weak, are for you.
Can tears and heavy thoughts be salvation?
I hate what this world has done to you, children of the bleak desert.
The children of the tender and the bitter years.
The children of my heart.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 08/17/2000

Easter at the Tram 2003

Red petals

Posted by Gerry on August 8th, 2014

012808 UCSF 11 Long

Red petals
Reflected in the glass
Harbingers of beauty and the past
Hopeful or harrowing
I cannot say which
Streaks of yellow down to the stem
Like heartache and hope reaching within
Hazy like fog my memories twinged
God and I know where we’ve been
Now image moves on to solitary tree
Transformed through time passing
To growth of new things
Handing my heart yet another idea
Old trees and new things
Are what’s left for me

Kings Canyon - Life clings

To rise and fall in living it all

Posted by Gerry on August 3rd, 2014

Point Reyes Lodge 030814-09

On July 2, 2010, our son Christopher, broke his back in a bicycle accident. On July 2, 2014 my cousin commented on happenstance and chance. This is what ensued.

Whole lives built out of the most fragile of happenstance.
That so little matters so much, and so much matters so little.
Is it grace or blessing or curse?

You know, God does what God wants to anyway. +

Kindness goes unrecognized.
Cruelty goes unpunished.
Distraction changes a life.
The inconsequential becomes too large
because someone thought about it too long.

Hold onto the inner strength when the outer strength is buffeted.
Rely on the outer forces when the inner strength wanes.

Four years ago the curse of horrific injury,
And the blessing of lack of permanence rained down on us.
A broken back described as “some scrapes” by our protective friend.
Eleven days in the intensive care of modern health care.
Not knowing.
Only praying.
With little confidence, and all the confidence.
No choices mattered anyway until it was all done.

Every day it is something.
Some chance encounter.
Some instantaneous happenstance can change everything, or nothing.

In our darkest hour there’s still a light shining down inside.*

The power of denial moves us forward
Until the realization bursts forth
It is denial
Reality is more present and real
We do not control it.
We only control our response to it.

Pull back the curtain my fears have drawn +

Whole lives built out of the most fragile of happenstance.
That so little matters so much, and so much matters so little.
Is it grace or blessing or curse?
Whole lives built out of the most fragile of happenstance.
That so little matters so much, and so much matters so little.

“What’s really crazy is how easy it is to get them confused and, how,
in an instant, you can also know the difference.”

*Zoe Muth
+Iris Dement
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 07/02/14

Taken while riding .... the bus

The moon glow unused
for affairs of the sole heart
shining reminder
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 07/06/14

You are a legend among the poor travelers
These who are the most basic of gatherers
Bus tickets and boots pass through your hands
Helping each other as we travel these lands
Heartaches and travails pinch on the heart
Stories and past glories each played a part
Travelers arrive asking help after miles
Hoping to sustain hope despite all their trials
Each went down a path as directed or deflected
Care and kindness must be perfected
By you the legend among travelers
Aligned with the simplest of gatherers
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 07/21/14

Bayer Farm Santa Rosa 071814-15

There were no visions in dreams
Hopes hazy after so many schemes
No haunted or hallowed ground
Elusive answers yet to be found
Time passes beyond how long tears lasted
Now and then somehow contrasted
Memories burst forth unexpectedly
When lyrics touch a nerve introspectively
As particular songs find heartache
Stark realization of no second take
Hands still do their work to transform
Listening to the world still informs
Singing still bursts forth
But my love is not there, so what is it worth?
I know I will find it as I search o’er the earth
The heritage of all humans who went through their birth
Day by day
To rise and fall in living it all
To rise and fall in living it all
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> 07/25/14

Point Reyes Lodge 030814-08

For “Ch.” and her mom

Posted by Gerry on July 3rd, 2014

A thought upon overhearing a conversation – A person can’t be present for the person in front of her if she has to attend to the phone behind her at the same time.

So I offer for your consideration the following:

She Let Go by Rev. Safire Rose
from Bekah Outside the Box.

To paraphrase another statement (which I will quote properly when I can):

A bird does not rely on the branch to keep her aloft
because she knows that it is her wings
which will carry her where she wants to go.

Finally – guilt is a waste of both people’s energy.

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