Apple Pie Lesson

Ma could bake,

pies, bread, English muffins

the smell of her baking, incense

to my nose as I walked in

on a cold fall day

as the first frosts appeared.

The kitchen was warm

as she stood there

pulling out another batch

of freshly baked cookies.

Shortly after my marriage

I needed to learn

how to make an apple pie

with crust made from scratch

so I went to her, flour in hand

show me how, don’t do, show

I asked and we went step by step.

Measuring flour, cutting in shortening

rolling out the dough, placing in pie pan

slicing apples, just right, not too thin

cinnamon, sugar, a little flour

mixing them in the apples

then placing the mix into the shell

covering it all with rolled out dough

she showed how to crimp the edges

just using a basic fork, a quick wash

then into the oven it went.

Now as I stand in my own kitchen

on a late fall afternoon

with the air crisp and cool

and leaves falling on the ground

I go through the motions 

she taught me long ago

as I cut in the shortening

roll out the dough, prepare the apples

the scent of it all baking

the incense of my youth returned.



Trying to write poetry

requires that I dig, deep.

Deeper than ever

to find the right words

to make clear metaphors

setting my feelings free.

To look at the world

and see inner beauty

even in the grime

that coats everything

with a dirty film

obscuring the truth.

Poetry, is hard

for one not so smart

whose inner world

is a littered landscape.

Trying to piece together

these little bits and parts

a jigsaw puzzle of memory

twisted by life’s tornados.

Am I making sense

in these words I write

or is this all a jumble

of mismatched thoughts?


I sit here trying to write this poem

in the darkened office

I need this quiet time

the quiet outside and inside

allowing my mind to float

as images slowly appear

capturing their meaning

in the words that I use.

There is a harshness out there

a place of finger pointing

where blame is passed along

like an old time bucket brigade.

It becomes hard to see light

to write freely with a heavy heart.

It’s the death of a thousand cuts

here take my load, they say,

and bear it, take my pain, feel it

as I walk away leaving you

to be the waste dump 

of all my anger and fears

a utilitarian piece to be used

then left and forgotten.

I’m as broken as the bread

poured out like the wine

seeking peace and wholeness

in this dry and dark wilderness.

There is light, somewhere

there is hope in the air.

In the peaceful silence

I hear more deeply

the song of creation

the hymns of praise

that reside deep within.

Cup of Tea

She sits there quietly reading

the dog pressed against her leg

sleeps soundly secure.

I look over and smile

this is love in it’s purest

sitting in the quiet of the evening

no need for wordy conversation

we both know that our love

unseen in the air binds us

connecting us even in silence

she looks up gives me a smile

pats the dog as he shifts

I ask if she wants a cup of tea

as I stand to go to the kitchen

set the water to boil, get cups

teabags at the ready, sugar, milk

soon the kettle is screaming

as I pour preparing the tea.

As the tea steeps I smile

they have it all wrong I think

love need not be all action

all passionate kisses 

love is in these moments

in the cups of tea we share

in the quiet spaces of life.

Mary Oliver’s Instructions

Mary Oliver writes, 

Instructions for living a life.

First, pay attention

oh how I try

each day to pay attention

to listen for even the least

to see beyond the words

to peer into the deep.

Oh, God how I try,

yet my human frailty

like Peter, James and John

fail me when I need it most.

Oh, I am astonished

astonished flowers bloom

after burial under snow

astonished by new birth

by the sounds of the birds

the rising of the sun

blood red in the eastern sky

the daily turning of life

the love I receive

even when I’m not lovable.

Yes, I’m astonished

that my life is so full

of that which God provides.

Oh how I want to tell

to shout out to all

about this amazing world

the music in the air

the brightness of love

the color of the forest

as the leaves once green

turn into a blaze of reds

setting the world on fire

the fire of the Spirit

that baptizes us with 

the water of God’s tears

weeping for humanity’s folly

hanging from the cross.

On the T today

She sits there alone

on the train

heading into town

surrounded by life

her baskets filled

as she talks to each

her life in moments

love’s memory lost.

People stare at her,

as she talks away.

I watch as she touches

each of those talismans

of her life, precious

in her sight, children

that have grown

and flown away

reminding us of life

as more than being

as we seek connection

in the storms that torment


There is a scientific reason

why the leaves change

from green, to red and orange

to make a tree blaze with color.

There is always a reason

scientific or otherwise

yet all I want, is to look

to gaze upon the fiery colors

to sit quietly watching nature

the geese in perfect formation

flying overhead, honking along

squirrels scampering under oaks

gathering what the trees give

preparing for the winter cold.

All I want is to sit out

breathing in the cool air

not concerned about the why

but reveling in the why not

taking in the moments

of change that mark the journey