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Whispers Willow


Whispers Willow

Reverie: Vol. 1

On Reverie

I purchased the passport size brown leather Midori from a shop in San Francisco in September of 2015. The blank pages inside were cream, and without line. I ordered a coffee at a cafe off Market and sat, staring at the paper. I might have sketched an outline of the ferry building along the embarcadero or jotted down the neighborhoods I wanted to visit with my daughter who sat beside me. Instead, in the midst of honking and skateboarding and walking dogs and barking pedestrians, I found myself writing a few thoughts down, a diamond to mark the end of each. Not complete thoughts. Certainly not essays. I did not set out to write poetry. Nor did I aspire to philosophy. I simply recorded my musings, about whatever came to mind.

And many months later, after filling one notebook, and then another, and another still, I realized I didn’t have a single idea as to what it was I had been writing.

Some leaned poetical, more rhythmic in nature, though I have studied little of poetry and feel ill equipped to make a definition, and still less certain of my willingness to call anything I create poetical. But to call all of these thoughts philosophy or essay was similarly without fit to those that seemed more desirous of embracing the beauty of language and the pleasure of veiled meaning.

Verse, prose, composition, expose—nothing quite fit. Until I stumbled on the word reverie. Reverie is a day dream. A musing. A single thought. This described, better than any other word, the scribbles I’d been jotting down. So I decided, upon accepting the inner call to send forth what follows into the wild, that these musings must be known as reverie.

Since reverie is not a commonly defined genre, but rather a literary construct without a rich history of convention to guide it’s use, it seems prudent to make a few definitions and points of clarification. A reverie (rev·er·ie, rhymes with every) is a singular thought expressed in writing. It need not be rhythmical, but it can embrace rhythm. It need not rhyme, but rhyme can be used. It need not be overtly logical, nor cryptically puzzling. It need not be long or short, beautiful or simple, flowery or plain. A reverie is simply a thought, a day dream, a musing in any written form.

Revery (pronounced the same) is plural for two or more reverie. A person who composes reverie can be referred to as a reverist. And the genre is known by the singular form of the word, reverie, not the plural.

I suppose reverie, as a category of the written word, is suited perfectly for someone like me who can’t decide what it is that he or she is creating, and doesn’t like the idea of having to force it into one genre or another. It’s a big tent idea, encompassing, in part, poetry, philosophy, short fiction and memoir. Reverie is well fit to the task of containing the often contradictory thoughts ponderers can be prone to in a single, otherwise hot mess of a work. If you find the writer, or reader, inside you is similarly unable to sit in one place and behave for five minutes in a row, I hope you find reverie a liberating construct.

Reverie Vol. 1


the silence of this cherry blossom cathedral

where gnarled branches and iron lampposts form buttressed walls and coffered ceilings

broken by the hushed kisses of college lovers lost in firsts and seconds

and drifting pedals on the brisk spring night air

this is where crying fathers send daughters who used to make welcome home stickers with stacks of construction paper and finger paint

the same color pink as lips on a third date with a boy who she has already tried on to see if his last name rolls nicely with mrs

never again will cafeteria noodles taste as good as the ones walked to hand in hand on pebbled paths beneath lantern lit white pedaled glass


i rolled my window down

and felt cold air move through my fingers

a pretty bit of sky floated by

a puff of cotton candy

i plucked just in time

and popped in my mouth

a little shy, i looked behind

a wrinkled lady dressed all in black

grasped an invisible hand in the empty seat next

as if remembering her first taste of sky

shared with a lover who must have just died

we landed soon after

passing me, she smiled “i can’t recall the taste”

“do you not?” i said, for i knew she had lied

“indulge an old lady”

i thought for a moment, “a scoop of honey and lavender and the scent of waffle cones outside molly moon’s”

she leaned close to my ear, tear in her eye

“but didn’t you know, sky is best when shared”

so i saved you a taste

it’s wet on my lips

and i’m almost home


the quest for happiness requires great courage


black hair, blue eyes, black dress, blue topaz clinging to your collar bone black straps crossing blue lace tracing pale skin highlighted in the buzz of street lights and neon and the click of heels at 3am, silence broken by the rumbling truck two blocks down getting an early start on deliveries and the wicked laughter of two girls that we passed on a street corner a ways back and the red glow of a freshly dragged cigarettes glimmering in the white of your eyes haloed in the smoke mixed with a sheen of sweat from a slow evening turned to a hurried night and the scent of kegs dumped in the alley after closing and the shortest of pauses at the base of the stairs to your place and a hurried kiss that seems not to know where to land for all the thoughts swimming through the last few unexpected hours and a goodbye, a see you soon, that feels less sure than it was supposed to sound 

and walking around the corner to sit on a curb and the trucks and wrecked laughter is gone and all i have is another cigarette and the strung out sober hollow of bottles worn off and the fear of losing my last friend


i’m building a rocket in my backyard out of tube slides and playground hamster mazes and engines pulled from demolished dodge chargers and hummers and harleys and wwii air plane propellers, dozens of them bolted and strapped together

the captain’s lawn chair leans back where i sit and dream late at night when the city is sleeping and the lights have dimmed so much the moon bursts from the sky

and beside me, a chair from where you can take my hand to calm the tremors of launch as we rumble through layers of atmosphere

i will steer around pockets of steam and potholes to smooth the ride for you, because i know you don’t love to fly on homemade rockets and are only coming because i have promised you that thai noodles on the dark side of the moon are the best around for a few hundred thousand miles and because i promised you an adventure this sunday and you’ve always liked our adventures, haven’t you?

half the reason i want to go is to see how beautiful your eyes are when lit by half a sun and all the stars high above the curve of this world and its shining blue oceans will pale as i gaze into your life alight in the frail shell of the rocket i made for you

never are seconds or breaths more precious than when separated from death by a red plastic shell or when ferrying across our galaxy’s tides on a journey of unknown dimension and time

and i want to know how brightly you shine when lifted above all this world’s grime and the worries that form in lines across faces from unspoken words at just the wrong time

upon these reflections, why wait till sunday

shall we go now, you and i


how can everything be going my way

yet melancholy fingers creep under my door

through cracks in windows

grasping at toes

spidering up legs

if i were to stare into those cold eyes

for more than a moment

my marrow might melt into ice the only walls tall enough to keep me safe

or even momentarily bipolar

are dark red wine or sex or sleep

ever in that order


waiting for my train, the 11:32 out of york to edinburgh, wondering if there is a fare where i can stop over in the place where you and i are together, living in that village, the one where fields of uncut flowers line the road into town, where we found that library, the one with two chairs on the porch, where you and i read side by side for hours in the darkening light, and the cafe down the street where we shared brunch on sunday and coffee and scones, and the secret place where paths and woods on the edge of town were just what we needed to lose ourselves for an afternoon in ginger beer and blankets so small as to demand our closeness, and unknown hours blending to years laying over you, tracing the places where dresses fade to skin, and finally stumbling upon the forgetting, the little village on the road to edinburgh, the one where no life exists apart from you


could i sense the difference between the soul of a homeless man smelling of urine and shit, yelling at passers by

from the souls of those who pretend he doesn’t exist

what makes a soul’s stench?

what makes it beautiful?

are all souls born the same in their beauty or are some created with defects?

or do defects add something unique and precious?

can we artificially make our souls more beautiful with tattoos or plastic surgery?

are we all soft somewhere deep inside or can we make ourselves permanently and unchangeable hard?

what is the sound of souls?

do they bounce about and twirl when happy?

do they puddle when sad?

are some more talented, gifted, luckier, richer, born with better genes?

or is it in our souls that we are truly equal?


