Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I didn't think I could write poetry, but was always intrigued by those who could.  Enter National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) each April, which offers the challenge to write 30 poems in 30 days.

My friend Tandava did this brilliantly for 4 years.  Inspired by him, I finally decided to take the plunge.

Here are the results.   (Be patient, this could be you next year!)

April 1

Oh my.
B’lieve I
should write
some light
verse, lest
I wrest
the tag
“Fool lag”
this day,
and pay.

April 2

Day 2 is hardest. Novelty’s
inspiration wears off, leaving
you with the jarring reality
of yourself, raw, just before bedtime.

April 3

[This references the movie Interstellar]

Interstellher said to Interstellhe
“I failed to write something for April 3!”
“No worries”, he said, “for my tesseract will
allow you to post-write one on April 4,
& then send it backwards, so that you can still
pretend that you already wrote it before.”

April 4

[This year Tandava's creating illustrations for all 30 delightful animal poems he wrote last year, which will become a children's book.  You'll often find him wearing yellow.]

Following Tandava’s Example

There’s a Peanuts cartoon in which Lucy and Linus and Charlie Brown are staring up at the sky. They see in the sky the most incredible cloud formations, and Lucy wonders whether Linus sees anything in them.

Linus looks up and says, “Well, actually, yes. This cloud on the left looks like the outline of British Honduras; and the middle one looks very much like a painting by Thomas Eakins, the great sculptor and painter; and that one over there looks like a depiction of the stoning of Stephen, with Paul standing to one side looking on.”

Well, Lucy is amazed! She says to Charlie Brown, “Charlie Brown, when you look up at the clouds, what do you see?”

He replied, “Well, I was going to say a duckie and a horsie, but somehow, I’ve changed my mind.”

Stanford-trained, massive-brained,
Yet with a sense of humor;
Devotee’s large heart of gold,
(& shirts to match,’s the rumor).

Brilliant-eyed, when first he plied
his skill to NaPoWriMo,
What turned out, without a doubt
to writing heights did climb, O!

For he knew lunes from lullabies,
and luc bats from reversos,
and furthermore wrote funny lore
among the wiser versos.

And then the animals inspired
a month t’was so delightful!
Then artistry! And soon we’ll see
a full book from those bitefulls.

The trick, you see, when you’re just me
tiptoeing ‘hind large footsteps,
is how to plow ahead instead
of nervous backward sidesteps.

April 5

Sense and Nonsense

I am awed
at the caliber
of the Ananda teachers
I behold and get
to listen to.

“It is flawed”
said my pal Zipper
from Ensenada bleachers,
slimy cold and wet
to his Hindu.

April 6


What’s the word for it…
Finally decide to
Throw off the covers!
Enough of that
Mooshy hazy dreamy
Time to embrace
the bigger Light.

April 7


Watching very pleasantly Jesus-faced
Nayaswami Sthithiguhananda
on stage, chant-leading.
Call and response… me wanting
to be closer, to respond
well in the way I know.
Can’t quite get there…
Others nearer respond,
Not quite as good in my mind.
Dreamlike miasmically
try to work my way closer,
never quite making it,
but remembering his name,
his face.

In the morning, looking up:
Sthithi meaning position, rank or dignity,
staying, or permanence,
permanent or continued
existence in any place.

Guha cave; Ananda inner joy.

Don’t know dream analysis,
but perhaps
a reply to my oft-thinking
and wondering
whether I should be here
in Oregon, in this home,
in this place,
at this time.

Later, someone named Mitra:
Covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.
Also friend.

And warm ocean water,
which I can only recall
means something good about
where you are.

April 8


Veggie mandala
Gastro kaleidoscope
Crunchy, gooey
Savory, chewy
Fold it, shove it
Mouthward—love it!

April 9

After enjoying again the 1940 movie Sant Dnyaneshwar, about the 13th-century Marathi saint:


…or Gyandev:
impossible name,
impossible job,
impossible not to love.
For who but an Avatar
would take on rebuke,
torment, misunderstanding,
and return only love,
making sense
in such a way
that our hearts are
captured forever?

