Thursday, May 26, 2016


Zero through Ten
When hollyhocks grow along the fence,
Carol and I make a dandelion chain that
goes around the whole house!
Feeling magically holy singing “Away in a Manger”
In a church lit only by candles.
Sitting lunch, dinner, then breakfast, lunch, dinner
the next day in front of a graying scoop of liverwurst.
Finally I decide to gulp it down in one big, horrific moment.
I do, throwing up all over my grandmother’s shoes.
Even kids win some of the time.

Eleven through twenty
A vast voyage all the way from
lying in my treehouse reading Nancy Drew,
to making love in the back seat of a borrowed car.
From learning fractions to studying Latin,
from paper dolls to hair curlers made from frozen orange juice cans,
from sock hops to no socks.
From believing that being grownup means I can have ice cream for
breakfast every day,
to the terrifying realization I am going to have to come up with the rent
every month for the next 50 years.
Twenty-one to Thirty
Working for a living,
going into therapy,
joining a church,
dating guys who plan to become dentists or lawyers,
while, in my mind’s ear I hear, the heavy metal doors of
suburban marriage closing behind me,
bridge and barbecue.
I want to discover the meaning of life.
I sit on the backsteps of my little house
on Christmas day splitting a can of tunafish with the cat.
I want God!

Thirty-one to Forty
Now I have a career,
senior editor at McGraw-Hill,
where I change whiches to thats and thats to whiches.
In forty years I will hobble to the front of the employees lounge
and be given a Timex watch and a piece of cake.
I take up Tarot cards and move to Florida,
as the Major Arcana advise.
There, my life is waiting for me,
my husband, my friends, theater, art,
Paynes Praire, Poe Springs,
heron and bison and poetry workshops,
love and turmoil and beauty.

Forty-one to Fifty
When I was a child older women did volunteer work
and had hobbies.
They put together care packages for missionaries in Africa,
pushed bookcarts at the hospital,
organized church bazaars and quilting bees.
I would never be so pitiful,
I thought to myself.
I will be writing books,
long and lean and much sought after by men who live in New York City.
Genetics is destiny?
 I turn into an old Vermont woman,
Stewing down home-grown tomatoes from the garden,
raising cats and,  yes,
doing volunteer work.

Fifty-one to Sixty
Is like peri-menopause,
the organs of creation in a frenzy,
blood lust,
plays written, poems published,
children off to college.
The existential void looms,
“Fill me!  Fill me!”
“The gift of time is upon you.”
What was it that I wanted?
I remember, I wanted God.
One day behind the counter of a homeless shelter,
an old vet asks for  his mail.
I look at him and he, shape-shifting,
turns into Jesus, just for a moment.
(This I keep to myself, until now.
I’m old, it’s okay to have crazy secrets,
no one cares anymore, especially me.)

Sixty-one to Seventy
Busy, busy, busy!
For 69 years and 364 days I believe that I am in
late middle age.
I ignore being tired, I ignore being stressed,
until I can’t anymore.
I turn 70.
It hits me like a meteor from outer space.
I’m old!  I’m really old!
I’m at the age people start dying.
Will I die today?
Will I die next Tuesday?
Time to find God now!
(Can’t I just go back for one day and make a dandelion chain
around the whole house?
Can’t I bike across town, wind blowing through my hair?)
I read mystical books,
I surrender, I don’t surrender, I surrender, don’t surrender, surrender,
little swarms of Godness dropping from the ceiling,
rising from the floor,
blessed decades gone,
blessed days are mine.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


ECKHART, that is, in predigested form, i.e., as interpreted by Frederick Burschmidt - that is what I have been doing this afternoon.  Eckhart believes that God cannot, successfully at least, be sought, but is to be received.  Burshmidt says, "We need to recognize that we in the West live in a culture that values achievement and doing over simply existing.  We need, at the outset, a careful self-scrutiny, examining the ways in which we seek to master the world.  And we need to act intentionally to give up that control, precisely at those places where we seek to have it the most."

I made a list of four areas where I seek to  have control:

2.  Freeman.  After 30 years this goal epitimizes the triumph of hope over experience.  Plus, thank God I can't control him - that is his weird and wonderful charm.

2.  My health.  Giving up control in this area does not mean throwing my vitamins out in the window and going on a diet of ice cream and veggie corn dogs.  It simply means taking care of myself as best I can, with what willpower I have, and not obsessing on the outcomes - just living my moments and leaving the rest up to God, the Tao, however one sees it.

3.  The way I use time.  I have examined this one before.  It is rooted in deep self-doubt, the semi-conscious belief that if I gave up the almost constant inner nagging I would morph into a couch potato who never cleans her house or does any worthwhile thing and takes a shower maybe once a week.  If anything, internal nagging blocks my flow and my creativity.  Don't do it!

