Dear Dharma Roadsters, poets, friends, visitors,

Thanissara and I want to thank you for joining us on the Dharma Road for the last several months.  We’ve had our learning wheels on the whole time, and it’s been an interesting ride, sometimes picking up a little speed, other times getting caught behind slow moving big rigs.  We’ve particularly enjoyed when you’ve stopped by with a poem or comments.  We’ve really loved that.

From Gayle:  Some challenges have been bigger than others.  One that we just haven’t been able to get around has been Word Press’s big problem with re-formatting EVERYTHING.  True, our training wheels are on, so maybe it’s just something we needed to learn.  With much determination, I spent endless hours at the Apple store with my friends, the young Apple geniuses.  None of them could figure out how to get around the re-formatting big rig.  The last young genius searched around ’til he found a site where all kinds of Word Press users have come up against the same problem.  Many many complaints.  NO solutions!

Well, finally, I said “uncle” (meaning, I give up).  So for now, we’re closing down Dharma Road.  Perhaps it will re-open at some point on another site (definitely NOT Word Press).  We’ll see what happens.

From Thanissara:  Dear all, thank you so much for your wonderful contributions, and thank you to Gayle for the great work of keeping the wheels on thus far! It’s been sweet!

And yet now time to take a pause.

Here’s to deepening our presence within the moment, here & now, from which the creative impulse flows.

And here’s to all poets who bear witness to life’s 10,000 joys & sorrows, echoing each of our hearts while doing so/

From Thanissara and Gayle:  If you’d like, in this last week or so of our existence, please drop by to say good-bye and leave any comments or suggestions you like.

Hopefully, we’ll see you on another dharma road soon.

metta and namaste,

Gayle and Thanissara




sorry to Mary and everyone,

I’m having a little computer, well, blog dukkha.  It only wants to space and begin lines where IT wants them to be, regardless of the poet’s creation.  When I figure out the solution to the problem, I will re-post Mary’s lovely poem “Socks”.

In the meantime, if there are any poets out there who don’t give a gosh-golly-darn where the lines start or how many spaces are (or aren’t) between each line, then, please! send me your poem and I’ll be happy to post.  (I have NO idea where that word gosh-golly-darn came from — perhaps the recesses of my brain or a previous lifetime.  Maybe I made it up, or heard someone say it a million years ago. It’s kind of funny I think).

In the meantime, I’m happy to share with you a painting I recently bought.  The artist is named Cristina and she and many other artists go 3 or 4 or 5 days a week to a great open studio called Creativity Explored.  All the artists are adults with developmental disabilities.  I love going there, and I particularly love Cristina’s work!  For me, Cristina’s work is definitely poetry!   Her paintings “speak” to me.  I now have 8 of them.  I try, but can’t resist.  This one is hanging on a door (you can see the doorknob on the left) in my house.

I hope you enjoy!

♥   Gayle

back, so soon…

Hi everyone,

it’s a beautiful, extremely blue-skied,sunny, ice cold windy day here in san francisco.  san francisco tends to be a “dark” city, with so much fog, clouds, and rain.  It’s different this year.  We had our first sunny summer that I can remember since moving here 44 years ago.  I loved every sunny second of it.  I was thinking I might have to buy a special light box to fight off SAD, seasonal affective disorder, which I think I have.  But this year, nature has been my treatment.  Of course, the well being of “me” is not necessarily the rest of nature’s good fortune.  The plants and animals need water.  I am aware of this, but choose not to wax polemical against global warming at the moment.  We all know humans have made and continue to make big-time mistakes.  As a species, I think our learning curve is just slightly behind my own.  Up against the slow learning curve of our whole species, I do not feel quite as slow as I sometimes do surrounded by the smart people I know personally, or read in books and magazines.  All in all, it’s a little frustrating.  And of course, there are the slow learners who are in positions of power, and that problem, combined with greed makes for decisions that impact regular people (like you and me) and our mother earth in particularly bad ways…

Well, look at that.  I’m “waxing”, without having intended to.  We are all so inter-connected, so it’s hard not to care alot, even if I’m sometimes trying to take a break from the enormity of what’s going on… my heart still knows.