you call me beautiful

but i wonder how you can know i’m lovely if you don’t talk to me

i’d rather be adored for the heart i can give than hear again about my dimples

how quickly i’d trade your lies for wrinkles and a man who wanted only me

you have no idea what’s inside this shell you stare at so happily

how i’d never give up on you

how i’d love you after every fight

how i’d do anything to make your dreams come true

and you’ll never know because you only see what you want to see

—said the pretty girl


love is giving away the pen that writes my story and allowing someone else to write in my pages


i watched you go

creeping along a glassy ceiling

tempest in your wake

turned down frown scratched cross the sky

rumbling on

patiently paling beyond

the snowy peaks that mark my bonds

a cruel reminder that i cannot follow you

a piece of me sails over and under vapors

woven at its end around your fingers

clutched to your chest

i’m line by line unraveling

did your palm press

that dirty window by your upright seat

peanuts and tiny plastic cup of coke untouched?

did you spot the place where i said i’d wait for you?

the shore walk tucked between hedge and glistening wave

where we cast days and nights in each other’s eyes

here am i

baked stone bed curving gently under me

the same one on which you lay

brooding sun leering down

the only witness of our love

i watch with stinging eyes

as your white trail turns to sky

still i shiver

what’s left of me wrapped round my shoulders


merely a half-warmth that leaves me colder

eyes closed, seeking a moment

last night?— last week?—

on wooded paths where we would sneak

kisses until you were missed

and the smell of your cheek stealing logic from reason

but you’re not here

my stomach sours with every mile

five hundred more in just the last hour

five hundred miles of my tethered insides

flapping in the wind behind you

above the towers and traffic

and springtime showers

and i’m stuck here plucking fucking petals from flowers

is there enough of me?

will i go on so incomplete?

so unspun?

so drugged?— so run?—

fading until i am so little; no, none

so wretchedly long till this aching is done

and you’ve returned to me but then my sweet

whispers, parted lips, trembling hands

knit my pieces together in your arms

you’ll wrap me up with twill and skin

and fold us back to what has been

held tight so time won’t slip away

we’ll grin and laugh and sigh and say

“my love, how long since this begun?”

wise sun will wink, and tell no one

the old man silent, like always

and we will sink into the waves

to where dear lovers make their graves

and the hyacinths bloom in spring


take our love where tall grass sways

a ways beyond arching willow trees

past white rows and stacks of sleeping bees

where silver is darkening

beneath a sparkling obsidian night

there we’ll meet

you and i

where stars lie with fireflies

take our love up december slopes

unremembered in groves of hope

daring the hushed snow

knee deep

feet tracking in line

stretching under aspen and pine

and up across a splintered winter sky

traced to a pair of bared doors and nailed shutters

below attic gable panes

where children once lay

watching snow fall on christmas day

three more feet this week

with luck we’ll be holed up here

till april’s icicles weep

all we need is here

a porch of stacked maple

and sackfuls of staples

to forget a hundred nights

strolling through dreams by candle lie

let us stay here

you and i

with sighing stars in the lantern light

kneed our love in quilted linen

melt in moon and straying cloud

stirring low and still

mingled scents of chamomile

and after dinner coffee mills

bathed in whispered words

endless conversation turned to loosely dressed flirtation

your gaze considered its desire

a lingered stare

blurred from nearness

eyes no one alive has seen

or perhaps i never lived til now

your unveiled heart and hidden parts

coursing breath from my chest

forcing guess of what comes next

let us meet there

you and i

where stars die in fiery morning sky

we find our love in darkness and depth

a little death and i’m unable to suppress my obsession

softest skin turned to tack

as geese bump down your back

coals slumping

and flurries of sparks

hurrying up the chimney

floating away with a wish of whimsy

to where magic and grief greet on unlit streets

i open my eyes

when you kiss my cheek

and see how far our love has carried us

we watch this flock of stars

flee from under feet

on dawn’s gentle breeze

and all that remains

is you and me


loneliness is a state of mind that has little to do with being alone

the feeling can come when surrounded by friends, at a party, or in a crowd of a thousand people as easily as when sitting on a bench alone at midnight, gazing across the silent surface of a black water

the negative form of loneliness is an infection of the mind

a disease of whispers that says i am not enough

that i require someone else to validate my existence

but we are the only being capable of establishing our own value in any lasting or meaningful way

without internal value, no number of friends or compliments will help us fill the void of loneliness

but when we love ourself, being alone is less a curse and more a chance to hang out with our own best friend


where is the river large enough

that all the people of this world

could slip into its current

leaving clothes and silver and guns on the shore

and in there get lost in splashing and laughter fights

arguing mostly over who gets to wash caroline’s hair

or whether the smooth stones under our feet

are better compared

to rain soaked grass or melting ice

show me the path and let us come down

from these hills we’ve been dying on


hate is patient

it pretends to be love

it opens doors for you

it apologizes

it seduces and romanticizes you

all the while planting infections of fear

to enslave you

to make you useless

hate’s ambition is to make you nothing

love, even more patient than hate, scatters fear with truth

it seduces and romanticizes you to coax your guard down

to draw your fear into the melting heat of a lingering embrace

love’s ambition is to make you everything


why do we let go of the treasures we have

only to claim that we’d never let go

of the treasures we can never have?

why do we let happiness slip through our fingers up into the sky

only to swear we would turn our sadness to joy

if given the chance?

why do we watch life pass us by

only to promise ourselves that we’ll never neglect to hold our living moments tight

if life would but present the moments we’ve been waiting for?

why do we mourn the lost

while that which is here

can in our heart be never found?


last night, i watched you dance across the sky as moon chased sun from horizon

your fingers traced the atmosphere, running along its surface, ripples circling from your touch

and where you stopped, they who live in the clouds gathered around, building fires to warm toes under the cold darkening sky, singing songs to you, of beauty so endless no one has mapped the borders, of an untamable heart that beats to the rhythm of a thousand adventures flowing one into another until even the collapse of blissful exhaustion wrapped in arms and covered in kisses is still another perfect moment to collect and ponder how so much joy can exist in such a small pin prick of time, of your living light that breathes passion for life into all this world

and you danced on, your toes dipping the water here and there, fiery lights springing up after

i held my breath to hear the singing of wandering voices in the revolving night

the music entered me, tingled through my veins
and into my finger tips

and suddenly you appeared above me, descending in mist and fire

i prayed you would lay beside me for a while so i could feel your warmth fill me

and you did

i was tempted to touch you, even to just hold your hand in mine, perhaps to let our fingers intertwine, but whenever i got too close the warmth of your soul was too hot and i knew i could not contain the repercussions of what would happen if i indulged even one touch of your skin

so i focused on breathing




and tried not to tremble

for i was in the presence of


the author of this night sky, the girl who fills stars with shimmering light


take my hand and come with me

over spring’s peaks and younger wings

and nearly blossomed dogwood dreams

where future falls from the sky lit with dawn glimmering

and hope yawns with sparkling dew

in fields of evergreen

below an endless rising sun


our universe is vast and deadly

every corner of endlessness crushing down upon us from all sides

instant and horrific death to all that is known

yet this one speck, this grain of salt

bobbing in murky ocean void teams with life unquenchable

filling our senses

the mere pleasure of sun on our skin never fails to cheer and wind on our face

ever refreshing in cool rushing glacial flows

waves cresting under beating wings, the smell of crushed spice and scythed grass and wild lilies

there for the joy of those who wonder their existence

and here we are

safe from the harsh black void that ever longs to slither around our necks

wrapped in a blanket

stretching across the sky

invisible and shimmering to gaze upon


every day i pass a construction site where a women, wearing an orange vest and holding a yield sign, smiles and waves at every car that passes

i wonder if she knows how she brightens my life each day

but i don’t think she notices me waving back, wondering what the world would be like if we were all more like her

i’m going to miss her when the building is done


the whale does not question her meaning

she rises to the gates of her kingdom to spout air from her lungs

she sinks down into the depths, seeking life

from summer to winter she makes a journey of ten thousand miles

driven not for meaning but to wake each morning

for the first purpose of all living things is to survive except the one who is able to end her life with a single choice

the one whose existence is said to improve in the life after

her purpose must be more than survival or pleasure

otherwise the hope of better in what comes after would urge us to speed our death

