Prayer Checklist: Wow Thanks Sorry Please
March 2013

Wow! I learned to pray.
Thanks for each new day.
Sorry I went astray.
Please help me find my way.


We Will See
Peruvian Amazon, January 5, 2013

We drive from Puerto Maldonado
on dirt to Infierno
with bridges incomplete,
optimism measured in rebar and towers of concrete,
but yet no help to cross the creeks.
Big van tires tread over gapped worn planks.
Will they be there when we come back?
Says Julian, “We will see.”

In the wooden canoe sit a dozen of us and half again more,
luggage in back with 75 horsepower.
Captain stops mid-river and grabs another boat, adrift,
Rescues two ladies, 3 girls, and dreadlocked ecologist who fill our benches.
The story unfolds over days –
drunk captain, drunk passenger tipping boat, engine stopped and wouldn’t start.
Our rescuees come to Posada Amazonas for further help.
Drunks left in a canoe on the Amazon’s Tambopata river, at dusk –
What becomes of them?
We will see.

Mosquito nets and hurricane lamps,
Lights out at 9. Early to bed and up at 4.
Oxbow birds – stinky and Anis, striated heron and neotropical cormorant
White-throated toucan, and guan.
Piranhas, tiny sharp-toothed nimble to nibble the meat from our hooks.
Then, juices of copuasu, papaya, and sweet cucumber to eat.
Luis shinnies up and tosses down wild cacao fruit,
yellow skin, white jelly, says the seeds taste bad.
But I eat them, delicious, pure chocolate.
What is for lunch? We will see.

Dozens of scarlet Macaws flutter and peck up river bluff clay.
We see them from a blind, but they can’t see us.
A parade of leafcutter ants carrying green bits, and manager ants on their backs,
Loading the nest with food for the fungus they eat.
A tribe of monkeys – a second, a third – jumping through the jungle, cackling to each other.
The shaman’s farm, with ayahuasca and pari pari to make us stand up and wait.
A night walk with headlamps – what’s out there in the dark with the stars?
We will see.

At the farm, 2 women sit on the living room floor
2 feet above the hens and puppies.
And repair Stihl weedwhackers.
The rain clears and the husbands buzz the papaya field,
The first cash crop (after tourists) for a subsistence farm,
Bananas, sugar cane, rice and corn, peppers and pudding fruit/soursops
supplement the jungle foods.
How many of their 30 hectares will they use?
We will see.

Siblings by blood and marriage, nephew and niece,
we enjoy the adventure in animals, trees, water and land,
food and sights and deeds, and words – Please, just listen.
We are a family saga, a journey of love through many lives,
ours and those before.

Our threads are thin in geological time,
against the Andes’ crash and rise and exploding thrust,
the patient river swirling brown silt down Amazonian meanders.
But we weave a mighty rope.
Where will it end? Where will we?
We will see.


May 2013
For Natasha

“DAD!” called the college girl voice –
I turned but she was not my daughter –
1266 caps and gowns,
tassels blue and brown,
shoes, sandals (no bare feet yet),
long brown and golden hair, and short,
rows of smiling faces glistening with relief
and pride and joy.
Do I catch a glimpse of fear,
trepidation — loss?
Their college years recede
as this timeless weekend
pageant of completion
poetically referred to universally
as university commencement


Going back (and forth)
June 2013
Michael Gollin
A 35th reunion haiku sandwich

I look in your face,
and see myself reflected
now and long ago.

I look in your face,
and yours and yours.
We see ourselves
both young and old, together,
smiling at each other,
here right now,
and so many years ago –

We formed one class with
countless members,
courses, dorms, and clubs.
The first community we found
as adults–
home away from home –
was here.

Then off we went
like every class
for jobs, new friends, and love,
trouble and joy.
Life sweeps us forth.
But we go back
time and time again.

I look in your face,
And I see all of us, all
our lives, reflected.


The New River Is Old
Father’s Day 2013
Michael Gollin

The New River is old
as the gorge it cut
through upthrust rock,
transecting Appalachian ranges,
a force before our geological time.

Flowing drop by drop through rapids and waves,
ground rock silt washes north to the Ohio,
curling west and south
to the Mississippi Delta
and the Gulf.

We join the flow for a brief ride
floating in blue rafts above grey water,
down and downward but well above the
coursing gush and rush of a valley wet and lush.

Green leaves blanket the steep slopes
soft and fuzzy except for craggy outcrops.
Trees fight to hold their grip,
roots probing cracks for life.

On command, we dig our paddles into white waves,
finding water, not air or rock,
each stroke an act of faith,
legs wedged in, holding on
and enjoying the ride.
It’s just what we came for.

None of us fall out
but, in turns, we jump in and swim.

So high above, like Heaven, the bridge appears
and arches over the take-out beach, from river left to right.
Bungee jumpers, crazed with fear,
would fall and spring back up, but no more.
On Bridge Day (not today) skydivers jump and land right here.

Today – the river flows,
like always, new and old –
and we come
and then we go.


Incurable disease
January 2013

I was born with a terminal disease,
Progressive and incurable.
What can I do but live with it?
And live well, as long as I am able.

One day will be my last,
But not today,
There’s too much to eat and drink
and learn and fix and say.

There’s no mystery at all,
If you look at things up close.
The truth is there for you to see,
Right before your nose.

Some things last forever,
Land and sky and sea,
But living things are born to die
Insects, plants, and me.

You, too, have the dread disease,
The one without a cure.
So we must both find joy
and live our lives, as long as we endure.

So how to live with purpose, then?
Prepare for what life brings you.
Enjoy the good, improve the bad,
And help others do so, too.


May 2013
Michael Gollin

beneath a
big bowla

Water’s hot
in teapot
brew a lot
Hit the spot!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s