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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #20

  • Section A: Jan 15, 2005
  • Section B: Feb 16, 2005
  • Section C: Mar 15, 2005
  • Section D: Apr 15, 2005
  • Section E: May 15, 2005
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2005

    Berkeley, CA


      Early, through fireweed, to the Horse Pasture
      and, a pair of acorn woodpeckers, noisy,
      a slide of mimula, orange, pale, apricot
      down the Cutoff, the rocks, white torch
      of yucca in bloom, water falling down granite,
      traverse and a zigzag to the Narrows,
      a bath of cold water,
      upstream, the hills alive,
      first sun, a log and across,
      stones, jump, cross back, a path
      a bridge, a view, nineteen shades
      of green, more- burst of poppies,
      petals falling orange on rock;
      this way, footfalls, this morning—

    Larry Ruth

    Del Rey Oaks


      Along this sandy shore
      below the fort
      children play
      upon the sand
      beneath war
      and violence.

      Chasing gulls
      into the air
      as the waves
      take their foot prints
      and the water
      reflects a new born sky
      with clouds sailing
      toward the sunset
      of orange and purple
      along the sandy shore.

    Stephen Brown

    Colorado Springs, CO


      I have lost the beauty of life
      today and two butterflies appear
      before me. So large are their wings
      that the bodies of the butterflies
      appear invisible to my sight.

      I observe the mating ritual
      of these two graceful creatures.
      They, unlike myself, are not concerned
      with the length of time they are given
      upon this earth. Not concerned with
      winter and what it may bring.

      They appear as birds today—freed
      from the cocoon that brought them
      into existence. As I watch the yellow
      wings of their elegant dance I am
      reminded of the courageous caterpillar
      that gave them their birth.

      The caterpillar becomes my hero.

      I imagine its journey. I feel the tiny legs
      of this earthbound creature as it crawls
      slowly up the trunk of a tree searching
      for a branch to support its dying. I feel
      the shroud it weaves in this process.
      I witness the baptism of its tears as
      deep sleep overtakes it. No matter
      what the outcome the caterpillar
      knows it already has wings.

      I want to reroute my life today—I want
      to grow wings. And in my transformation
      I want to remember the courageous
      caterpillar that gave to me these wings.

    Patricia Ann Doneson

    Monterey, CA


      She whispers as I dream
      Knowing that in daytime
      There is no reaching me.
      I've tuned her out with busyness.
      In dreams she reminds me that
      Locked and sealed chambers,
      Unhealthful places
      Which I have disowned or denied
      Remain to be dealt with,
      Like it or not.

      Illusions, secrets
      Blackness unseen and unshared
      Remain under pressure.
      Release or suffer more.
      Pockets of self judgment continue to torment
      The child who huddles deep within the closet
      Wrapped in shame.

      She, the Dark Angel sees me
      There in all my woe and bids me go
      Within, take hold of my own hand
      Acknowledge darkness, losses,
      Stubborn resistance,
      Opportunities foregone
      Because of fear.

      Take courage now,
      For life extends
      Beyond all understanding.
      Embrace each awkward fall from grace
      And know that Grace continues
      Through the dark night
      Through all the tears...
      The Dark Angel guides me
      Toward a light
      Then, disappears.

    Shirley Tofte

    Carmel Valley, CA


      All along a lush meadow
      redundant rainstorms convert trails
      into streams and pools,
      an obstacle course reflection
      of real life's recurring tempests.

      Water seeps through leather shoes,
      soaks thin socks,
      everyday defenses no protection
      from bogs and quagmires.

      Scraps of hard feelings
      like infected wood splinters
      left to fester.
      Fragments of discontent
      ferment and multiply.
      Bitter seeds germinate
      beneath verdant facades.

      I seethe, scratch
      what irritates, extract
      toxic revenge from derelict
      love affairs,
      retreat to burlesque memories
      to neutralize spite.

      I walk woodland paths,
      attempt to evade the next cloudburst,
      wait for light shed through thunderheads,
      forecasts of returning rapture.

