Monday, October 16, 2017


We often, too often, use the word: installation, when a priest begins a new position in a parish. What happens when they leave, or it has been determined that they will leave? Is there a curb while they wait for the man in overalls with the truck with slatted sides? All too often...Yes.

We install appliances,
Plug them in
Let them work
Until they
Or we determine
It’s time
For a newer model.
Then we
Put them on the curb.
They are carried away
By a man
In overalls
And a truck
With slatted sides.
Such an odd term
For people:
Are installed.
People are cherished,
Held with honor,
Prayed for,
On the curb.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blood in the game

Hard to know what the death toll will finally be. What if we added all of it up? What if we all had skin in whatever game is being played? All of it?

Our flag
Will not be
At half mast
For Mogadishu,
231 or more
They will mourn
For three days.
Their president
Gave blood today
In solidarity.
He has blood
In whatever game
Is being

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Thanks, Bill Bippus and Rick Stevens. I am humming.

A friend named
The future as
A horse
With no name.
The future
Is always
We would like
To name it.
In some ways
The future is itself
Always a desert
With no name.
Never mind
The horse.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The world expands

I tried to explain this over coffee. 
I was not successful. 
I am not always successful. 
Welcome to the world I inhabit

We grow older,
The world expands
Beyond anything
We knew before,
Well beyond
Anything we knew.
We think we knew and lo
We didn’t.
Here comes
That new thing
We were not aware of
Only recognized
We could not have known it
It took all of yesterday
To expand
Into today.
I tried to name this
Over coffee
This morning.
I’m not sure
I was successful
But then again
Success has changed today
From yesterday

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Double rainbow

No rainbow in Wisconsin last weekend.

I missed
The double rainbow
Last weekend.
I am grateful
My son captured it.
I remember
The triple rainbow
Off the coast
Of Iona.
Such things
Must be held
And remembered
And held
And remembered
And held
And remembered,
When they come
In twos
And threes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


One with the ants

I am 62.
When I fall
Which is still
Way too often,
I am one
With the ants.
We speak
To antenna.
Are fascinating
I look at those
In wheelchairs
On walkers
Using canes.
They are my kin.
As I come
To antenna
With my sisters
The ants
I am one.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My office is not spare

Office space is important. It matters to people...what is safe to say or not say.

My office
Is not spare.
There are
Enough words
Enough things
For people to hold
With their eyes
With their hands
A pillow or two
In case a pause
Is needed between words.
One man knelt
An entire session
On a multi-colored blanket,
Very little.
I guess he needed
The space.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

No matter what

This is one of those tough lessons...Advising, and realizing we are not responsible for the outcome.

No matter
How often
I advise others
What to do,
I know
It’s never
Up to me
To hold them accountable
For my advice.
Of course
This is not the same
As not speaking
At all.
I speak
I wait to see
What happens.

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I have never used a chainsaw. I think I am afraid of what may happen, if I do.

To a person,
Male or female,
I hear
How easy it is
To keep going
Once you start
With a chainsaw.
There is nothing left
And the bushes
The shrubs
The trees
Must begin again
Bare space,
The chainsaw
Put away
For at least
One more season.
You know how it is
With a chainsaw.

Monday, October 2, 2017


As a child I always knew the sun breaking through the cloud was God.

Sometimes it feels
Like violence
I pray
For a different outcome,
That ray of sun
Through a dark cloud.
I always knew
It was God
Shining through,
Though others
Told me
It couldn’t
Possibly be.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


Failure brings the potential of new life.

Opens the way
For new things
To open the door
To new possibilities.
We must grieve
The failure.
Only then
Only then
May vision come.
Only then
May our ears
Be opened.
Only then
May we touch
The softness
Of new possibilities
A baby blanket
Wrapped around
New life.
In our failures
We wait.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Namers of things

Thinking of delphiniums and pumpkins. Why? I do not know.

We are the namers
Of things.
I don’t think it matters
To rocks
Or birds
Or animals
Even plants.
Does not care
What we call it.
It is delphinium
When we perceive it
Blue and stalky.
A pumpkin
Is a pumpkin,
Round and orange
And carve able.
It carries seeds
For next year’s pumpkins.
It does not care
What we call it.
It just

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Open doors

So good to turn off the air conditioning, breathe in the outdoors, hear one bird.