our purpose must lie in those souls we would leave behind

to improve their lives

and do all we can to ensure we do not pass into the unknown alone


she came upon him in the graveyard, the shadow named i

for passing his borders, her life was required

but she begged for another day, promising all she had

for time to find a lover she’d lost along life’s way

so he made a deal with her

each new sunrise, bought with a gift

brought to the graveyard just before dawn

the brush of her lips

the song of her soul

a lingering gaze

the scent of her hair falling upon her skin

and so she came each night

leaving a piece behind

and less of her to remain in the morning light

and the shadow, who loved her long ago

who was forgot along life’s way

collected her pieces into his arms

until she came to die with him

forever in the graveyard


i sit on these rocks in the salty spray of midnight waves

staring into pitched fog pierced only by venus and airplane lights

the silence beyond the white crest calls to me

all that i cannot take i leave on the rocks

and wade into the icy foam as all the forces of my nature conspire to crush me

a lifetime seems to pass as i fight against the tide

my lungs and muscles burn

my mind begs me to give in until at last i find myself treading the deep

distant shore lists as i catch my breath

the world falls into silence

and the pain in my heart tells me it’s time

i whisper the words for only you to hear

they hover over the still water

then sink into the deep beneath

i feel the rumbling before it reaches my ears

the leviathan rising

around me it surges, snaking down the shore frothing white in the dim

until the great wave crests and falls

pulling me down in the the mouth of the beast

first thoughts turn to reconsidered seconds

i grasp for words so carelessly given

but they are no more

and so i die, fingers frozen and empty

and above me the waves continue crashing on the rocks like they always have

and always will

as long as we must say farewell


i lay below a low hanging forest canopy

watching three children row a canoe

upside down on fir and maple boughs thick with spring growth 

they plucked pine cones and acorns to skip across the water

making ripples shudder through the branches 

“we’re going to the underlands,” one said 

i sat up as they passed “can i come too?” 

“find the great willow at the center of the forest with branches reaching over the falls, then let the wind blow you until the last ray of sunlight passes from the sky” 

“won’t your mother and father wonder where you’ve gone?” 

“we have none”

“no uncles, no grandmothers, no friends?”

“the underlands are where forgotten children go, until the nightmares tell us we’ve grown”

i thought about following as they passed out of sight, but soon i was sure they were no more than a dream

and my bed of pine was so comfortable i fell asleep and forgot all about those children in the canoe and the place where they’d gone


where do dreams go to die after they’ve been slaughtered in the sky

weeping stars

blood turned to rain

bringing life to farm raised practicality

i wonder how they watch us, sad for the life we might have had together

before laying upon the alter

if we love stronger then dreams love longer

our fickle race always racing to raise the playgrounds of our past where we used to play six hours a day at a minimum

replaced with mid-rise condominiums

i think dreams dream of living again

rising from the graves of well tilled soil in wiser minds

dancing in moonlight with old men and ladies who wish they had more time to dream


the number of tourist buses that rumble by each hour is as good a measure of beauty as any other

or the number of heads that turn at passersby

can beauty be measured by the number of replicas sold beside banana boat tan lotion and aloha keychains in abc stores on kalakaua avenue?

the investment of time or money seldom correlates with beauty

rarity is a more trustworthy measure

until one considers the way wind moves through fields of uncut grass

so perhaps the best measure of all is the volume of love poured into creation

which is why humans have always found each other to be the most beautiful of all


write to me someday of what it’s like to be 23-years-old

i’m afraid i never got to be


paddle cross the water into fog where ghosts and memories embrace in wet air

we venture there and leave behind layers of all that life has lost

and gaze through frosted glass to our hopeful future past

whispered thoughts hover over ripples to the lover’s heartbeat of oars slipping into cover of darkness and underworld

fog is where old bones journey far from home driven by the tidal fear of dying alone


to dream is to adore your taste and the discovery of what you’ve left behind

a single strand

curled on the bed side stand

and the scent of your cheeks branded on my chest

the mark where you rest sweet face on pillow

i’ve wrestled with this how a girl and a fellow could fit so perfectly together

but reason doesn’t matter when i see your smile and i know for certain


we are blind to advantage

i will never know what it is to live without all i’ve been given by circumstance

unless i listen with courage to those who have not


what can a nation provide that is greater than freedom?

we can come together to build towers, dam rivers and fly among galaxies

yet nothing is more powerful than the right to choose

free people fighting to be left in peace have crushed many armies, art is beautiful because it flows from a free mind, love cannot exist without freedom of a heart

though all are born free, freedom can be stolen under threat of pain and there will always be those willing to swindle us out of our birthright

but most sell it for far less a price


we can never do more than our best, but we can always do less

and trying to do more often leads to subtraction

we shouldn’t add a second thought to a best that multiplies failure

but most slip into yesterday’s dirty clothes with a hurried sip of espresso

the odor of our errors in a persistent cloud around us

the rod of correction, our favorite motivational tool

used so often we recite stories to the mirror about the black eye and bruised knee in case someone asks

why can’t we stop counting success and failure and simply instead always do our best


it’s 2am

and yes i’ve been drinking

listening to that piano record that you cried to with a hot toddy

yes, i can’t stop thinking about your slender legs and how soft you are under my finger tips and the scent of vanilla and fig where your shirt collar turns to skin and how fire and ice melt in your eyes and how your laugh forms joy from the ashes of a lifetime of missing without knowing who i was missing

and how i want to wake to your face every morning forever

and how desperately i wanted to kiss you goodnight

and how i cried when you said goodbye


it’s 3am

i promised to not write you past midnight because we’re just friends or so we say

and only fools share words so early in the morning

but we said goodbye a few hours ago under the lights of university avenue and i walked slowly down dark alleys

in an empty silence, i realized i’ve been searching my entire life for you

and i guess i was just wondering if you’d like to have breakfast

and maybe

we can start eternity


i’m trying to ignore a guy sitting near

performing leg exercises as he stares at people in this cafe

for the last five minutes he has been flapping his knees feet together, knees apart, opening and closing his legs again and again in rapid rhythm

he is not reading or working

just flapping his legs and staring long at women

i’m trying to rotate my chair so i can pretend he’s not there

but i know it’s happening whether i see it or not


why is pain the price of happiness?

i am forced to choose between hurting one or another

the greater joy to be found, the more must be paid

though not always by i

why is death the price of life

i am forced to choose between killing one or another

the greater peace to be found, the more must die

though not always i


riding the old road to fall city with the sun glancing through branches and white trunks of half barren trees reflecting in the rear view mirrors, i slip through lingering red leaves floating on pockets of cool air hovering low in the gullies of a highway that refuses to be made straight

the scent of pine and living room fires wash over me, and everything good in this world seems within reach

like this old highway doesn’t just lead to that little town below the fall, but to anywhere

to that place where i stay up late with a new friend, talking of the laughter we shared over breakfast, or dinner the evening before, and making plans for the laziest of weekends with nothing we’d rather do than this exact moment


i feel you slipping away and wish i could read your mind or find just the right way to say i didn’t mean to fall in love

you must have known for a while now

if i could figure out exactly what you need to be the best kind of friend i’ll be that for you instead and we can just pretend that you don’t make me perfectly happy

and we can pretend that i’m not ready this very minute to turn my life upside down just to make you smile over and again until the blissful moments we collect fade into forever


the cost of your kisses

are measured in misses

of time pausing endless monologue

a lazy appeal swirled in pale

fog creeping in to steal this world away

the softest measure most precious

by candlelight and stillness

lips blushing my face

traced in dim garden night

plated sterling with pillows and lace

thoughts blur superfluous

as color is chased from all that surrounds us

abounding in faded quivers

of falling leaf whispers

and thieves charming heartbeats from sighs

this muse makes me too weak to rhyme

must i choose the left cheek or right?

