Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Tag: jimowenswrites

We cannot pretend

We cannot pretend,

My broken-hearted friend,

This garden we must tend,

The hope I want to lend.

What grace can I extend?

What message can I send?

And surely not pretend,

Has now come the end.


There must be some way,

Something I can say,

To make a better day,

To mend this hopeless fray,

And make you want to stay,

We’ll smell the fresh cut hay,

Find more time to play,

Quiet hounds that bay,


No more say goodbye,

Please,look into my eyes,

For we must simply try,

Not understanding why,

Forsake this futile lie,

The day is coming nigh,

For I will help you fly.

A hope that will not die.


















She sits alone

She sits alone,
In a hollow place
A single tear,
Glides down her face;

She sits alone,
In shadows gray,
Wishing for
Some different way;

She sits alone,
And wonders how,
She might make,
A better now?

She sits alone,
This life so long,
A distant voice,
A mournful song;

She rises up,
Then plants her feet:
What lies ahead,
What pain to greet?

She rises up,
Despite the fear,
Her shoulders back,
The dawn is near;

She rises up,
Wipes tear away,
In this place,
She cannot stay;

She rises up,
Shrugs off despair,
This weary warrior
Of life’s affairs;

She takes a step,
Into the light,
Bids adieu,
This painful plight;

She takes a step,
Two, then three,
Walking on,
How can this be?

She takes a step,
Four, then five,
Just grateful that,
She’s still alive;

She stands alone
With head held high,
Her soul renewed
Her battle cry;

She stands alone,
A fragile peace,
Her burden lighter,
Sorrow released;

She stands alone,
Though griefs remain,
But smiles a bit,
Wash away the stain;

She sits alone,
In a hollow place,
Still some fears,
This better place.

Sometimes, when it’s quiet


when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

hearing the barking dogs in the distance,

really hearing them,

hearing their yips and wails and pleading,

their unbridled pursuit of some unimaginable thing,

I wonder;



when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

in that liminal space between waking and sleeping

hearing the electric hum of silence,

and the sounds that rattle and echo through these halls

I wonder;


Or sometimes,

when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

hearing the throbbing of my heart,

noticing the whoosh of blood coursing through me,

feeling the rise and fall of my chest, my lungs stoking the fire of life,

I wonder;



when it’s quiet,

if only in my heart,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

to the sound of far-off thunder,

when I hear the growing rage of an approaching storm,

hearing the wind rushing through the trees, faster and faster,

waiting on the next brilliant, terrifying flash of lightning to race across the sky,

I wonder:



when it’s quiet,

when I sit and listen,

really listen,

I wonder,


I wonder why,

why I don’t sit and listen,

really listen.

I woke up and wondered

I woke up and wondered
What today might bring;
Sorrow or comfort,
Some new song to sing?

I woke up and wondered
What today might bring;
A victory or joy,
Some fresh painful thing?

I woke up and wondered,
How surely to meet:
Whatever should come
Without self-deceit?

I woke up and wondered,
How should I reply;
Whatever I see,
Keep open my eyes?

I woke up and wondered,
Have I finally grown,
Am I able to walk
Together, alone?

I woke up and wondered,
Might I restore,
The broken and humble
And open my door?

I woke up and wondered,
My life full of charm,
Can I just embrace
The joy and the harm?

I woke up and wondered,
So much still to learn,
That giving is getting,
Let go of the yearn;

I woke up and wondered,
At all of their fears
Consuming like fire
And robbing their years.

I woke up and wondered,
If I could set free,
Release all the things
Bound inside of me?

I woke up and wondered,
In this Shakespearean play,
What role do I have?
What do I portray?

I woke up and wondered,
At teachers I’ve known,
Lessons I’ve learned,
The kindness they’ve shown.

I woke up and wondered,
At life’s mysteries,
Happy to sail,
Upon all of her seas.

I woke up
and wondered.


What creature these

All gathered here,

That lie and wait,

Near swaying trees?


Of deeds undone,

I hear them speak,

And wondering what

Must surely come;


From darkest tombs

They whisper still,

Of life’s remorse

Since mother’s womb;


They see now clear

In darkness’ light,

And wondering what

There was to fear;


And murmur still,

Each haunting voice

Such mournful tones,

I sense their chill;


No lesson half

That I must learn,

Each moment write

This epitaph;


“In this cold ground

There lies a man,

He took a chance,

He heard the sound;


Wandered astray

He roamed about,

And left the trail,

Some surely say;


Was there a choice

Or made for him

The urge to follow

His poet’s voice?”


She Gently Stirs

She gently stirs,
these bitter bits of chocolate sorrow;
this Alchemist of All,
mixing in cups of laughter,
spoonsful of a warm embrace,
and knowing nods of fellowship,
her hands busily,
divining sweet confections of comfort;

In this gathering of saints,
this unexpected communion,
she fills my plate
ladling it again and again
heaping it with joy upon joy,
liberally filling my crystal cup
now dripping
with her ruby-red elixir of hope;

And so I sit,
nibbling bits of gratitude
filling my belly,
abating my hunger
I sit,
And sip,
sating my thirst
I bask in the presence
of this holy order,
wondering what quests might follow.

When comes the harvest?

O, Mother,

when comes the harvest?

Thy blossoming babe,

foretelling promise,

tender shoots branching,

lush leaves hide thy sweet offering;

these tiny orbs morphing

in hues of green, yellow and red.


