Category Archives: 108 poems


108 Poems to Kali


This is Kali who rules the fireplace in my living room. She is from a folk painting made in a village near Varanasi, India. I traveled there in 2008 and bought this from our tour guide.

I’ve been taking an online class through The Shift Network. Our teacher is Mirabai Starr, a wonderful woman who I am thanking most for introducing me to the concept of inter-spirituality (you can appreciate and practice more than one perspective).

Our class is called The Way of the Feminine Mystic. Mirabai is most known for translating Teresa of Avila and other saints and mystics. She has made Teresa more accessible, especially to one such as I who only looked East for inspiration and wisdom.

We are to do a project by the end of this class, something to do around a female mystic or wisdom figure. I chose Kali (or did She choose me?). For several months now, I have been writing short poems to and about and for Kali. I always sit on my couch right in front of Her (except for a few written in an airport). They nearly always surprise me for I never know what will come forth. Now reaching poem #60, I am past the halfway mark. I feel I have just begun. Since I have come from a zen tradition, I’ll accept this beginner’s mind as a good thing!

Anyway, this morning I decided to stand right up there before Her and take a close-up of Kali’s face. Enjoy!


poem 108 = final in a series!

I first got this idea of writing 108 poems from Puerhan through Twitter (I have credited him on my blogroll plus I’ve exchanged tweets with him along the way). Although there have been three or four days when I was nodding off on the couch and had to write two poems the following day, for the most part I stuck to my commitment.

I plan to still blog pretty regularly but not post a poem every day.

I can tell you: the pressure is on for this final one. Here goes!


108 is attained,
the final sandalwood bead that
makes the entire mala sacred

conversation with an 87 year old / poem 107

I saved Mr. G. for last today. Most Fridays I deliver meals to some elderly people in my neighborhood. Today I would have a chance to visit with Mr. G. since he got out of the hospital.

I had taken him for a same day cystoscopy procedure on Monday. Because of the anesthesia, his doctor required him to stay overnight in a hospital since he lived alone and wouldn’t have anyone to watch him. Because his tumor was causing bleeding, they were waiting for the blood to lessen in his catheter before releasing him.

We drank some coffee together at his kitchen table. After delivering meals to him for nearly two years, we’d come to this neighborly habit most Fridays. He showed me the papers from the hospital. A librarian there had printed out information about his illness and the medication. I was impressed. “See,” I said, “This is the kind of information you can find on a computer. You are such a reader and so inquisitive, I bet you’d like getting online.” In response, he showed me a few magazines he subscribed to and asked if I’d like them after he was done reading them. I told him I hoped I’d be so mentally sharp when I’m his age — if I make it to his age.

how long do I have?

This is a useless question but one I sometimes wonder.
All my zen practice disappears in the dust
when the 59 year old faces the future.

“Puccini for Beginners” ~ poem 106

It’s just a cute comedy but I watched it with my friendly ex Janice, then we went to Olive Garden to eat. What was it about our server? She was personable and looked in my eyes and oozed confidence. I found myself telling Janice that S’s skin was so nice.

I should’ve seen it coming: that movie got me worked up. I’ve been content (in the best sense of the word) being single, independent, monklike for the past year and a half. Now, though, seeing this film got me thinking how nice skin touching skin can be. I mean, the server is much too young for me! She was darling, though.


one of life’s greatest pleasures,
sharing it can cause your mind to wrap
around your heart and explode them both

afternoon of no nap ~ poem 105

Came home from teaching class,
couldn’t tell which was worse: hungry or tired.
I lay on my bed, tossing and turning, eyes wide open

jazz over firecrackers ~ poem 104

It wasn’t quite dusk and the dogs and I wandered out to the deck to sit. What are the odds? Nearly two weeks past the 4th of July and some preteen boys began popping firecrackers in the woods behind my house. How irritating, I thought. Bodhi, the shepherd, started running back and forth in the yard, barking and Mia, my little one, was vigilant with fear. I grumbled then had a plan: I would go into the kitchen and grab the single cd player and play some music real loud from the deck. It would either annoy the boys or at least drown them out.

The music made its effect on me. I forgot about the boys and, in fact, they did disappear quickly. The cd I had grabbed was Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue.” Miles Davis was on trumpet, John Coltrane on tenor sax, and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto sax. I’ve always appreciated the saxophone. At one time, I had a fantasy of playing it. Tonight, though, I began listening to jazz as I looked through a magazine.


the cool breeze of sax playing
through the air; citronella candles light the way
to the truth that music and dusk bring.

my adopted grandfather / poem 103

I took Mr G. for same day surgery this afternoon, a cystoscopy — again. He was going to have ‘burned out’ more of the tumor in his bladder if it had grown back. Sadly, it had. His doctor said it was an aggressive kind of cancer. Mr. G. was taken to a hospital to spend a night since he lives alone and was not permitted to return home alone after anesthesia. I will bring him home from the hospital tomorrow.

I only know this man from delivering meals to him for two years. Since I’ve known him, his wife has died. I’ve met his Pennsylvania son and his wife. We’ve talked music, politics (we disagree), and health. He is 87 and in good health otherwise. He is kind. He is also a good conversationalist and listener, a rare blend. I can learn a lot from him. I seem to have adopted him as a grandfather.


You had told the nurse I was your social worker.
Yes, I am but it wouldn’t fly in court. The nurse laughed.
I proclaimed I am your neighbor and friend.