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Poems by Karen Deal Robinson

Goblin Valley, Utah

Annie and the Falcon
Anniversary Song
Arne and the Troll
The Bridge of Time
Christmas Candle
Close to the Holy
Dancing Ghosts
Epiphany 2
Gethsemene Dream
Goblin Town
Goblin Valley
The Haunted Hotel
Mater Dolorosa
Report from the Battlefront
Sailing Away
Sestina on a Midlife Crisis
To the Seven Astronauts

You can read some of my early poems (written before I was married) here: Early poems

And see this page for poems about my mom, Nancy Deal:Poems about Mom

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Little Cinderella cat, ragged and torn,
Came around one Halloween, crying, forlorn.
Pretty Cinderella cat, coat like an ember,
Came again to stay with us, late that November.
Skinny, lumpy Amber, all teeth, claws and fur,
Eyes like a hooty-owl, sudden crazy purr.
Hungry for love but afraid of every shadow,
Fierce as a thorny rose trembling in a meadow.

Sleek little Amber cat, dainty autumn leaf,
Guardian angel sent her here, that's my belief.
Tail like a meteor, freckles on her nose,
Golden slippers on her feet, princess in repose.
On her back in rumbling bliss, creamy tummy waiting,
Trust has replaced her fear; no more hesitating.
Mewing a gentle song, purring in laughter,
Sweet Cinderella cat, happy ever after.

In the earth we lay her now, like an autumn leaf.
She will return to us; that's my belief.
I look to Cor Leonis, twinkling in the night;
Amber looks back at me, golden eyes bright.
Peeking from the crocuses, black and creamy gold,
Every spring she'll come to us as they unfold.
And every fall we'll see her here, early in November,
Hiding in the autumn leaves, bright as an ember.

              Karen Deal Robinson
              March 16, 1999

"Annie and the Falcon" is too long for this page, so I've made a separate page for it. Click the link to see it: Annie and the Falcon

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               Anniversary Song

Ah, my old friend, we've walked a long road together, now,
Ah, my old friend, how I love to be your lover, now.
I see your smile in the face of our son,
I see your smile in the face of our daughter, now.

My dearest love, you are constant and faithful, now.
My dearest love, you give me courage and strength, now.
You hold my hand when the mountain is steep,
You hold my hand when the darkness is deep, now.

You share your joy when the rainbow is bright, now.
You share your joy in the sweet starry night, now.
And when I'm sad, you kiss away my tears
And make me glad for all the long happy years, now.

               Karen Deal Robinson
               March 17, 1988

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		Arne and the Troll

Three mathematicians walked in the woods
In the musty, dusty pines.
Through groves of aspens, green and white,
And alpine meadows, clear and bright,
They talked of points and lines.

They climbed to where the trees grow thin,
Where glaciers creek and roll,
And Richard saw an elk leap high,
And Robert saw an eagle fly,
But Arne saw a troll.

"Look, there's a troll!" said Arne,
But Robert shook his head.
"You're silly to insist it's so.
There's no such thing as trolls, you know."
"I saw it!" Arne said.

"But where's your logic?" Richard said,
"And what's your QED?
Your proof must have some curious twists
To make me think that there exists
A troll I cannot see."

"For rings and fields and open sets
My proofs will leave no doubt. 
But if your eyes refuse to see
The troll that waits behind that tree--"
And then the troll leapt out.

"Beware, you foolish little men,
This is the end of you.
Into my cave I'll take you three
That is, unless you set for me
A task I cannot do."
But Arne laughed. "You have proposed
A dangerous game, you'll own.
For if I set a task for you 
That I can do that you can't do
Then you'll be turned to stone."

"I'm stronger than the glaciers,"
The old troll said with glee.
"I'm sure that I'm a match for you.
There is no doubt that I can do
The task you set for me."

"This polynomial equation 
Of the ninth degree
Has nine solutions it will yield
(Because we're in the complex field.)
Now find them all for me."

"Oh, not equations!" cried the troll,
And gave an awful groan.
While Dick and Bob turned weak with fright,
The troll became a ghastly white,
And shimmered into stone.

Then Arne took a piece of chalk
And held it thoughtfully.
He touched the troll's broad granite breast
And brushed the lichens off its vest
And wrote there, "QED".