for your lips say don’t speak, my love

just lay me down close to my mistress

where i may drown in the prose of her kisses


the soul of a jealous lover is a lair where walls are lined with chambered prayers, cocked words and ticking fears

he goes there every night, chained to the bed that transforms from feather to stone whenever he sleeps alone

rest is not known to the jealous soul

dreams are for lucky fools who haven’t shared a heart paired with another

who aren’t tortured for the joy of pain

interrogated by the endlessly dripping rain of morning after syrup coated stacks with another man

sleep’s ransom is the facts

stirred into coffee brewed stiff as 3am

they checked into sorento, fucked first thing, then had dinner and flirting

she said, we’re married, i didn’t mean to hurt you

it’s no consolation for those reduced to fornication, tangled in affair and forced to share sweating bodies doubled in sheets across town

so the sinner scrawls his pain down

pen flying fast across the screen

praying it makes the seconds seem to pass

until she comes again and life after death begins


most of what we associate with christmas is influenced by commercialism

tinsel wrapped up in wreaths

braided ribbon and gifts

tree farms, free cider with a purchase

hallmark movies and inevitable sequels

lights that dance in time with rudolf the red nose reindeer

nutcrackers and messiahs

ringing bells outside the grocery store

sleigh rides in the park

the color of santa’s suit was chosen in a manhattan office to maximize shareholder return

plastic baby jesus is made brighter each year to out shine the nativity across the street

is it possible to go an entire day in december without glitz and spending and jealously and show business and capitalism?

christmas should be a time to reflect on love

and if there is time, let us spend it at the dinner table


we have but a moment to live

let us not waste this one blink of eternity, our birthright, with gossip or hate or jealousy or fear

every idle thought or action robs us a moment from our dream

when we call in sick, we’re calling in sick on ourselves

make the most of each breath, for they are numbered

we wake each morning with less than the day before


when i am strong, you are my favorite weakness

and when i am weak, you are my greatest strength


to see a glimpse of your face, to be surrounded by your beauty, even for a moment of perfect in love ness, i would climb the highest peaks of this world, and still i would keep climbing, finding clefts in the sky to cling to, and crevices in the clouds to hold my toes until i looked out and the darkness of space lay over me salted with worlds and galaxy, and below, the curve of the earth spread out before me, a blanket for billions of souls, and yet your face would be all i see, captivated in perfect stasis, my heart stilled in obsessive wonder and all the world would hold their breath, not knowing why, not even noticing perhaps, until you kissed me and life could finally move on, atmosphere would be released to inhale and exhale in and out of eternal lungs and love would be known again in this cold corner of the universe and so the story of our union would continue, pages hastening to turn, and begin again, our perfect oneness united in life and warmth and wonder and love


just as we cannot make someone love us

we cannot make them hate us

we assume actions or words pointed in our direction are a reflection of who we are or what we have done

but emotions come from within

so the actions we take as a result of those emotions are also born inside

we insist on taking personally the actions and words of others

but they are really just showing us who they are


i live in a zoo

the zookeepers designed my neighborhood to have the optimal balance of wooded space and habitats

built by the brothers toll

it’s very much like a real human home

i even have running water and a working garbage disposal

my daily food rations can be delivered hot, or i can pick them up at the supply house

in order to simulate real life, we all work to get zoo credits, which are used to pay for free time activities, our rations and the construction and maintenance of our habitat

i don’t really know how it all works, but some animals seem to get more zoo credits than others

they usually live a little higher in the hills than the rest of us, and they get granite countertops, faux animal fur, and quite a bit more space inside their homes

we’re taught to want these things, but most of us get by just fine with ceramic tile and cotton and a mere two thousand square feet of air conditioned living space

it’s all so real, one doesn’t even realize they are living in a zoo most of the time

i didn’t know it was a zoo at all until last year

and even then, i just sort of shrugged

i mean, it’s a very nice zoo

i have everything i need

and the zookeepers are quite attentive

they keep inventing ways to make televisions larger and more detailed

so we can learn what real life is like outside the zoo without having to risk our health by leaving

our breeding is carefully monitored

i’ve heard of zoos where they ration babies like mashed potatoes

in our zoo, population is managed with peer pressure

we’re trained at an early age to laugh at the animals who migrate in minivans, or god forbid, those huge fifteen passenger monstrosities

so very few submit themselves to this humiliation

and it’s better that way because big families take up more than their fair share of the limited zoo resources

the zookeepers are always watching

to keep us safe

through an advanced system of cameras, speed sensors, and armed zoo police, we’re all kept relatively safe from the other animals

by some odd fluke of constitutional history, the zoo animals are also allowed to own weapons

it’s a strange thought that an animal would be allowed to own the same weapon as a zookeeper

i think it’s a relic of our past, from a time when we didn’t live in zoos and people just roamed the plains like buffalo

i saw a documentary about it

all the buffalo were made into rugs

so we’re all working very hard to get rid of the weapons, turning them over to the zookeepers through programs like pesos for pistols

while getting my daily recommended ratio of exercise this morning, i saw a boy standing out the sunroof of his family’s minivan

he smiled as we passed each other

seemed like the kind of boy who would leave the zoo someday

that’s allowed, but few leave for long

just long weekends and day trips mostly

i went skiing last weekend

we passed through an hour of the wild before arriving at the resort, which is really just another zoo

but it feels more outdoorsy, so that’s cool

i’ve known a few animals who left and didn’t come back

very wild, those ones

they just disappear

never to be heard from again

but i don’t know why anyone would ever want to leave

i like my extra wide sidewalks and automatic garage door openers and ultra hgh def tv that replaced the merely high def tv i used to get by with

i like my simulated food that tastes just like real pepperoni pizza, probably better in fact

i even like the job the zookeepers gave me

it’s rewarding

and i chat with the other animals more than work anyway

really, when you think about it, this zoo is a pretty nice place

i like living in a zoo


the trait shared by revolutionaries and pioneers and inventors and scientists and artists who have most changed our world is not wealth or power or education

but simply an insatiable desire for newness

this, coupled with the ability to create it, is the truest measure of genius


my old self, entangled and torn, bruised and bleeding, longs to be free from the chains i’ve wrapped over my shoulders and around my wrists and ankles and shackled to the stone floor

but there is no freedom to be found for my old self

the chains are too tangled

too rusted to break

so i must die and be reborn to be free

i feel the stabbing pain of loss

even losing what i want to lose for the good it brings upon losing can be painful

you are watching, in my eyes and the pain in my face, bits of me die, shards of me that i’m more than a little fond of, and yet still at peace with their melting

because my vision is set on the future, and i know i cannot move until the creature, the shapeless mass shackled to the stone floor is dead and my new self can rise and walk through that open door to where you are waiting in the afternoon light of a grassy glade

so know i’m happy to see these little deaths

but also know each one is a knife through my heart, cutting away a little of my old self, and that cold knife brings pain

pain i’m happy to bear for us

please don’t begrudge my pain

please don’t judge me, or feel this means i love you less

this pain is my love for you

nothing will stop me from rising

and this loss and bleeding and cutting i’ll gladly bear so i can give more

upon my rising, you will get not my shackled self, not my shadowy nothingness, spent and used

you will get newness and the best of me


you fear losing yourself and there is much to lose

but even now in the midst of your lostness you are more here, more present, more wondering, more you, than anyone i’ve ever known

a million doubts would suck any river dry, but you are an ocean

your presence is goodness and life without measure

i know you are afraid

you feel like a kite in the vast expanse of space, lost among the storming clouds and wind and swaying trees and ravens and thunderous flying machines

but you are not a kite

you are the sun and the moon and the stars

clouds can only block you from us little ones down here on the surface, and wind and trees and airplanes and birds of prey come and go, but your light is eternal, just as your beauty

and even when you are blocked by all these storms between and around us, i know you are shinning as brightly as ever, way up there somewhere

and all i must do to feel your heat on my face again is to wait

and that is what i will do

i will wait for you until storms pass and winds die, and airships stall in the sky, and trees grow tired of growing and fall with a crash and black birds search for another carcass because they tire of me beating them away

i will wait for your light on my face

how long?