Open doors
Open windows
Finally a breeze.
It says
You can breathe.
It will all
Be all right
One day.
It counts
As one day.
Then tomorrow
But now
One day
Open doors
Open windows
One bird sings.
It is enough.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lest you think

I don't know if most therapists keep treasure troves. I do know it is something I learned from mine. I do know it matters.

Lest you think
I don’t see:
I do.
But then
I figure you
Do know
I see.
You are the reason
I keep everything
Given to me
In my office
On display:
The orange peel angel
It hangs
On my desk lamp,
The carefully wrapped
Glass icicle
On my shelf,
With the rainbow
The black dog card
On my desk;
The stone container
With a lid.
It reminds me
I can take the lid off
I wish.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Getting ready for winter

Squirrel watching in the yard

Squirrels begin to dig
For nuts
They may have buried
Over the summer.
They don’t remember
Exact spots
But surely
They must be here
They eat crab apples,
Apples rest
On the surface,
Easily found.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Planned renovation

This time we will do our due diligence. .Of course everyone has an opinion of what due diligence means

We think
We may stay put.
The last renovation we did
Was the kitchen
When the contractor
Broke a pipe
And bits of ceiling
Now it may be time
For a planned renewal.
The next thing
Is the architect
God willing
What he or she
Is doing.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Six cars

People live here their entire lives

There are six cars
In the driveway,
One SUV,
One motorcycle
In front
Of the house
Across the street.
We want to hope
The best.
We fear
They do not gather
For a celebration.
People on our street
Live here
Their entire lives.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Grackle conversation

It's fun to project our thoughts on animals...even if they're thinking or talking about nothing at all.

The grackles line up
On the crab apple branches.
I believe
They talk about
What’s next
In Gracklese,
Although maybe
It’s only usual
Saturday conversation,
Like we have
Over a cup
Of coffee.
No plans here.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Remains of World War III

Sometimes a distance in time allows the possible enormity to sink in. It never quite occurred to me that the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War and World War III were linked. Of course it did occur to my father, who fought in WWII. 

We always begin
With our own experience.
Where else
Would we begin?
Then certain pictures
Bring home
How widespread
It was,
How widespread
It is.
The remains
Of the possibility
Of World War III
Are left
All over the world.
I begin
At a fall-out shelter
In northern Minnesota
With enough food,
Even dogfood.
I was seven
And a cat
For Halloween.
My parents
Had the radio on,
Tried to make things
As normal as possible
In the north woods
Of Minnesota,
That October.
The remains
Of the beginning
Of World War III
Still remain
All over the world.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Here's to life

Here's to life.

It takes awhile
Sometimes years
Sometimes decades
To speak into
The deep sort,
The core sort.
It winds its way
Around our limbs,
Around our necks,
In order to move
In order to breathe
The only option
Is death
Or life.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Today I decided to listen beyond what I normally do. Surprise...I heard more.

I enjoy
The unplanned conversations
The people
Who drop in
And through
My life,
The unexpected folk
Who don’t say
Or do
What I thought
They would.
The element
Of surprise
Expands my life
When I let it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Guest pass

Ah, the wonders that appear in the email box. So many guest passes.

Now comes
An offering,
A guest pass
To apply
For the next level,
More letters
After my name
As if
More letters
More levels
Are needed.
I like
The offering part,
The guest pass

I pass.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

One Christmas

This is for my aunt, Catharine Seybold,  my mother's oldest sister. I am now the last Catharine Seybold in the line, after my grandmother and aunt. I never knew my grandmother, but I carry her name and genes. My aunt counted on my mother to pass on the name. So here I am. I write in name and memory of both of them. I write with love of language. I write remembering Aunt Catharine's wanting the "best translation" of the Bible for her bookshelf. A connector between us. She rarely (probably never) went to church.