	Karen Deal Robinson
	November 18, 1983

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        The Bridge of Time
          for my mother

By starlight and water flowing,
We stood on the Bridge of Time.
Memories were surging through the night,
From your life into mine.
Parents and grandparents, children and grandchildren
Stretch in an endless line
Whenever we stand in the night together,
On the Bridge of Time.

And all the times are one time,
All rivers reach the sea,
And all the nights are one night
When you stand here with me.
Beside the ocean long ago
You shared the night with me,
And still the Thompson River runs
Down to that distant sea.

        Karen Deal Robinson
        Mother's Day, 1992

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           Christmas Candle

Candle stands in the window, 
Before the falling snows.
Icicle hangs from the window eves, 
Drop by drop it grows.
Wax drips down the candle, 
Drip by drip it falls,
Light and darkness, fire and ice,
Each to the other calls.

Glitter of fire on snowflakes,
Stars in the frosty sky.
Sun on the low horizon,
Round moon rising high.
Icicle shimmers with rainbows,
Wax drips gleaming white,
Candle on the windowsill,
Ice in the firelight.

         Karen Deal Robinson
         Christmas 1992?

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“Close to the Holy”

I hug her and feel shoulder blades
Unfurling like angel wings.
“May you see beauty,” I whisper
And feel her sweet voice in my ear: “Thank you.”
“Group hug,” she says,
And the children crowd around her, weeping.
Her young luminous eyes fill with love.
She weeps too, saying goodbye.

The minister lights the chalice.
Its light curls up though our grief.
We sing of joy in the midst of storms
And my tears wrinkle the hymnbook.

The sermon title is “Close to the Holy”.
While he speaks I pray.
My prayer holds me like a blanket
Woven through with the dancing chalice flame,
Woven through with the minister's words,
Woven through with my love and grief.

I pray for the young fledgling angel,
Her spirit soaring while her body wastes away.
“May she see beauty,” I pray
As the chalice flame dances
As the light curls up through my grief and love.
The Holy is very close.

    Karen Deal Robinson
    September 24, 2007

[Note:  Anne Semlak died on May 17, 2008, at the age
of 29.  She spent her short life working for peace and
justice.  You can see her obituary here.]

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	Dancing Ghosts

Every year at lilac time 
They come and join the dance:
Ghosts of ourselves from long ago,
Ghostly footsteps dancing slow,
The touch of ghostly hands.

My sister was twelve in lilac time,
Forget-me-nots crowned her head.
Three little girls, pointing toes,
Around the winsome circle goes,
"Ali Pasha is dead."

We were young girls in lilac time
With ribbons in our hair:
Bonnie lassies, young and sweet,
With silver bells upon our feet,
I see us dancing there.

The boys could waltz in lilac time,
They had long and wind-blown hair.
They'd bow with stately, old-world charms,
And take the girls into their arms
And whirl about on air.

We danced all night in lilac time
Under the stars and moon,
And when the sun broke on the hill,
Amazed to find us dancing still,
The morning came too soon.

Again I dance at lilac time,
My children dance with me.
But though they find the dancing sweet,
They cannot hear the ghostly feet
Or see the ghosts I see.

Every year at lilac time 
They come and join the dance:
Ghosts of ourselves from long ago,
Ghostly footsteps dancing slow,
The touch of ghostly hands.

	Karen Deal Robinson
	ca 1988

(Note: this poem is dedicated to the memory of Jim Graham
 and all the years he led the folk dancing at CSU.)

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The harp stood mute, the campfire's ash was white;
My fingers in my pocket curled in rest.
The notes that one-by-one had floated, light,
Into the trees, had drifted to the west.

The craftsmen measured every flute and crest,
The sunbeams on the harpstrings numbered they.
A wind arose, and was made manifest:
Alone, untouched, the harp began to play.

A rich deep anthem, or a mystic lay,
The chords ascending, cumulous and bright,
Harmonics rang through mountains dim and gray.
The craftsmen froze with wonder and delight.

The Master Harper breathes upon the strings;
The silent harp awakes to joy and sings.

	Karen Deal Robinson
	August 22, 1983

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		Epiphany 2

We walked along together hand-in-hand,
Our children close beside us in the night.
Wave after wave rose up to slap the sand.
Upon the water, dancing molten light.

I saw the round moon smiling from its height,
A sky of polished silver, crystal cold,
Gold pieces slipping in and out of sight
Among the waves, where windswept waters rolled.

