Poetry & Prose


Me and the Big Ones


On this fine morning in my 67th year, this morning of pink rose petals flung into the sky, I am a child who believes in dreams and happy endings. I know nothing about what life is, I do not understand the world, and I rely on the Big Ones who have always taken care of me. Invisible, they protect me from bee stings, knee scrapes, getting lost, fires, cliffs, wild dogs and elephants. As long as I am with them, I will be safe, and loved, and all will be well.


Of course I want to grow up, to be like them, strong and knowing everything. Then I will love me the way they love me, I will take care of myself and the world, and all will be well.


I have been waiting. It’s odd, I’ve been growing for a long time, but somehow I have not yet grown all the way up. I even have children of my own, and I love them with a love like magma, like the center of a flower. And my love has fear in it, because I am not big enough yet.


That is ok because the Big Ones take me everywhere with them. Holding my small hands in their big, warm ones, they fly me through the years, leaping and sailing me between them higher and higher. One day soon now, they will toss me right into the sun.


Then I will shut my eyes and let go, flying free, doing somersaults and loop-de-loops of love.

As Though it Were a Liquid or a Wind


She wasn’t looking for a partner; she’d already been married and knew it made no difference; you were still the same people. Not that it had been bad – in fact he had been the love of her life, and it had been a long, sweet journey. No, she had no regrets, she would do it again in a moment, but it was over. She figured she’d had her share, and she’d had her fill too.

Because although it had been long and sweet, it had also been awkward and fearful at times, walking locked together like that because they had both forgotten how to walk alone. And she remembered how hard it had been when the path ended before his feet, and he stepped off into the void and vanished, leaving her reeling at the cliff edge, alone.

After the shock, she had learned to walk by herself again, no mean feat. She missed his cozy warmth and his deep blue eye, and that smile that nothing in the world could shake. But at last she found her footing, and her strength of heart and mind returned, and she saw again the gallant view spread out before her into the luminous distance, and the tiny purple wild flowers at her feet. Companions passed singing, and she would join them for a while, but afterwards she would let them pass and go back to being on her own, glad she no longer feared toppling into the abyss without someone by her side to grab onto.

And so she climbed the mountain, growing stronger, helping as best she could those who were stumbling or who lay huddled in exhaustion at the brink, and trying to redirect others who were going down instead of up. And she gave thanks for the strength she had been given, and for the delight in her heart.

After some time, however, she began to grow bored, and even a little lonely now and then. And began to remember, and to wonder. How nice it had been to walk with a companion by her side. The memories persisted, and she thought, perhaps not a real companion this time – that might get dangerous – but at least a lover?

And sure enough, from behind her there came prancing a young knight on his old yellow charger, and she curtsied, and he bowed, and they did a little dance of hello and who are you and where have you come from. He seemed a lovely lad, kind and bright and strong, and she thought, what more could I ask? But I must remember that whatever happens, I need to keep walking alone. Who knows when the path could end under his feet – or under mine?

He, on the other hand, had been alone for centuries, stuck in a bog some leagues back. So happy was he to find a friendly face, feel a warm hand in his, and taste a honeyed kiss, that he was instantly smitten. He fell in by her side and began to walk with her, leading his old horse, and whenever she told him she needed to be alone he would fall back a few paces, just far enough to give her space. Then, keeping his eye on her, he would follow along, whistling and calling out jokes into the soft air and sending smiles to tickle the back of her neck.

For a while she enjoyed his attentions. It was flattering and he made her laugh, and when she let him near enough, his touch made her swoon.

But she knew she had to be careful. She had to remember she was fine on her own, she couldn’t get stuck again, and besides his poems were beginning to drive her nuts. 

One day, at last, his adoration was just too much. She slipped off the path and into the folds of the mountain, and hid herself in an abandoned hut.

It was cozy and dark in the hut, and it felt so safe that she forgot the bright path up the mountain. Building a little fire of coals, she sat staring into its embers day and night. How good that she had found this refuge. Who knows what might happen if she went back out?

Outside, the fields of sunlight bloomed, and the blessed virgins of wisdom and carnal delight beckoned, crooning in their most delicate voices. But all she heard was the harpy’s whine, and all she felt were the icy little winds that slid under the door, licking up her shins.