One Christmas
Her present to each of us
Was the recently-edited
Chicago Manual of Style,
I don’t remember
Which edition.
She and a colleague
Were the authors (editors?).
When she left The Press
She wanted to hear
From me
The best Bible translation
To keep
On the bookshelf
In her retirement community.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cicadas to crickets

Day will always come

Cicadas give way
To crickets,
Give way
To cicadas
The cycle
Of day to night,
To day again
Offers the hope
Of every cycle,
The hope that day
Will always come
No matter what else
Goes on around us.
No matter what.
To crickets
To cicadas
To crickets
To cicadas
If we listen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Now I write poems

Hmm. Here is where the poems went.

I wrote poems
In college.
Joe wrote poems, too.
When I graduated,
I had other things
To do.
I married.
I went to seminary,
Preached sermons.
Joe said
Did the poems go?
I said
They are sermons
They are all
Joe said
That’s no excuse,
That’s absolutely
No excuse.
So now
I can’t preach.
The lights
Make me dizzy.
I have difficulty
Walking up
To the pulpit.
So now
I write poems.
I have lost track
Of Joe.
I would like to say
See, Joe,
I hear him saying

It’s about time.

Monday, September 11, 2017


It was unbelievably quiet here.

Where were you?
I drove my five-year-old
To Montessori,
Listened to the radio
On the way home.
The skies
Were quiet
Oh so quiet
Here in the Midwest
The skies
Were quiet.
The pictures
Were anything
But quiet
But here
It was quiet.
Where were you?

Sunday, September 10, 2017


The backyard has been host to a new flock of young robins this year. They figure out bugs and worms and short flights.

The speckles
Begin to disappear.
The older robins say,
In whatever way,
Robins say:
The time comes
When we will fly
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
The young birds,
Newly fledged,
What is
Do we wait for?

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Big square states

Minnesota is not square. I guess it's all a matter of perspective.

When I worked
On the East Coast,
Only once
On the East Coast,
The middle of the country
Was referred to as
“The big square states”
Until the West Coast,
Which of course
Was California
Or north
Of California.
I grew up
In a big square state
Which was
Not square.

Friday, September 8, 2017

At a distance

It takes time to figure out what to do in the face of tragedy...hurricanes...tsunamis...earthquakes. I read people saying these are signs of the "End Times." This is not the first time the "End Times" have been predicted. Here in the Midwest things are relatively quiet. We will see what comes to pass. In the meantime we pray and figure what we are called to do in this meantime.

We watch from a distance
But not too far.
It is quiet here
In the Midwest.
No storms
No hurricanes
No tsunamis
No earthquakes.
We watch from a distance
But not too far
To care
Not too far
To pray
Not too far
To know we are blessed.
Are scared
And wet
And covered in rubble.
We will need
To figure out
In the quiet
At a distance
What it means to know
We are blessed,
To know
What to do.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

What happens after Z?

Praying for family in Florida. I do wonder what happens after 26 storms are named, or if 26 tropical storms have never, ever, been identified in one year.

They all have names
From the list.
What happens after Z?
I assume
It starts
All over again.
Have been lost
In the wind and rain,
In the floods,
In the eyes,
In all the weather,
Which cannot possibly
Be a result
Of global warming.
Which can never ever
Be explained.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vanilla milkshake

Taking things one step at a time, with assistance. We all need assistance,

Back into fall
A new season
New old shoes
They sort of fit
My feet.
My beloved makes sure
I only take it
One step
At a time,
Although I
Would move faster
Than that.
This is what
My beloved is for:
To sit outside
The therapist’s office,
Take me for
A milkshake, vanilla,
When I am done.
One milkshake
At a time.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Threes and fives

I understand decorators say pictures should be placed on walls in threes and fives, Objects on shelves in threes and fives, It's a feng shui thing, along with keeping ones back to the door. I am a fan of ones and twos on occasion. My back is often to the door.

She says everything
Should be
In threes and fives.
We have a lot
Of ones and twos
So we can pay attention
To them
More easily.
Feng shui
Says threes and fives,
Keep your back
To the wall,
Face to the door,
Or at least have a mirror
So no one
Can creep up on you
From behind,
Even if the door
Is locked.
Threes and fives.
Face the door.