as my fractured right clavicle

has knitted itself back together

stronger than ever before

(for the body grows with insight)

i am stuck again by the miracle of it

and relish in the feel of muscles sliding

well supported by this honey combed

frame of calcium already recycled

millions of times through sea shells

and the bones of all who transitioned

before us everything built without

a single conscious idea or spoken word

were it not for the fractures and healing

we might take too much for granted

on a planet in a solar system in a galaxy

in a universe where physicists daily marvel

at how finely tuned everything is

to make our existence a living possibility

but as we see it all fits perfectly into you

and me and all that is without a single


©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 12/12/17


It is our last night of retreat with
Gravity, A Center for Contemplative Action.
And now a sky brimming with stars
settles gently around our shoulders.

The Big Dipper poised above Saint Benedict
seems to shimmer with fullness,
as though it just scooped up a mountain
of silvery kernels from Nebraska cornfields
stretching to infinity in every direction.

There are no devices I wish to power on.
The faint taps and whispering scratches
of a fountain pen
communicate to my sisters and brothers
scrawls of gratitude
in a language that we now know
trails off beyond symbols
to a path of reflected lunar light
across the rippled lake and beyond
to circle a magnificent rising moon;
such celestial celebration
as only reverent silence can bring.

I want to rest here forever and i do
in this eternal present moment
emptied of news feeds, opinions and restless thoughts. All our usual distractions seem so meager, like a blaring, blazing 24 hour casino promising riches to the the masses
that throng to it in a distant metropolis.

Across the street monks pray for us
and all of the world with such devoted unwavering love that I can see it rising
above the harvested fields, a holy host
of mysterious beneficence, like a gift blanket of luminescence that I can surrender to fully amongst the dreams of all who shared with us,
fellow seekers encircling us with
joined hearts and hands,
baptising us with the water of life,
tears freely given without self-consciousness
from such beautiful eyes that I never realized
each human has the capacity
to glisten and shine like this,
that they could bring such blessed renewal,
unconditional love that suffuses the night,
rising higher with the ascending moon,
glowing with perfection on every one of us
in this holy grace-filled timeless instant
of solitude, silence and stillness.

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 10/7/17

please pass it around

i can tell you
what your deepest fear is
the same as mine and all humankind:
that you will not be loved

as a member of the global tribe
certain codes and rituals are practiced
to strengthen the story we think of as us
our roles are well worn
one generation to the next ensuring
some comfort will be brushed along our skin

newborns who are never touched
develop a syndrome known as
failure to thrive yes they die
as has been documented scientifically

can we see how clinical we have become?

love withheld, love unreceived leaves wounds
anger that snakes through a body of scars
trailing behind it festering resentment,
a serpentine reorienting to things
so they now make circular sense
the best defense is calculated offense
much lack can be hidden in war where
we battle the monster attacking our worth

you know good and well
this is how we start thinking
so we can deliberately kill
without blinking an eye
a rational logical decision
based upon the original omission
of any sense of tenderness
yes we truly will lay down lives for this

but as i mentioned before i know
your deepest darkest most hidden fear:
to be judged the outcast unworthy of love
not by god his son or the holy host
but by fellow living breathing humans
the sole agents capable of physical touch

is it too much to ask at last
that we pass this along one to another
as some show signs of having been missed
in the original round where all were blessed

it has become a rather pressing matter
as we are about to drown
in the trickle of intricacies
bleeding from every corner
of this well-narrated tale
of utter loneliness and murderous terror

please be kind and pass it around

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 9/29/17

in stillness

in this nowhere
of stillness

there is less
and less
to say

i appreciate

i trust

i feel

an energy
radiating from my heart
boundless endless love

i know
that it flows
from one reality
the source
of all wholeness
and flawless purity

from this
point of stillness
all of life is born
every atom
of all that is

in this perfect moment
in this timeless instance
full of grace and eternity

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 9/27/17

i forgive

i forgive myself
for holding my spirit
by the throat
with the iron fist
of self-doubt and recrimination

i forgive myself
for choosing the safety of a defined life
constrained by beliefs of worthiness,
for imagining that there must be
a right way which can be discovered
if i simply search for it
with enough sincerity and desperation
as though emergency exit lights
will suddenly illuminate the way
off of this insane flight from myself

i forgive myself for repeating the steps
of ho’oponopono a thousand times
i apologize
please forgive me
thank you
i love you
while always concealing in one hand
or the other
a precious piece of guilt or shame
tiny shards of a shattered mirror
that still hold for me
an irresistible gleaming allure