At last one day an old friend and fellow traveler passed by, and slipped a note under the door. “I saw you on the path a while back,” she wrote, “and for some reason I remembered these words from our friend the Poet: ‘Do not fear the pressure of the Light… absorb it as though it were a liquid or a wind, for in it, certainly, is Life.’ Thought you might appreciate this…”*

The Poet! It had been so long since she’d thought of his words. Uncanny that her friend knew she was hiding here, and so kind of her to stop...

More than anything, though, the words rang true. All at once she noticed how cramped she felt, how her butt hurt from sitting so long.

My God, how had she not noticed, it was dank and miserable in here! She needed to get outside, get back on the path! This was hardly the Life she aspired to live.

On the other hand, she reminded herself, she was in here for a reason. That young man was out there, yearning to gobble her up, to make her his own and squelch her hard-won strength and lovely independence. Even if it did sometimes get lonely and boring being on her own, it was such a relief to be fine with herself at last, not to really need anyone else…

At that another verse whispered up from the depths:

“On this road you descend further and further. Here dwell Hatred, Vengeance, Strangeness, Possession, Jealousy, and the Desire to Remain…”

She shuddered. The “desire to remain”! She had never understood what that meant before, never even wondered about it in fact. But could it be that the “desire to remain” was what was keeping her here?

Which reminded her of yet another verse, one about thinking you are staying safe in one place when in reality you are sliding backward:

“Conservation,” it went, “is false and unstable; on this path you delude yourself with the idea of permanence, but in reality you descend rapidly.”

No, no – it couldn’t be. She had thought her decision out, she was in here because she had learned from bitter experience…

On the other hand, the words did seem to fit uncomfortably well. Here she was, hiding in this dark hut, and she had all but forgotten the Ascent, the Path toward their sacred Human Destiny! If that was the case, how far back had she slipped?

It was an alarming thought – but still she held back. She knew her lover was waiting not far away, mournful in his need for her, but confident as a faithful hound that she would eventually emerge. That terrible need he so blithely admitted - wasn’t there something wrong with that?

Or was there? From inside, a soft voice came, reminding her: “Absorb it as though it were a liquid or a wind…”

Really? Just accept that overwhelming love, even that terrible need?

“And why not?” the kind voice replied.

Why not, indeed?

At last she screwed up her courage and took another look, this time without putting anything else in the way. No judgments, no fear, just the facts. 

And she saw that his “need” was simply part of who he was right now. He was still kind and bright and strong, and terribly sexy.

What do I have to lose?

Standing up, she crossed the room in two steps and opened the door.

The warm delicious day flooded in.

And sure enough, there he was, right outside - and her heart filled with happiness. 

Laughing, he took her in his arms.

“What took you so long? I ‘ve been ringing the bell for hours!”

She fell into his happy embrace and he made breakfast for them both on his portable Coleman stove.

What had she been thinking? Why had she ever wanted to hide from this friendly heart? His eggs and toast were so much better than her stale leftovers.

And so they ate and smiled, and took hands and walked side by side, leading his old yellow charger up the mountain, to see what lay beyond the 

Mary's Welcome

Purely content 

And filled with joy

The Day comes

And the Night

And all good things

And Mary stands at the Portal

Welcoming everyone



Only yesterday

She awoke with a gasp 

At last! 

As the Friend hurled 

His lightning bolt

Right through her being

Head to toe

And she vanished in joy

Nothing more to know

Or show


Now everything melts

All is well

Time and space open wide

Nothing to hide

And she stands by the Portal


Like the sun 


And World comes forward

And she embraces each

And every one 

Walk right in

You first, and you, and you too

And every single last one of you

Go on in my dear friends

For I 

Am already 


Ode to a neighbor during group meditation

(a confession of inner violence)


O snoring woman!

here beside me

sleek and round with peace

you breathe and breathe

oh how you breathe!

deep and full

as the ocean’s roar

til little by little

the breath

becomes a snore

this goes on

for hours more



blessed silence

yet laced with dread

lest you begin


and yes

right as rain

you breathe again!

O miracle of horror

hands clenched

in lovely murder

How I yearn

to clinch that throat

and strangle your nibs

into oblivion!

