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One Thousand Gifts

One Thousand Gifts

I counted to one thousand
Gifts on Friday, June 27, 2014;
The same day I wrote a poem
\”Table of Grace\” for Ann Voskamp.
I did not know this at the time
As I transcribe from a journal
Of scribbles once a week to a another journal.
She who taught me
To count gift and after gift. Today
Seven tomato plants growing
In the garden. Two jalapeno plants
And two rows of beets.
Three rows of lettuce.
Two eggplants. Twenty-five
Bright yellow marigold plants.
One large butterfly bush. Zinnias
Bordering on the garden
On three side. There is
Much to see. A pink clematis
Growing up the garden arbor.
A garden gate opening into
The slate path leading
To the ripening red tomatoes
And green jalapenos.
I keep looking.
I keep counting.
Three basil plants.
Cilantro. Tarragon. Oregano.
In the middle of the garden
The garden fountain spray and
Birdbath. Three purple
Finches drinking at it and
A monarch butterfly circling 
The garden. I keep looking.
What am I missing?
The six decorative croquet balls.
The cucumber vine I am 
Training to grow up the arbor.
A gargoyle on the fence.
The cosmos.
Fern-leaf dill. Parsley.
A bright red fuchsia plant
Potted in a painted yellow colander
Hangs from a garden hook in the corner
Of the garden. In this journal
I started counting on Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
I have been counting all along.
Years I ago I wrote:

There is an Edward Weston photo

Of a woman naked on the sand

Perfect too as my son is here bathing

This morning and there is

Danielle running back toward

The wildflowers, her red and green

Party dress blowing round her as she

Twists and turns round the dreams

And nightmares going on for days

And days until she has settled down

To catch her breath and stand alone

In the field among the flowers

Her dog whose journey is the same

Standing beside here alert and steady

Her mind at peace overflowing

No reason to hurry anywhere

She holds something in her hand

And she laughs and laughs and laughs

When I woke

In the middle of the night

I saw a black bear outside

I heard a baby crying

At the window the bear

Stood and he knocked

I opened the door and invited him

Inside he sat on the couch

I offered him tea

I told him I read

Some people say we are the dreams

Of animals, their nightmares, he spoke

As someone who knows and rising

From the couch he said \”Come

Come with me.\” I climbed

On his back and we

Walked out the door

And he took me to a time of long ago.

And last summer I wrote
A poem called \”Our Path:\”

Without incident we walked
And every few minutes I talked.
Good dog, Good dog.
On we went through the park.
All the time my dog here
There, everywhere
A scent sensation.
And when I wanted
To stop to photograph
This late September early morning
I said, Freddy, sit, and he sat
And he waited and when I said
Okay on we went
Our way past Meadow Trail And Beaver Brook.
This is my path. Our path.
We came to a hill.
I huffed and puffed to the top.
And my dog wagged his tail To the top.
We made our way Home.
I cut zinnias.
Red, orange, yellow, cream
And purple cosmos
For a vase that rests on a table
Next to my garden.
Soon I will be dead-heading
All the cosmos and zinnias flowers.
There must be thousands!
Still bright and bold and colorful In the garden. I change
The water in the three bird baths.
I prune the rose bushes and I am
Not sure at all of what I am doing. I water
The potted plants. So many bumblebees!
They fly from zinnia to zinnia
To cosmos to cosmos.
They do Their job.
Never I imagine
Thinking I am so busy today.
They follow their path.
Gary Snyder wrote: 

\”Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick—don\’t let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our \”practice\” which will put us on a \”path\” — it is our path.\”

I made dinner. Black beans
And rice. And wine.
And our dog and cat
Slept as we watched Nashville.
And I am Blessed.
Our house.
Our family.

