Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Slavery ended in December, 1865.  My Grandfather was born in 1868.

Women in America were granted the right to vote in August, 1920.  My Mother was born in 1915.

In March 1999, Alabama, was the last U.S. state to lift the ban on interracial marriage.  I was born in 1935.

In 1960 the Federal Civil Rights Act guaranteed all people the right to “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodation of any place of public accommodation, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.” On this last day of March, 2015, thirteen  of the United States specifically ban same-sex marriage. Thirty-seven states have legal same-gender marriage.

Joining the bigots of Indiana this week, the legislature of Arkansas, where I was born, passed its own “religious Freedom” bill. The initiative won't become law unless the Republican governor signs the bill.  One wonders how exemption to deny civil rights anywhere in the U.S. on the basis of religious beliefs (Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Catholic or any other religion) is different from not allowing Sharia Law to be institutionalized to the letter by Muslim communities because it is based in religious teachings. Legislators in many states are being urged to “restore” the legal status of the right to free exercise of religion.  

Buddhism and Civil Justice:

Right and wrong behavior in Buddhism isn’t determined by whether or not a supreme being had established laws governing what should and should not be done…

Right and wrong behavior is generally determined on the basis of the following:
How would I like it if someone did this to me?
Does the act cause harm and regret (in oneself or others) or benefit and joy?
Will the act help or harm the attainment of goals of spiritual liberation?

Is the act motivated by love, generosity and understanding?

The tangerine doesn't have anything to do with religious freedom.  
I'm posting it for no other reason than that I like it. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

I’ve been trying all day to get myself worked up to a BLOG post built around Indiana’s new “preserving religious freedom” law.  The law is officially the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

I’ve come to a conclusion that the people in Indiana and anywhere else who believe they and God are going to resegregate and codify in civil law their personal exclusion of LGBT citizens from their businesses and churches are not worth my time and effort to address. Let them continue to congregate/segregate together.  The world will move on without them.

...Can't help but wonder though what they thought Palm Sunday was all about anyway... and what their upcoming "Holy Week" celebrates.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


If you have been in love
And can arrange flowers
And like to smell a baby's head
And pick up seashells at the beach
And wish you could fly
And long for the smell of damp earth in a dry season,
You can write poetry.
If you haven't and don't and can't, you can't.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lizards were nothing more than reptiles, and coral was something growing under the sea...
until he discovered poetry.

He came to poetry late in life.
He did not know before those words
he’d learned to think were common
could breathe and sing and dance
and laugh out loud across the page.

Those words yesterday he put upon the page
all in a scheme and order rare
are of some time and place apart from him
and speak of things he’d only read about.
They are not his alone today. 

I wrote the words remembering 
what a miracle poetry is
and what intense pleasure it is
to be a teacher watching
as someone discovers the magic
in common words.

In the middle of this week I watched Patrick and Jeremy...
and watching them, father and son, I was reminded
as they rode off together on their scooters that parenting
is a very special kind of poetry that unlocks the world.

Friday, March 27, 2015

There are times when adjectives are inadequate, when nouns are enough: 
San Diego Symphony
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
David Chan, violin
Richard Strauss, Serenade in E-flat Major
Johann Sebastian Bach, Concerto in D minor for two violins and string orchestra

Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 10 in E minor

All the pictures from my bicycle ride today made a symphony...

...along the San Diego River in the early morning

...a little later...Red Curb...

White-Lined Sphinx Moth 

University Heights above Mission Valley

Palm Tree on University Avenue

Discarded orange peal

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Growth

The Fiddle Leaf Ficus growing at our front door,
the one putting out new leaves that I noticed
just last Saturday and took pictures… Why not,
I thought, follow their growth to fully filled out
leaves ready to do what leaves are meant to do…
It's a little like watching hummingbird chicks grow...
so that’s what I’m doing today… and celebrating
birth and life and growth and green and everything
instead of thinking too much about the man
in the airplane who apparently killed himself
and snuffed out the lives of a hundred forty nine
people who only wanted to get somewhere.
I felt like shit after hearing it so I went right out
and took some pictures of the fiddle leaf ficus
and decided to focus on life instead of death.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Forty-five years ago on a trip into the North Borneo rain forest in the Malaysian State of Sabah, I bought a couple of totems, baskets and a machete from Kadasun Dusuns whom I had hired to guide me and a few other people to the top of Mount Kinabalu. What a trip!  The two small hand-carved totems fit my writing today.  Although they still displayed old skull trophies in their longhouses when I met them, Dusuns were no longer the feared head hunters of Borneo. 

