Morning, Paros

Parikia, Paros

Parakia, Paros


Morning, Paros

Strong winds all week,
fishermen mending nets
behind the shelter
of their caique cabins,
this morning: calm,
the boats gone.
At the door of the Orthodox Church,
two baskets of fresh bread,
sliced in thick chunks,
the interior is dim, scented,
lit by gleams of precious metals,
lifted by a priest’s cadenced
baritone chanting;
an old couple enters,
setting forth on waves
of sorrow and acceptance.

1 Oct 2016

Hat News

Hat News

Item 1. After a cumulative five months walking around harbors, I can report that I have just seen a Greek fisherman wearing a Greek fisherman’s cap.

2. I was talking with a guy on the sea wall near the Temple of Apollo when a gust of wind picked up his hat and flung it like a frisbee. It settled, floating perfectly above the transparent green water, crown up, red band undisturbed. He stared and thought. “Finished,” he said and turned back to a bas-relief of the temple that he was carving on a scrap of marble with a dremel tool. There were ten of them laid out in a row on top of the wall.

“But what a fine hat!”

He turned his palms up. “It is finished.”

Below us on a strip of sand a man in swimming trunks stepped into the water. He was frail with wisps of white hair and bony shoulders. He began walking slowly toward the hat, losing his balance on the rocky bottom. The hat was moving gradually out from the lee of the sea wall and picking up speed toward Paros. The man kept going. I don’t think he could swim. It was a race against the wind. When the water was up to his neck, he threw out one arm and caught the brim of the hat. He raised it in the air and stumbled back, rewarded by a chorus of whistles, “Bravo’s!” and clapping.

So, it wasn’t finished.


Waking Late


Waking late, rubbing my eyes, washed up on the shore of old age: a tree trunk silvered, a place to sit, coconut palms down the beach.

My past is over the horizon—an archipelago in time, each island a family, friends, challenges met more or less. My poems and stories are overboard and gone by. Time washes away all narrative. Only love endures, passed from one to another.

It is a fine morning with a promise of shade. As my old friend Sylvester wrote (in another context), It will have to do.*

*Entering the Walking Stick Business, Sylvester Pollet





In Case You Were Wondering


The immutable truths about reality are:
1. ultimately it is unknowable,
2. you are part of it.

Otherwise, broadly speaking,
those things we say are true
are maps or models
with which we agree.
Models are more or less accurate;
we cannot live without them, but,
as Von Clausewitz cautioned his
generals on the eve of battle:
The map is not the territory.

Art, science, religion—
all culture—lie on map land,
a work in progress.
Choose your maps wisely,
annotate them, but keep
your eye on the territory,
the gate to which,
should you get lost,
is deep within you.


In the 17th century,
Francis Bacon said:
There is no excellent beauty
that hath not some strangeness
in the proportion.

Those things that we find
the unique and the universal,
our most disparate selves.
Beauty is both accomplishment
and direction. There is
nothing we do
that cannot be done
more beautifully.


who understands silence,
springs without doubt

for Hannah and Clara,
with love, Gumpa