.Memories in the Shoebox - 1995
Victor Frankl's Personal Hell

Torture, tangible, daily, inflicted on his body and mind. Resulting in disbelief, optimism in the face of, at first, then, numbness, outside of it all -- the defense mechanism takes over.

Then moving into the space within with imagination, 'imaging'

the face of his beloved.

Drawing on a deeply ingrained, emotional experience, positive, strong feelings that he could use to move into the inner space. So powerful that they shoved aside the road blocks created by the personal hell.

He found he had the choice of moving into or staying outside the inner space. The door through which he moved was the strongly remembered image of love.

How big the love, how little. Enough just to tap it in some small way.

If love is the doorway into the inner space what difference the size or depth of the imprint of love. What difference does it make if the love was expressed as caring or respect or concern or helping for the sake of or Frankle's deeply felt, physical, mental, consuming and total involvement in his beloved.

The door swings open on hinges of love and that same love is the bar behind that shuts out the hate, humiliation, despising and other feelings that belong to the personal hell.

Friday Rounds for Angel Food

Jacaranda on Fridays

I delivered the food, enough for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, a special meal for J.C., a Chinese lady, who the first time I saw her the Friday before was disheveled and gaunt. But today she answered my knock with a bright face, clean and combed hair and a neat dress.

"I brought the food," I said. Always difficult to sound casual and positive and bright.

"Thank you," she responded in accented English, but clear and strong.

"What a beautiful tree", I pointed across the street trying to stretch the conversation and off her some contact with the outside world. "It's a jacaranda", I said.

"Jaca ra da ....," she replied softly.

"No, Jaca ran da."

"Oh, jacaranda," she whispered slowly caressing the word.

"You are so lucky, I said, "to have such a beautiful tree in front of your house."

She smiled, taking in that profusion of lavander blossoms, bursting now with color.

Perhaps that tree will speak to her with the words it spoke to Victor Frankle outside his prison cell...... "I am here -- I am here -- I am life -- eternal life."



I went to Cristo -- the first time put off a little by his softness and brilliant smile and warm 'Thanks for the food.' It's hard to respond to the sensing of a needy calling for closer contact, or perhaps, for conversation or at least a word or two of warm-friend talk.

Something maybe gone now from his life in the isolation of growing weakness.

I hadn't noticed then what I saw today -- his deep set eyes, big and round but sunken in the wasted face and thin body. So small but still cheerful with steady voice today "Thanks for the food," he said. "Have a nice weekend," I replied, a little anxious to get away from his projection of the feeling of need for contact.

Then quickly he said, "Will you shake my hand?"

Tears welling up, "Of course I'll shake your hand," I said as clearly and strongly as I could. I walked away and in my heart I said and next time I'll hug you too.



I'm going to add something from me on my Friday rounds. I'm thinking of a small flower in a little pot -- one in floom, like a bright yellow. Something to grow, to take care of and to love. Something from me to say what I can't find the words for.

And now at midnight with tears flowing as I write "Deliver me, God, from ever taking life for granted."




Last Call

The last call on the Friday rounds to the frail PhD who always has the door open, who last week because I reversed the route and he was last instead of first responded to my apology for being late, "Never mind, at 2 o'clock I made a peanut butter sandwich."

Today the door was closed. I knocked twice, a little anxious with a little dread till I turned to the planter beside the door and under the windows. There it was, such a relief, a white styrofoam cooler box, just big enough for the Friday and Saturday meals. On top of it written with exclamation points, "Hi, Angel! Love James!"

Jacob's Stone






Getting In Touch
Agua Verde 1998
Candles in the Dark




On the Road to Rosario
The Second Poem from the Hammock
(For Floyd and his birds)

Preface to the Poem

It was surely this very hammock in which I was lying on that Thanksgiving trip in '96. But a lot more wind this December day, blowing in my face. The last time the hammock barely moved on that hot, hot day.

Now the sun is going down and the light is changing on the rolling waves -- totally silver, making a silver pathway which widens out to sea. And I think, all of us with the same view available, but perhaps none of us sharing it at the same moment.