    Laura Bayless

    Wuppertal, Germany


    Our Lady in her Grace of Service

      THE VEIL

      You covered my crippled hand with a smile
      before they could ask
      a break
      the heart's sorrows end
      where a daisy sparkles in sunlight

    Hiltrud Mueller

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2005

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Happy Spring time!! I send to you my offering for the month of May. Thanks to Hilly Mueller and her poem, "Truth", Nov. 15th LBOL, which inspired me to look at my own onion again. Thanks Hilly.

      NEW EYES

      Nothing is ever lost
      it has simply been misplaced,

      So—I pack up
      my memory bag again.
      This time leaving behind
      the heavy burden of regret,
      the senseless word of failure.

      I travel light this time.

      Not looking
      for what could have been
      or might have been, but
      the total wonder of it all.

      I return again
      to the onion field
      peeling away
      the many layers
      of my life. Reminding
      myself that the core
      is indeed the sum
      total of its parts and,
      who knows, maybe
      what was so carelessly
      discarded years ago
      may have born fruit
      in this collective garden.

      I have learned that
      truth is forever
      changing as
      I change and
      even a lie holds
      a grain of truth
      waiting for my discovery.

    Patricia Ann Doneson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      late afternoon into evening
      near a Zen garden whirlpool
      circles in the sand
      two rocks at the center
      three stones beside
      four mussel shells
      at the outer edge of a spiral
      nothing not in arms reach

      a kelp pod
      with unruly strands of hair
      stands watch
      over a refuge of shore, sky,
      time, tide, seabirds
      grains of sand shift

      slowly, a half moon
      rights its white bowl
      in the blue canopy
      on its westward arc

      the sun descends
      gradually towards
      the edge of the sea

      lacey pools of foam
      encircle a limestone boulder,
      glide in and out
      over gleaming wet pebbles

      lower and lower
      the sun subsides,
      casting light through the stony armor
      of black damp rocks

      muted melodies
      implicated in breaking waves
      bathe in fading day


      In the early morning hours
      I read
      let delectable words
      fill my mouth
      enter my blood
      stream and pulse
      through my brain
      their taste and tempo
      and sting
      become cellular flesh
      muscle and marrow
      so much chapter and paragraph
      of my body
      that vocabulary rises
      to my fingertips
      grows like new soft hair
      on my arms
      all devouring of syllable
      and wit
      lingering somewhere
      in the folds and bones

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel Valley, CA


      You must have paper at hand, and paint and pens and notebooks. Your blood demands it, so that it can flow unobstructed, take nourishment to every cell—redden the pale—stir the stagnant—awaken the sleeping. No need to know why this is more worthy than breath itself. After all, breath lives within, fine-tuned in a constant rhythm, accompanying in steady beat aware of heart's rhythm.

      But, this more sacred music, the slide of paint on paper, the scratch of pens on lines of notebook, this absence of silence, owns voices as many as the stars, wants to be heard in the deep of night and the welcome of the day.

      Blood knows its route, delivers as trustworthy as the mailman, the expected. Breath takes hold its flow of ion and out in predetermined regularity.

      The words and art begin quite normally, then alchemy as they dance on paper, pay no attention to assigned choreography, decide to perform in the motion of the moment, leave legacy to keep dread away, to allow darkness its place, not as a place of drowning, but a place to sort, to struggle, to sustain until, until light and lightness of being brings solace, boldness, humor and acrid misery into play. An honest beginning again.

      And it continues. How many times does pen meet paper, a handshake that often tells a fortune, points with a finger, a new direction? Old lore becomes mulch along the path. Wooden signs that seemed set in concrete, disintegrate words, become sawdust, before new words grow. A plateau, a mesa, on which to stand and wait.

      And the paint waits, already knows with whom it will partner, even marry for the moment. Yellows and greens enhance each other, but they do not dream their wedding whites. Those virgin shades shyly touch. Softness welcomes gentleness, as bold reds restlessly await passion's promise. Then within the frame, reminders repeat this lesson: Do not forget my power.

      It matters not so much that my words create morning. More dear, that morning arrives and I choose to step into it, drape my naked body with its offering, trust I will be well clad.

      And, naked, I find my hands holding each other in thankfulness, a rush, a blossoming blush, that knows no age, places its kiss upon my check and I know I am loved.

