Late snow on branches, cold bright sun,
saying names aloud of those not seen
for too many years, so loudly that
some snow slides off the evergreen needles,
melting into the Earth and into memory

The photo I use here reminds me of the first two lines of Emily Dickinson’s poem.

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —

That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes


Photo by Mariana Oliveira on

Tonight’s Moon reminds me that I too
am waning. My number increases each year
but in fact, it lessens each month.
The candle’s wax wanes on the windowsill –
a small sun between myself and Moon.

Photo by Rene Asmussen on

Finding My Way

No GPS, just a map and compass.
I triangulate. I adjust for the declination.
If only I knew another accurate method
for finding my way safely. I must
be mindful of landmarks and adjust accordingly.

I’m not a fan of poems that require footnotes or long explanations, but I do like learning something new from a poem. That’s why many poems here have some notes included. For this poem, I feel it is useful to define two terms.
declination – The deviation of the compass from true north is an angle called “declination” or “magnetic declination.”
triangulation – Triangulation is a method of observing the direction or bearing within a map and compass in the field by using three landmarks in the terrain to act as the corners of a triangle.

I have always thought that knowing how to find your way in the world with a map, compass, and landmarks somehow translates to being better at navigating life without tools or aids.

No Mind

In the clear light of this morning,
calendarless, if not timeless, this lone flicker
appreciates water that is not frozen,
pecks the full feeder and pays this
first day of the year no mind.

Flicker – Photo by Chris F on

Zen and Daoist meditators attempt to reach a state of “no mind.” It is called Mushin in Japanese and Wuxin in Chinese. I learned about it in Zen study where it was described as “mind without mind” – a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. It is translated by D.T. Suzuki as “being free from mind-attachment.”

A friend posted this new song today and it does seem to work with this poem.