Practical religion



I have a small shrine outside my bedroom doorway. Every time I pass the shrine I know I’m praying. Sometimes my eyes glance to the side as I pass. Most often I can keep moving. Then there are the times I stop and I bow my head. Or sometimes I have to raise my arms up high.  It all depends on how much I have to say.

Also … I  start the day with a really good breakfast and when I get down to the end,  I always leave the last bite for the garbage gods.

I definitely give the neighborhood trees my allegiance … nothing overt … I just make sure I look up as I pass. And I’ve started to pick up any litter I find in the alley.

As you can see,  I try to spread my religion throughout the whole week. When I pass people on the sidewalk, I look them in the eyes to see if they see me. If they do I’ll smile. Otherwise we can stay invisible. I show respect.

Sundays are different.  It’s not because it’s religion. They’re looser. I admit, it’s a little hard if I’m lonely because then it would really be nice to have someone to tighten things up. But usually everything’s great. And I don’t need to pray on Sundays. It’s a free day.


artist: Mitsi:b

The blade



All these people on the street, I’m thinking, we’re all knives

we’re all knives but these other people, they’re the handles

I’m a blade


pacing back and forth

back and forth on the curb

panic perched on an edge with papered wings

it’s just a bridge   just a bridge   just a bridge

I’m a blade

the papered wings finally open and

I walk across


in the restaurant I tie on my apron

I take orders   bring food   walk up and down

up and down aisles

smelling strong coffee and old food

everyone talking

and their voices open wide in my head

mouths move    words pour out    I keep moving faster

surprised there’s meaning

the whole room

one long sentence

it’s poetry in motion


the $1000 car is a boat too big for handling

I’m too tired cross country driving falling night

I have to get there    have to get there

you know I have to be there on time if I know what

but now hard comes the rain

and then harder a somnolent coating

car light prisms smearing all the windows bright white

in the middle of the bridge

the papered wings open wide

and I say

“close your eyes it’s a dream”

and it is

a dream in this moment


my car’s bumper a foot from the campground tree

parked like an expert valet all breakfast voices and sunshine

I wake with not a clue how I got here

having slept without knowing it the rest of the night

a woman with her kid walk by

close to my window but

everyone seems miles and lifetimes away

something opens as I look all around me

the papered wings fly out and I push them away

starting the ignition automatic all action

I turn from the sun’s mourning light

on my way west again numb to all handles

I’m a surgeon cutting into muscle to remove the strain

I’m the blade


The deep has always loved me

deep woods


The red tailed hawk still perfect but road killed the colors of fall

The drifting snow burying the uphill windows to lit transoms

The absolute quiet of white

 The starving deer the dogs ran down in that hardest of winters

The deer’s bones in the morgue of the freezer until I would bury the bones in Spring

The brush fires I tended that burned hot or low for days under late snow or Spring rain

The old ghost tricking me in dreams to remember our children born of plunder and rape

The gourds that looked like the swollen bellies of whales

The purge of the creek in spring run off stripping bark clean from tumbling dead trees

The surprise of the rising waters climbing my calves the ground saturated to jelly

The path we called Cat Butt turned into a river the sound wild and competing with returning brown geese

A lightening flash snaking the grounding wire silencing the music playing inside with a preacher’s thunder

The swath cut through the static of long berry brambles catching hold and refusing to let go

The oldest grapevine living with the elder pine protecting each other with their roots suckling water from the bog

The young maples I sang with as I learned their grove’s language

The low valley road no one wanted to travel that opened my throat to the sound of a vowel’s reaching

The last call and thumping cry shock wave of each tree falling as loggers clear cut nearby

The hummingbird sitting in stillness on the tip of the branchless dead tree each summer’s day at four

The oceans of colored mushrooms swelling the deep woods just that one wet season

The bed of lace and leaves tatted by oak’s tannin where I lay in surrender to soft rain

 The purple woman’s hands of black cohosh rising from wet soil dressed in the mysteries of Spring


Photo: Deep Woods by Nicholas_T  ( )