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Jan 2023 · 291
JP Jan 2023
Here, alone in this house
I pause to recognize:
I am surrounded by riches.

Every little thing reminds me
of some small happiness
taken for granted.

This life we have built.
These changes that have come for us -
none of them by chance.

Surrounded, still we wait to greet what's next;
to see what will come through the door
that we must always leave

Inspired by "The Guest House" by Rumi
Jan 2023 · 112
How many poems...
JP Jan 2023
stay stuck in the past
or fawn for the future?

are pain relived
or attempts at relief?

serve as containers
for uncontainable things?

release weight
we need not hold?

are our souls scream
to be heard?

How many poems
capture the beauty
of being human
in equal measure
to the struggle?

I'd be a more honest poet
to do so.
Jan 2023 · 100
The Middle
JP Jan 2023
Arriving at the plateaued top
of the grand journey.
Here, the exertion of youth lifts -
that time of pushing and grinding uphill
to gorge on life and force a place in the world -
and suddenly you're still you
but peace and contentedness are flowing
through a body that has known
so much strain.

Suddenly you can see vast possibilities before you
stretching to the horizon
where the path fades into the unknown.
No, don't rush to the downhill that awaits -
as lovely as it will be
to feel the wind in your hair -
linger here a bit.

Feel how strong you've become
from the climb,
and admire the scars that mark
the falls and healing and
continuing on.
Try not to fight nor coast,
but move across the middle of this life
with a newfound balance between
push and pull;
effort and surrender;
fight and peace;
knowing and wonder.

Drink in this place
before cresting downward,
pulled effortlessly
to the end of your path
where the horizon awaits
your arrival.
Jan 2023 · 151
That Same Old Song
JP Jan 2023
Why carry this weight?
Does reward await
some years ahead
but...before I'm dead?
Is there virtue in the same pain
felt again and again,
that same old song
I've been singin' for so long?
Oct 2021 · 127
the old man
JP Oct 2021
an old man pulls into the campground
and early, when it's quiet still.
he has a bushy, wild beard and shaggy hair
spilling out
from under his hat.

with bottles cradled in his arms
i quietly point him towards
the recycling bins.
he thanks me and says,
"have a good one."
i reciprocate
the pleasantry - "yeah, you too."
and his eyes flash and shine,
"oh, god yes! another adventure, ha!"

i smile lightly and hobble along
if i have just encountered
a truly free man.
Oct 2021 · 488
the treetops
JP Oct 2021
i want to heal,
to become
a gentle friend
to myself.

to let the quiet pressure and
guarded being break away
like the dam bursting
for the river
come to life again.

letting life move freely
as it must,
and holding all things so lightly -
in reverence and sorrow -
and always at peace with letting go
as we must.

when i let my father go
he dances in the treetops.
when i let my shame go
i dance across the soft ground beneath him,
and will dance until my feet lift and
leave the ground,
without a trace i was there,
and i join dad in the treetops
and we are the wind.
Nov 2019 · 183
JP Nov 2019
When this dis-ease flairs
the world is small,
I am in a dark tunnel;
eyes open but not seeing,
moving forward but stumbling,
weary legs shuffling through the motions.
All I know is the cold, gritty stone
that scrapes these searching hands.
All I know is this dis-ease.
In the distance there’s a pin of light;
so little to look forward to.
I’m tempted to lay down
and stay here.

What if I remembered,
the whole beauty of my-self?
Would my eyes, once blind,
shine life’s light into the dark tunnel line?
Would my heart pump fiery blood
into my legs
and muscles come alive?
I’m running now.
Hands curl into fists
to pump at my sides,
with purpose now.
Would the pin of light
get bigger and bigger
until I’m standing at the mouth?
The edge of the world
sweeps below me.
I step forward slowly, warm
where my light meets its source.
The sun and earth have been waiting
for me to come home.
Beautiful and alive,
I remember I belong.
JP Aug 2019
Why is it
that I only sit quietly
in the morning?

Am I allowed just
one breath
of wholeness
before the barrage
of the day?

What would happen
if I claimed
all my other breaths
in the name of peace -
of saving a life?

What would the world
do with me?
Aug 2019 · 227
Bare feet
JP Aug 2019
The old ways
of being afraid
are beaten in and comfortable;
weathered, old leather boots.

Yesterday, unaware,
I put them on when I stepped down from bed.
My stomach burned and rebelled at breakfast -
a desperate attempt at a sensitive SOS
from my omnipotent body too often unheard...
I limped to work alongside my lovely partner
through the cool, verdant summer air
but the cat had my tongue
and I dragged my heavy feet.

Later the fear was exposed naked
as untrue, unnecessary, a farce
- as the spinster its always been -
and what did it?

I showed up imperfect
and vulnerable and present
to the very place I felt an imposter.
I felt power and love - life -
surge through my flowing blood,
my eyes clear to meet those around me,
body light and and leaning on the ***** of my feet,
and the armor around my heart failed
with warm wholeness seeping in,
(that feeling children know, and grandma too)
and I realized
I'd taken those boots off.

This morning I'm taking note.
Today I'll try to walk the world
with bare feet.
Jul 2019 · 260
JP Jul 2019
If I am sinking
to where the beams of light
linger pale and thin,
I can't pull her with me -
like a boulder tied to her waist.
She needs to swim freely,
a dancer underwater,
and come up for air
where the sun kisses the glassy shell.

