Just Slightly West and South of A Place Called Despair

Have you ever had a feeling of numbness around a part of your body you identified as your soul? A kind of bone-deep sadness and weariness. I feel that now.   Of course, I could tell you about events in my life. But remembering how the poet, Mary Oliver once put it I know many…

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It Is I Who Must Begin

It Is I Who Must Begin… Who can deny the political strife and civil coarseness of our times? And have you seen Al Gore’s new film about the latest ravages of climate change? What about the white supremacists marching in the streets of Charlottesville and the young woman who died that day? And yet, that…

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9 Reasons To Avoid Great Poetry

Be warned, poetry has its downsides and its wild sides. It may seem innocent enough, but like a calm ocean, it can produce sneaker waves you’ll never see coming. Of course, some poetry instantly puts us off because of its ambiguity or paradoxically because of its offending clarity.These poems are easy to spot however, so…

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Read. Love. Repeat.

“Poems we love are just songs we must sing again and again.”  –dale biron   As an average or even avid reader of poems, we should know how badly we are outmatched. It’s not fair how poems say what they don’t mean one minute, then mean what they don’t say the next. Writers of poems are surely on to…

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Courage And Our Ordinary Fear

It would be hard to say any single person, no matter how powerful could “cause” racism and bigotry to rise in our country. However, the door can be opened for this kind of behavior. It can become more normalized, as they say.   I fear this has happened since our election. Here is my own recent story and…

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After The Election… A Poem of Faith

All poems are discovered poems, and those we love, miracles. Whether we luckily find and read a poem written by someone else, or stealthily stumble upon one that we ourselves write. The love and the process for me are virtually the same. Again, both are miracles. And miracles happen in our minds, hearts and souls….

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Special Pre-Election Stress Reduction Edition

Let’s be gentle with ourselves. Try to stay calm. And if not calm, a little less anxious. This has been a pretty rough election cycle. But as an old political science major, I can’t deny it’s also been strangely exciting and gratitude-provoking. What…? It’s true, gratitude sometimes arrives in paradoxical packages. Meaning of course, we can’t be grateful for what…

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Let Heart Decide

The little piece of writing below (maybe a poem) recently scurried into a page of my notebook during one of my morning writing sessions. Later I realized it must have bubbled up from a recent conversation with a psychotherapist friend of mine about how challenging it can be to keep our deepest promises. I mean the…

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THE PLUMBING AND POETRY OF MEDICINE: How Cancer Made Me A Grateful Believer In Both…

There are two essential dimensions of leadership: “plumbing,” i.e., the capacity to apply known techniques effectively, and “poetry,” which draws on a leader’s great actions and identity and pushes him or her to explore unexpected avenues, discover interesting meanings, and approach life with enthusiasm.  ––James March, Stanford Professor Emeritus Cancer! The word itself hisses, stings and…

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Political Despair and The Value of A Friend

Years ago at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I majored in political science. It hasn’t helped me stave off a deeper despair than I’ve ever felt before regarding our politics. Our democracy is in as much danger and pain as I’ve ever seen before. When I say, God help us these days, I really…

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The Escaped Gorilla and Brother David

What is a gorilla? Who says? My challenge for each of us is to listen to the poem I’ve recorded called “The Escaped Gorilla.” It’s written by the amazing poet, David Wagoner from his collection, “A Map of This Night.” I believe it challenges what we know about gorillas in a way that is both poignant…

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