Martin Luther King Jr.

Two score and ten years ago today
under the gaze of the great emancipator
an exiled King came back to the Capitol
of his country. He spoke to large crowds
about a dream that would unite the people
where sons of former slaves and slave owners
would sit down together at the same table.
Watching your childhood friend came to mind
Sonny, the sharecropper’s boy, who was
like a brother on your grandfather’s farm,
a former plantation. You played and ate
together till they told you it was time to part
because he was black and not your kind. …

Madonna & Child

A Trailways bus, a country highway, dusk.
The driver, a sallow old insomniac,
is intimate with each curve in the road;
he sits on a pillow, bony hands steering
his shuttle along a memorized route.
Across from me sits a young black woman,
her bundled infant still asleep in her lap.
The reading-light makes a vision of them.
I wonder who and where the father is…
Dozing, only to be awakened by
loud crying, I see her holding his ankles
and rubbing cream onto his bottom and knob. …

If we were really made in God’s likeness

something strange occurred during evolution

making us stranger with each generation

and now I wonder if she’d even like us.

But we are blessed by angelic beings

who roam and play among us in disguise

and only when we look into their eyes

can we see who we were meant to be.

God hides in the hearts of these loyal creatures

who love and protect us and make us believe

in life again until the day when they must leave

and we bow down before our greatest teachers.

Church of Bones

Three summers ago in Rome we wandered

into the Church of Bones and saw walls adorned

with the skeletal remains of countless monks.

There in that underground chapel you held my hand

as we slowly walked down the dirt aisle, staring

at the morbid artwork–masterpieces of bone

made from every part of the body: skull arches

above us and a delicate chandelier of tibia and fibula,

star shapes made from jaw bones and femurs,

a lei of vertebrae around a smiling skull,

a winged hour-glass made with shoulder blades

to show how time flew even in the Dark Ages,


Whether it’s Saturday night or Sunday morning

or a weekday afternoon at Kaimana Beach

a work lunch, birthday dinner or weekend brunch

we celebrate the holy Sabbath of our friendship

whenever and wherever we are gathered together

in the church of what’s happening right now.

We are a diverse lot of expats, locals and pilgrims

with different creeds, cultures and dietary needs —

Christians, Jews, hoales, Asians, vegans and omnivores.

We wear jeans, dresses, business suits and bikinis

but we all follow the lead of our inner naked yoginis.

We have straight, curly, blond, brown and black hair

some thick…

Lost Contact

As a boy, I dreamed of jungles wild with beasts

but dreams will fade with time and failing sight.

Now contacts cover my eyes (like plastic scales)

and the only beasts I see are caged or leashed.

Yet near a park in the city’s maze last night

while walking home, lost in the day’s details,

a lens fell from my eye and a film of tears

transformed the park into a jungle of trees.

All things seemed to melt and flow together:

my eyes were flooded, lights became like spears —

the lion wind roared through trembling leaves,

the rainy street became a brackish river

and while I wandered down its banks half-blind

the world was wild again and lost in time.

Charleston, South Carolina

This is your first time and my last time
up the narrow winding stairs
where we slowly make our steep climb.
My father preached beneath this steeple.
Hands on the walls, our fingers
read the old brick like Braille.
Up the groaning wooden stairs
where your perfume lingers
we slowly continue to climb
wishing there was a rail
or something in the dark to hold on to.
As we ascend the hour draws near.
Climbing around the clockwork
we spot on the wall where years before
I’d scrawled my name — I was here.
You smile and I can only smirk.
Past the huge bells I hurry you
for the hour draws near.
Finally reaching the door,
framed and…

Green Flash

We were wrong — the world is not black and white

or so many shades of gray — it is more

colorful than we ever imagined.

What we saw touched us that day on the beach

and though both of us had seen countless suns

sink into the sea with other lovers

neither of us had seen the mystical green flash

until that evening when the red sun sank

into the blue sea and a sigh of wind

breather over us both —

there for one moment

a green flash hovered

on the horizon

glowing in our eyes

and though some will say

it was an allusion

like magic or love

(a trick of the eye, a game of the heart)

I know it was real —

As real as you, me,

the sun and the sea.

In a faraway land, there lived a wise king who wanted to defend his country from powerful outside forces. To protect his kingdom and provide prosperity for his people, he created a code of values called Gross National Happiness. The king built his country’s infrastructure upon the Four Pillars of Gross National Happiness: good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation.

Although it sounds like a fairy tale, King Wangchuk of Bhutan created the framework for Gross National Happiness back in the 1970s and his country has thrived under these guidelines. …

Stuart Coleman

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