as long as it takes


god loves because nature requires it

withholding love is impossible for that which is love

we see a shadow of this nature in ourselves

when someone we love hurts us deeply, and even though a part of us wishes we could hurt them back so they can see how it feels, we instead open our arms to them, not by choice, but because love compels it

so how can god not open arms to us if we are willing to accept the gift in return

love and nature conspire to demand it


humanity is remarkable, our ability to create and love and think

but in more ways than we’d like to admit we really are just animals

barely above a murder of crows in our ability to rely on rational thought rather than innate impulse

to be animal is to rely on instinct

and this is more than enough for many of life’s demands

but to be human is to think and feel and separate ourselves from the herd through uniqueness, uncommon dreams, and the definition of our own reality


we must honor emotions

they are formed for a purpose

though temptation to revise the validity of our feelings will come upon us when the moment has passed

truth is embodied in that moment and we must seek to understand instead of tucking away what we felt or dismissing it as something of less value than rational analysis

do not emotions have as much right to life as logic?

do they not provide color to our white and black existence?


haven’t seen you around for a while

sent you a poem last week about that one perfect day we shared in charleston

but my phone tells me the message hasn’t been read

i stopped by your house last night

you said it wasn’t safe to come

an empty bottle of syrah sat where you usually do when you need to write away the demons

the glass wasn’t quite empty

smeared with the lipstick you bought for our christmas date

perhaps you’d had enough

perhaps you’d disappeared

i called your name

searched every room

but you were gone

as i turned to go, a gust of wind swept through the open door carrying a twisting thread

hovering as if it had not the mass to fall nor the will to rise

i caught it 

the scent of you touched me for a pregnant instant

i curled the string around my fingers

slipped it in my shirt pocket

smiling at the memory of your hand

touching the fabric to feel how soft

was your excuse

i thought of all the places we’ve shared

elliott bay’s creaking wood floors and shelves of essays

the fallen tree deep in the woods where we knew no one would stumble upon us

the benches along lake washington

i think we’ve sat in each one

the harvest vine on madison, so small we laughed about eating with the chefs

the library at salish lodge where we snuck in and stole the fire’s warmth and a cup of coffee

the least of our sins

i went to them all

and found in the silence

floating down a hall

hovering in a corner

hiding beneath the undergrowth

trailing low across the water

threads of you

i wound each with the first

colorless blacks and greys

but as i collected your pieces

flecks of coral and late afternoon sunlight and running shoes yellow appeared

i purchased needles from a man in a fedora sewing patches on torn jeans in a street fair booth

he must have recognized the fear in my eyes

worry that i possessed not the skill

to weave your pieces back together

his shaking hand clasped mine as i turned to go

and he croaked four words above the din

“one thread at a time”


the heat of countless souls rolls by in waves of color

cars, buses, sirens, then a flock of cyclists

and everywhere walkers in suits and tank tops and beards

some yelling above the traffic

others buried in phones unlocked and loaded

joggers in thin shorts, cowboys in boots

on and on the colors steam past

left to right right to left

my coffee is cast with ripples as bassy rap votary curses by a little slow

even finches and pigeons aren’t missing out on the parade that never ends

passing the pastry shop at columbus and kearny

a bus stops 5 feet from where i sit

the young woman who seems confident in her application of deodorant shares with me her dismay at the man standing next as a crowd of travelers push up the stairs and the population density of our shared square mile is felt a little more acutely

the bus fills my mouth with exhaust and is gone

it’s just me along the shore of this asphalt river

i wonder what i might catch if i tossed a line in the water?

a fashionable yet understated upwardly mobile millennial going out for drinks in chinatown would be my guess

i consider the lure to catch such a creature

a bohemian top from urban outfitters

or marvin gaye on vinyl

one hit wonders’ with a chorus reference to marvin gaye more likely, recorded in digital and converted to analog in an effort to stem the bleeding into a world of single digits and mice that exist to be pushed around

most don’t notice me, like the girl in high heels and too much skin for this brisk wind that keeps hot coffee cupped in my hands

a few cast glances in my direction 

perhaps wondering why i’m just sitting here

no laptop, no phone, no earbuds

who does that?

i wonder how many are wondering if i could be as lonely as they are, though we are surrounded by a million lives 

each of us complete and formed and hustling to afford the rising rents of a place that seems popular enough that it might lose a thousand buses brimming with people to st. louis or some other place i saw from an airplane once, some other place that was a gateway to a new world long ago

and no one would so much as miss the exhaust i open my mouth to ask the woman what she’s living for as she clicks by

from the pace of her metronome

late for something

but she is gone before the words form

and i feel the loss of what might have been an hour lost with a new friend


sometimes i feel so transparent to you, which is sort of like being around a telepath, uncomfortable

but i guess you already knew that


assumptions are deadly

ever colored by bias and fear

the killers of life

but our defender is truth

requiring work and patience

but life, the purest and truest kind, can never be built on assumptions

so let us seek truth, no matter what the cost


all tastes are acquired

children are not born with a preference for beans over fish

while most prefer sweet over sour

all develop a love for a variety of sour, tart, salty, tangy, squishy, mushy, bitter, spicy, or cultured

in countries where beans are eaten every day, all children eat beans

but in countries with much variety, some children hate beans

many people seem to develop a desire to try new things

these tend to be less picky eaters

stubborn, narrow minded and safety seeking people tend to have a longer list of foods they refuse to eat

it seems to take a half dozen tries to begin to acquire a taste for something new

after another dozen, many would say they enjoy that food

another dozen and we might say we love it

we can only crave what we’ve been exposed to

it helps to enlist an evangelist for a new food, someone to teach us how to eat it, show us where the good restaurants are, and how to know when the food is good or bad

the highest quality version of something new is always preferable

the best places to try sushi or greek for the first time are not under fast food arches or in grocery store delis

when trying something new it’s helpful to disguise it with other flavors we enjoy already, gradually reducing the masking flavors as we become accustomed to the new

sweet coffee with generously poured cream can soon become mere coffee and cream, and eventually a dark bold

it seems possible to acquire a taste for all flavors with enough exposure


the heart responds differently to witnessing pain from one time to another

sometimes we have a pure compassion which increases in proportion to the love we share

but even when love is present, our compassion can be overrun by selfishness

and when their pain feels like an attack, compassion gives way to anger

unless our love is so strong, so powerfully selfless, that we overcome our defensiveness

and allow our own pain to increase to lessen the pain of the one we love


i bought my sixteen year old daughter a car for christmas

the question first asked by all who hear the story was did i put a big red ribbon on it

thank you lexus commercials

this is now the expectation of a loving father

but those ribbons are hard to find and harder still to assemble according to the reviews on amazon

so we settled for a dozen balloons

at least they were red

the brotherhood of fathers who have watched daughters disappear around the bend of a neighborhood corner, completing the transition from diapers to duplos to driving, share this experience of numb disbelief, that this creature who once fit in my right hand, who napped on my chest during saturday football games, who only ever wanted an american girl doll from santa, is now driving to the mall with three giggling friends and a vague promise to not overspend my credit limit

and so i sit on the porch, seemingly with no other choice but to adopt a rocking chair life where wondering whether i forgot to write the number for the motor club in her journal has become life’s chiefest concern

never is a house more quiet than in the moments after a child drives away

and i laugh with friends about how nice it is to have someone eager to pick up cans of tomato paste from the grocery store, but most of me wishes i could take her for a walk to get ice cream, or for a bike ride through fall’s leaves after just taking off the training wheels

and i realize for the first time i’m thinking about grand children, and finding a path toward the vicarious life, and trying not to think about how many more goodbyes must happen between now and then


nothing so lovely as coffee, the near warmth of a friend, and the rustle of pen and paper on a long rainy morning


love is wild


it does not obey

it does not yield to wishes or demands

love can give more than life and take more than death

love has destroyed civilizations more quickly than any war

and formed more by the hands of those who are desperate for


the most powerful word is why


i stare up the mountain

looming, grinning, friendly as death

beckoning me forward, to climb, to die, but my feet don’t move

my hands reach into the darkness behind me, hoping to catch the touch of another

someone to pull me back

yet i am alone

and it is time, heavy as a miscarried father’s day

i pass through the doorway brittle iron, caked with ice

i look back once, unable to resist searching the coal emptiness

no longing hand from the fog

no farewell

no “when will you return?”

