Friday, September 27, 2013

Every candle

I am away
in a land where I do not know how to count,
the days
roll along while I walk cobbled streets with precision
back stepping through mistaken turns.
My mother's father's tongue about me
I wander streets traveled by those he loved
seeing discoveries there invented
walking down history that led to his profession

and my freedom in a new world
unbound by common condemnation
no goose stepping in line
to bells that mark the time
Freed to think beyond isolating walls

of truths that hide
and yet protect
that surround but also strangle
but once unwound what can
be bidden to hold us close and not forgotten?

So there in every kirche
with the grim saints over looking
skeltoned remains for only one euro,
I light two candles
in prayer for parents
whose time is shortly measured
and thank the youth, soon a father,
who set us each on paths tangential.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


She has taken to remembering her mother,
strong and stern,
an elder of 16,
bedded in bunches without cribs,
bundling hay that stung and pinned on hot August afternoons,
delighting in forbidden cold fresh milk,
and penance misplaced from the chalkboard
all raised to be field hands and Carmelite nuns,
silenced by a drunken father

but oh what a grin,

when it broke, you could see all the pranks
she played on her brothers.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


There are moons that can not be forgotten
such as that moon that filled the sky that one September.
We were coming up over the hill—you, Dad and I—and it met us through the trees
pale and powerful overtaking the silent repeating pines 
You had never seen such a harvest moon in all your life.

Tonight another such rises but pinioned by what she has come to reap 
a thousand miles from here 
you have no such thoughts
lost in a private delirium seeing images that are no more
meeting those who are no longer
wondering how much more time is worth.

All of us, 
we wait unable to know, not knowing what's next
while Dad who loves you most knows only that he has forgotten
caught up in a bramble of slowly unknowing
not knowing even that as you sit beside him
you are joyfully slipping out with the September moon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


There’s comfort in the old house:
The creak of the stair, and the hello of the door,
The shrill of the crickets, and the gekka gekka of the cicadas,
The swishing sound of the night cars, and the deep bass of the water pump.
Sounds, which rocked me as an infant, are as familiar as my own heart’s rhythm.

Its light calls me home:
Filtering through the old blinds, softly whispering upon the plastered walls.
Fairies and saints take form in the floors and the doors
While magic gathers beneath the soft glow of brass knobs and hinges (though badly in need of screws and catches).
Images, which gave birth to a youthful artist, are as familiar to me as mother’s Marian blue eyes

In full fruit are my father’s grapes and the old pear (pear’s for one’s heirs),
and even the apple that has never borne, now is providing.
Where once a pool cooled off countless summer nights,
there now lies a weed garden planned but never planted.
Beyond the wood’s edge – long a childhood haven – a false green beckons, barred by bramble and burr.
Spaces, which opened a world imagined, are as forgotten and yet as familiar as the young feet that ran them.

There is sadness in this old house
As if in mourning for the family that has left her,
Mold gathers and ants collect without mother’s relentless pursuit
And the old willow gives up its arms without father’s distracted vigilance.
The poison ivy has overrun the door and the steep, narrow stairs threaten faltering steps,
The caretakers can no longer guard against time’s pace – and what once cradled a family is no longer familiar,

Love cannot return youth and returning cannot restore memory.
The long goodbye does not bring answers, only questions,
Listening does not still the pain of forgetting
But return to it I must
To care for those who once did the caring,
No longer caught up but only briefly catching
Wisps of ancient laughter
In this old house, 
Always forever and never familiar, now offering up her ghosts.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Sometimes life seems to fly in with messages just because the window has been left open. Lately that has been so with my email. Like most of us I receive regular emails from all sorts of places...J.Jill with the latest Fall fashions, Chico wanting me back, tech company sales saying that they can improve the reach, efficiency, productivity, impact of my current workforce, textbook sales suggesting new titles for my courses, management education series promising greater returns, and conferences asking for papers to be presented in Honolulu! You can begin to imagine the possibilities open to me!!!!

The problem with email is in that within the present work world, email requests demand responses and thereby become our work focus. It could take a serious day to answer all those urgent emails that came in the day or even the night before and so our boxes constantly overflow at 100 unanswered. Worse yet the priorities of our jobs and personal lives are in danger of falling prey to the demands of complete strangers or even colleagues with goals not attached to our own.  It must be harder still for the "Yes people" — those who have difficulty prioritizing and saying no to that which deserves no response. And yet...are they wrong? At the end of each email is a human being with a need.

Prioritization is nothing new to my job — it is my job. Where is the value — for our students, the institution, the mission, our world. Oh yeah and then does it fall within BUDGET???? In many ways I am luckier than most. My father, David J. DeMarle, an engineer back in the days Eastman Kodak was the wealthiest company in the world (and had been for 100+ years). He was my first tutor and his expertise was Value Engineering and Future Forecasting. From him I received my first lessons in the importance of looking simultaneously down on the playing field and out at the horizon to set priorities.

Still technology adds complexity. It becomes reality.

I heard the tale end today of an NPR story on how the Amish prioritize technologies . My first surprise was that they did embrace technologies. I had seen evidence of this while in Rochester, NY where the Amish community lives nearby. There I could see, despite clothing from the 1800's and horse drawn carriages, how the Amish remain entrepreneurial and prosper within our technology proficient society. Amish, technology, embrace?

They do so purposefully. I think this quote from the program poignantly points to their constant reaffirmation of their cultural and personal priorities with regards to technology and its daily usage: 
"And in the background there's always one big question: Will this new technology hurt the Amish way of life? And then back to my own life."
Since Images and Voices of Hope, I have been trying to reconnect to my life's priorities. In the end it becomes a daily practice of quietude — a check in of sorts with just being, just listening. When I've been able to practice this daily — or even to retain the practice daily in my mind's eye, I am able to embrace my day with clarity. Perhaps even more surprisingly I find my INBOX seems to mirror my intent as well.

A case in point, the morning after I embraced the "be here now" concept at Indian Brook park resulting in the following photo, I received the following email.

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

- Mary Oliver
Source: A Thousand Mornings

It seems in setting priorities, the world responds. My challenge of course is holding to course, holding in the stillness.