In a group meditation last night, I saw a mandala of our Earth
and I wondered if I could draw it. I was anxious about that,
and awoke this morning, looking for a poem that could still
my dampening of that experience.

Here it is:

” …..What is precious, is never to forget
The delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love,
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the Spirit.”


The mandala of the Earth, this green planet,
the delight in our blood that sings in the stones
and breaks through rocks as water,
water that sustains the leviathans and the sea shell.

That’s a beginning. maybe it will never be drawn,
but its genesis is alive and well.

with love …


I am taking enormous liberty with the formal form of Haiku,
so let’s let that just be. In looking for a poem for this morning,
I came across two lines that kept calling to me:

“The cowbells follow one another
Into the distance of the afternoon.”

…..JAMES WRIGHT, from a poem, Lying in a Hammock
at Pine Island, Minnesota.

Just those words transport me to any warm summer’s day
in the Platte Clove valley of the Catskills. So many summers
there as a child, no real literal sense of time, just being.
There was a dairy farm down the County road, and sound
travels far in a valley, surrounded by low mountains.

I do now appreciate the distance of an afternoon.
Sitting here with you on a cold November dawn, I offer these
two lines to you, an invitation to let there be distances in
each day as the year closes, a sweetness in the air.

with love …


“…… Magical, merry JOYLAND…
once you pass its portals, you may never return again.”

The sounds of that music echo from my childhood.
New York’s November & December programs on stage
were standard fare in our home. My sister and I put on our white gloves,
carried our little purses, and boarded the train to Grand Central
for the magic of illusion, accompanied by the adults.

Dears, that was many moons ago, yet is this not the season
for the very young?

Who could have said it better than this:

“My heart of silk
is filled with lights
with lost bells,
with lilies and bees.
I will go very far,
farther than these mountains,
farther than the oceans,
way up near the stars,
to ask Christ the Lord
to give back to me
the soul I had as a child,
matured by fairy tales,
with its hat of feathers
and its wooden sword.”


Hearing those words, who could not reclaim that
simplicity of childhood, matured, indeed, as it has through
the years and tears and tears to the fabric of belief.

Yes, Tinker Belle, I believe!

always with love,

HAIKU Beautiful Short-hand

Let’s start with the sound of water:

Heard, not seen,
the camellia poured rainwater
when it leaned.


The banana tree
blown by winds pours raindrops
into the bucket.


With plum blossoms scent,
this sudden sun emerges
along a mountain trail.



How free I feel after a rain when the sun
bursts through and a new sky opens up,
releasing all winds to my thoughts.

Any one of these might fit your present moment.
Be Basho’s guest.

always with love,


I carefully pick and choose my inspirational sources, workshops,
poetry, diet clues. This can be serious business, yes, business
is the word, isn’t it?

So, when I come across a poem that frees me totally from these
aids and compulsions, I treasure it, very simply:

And the people slipping on the ice in the street,
two different people
came over, goin to work,
so earnest and tryful,
clutching their pitiful
morning Daily News
slip on the ice & fall
both inside 5 minutes
and I cried and cried
That’s when you taught me tears, Ah,
God in the morning.
Ah, Thee
And me leaning on the lamppost wiping
nobody’d know I’d cried

or woulda cared anyway
but O I saw my father
and my grandfather’s mother
and the long lines of chairs
and tear-sitters and dead,
Ah me, I knew God You
had better plans than that
so whatever plan you have for me
Splitter of majesty
Make it short
Make it snappy
bring me home to the Eternal Mother
At your service anyway,
(and until) ”


I’m not sure that I know whether I cry to laugh
beyond limit, or cry to stay within decent limit.
The result is the same. I am transported out of the
mind’s response and into the intuitive charm of
the absurd which comes very close to being in
touch with (divine) wisdom.

In any event, we ARE at your service anyway
(and until) .

with love …


I discovered a gift totally by accident this morning.
To share that, here’s a clue that made this possible.
It’s a quote from the incredible book, “POETIC MEDICINE,
The Healing Art of Poem-Making” by John Fox.

“As the traditional medicine of many peoples demonstrates,
disease can be treated with images.
The patient, for her part, needs to see the images of her
healing, just as any of us in distress might look for the
stories and images wrapped in our complaints.

But she shouldn’t bring them too close to her, making
them too close to her, making them too personal,
or they will break apart.

We can only approach the gods through poetry,
and if the disease is the disguise of the gods,
then our medicine will be full of art and image.”


ART AND IMAGE, the very stuff of my Inner Portraits!
I sat here and wrote down, without pause or editing,
the understanding of the gift of my ‘gift’.

Here it is:

An Inner Portrait, to be so close …
I open myself to you, sitter, utterly,
and desire nothing from you.

Imagine the delight of being close,
to be in the presence of another and to have
the peace and clarity of no desire except
that of witnessing your beauty and giving you
the gift of insight, maybe.”

I could edit that by saying ‘sharing with you’
instead of ‘giving you’. I said “without pause
or editing” and so I’ve typed it as it was.

If I could believe I could write poetry, I’d
be able to say what joy this brings to me,
to actually see what I do in this light.

with love …


I have not spoken here, yet, of the experience of our family when we finally
welcomed our ancestor from obscurity, ours the re-discovery to create
openings in how, now, I see my world.

Look at that!
I started the sentence with the voice of ‘we’, and found myself in an ‘I’.
I can say that describes my shift: out of the ‘we’, the group of us,
I could feel my own presence more flexibly.
What a surprise.

A poet sums it up:

“We did not come to remain whole.

We came to lose our leaves like the trees,

The trees that are broken

And start again, drawing up from the great roots.”

…………….. ROBERT BLY.

Last Sunday we dedicated the headstone that told of his life and death,
135 years ago, my great -grandfather, Dr. James McCune Smith, buried
in Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.

His roots were great, and our coming together showed me how, unknowing,
each of us has carried on his heritage in some way of living, of being with
courage in the world.

LIke the white doves that were released to open the dedication,
I feel a freedom I had not known I sought. I welcome our new cousins,
and love that we do look as if we came from the same roots!

And so it is.

with love …


The days follow, one upon the other, and I sat here to share a poet’s sadness with you.
The poet is Billy Collins, a long-time favorite of mine, who has suffered loss and now
writes from this despairing place of aloneness.

And as I began to speak with you, the little dong sounded on my screen, and I saw that tomorrow
is 9/11/10. So suddenly, the anniversary is here, and I had not anticipated it to be so soon.


Is there any of us who does not remember where we were that morning?

There will be much said on papers, radio and TV.
I do not add to what beautiful words can be said in memoriam. I only want to say
that loss can be an alone thing to experience.

So, darlings, let us honor that loss together today and tomorrow by being a bit more tender,
a bit more tolerant, a bit more noticing of each other.

always with love,

Mom/Mimi/Toni Antoinette