We think to change by force,
But permanent, God-like change
comes only through
the wisdom of

April 10

After reading the book God Alone: The Life and Letters of a Saint, by Sister Gyanamata ("Master" refers to the spiritual master Paramhansa Yogananda):


Wow, reading Gyanamata,
she sure did have a whole lotta
…well, lots of things, but chiefly
gratitude, put briefly.
Her expression to Master was stellar,
frequent, complete. He’d tell her
simple things she’d hold near,
treasure, re-read; & say “Dear
Master, thank you!” in a million ways.
It seems to me that all her days
were spent being grateful
for Divine blessings, by the plateful.

April 11


Cruciferous veggies have gotten bad press,
as Luciferous-gassy (with sulfurs they’re blessed).
But, turns out they do some miraculous things,
like staving off cancers, and bringing healings.
So next time you’re served cauliflower or kale,
or broccoli or collard greens, and if you pale
at red or green cabbage (and of course Brussels sprouts)—
just take a deep breath. Even if you have bouts
of tummy that’s rummy, or bloaty or worse,
there are more benefits than can fit in this verse.

April 12

["Master" refers to Paramhansa Yogananda; "Swami" to Swami Kriyananda]

Joy.  What is is?

Is it the cherry pie I thought was part of the 5-pak of frozen charity pies, but isn’t?
Is it the time I always hope to have, but don’t?
Is it the imagined satisfaction of the long list of projects finally done?
Is it the life, the poem, that aspires to imitate Master & Swami, but falls short?
Is it the faith, the hope, that bringing goodness to the world is good enough?

April 13

[Daiva is one of the Spiritual Directors at Ananda Portland]


So foreign, so familiar.  Language fan
Daiva created Avasant, a word coined
from ava (as in avatar), joined
with sant (from which our word “saint” derives).
“Ava” means descent—drawing in our lives
inspiration & attunement with the Divine,
and with the saints—when we’re tryin’
to be the best leaders we can.

April 14

["Banat, banat, bon jai!" is a a Bengali phrase—quoted by Lahiri Mahasaya in the book Autobiography of a Yogi—that means "doing, doing, then victoriously done!"]

Good Friday

So much beyond
our own experiences
these Great Souls are,
yet they know how to touch us
right where we are.
Each year coming closer
and closer,
recognizing more and
learning today’s lesson
in just the way they suggest.
Banat, Banat, Ban Jai!
Doing what’s in front of us,
Little, by little,
they become clearer,
and we become closer.

April 15

Before I head off to the beach
I'd better write a poem:
Something that will help me reach
my quota, before foam.
I’ll drive away through forest trees
enjoying this day of sun,
absorbing those vitamin D’s.
OK, I’d better run!

April 16

Wife with Knife

It must’ve been some bad past life:
‘cause anytime my lovely wife
is standing nearby, with a knife,
I get the willies.  Must’ve been
that in a past life, I did sin
by carving where I shouldn’t’ve been.
And then, in that (or some next) life,
I was the “victim” of some knife,
and on it went.  And now my wife
is standing there, to carve some chow.
Well, that was then, and this is now,
and I’m repentant… Holy Cow!

April 17


Pistachio pesto.
Fruit fullness.
Farm frenzy:
pallet poop,
rat relocating.
Garden gouging,
racoon rebuffing.
Chuckling chickens,
laughing llamas,
dabbling ducks,
indifferent cats.

April 18

Judge Not

“Judge not, let ye be judged.”
How often have I fudged
on Jesus’ clear advice.
It seems that, in a trice,
my mind will see someone,
and ‘fore I know what’s done,
will have a reason why
they’re not a perfect guy.
What happens then, you see,
is that my sense of “me”
gets more & more confined.

Instead, then, dear old mind,
let’s get out of this maze
by thinking of the ways
that others are Divine.
Their lives, as much as mine,
deserve the highest measure
of tribute, not displeasure,
for battles they are winning.

And this is the beginning
of singing in a choir
and hearing it entire:
identifying with God’s heart,
instead of only my part.

April 19


Before I could date her,
an alienate her.