So I reached one thousand gifts
A few weeks ago; the gift was
Visiting my mother-in-law and
Ann has taught me the counting
Ceaselessly, the praying ceaselessly
Is another gift, grace and gifts
From God; a poem
Of my life, a symphony and
Have I shared with you 
The sounds in the garden?
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The Table Of Grace

The Table Of Grace

This is
A Place
A Table
Round, of grace
A flowered tablecloth
A bowl of lemons and limes
Apples and oranges
We hold hands
Thank You God
For these gifts
We are about to receive
From your bounty
Through Christ our Lord
A table of grace.
A world
Round, of grace.
This morning I saw a hummingbird.
Thank You God.
A cardinal in the garden.
Thank You God.
A day in April:
Playing Frisbee with Freddy
Early in the morning.
Thank You God.
Sitting outside in sunshine.
Thank You God.
Re-reading the book
Thank You God.
About my new Storefront
Thank You God.
An American Goldfinch
In my garden.
Thank You God.
A male Cardinal
In my garden.
Thank You God.
A breeze.
Thank You God.
Chimes ringing.
Thank You God.
Birds singing.
Thank You God.
A robin chirping.
Thank You God.
Puffy white clouds.
Thank You God.
Seeing Is The Spiritual Life.
Thank You God.
A long walk with my dog, Freddy.
Thank You God.
Sandwiches from Subway.
Thank You God.
Helping Susan
So she can make soap.
Thank You God.
Editing my thoughts.
Editing my words.
Editing my photographs.
Thank You God.
Moon rising up over chimney.
Thank You God.
A worm in my garden.
Thank You God.
The cut clematis blooming.
Thank You God.
Counting. Counting.
Seeing. Seeing.
Sharing. Sharing.
Thank You God.
A day in May:
Morning sunlight
Streaming through bedroom shutters.
Thank You God.
Bright blue sky.
Thank You God.
Coffee and whole wheat toast
With peanut butter and cinnamon.
Thank You God.
A long walk with Freddy.
Thank You God.
Three Bluejays in my garden.
Thank You God.
Washing garden arbor to paint.
Thank You God.
Watching Mass on Catholic TV.
Thank You God.
Knowing these gifts are a symphony.
Thank You God.
Cleaning the garage.
Thank You God.
Coming inside for a glass of water and hearing
Chopin Prelude No. 15 in D flat
Rainbow played by Martha Argerich.
Thank You God.
Making a mushroom pizza for dinner.
Thank You God.
Susan asking her doctor about my blood test.
Thank You God.
Watching Mass on Catholic TV.
Thank You God.
Reading The Book of Acts before sleep.
Thank You God.
Every day. All day.
Gifts of grace.
A day in June:
Birds singing
Still dark
A  Finch perhaps.
Thank You God.
Up at 5:30 to feed cat, Nadine.
Thank You God.
Love making.
Thank You God.
A short walk with Freddy.
Thank You God.
Grinding coffee beans.
Thank You God.
Coffee and toast.
Thank You God.
Visiting a new church.
Thank You God.
Playing Frisbee with Freddy.
Thank You God.
Thank You God.
Photographing Peonies.
Thank You God.
Laying slate stones in garden.
Thank You God.
Wine with new friends.
Thank You God.
Sitting in backyard with Susan
Enjoying a glass of wine.
A stir-fry for dinner.
Thank You God.
Watching a documentary
Nuns at Ephesus.
Thank You God.
Gifts of Grace.
A world, round
Of grace. 
A table, round
Of grace.
Thank You God
For these gifts
We receive.
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The Vision of a Poet

Many birds this morning
Singing songs of praise and joy.
Doves, Finches, Woodpeckers
Crows and Robins.

Siting in backyard
My dog next to me
Eating a marrow bone.

Later him sleeping 
On the love seat in the office.
The cat of my desk.
Thank You God. Thank You.

Later I go shopping.
Another yarn heard.
On the radio an untrue story.

A Hungarian Folk
Opera. Háry János
By  Zoltán Kodály

Kodály wrote in his preface to the score:

Háry is a peasant, a veteran soldier.
Day after day he sits
At the tavern spinning

Yarns about his heroic exploits.
Stories released by his imagination.
An inextricable mixture of realism

And naivety, of comic humour and pathos.\” 
Kodály also comments
 \”Though superficially he appears to be merely a braggart,

Essentially he is a natural visionary and poet.
That his stories are not true is irrelevant,

For they are the fruit of a lively imagination,

Seeking to create for himself and for others,
a beautiful dream world.\”

The opera, and the suite, begin with an orchestral \’musical sneeze\’, best explained in Kodály\’s own words: \”According to Hungarian superstition, if a statement is followed by a sneeze of one of the hearers, it is regarded as confirmation of its truth. The Suite begins with a sneeze of this kind! One of Háry\’s group of faithful listeners … sneezes at the wildest assertions of the old tale-spinner.\”

Dinner ordered out.
Wine shared. And we
Talk after silence all day.

