(3 line poems written at Walnut Valley Bluegrass Music Festival, Winfield, KS, 9/13-17/00)


9/13 (Daybreak on the midway)


Farm boy trudges

dusty midway, eyes hidden

under yellow hat-brim.


8 A.M–

the Colorado bluegrass boys

pick each note alert to earth-heart.


Wind wafts whiffs

of hot coffee, and bacon

frying off fat.


The human brood is here full range–

from consummate, accomplished

souls to the totally shit-faced.


Hammer dulcimer plays:

silver filaments

glide on the breeze.


All is one lucid substance.

Each unique person is that

walking through that.


We’ve known

each other



festivals give us

permission to stop

pretending it’s not so.


9/15 ( Pre-dawn on the midway)


Light eggshell blue–

night fades,

walkers reappear.


Cool puffs touch

eyelids; lift them.

Welcome in, little wind.


All my life…

this pointillistic light

strongest before dawn.


Air bares

blessings as

Sun-barge nears.


Almost-almond moon

lowers over empty fairgrounds.

no echoes of last night’s applause.


Thin light-pole shadows

are half as dark as dawn advances.

I drink my coffee black and watch.



9/16 (At the campground, early)


Moon’s melting eucharist

baptizes every soul

camped by this river.


Meditation by the moon-

drenched river…this body

an abandoned breathing hut.




(Pre-dawn at the fairgrounds)


One bird chirps

above the empty grandstand

at Stage 1.


Sky brightens, blues.

Yellow, pink, and rose tints

seep up through the trees.


All-night lights on tilted poles:

electric wires sag against

the dawn.


Frisky old farmers

tanked on coffee and all-night

vibes, at sunrise.


One woman’s voice enters

the chatter of concession guys;

gentles the men.


Looked up from writing that

and sky was two hues lighter,

shedding darkness



(4 for the young man with night-furrowed brow,

and for my son Adam, about to leave home for college)


Young men, maybe still tripping,

pass by me with, “Hello, dude. Hey, big man.”

One nears to shake my hand…


and I say, “Hey, let’s make it real.”

He straightens up and gives me his best

“Good morning,” and the gentlest open hand.


Bless you, youth.

How could I ever

love You enough?


I’ll just have to

keep on

waking up.




First true greens

seen as sun unveils

the trees above the tracks.


“There’s a big show

in the East right now,”

I say to lady…


and run up the grandstand steps,

in time to catch



Molten horses

of the sun charge

96,000,000 miles to our eyes.


Soul cries out

as sun-disk sears

the dark tree crowns.


Sun pulses reddish

rainbows; pink







9/17 (After triple cappuccino on the pre-dawn midway)


Happy childrens’ voices

intermingle. Grownups’ voices don’t

entwine so close.


Green corn oven glazed

with streetlight gleam.

No embers left inside.


Lone walker steps on

shadows; echoes through

the midway gate.


He swings the red gate open–

metal rasps on concrete,

making first morning music.


She isn’t singing,

but I hear song

as she speaks.


Whoever might walk past me now

will pass through an enlarging sphere

of attention and affection.


Revising as I write,

effortlessly struggling,

serenely worrying at verse…



Lifelong compassion

for pebbles on pavement and old wads

of paper– I’m unsane.


Alone in the vast

grandstand, writing lines

in praise of lifting light.


I raise my eyes

from every poem

as Eastern sky’s page brightens.


Jesus must live up there,

between black sky

and widening dawn.


He must subsist on prayers

of “early morning grievers,”

no less than on the songs of those who praise.


I’ve been that griever,

though at this turn of Fate’s wheel

now I sing.


Dear Lord in whom I sing,

tune, turn your key in me

as dawn’s door opens slowly on this plain.


Great Light, thank you

for this deception whereby the Sun

appears to dawn by slow degrees.


Thank you for this light blue

fool devotion that makes us say,

“I…You,” “Dear Lord,” “Great Light.”


Sky’s silo fills

with subtle grain

before sun lifts.


Dark flecks,

light sparks–

both pervade dawn’s granary.


Footsteps in the bleachers,

though no one passes–



Let anyone who needs such joy

receive it, like a breadcrumb course

that traces back to Source.


Thin wings melt

into coming day,

noiseless yet somehow heard.