And then I saw Her, veiled in shimmering gold,
Behind the water, dark and still Her face,
And for an instant, reaching arms took hold:
I fell into the Lady's rich embrace.

In dark and silence, melting into light,
Dancing with the Goddess in the night.

	Karen Deal Robinson
	May 30, 1991

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	 	Gethsemene Dream

The soldiers marched through the darkened city, 
Boots rang in the street.
We gathered for our Passover,
The last we feared we'd eat.
And in our hidden chamber
We sang our ancient songs,
Of freedom and deliverance,
And righting tyrants' wrongs.

Then Judas burst through the chamber door,
"We have to flee!" he cried.
"The Romans have discovered us,
We still have time to hide."
And John in all his innocence, 
Said, "Gethsemene,
I know they'd never find us there,
Safely hidden we'll be."

Then Christ looked into Judas' face
And slowly nodded his head.
"We'll go now to Gethsemene
Whatever comes," he said.
But Judas could not meet his eye,
And left without a word.
"Farewell, my friend," Christ whispered then,
But Judas never heard.

Then Christ stood tall, and his grief and sorrow
Seemed to flow away.
And John and Peter stood beside him,
Faces bright as day.
And a halo rested in his hair,
And shone from his hands and face,
And I thought he sent a clarion call
A-ringing through that place.

Like figures in a stained-glass window,
All three blazed with light.
And like three radiant angels sounded
Trumpets in the night,
And none of us could understand
The joy that filled the room.
We only knew he'd triumphed then,
Whatever was his doom.

It must have been a dream I dreamed
Safe in my bed at night.
And if I were an artist I would
Paint that holy light.
And if I were a trumpeter,
I'd sound that great fanfare,
But all I can do is sing this song
To recall his shining hair.

	Then see the light a-shining in his hair,
	And hear the golden clarions a-blowing.
	"Tonight I go to dark Gethsemene,
	I do not fear the soldiers waiting there.
	I've looked beyond tomorrow and I see
	Wonders they still have no way of knowing."

		Karen Deal Robinson
		April 24, 2002

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            Goblin Town

From mortal lands, I see their town
Spread like a toy beneath my feet:
A maze of rooftops, gray and brown,
With not a sign of tree or street.

The path that leads to Goblin Town
Is through a narrow wooden gate.
My footsteps take me down and down
To where the sleeping goblins wait.

The pointed turrets dwarf the trees,
And steep-pitched gables block the skies.
Their lacy wooden filligrees
Are pink and blue as sugar ice.

Once from a tower balcony
A hulking goblin glowered down,
To see what stranger this might be
Who dared to walk through Goblin Town.

And once a little goblin boy,
All armed to catch a butterfly,
Stood still and silent with his toy
And stared at me as I passed by.

In Goblin Town the houses loom
And cast long shadows on the street,
But in the shadows flowers bloom;
The purple hyacinths are sweet.

I leave the shadowed streets below
And climb back through the narrow gate,
Back to the mortal lands I know,
To where my friends and family wait.

             Karen Deal Robinson
             April 20, 2000
(see photos of "Goblin Town" here

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            Goblin Valley

Goblin houses, mud huts in a circle,
Baked clay streets, no grass or leaves.
Goblin lodges, many latticed casements
Under mushroom eaves.

Goblin gardens, topiary stone trees,
Carved as seals and birds and flowers.
Goblin castles, twisted onion turrets, 
Slender spires and towers.

Goblin forests, petrified stone trees,
Needle sharp in hidden dell.
Goblin towers stand against the skyline,
Where lone wizards dwell.

Goblin temples, tier on tier of statues,
Ancient gods forever gone.
Goblins dancing, dancing in the moonlight,
Turn to stone at dawn.

          Karen Deal Robinson
          June 21, 1998
          Goblin Valley, Utah

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Do you think God’s sitting on a throne somewhere,
A throne of clouds up in the big blue sky?
While all about him choirs of archangels and angels sing,
And all his people bowing down, down, down, down.
Do you think he’s smiting unbelievers there,
With storm and lightning from his throne in the sky?
Is he weighing souls in the balance there to save a few,
While those who fail go tumbling down, down, down, down, down?

