I stand on the threshing floor,
In the busy harvest season.
Seed runs through my fingers like water,
Yellow air burns my eyes, and dust
Gathers at my feet. I earned an ephah of barley in a day—
It is mine, and I take it home to her.
It did not come easy; She praises me
for my work, and I smile.
I am proud of my gleaning. I search for the meaning of these small pieces,
Noting the arch of a worker’s back just before
Striking dry barley,
Noting the blisters bloody and
A shadow of sensation lies therein.
The hungered truth is stumbling on the stairs.
All pleasure which is measured is a sin
And faith misplaced is made of wishful dares.
We end up in the sea like all shipwrecks,
All bounty in our broken holds are drowned,
As memories prolific, fond of sex
And drink and taste, are never to be found
Again. The churning of the sea assures
This, one and all. It washes, purifies
And casts the remnants on the tides. The cures
Belong to Go
One of the most difficult tasks I face as editor of Ancient Paths Online is sifting through the many excellent poems published throughout the year in order to select just six to nominate for the Pushcart Prize. The process involves a lot of reading and re-reading, and I aim for a certain amount of diversity in the selections. I always wish I could nominate more, because so many of the works Ancient Paths is privileged to publish are not only of high literary quality, but emot
As Mrs. Burns is slouching in her urn
I suppose you'd say she'd like to be at peace
although Joanna hasn't managed to reserve
a plot. The mortgage fails. The debts increase:
the unpaid bills are clawing at the door
while this old lady's straining to retreat
among the mottled stone, this maidenhair. Mrs. Burns's ghost is not some spectral form
it's just a TalkTalk person in pursuit
or her Facebook account, a newly-born
so she could see her grandchildren in bloom.
Windblown, rain-born, mothers with children,
their aged parents, arm-hung, basket-carried, free
pedaling, four-legged, or three-legged, parade
forward shunted through electric door to doctors. Bundled up, tied-down, birthers rush down antiseptic
hallways. Each patient encapsulated in the flow of life
or death, the infirm helpless to resist oncoming scrutiny
are side-tracked by the growing-up or winding-down ones. Helpers like strands of DNA shuttle-cock through
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on November 2, 2019. Saul mounted the horse with his band of men
Strong-minded in his mission of conquest
Going forth from gates of Jerusalem
Chastiser of the Cult, he'd be the best.
Just who did all these upstarts think they were?
He'd account each renegade to justice,
To no impure one would he surrender
So he rode with his hand clenched in a fist;
Suddenly, a glorious light streaming
Through the majestic portals of Heave
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on January 6, 2019. Did they camel-caravan
together from the slopes of Iran,
and navigate by two-out-of-three votes
at each fork in the road
to stay on their star course? Or did the trio meet
beneath palms of a beaten path crossroads
energetic personalities drawn like dusty magnets
from Europe, Arabia, and Africa
to this axis of Bethlehem? They may not have been quite kings,
but bore gifts kingly enough,
a trinity of heav
Published on January 12, 2019 on the Ancient Paths Facebook page. A butterfly floated
in the warm pool.
So I lifted it up,
out of the water
to see if it was still alive—
by looking into its black eyes
for a solemn, kind moment.
It fluttered a bit—
letting me know
it was still alive, and
a warmth came over me. Then I held it
for a long while
in my wet palm,
the sun streaming in,
like I was giving it Communion
before last rites. My hand was
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on January 26, 2019. The hermit said,
“I have no need of hacksaws,
files, dynamite, or chisels, to break free
of my prisons. If I would be consumed by Love;
if only I would be consumed by Love;
then I would go as easily free
as smoke between the bars.” #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarchive
Published on February 2, 2019 on the Ancient Paths Facebook page. Last night I walked the autumn woods alone
in darkness. The fallen leaves along the trail
were ashen in the bright moonlight
and the Halloween trees, bleached
bones beneath the sky,
were like a nameless legion of
the dead, that framed a briar pathway
for the soul. Never
could I have walked between them
without discernment, without real faith,
without a word of wisdom--.
