Gotta love this bird!

My co-editor Ruby Wilson and I are working hard in preparation for the release of Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poetry, due out from Grayson Books in late summer. We want to give a huge shout-out to the photographer David Moynahan for “Great Egret Bow,” the fantastic image on the cover of the book. David’s got an amazing eye and a huge heart. Maybe we’ll get to meet him one day in person!

By the way, if you’d like to be on the Poetry of Presence email list, sign up here, and you’ll receive a mindfulness poem. Our gift to you!


It’s Late Spring, & I’m out of My Cave

Morning Sky in the Water
Morning sky in the water at Oakwood Lakes State Park, South Dakota.

You haven’t heard from me for a while. Sorry about that. Hope you’re okay in your corner of the world.

Truth is, my winter was long. Life closed in; was often dark and unpredictable. Our fourteen-year-old son nearly died of complicated pneumonia. I had shoulder surgery. My parents, half a continent away, needed my help as they transitioned into an assisted living community. My co-editor and I were sprinting to finish Poetry of Presence, the anthology of mindfulness poems that Grayson Books will publish this summer. I was putting the final touches on my historical novel. Mr. Trump’s election knocked me to my knees, and ever since I’ve been casting about for new ways to resist what he represents. Oh, and our family adopted a young cat, who introduced her own wonderfully crazy energy and (often costly) ideas about what it means to live at our house (oh, the repair and replacement bills!)….

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the picture. I largely withdrew from public life, from simple exhaustion.

Now it’s late spring. I’m finally finding some footing. I’ve even started wandering out of my cave, on occasion. The long hibernation is over.

Thanks for bearing with me. Hope you’re ready for whatever comes next.

I Will Bear Witness

Empty seats at the National Mall prior to the inauguration  (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Today I will not attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Nor will I watch it on television or listen to it on the radio.

I have argued with myself about this. It wasn’t an easy decision. I have never missed a presidential inauguration.
I’ve been asking myself why this time is different. And this morning the answer finally came: My decision to be absent isn’t a political one. It’s a moral one.
I’ve watched president-elects I haven’t voted for take office many times, often with qualms about their proposed policies or their visions for the future, but I’ve never had a sense of moral grief as I do today. What I object to most isn’t Mr. Trump’s proposed agenda, disturbing as much of it is. What I object to most is his lack of fundamental respect for human beings beyond his own blood and tribe. Though he hasn’t yet been sworn in, that lack of respect has already done tremendous damage to the nation,.
With every fiber of my being, I grieve that harm. I refuse to give it my stamp of approval by somehow “attending” his swearing in. He is my president, yes. My country elected him. I acknowledge that political fact. But the moral fact is that Mr. Trump’s values are destructive to human community. I grieve his ascendancy not because he’s a Republican but because he lacks conscience. He appears willing to do anything, and say anything, to get what he wants. And what he wants most is attention.
As a citizen it is therefore my deep responsibility to not feed his narcissism and encourage his bigotry by helping him celebrate his rise to power. I will read or watch his inaugural speech later, in the off-chance that it might help me understand him better. But I feel a moral urgency to not bear witness to the moment of his triumph. It is, among other things, the triumph of crassness, incivility, insecurity, intolerance, fear-mongering and hatred. I choose instead to witness to decency and respect, humaneness, compassion, inclusion, righteous relations, the sacred dignity and worth of all.
On this Inauguration Day I will pray, in my way, for this nation and President Trump. I will tune into love of the neighbor, love of Mother Earth, love of All That Is–even that which I find repugnant and must actively resist. I will spend my time meditating, writing, contemplating, preparing myself in various ways for tomorrow, just another ordinary day in a lifetime of serving the common good.
Deep peace to us all.

“We are the resistance now”


Jan Steckel

The Statue of Liberty’s arm is tired.
She may have torn her rotator cuff.
She still has dual citizenship,
wonders if her passport is in order.

She imagines lowering her arm,
dousing the torch in the harbor,
boiling the sea and seething Ellis Island.

Friends, look at the person next to you.
Put your arm around their shoulder.
Help them keep that torch in the air.
Tell them you’d never turn them in.
We’re the resistance now.

Dear President-Elect Trump

I submitted this piece some days ago to run in my local paper, The Brookings (SD) Register. But it’s likely to be obsolete before it’s run, since Mr. Trump is so quickly squandering my good will.

Image result for pensive president-elect donald trump
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Let’s get down to brass tacks, Mr. Trump. I didn’t vote for you, and I’m shell-shocked that so many of my fellow citizens did. Frankly, by the look on your face on election night, I think you’re rather shocked as well.

As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

Since you will be my next President, I’m going to make you these promises, just so you know what you can count on me for.

I promise:

  1. Not to further paralyze the country by having obstruction as my chief goal, just to make you a one-term President.
  2. Never to ask you to produce your birth certificate to prove your citizenship.
  3. Never to accuse you of hiding your true religious identity.
  4. Never to call you a criminal and demand you be locked up unless you’re first convicted by a jury of your peers and sentenced to prison.
  5. Never to make veiled threats to your personal safety by insinuating that “Second Amendment people” should take matters into their own hands.
  6. Not to hold your looks against you in the performance of your job.
  7. Not to make fun of your disabilities.
  8. Not to build a wall to confine you to the White House, or to round up your family and deport you all, to keep you from running loose in my country.
  9. Not to tweet nasty remarks about you at 3 a.m.
  10. Not to judge you by the size of your hands.

I also promise:

  1. To affirm you as my President because you were duly elected under the Constitution, and not to delegitimize your Presidency because I’m a sore loser.
  2. To fervently hope that you’re capable of much greater good than you demonstrated during the campaign.
  3. To try to forgive you for the fear and distress that your rhetoric has planted in the heart and mind of my child and countless others.
  4. To help you keep your promise to “bind the wounds of division across this nation” and to “do right by the people”–all the people, whether or not they voted for you.
  5. To acquaint myself more fully with the concerns of those who did vote for you, that we might thoughtfully consider and address those concerns together.
  6. To treat you and those who voted for you with the same dignity and respect with which I myself wish to be treated.
  7. To listen carefully to your positions without exhibiting rancor or disrespect.
  8. To support any of your efforts that promote the common good, benefiting us all and not just a chosen few.
  9. To fulfill my responsibilities as a citizen, which include opposing without violence any of your policies or actions that would inflict harm, especially on those among us who have the least power and means to defend themselves.
  10. To work endlessly with stout, inspired souls, right here where I live, to create a society whose members are well informed, curious about the world, and respectful of the rights and lives of others, not because it’s politically correct but because it’s the decent thing to do.

With good will for you and our country,
Phyllis Cole-Dai