That’s not God at all.  
Not a king on a throne in the sky.
God is blowing through your own sweet life.
God is love, God is light,
God is truth, God is joy.

You saw God blowing like the wind one day,
Blowing through the rainbow flags against the sky.
A sweet communion as the people shared the bread of hope,
With banners saying “God is love, love, love, love, love.”
You saw God shining in your lover’s face,
Beaming out through his sweet tender eyes.
And in the faces of your family and all your friends,
Their eyes were saying “God is love, love, love, love love.”

That’s what God is like.
Not a king on a throne in the sky.
God is blowing through your own sweet life.
God is love, God is light,
God is truth, God is joy.

You saw God shining on a mountaintop:
Cathedral alpenglow against the sky.
And all about you on the emerald slopes and plains below,
The crystal air was filled with light, light, light, light, light.
You saw God shining on the sea one night.
The moon was polishing the dark golden sky.
A sparkling moonpath lay across the wave, and far away
The broad horizon filled with light, light, light, light, light.

That’s what God is like.
Not a king on a throne in the sky.
God is shining through your own sweet life.
God is love, God is light,
God is truth, God is joy.

You saw God shining in a theorem once,
A sweet connection that was new to your eye.
Familiar patterns in a setting that was fresh and new,
It made your heart sing “God is truth, truth, truth, truth.”
You saw God dying on a fence one day.
Your outrage screamed to the cold autumn sky.
You couldn’t rest until you’d told the tale to all the world,
Your heart was weeping, “God is truth, truth, truth, truth.”

That’s what God is like.
Not a king on a throne in the sky.
God is speaking through your own sweet life.
God is love, God is light,
God is truth, God is joy.

You saw God dancing in a circle once,
Beneath the stars in a sweet summer sky.
Folk from all the world were holding hands and singing songs,
Their dancing feet said, “God is joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.”
You saw God shining in an angel’s face,
A loving angel in your own mind’s eye.
The Lady taught you how to wear her face and do her work,
And hear her voice say, “I am joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.”

That’s what God is like.
Not a king on a throne in the sky.
God is singing through your own sweet life.
God is love, God is light,
God is truth, God is joy.

			Karen Deal Robinson
			June 2005

Hear the above song sung here.
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           The Haunted Hotel

A pale shape flew through the ballroom
In the Stanley Hotel last night.
It might have been Lord Dunraven
Out to give us a fright,
Or Mrs. Stanley gliding in
To play an old-fashioned tune,
That pale thing floating, swift and silent
Under a crescent moon.

Everyone knows there are ghosts at the Stanley
Up in Estes Park.
You never know what you’ll see in the long,
Long hallways after dark,
Or what might come swooping over the rail
And down the shadowy stair,
So hold my hand, my dear, and don’t let it
Take us unaware.

Stanley might be playing billiards
Or sitting by the fire.
MacGregor might be flitting about
In Edwardian attire.
It might be a bit of ectoplasm,
Or only a trick of the light—
Or the paper airplanes you and I flew
In the Stanley Hotel last night.

Karen Deal Robinson
March 23, 2010

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Grotesque and beautiful,
Small and ancient deity,
Grim and golden guardian,
You only live one night
And yet you have lived a million years.

Thirty years ago
I walked through crackling parchment leaves
And thought of fleshless skeletons at my back
Reaching their bony hands
For my young, naked neck,
And ran home with small swift feet,
Pursued by the wonder and terror of death.
Your glowing face met me at my mother's door.

A thousand years ago
I followed the fairy fire
Away from the stone cathedral,
Through the dark churchyard,
And into the bog,
Where ghosts wandered,
And witches waited,
And only your glowing gargoyle eyes
Could guard me.

Ten thousand years ago
I stood in the sacred clearing.
The bonfire drove the shadows back
Into the dark forest.
And a voice keened on the moonlight
"Alas, alas, Balder the Beautiful is dead!"
And all around the world,
In golden temple,
And grass hut,
Your frightful face frightened away
The nameless terrors of the night.

A million years ago
I stood beside the river of fire
Flowing down from the distant, riven mountain.
My wide eyes glowed
Like Jack-o-Lantern eyes
With the strangeness of the fire.
You were not a pumpkin then,
Nor a hollowed turnip,
Nor even a stone fetish.
My hands had not yet learned the magic
Of shaping and burning.
But even then I saw your face,
Grotesque and beautiful,
Peering out between the leaves
Of that ancient jungle.