i forgive myself
for building boundaries into walls
so that anger and resentment
would always be securely held
as my treasured personal affliction
so that my isolation would ensure
the perpetuation of my loneliness
so that when connection is what i most need
no one can possibly reach me

i forgive myself
for piling up insulation
against more suffering reaching me
only to find myself turning blue
half dead from such quiet shallow breathing
lest anyone be able to hear
my soul crying out for union with divinity

there are endless ways to return to my cell
secret routes known only to me
i can be here now and disappear in an instant
as any need or want for my undeserving self arises

i forgive myself
for taking on the suffering
that rightfully belongs to others
i never understood that it is here as a lesson
to be lived by its owner and then released

i forgive myself
and return to this world
all of the painful bits
i tried to bear for you
believing then i would be fully loved

i forgive myself for feeling wrong when hurt,
for believing that strength is the ability
to withstand anything that fear can deliver,
that free will was given to me
to choose the cleverly concealed steps
to where perfection is reflected
from the crystalline water
of a pure and depthless lake

as a precautionary measure
i also forgive myself in advance
for thinking i am some kind of mistake,
something less than the divine love
that grew this body from nothing
and that created this shining heart,
an open gate which none can close before me

today i see
the whole hot mess of me
striving to be better
than absolute perfection
and today i do
truly forgive

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 9/25/17


pissed off

yes i’m all about peace and light,
i’m affirming wholeness in this moment, alright,
but the disappearing me
is plenty pissed off and
would like some control back, goddammit

look around, it says, at an obvious
sea of misery definitely sloshing
toward the deep end this time

how the fuck, for instance,
can my only daughter have stage 4 cancer
and they have nothing further to recommend

a derivative of mustard gas – did you know
that is the basis of all chemo
in this chemical soaked poisonous world
we worsen by the day? yeah, pissed off
doesn’t even begin to describe it,
i am fucking enraged by the whole shitty
slide of events, not to even mention the nightly updates of a world awash and aflame

let’s love now, right in the middle of the bonfire
there is plenty of crap to burn,
of that i can assure you,
and i like it hotter than you
might imagine on an entirely
carnal plane fuck if i care
what it translates to
on some mystical metaphysical dimension
let’s work up some sweat some sweet slick
intertwining of an entirely physical nature
and then write about it in a peaceful way
once we’ve blown off some steam we recall

the calm that was always here
except through that one amazing part
where you did that thing oh right

as we bring our awareness back to the room
we wiggle our fingers and toes such bliss
to have settled into ourselves just as we are
even at pissed times like this

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 9/9/17


those who do not live in love
can only act from fear

when it grows strong enough
hate and violence burst forth
from the tortuous pain of separation

a deranged 22 year old
stalks trails in KC
executing white men
in my age range
five shot in the back of the head
they never saw it coming
he quietly stated in confession
like unexpected grace
he brought them sudden peace

in Charlottesville the fear
draws armed white supremacists together
weapon caches are strategically placed
throughout the city in case more hate
should need to be inflicted
like Easter Islanders gone single mindedly
mad driven over the edge of sustainability
they march with tiki torches
to lend a tropical festive flair
to the dangerous smoke laden air

near Philadelphia 18 year old
Bianca Nikol Roberson finishes shopping
for her first semester at college
she parts from her mother and grandmother
at the mall looking forward to the fall
and fails to allow
an angry young white man
into her her lane fast enough
shot in the head through the window
she careens away
already dead when she crashes
into a roadside tree
her beautiful young life
forever gone from the lane he claims
he speeds off in a red pickup truck
desperate to be somewhere sane

in Houston our callous disregard
for the planet’s health is made clear
thousands are washed from their sodden homes
by the most severe rainfall
in United States weather history
three straight days of broken records
thirty are left dead yet it is love
that pulls survivors from the wreckage
thousands of them spared
and even now when things appear
to be at their utmost worst
we are given another chance
to reflect and begin anew

caught in the swell
of myriad and complex tragedies
i could easily be brought to a standstill
but i serve no one by being depressed

tugged by the tide of perilous change
i affirm that i am love,
that i have no desire to follow
this malicious energy roaming the land

i am peace and i will continue to increase

though i suffer from the anguish
of my brothers and sisters
i am hope that swims always toward light
in the midst of seething chaos i am still
i am pulsing eternal life
i am the joy of existence
i am a safe harbor and refuge

in one power only
one source
i am

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 9/1/17