What shapes our lives?

Sights, sounds, smells, feelings, emotions.

Not only rational thoughts, but the endless intangible contacts with the world.

I grew up in a ranch-house in Georgia with a glass door facing west. Each afternoon brillant light streamed through the towering pine trees. The golden light shaped the way I see the world. Eventually I became a wedding photographer, and I always took pictures “the wrong way,” shooting into the sun.

Even now, when…

Poem inspired by Angelou

David S.

After my mother dies, I spend hours in the forest
looking for inarticulate answers,
silent whispers on winds,
connections, twisted and gnarled.

Fractals appear in roots and leaves,
each element repeated in the larger whole.
Seen echoes unseen.
Visible above describes invisible beneath.
Green veins carry life earth to sky and back.

My life circulates like this, a growing, flowing, ebbing twist
of forest of my chest.

She, like the leaf caught dancing on a spider web,
caught between here and beyond,
suspended by invisible string.

Don’t drop, not just yet.

When Great Trees Fall

David S.

I hope you are keeping well and having a good weekend.

I’ve had a hard year, but in the midst of it, I have tried to use poetry and photography as a sort of anchor amidst the changes.

Escapes into the forest with a wide-angle lens, studying and thinking about trees and the connection between them has been helpful. I find trees to be calming, magical. Trees give, shade, beauty, shelter, oxygen, habitat, but without an overt show of generosity. They take what they need, water, light, but nothing more. Thriving and decay are on full display, sometimes both at…

Poem of a dream

David S.

I see the beautiful animal in distress
Orange eyes pierce
Black tears run down cheek,
Dragged back and forth by a small dog
With a heartbreaking scream
Pain wrapped in pain,
The cry of a creature that wishes to die.

In my dream
One arm is missing
Completely detached from the shoulder. . .
I could reach inside the cavity
To the artery above the heart,
Pinch off the blood supply,
Death would come
Swift and painless,

But. . .

The creature is wild,
Sharpened by suffering
My kindness will be mis-perceived.
One snap from sharp jaws upon my limb
And I will…

David S.

I hope things are well in your part of the world.

I recently lost my mother after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. At her memorial service, I spoke about her life and closed with a reading of Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Famous,” about the simple actions that shape meaning in life.

I was reminded of the power of poetry in the responses I received from friends who watched the service and were touched by the poem.

Words give tangible meaning to vague emotion and there is magnified magic in the sharing of meaninful words. …

The nobel prize poet
Born the same year as my mother
Glorious with words,
Responsible, responsive

The most haunting line of her poem,
1943 —
May the hyphen go on forever.

My mother lay responseless,
No words, base thoughts.
If she thought at all.

“You drift between earth and death
which seem, finally,
strangely alike.”

I waited with bated breath,
The end of breath.


The end of tomorrow and yesterday.

“how much terror we bear,
the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling”

My prayers do not change gravity,
Alter seasons, or defy planetary motion. …

Poem in praise of books

Photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

Not as my pocket dwelling device
Raging like hungry fire;
Devoid of birthday notifications,
Online banking access,
Inbox responses pending,
Group chats —
Books lay still, inviting stillness
Blessedly uninsistent.
They are only one thing,
Nothing more, nothing less.
Not everything, incessant.

The magic of books is
The opportunity to travel anywhere,
Discover anything,
Undergo alchemical transmutation.
Not merely to step into another’s mind;
To actually become that person for a time.

Such a treasure is powerful beyond measure
Well-contained by the page
To prevent from overwhelming and overrunning our senses.
Books are silenced by darkness
Limited by space. …

remembering us

On the day her father died,
God painted the sky
Brilliant in tribute.

I watched the sun sink behind
The volcano peak

He watched the sunset
In heaven
For first time.

I look west from the old
Railroad to the overgrown
Burial site and remember
Her lost child, gone in the first days of life.

Now, I look west from the ridge,
Past the sunset peak, and remember
Her father, gone in the fullness of days,
Old and gray, this death seems more just, but no less painful.

The broken-hearted goodbye is what makes us human.

Longing for restoration, the…

David S.

Curiosity + Empathy + Art

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