Eternity is a moment that last
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on February 9, 2019. "To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3). Time passes as the lay of the land calls
the tread of the seekers and penitents.
The sun God Apollo reigned overall,
beauty, wisdom, healing bought him acclaim. The land of Provence is full of the fruit of life,
a cornucopia of bounty grows in hallowed
valleys along the slopes of the Maritime Alps-
Published on the Ancient Paths Faceboo page on February 16, 2019. My metrical sin never goes away,
Though I try to measure all that I say.
See that spondee? Like a thief, it slipped in,
Spoiling my verse with unmusical din;
Such is my curse—my words rarely obey! An iambic home is where I would stay,
Yet a prosaic ear leads me astray.
Of my noted failings, the worst has been
My metrical sin. Like Paul, I fight an inherent decay,
But knowledge alone can’t keep this at b
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on February 23, 2019. We walk with hands swinging at our sides
hair in varying degrees of tidiness.
Our faces aren’t smeared with dirt.
Blood flows in our veins—red.
And yet I can’t say we’re living If we remembered the scent
of still-warm blood from someone
who couldn’t stay dead.
Maybe then we’d wake to something
beyond what’s just ahead. #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarchive
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on March 2, 2019. Who will take the box
With my ashes? Dry and white,
It is last of eight. The Buddhist laying
Sutras upon the sweet air
Speaks like our old ships, Creaking with an age
That promises safe passage.
We sailed to catch squid, I with gochujang,
My mates with strong cigarettes,
All with garlic bulbs. We left the testing,
The nuclear excitement.
Silent, we escaped. Those before us said
We might find modern trea
Published March 6, 2019 on the Ancient Paths Facebook page. Cold kitchen
rid of lard
and all sweetness. Oven unfired,
tomb for scents —
rosemary, cinnamon. Heedless,
a purple crocus
bursts its vault. #AshWednesday #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarchive
Published March 6, 2019 on the Ancient Paths Facebook page. My soul is like the brilliant snow
Which burdened fell one winter day
Upon the ground and lost its glow,
Soiled and trodden where it lay. It lay there through the dark and cold
Until the dawn when sun did rise,
And grasp of springtime took its hold
To force the snow back to the skies. It stayed away when days were warm,
When flowers bloomed and grass was green.
It showed not during wind nor storm
And until w
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on October 26, 2019. When our world is plunged
we realize we don’t
own light. With programmed
touch we pat the wall,
flick the switch
thinking we can summon
a burst of brightness.
Then anger surges
as we wonder who or what
is to blame. As if
weather has conspired
to ruin our plans. We’ll
miss a favorite show,
the game score.
Isn’t it amazing how
we act like the sun
and moon revolve
around us? #Ancien
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on March 16, 2019.
Come tender friend of Spring,
come vanquish white-sharp night
and with your day-stars
melt ice-wrapped fields to green.
This crystal scene has lost its charm
like tarnished jewels and week-old
Christmas toys. For we are pressed
with you beneath the soil, beside the
cold stone steps. One resurrection
from the ground is all we need
and night is finished.
Release your fragrant breath
and free the frost-
Published on the Ancient Paths Facebook page on March 23, 2019. And so this thing is death, and this, the dead,
And this red blood that mingles with her tears
Covers my hand, my shoulder with its smears—
Oh, vilest stain that on our world has bled.
And so this thing is death, that we desired—
This grief, in quest of knowledge, once, we sought—
This torment, this anguish, our mocker brought;
And we have eaten, as the fiend conspired.
And so this thing is death, and so
Published March 26, 2019 on the Ancient Paths Facebook page. Don’t give up chocolate for Lent.
Give up guilt, give up regret for what can’t be changed,
give up blame. Forgive. When Easter comes, don’t indulge
in those negatives again, leave them where you tossed them
forty days ago. You’ll find yourself at a crossroad, stones rolled away,
your better self resurrected. #AncientPathspoems #AncientPathsarchive