    Illia Thompson

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 2005

    San Jose, CA



      The parking lot is almost deserted
      In the hard glare of the July sun.
      Two dirt devils swirl next to the garbage can,
      Kicking up dust, scraps of paper, cigarette butts.
      Two separate cars are waiting for them.
      It is time to part.

      She extracts the glasses from his shirt pocket
      Before she settles into his arms,
      Her head resting near his heart.
      Yes, her breath and his breath are becoming one.
      Yes, her heartbeat and his heartbeat are becoming one.
      For a long moment they are fused in silence.
      In their own space they are lost to this place.

      Long after she left
      He still feels her touch
      Imprinted quite deep in his body.
      His mind is at peace.
      His soul is at ease.
      He takes a deep breath and he wonders.

    Franz Spickhoff

    Colorado Springs, CO


      Will this conversation
      never end—this constant
      need to prove myself.

      I am weary of turning
      from my own
      image in the mirror.

      Weary—of the smile
      painted upon my face to
      protect myself from sharp
      words and cruel humor.

      This desire
      for acceptance
      does not come cheaply.

      I fall again
      into the hallways
      of this endless journey

      Searching for my innocence.

      to find the wild horse
      I used to be—freed from the
      trainer's hand that sought
      to break my spirit so that
      I might fit into this life.

      Now, that I fit in...
      I still do not belong. I still miss
      the Wild Horse I used to be.


      The field worker
      bends his back
      in reverence
      as he offers
      his prayers
      with a hoe.

      He looks not
      to the heavens
      for Mother, but
      into the soil below.
      And the seeds
      he plants in
      her belly fall
      from a
      loving hand.

      is a secret
      in this land
      called Poland
      that only the brave
      may know and
      a light so bright
      it will blind you
      in this place
      where roses grow.

    Patricia Ann Doneson

    Carmel Valley, CA


      Sometimes so faint
      I can barely hear its dry sigh,
      a muffled melody
      mumbling under the rasp
      of my breath.

      Other times so loud
      it scares me,
      a thrashing of passion
      within the crescendo
      of a temporary storm.

      I listen attentively
      for themes,
      attuned to tempo,
      sweet harmony
      in blood and bones,
      as if the ribs were a trellis,
      conservatory for capillaries
      webbing the skirling bagpipes
      of my lungs,

      no note not part of
      past and future,
      nothing unsung from
      the constant concerto
      of my life.


      I'm in the mood to fricassee some mischief,
      ready to, defrost the icing
      of decorum from my disguise.

      I want to scrap the marrow of good taste,
      chop a few old taboos,
      strive for complete meltdown.
      The ham in me is feeling devilish.

      Allow me to get a bit toasted,
      sift some, spice into nice,
      have dessert first,
      order chocolate creme brulee.
      I love the way saying it
      rolls off the tongue.

      I'm all for jumping
      out of the frying pan
      into a new stew,
      tossing all the minced words
      onto the goody-two-cakes griddle.

      I'm ready to make hash
      out of established etiquette,
      put some sizzle
      in the crockpot of bland habits.

      I'll be the sweet and sour
      on your menu,
      flambe' your crepe suzettes,
      before we totally chill out.

      Hey, good lookin'
      how's about cooking something up
      with me!

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel Valley, CA


      After rainy nights
      I gather earthworms
      long low-lying inches of life
      marooned on cold patio tiles
      or damp backyard cement.

      Gently, I place these creatures
      on top of soft garden soil
      watch a revival of spirit
      as they enter the familiar.

      These fat primordial beings
      with no hint of face or feature
      plump pink lengths, seem to come
      from the sky on the slide of rain.

      Limpid lethargy transformed
      into mighty motion when carried
      through space that must seem
      like sky to them, during our
      brief connection.

      Suddenly aware, I smile.
      When saving others, I save myself.

    Illia Thompson

    Pacific Grove, CA

      I sit in the woods, hear the rippling creek and singing birds—and see a lone white, small flower before me. Perfect in its singularity. There is evidence around me of a lush spring. Flowering bushes, dense greenery, water in previously dry beds. I happily saw many Douglas Iris along my way here, always a symbol of my father's death. I sit in the woods, marveling at the cycles of birth and death in my life and in nature.