i face the crevasse, my deeds written in slate slung around my shoulders

movement in the bushes

starving eyes blink

snow stacked above me, a mortician cloaked in white leering over cracked branches

i reach a crossroads

five paths, gliding up and deeper in to unsteady slopes

which to choose?

i packed no bag for the journey

no tent or sleeping sack

no return from the mountain

no return to the shadow who remains behind courteous and gentle, a shell left for the faces i used to know

the ones who may from time to time check in on me over tea at bethany’s

they marvel at the pain of loss

remember chester and grace?

oh how we miss their faces!

but what about the lost?

who considers the pain of the dead?

no one

because death is loneliness and loneliness is forgotten by those who have never been forgotten

but those who journey up the mountain leaving behind shadows and shells pass each other on the way thinking back to when we were alive

when we were known

but we do not smile, not even a wry twist of the lips

we clutch hand to chest

the gash of blade in flesh is fresh

pain fades for the living, not the dead

relief is not for shadows

nor forgotten ones who journey up the mountain

i close my eyes, place one foot forward not sure which way to go

but finally realize it matters not

every path leads to death and what does it matter?

all who die on the mountain are alone


it seems all too often

the kindest, gentlest, most others-centered people

get run over in our collective rush to lift up the selfish, rude and self-important

and it makes me sad


the degree to which we believe is often equal

to the degree with which we want it to be true


waves a ways off crash into rocks at half the speed of sound with a lower octave of rushing and the dusting of foam that falls slowly on those who climb too close along the snaking coastal peaks plunging into sands that stretch below the waves much further than we consider when distracted by castles made from the stuff, dried by unfiltered sun

is this why time passes so slowly on beach days?


we are drawn to the old and vintage

our world is changing too fast

we strive to connect to roots

something familiar

if a thing has been around long enough, it must be good

it’s been tested and makes us feel less risk in the choosing

we lavish sense on the old whether deserved or not simply because its age exceeds our own

we’re weary of decisions, preferring to rest on the choices of others

and since this thing is still around, having been chosen by those before, we might as well choose it too

we are impatient for history and long to brag to friends about the time we procured from someone shortly dead

relics are a time machine, our shortcut to rarity


matter is movement

nothing is still

neutrons and bird songs

nations and minds

mountains and times

the fit of fallacies

and orbits of galaxies

choices are not binary

there is no, yes or maybe

there is only movement

we are never truly decided

we are only consistent in the progress

until we are not

movement is speed plus direction

slow or fast

but there is no stoping

whether change in vibration

exploding to imploding

rising to falling

progressing or regressing

life is everything but constant

except in constancy of change

even death is shifting from one form of matter to another

from one soul state to something more

our prerogative in life, as in death, is only to manipulate the speed and direction of our migration

we are not lords of yes or no

we are paddles in a churning river


many of the greatest politicians, athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, and even spiritual leaders have not just a healthy ego, but an extraordinary confidence in their transcendence, in what one might call a self-entitled view that they deserve to be at the top, that they deserve to feel the eyes and ears of the world upon them

these tend to believe no one else is better suited to the task at hand

that their path toward the top is destiny

at the same time, i read and hear from many lesser known thought leaders of the perils of ego, how we must be put aside, how we must seek humility, how we must pass the ball to a team mate when the game is on the line, let someone else take the last shot before the buzzer

and i can’t help but notice that many of the people who speak of the perils of ego are, at best, clumped across the upper crust of this massive heap of humanity to which most of us belong

and it is these who embrace their ego, whose ego is so large it seemingly can’t be measured, it is these who make up the constellations above to whom we look to find our way in the dark


as emotions become powerful they overflow from our mind into our body

though some people show feelings more freely, the effects can usually be seen with just a little sadness

words become more costly

our posture sags as does our face

we walk slower, as if less certain that we need or want to arrive wherever we are going

as sadness grows, we become more aware of our breathing

requiring conscious effort

talking becomes painful

our eyes burn as salty water beads in the corners

great sadness can cause a body to convulse as if in torment

but a different sort of pain than we feel from a pinched finger or skinned knee or broken bone

our souls are crying in agony

our lungs heave and suck air in gusts without words to describe what we feel

indiscernible sounds escape in bursts

water springs from inside us emptying our insides of the pain as if we must sink into a river to wash away the torture and cleanse the hurt and toxins away

in the midst of great sadness we may explode in a burst of laughter that makes us feel we’ve betrayed our own hurt

like a madman mocking his prey

a joyless laugh that haunts

we may find ourselves immobilized by an uncontrollable need to run or fight or spasm every muscle in our bodies to drive the hurt from our flesh

and when the tears have ended, our bodies are empty

a cavern remains

but it’s in this hollow place that we can begin to build something new


the sting of this life is a razor cut that won’t heal

every time a clot begins

a stray thought rips the scab away and blood gushes again

happiness is the rarest of commodities

even those who spend their lives submerged in the mines under oceans do not often find so much as a kernel

comfort is elusive for the fool who sets out to find happiness

wolves wandering winter’s tundra are more likely to fill their empty stomachs, though all hope is buried deep in the snow

our desperation convinces us we have found a morsel

perhaps forgotten by some unluckier breather of air

but our tooth breaks on the frozen stone we thought was meat

our mouths fill with the bitterness of our own blood

and we turn our faces back toward the onslaught of this endless winter


i brought my complaints before god and sat still waiting for a response

none came

so i asked, what would you say to me, here am i open to anything

and finally after much waiting and asking, i heard a response faint on the wind

“i love you”

but i was not convinced

how can you love me?

life is pain

again i heard in the rustle of leaves

“i love you”

i demanded explanation

i’ve been searching for happiness and just as i think i might have a little in my hands, you ripped it away

that isn’t love

but still i heard

“i love you”

but i don’t understand

“i love you”

but this hurts

“i love you”

you hate me

“i love you”

no other response came

and then i remembered my promise

to hear whatever god would say

but i didn’t like the answer


dance is emotion through movement

anger joy sadness lust peace flow through our minds and overflow into our stomach and shoulders and back and legs and neck and
face and arms and fingertips

music heightens senses, filling ears and bones with melody and beat

dance flows from our feelings

and changes them too

the sight of shifting others with or against marries our eyes with the emotional motion

and the taste and scent of salt completes the choreography

emotions are essential to life

we dance because we are human

we dance because we are alive


take me where the bumble fairies of oregon valleys hover in the midst of grape vines, plump with wine at the hands of sun hats and leaned backs and the smell of fresh cut soil gives lift to fairy wings and butterflies who flap in lazy rhythm for the scents and sun rising is all that one needs for flight on a harvest day

i taste the jam spread thick over sourdough, crisp and hot

i feel the fullness of shady breeze and pinot grigio fresh from the icebox and the box of blueberries brought over by the neighbors this morning with half an hour’s catching up on gossip and weather and the meaning of forever


it’s hard to imagine anything ugly exists in this world while sitting along the water of leith by dean village

brick walls and rock homes and great leafy maples rise on hillsides above the creek trickling under arched bridges and over pebbles and under hanging ivy and over fallen limbs on its way to comely bank for an almond turnover and breakfast tea

outside the corner studio, a man patiently offers advice to a young artist about the best way to arrange his portfolio at the upcoming show

a women, arms crossed tightly across a yellow dress, smokes along the rail of a narrow bridge

and i wonder how often it crosses their minds that few in this world can step outside their office doors to such a place

and that ugliness does exist, even if it feels a far off dream while under the spell of these waters