So, here is the second poem from the hammock.



Eyes that Glisten, Dance and Glow
"Joy is an unfulfilled desire that is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction, and it keeps the heart open, it keeps the heart broken, it keeps the heart enlarged for the new, new possibilities, new stories, a new story for itself."
Alan Jones





From the Airport restaurant in Mazatlan


On Loving


Going Home
Even If


I Know
To Remember Hans
NEW POEMS - 1997
The Procession
Walking so slowly, the six of them in a single file
On the narrow path, separated each by 2 or 3 paces.
Each with hands together in a prayerful attitude, heads down, 
Only one, a woman, looking about at the magnificent oaks and hydrangeas
And the statue of  Mary that marks the Casa de Maria.

Slowly, slowly circling the hillside court like a silent procession
Mourning a fallen leader.

In their silent, painfully slow walk
Do they hope to find themselves more fully in the moment
Or, do they merely seek to pass more slowly through this time?
On the swing thatís hanging on the oak tree bough
And seeing up twelve flagstone steps into the chapel.

The lifesize crucifix of the sacrificed son hangs high--beyond my view.

Do I have anything like that to give?
Can I even contemplate  the price?
And would I pay the price if the gift were asked?

No, rather let me swing and later join the penitent mass, head bowed, waiting.
Taking all that is freely given, carefully unmindful of the cost.

Itís so much easier never to look up, swinging.
(Written July 1997 in Huntington Hospital)
Empty Spaces of My Mind
Was I standing there?
Was I in your arms?
A thousand shadows dancing in the empty spaces of my mind
Light and dark, warm and cold, no form, no substance.
I am awake now
I see your face
You hold me with your eyes and they ask a question.
But I do not know the answer.

Where have I been?
Were you with me there?
Or have I crossed to this place on my own?
These thoughts lighten my empty head
But we must leave the questions there.  
Itís not important now.

What I know is I was standing there alone
And it was you who came to me
And wrapped your arms around my shaking soul
And held me close
While I was standing there
And the darkness quietly gave way to light.
The Rope
I thought it was a rope 
That lashed me surely to the deck
And laughed at the pitch and roll of the sea.

Green the sea, and grey the grieving sky
And oh so long the distance to the farther shore.

I watched the waters rise and splash my face
It matted down my hair
And choked my throat like salty wine.
Clouded east and west and all around
No up, no down to tame that terrifying time
Only the howling wind and the rain.

And only the thinnest thread
To lash me surely to the heaving deck..
On the Shore at Emmaís Beach
On the shore there is another name for quiet
Charlie finds it there, as the sunís going down
Standing on the end of his dock
His arms folded across his chest
With his golden retriever.
Just feeling the wind thatís in his face
And watching the white caps for the longest time.

Charlieís put up two windsocks
On either end of the landing
And theyíre laying flat
And two white plastic chairs and a table guard the entrance to the dock.

And for me itís another way to sense this peace.
I like to sit in this special chair on the glassed-in porch
Protected from the wind
Aware of the rolling motion of the water in the Bay
Excited by the sound of its slapping against the sand,
And the rhythmic repeating.

I look again and to the left I see a sign
Nailed to a long, thick driftwood branch.
Itís ĎEmmaís Beachí it says.
Thank you Emma, itís a wonderful place.
For Mother on Motherís Day-1997

And What of the Rose?
What of the rose I planted by the bridge a long, long time ago?
Soft velvety yellow, the petals carressed by the scent,
Awesome, rich and fulfilling.
Nurtured and revered like the fields I planted when I was young.

What of the Spring and the joyous reborning when I  take the luscious roses in my hand
Or just love them from the swing?
I love to watch them grow; I love to glance at them in the midst of the heavy going.
But then itís summer and the petals dry in the heat and fall to the earth
To wait for another Spring?

And now itís Spring again and Iím moving on. 
I donít know the words, the why or the where.........
But what of the rose I planted by the bridge a long, long time ago?