April 20

The Relay Race

“We’re like runners in a relay race, and soon we’ll have to pass the baton along to someone else.”—Swami Kriyananda

It happens slowly, slowly.
Policemen get younger.
Celebrities get younger.
Contemporaries look odd with their grey hair
and lined faces.
Like escalator stairs
that appear, carry us, then disappear,
people we know
vanish all of a sudden.
Yet more appear,
and carry others upward.

All is flux, and if we’re fixed
on being sticks, instead of ducks,
on being stuck instead of swimming,
rattled when our lights are dimming,
we fail to see the beauteous play
of how the night gives way to day.

Life is circular, not straight,
and even though we tend to hate
to let go of batons we hold,
far better to run brave and bold,
striding strong with joyous cheer—
then, when our ending time is near,
sharing with an eager hand
the tasks that stronger legs demand.

Relaxing then, we see the view
from God’s perspective: and a new
stairstep pops up before too long,
and lo! we find we’re young and strong,
and ready to begin our race:
for what life hands us, we embrace.

April 21


Four years ago today, got the news
that Swami Kriyananda had passed.
His last word to Miriam his nurse,
those around him
and us
was "Anything".

Oh!  That I can live by your example
of love, discipleship,
and friendship!

Saying "Yes!" to life,
to what is asked;
forgetting petty desires
in the eager rush to demonstrate
the way to true happiness.

Thank you, Swamiji,
for caring about me
more than yourself.

Thank you for taking the time
to explain so much.

Thank you for your self-honesty
and your delightful good humor.

Thanks for sharing the joy you felt!
—It's contagious, this "Anything".

April 22

Who Are You?

So tell me—who are you?
'cause then I'll know too
what I should become
in relation to you.

A guy?  I'll talk guy stuff.
A banker?  Then, cash.
An artist?  How pretty!
Poet?  What balderdash!
(...just kidding, it's OK.)

American?  Hiya!

Indian?  Namaste.
A biker?  Cool bike, son.
Clint E.?  Make my day.

Hindu?  Hare Krishna!
Christian?  Praise the Lord!
Muslim?  Allāhu akbar!
Musician?  Cool chord.

(So I said) You know, truly,
I'm only a wave
on the big Divine Ocean,
made of water You gave.

(And He said) Ah, in that case,
since what's Mine is yours,
let Me show you My household:
Come—walk through these doors.

April 23


I had no idea how small
    this room was
'til I looked through
    that keyhole.

What disturbs you?
   Look past it.
   Such a vista!

April 24

It isn't how much you know,
   it's how quiet you are.
Who knew stillness
   could yield so much?
Listen... hear that?
   Love is always singing.

April 25


Ego oger.
Gooey goer.
Yo! Bro'!
Orbit out.
Dual duel

April 26


Ouch of emptiness
Only one thought
Driving driving
forward 'til fulfilled

Why doesn't matter
Only what 

How good
I'll feel
when fed

April 27

The Snake

The road from Laurelwood Valley
up over Bald Peak
is narrow, twisting.

Slowly, slowly rising;
familar—the same path
I traveled down before.

I know this road well.

It's easier, but more dangerous,
sliding down.
Heading up takes more effort.

Wow!  Didn't expect this:
All 5 Cascades,
clearer than I've ever seen.

April 28

Rebel Yell

God, you aging Hippie,
You're the Ultimate Rebel.
You made me in Your image,
so what do I do?
Kick and scream from dawn to dusk!
You think I like being Your boy named Sue,
'cause You think it makes me stronger?
I've had enough; two can play at this game!
From now on I'm going to out-rebel You.
I disown all Your bad habits I inherited,
turn my back on the restlessness You infested me with,
and thumb my teenage nose at You,
practicing perfect

April 29

Poem Connections

Anyone can do it
Take a line and chew it
Find a word that matches
See what your heart hatches

Someone's talking to you
Saying a cheery yoo-hoo
Maybe your reply will
Shake hands and go viral

April 30

Going Forward

Endings are a pause we take
to see how much we've learned:
Thankful night, before we wake
to new directions earned.

Each day's a small peek into
the play Director's heart,
learning from His loving view
how best to act our part.

I didn't think I could write poetry, but was always intrigued by those who could.  Enter  National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) each...