and i realize with delight that today i share their workplace

so i sit on the stone bench across from the women who finishes her cigarette

her footsteps fade as she clicks around the corner

and i find the man and the young designer have disappeared

or perhaps they were bewitchings of this place

to scare away the impatient, those unwilling to wander and rest and wait

so i greet the creek and falling leaves and ancient carved stone as respected co-laborers

hoping to have earned the right to sit with them for a while

beauty is their most natural talent, i tell them, but some of us must work for it


i went to the mariner’s home opener along with forty thousand others who seemed to share my enthusiasm for carbonated libations and watching the game on tv monitors while waiting in line for twelve inches of encased steaming ground meat with mustard

i’ve been to a hundred similar gatherings and never considered all the stories that intersect for those few hours

having little in common before and divergent paths after

at this particular game was a couple who met a month ago on a dating website

the next morning the woman’s foot was found in a recycle bin

i don’t remember what i did that evening after the game, maybe listened to a record and read aurelius

while some guy chopped up his date in a bathtub

every day we intersect with countless people in line for americanos, stopping and going on the interstate or sitting in the cubicle next

but our stories split as we turn our heads

i wonder what might happen if we tried in some small way to improve the journey of those we encounter instead of never considering what might be waiting for them when they get wherever they are going


darkness conceals ugliness, but light shows truth for what it is

and even the greatest beauty requires light to be seen

all is void of color in darkness, but light brings a rainbow

all life flows from light, nothing can exist without it

light is power and warmth

oceans are carried to the sky through its strength

light is grace

even those who have hidden in caves all their life need only step outside to be basked in brilliance

light has no partiality, it shines equally upon all

light is eternal

it has always been and always will be

but light is not omnipresent

it cannot extend beyond the boundaries of its domain

when mass becomes too great, light cannot escape and like a black hole in space, we pull all things inward when we accumulate gravity

turning light into darkness around us, we can no longer be seen

nor can we see

only when the surplus we have amassed is cast aside can light fill us again

only then is new life possible

darkness must be maintained

planned and worked at

but light fills the voids wherever no impasse exists

light longs to encompass all

most intensely in the midst of the greatest dark, and never more beautiful than when cutting through inky pools

light is instant

no checklist or process

remove the dam and it appears

all is possible in the presence of light

we have been given power over the light in our own kingdom

we are the masters of our own darkness

we need only draw open the curtains


cryogenically frozen souls have no rest

no place to live

the body to which they are attached may rise again someday

so they wander florescent white halls where frozen bodies await rebirth

until protestors explode the building and they can finally sleep


the tolt building rose four levels in stacks and rows of chipped red brick above the shady courtyard where three women stood chatting over the gurgling of a stone fountain

“ali, you’re going to fit right in here,” said eleanor, touching the arm of a women wearing a black tank top and jeans “sara’s up on three and has a couple sweet boys, and lucy’s been here longer than me, and she has two, and pat, over there on the corner, has the sweetest girl”

ali set an open u-haul box stuffed with hangers and towels and a silver framed sepia portrait on the fountain wall “i had no idea so many families lived in the building”

the third woman, barb, laughed “cats, not children”

“wonderful,” ali said, laughing along “an apartment full of single, middle age women with cats”

“suzy has eight,” eleanor said

“but she’s only supposed to have two,” barb added

a women in a white and grey striped, knee length sun dress rolled up to the curb revving a vintage red stella

she tripped getting off and waved to the women

“kelsey,” eleanor said, “is that your new scooter?”

“it’s so cute,” barb said

a man backed a red harley in next to the scooter as kelsey joined the others

barb leaned in to kelsey “you made a new friend and didn’t tell me?”

“i met him at the motorcycle endorsement class last month, i was nervous about the hills and he offered to ride home with me for, you know, emotional support”

“he sounds nice,” barb said

“yes, he does seem very nice,” eleanor said

barb and eleanor exchanged looks

“keep it down you two” kelsey poked barb as the man walked up the stairs to the courtyard

“christian,” kelsey said, “these are my neighbors, barb and eleanor, and ali just moved in

barb is a professor, and the world’s foremost expert on caveman pornography”

“we’re all heading down to the egyptian to watch tonight’s noir,” eleanor said, “care to join us christian?”

kelsey answered for him “i think christian and i are going for a ride”

“well that sounds nice

the women laughed

the next day, the tenants of tolt building were more busy than usual, texting each other about how the sun had come out and how lovely was the view from their porches and kitchen windows, and the fact that a red motorcycle was still parked out front, next to kelsey’s new scooter

a number of women were tending flower and herb boxes hanging from their sills, or doing dishes at kitchen sinks with a view of the street, or washing front room windows when christian and kelsey rode down the road late in the morning, at which time kelsey’s phone began buzzing with messages like:

i didn’t hear that boy’s bike last night, what time did he leave?

but the phone buzzed on, unnoticed, left on kelsey’s bedside table


you and i have one dance with life

what matters most is who we’re holding when the music stops


the third glass at that little italian place might be to blame for this

“we have passports and money and enough good writing paper for a journey, and there are stores for whatever else we might need, why stay any longer?”

just as i said it, a train rumbled around the bend toward the station across the street

“this town has been lovely,” my companion said

“but there are many lovely places”

she smiled “and you promised to show me them all”

i slipped a few colorful bills under the empty glass

two women dashed across the street, one in a bright red dress, the other teal, with sleek leather weekenders thrown over their shoulders

they seemed as good a guide to adventure as ever i’ve known, so we followed

the ticker board clicked through to the last train leaving tonight, the 11:55 to paris

a man at the ticket booth waved us on with a conspiratorial wink “get your tickets on the train”

the woman in red and the woman in teal seemed to be chasing the same dream as my companion
and i

we followed them up the stairs to platform four, blonde hair and brown flew behind the women as the conductor yelled out the engine car in a language i don’t understand

the four of us were the last across the gap

the doors slid shut

the train began to roll

i grasped my companion’s hand as we sank into the last two chairs, and felt her hair fall soft against my neck as her head found my shoulder

i tried to remember the name of the city rolling past in streaks of light as the train and wine lulled me into a dream

and faintly i heard the woman in teal ordering chilled chablis, and the woman in red, a glass of chinon

and i could think of no better way to speed our journey on the last train to paris


most days, rejection comes a dozen times before my morning coffee cup is empty

over the years, i was often hurt by this

but i realized i’m in good company

artists and inventors and revolutionaries and romantics tend be ignored or written off or forgotten more than most, and i’d love to be one of them

no one in all history has heard no more, had more doors slammed in the face, or collected more spit in the eye than the one who created it all

so now, rather than collecting rejection like trophies of inadequacy

i count myself fortunate to share something in common with such a crowd


we begin life by receiving

some respond by giving back

they desire to return the grace they’ve been given by dropping off bags of groceries when money is tight, making introductions when unemployed, or lending an ear when hurt multiplies

we all owe our existence to the giving of others

without endless gifts, all of us would die as infants

we continue to take through childhood and into adulthood

often much more than we give

we attend school paid for by others

we receive gifts for our childrens’ birth and when we marry and when we buy our first home and when our cupboards are bare

we are never able to repay all of those who have given so much

but one day, many find we need less than we once did and are more likely to possess what is needed by others

each person’s response to this change says much about our character

after a lifetime of receiving do we begin to give?