O.K., O.K., so the senator from Texas has sashayed into the bull pen ahead of all the other “sort of” and “maybe” aspirants to the highest office in the land.  Ted Cruz who has declared his intention to be president has promised to lead a triumphal march from fundamentalist Christian Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. He declares his ultimate triumph will be eradication of “every word of Obamacare.”  He also promises that in what he hopes will be a Cruz through his first four years in the White House, he will eliminate abortion, gay marriage, the IRS, and all gun control. He promises to deregulate all energy production, to break the government down to something Tea Party leaders can manage, and to kill whatever it is overseas that needs killing to protect the American Constitution. In his latest pronouncement on gun control he promises a time when, “y’all define gun control like we do in Texas: Gun control is when you hit at what you aim at.”  

The man is no dummy.  He graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School. He knows exactly what he is doing, and whether he believes what he says he believes or not, he is cock-sure that what he is doing is the right thing to do to get him picked by the Republican Party to be its candidate and to get him elected to the highest office in America.  Only a relatively short time ago after he won the runoff in Texas that put him in the Senate, his victory speech in essence declared himself to be the American dream and that the dream comes from God.  In his speech he thanked everybody from Ron Paul to his young daughters and Sarah Palin and, of course, his mother, his father, and the Holy Ghost. In a recent speech to to the Homeschool Iowa conference he told the audience, “We love our children and we take seriously the biblical admonition to raise them up to walk in the godly manner.”  

…And now to another proposal slithering out of the far right of American politics:  Today’s L.A. Times reports on the the efforts of Huntington Beach lawyer Matt McLaughlin who wants to get enough signatures to put his god-inspired initiative on the November 2016 ballot in California.  He calls it the “Sodomite Suppression Act,” which would criminalize sodomy and put to death those convicted of it.  No kidding.  There really is a lawyer in Huntington Beach by the name of Matt McLaughlin, and that lawyer, also not kidding, is serious about strengthening legally the resolve of religious organizations to continue to marginalize LGBT citizens of the United States of America.  Of course, McLaughlin's grossly offensive, inhumane solution for what he sees as the problem of ungodly sexual orientation is not likely to make it onto the ballot; but the holocaust he proposes should at least get him barred from legal practice.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jeremy is home for spring break... Wonderful!  
He brought his Kombucha for the week. Double Wonderful!

Anybody who lives in or near San Diego should definitely 
go to the Museum of Photography of Art
to experience a very special exhibition:
7 Billion Others

Monday, March 23, 2015

Words... Not Necessary


Sunday, March 22, 2015

I didn't make a picture of the moon tonight, but I saw it... and pointed it out to Steve.  Although it's a waxing crescent moon, we could see the faint whole of it, round and almost bright there in the western evening sky.  That object close by it was the planet Venus.

I went home from noticing this remarkable moon after having dinner with Jonathan, Margaret, Steve, Avima, and Jamie, and I searched among my journals until I found a little poem I wrote quickly on such as night as this a long time ago.   It was March 19, 1992, and I remember...

Let's stand by the rail and watch the moon set
full, etched silver on the black watercolor universe.
Tomorrow won't be held back
by anything we say tonight.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Fiddle-leaf fig growing in a large pot outside our front door is known by botanists as Ficus lira. It’s a native to the area in Africa between Cameroon and Sierra Leone.  Our ficus is growing again this year in San Diego exactly the way it has added to it’s height every year. Out of the top tips of last year’s new growth small buds have appeared and are growing fast.  They remind me of the rapid growth of two hummingbird chicks that began life in a tiny nest a few feet away from the ficus. That’s life. Life is good.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Children shouldn’t play in the street.
O.K., I agree… I agree…
It’s dangerous for obvious reasons;
but don't waste my time telling me
an old man shouldn’t play in the street
because I’m not going to believe it…
He’s got to find excitement somewhere.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


They are still here,
Nazis and other hate mongers
constrictors of freedom
raw naked under uniforms
official and unofficial
camouflaged danger lies sleeping
with one eye open waiting
for a signal that someone
of disapproved color or
misunderstood inclination
has wandered into the wrong place
unaware of eschatological 
impulses of power
will try to convince you
the determined campaign to destroy
innocence and wisdom 
is over
it isn’t 
and won’t be
until the well taught lessons
of suspicion and fear 
have been unlearned