blinding ice

for 3 months before she died
one or both of us was there
in Jackson, NH where her
cozy mountainside home twinkled
golden motes onto gentle snow

she was determined to live
to focus on what really matters
in this precious shared time
one aware moment softly drifted
to another with no delusions

we celebrated Christmas sang
joyously she was vitally alive
among the notes bright stars
wheeled through the sky
a voice both pure and precise

January ended the inevitable
cold settled in four liters
of abdominal fluid were drained
every few days her strength
flowed into sad clouded bottles

February an ambulance came they
carried her on a one way trip
to a hulking hearse its engine
clattered a menacing diesel
arrival growled and departed

we said last goodbyes all night
she vomited blood it overflowed
the bag onto her face a mask
of darkness a final descent to
a writhing tattered chrysalis

with her brothers we planned
services for her community
the building was large full
of bright souls who loved her
and then just us two alone

in the building of furniture
that was once her home icy
rain fell a hard tinkling
thickening covered the land
i marred the hood of her car

a little white Subaru we leased
for her she loved its handling
and suddenly my tears flowed
down over the cracked veins
slid silently to frozen ground

and all around icicles blazed
with bright white light
images tangled among them
an overpowering brilliance
a stabbing scintillation

her things were packed away
soon we would drive back
brief owners of her vehicle
but now there was ice to scrape
blinding and incomprehensible
©John Greenleaf-Maple - text and art 10/11/21

salvation

for me it has never been
through some profound
spiritual transformation

it might have been given through you
or a big dog with dark trusting eyes or
a grove of trees encircling a shaft of light

but i know the world would easily drown me
were it not for beauty or an act of loving kindness
given by someone who is possibly you or you

i don’t understand why we destroy ourselves
with the fervency of our beliefs but we do
we lose the sparkle of our perfection in certitudes

anyway, although there are no words to convey
why i choose to stay here when i am feeling lost
thank you for saving grace possibly given unknowingly

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art
9/26/21

petitioner


there is a time for words
explanations of perceptions of things
the way it feels to suffer the wooden weight
of certain knowledge yes there is plenty
in my world my mind wishes to deny
that we die for example just as love becomes
a heartfelt living presence flowing among us
my god let me grieve long and fully enough
that i recognize the preciousness of this
just let me rest here a moment in silence
i understand nothing, in all innocence, please

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 8/1/17

traveling back

we were traveling back
to a non-existent world
after care-taking for months
we were fully present with her
during her final hours and afterwards
packed up the house made arrangements
for things no longer needed
we did all we could to honor
her sacred beautiful life

and now we were traveling back
the first time we really had
to truly feel the pain of loss
the inevitable crash after years
of affirming her wholeness
the perfect unfolding of her path
yes still true for she had gained serenity
and a heart filled with love and gratitude
not once did she protest or give up on life
she was more alive than most when she departed

as the highway continues to reel out
the world begins to recede there is a need
to simply be alone to rest to grieve
we are traveling back to where normalcy
unrest disease unease continue to unwind before us

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 2020/02/13

the streams

inside the house
all of the screens
stream by with
fear-filled news
emboldened kkk in charlottesville
leave behind the injured and deceased
and here it is August 2017
such sadness and suffering
information can bring

a step or two
from beneath the sheltering roof
is the entire infinite sky and
a delicious lingering touch
of sweet cool air
this bright summer morning in independence
honey locust, towering catalpa, black locust
and kentucky coffee bean hang heavy
aided by recent unusual rains
laden with full brown seed pods

my brothers and sisters
the perfect place to fall in love
is already offering its bounty

the fragrance of life
wafts from the ground
with a scent of harvest time
the dead made fertile
in the luscious earth
i tell you plainly
there is only birth to be seen
in any direction i look

there comes a time when we too
must stand in the way and when we do
we look to the strong ancestral trees
for our example patiently reverent
in the black ground and surging sky

matter transformed to light cascades
to us through the quivering leaves
and back again within receiving eyes

wind that has swept back and forth
over oceans of water and grass
slows and sighs along our limbs
eddies at our fingertips

wind chimes beneath our porch
bump lovingly against one another
a low mellow ringing contralto

earlier on the lake trail
some pressed by gaze averted
absorbed in the screen
they come and they go
voiceless and lost in the depths
of the endless scroll

do not fear my dear
for we will remain
rooted here forever
and a day as long
as it takes knowing
the fear carried
in those furtive eyes
of separation and despair

yet wherever we are together
we invoke an invitation
to be within and with each other

in this field life still flows unimpeded
it rises straight from the center
of earth wind and water

nothing is the matter
and the ground of all being
is in every locale
accepting all that is
without label or illusion

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 8/17/17

harvest moon

it rises
voluminously
as the sun is setting
over Independence

a harvest moon
closely draped
in a silvery shroud

the question seems to be
what pure thing
have we grown this season?
what thing
most beautifully wrought
have we to offer?

and what of this view
from the surface of the moon
a dark globe
slowly rolling its oceans
through a vast star strewn expanse
a dusting of tiny lights
clumped around bits of land?

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art

thank you

there are parts of life
almost too crushing to share
pain like razors across the heart

the way, for instance,
my daughter’s body is being eaten
from the inside out by cancer

but i must share with you
how a devoted mother of two
calmly accepts what is approaching

she is at peace with the universe
and appreciates every moment
of what is beautiful in her life

i must tell you this
even though and maybe because
of the pain it brings to her father

i must tell you this
from a place of deepest love
and grief all mixed as one

so that you might look up
in this instant and know
what is important and true

the undying Love within you

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art

– in gratitude to beloved friends

the gift

i repeatedly turn it down
this small radiant gift
i am freely offered

a small hinged box or silken bag
that will open on infinity

for after all
how do i even know that
and why am i worthy?

and are there strings attached?

i would then feel obliged
to somehow repay
but that feels ok at least

i would feel more in control
and – oh – the instant has passed

it was just here and then

i doubted my little me again
it dimmed and receded into time

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art