4.  What Freeman thinks of me.    Another insecurity-based, delusional goal.  He knows me.  I can't fool him into thinking that I am a clean, sober, righteous, hard-working, "the person my grandmother wanted me to be" at this point. Running around trying to pretend I'm better than I an is an energy suck that keeps me from being the best I could be.

To loop back to Meister Eckhart, seeking is, or can easily become, an ego-based effort that keeps us from receiving the Godness that constantly surrounds us.  Address it by surrendering ego-controls - which I think can be a long and interesting project.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


 Dear friends or strangers who might read this,

This past year has been a very challenging one for me, in terms of changes and losses that are like small earthquakes.  It was like I woke up one day and the whole world had changed and I had to learn a new way of being, and find out who I am in a whole different context.  This is one poem along the way.

 Talking to God

God you are in the sandstone roses
scattered along back roads in Oklahoma.
You are the old woman with swollen ankles
and cut-out shoes, who told me,
"Spend your life being alive.  Do things!
Take chances.  Don't spend your life eating,
sleeping, working and watching TV)."
(I was 17.  I heard her.)
I have done things God, so many things.
I"m tired.
Hold me in your love.

God you are the boot that kicked me,
that I would know violence, hate, anger,
and work against them in myself and others.
God you are my infinite loneliness,
that I might always exalt the beauty and
mystery of the stars.
God you are my fear,
pushing me toward perfect love*.
God I feel old and broken now, still saying,
"Thank you for this bed, these pillows and blankets.
Thank you for this roof over my head."


*"Perfect love casteth out fear."  (New Testament)

Saturday, November 21, 2015



When I was in my twenties I suffered from severe agoraphobia, an affliction I eventually overcame through meditation.  I’m sure there are good therapists out there who help people, but for me personally therapy has always been a crock.  I have yet to find a therapist who has more insight into God, Life, and” What’s it All About Georgie” than me, and I’m no prize in that department.  For me, meditation has been the great  healer.

All that was some 50 years ago, buI I have continued to have little bouts of agoraphobia here and there throughout my life.  During one such episode, a year or two ago, it occurred to me that I could have courage.  I could define myself as someone with courage and act with courage.  I could march out the front door, Arupa the Lioness-hearted facing her demons.  That helped.

Then, very recently, the thought occurred to me that courage is from the French word for heart, and courage can be defined, and often is, as having heart.  So, it is going out into the world, not with bravado, but with heart.  What does that mean?   For starters, this trip to the outside world is not about me, or at least not entirely about me.  What can I be out in the world, even if it is just a trip to the supermarket.  I can smile at people, especially those who seem lonely or sad.  Such smiles have cheered me up many times.  I can be Buddha meeting Buddha wherever I go.  I can appreciate the clouds, the trees, the gray squirrels who dart across the street ahead of us, or sit precariously on a telephone wire.  

There is a world out there that needs to be loved, and, to paraphrase Hillel, if not by me, than who?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Packing Bags (a prose poem)

I sit packing bags for the food pantry - each one gets two cans of sausages, a packet of dried soup, a can of chunky soup or chili or ravioli, a wrapped cookie.  Tomorrow I will add fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, bread and peanut butter.  The work becomes rhythmical:  sausage, packet, soup, cookie.  Over and over again.  I find my mind wandering back 60 years to old Vermont women who sat on their porches stringing beans.  Their job might seem easier, but it wasn't.  To get those beans they had to spade up the ground, plant, weed, water, gather the harvest.  After the beans were strung, came canning day - the house filled with steam.  The care they took that each seal was safe and tight.  The cooled jars were taken down to the cellar and placed on shelves, so their families would have a green vegetable in the dead of winter.  The stores didn't sell vegetables year round back them.

I wonder what they thought while they performed the endless, rhythmical task of stringing beans, what did they remember?

I only know this:  those old women, old women now, we work that people may eat.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Proponents of abortion often speak of their desire that there be no unwanted children.  Some even wave signs, "Every child a wanted child!"  I am not a proponent of abortion, for the same reasons I oppose war and capital punishment.  I do not, however, support government efforts to outlaw abortion and I would do nothing to impede someone who does want an abortion.  It is a personal decision.

I am also an opponent of abortions because I was an unwanted child and, now 70, I am so grateful for the life I've had - the good and the bad.  I am so glad my mother was not able to kill me in utero.  I am curious how many unwanted children grow up to be criminals, addicts or homeless derelicts, how many channel their pain into art, music, or other noteworthy accomplishments, and how many are able, perhaps with the help of a therapist, to make peace with their lonely childhoods and move on to have normal decent lives. I suppose there would be a good bit of overlap in those three groups, as the years go by.   Perhaps some sociologist has done that research but if so, I haven't run across it.

