Saturday, September 30, 2017

History and tradition...

A wholesome fiction,
grounded in experience,
resides closer to the truth
than does uprooted fact.

Friday, September 29, 2017

First touch...

The first faint touch of autumn lies 
upon our unruly yard, the wild
neglected corner where in spring
arisaema and trillium bloom.
Some places are best left alone,
find better beauty on their own.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

...a different sun.

We sought the shadows and the cool,
Beneath the hemlocks by the pool
where ravens rest and foxes run
lighted by a different sun.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What a time...

Sullivan's Temple Missionary Baptist Church, Saluda, North Carolina

What a troubling and exciting time
to be alive, to grow and go
and do and make and strive.
To witness and experience
the implosive death of Empire
is something one in twenty
generations might know.

What a hopeful and liberating time
to be alive, to tend and mend
and heal and feed and comfort,
save all we can, befriend
the friendless, show kindness
to the thankless and forgive
the last and lost complacent.

What a rare and glorious time
to be alive, to plow the soil
and sow the seed for all
now longing to become
where the old forest burns
to make space and light
for taller trees to rise.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Audacious flowers of autumn lift
like prayers into the angling light,
like flags before a battle waved,
shout promises they'll die to keep.

All slain upon the frozen ground,
their seed will lie until the spring,
there resurrected to amaze
beneath another autumn's sun.

Monday, September 25, 2017

looking back...

Looking back over my spent (and misspent) years,
I'm boggled that I spent so much of who I was
trying to maintain a life that wasn't even mine.

Don't let your adventure start without you.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Summer's end...

Now may we rest at summer's end,
a time to heal, a time to mend,
time to recover from our fall,
forgiving and forgiven all,
and put our fruitless striving by,
let love be all our reason why,
for soon, stark winter takes his turn,
gathering our vanities to burn,
leaving only things that are
as constant as a raging star.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Where did the summer go?
we ask. It is still right there
where it has always been
since Maker rolled out time.
We are the flighty ones
who can never abide
in one precious moment,
always chasing after another
place, another day, a glint
of promise or passing riddle
of shadows shifting, morphing
into fantastic illusions, forgetting
the season we left, the instant
when we were real and bright
as summer. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

What we remember...

What we remember
about a good walk
is not the getting there,
but the going,
the sway of the light,
the feel of the path,
the tilt of the day,
the color of shadows,
the songs we heard,
the sounds we didn't.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


 If you've read a couple of short stories or novels by Neil Gaiman, you may think you know his writing. I've read several, and thought I did. But until you wade into The Ocean at the End of the Lane you haven't a clue to the depths and heights his mind is prone to wander. It is a fairy tale about children, but definitely requires a grown-up reader. Deeply dark and starkly illuminating, it will not allow you ever again to see your world, or yourself, under quite the same sky.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Yes, I am . . .

Oh, you're not old.” Often, somebody young says it, although sometimes it is somebody not so young who just wants to deny time. Of course, I'm old. If I can manage it with some measure of dignity and style, I'd like to get older yet.

Being old is not some kind of illness or handicap. It is my crowning achievement. It is who I am. It is the sum of my becoming. When you insist that I'm not old, you are denying part of my identity, part of what is me. History informs my moment, but doesn't rule it. The shorter my future becomes, the more curious I am about what comes next, and the more intensely I love and embrace all that is now.

Not that everything is pleasant right now, but looking back, I see that it never was. This is the day I am who I am, and I am glad. And thankful.

Monday, September 18, 2017

...every day.

So, the old man is writing every day. It may not be necessary, or even desirable that I should write one more book. Five books in five years is probably adequate. I'll be nearly 77 years old by the time my latest novel, Slick Rock Creek is released. A lot of writers are dead or retired at that age.

Ursula K Le Guin didn't swear off fiction until she was 87. She is still writing, has a mind-boggling blog. So maybe I'll get to go out writing. The males in my clan are usually in the ground by their mid eighties. But like I say, I'm still writing every day. Not so much because I want to see my words in print. I've done that, not as often as some, but often enough that the new has worn off. Often enough to know that published writing is not necessarily good writing. I'd rather be good than read, but if I had to choose, I'd also rather be read than dead.

The new hasn't worn off being apprehended by a story, discovering what happens next, how it all turns out. When I get tired of that, I'll be tired of life.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Photo by David Longley

My prayer vocabulary is pretty limited. Sorry, Thanks, Wow, and Yes about cover it. Even so, I don't have any illusion that I can tell God something She doesn't already know.

On the other hand, God knows a lot of things that I don't, but desperately need to know. So mostly, in my prayers, I don't talk to God. I just try to be quiet and pay attention.

Most Sundays, I worship with a little gaggle of Episcopalians. We're big at saying prayers at God in church. I try to listen as hard as I talk on those occasions, because God is talking back to us in the silences between our words.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Reading directions...

Round Mountain, Polk County North Carolina
 Photo by David Longley

Took a little walk with my friend, Wayseeker a few days back. The trail got a little scarce on us, but we maintained our sense of direction. We were always certain of up and down.

Friday, September 15, 2017

I don't read...

I don't read much memoir. People who go out in public without their clothes on make me uneasy. I do read my share of fiction, though. Fiction can be just as revealing of a writer as memoir, which according to some is just another sort of fiction, but honest fiction is not quite going naked before readers. Writing stories is more like going trick-or-treat on Halloween. At least there's the cover of a costume. It may be a fanciful and outrageous costume, but a sharp-eyed reader can figure out who's behind it.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Just in time...

Just before all the rain arrived, we had a couple of crisp sunny days and I sowed a row of moru daikon up on the high side of the garden next to the volunteer arugula resurrected from last year. They should do well up there on the hill, with good drainage with plenty of sun. By Thanksgiving, we will be getting plump, delicious red-meated radishes, that will be coming to harvest right into winter.

My seed were several years old, so I sowed them thick. if they germinate well, the thinnings will make for some tasty and spicy salad greens. Moru daikon is simply the Japanese term translated round radish in English. This variety was brought to Japan from northern China. The Chinese name translates as Beauty Heart. Before we moved up the mountain, I bought the seed from Kitazawa Seed Company in Oakland Ca. They are still my go-to source for Asian veggie seeds.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ask the leaves...

Sere Messengers, can you recall,
ere your demise, so say again
how we may rise up in pain,
hanging high, by all disdained,
yet gain glory at our fall.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

If I lived...

If I lived all alone
With none to praise me, none to scold,
None to smile when I did well,
Or frown upon my sins,
I would not care; I do not need
An audience for my life;

But if I lived alone
My life would be so small, so bare,
Without a place for joy or rest;
I’d rail against the solitude
And I would suffer; I would die
Without the one who loves me.