Poetry-American Haiku


When writing haiku, I follow just one rule. They must be three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. I’ve heard this defined as “American” haiku.


To haiku or not—

let rigor shape my meaning

or speak unconstrained.

No Hands

The ride is smoother

when life is experienced

without holding on.


Living mindfully

and understanding karma,

we enjoy freedom.


Creating humans

who observe their creator,

the world sees itself.

Fall on White Rocks

Just because it’s time

bright leaves fall, this way and that

embracing the earth.


San Pedro river:

migrating birds are welcome;

Mexicans are not.

Nature Trail

Alone with the pond,

embraced by a choiceless love

that thought can’t provide.


The greens are greener

and the shadows more striking

when in a new light.


Misty and Stormy,

no more captive or gentled,

roam with the wild herds.


Beached boat called “At Last”,

Payne’s [Unwanted] Sea Treasures—

desire gone wanting.

July Rain

Waterthrush morning

on the state park nature trail,

one frog jumps; one sits.


Like light on the trees

before a train rounds the bend,

we see what’s coming.

Set Theory of Marriage

Union of two sets

with, one hopes, an adequate

intersection set.

Open Line Segment

Deep joy has no name

and likewise deepest sorrow;

words serve in between.

First Breeze

With feathered caress

morning air comes round the world

to wish me good day.

Moral Imperative

“Believe,” says bumper,

as if it’s an act of will,

the right thing to do.

Peaceable Kingdom

Choosing mystery

over knowing, agnostics

never start a war.

Oh, gosh!”

Spontaneous joy

unleashed in Krishnamurti

by sudden insight.

Bird of Paradise

Fly, intuition!

Know the world with your feathers;

feel its beat with wings.


When I walk slowly,

I seem to arrive sooner

‘cause I’m always there.

Holy Binity

“There are two godwits,”

they said, but I had to see.

Now I have no doubt.

In 1993 I saw my first marbled godwit at the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge. This haiku was composed in 2006 on the way to Lake Marburg in Codorus State Park (Hanover, PA) to see my first hudsonian godwit.


Awestruck, mesmerized,

as in the presence of gods,

pleasure worth the pain.

Soul Salesman

You’ll need a soul, sir,

if you want a self that lasts

more than seven years.

Intel Inside

Praise and confession,

all now facilitated

by EasyWorship.


Truth without beauty

is possible, but never

beauty without truth.

Bishops All

Desmond called Nathan,

as he might call each of us,

a stand-in for God.

On October 21, 2006 at the Zembo Mosque in Harrisburg, Archbishop Desmond Tutu preached the sermon at the ordination and consecration of the Reverend Nathan Dwight Baxter as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. The liturgical prayers referred to people by their first names, including the President of the United States (not present), the Governor of Pennsylvania (supposedly present), and the bishops.

Before I Formed You

Nothing feels better

than being known, set apart

for something special.

Dawn, 12/10/06

Conjunction of Mars,

Jupiter, and Mercury:

four-five-one from three.


Failure to follow

ancient advice to work out

our own salvation.

Winter Solstice

Long night transcended,

star’s return trimmed as Christmas—

earth’s nativity.

A Mighty Sword

Calling something sin

is a theologian’s way

of wielding power.


My mind contains me—

memories in the moonlight,

yesterday’s brainchild.


Replicating mind,

meme on meme (itself a meme),

sincere flattery.


Warmth of a spring sun,

hope of a thousand mornings,

sweet benediction.

When Time Shall Be No More

Just an FYI:

without time, nothing happens,

in case that matters.


With nothing but time,

the sun wanes and the earth dies,

all memory gone.

Disaster Relief

Neurotic people

take comfort in disasters

beyond their control.

Dry Bones

Even my sad songs,

yea, my lonely and mad songs,

deny me their tears.

Religious Prejudice

Some are said to be,

as if the rest of us aren’t,

men/women of faith.


A little known fact:

the most religious of us

own no religion.

Cruel Irony

Our separateness

allows us to feel something

approaching union.

Scatological Simile

(Annoying Alliteration)

(Pissing Poems)

Like dogs on a tree,

I leave my distinctive scent

to mark who’s been here.


Fragments passed through chinks,

dots and dashes tapped on pipes:

brief clues from inside.

As If Life Were a Riddle

Cracking a poet’s

riddle gives the illusion

of solving life’s own.

Jacob’s Ladder

Even slippery

rocks provide infinite ways

to climb a mountain.


What parts see as death

is but the out-breath of a

living universe.

Jamaican Plain Talk

When de big cease come

an de memory ride end,

ain’t no transition.

Who, Me?

To be innocent

must we live our entire lives



Beliefs are like sex—

you don’t choose your preference;

you don’t choose your faith.

“I Love You”

I say to myself

finally realizing

the best love of all.


Therapist’s advice:

lower your expectations

so life’s not so small.


Paradox and grace—

this atheist’s substitutes

for mere miracle.

New Year’s Day

Here we go again—

same river, but different,

and without resolve.

Wind Chimes

Surreal symphony

of surfeit on a stormy,

starry winter’s night.

At Sea, 1968

Two holds down. on a

boa bed of twisted hemp,

reading Siddhartha.

At Home, 2013

Siddhartha again,

this time a retrospective

on my own life too.

I first read Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha on my way to Cape Town in 1968. I read it again in December 2013. My second reading was from a copy borrowed from the Messiah College library. My wife was able to tell from handwriting in the book that it was catalogued by her mother, Gladys Sider.

Herd Instinct

It’s something we’ve learned

by heart; all fear is the fear

of being alone.


(Susan Getty: OH OH OH!!!! Love the tulips!!! radiant...)

When you find someone

who sees tulips as you do,

your heart leaps for joy.

Shiver Me Timbers

Misanthropes ply seas

of words like pirates intent

on plunder, mayhem.

May God Have Mercy

Miscreants use words

to imply the existence

of their referents.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

That Grace May Abound

If there’s no free will,

as Martin Luther had it,

there’s nothing but grace.

Just the Way I Like It

A cat’s playful nip

countered by open embrace,

dark chocolate morning.



What Moses Didn’t Know


Even the true God,

if worshipped and defended,

is a golden calf.




Winter Solstice in a Quaker Meeting


It felt very good

to sit an hour not hearing

the Christmas story.

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

Theists bear witness

to something that can’t be known,

a dead giveaway.

Come Thou Long Expected

Nirvana begins

the moment self and God end,

the battle over.

Hat Trick


Humans are masters

of illusion—they pull them-

selves out of a hat.


Commitment to truth

can be measured by how well

one practices doubt.


Playfully jousting

is a way of learning how

to trust each other.

Freethinkers’ Last Hope

(and one to get us started)

Can community

be built around shared questions

instead of answers?