It is strange to be awakened by sirens in the distance, cutting through my second awakening of the night. I am rested enough to appreciate that strangeness and not make it anything but the town taking care of itself.

Besides, it’s almost Sunday morning. I can be up for a while. I want some light thoughts to lull me back to sleep, so I pick up a book of poetry written a while back by Billy Collins.

This is a part of a poem I found:

“No, it was the Sensational Nightingales
who happened to be singing on the gospel station early that Sunday morning and must be credited with
the bumping up of my spirit,
the arousal of the mice within.

I have always loved this harmony,
like four, sometimes five trains running
side by side over a contoured landscape,
wildflowers growing along the silver tracks,
lace tablecloths covering the hills,
the men and women in white shirts and dresses
walking in the direction of a tall steeple.
Sunday morning in a perfect Georgia.

But I am not here to describe the sound
of the falsetto whine, sepulchral bass,
alto and tenor fitted snugly in between;
only to witness my own minor ascension
that morning as they sang, so parallel,
about the usual themes,
the garden of suffering,
the beads of blood on the forehead,
the stone before the hillside tomb,
and the ancient rolling waters
we would all have to cross some day.

God bless the Sensational Nightingales,
I thought as I turned up the volume,
God bless their families and their powder blue suits.
They are a far cry from the quiet kneeling
I was raised with,
a far, hand-clapping cry from the candles
that glowed in the alcoves
and the fixed eyes of saints staring down from their corners.

Oh, my cap was on straight that Sunday morning
and I was fine keeping the car on the road.
No one would ever have guessed
I was being lifted into the air by nightingales,
hoisted by their beaks like a long banner
that curls across an empty blue sky,
caught up in the annunciation
of these high, most encouraging tidings.”

……….BILLY COLLINS, from a poem entitled Sunday Morning with the Sensational Nightingales, and the book is Sailing Around the Room, 2001.

Oh, there it is, what I was really after. In the last line of so many lines, the words that can carry me through this election time, aggravated by possible high winds and flooding, showed up:

“high, most encouraging tidings”.

That’s what wakes me up and keeps me going.

always with love,



What to do with awaking too soon, too alert to rest,
and so many hours until dawn? I do have nights in
which I sleep 5 hours at a stretch, and can also
return for more. Not so, right now. So, I pull out
the poetry books and look for a light.

And I found one:

“W I L D G E E S E

(it’s alright,
it’s familiar, that helps, so, one more time):

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”

…….. MARY OLIVER, 1992

Yes, ‘harsh & exciting’, and an inappropriate time of
year to look up, for the geese have long fled south,
or are currently on their way.

Tonight I read these words out loud, and the world’s
call is clear. Once known, once experienced, there is
a fresh newness and sweetness each time.


always with love,

Drawing by Rachel Olson Awes (find her beautiful art on Etsy)


It’s very unlikely that you or I have ever known
the sounds and scents that make up this poem.
Well, maybe one or more? Let’s see:

“S O A K I N G U P S U N

Today there is the kind of sunshine old men love,

the kind of day when my grandfather would sit

on the south side of the wooden corn crib where

the sunlight warmed slowly all through the day

like a wood stove. One after another dry leaves

fell. No painful memories came. Everything was

lit by a halo of light. The cornstalks glinted bright

as pieces of glass. From the fields and cottonwood

grove came the damp smell of mushrooms, of

things going back to earth. I sat with my grandfa-

ther then. Sheep came up to us as we sat there,

the oily wool so warm to my fingers, like a strange

and magic snow. My grandfather whittled sweet

smelling apple sticks just to get at the scent. His

thumb had a permanent groove in it where the

back of the knife blade rested. He let me listen to

the wind, the wild geese, the soft dialect of sheep,

while his own silence taught me every secret thing

he knew.”
…………………….TOM HENNEN, from Good Poems,
selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor. Tom
Hennen was born in 1942 in Morris, MN, and is a
poet and former park ranger.

It’s curious how many of the people I know are
from the coastlines, east or west. Is there a dif-
ferent time frame experience for those living in
the great lands in between?

The dark outside is lightening now, soon the sun
will be up. Now that I think about that, what a
funny way to put that!

always with love,

“…his own silence taught me every secret he knew.”


This Autumn there have been big winds. I see the
trees whirl with invisible currents that carry neither
snow nor rain. Very strange to one who used to be
out at the crack of dawn to run.

I remember my granddaughter getting up very early
to be out on the river and row. YES!

A poem can make it happen, even now:


From the northeast
undercurrents stirred by wind
ripple south
under the kayak
and with each rise
the boat lifts
to the dark clouds
covering Spieden,

with hips awash
and bow submerged,
each stroke
balanced on unseen pressures lives for a moment
in the shoulders

and with the first sound
of indrawn breath,
the heart begins to flow
and become liquid,
spinning through the arms
like molten glass,

out here
life is a vibrant wire
pulled tight
between two opposing limbs

and it sings to the touch of the ocean.”

………DAVID WHYTE, from his book,
River Flow, 1984-2007

It is just after 3 a.m., when all the trees are still.
Perhaps this poem has touched your dreaming.
It keeps me company and the night seems young.

always with love,


This morning I picked up a book that I’d cut my
spiritual teeth on! The poet, not of the ancients,
nor even one popularly quoted & noted, but surely
one who, once read, is truly remembered.

Let’s begin with this poem, quoted from that book:

“A N N U N C I A T I O N

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know that it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does —

and so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as toward a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,

as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me

only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.”

…………..MARIE HOWE, from the book,
Saved by a Poem written by KIM ROSEN

On the facing page there is this note:
” The truth is, in the wake of every poem that
touches me, there is this uncanny sense of
being loved. Perhaps that is what it feels like
when the soul door swings ajar. Will I walk
through and dwell in the territory of wonder
for a while? Or will I turn away and launch
into the next task on my perpetually humming
to-do list?”

Always simply my choice, night or day, day or
night, the music hums within and I follow, even
if briefly. And so it is.

always with love,


“a tilting within myself” – toward love….


I have in my hand a small book, entitled
‘count me the stars’ .
On its back were the words that followed:
‘on your ceiling this night’.

When it’s after 3 a.m. and the leaves have begun
to move again, this is the kind of book to find.
For example, here’s a full page:

“in your unchartered journeys
I somehow knew you would visit me

if only for an hour.”

That was below the center of the page, and
separated by some silent lines. I like that.

….. the poet: KYLIE JOHNSON.

Last year I bought a line drawing with only one
splash of yellow color. It’s message:

“hello poppy, how nice
of you to arrive.”

If you happen to be in the neighborhood,
please stop by.

always with love,

Art by Rachel Olson Awes. Find her on Etsy.