      First came the explosive entrance of my first grandchild—a boy named Shayah, meaning gift of God. I was witness to this miracle and the first month of his life. I held him often, feeling the dignity of his being, the fullness of his soul.

      Then, I was fortunate to be in Death Valley, now more aptly named Blossoming Valley. It is an artist's palette of colors—colorful flowers set against the backdrop of huge rocks, vast scenes of life emerging and fading.

      Upon my return, I learned that Shanja had died a few days prior. I struggle to peacefully place her in this vision of life and death. For I feel her loss immensely, knowing she had so much more to teach us, and to enjoy. And yet, I know she would have me do just that—she taught me acceptance and love, of myself and others, of the world with all its gifts. She spoke in her last message of impermanence. Life is short, pain is short. And all is good. Nothing to fear. Everything to appreciate.

      And so I close with gratitude. For having known Shanja. For the birth of Shayah. For all the miracles and the mystery of life and of death.


      The beginning and the ending are the same. For them and for us. Only the middle differs. It is up to us and our angels. May we make the most of it!

    Marilyn Beck

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2005

    Tucson, AZ

    I received a piece of junk mail with a promotional check for $2.50 that if I cashed it would automatically enroll me in the profit-making schemes of some company or other. I was a bit disappointed in the value placed on my compliance and destroyed the "check."

    Somehow or other this led to the first poem that follows, "Junk Mail." Since an artist, like everyone, craves acceptance, encouragement, and love, does it not follow that art is an attempt to gain these things? However, for the artist, is there also an attempt through one's art to share that which points to something even greater than the artist's abilities and needs? And is this, perhaps, a yearning the artist in fact shares with everyone else also?

    The second poem following, "The Leper Colony" revisits the theme of belonging.

    Whether either of these poems achieves any of these goals, or whether the above stated goals of the artist hold any validity, this I cannot speak to with any authority.

    Here are the poems:


      It said "Check Enclosed—
      Do not discard"

      So I opened it.

      There it was:
      A check for two million dollars.

      Since anything too good to be true
      Usually is
      I examined it more closely.

      The fine print read:
      "Endorsing this check
      enrolls you in the Damned Souls club"

      While running that check
      Through my paper shredder (government standard shred)
      I remembered what the great Marx had said:
      "I don't want to belong to any club
      Whose standards are so low
      They would have me for a member."


      It's the kind of place
      That, if you're a member,
      But do not live there,
      Speaking about it to others who are not members
      Is the kind of thing
      You wonder about forthrightly disclosing
      For fear of possible social repercussions

      It's the continual nagging gripe
      Of whether or not
      You have equal intrinsic worth
      In comparison to other human beings

      It's the continual shrinkage
      Of your world
      Down to where it is so small
      Only the mind's eye can see it.

    Chris Lovette

    Carmel Valley, CA


      A silk rose has no fragrance,
      no fleshy petals,
      and a real bloom is always
      half-way towards its own death.

      I can't pin a perfect cloud
      to the blue cotton sky
      without acknowledging
      the least breeze.

      The imperfection of a moment
      appears to tell a different story
      each time.
      If I expect perfection
      I will be disappointed again.

      I pursue beauty
      in simple things,
      fluid lines in wood grain,
      the way the sea recedes
      drawing its liquid sheet
      across the sand,
      a single crimson leaf
      among a litter of yellow.

      Before I water the pots
      on the deck, I wait
      for honeybees to feast
      at the tiny blue galaxies
      on rosemary branches.

      What I want in my life
      to be willing
      to discover what is nearby,
      to meet a day
      without anticipating
      it will be difficult,
      willing to move through grief.

      I don't ask to be dazzled,
      only to be grateful
      for nominal offerings.

      My old dreams dissolve
      like mist on the river of time.
      I am learning
      to float
      allowing the current
      to release me,
      to encounter the flow.

    Laura Bayless

    Carmel Valley, CA


      The house that once held
      a family of five
      now holds me alone.

      Decades, my favorite
      bundles of years, pile up
      become steps I climb
      to view more clearly.

      When silence warms
      it murmurs memories
      of fullness, hints
      at future possibilities.

      When silence chills
      ice-cold reminiscences
      of loss, steel wind chimes
      toll and tell foreboding.