or do we begrudge each need, choosing to remember the times we pulled ourselves up by our own straps instead of the times we were incapable of solving our own needs

though at times in our lives we received all of what we need as a gift, do we now look in the mirror with pride for giving back a percentage of our abundance

let us be generous in everything, for all we have is a gift


all is alive

all is dying

progress is measured by the number of moments stolen from death’s sickle

all life is born in the death of another

every second, six hundred million tons of hydrogen must perish so half our world can be bathed in light

so oceans can become clouds, which become rain, which turn generators into electricity to power machines that transform chickens into dinners so a human can steal another few moments from death in the form of slit plastic over broccoli and breaded meat, only three hundred calories per serving

death is an essential ingredient of life

all life erodes

all matter marches toward nothingness

only death can pause the pilgrimage

the death of one speck allowing another speck a reprieve on its certain journey to zero

all matter must fight time’s erosion by accepting the gift of another’s death

we will never appreciate our own growth until we accept that something else must die to make it possible

we can never grow large or powerful enough to escape the inevitability that one day our death will be necessary to provide life for another

our purpose in life is to honor the deaths that have made our breath possible by ensuring each death we have dominion over leads to the most life possible

because not all death leads to life

much is wasted

and once death has been wasted it will never again bring life

this is the universal erosion

all matter orbits nothingness

the curve of our course constantly reducing until all is nothing

each human is uniquely called to slow the erosion

and only humans of all this universe are capable of choosing to draw more life from death, to choose more life over less

this is what it means to be human


to say i miss you is like saying i miss when my heart used to beat

i have no other words safe to share for fear my tears would wash these i’ve written away
before your eyes could see
how you are the constant breath inside me


this world is stocks around my neck, shackles around my ankles

i long to be free


the purpose of life is to band together with our fellow sojourners, past and future, to survive with as much whatever as can be found in this pisshole of a world until time arrives to enter whatever waits for us over there


like clouds over the expanse

present, growing, bright, powerful, storming, ever new

always ready to pour out upon you a soul drenching flood

this is my love for you

never outrunable

no place dark or far enough where i will not pursue you

and when i have soaked your bones

i will be the fire that warms you


texting is a monotone conversation

between masked people

talking at the same time

in slow motion

ever responding to what was said five minutes ago

where one can evaporate for any amount of time without notice


i’m sorry is the only thing i know how to talk about with you anymore

i guess that’s why i listen so much

even when we’re together i’m alone

even when we’re naked i’m clothed

you think you want the truth

and it crackles inside me

like i’ve swallowed an electrified razor wire

but i can’t bear the thought of cutting you

so i find all the pieces of shrapnel i’ve created and swallow them before you cut your feet on the way to the sink for a glass of water sometime before sunrise

this is love after infatuation

is it still love to make you bleed on my pain?

you say it is, but you don’t know the razors i swallow for you


to a bird, hovering is art

she flies because she can

marlin jump from the sea, turning in flight, splashing on sides

art and beauty, because they can

because they are so compelled to proclaim who they are

we leap into the air, we sprint, we dive, we write, we sing, we create, because we are human

because we can

not to make the world better or because it is our job or for applause, but because it is our nature

the more we embrace our humanity, the more meaningful our art becomes and the more beauty we see when we look at each other, our fellow artists

and the more beauty we see in the mirror

creating for joyless profit is work

but creating for ourselves is art


your silhouette, framed by shadow and city light, never looked so lovely

curled in a blanket, then later, every curve of bare skin cutting light from darkness, like you’ve somehow done to me, changing me with a touch into someone i barely recognize but always wanted to be

you’ve shown me how a person can wade into something new, how your branches root into my being so tightly that to remove you would do more than merely end me

i’ve carved out a part of me, a favorite corner of my heart to be your home, a place no one has known but you

nor ever will another

this is where i carry you whenever we’re apart, and what burns when you are near


i hope you hold my letter in your small hands as you go

and find my love for you in every quiet moment

every kissing alley

every taste of moonlight

every flying bird

every ray of sun on your hot skin


sunlight shines in the corner of my eye, a guitar plays softly, cars pass, their shadows cast across me

my eyes burn, my chest burns, my soul burns with longing for you, with sadness for our tragedy

a fire from my own hand rushes across these grasslands, leaving blackness and burning embers, and all i want to do is bury myself under the scorched grounds

i want to weep tears in a river across my burning body, but my tears have been dried by the flames

even weeping has betrayed me

why won’t this sun set on me so i can sleep this world away and wake somewhere else


i am washed in the scent of wet pine

needles and grey leaves and tree cones crunch under feet

the air is brisk but flushed for january

the sun blinds and droops in the balmy sky, a costa rican sunset

and i am chilled with missing

over the seas between us are king’s castles and stone

but these forgotten forests are our home

hurry back to me


i’m not sure you realize

i’m never going to let you go

i will not allow both our hearts to shatter so completely

we cannot be separated

not a choice, but nature’s law

stopping my pursuit is like slowing the spring

the space between us brings only hurt and confusion

i will do anything to close this chasm

if you ignore me i will find you, embrace you, because i know your fears

if you hide, i pursue more

because i know the reason for your hiding

if you retreat, i will fill you with warmth, because i know i’m the only one in this world who can love you the way you most need

i am not giving up

no obstacle will stand in my way

no enemy no mountain no fear no anger no river no distance

nothing will keep me from loving you forever


you are a flame

but you are more than that

your warmth is an invitation

i feel your desire to love and be loved by the heat that emanates from your touch

your fire says come to me lover of my soul and be known

and you are tender and soft and open to my knowing

and i embrace you in all

and feel my own self become more than i can be when we are apart


i want to be like you


let me kiss your drooping eyes and whisper i love you forever in your ear so soft you can barely hear me above the crashing waves and wind outside your door


dream of happiness and complete joy

go to sleep with a thankful heart for all the beautiful things in this world and all the people who love you


i see you now, perfect and sleepy and quiet and fair

wrapped tight and warm against the icy air

i shut my eyes and dream of you and breath soft and heavy



sink with me into still waters

where whispers willow over reedy shallows

we pour our hours in marshes fallow

and feel the ripples rinsing icy fractals

wade in deeper

chasing flickering orb into the dark hollow

where it goes, let us follow

About the author

Dr. Justin Blaney D.M. is a speaker, entrepreneur and #1 bestselling author of 15 books. In his doctoral work and published academic studies, he pioneered new theories on increasing personal and organizational influence through the power of networking. Justin frequently lectures at top institutions such as the University of Washington, Seattle. As an entrepreneur, he founded and sold multiple companies to become a millionaire by the age of 25, and currently runs a venture-capital funded agency that generates sales leads for Fortune 500 companies. He is followed by 300,000 people and reaches more than 2 million viewers per month through various online platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and www.justinblaney.com. He lives in Capital Hill, Washington.

Other works by Justin Blaney


Evan burl and the falling: Vol. 1-4


Famously helpful: The surprising results of flipping self-promotion, hype and marketing upside down.

Innovation and influence: How individuals and organizations make use of multiple network structures to increase creativity.

Relationshift: The ancient truth that activates your ability to achieve anything.

Values that sell

Reverie and Essays

Whispers willow: Reverie vol. 1


The longest story in the world

Photography and Illustrated

Cinderella goes to the potty

Fast wide open


Whispers Willow: Reverie Vol. 1

Copyright © 2016 and © 2017 by Justin R. Blaney. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America by Inkliss, Seattle, Washington.

For information go to www.inkliss.com

Inkliss and the Inkliss logo are trademarks of Inkliss, an Washington D.B.A. and are used by Justin Blaney and Company under license from Inkliss.

The author logo is a trademark of Justin Blaney and used under license from it’s owner.

For reprints and reproduction rights, please write Inkliss at 212 Broadway E. #23355, Seattle WA 98102.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available

ISBN-13 978-1534812109

ISBN-10 1534812105

Cover and interior design by Alexa Ashley

Cover illustrations by Halyna Venhlinska

First edition: July, 2016

Second edition: September, 2017




Whispers Willow

Reverie is a day dream, a musing, a single thought cemented in time, a free form of written word that can be either overtly logical or cryptically puzzling, extravagant or plain, proselike or rhythmical. Reverie is a big tent construct that affords writers freedom from the categorization of traditional genre. This volume, Whispers Willow, contains the first one hundred revery of author Justin Blaney, a series of dreams that range widely in content and tone from high romance to philosophical to prescriptive to travel memoir to fantastical to nightmare.

  • ISBN: 9781370782321
  • Author: Justin Blaney
  • Published: 2017-09-20 09:20:34
  • Words: 14847
Whispers Willow Whispers Willow