Given the current conflicts across this land and the earth, this timeless poem from the late John Haines conveys the words I have no voice for.

How strange to think of those street
sand vacant lots, the sandhills
where we played and dug our trenches;
the forts we built, the enemies
we conjured to aim our stick-guns at,
and then went home at evening,
to victory, to safety and sleep.

And now the vast acres of rubble,
the pitched and roofless houses,
upended stonework and sunken bridges.
The dog-packs roaming, digging,
for the one still-unclaimed victim;
the stray sniper aiming at dusk,
and in the roadside fields,
flowers that explode when picked.

The children wandering from one
burned suburb to another,
seeking that which no longer exists:
a neighborhood, a playing field,
a wading pool or a standing swing;
for a kite to fly, a ball to throw,
or just one pigeon to stone.

And through all this haunted vacancy,
from cellars and pits of sand,
come and go as on a fitful wind
such whispers, taunts and pleadings:
the scolding voices of dead parents,
the lessons of teachers no longer
standing, whose classrooms
are blown to ash and smoky air.

And far-off, unheard beyond the drone
of a single hovering aircraft –
in Paris, Zurich, Prague, or London,
the murmur of convening statesmen.

For the Century’s End
Poems 1990—1999
by John Haines
Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.

2015-02-28 17.44.02In these times
there are more questions
than the answers we
require to move and breath.

In these times
we feel isolated,
at great distances
from the reality we see.

In these times
the human spirit
further bonds and strengthens,
we are all in this together.

I believe who we are
when our eyes first open
and light through half-drawn
blinds washes over our body,
we are true, we are authentic
and only through the chaos and fray
of each day do we become jaded
and lose touch with humanity.

I sat down to write what’s consuming
my mind day in and day out.

I thought on the state of the world
the wars, the drought, the famine –

the social and environmental
issues that continue to plague all beings.

I thought about what can we do
I thought about what can I do.

What is the root cause?

I know someone who talks
and preaches about a shift,

the coming end of what we think
we know and what we should know.

Existing or not existing
in that darkness, in that space

of nothing from which words
of proceeding masters are

twisted and malformed into a
new philosophy for a new age.

That age I move away from into
my own space, an inclusive space.

For how can we bring about change
by condemning another’s thoughts

another’s beliefs – peace comes
from understanding and respect

not guilt, shame, or hatred.

When the trees weep
the raging battle has taken a turn.

Rivers disappear and a lonely
dog walks the dry riverbed.

Grains of sand and stone
from the mountains consume

the landscape and put to rest
what we know, hide what we are.

The weeping tree turns away from the
sun and moves deeper into the forest.


I sat on the rocks
overlooking the sea

the sun was nowhere
to be found.

I looked for reasons
in the waves and white foam.

I sought solace from starfish
and fallen feathers.

Consumed by questions and
lacking any understanding

any reason for the state of the world
for the actions of a few affecting many.


I looked down at my hands
and into my heart.

If the answers are not out there
if they are hidden and buried

then I must look within
at what I can do here and now.


Sister to sister.
Brother to brother.

Human to human.
We are one.

Some may travel far.
Some may reach great heights

and attain great power
from the golden throne

but we are made of the same compounds
we breathe the same air

we care for and love our children
and we protect our families.

We hope and pray for tomorrow
to make it through the night.


When the sirens wail
masking the mother weeping

alone in the streets
we have lost humanity

we have lost hope and
we have lost the war.

Heads bowed
Silent words
This connection
We all share
Fragile and tenuous
Now rings an alarm
Looking for strength
And unity.

In this dark hour
We realize the thin thread
Holding us up and together
That is stretched at times
And pulls us closer at others.

The key to learning
And moving beyond
Is compassion at all levels
With all creatures of this earth.