Speak to me, O Mother!

Tell me!

How long must I beseech thee?

Shall I pluck this fruit,

Let my tongue savor now thy gifts?


Dreams of her delight,

she taunts me.

Is thy bounty now born in full,

plump and ripe?

Has she now bathed long enough

in the white glare of midday,

been soothed by the soaking rains?


Shall I pick,

or shall I watch,

be robbed by fowl’s beak,

by the ravenous squirrel,

see her offering fall

only to spoil,



by the passing boot?


When comes the harvest,

O, Mother?

How long must I wait?

One hour?

One day?

One week?


When comes the harvest?

Memories Echo

Memories echo

across the years.

Who are these boys,

now shedding tears?


Chasing dreams,

eager boys of yore,

no longer those,

we were before;


Crowned our heads,

some shocking white,

our faces etched,

our fading sight;


Gone our youth,

slow setting sun,

my grieving friend,

he comes undone;


A mournful dirge

the trumpet blows,

for that moment

no man knows;


Time will give

and take away,

Now wondering what

I should say;


Footprints fading,

by ocean’s tide,

from this storm,

we cannot hide;


We say hello.

with warm embrace

and then goodbye

A smiling face;


And turn about,

back to our chores,

no longer those,

we were before.

What can I say?

What can I say,

To this world undone,

And share some light,

For becoming one?


Is there some word,

That’s writ by me,

Would show the glimmer

Our humanity?


Could I beckon

Men black and white,

Drop their swords

And refuse to fight?


Would I presume,

To speak so clear,

That all these faiths,

Let go their fear?


Is there some way,

I could confess,

Some sacred truth,

I might suggest?


Would each man hear,

Each woman too,

There is so much

That’s left to do?


Shall I just sit,

Watch world afire,

That burns us all

In funeral pyre?


Or can I write,

Perhaps move them all

In some fresh verse

To stop the fall?


Can tribes unite,

And offer grace,

See the whole,

Not just the space?

Or are we chained,

To ourselves alone,

Keep building walls

Keep laying stones?


What hope is there,

For us to find,

Share this space

Is there still time?


Can we yet stop,

The madness great

That dooms our lives

That seals our fate?


What can I say,

To this world undone,

And share some light,

For becoming one?

A Big Day: A brief fiction

Pausing at the mirror, he checked his appearance one final time.  The navy and crimson tie was gently knotted in a Half-Windsor, a simple act of rebellion against the prevailing style for men his age.  The regimental striped cravat, navy and crimson, hung perfectly at his waistline, silhouetted against the background of a crisp, white tailored shirt.  He wished his hair were a bit longer, but damn, it was hot and more hair meant more sweat.  And he didn’t like to sweat.  At least not in a suit.

He glanced at his watch and pivoted to head for the car.  It was going to be a big day and being late wasn’t an option. But as he turned to go he sensed something was out of place.  Ash didn’t know what caught his eye, but he leaned closer to the mirror, studying himself like a painter studies her subject.  What is that?

With the tip of his right index finger he tried to wipe it away, hoping to avoid smearing the graphite across his forehead.  Is that ink?   He dampened the finger on a still moist wash cloth lying on the sink and applied more pressure.  But the mark wouldn’t budge, so he grabbed the cloth with all the zeal of a Pentecostal preacher, the dropped it midway through it’s journey to his face. Damn.

Ash had never really recognized it until now, had never truly seen it, but the lines on his forehead had somehow morphed into something more akin to etchings than wrinkles.  And what had begun as an effort to look his best was quickly becoming a study in life.  Suddenly, he was aware of the marionette lines at the corners of his mouth. He saw the crevasse, what he remembered some telling him were nasal labial folds, lining both of cheeks.  In the unwanted epiphany of the moment, it occurred to him he’d be able to apply for social security in a few more years.

Where had the time gone? And who was this imposter in the mirror? Standing there, Ash thought about the scar on his shoulder.  It was purple and blue and and still looked a little angry, though the pain had long-since subsided.  It become an embellished tale of his continued need to test himself, perhaps to show he might cheat death.  He had never been really afraid of death—well, at least not for a very long time—but in that moment, the victories and defeats of a lifetime seemed manifest within his body in ways that made him uncomfortable.  But rather than resist the discomfort, he let himself feel it all.

He remembered how it felt when he’d be chosen to do a job he was ill-prepared for but was to young to realize it.  He recalled how his mouth had gone dry when he’d heard the doctor say the word malignantand how relieved he’d been after the surgery ten years ago.    And he recalled how the slow and tortuous erosion of his faith had left him needing to rethink his life, how he saw the world, and how relieved, even grateful, he was, for the pain and loss of that time. Somehow, to his surprise and the skepticism of some of the ones he loved most dearly, it had made him more compassionate:  He hoped it had made him kinder.

All those thoughts, and more, had washed over Ash like final waves of an incoming tide—and all of it in less than a minute.  Slowly, the stranger in the mirror had disappeared and his own smiling reflection returned.  Bursting into laughter, Ash thought, maybe a little Botox might be a good idea.  The young man he was on the inside, full of dreams and passion, with a taste for things that others subtly suggested was foolish for a man of his age, was still there.  The lines and scars were just had the ribbons for running the race the way he had to run it.  With that comfort he slipped back into present and remembered it was going to be a big day. It already was.