      When silence threatens
      to freeze, I thaw the air
      with other's music, words
      of my gathering, and cooking.

      Sounds and scents and sights
      in motion as flavors blend
      into heat that brings
      fire without flame.

      Spring brings its season
      that knows no snow.

      I hear geese honking their journey.
      I listen for mine.

    Illia Thompson

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 16, 2005

    Berkeley, CA


      Trite, trivial at best, when a thing you've known
      turns to illusion, optics of the eye resettle
      and resolve different dimensions, new ways
      of regarding the familiar, a chestnut tree
      in Autumn yellow, red, orange, ablaze—
      the shock percusses the heart, torches
      archaeologies of memory, a fiddle lifting,
      bending notes, a song drawing you deep
      in tune with fire and time, the slow shift
      of her shoulders, the face turning, eyes
      changing, shining grey, blue, silver, emerald,
      mixing humor, affection, and something else—

      the smallest question, like the curl of waves off Limatour
      how much I'd missed, being there, not seeing this before.

    Larry Ruth

    Del Rey Oaks


      drawing is all there is
      take a pencil
      a big paper
      draw your name
      as big as you can

      you have drawn a most complex image
      completely abstract
      but full of meaning

      now on another sheet
      draw a line around the edge
      a square box
      to bind the limits
      of what you have done
      or will do

      now on yet another
      put the paper vertical
      not on the horizontal
      and draw another edge
      when that is done
      make a line at 3/4

      it doesn't matter
      if it is from the top
      or from the button

      you are making a world
      and have divided the land from the sky
      separated the ocean
      from the air

      drawing is all there is

      now if you never stop
      for 100 years
      you will be known as artist
      but do it everyday
      on books and pages
      big and small

      do not worry of what to draw
      its right in front of you

      just remember it is everyday
      drawing is all there is

    Stephen Brown

    Monterey, CA


      I chose a smooth tiger eye stone
      brown on top and bottom,
      vibrant tans in between
      shaped like a tiny bread loaf that was
      pushed on while it was baking.
      My rock leans slightly askew.
      I ask you,
      Rock. what happened to you
      to cause your layered look?
      Were you tumbled in a brook?
      How you shimmer and you shine!
      You are lovely, and you're mine.

      Says my rock, "I am layered, it is so
      from events so long ago
      under pressure, heat and light,
      I was spewed from mountain height
      into water swift and bright,
      traveled miles while water flowed.
      Someone found me on a road,
      took me home inside his shirt,
      clean and smooth and free of dirt.

      I'm aware I glow inside.
      It's my lightness and my pride,
      a gift from Mother Earth
      who gives all things their worth.
      Yes, I'll gladly stay with you,
      for you've warmed me through and through."

    Shirley Tofte

    Carmel Valley, CA

      SOLSTICE 2004

      No hint of dawn in the east yet,
      the countless hours of winter darkness
      not ready to relinquish their possession
      of my mind.

      I wander in temples of unrelenting night,
      corridors without exits,
      wonder what if
      daylight never comes.

      I have been in the maze
      of midnight before,
      certain the clock stopped,
      leaving me stranded
      among a multitude of longings
      intermingled with grim memories.

      There is nothing to do
      but suffer the sluggish minutes
      one by one.

      This is the portion of life
      for which there is no chicken soup,
      no platitude, no denouement.

      This is where I find my demons
      and split their skulls with patience.

      The light returns.
      Even after the longest night,
      the many winter penumbras,
      I have to believe day will spill out
      at the horizon.

      I've seen it thousands of times,
      the faint hint of blue bordering
      the black pastures of the sky,
      the torch of the sun coming slowly
      from its journey on the other side of earth
      to wash away remnants
      of graveyard shadows.

      I am waiting.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2005

    Colorado Springs, CO

    Well, here I am again offering the ongoing conversation I am having, not only with myself, but the Universe.


      did you begin
      to believe you had
      nothing of value to say.

      advice wounded you
      and set you on a path
      not to prove them wrong,

      But to prove them right.

      How many
      have you missed for
      meaningful conversation
      simply because you feared
      to be criticized again.

      The critic is not
      half as dangerous as
      this self-imposed prophecy
      that was created the day
      someone delivered to you
      their negative opinion
      and convinced you
      to believe it.