It is the knowing, and the not knowing, and the darkness that this poem is about..  It’s not exactly happy, but there is some “resolve” at the end, and that, I’m pretty sure, is a good thing.  Also, I think it is in the darkness (the parts hidden from our selves) that we can uncover and learn the most important things.  It often doesn’t seem this way to me.  But I think it’s counter-intuitive.  And also, I admit to a fear of the dark.  So, it’s not easy to stay there and learn what the lesson is.  I usually spend most of my “dark” time feeling sorry for myself and strategizing distractions.

I wrote this poem at our Poetry Kalyana Mitta group a couple of days ago.  The “prompt” I gave the group (as we sat in my living room)  was to first do a “free write” about the room, or something in the room, along with whatever emotional resonance was going on in that moment for each of us, and then to write a poem from that.  My living room is very multi-colored and full of interesting possible objects to spur a thought or a feeling.  I love how when given a prompt, each person comes up with such a wildly individual take on it.  You can tell from the poems that got created that there was an initial seed from which they all came, and yet the variety of poems are amazing, and so wonderful!  I’d like to invite the other poets from the group to share their poems too.

This Room

I live in this room which speaks in light, shadows, contours and colors.

Red, for instance.  Ochre.

I  know so little,

Then, what I know changes

or the object of knowing changes, shifts, reveals something new…

light slanting in different directions,

highlighting,      obscuring

what I think I know, what I knew, what I…..

Below, old patterns re-cycle, repeat —

fractals — who I am    who I am      who I am   who I am    who I am

It looks like we’re going down

Ochre stains the walls.

Blood red saturates

the chair,  the rug,  the Mexican tin heart

No way out but through

Going down means going into

the human heart

of darkness.

I’ll pay attention this time.

♥   Gayle

it’s been awhile….

well, yes,  it’s been a little while…  I guess everyone’s been pretty busy in the new year.  In addition to a small group where we write poems together, I’m also taking this class (I’ve mentioned it before) at the Bernal Heights Library.  It’s called OWLS, which stands for older writers’ laboratory.  It’s a great joy there, and it helps to have a teacher giving prompts and other poets to be inspired by, and share with.  (I really am a bit of a stickler for correct grammatical construction, and so, hate to leave that dangling participle at the end of the last sentence.  But what can you do?  It sounds so overly proper – in this day and age- to write it “properly”).

That said, I’m thinking of being less “proper” in the way this blog was originally conceived. There’s been some wonderful poems by a number of people posted, and a little bit of feedback.  But somehow, it’s still not the lively dharma road that was originally envisioned. I’m not sure what needs to change here.  I was thinking maybe more recipes, and more pictures. perhaps a dharma-based advice column.  Are you worried?  Smiling?  Any ideas I’ve overlooked?  Would love to hear from you.  🙂

Here’s my poem for today.  I hope if you are a strict vegetarian you will feel compassion instead of self-righteous indignation.  In all our imperfections, we can only hope for… compassion.  🙂  (ps, this darn blog site took away my lovely spacing and font… guess it’s time to go back to the Apple store for lesson #56!)  Haha!  I need to re-learn technical things over and over if I don’t use them every day, and I need to keep learning compassion for technical things — like blog sites and computers — when they don’t work the way I want them to… (eek, another dangling participle).  Ah…. well.  🙂

Somewhere Between….

I want to be a vegan

for good health


as an act of kindness

to all animals

But I love bacon

and moreover

I love people who

love bacon, spareribs, and the like

people who live lustily

and don’t  question themselves  left and right.

I don’t want to be the problem dinner guest


wear the complexion of pale virtuousness

Somewhere between  jewish   buddhist and tao-ist

somewhere between

the realms of

heaven and hell

I dwell

vegan and lover of bacon

♥   Gayle

I Died of Loneliness … a poem by Joshua Zuriel Lerman

I met Josh at Cafe Gratitude more than a year ago.  Pretty much everyone at Cafe Gratitude is really nice, but Josh, also known as Zuriel, is really nice!  Smart, warm, friendly, planning a trip to Greece (at that time), and a poet.  Eventually we became FB friends, where he posted this powerful poem (and a great recipe for Root Soup — so now I’m thinking about adding recipes to this blog… you know Poetry and Recipes!  why not!)


I can really relate to the title of this poem.  Sometimes on bad days, I feel I could do what the poem’s title says.  Sorry.  But life is sometimes like that.  Hard to acknowlege, but I’m not here to fool you, and I really appreciate honesty in others.