Thank You God. Thank You.
We watch Jeopardy and play
With our dog and we talk.

We sing a song of praise
Like the morning birds. We 
Have many gifts to count.

Rain fall.
Susan reads.
I write. 

Or cat sleeps.
Our dog sleeps.
And rain nourishes the garden.

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Royal Fireworks

I am now writing
About yesterday. An angel
High up in pine tree.

Two doves in a tree.
A woodpecker pecking.
Geese flying overhead.

Playing Frisbee with my dog.
The way my dog knows when I 
Pick up my camera we are going outside.

Learning story of Handel\’s
Music for the Royal Fireworks.
The music providing a background

For the Royal Fireworks the wooden building 
Caught fire. Over twelve thousand people
Rushed to get away. Causing a tree-hour traffic jam

Of carriages, after the main route
Was closed due to the collapse 
Of the central arch of the newly built London Bridge.

I listened to the Overture
In the car on my way
To my physical. Stopping once

To photograph The Lower Mill Pond
In Easthampton, Massachusetts
Where I once lived.

The nurse said we now ask
Everyone two question.
Do you feel depressed?

Have you recently fallen?
No and no. And I said
To her I remember being

Depressed. Still so clear.
I was waiting in the doctor\’s office
And I picked up an magazine and wept.

When the doctor entered the room
I help up the magazine, Newsweek
I think, and on the cover a photo

Two young women. One from Palestine
And the other from Israel. They had
Killed each other. And there

In the doctor\’s office I wept.
I took medicine for a few years.
Those feelings are gone.

I told the doctor I had been feeling
Light-headed and that my back hurt.
He talked to be about the foot railing

At bars. Made to help people
Drink longer without hurting
Their backs. He said I should

Try using a foot stool when cooking
Or cleaning the dishes. Raise one leg
For a few minutes and the the other.

I said to him it sounds
Like a Seinfeld joke. And I was happy
To hear my blood pressure was down.

Back in the car heading home
I heard to story of The Tam O\’Shanter Overture
By Sir Malcolm Arnold; based on a famous poem

By Robert Burns depicting
Tam O\’Shanter drunk. Leaving the pub
Tam rides home on his horse Meg.

A storm is brewing. He sees
the local haunted church lit up, 
witches and warlocks dancing.

The devil playing the bagpipes.
Tam is still drunk, still upon his horse,
Just on the edge of the light watching.

Amazed to see The witches are dancing
As the music intensifies and seeing
A witch in a short dress

He shouts,`Weel done, cutty-sark!\’
(cutty-sark : \”short shirt\”).

The lights go out, the music

And dancing stops and many
Of the creatures lunge after Tam,
With the witches leading.

Tam spurs Meg to turn and flee
And drives the horse on towards the River Doon
As the creatures dare not cross a running stream.

The creatures give chase and the witches
Come so close to catching Tam and Meg
That they pull Meg\’s tail off just as she reaches the bridge over the Doon.

What a story.
What a poem.
What great music.

Over dinner I tell Susan
Both stories and we talk
Later of framing art.


You can hear it here.

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Spring Is Here

Birds singing out my window
Early in the morning
Still in bed waking
Help from Susan
Packing my photos
In the car
Three women helping me
Hang my art at the gallery
The pond and
The mountain
The kind cashier at the supermarket
An afternoon nap with my cat
Sitting with Susan on the back steps
Drinking tea
In the warming sunshine
Walking my dog
My dog sleeping
In my lap
At night

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Thank You, God

So thankful today
Our dog Freddy is okay
Attacked yesterday

In a parking lot
A large white pit bull
Leaped and lunged

At our dogs neck this
after being groomed for first time
we stopped at pet store

for treats and toys and
the monster ran from its car
and attacked Freddy

It all happened so fast
I grabbed Freddy\’s leash and
Lifted him high to the sky

Putting myself between
the foaming monster
and my little dog

The owner of the dog
ran over and grabbed
its collar, yanking the monster

away saying he plays
with children just fine but
does not like other dogs

then why was this dog
at the largest pet food store
in Western Massachusetts

And the man with the tattoos
and gold plated teeth and the poor dog
walked away and drove away