My fury and disgust

know no bounds

as I dream of death

imposed by flesh

on flesh

in a final



Pure triumph


and only then

will i be free

to sink into the peace

i need

O snoring woman


though you be

Grant me the gift

of drowning

in eternity!


- t.l. fish richards


Falling into play


Inventing inner worlds

we follow each other 

in the curious

children’s wonder dance

twirling like seeds

in the wind

and ending up


at the bottom of a chute

in a bed of lilies


May Love Be All


Someone who knew what was going on

pointed out the obvious:

Life is nothing but

permanent enchainment

one thing to another,

one thought to another,

one feeling to another,

one action to another -

the way the wall is connected

to the roof and the floor,

which are connected to the ground and the air,

and i am connected to you

and you to me,

and even if you die and disappear

I am connected to you

and you to me

by the spider silk of memory

and there's nowhere to go and

nowhere to hide


And then he said,

take a look inside:

See if you can see

the permanent form in action

See if you can see

that which is not movement form

See if you can see

that what is, and what is not, are the same

And finally see if you can see 

in one and all the same?


So I looked at the world

at the million things and thoughts

and feelings and deeds

buzzing and flying and floating

squeaking and frothing, churning

and rushing, each one

apparently its own 

separate self,

yet inexorably 

all stuck to each other

and each to everything

and said



But that was totally



So I took a breath

and looked again

looked in my heart 

and for a moment



That the permanent form in action is Love

That what is not movement form is Love

That what is and what is not is Love

That in one and all 

is Love


But that was yesterday

when my little “i” was not looking

Today again

I am blind


And so I ask:


May we all be steeped in Love

May Love be distilled in our hearts

May we live, eat, breath, sleep, think, feel, and act in Love

May everything we do be Love:

May the little i swoon away

in the unbearable sweetness of Love

May Love be all


A Friend’s Departure

 for Philip

A shock it was to body and soul

to see a friend go

so quick and so slow

an earthquake

of grief for our loss 

and joy for his release

For our friend, 

a wild ride

a one-year odyssey

launched on Valentine’s Day

when the  rug 

was plucked out from under him

by who knows who or what or why

It happened when he got to school

maybe bringing his 

“special” children

sweets in his satchel

certainly the treat 

of his stern and goofy 

goggle-eyed stare that said

come on amiguito, you can do it!...

but then 

he couldn’t even climb 

the stairs

The trusty carpet was seriously gone

but he held on 

and rode it up and down 

the hills and valleys of

an entire year

plummeting through remedies

and kind assurances

that there was nothing

they could do

Friends went to visit 

as on a pilgrimage

and always found him smiling

welcoming and gentle

so happy we were there,

giving us the blessing 

of his whimsical look

that deadpan

twinkle in his eye

confiding that he knew

what we knew he knew:

the greatness and the smallness

the hunger and crazy blessedness

of everything

To honor him and please him

we brought him offerings -

lox and bagels

from the supermarket chain

bland generic stuff, all we could find,

and he was

in seventh heaven

And many times

we did the Ceremony

of Well-Being

that took us all 

to the place 

where nothing can touch you:

to the heart of the matter

the place of rest 

of celebration and 

gratitude for

the inexplicable gift of being

Unable to use half his holy body

he would patiently 

and in earnest wonder


you have to help me because

I just can’t move on that side

Never giving up

he was determined to do

what it was that he was here to do.

Most of all he wanted 

to walk into his classroom

and teach his kids

But when that wouldn’t work

he did everything he could

to be kind and caring

to help whoever around him

was in need

Always he remembered his friend

and guide


“How lucky is that?” he’d say

in wonderment, 

about the incredible

good fortune of 

having known the Master

“How lucky is that!?”

rom the beginning

of his wild ride

he always knew

there was “a place

for me to go”

and so

after that long and too-short year

when it was the Day of Love again

he lay quiet 

his body spent and still

and all around him in the room

and all around the world

friends and loved ones 

made a nest of warmth and love

Then, as once again

a good friend read the Ceremony

that tells you how to just let go,

he listened deep 

from deep inside

and everything fell silent

and he did as he was told:

he let it all go

and rode his magic carpet


Confessions of a Widow 

Venturing into Online Dating

After galloping out

On my toy horse

Like a knight for his lady

Setting out

On the intrepid quest to

‘Learn to love without fear

or attachment’

I have learned instead

These humbling facts:

I NEED people!