So, here’s Josh’s poem…


I Died of Loneliness
By Joshua Lerman

I died of loneliness,
slowly evaporated,
molecule by molecule peeling away, soaring to the sky like quiet sparks,
rendered translucent, then gone.

This small lake, once glistening turquoise, nestled in Colorado hills,
got smaller
and smaller
in the dry air.
Who could hold a lake?

All the movement,
all the turning hard in bed
the smells.
Who would stay?

Who here is fully at home in themselves?
I used to be.
Or I thought I was.
Or, looking back, I think now that I was then,
but then I thought I wasn’t.

I shiver.
The cold is broken shards of glass
at my throat.
“Remember the sun?” a voice asks from deep recesses
folded in the hills. “Remember when it spoke to you?”

Forgotten dances rot the roots,
the garden wilts,
soggy stems bend in unnatural angles.
Where are the singers? the minstrels? the Angels
we were promised?
Stand up on your own two feet!

I died, after all this,
of loneliness.
How, now, does one who is wispy as a forgotten ancient secret
find flesh again?
How does one differentiate oneself from air
and make a body of clay,
and who will breathe me into it?


Bike Ride with Poet…. from Jim Ramsay



Bike Ride with Poet
12/29/2011  SF


Around the side of the San Francisco Giants baseball stadium, where summer kayakers and retriever dogs vie for home run balls that land in China Basin, I near two women who are approaching the pier behind the stadium.  It is cool, foggy, December, after Christmas.  I’m on my bike.  The women are pulling suitcases on wheels.  One also carries a sleeping bag.


They walk onto the pier.  I’m confused.  Are they going to camp there like the homeless people?  They look far too cared for, for that.  Each has blond, streaked hair that must cost a lot to maintain.  They take an immediate left off the pier, down a ramp, to the series of block-long floating docks – a marina – where sailboats and motorboats are moored.  Of course.


I wonder which boat they’re on their way to.  Judging from the hair, a big one.  I figure I’ll see them on a boat when I return from the end of the pier.


No one else is on the pier but me. Near the end, I stop, lean my bike against a park bench and sit down.  At the bay end of the first floating dock is parked the biggest motor cruise boat in the marina.  Several girls, nine or ten, climb out onto the front deck and look out at the bay where huge freighters bide their time, with the brontosaur cranes of Oakland looming behind them.


The power cruiser is maybe fifty feet long.  It doesn’t have a helicopter pad but, I am happy to see, it will soon have its complement of cared for women with expensively streaked blond hair.  They pull their suitcases abeam, lift them over the side, and climb aboard.


A lone jogger, middle-aged, receding hairline, wearing ear buds, smiles as he trots past me to the very end of the pier.  He makes a circle and heads back toward the stadium.  As he goes past the second time, I smile, nod, and risk interrupting his jog by saying,


“You know, looking at those people on the boat …”


“What?” he asks, jogging in place, pulling the ear buds out.


“I was looking at those people on the boat,” I say, pointing to the two women who had just boarded The Largest Boat in the Marina, “And I was thinking that I’m really far luckier than they are.”


The jogger breaks into a big grin and says, “That’s great.  That’s a great frame of mind to be in.”  He pops his ear buds back in, and jogs off, still smiling.


On my ride back to Bernal Heights, once I loop over the China Basin draw bridge, and head down the road that borders the ball park parking lot, I look back at the marina, now a quarter of a mile away, where the tightly packed sailboats create, I have to say it, a forest of masts.


Even as the metaphor lands, it is getting a disapproving stare from Billy Collins, who has been riding along with me in my mind.  Too hackneyed.  A cliché among boated harbors.  Forests of masts turn Billy off almost as much as cicadas do.  Having listened to an interview with him on PBS last night, I know he has a comic distrust of poems with cicadas.


I don’t hear cicadas, but as I ride, I am listening to the regular hiss/crash/clang/echo of a pile driver slamming steel piles inch by inch into the ground on the other side of the huge ball park parking lot.  The UCSF medical school is adding to the array of buildings that is already tastefully scattered over four square blocks next to the bay.  It’s been going on for weeks.  Hiss/Crash/Clang.  Echo.


Billy might like the pile driver.  Not the forest of masts.  Definitely not cicadas.  But maybe the pile driver.


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