I need her to know -
not to know, but to see -
that I'm on my way up
to kiss the sun, too.
Jul 2019 · 182
Strip the bed
JP Jul 2019
Where does it hurt?
It may not bleed red and raw
but through that facile smile,
the narrow fear,
I see you.
I see the cost of comfort;
how the pain and privilege
live together in pretty paradox.
How you long to reclaim
your humanity in its fullness,
leaving the warm cocoon
to finally inhabit reality,
this country,
the one you were born to,
in all of its contradictions.

On this path to healing,
to wholeness
like a full moon rising,
there is no rushing.
For so much has been done
by us
to them, you,
to us, too,
that hides
in ignorance
and denial.
We have assigned White
to purity
and yet just beneath those gleaming sheets
is a mattress full of contradictions, of truth
about who we are.
Let's strip the bed.
Jul 2019 · 175
I want to be like morning
JP Jul 2019
I want to be like morning.

A time for singing;
where the unapologetic birds pronounce their shrill joy, their hopesong.

A time of forgiveness;
where the soft white light touches each thing anew, whole and enough.

A time of stillness;
where my neighbors wake in peace with themselves, gentle with each other.

A time of possibility;
where you are given the quiet chance to claim your birthright, your beautiful life.

I want to be like morning.
Jul 2019 · 450
Getting Stuck
JP Jul 2019
What happened?
An old familiar pattern.
I can see it now clearly;
the morning is quiet of chatter.

When shaken at the roots,
my mind goes swirling.
I lose my purpose
and all my learning.

Self-sabotage ensues,
no, never to hurt another,
but my partner still
has to watch me suffer.

Step to the side,
step back;
turn on the TV
and give the beer a crack.

Hours slip away
that can't be reclaimed.
In the fullness of this moment,
it all feels so insane.
Jul 2019 · 161
Maybe it's in the trying
JP Jul 2019
That fly pounded the window pane
head on
at full speed;
tap, tap, tap, and again
towards the light.

Only thirty minutes later
when I passed again,
I saw her body in stillness
and realized I'd witnessed
a valiant last effort
for the light.
Jul 2019 · 464
JP Jul 2019
My family has always moved west;
our brethren.

Now that we've hit the Pacific,
where to next?
Jul 2019 · 200
The drink
JP Jul 2019
I drained the glass
and yet
did not feel full.

I could drain them all
be with the space
clawing to be filled.
Jul 2019 · 154
Carve away
JP Jul 2019
Everything is already here,
at home,
waiting to be rediscovered.
All the pieces are buried and living awake;
you have already unearthed so many.
These are the foundation
of the castle
and it will bloom more intricate
as years pass
and your heart stays open.
You do not need to add anything,
to “improve” yourself,
but rather carve away the buildup,
the excess,
that society forces on a young person.
Like Michelangelo chipped away at the blocks
to uncover beautiful forms that were always there,
let this be your work.
Jul 2019 · 183
JP Jul 2019
An end to cobwebbed breaks in blood flow
and numbed out neutral in senseless times…
it feels good to be back.
Jul 2019 · 151
So simple
JP Jul 2019
So simple a choice
to step outside into this faint solstice eve
with the roar of cars quieting on the streets
and the big empty full of peach clouds.

So simple the freedom
to sit here gazing at the unmoving trees,
shaggy in their summer beards,
leery of the propellers above
breaking the delicious silence.

So simple the pain,
and deep the anger,
that starts in my belly and then rises
from the knowing that you can no longer
sit out somewhere,
pen in hand,
wondering at the beauty and sadness
weaved into each passing moment.

So simple a thing,
to accept,
and Dad
I'm trying.
6/19 For my father, a poet, who suffered a stroke two years ago and is no longer independent and writing, but still in good spirits.
Jul 2019 · 16.8k
Stay here
JP Jul 2019
Stay here
when everything says run.
Stay here
when the jaw grinds shut.
Stay here
when the breath runs thin.
Stay here
when you're out of your skin.
Stay here
when the drink calls quietly.
Stay here
when the voice says spitefully,
"you're not enough"
when it comes to this stuff,
running feeds the fire
and true healing requires
staying here.
Jul 2019 · 841
My truth
JP Jul 2019
Heartbursting and full,
the numbing has worn off.
Now, the weight of words unsaid are
a mighty river behind a dam,
stuck in my throat,
so they stay swirling in my head,
I mouth my truth,
but no sound trickles through.
That dam's been built strong
through these years.
So I'll say it here:
family, friends, colleagues,
my wife, my
you -
do you know how dearly I love you?
Jun 2019 · 240
good morning dad
JP Jun 2019
i know you used to wake early
and sit in the cold dark
to scribble those playful loops
into the truest of joys,
the truest of pains.
this morning i saw you
as a young man,
a young dad,
with that infectious smile.
your smile could put others at ease
and disarmed the fear we all carry
everywhere, all the time.
i was so closed-off then,
so hard in my belief
that no one understood…
i hope my shortsightedness
didn’t make you think i was mean.
i know watching you i learned kindness,
i learned that warmth to strangers
is a gift to the world.
i know you tried to connect with me
in the ways you knew,
and i want you to know you succeeded.
you are with me now
as i try to do no harm in this world
and live in a way you’d be proud.
you are with me now
as i write these words
in the cold dark.
good morning dad
Jun 2019 · 215
JP Jun 2019
How desperately it clings,
as if the spinning of the earth
might send us sailing into space.
I want to reassure it and
soothe it and calm it;
thank it for defending me,
but then say
it’s going to be okay
and we don’t need to fight

Let’s sit down
as brothers,
and hash out
the rest of our life

— The End —