Out of silence arrive conditions,
long-lost children of the aching heart
of creation, rolling over the dark and wide waters,
gathering momentum, building crescendos,
thunderheads threatening vistas swelling succulent
with potential, conclusions suspended in the wings
of soaring seabirds or crowded jet liners;

Then without warning, gushing headlong
into thirsty ground, mating need with desire,
soaking and stripping, freeing nutrients
from their long-suffering dormancy while buds unfurl
fragile heads, tentative at first, arching rainbows
glistening, straightening spines emboldened
as draping verdant luxurious velvet spreads
over scorched, scratchy burlap of earth.



Crystalline silhouettes contract and pucker,
kissed now by sun like a lover rounding shards
of earth where thundering hooves
of waves seek ecstatic ground, flicking fingers
of saltwater sucking themselves dry
in flat palms of lava braced against shoreline
above which frigatebirds soar without pause;

Pass it, shake it, pour it on, dive deep
into its briny depths, oh, carry me, bear me
forth on waters of rebirth and distant lands far-flung
and wide enough that I can breathe unhindered, miles
from cityscapes and crowded streets;
grant the comfort of stillness, of liquid earth rolling
thick and crusty into oceanic depths, billowing
into uncluttered atmosphere marred only
by thunderheads gathering for the thrill
of distilling wonder.



Unspeakable beauty,
the snow lies in drifts;
soft blanket cushioning fragile life
humming just beneath the surface.

Quiet contrast:
brilliant blue sky,
tree limbs cradling old nests
and the occasional flock
of chickadees scolding empty feeders
which must look like the mothers
who have abandoned them.

We all tread through scarcity,
lope through abundance as the heads
of crocus pop through the crystals.
How odd both are always present,
yet we respond to Nature in repose
or madly fecund,
as befits our own inner drama.

See the sky?
How does memory serve
when we juxtapose fear and folly
over such blatant beauty as this?



Restriction is a mindset
borne of concrete and steel and stasis.
Seen and not heard. Sit still in school.
Conditioned respect a static response.

Still, wander out into the countryside,
its very nature abundance.
Just notice!

Trees swaying wildly,
birds warbling boundlessly,
feathers and songs and petioles
exploding iridescence, vibrancy,
syncopated symphony
of wind and rain and streaming light;

meanwhile a blazing orb of fire slips
into the sea, molten body
capturing breath,
slowing heart rate,
surging open ventricles
pumping vitality into eyes settling
into sockets of slumber, resting
in peaceful, ecstatic repose.


Fern Forest


Suddenly vibrancy flashes a face,
ducking low and into a forest of ferns
so high they dwarf humans.

Anciently inspiring ecosystem grants us life
through our very pores and we don’t even know it;
do not think in terms of consequences
as men on machines clear
to house more invasive species.

Corralled now in fragments, we visit and learn,
if we are wise, the secrets held there;
begin reclaiming knowledge known only
to our bones, crumbling now into fragments of their own,
breaking down, as all must, to rejoin the filtering soil.

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She’s tender,

like rose petals in rain

before sun and weather draw

stalks rigid toward a heaven

filled with wonder and fear

of what lies beyond,

of then and now as small hands

trace feathery lines across his tired brow.


Trembling when confronted

with too many uncertainties,

taking comfort in verdant petioles

and azure heavens, seeds and soil

and lolling tongues of dogs.


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image: Bela Johnson 2013


Forgetting barren landscapes,

the vast deserts of the Southwest,

I head for home in three.


Three cold and grey, misty days

of late May in Portland town;

leaden skies pierced clear through

with explosions of color on the ground.

Blossoms unconcerned with human comfort

riot through streets,

spilling over onto sidewalks,

needing only space

in which to ramble.


Paradox surrounds me,

in city or in country;

in life as in death, whether noted or not.

Alone in its midst, I rally

to punctuations of light and dark,

tension and placidity;

scarcity and fecundity.


Embracing life on its own terms

allows me to love

even this chill as it penetrates my bones.

The imprint remaining may haunt

or be forgotten; the point being perspective

which, when cherished,

becomes my future.


~ bj


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