And I am subject

To the moods of the Sun:

Happy in the morning

Gloomy in the evening

Or in any place of shadows.

In the gloom especially

I need PEOPLE!

Need my kids

Need a true companion,

Need a warm hand in mine,

Need a massage, need


Need to Understand

Need Faith

Need Hope

Need the Future bright and shiny

Need to Someone to Love.


It’s not the way I thought

After going through the worst 

of the Grief:

That I’ll be Fine

On my own, and that’s that.

Yes I know I carry the Sun

Within me

But it has its risings

And its settings...

I can stand the dark

If I hold my breath

And count to a zillion

And beg God to save me,

 And I can imagine

And even feel

That warm Companion

Inside me

In my Heart of Light.


But I also need them


In this real

Sweaty fragrant flesh and blood

Illusion of a World

With the illusion of suffering

So strong in my bones

I can’t stand it.

I am part of it.

It is part of me.

We are one

In humility.

Standing Need on its Head


So, being in Need,

I languished 

In the slathering dark of self-obsession

Trying to satiate my emptiness

Sucking my entire self into my stomach

In hopes that someone 

Would fill the vacuum 

Until I just couldn’t hold my breath 

Any longer.


When I let it out

And began to breathe again

I discovered 

That the only way to fulfill my Need

Was to stand it on its head

Spin it around ‘til it fell over dizzy

And struggled to its feet all confused

And bumbled off accidentally

In the right direction.


Need has to fulfill itself

Need has to give what it lacks

Need has to act 

As if it is rich and full of love 

and all good things.

It has to give away every last penny

And every last hug

Until it does a double-take

And sees

With a gasp

That it is far from empty


That it truly is

Wealthy in every regard

Though it owns nothing 

Because it gives

And gives

And gives

Until there’s nothing left

But a flicker of Light

That finally passes 

From this shadow world


Leaving only

The gift 

Of its memory.

Faces of the Divine

The Fierceness

The Fire

The Gentle

The Deep 

The Light 

The Smile

In me

In you, 

and you, 

and you, 

and you – 

Infinite Faces 

of the Divine.

Morning snapshot

Today things are piled up

with helter-skelter whimsy

in the room of my awareness:

A dream of visiting JS Bach

at his home in a giant fallen redwood

Memories of thumb-sucking as a child

Concerns about identity theft

and my brother’s kind reassurance

“At least your soul is theft-proof!”

And over it all 

like glorious frosting

the sweet anticipation 

of deliciousness

in my lover’s bed

Angelic giant


from under a dead leaf

my lover

besotted fool

enters my bower

with a bow and a wink

and in a peal

of delirium


my castle walls

He pays me

in the coin of kindness

and shudders me open

with the kiss of the Lord


he won’t fit

between the pages

of any book

but titillates

my sleeping child

blossom suspended

over a green field

and cries out in surprise

at the enormity

of the vast morning

that welcomes him home.

What cannot be lost

What I am

Cannot be lost.

It is what 

We all are:




That is Kindness


No one needs

To be a robber

Because we all Are

What we seek.

When I am fearful

Of obliteration



Of my precious 


Go inward

Go inward

Sink into

The deep pure pool

Of Our Being

Which is Love.

Ordinary miracles

This morning

Waking up ordinary

I go inside

Looking for more

Thankful to remember 

The door.

And there 

Just at the threshold

I find

This morning

And all others 

Both yesterday 

And tomorrow

And behind them

The laughing Light

Where I and you

And all

Ordinary miracles

Are born.

Round-bellied man

Round-bellied man 

face carved 

in ancient sadness 

when I stoke your furnaces

your eyes open in surprise

just a crack

like laughing crescent moons 

and impossible light

spills out

You touch me deep

and my secret lilies

tremble with sweetness

My waterfall rushes white

and the lake of our being

covers the world 


Bee with mee

dear hourbee,

zooming from flower to flower 

sampling moments and years 

sipping nectars 

of sweet and sour feelings

and simple sexy thoughts

you are my sweetest sweet pea bee

sweeter than all the other

bumblebees drones 

honey bees queen bees killer bees

zooming around out there

or in here

this year

zoom to me soon!