Pushing breath from blue

By Valerie Dodge Head
By Valerie Dodge Head

We push out, breath from blue,

like the breaking waves, alone with their thoughts,

and catch ourselves among the reeds.

Passing alone through districts of enchanting knowledge,

we cough up our meal of bones, still hungry to drown

inside a conundrum bigger than our shoes.


Our little oceans, best of our times, rimmed ‘round

with shortening days, the noose of our shrinking

humanity; allure, the currency of dreams.

Still, one swims in what one drinks and drinks

what washes down and around all that looks

for more horizon. Let the four-quartered moon

sing what is only heard when deafness prevails.


The tragedy of the good, the irony of evil, foisted

upon hearts ill-suited for the journey in.

So it seems that the only way to bleed to life

is in the unmooring of our punctured ships.

There is more room to bleed when splintered lie

our longings, long held, and drawn and bloodied

souls buoy once more upon


the silent, soothing sea.


Special thanks to dear friend and colleague, Valerie Dodge-Head for her masterful artwork which inspired this piece. 

Haiku Prayers II

lily pads

 Caught deep in my throat

Are songs too light for singing

You sing them instead


My senses stutter

My ears unfit to listen

And yet, still, you speak


Dark clouds come sighing

But shadows run from daylight

Light too raw for words


In communion, come

To taste the bread of freedom

And brandish a cup


Like apple blossoms

Fallen from their lonely place

Are we, so planted


Sever, now, my tongue

And replace it with silence

Then, alone, I sing


Gift of paradox

Understanding brings little

Freed in conundrum


Sweet breath of Mary

Mother to all, then as now

Speak the name of God

This Holy Skin

This is a piece originally posted on my innerwoven blog on August 28th of last year. I thought I’d post it here, too. You know, for fun…

We stand and crane our necks

reaching for heaven’s bright smile,

upon shoulders of brown and moving green,

and in the act forget ourselves as one and there and good.

Made from unmade to make again,

these arms outstretched with fingers hoping

to touch the air and the unseen,

we hope for less than our skin suggests.

And yet, in this, there is no shame

since we ourselves are of the dust – rooted,

embranched and gnarled but numinous and whimsical

as the clouds and rain.

To escape from this is not as good

as other fingers poised to touch,

to show what we weren’t looking for…

ourselves, God’s fingerprints smudged

on the pane of humanity,

in the humanity of our pain-

on us.

Having sung with the choir – an evening examen


Having sung with the choir, this evening’s venture

brings light to the night and a dark covering of

powdered stillness descending, descending still

upon these battered brows. Hear, O hear

the silver notes, sliding out from cleaving tongues

pressed up against our cheeks, the very cheeks

now flushed and warm with the post-song glow of

happy hearts. O Dancing One, how lightly you move,

alight and glide where clumsy old oafs yet banished in

the wooden feet of sin are forced but to watch.

But watch we will until, our laces loose,

we cast off iron shoes, and at last

our feet fall in time with yours.

Tonight, our songs have burrowed into

heads prepared for pillows,

hearts prepared for love,

eyes prepared for sleep,

souls prepared for eternity,

and voices prepared to sing once more the songs

that wonder.

Photo found here


I-You-Holy Ground

I am the dusty ground, low and dry

thirsty for the imprint of holy feet.

Despoil with radiant prints, this virgin ground.


You are the rain, falling deftly

upon my brown soil. Now is left

your footprint on this ground.


I am the ashen leaves, curling and broken

awaiting but a whisper. For only then

can I fall on solid ground.


You are the soundless wind, howling, still.

You creep up behind me and

exhale me to the ground.


I am the snow, disembodied worlds of cold

and chance encounters with hand, or tongue,

eye-lash or palm needing ground.


You are the frozen air in which I am held

aloft, drawn slowly down

to meet with others on the frozen ground.


I am the waning autumn death

soon to give way to the long silence-when one Voice

becomes the loudest ground.


You are the Voice that speaks

heard best in dying, power given for

rising from this shivering ground.


I am the distant hours, the midnight passing-

the refusing minutes, trapped in hours,

running from the years of ancient ground.


You are the many, and the one, and all time

and nothing and everything from nothing

where time has no ground.


I am the weeping, the squalid groaning,

the unrequited miseries of misery’s company

laying crippled and diffused in the ground.


You are the end of tears and years, the question

and the answer, the sutured nerve of joy, not suggested

but present, here, on this Holy Ground.

Driving school, autumn nights and thoughts on poverty

Poverty never ceases to surprise and disarm. What is truly alarming however is whenever I grow indifferent or worse, apathetic, to its crying dishonor. May I never be unaware or distant and always prepared to enter into the suffering of others. Lord, have mercy.


Don’t let me be found waiting when,

like water on a mirror, I slide

from corner to corner,

unwieldy and unpredictable,

the scab before the fall,

the tears before the pain,

the gain before the loss.

Running toward is always better than

running away when haggard eyes

silently proclaim my complicity in

the hollow halls of ownership.


I need to simmer long in cauldrons

of grieving for ones lost on the loom,

dismembered patterns refusing collision

into any kind of shape. Can you smell

the paint on my brush, richly bristled,

bent away from their needy canvas,

dry and parched, stretched too thin

to hold more than grey or black?

Colors here only reveal what stolen

chances never offered have done to ones

who just might wear them best.


Plumbing these altitudes, I grow weary

from my swan dives upward,

expelling all reason for some ritual,

denying them time for tome,

confusing their ache for my art.

Fixed, stuck am I on stolen intrusions

of short memory too bent to sort,

too cold to move, too sharp to soothe.

But forward brings me closer

than any other path, not placating,

or even prosaic but parallel with promises

unveiled only through the repetition

of laughter, laughter and

the solemn, sweet, irrepressible smiles

of the poor.

nighttime songs our fears erase

a story lived, now story told

we, early young, now later, old

see stranger things than daytime held

but not without our sorrows quelled


we fluff and tuck and yawn and brush

pray God remove all sinning blush

the air now cool in silver glow

what dreams may come we do not know


divested now of time and chance

we bid adieu and leave the dance

till thricely woven round with grace

the nighttime songs our fears erase