In any case, I am qualified to speak for unwanted children.  My parents were teenagers when I was born.  When I was two my father took off for parts unknown.  When I was three my mother dropped me off at the home of her brother and sister-in-law, who already had five children under the age of seven.  Perhaps she thought I would get lost in the herd and go unnoticed.  It did not work that way.  Through the decades I can still remember lying in bed and hearing my Aunt Florence bellow, "RAISING YOUR SISTER'S BRAT WAS NOT PART OF THE DEAL!"

A few days later, on a sunny but cold day in late fall, my grandmother came and picked me up and took me to her  house.  She told me she would keep me until Edith (my mother) came to get me, but I would be expected to do chores to pay my way.  Edith never came and picked me up, and over the years my grandmother, who thought she was finally through with children and could enjoy old age, got more and more angry. On the day after I graduated from high school, in the early morning, I was given a one way airplane ticket to Oklahoma, where Edith lived, and ushered onto the plane.  I have en extreme phobia about heights and never expected to reach Oklahoma alive but, Lo and Behold, I did.

I lived with Edith for three months, cooking and cleaning to pay my way, as I did for my grandmother, and then went to the University of Oklahoma in Norman.  In the spring of my Freshman year, I got a brief note in the mail from Edith.  It read, "You will need to find your own accommodations this summer.  The grocery bill went down by $11 a month after you left, and neither your grandmother or I can afford to keep you.""

That note hurt more than all the other acts of rejection I can remember.  A price had been put on my head, and it was less than eleven dollars a month.  Even in 1964 that wasn't much money.

So, I went down the trail of the unwanted child.  I developed phobias, drank, abused drugs, ran out on bills, shoplifted, slept with strangers.  I was a regular poster child for why people shouldn't have unwanted children.  Nevertheless, as the years went by, as I got into my thirties, I got better.  Through meditation I discovered that there is a loving Spirit in this universe who is always with me, helping me to get through whatever challenges life brings me.  I discovered that Spirit, if invited, could teach me how to love and guide me in life decisions.

Over the many years since, I have written poetry books, painted, and did outreach to homeless people, the unwanted children of our harsh age.  I've been a player, and I've had a life, a wonderful life.  For the past 30 years I have been married to one of the greatest guys ever - another artist, who has walked with me every inch of the way.  He has an organic garden and we have a wonderful, loving squnch of a cat named Gladiola.

I would say for the unwanted children of this world:  Don't  kill us.   Give us away.  Maybe even beat us or say that we can never have another bowl of ice cream for the rest of our lives, or make us wear the same ugly dress for three months, or whatever else relieves your stress at unwanted parenthood, but don't kill us.  We are human beings capable of having good lives and good times.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Meditation on God, the Home Van and Everything....

I have not yet grieved the end of the Home Van driveouts - all the amazing experiences, all the people I came to know and love - Jerry, Eva, Private Bill, "Ernest T. Bass," all the volunteers and the donators.  The times we had.  It just ended, like a pebble disappearing into a lake.  I fell apart from long postponed exhaustion and stress.  Took up life on the couch watching reruns.  I don't know much about grieving.  When I was young, people just disappeared.  People believed, back then, in the 40s and 50s, that negative events should not be discussed around children.  It was believed that children would just forget about them and go on chasing butterflies.  If a parent died, his or her children did not attend the funeral.  A friend of the family would take them to a movie.  At some point they would be told, "Mommy went to live with Jesus."  It was like being a character in a TV show, one dimensional.  "Shots rang out, people fell dead," and then you walked off and ate a doughnut.  Nothing had happened, allegedly.  Nothing real.  Nothing was real.  I didn't know how to grieve.  But I can now feel a deep sadness within me.  The Home Van is gone and it took what was left of my middle-age with it.  I am now a tired old woman.  How do I do being an old woman?  Life is like a soap bubble.  And yet it all happened.  Mystics and even many scientists believe that linear time is an illusion.  So maybe it's still happening.

Goodbye Home Van.  Goodby Tent City.  Goodbye old friends.  I remember old Pete's hat - a leather cowboy hat decorated with feathers, spanish moss, and a tiny stuffed teddy bear.  I remember Eva's hallucinations of small children running through the woods.  If they were.  Perhaps, in times of extremity, parallel universes overlap.  Then we give it a label, "alcoholic psychosis"  Or, a glimpse into another world.  Or a little flash of Godness - they happen here and there - many to be wiped out by the shallow beliefs of our little neuron-fueled logic radios, many to be treasured forever in our heart caves.

In a parallel universe, Katey is bringing a cup of hot chocolate to an old man sleeping behind a dumpster on a very cold night.  It can't be much.  He will be out there all night and we will go home.  Still, maybe, just as there are flashes of Godness, in a dark and crazy world, we were flashes of reflections of Godness - and the chocolate is good.  Freeman makes it with double chocolate and real milk and sometimes melts chocolate bars into the brew.  The chocolate is good, and the moments of Godness - the reflections of these - maybe in unending mirrors - maybe that is what's Real, and what our soap bubble world is part of.