truth and beauty


Begin Life in a moment
End Life in a day
A moment in a lifetime
Where no clocks come to play

A statue in the hallway
A hallway in the door
The blood-brain barrier
’twixt now and nevermore

The room where Life is ended
Is the room where it began
Did you see yourself by looking
Or by holding out your hand?

Begin Life not with breathing
End Life with waking up
See the world you have been given
As a shattered crystal cup

Swim on waves of gravity
Through nurseries of night
Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light


This was a song written for a musical version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A group of very creative friends stages “Musical Emergencies” based on movies, fables, and other source material a couple of times a year. This one was staged by me and my partner (mostly my partner, who saw the movie 10 times in the theater at age 11).

Imagine a slow, contemplative song, minor key, only four chord changes, played on organ as accompaniment.

Swing Shift

1 AM
is not the time for singing.

The disreputable cat
who sleeps in the interstice between yards,
pins his attention upwards,
pining for claws someone took years ago.

Neighbors, none of whom I know,
buoy lightly out of sleep
wonder if dawn is near.

is anybird listening
moved by your syllables?

I lie scanning the meter of your song:
anarchy anarchy anarchy
sweat sweat sweat
you-lose you-lose you-lose

But since you are a mockingbird
the rhythm doesn’t come back around,
not once.

I nestle beyond sense once more,
twixt boy and cat, close-eyed,
happy of not working as hard as you,


mbird at night


The Ninth

This kiss for the whole wide world, he wrote,
but without an embrace of his own
to quiet the klaxons between his useless ears,
he continued conducting to a silent hall.

Tortured and divine, and in the end merely mortal,
his unhappiness and hopefulness is eternal.

Embrace each other now, you millions.



Spring Storm

The air is gravid with possibility today.
Clouds chase the humidity to ground, their grey
sending the neighborhood cats
home early.

Dogwoods light the woods from within,
though not rare, somehow
barely there.

Cardinals arrow through the gathering branches,
against a brief punch-out of blue.

Tiny goblets of rain toast this day,
the sound and fury it will make,


The Bachelor Mockingbird

I am not sure what the ladies don’t see in him.

Do their ears hear a dissonance, or a lacuna in his melodic line
that my human hearing does not register?

He smiths his song day and night,
and weehours morning as well,
driven, sleep-deprived.

(Is his prospective mate a night-owl, too, dawdling at dawn
with her feathers or just chatting with friends?)

His inexhaustible joy and longing
has infected the neighborhood
with a kind of pleasant unease.

When he falls silent
Should we be happy?
Perhaps his top-40 has drawn a mate!

Then he begins anew,
and we smile sadly
pleased to have our work and play accompanied
by his hopeful soundtrack.

Courtesy Cornell Ornithology Lab

Mockingbird Display, photo and birdsong courtesy Cornell Ornithology Lab

Bright Angel

My father in law, Herb Van Brink passed away Friday, June 7, 2013. He will be missed.

It looked to be just a stop —
Majestic, grand yes of course,
but still
a stop on a road trip.

They stopped and looked and
changed forever
at Bright Angel.

Those bright souls
traveled on
across country and years —
kids, grandkids, friends,
chasing eclipses
bowling strikes
dwelling in quiet times,
hard times,
and bright times along the way —
less bright, now, by one magnitude.

The canyon abides
and the Angel keeps watch
over us travelers and lovers,
together but ultimately alone.

Goodbye, Herb.

A visit from the walrus, for Julianne

Swept from half-awake-land
by a tempest of pages ripped from storybooks,
She toss’t and tumble’t down,

The tiara danced out of reach,
regal it shone,

A land beyond lands was once hers

felt solid to the sole, but
sucked her down
like spun-sugar gravy,
sicky sweet.

A cry, a grasp
and the hero came to weigh her up.
“Speak to me of princess things!”
she beseeched
and he replied,
“I will tell a tale
of you, and you alone.”

No ugly things, for Dinah P.


There is a hymn called
“I Love All Beauteous Things.”
I disagree.
What about
wolf spiders
marabou storks
most humans?

I love all things that manage
to emerge from the ruckus
of evolution
of that fateful race of sperm to egg
of the petty bigotry of mass media.

And while the tritone
has found respectability,
the lowly blobfish
remains a face only a mother could love.

Which is a start, and no small thing.