    Patricia Ann Doneson

    Monterey, CA


      Under starlight and moon,
      We embrace once again.
      I rest in the hollow of your arm
      Listen to your heart.
      We scan the sky
      For falling stars.
      You've seen far more,
      Yet still I'm feeling blessed
      To share this coolness,
      Breathe this scented air,
      Listen to a lovelorn
      Cricket's serenade.
      I feet the full moon's
      Motherly embrace of love,
      Echoing our own.


      There is a story told in earth and sky,
      Dark veined leaf and fragile blossom,
      Water rushing white and rippled
      Over rocky streambeds
      Wind blown over myriad grains of sand,
      A pattern of waves undulating
      In the rhythmic breath of Mother Earth

      The pulse of heartbeats
      Secret streams in veins
      Deep surges of life blood
      Water ever coursing, vibrant,
      Changing form as it rises
      To clouds floating gently
      As morning dew
      Misting tiny spider webs
      That glow in sunlight's dawn.

      How can these beauties pass unheeded?
      What storyteller sees the patterns?
      Who will sing for this blue-green earth,
      Love it into story, dance it,
      Proclaim each leaf and twig?

      A playful blue jay eats pine nuts
      From my porch rail,
      Perches on my husband's knee.
      Cricket song lulls me into sleep.
      A ruby-throated hummingbird
      Savors nectar from orange nasturtiums,
      Its wings humming me awake
      So near our bed on the deck.

      Am 1 now called to speak for them?
      How else can it be told?
      For who has seen what I have seen
      This day and in this life?
      If I be silent, each sweet image
      I behold will fade away.
      This moment now, how rich, yet fleeting.
      I will write of it if nature will but lead the way.

    Shirley Tofte

    Carmel Valley, CA


      "Does the air we vanish into taste of us..."
      Rainier Maria Rilke

      She often seems close by
      even though she's been absent now
      for many months,
      her death a swift severance
      from the roster of the living,
      no chance for terminal farewells.

      On the back page of a journal
      I find the score of a game we played,
      under her name more points than mine.
      I have forgotten
      what diversion we shared,
      but not her fondness for winning.

      I avoid the grocery store
      on Friday afternoons,
      our customary trip for the last ten years,
      find the aisles of food she navigated
      in the handicapped cart forbidding.

      At the library
      I grasp the handles of a wheelchair,
      assist a retired Kindergarten teacher
      over the threshold,
      recall, myself bowed,
      pushing my sister's chair
      up a steep path.

      I fold a small lavender quilt,
      wind the unicorn music box,
      touch these gifts she gave me,
      believe I hear her say
      "break a rule."


      The sacred place where beauty is kept alive in memory of the dead.
      May Sarton—Plant Dreaming Deep

      Not existing,
      but flourishing,
      astonished by the soft colors
      of the sky at dawn
      or a spider's pattern of filaments
      woven across the space under the porch—
      this I do in memory of the dead.

      I am their place in the world now,
      my remembrance of them
      what remains of their time,

      I restore their laughter,
      delicate strands of hair,
      bright eyes,
      when I stir up the past
      to season the present.
      My laughter is their song
      sustained and celebrated,
      a reliquary for their brief
      but shimmering lives.

      I persist, determined to experience
      whatever joys
      they were denied by death.
      I like to think
      they would have done
      the same for me,
      had I left them suddenly
      some years before.

    Laura Bayless

    Dorset, England


      Of Course!
      It points to common sense—
      the brain is a reproduction of it's source
      seen in the myriad perfections of nature!
      It, not the least of these to arrive
      growing like a child to it's limits,
      learning how it arises
      but not why or by whom or what!
      It does not occur that the universe
      studies itself through it!
      But at it's best, unknowing
      from knowing how it is wrought,
      learning the joy that comes from repose,
      not asking the ineffable question
      but feeling the peace that lets it rest
      and that certainty that comes
      with freedom from thinking!

    There are a lot of my poems wanting to speak on www.mysticseed.com

    Roy Austin

    Thank you for your creative offerings!

    I invite readers to share their own creative works (poems, stories, images, comment, etc.) in Letter Box On Line (LBOL). I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.

    The Editor

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