Little Dove

Anxiety for me is not a teeth-chattering,
nerve-rattling affair, rather the tendency
of an untended mind to flutter toward
the familiar always a heartbeat away
from cool, grounded sanity;

When you return at day’s end, I step
into your world for a moment of comic
relief, little blue dove riding thermals
of your mastered stride, little girl trailing
behind daddy and his toolbox, eager
to discover how things work;

Feeling the weight of chisels soothes
ruffled feathers, caressing copper, steel,
the oiled wooden handles which,
in your perfect patient hands, creates
both the smooth carved boxes holding
treasures as well as the home
in which we live, life-sized canvas
for my own design.

collaborative design: Chris and Bela Johnson with artist Deb Thompson
cremation urn made from reclaimed island hardwood – C.Johnson
designed and created by Chris and Bela Johnson
designed and built by Chris Johnson


The drumbeat of water is the best sort
of background noise, punctuated
by birdsong and the occasional
distracted glance at nimbostratus
hovering in the distance, invitation
to tease their own condensed element
back to earth;

And now here it comes, sideways slants
glancing off metal rooftops, gusts
of wind billowing off corrugated eaves,
settling onto shrubs and bedding plants
tucked into mulch for a summer not
quite yet arrived;

While the southeast portion of the island
liquefies under Pele’s fiery fingers,
unseasonably protracted showers continue
here in the north, saturating sacred ground,
percolating down and into turquoise ocean
channels to draw the gaze wide and vacant
over vast distances, infinite possibilities
cresting just above an indigo horizon;

I do not know how I would fare living
inland, perpetually having been anchored
to one shoreline or another, yearning
for seas on which to launch a thousand
projections; hopes and dreams carried
forth on variable winds meant to capture
and billow the sails of fellow mariners.

~photo series “What the rains bring,” ©Bela Johnson

Scents of Place

There is something profound
delimiting each place I have claimed
as home; the tar-pungent tang
of creosote bush portending rain,
sweeping sideways as though pencil-
sketched on dun-colored canvas
as it spills from oceanic heavens along
open stretches of Mojave desert;

The smoke of brush fires tended
by human hands breaking trail through
twists of hemlock- and fir-peppered deciduous
forests of rural Maine; freshly-felled poplar
hewn into cones by toothy beavers busy
harvesting food and shelter for an ever-
impending winter as nearby cattail-flanked
marshlands waft musk into nostrils aroused
by their complex bouquet;

Now home in Kohala, Paklan and varieties
of gardenia overwhelm the senses first,
while undertones of Cattleya and banana shrub
glide subtly on variable breezes spiked salty
from nearby oceanic cliffs as Pamplemousse
blossoms overwhelm the more subtle lavender
and rosemary, mint and oregano bedded in
to round out a complex tropical palate;

The eucalyptus groves of my youth fill gaps
in the imagination, painting scenes like
so many watercolors bleeding into one another
until, despite what I might have attempted
to paint, a more vibrant vision emerges
to sustain me;

Life turns capriciously on the unsuspecting,
contrasting signals drifting into awareness
as though conveyed along scattering winds,
yet in one stroke, certain odors bear gifts
both past and present, sliding the doors
of time like slices of glass under a microscope,
shifting blueprints of existence, mysterious cards
in a gypsy’s hand shuffling once, twice,
imparting significance to the present moment
only to calibrate again to situation and experience
as time extends itself into infinity.

“…Magnolia blossoms fill the air and if you ain’t been to heaven, you ain’t been there…”
(New Orleans ~ Guida and Royster; image: bj)



Bread by hand is baked
in oven, tapped out gently,
further cooling, placed in storage,
bagged and ready, then is toasted
days and after, to a crisp
and even browning;

Edges blackened,
flash of silver knife is peeling
curls of butter loose from glass jar,
lying gently side by side
on sizzling surface, act of magic,
solid/liquid, freely flowing
into puckers, cut in quarters;

Teapot whistling, time is ticking
in the dance of daily ritual,
now and then the mood is settling,
moving forward, life revealing
many things, while morning
streams its sweet elixir
from which springs the chilly burst
that winter brings.



As the sun sets through the trees, I realize
another day is done, curtain dropped,
nothing special accomplished, only gratitude
for gardens greening, fruit ripening, flowers turning faces
to greet the dawn, meeting miracle of clean air and rich soil
as we slip in and out of shelter, hearts overflowing;

Home is sanctuary, place of recharge and rest,
restorative tonic healing interface between us
and the chaos outside our gates. At the end of the day,
there is none better; no comparison breeds contentment.
Each evening our gaze is fixed as fire abandons us
to the liquid indigo of night, exit stage left, vanishing
Houdini scattering gifts of glittering starlight
as promise, so we do not forget;

And it flows, glowing orb, down beyond the straight queue
of Norfolk pines, spreading belly like melting butter hitting
hot pan, bleeding into horizons beyond which we might
never venture. No one may beckon him back,
though lives depend upon his return on the morrow;
we must trust and trust again, each evening
of this lifetime and beyond.



I’m accustomed to gazing at stars beyond stars
soaring like dragons across the night sky.
Wrapped in fleece, I steal away,
bare feet padding across dew-soaked grasses,
rolling onto my backside, bathing in moonlight.

Like a faerie dipping into the heart of a flower
to indulge in the nectar renewing her mantle,
I must return to solitude and sanity.

These city ramblings are a Cinderella story,
and if I languish, my shine wears thin.
I fear that all remaining will be shadow,
the ruffled collar of Rat, scuttling into the sewer
with the advent and brilliance of day.


He rolls over, nestles into her back;
warm, soft hands cupping bony ribs,
slack belly, full hips.
Years they have lain this way,
waning dancers in the twilight.

She turns, his synchronized movements
practiced upon nights beyond number;
limbs flailing, twisting, entwining.

This is comfort, closing out their days
after the world leaks in.
This is life, restoring rhythm until,
like the last smear of a comet’s tail,
their light extinguishes,
and another assumes its place.

image: Carolyn Weltman