And still tonight you watch,
Ancient golden guardian
On my front porch.
It is not spirits I fear this night,
Unless they are human spirits
Gone strangely fierce and savage
In a world that forgets
The simplicity of light and darkness,
And the power of ancient guardians.

           Karen Deal Robinson
           Halloween, 1993

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Jesu, your voice has been calling me,
Singing a melody out of my childhood.
I told you I didn't believe in you.
You smiled and you said, "Do you believe in love?"

Jesu, your face has been haunting me,
Your eyes full of mystery, challenge and sorrow.
I thought I'd left you behind a long time ago,
But here you come singing your sweet song of love.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison,
Jesu, who are you?  I love you.

Jesu, you asked if I worship you,
I had to say, "No, it's true, I worship God only,
But sometimes, I see God's light shining through you."
You smiled and you said, "That is the way of love."

Jesu, I can't know the man you were,
But I glimpse something deeper, something eternal.
I find you in the Tao of Lao Tzu,
All the world's wisdom knows your words of love.

Jesu, I still can't believe in you,
Not in the way they do, not as the only One,
But something about your story's a part of me,
You'll always be bringing me your gifts of love.

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison,
Jesu, who are you?  I love you.

		Karen Deal Robinson
		August 17, 2001
Hear the above song sung here
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Today I wear the red, white and blue.

My loyalties are circles around circles, 
Spreading like ripples on a quiet pond.

At the center is my own integrity,
And the still small voice of God.

And then I'm a Robinson and a Deal,
Part of a family that looks things up
In the dictionary during dinner.

Intersecting many circles, 
Running through them like the ellipse
Of a comet's orbit,
I'm a Unitarian, an ancient and honorable tradition
With roots far away across the sea,
And branches in the history of my own home town.

Deep, deep in my heart I'm a Coloradan.
The purple mountains' majesties are a shrine,
A holy place.  How could I be happy
If I didn't see Long's Peak in the corner of my eye?

Just as deep, and wider, I'm an American.
Those ancient fifes and drums stir me.
My ancestors fled here, seeking freedom,
Seeking a home, not caring, perhaps,
That there were people here already.
But after three centuries, this is, this is
This is my home.

Beyond our shores I fling my circles.
I am human, and I embrace all humanity.
I dance in a circle, holding hands 
With Muslim and Jew, with Turk and Greek,
Singing "Ma Na'avu" and "Ali Pasa" 
And "Makedonsko Devoice".

And stepping back once more, 
I see our lovely blue planet 
Like a jewel in the darkness.
All are part of her blueness:
Elephants and tigers, 
Bison and owls, 
Jellyfish and redwoods,
Snakes and spiders and scorpions,
Bindweed and thistles and violets and roses,
All that make Life on our sweet Earth.

I look up into the starry night and wonder.
What hearts are beating there, 
Beyond the reach of my knowing?
May God bless them, every one
In all the vastness of her great creation.

Yesterday I wore ribbons of blue and white
For the Colorado flower, 
The columbine growing in the snow,
And the children murdered by hatred
So close by, 
Here in my Colorado home.
The sweet name of Columbine
Would never be the same.

Today I wear the stars and stripes,
And ribbons of red, white and blue.
Those corny old songs make me weep again:
God bless America,
God shed his grace on thee.
I don't renounce my other loyalties,
My circles beyond circles.
But today I must fly my country's flag,
Today my heart breaks for all of us
Who call ourselves America.

Today we are one, united.
All America is in the circle.  

Please God, tomorrow may the circle widen
To embrace the whole world.

		Karen Deal Robinson
		September 22, 2001		

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Hush, my darling, time to rest,
Saturn's golden in the west.
My after-midnight lullabies
Bring only starlight to your eyes.

Hush, my darling, rest your head,
The moon is like a cradle bed.
The moonlight paints, in silver streaks
The glaciers on the mountain peaks.

Through the moonlight, clear as ice,
Flutter little flittermice.
So hush, my darling, close your eyes
While I sing my lullabies.

         Karen Deal Robinson
         May 1986
         Buckhorn Camp, Colorado

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              Mater Dolorosa

Your face is serene and only a little sad.
Only once do tears shimmer in your earnest eyes
As you speak of his death.
You watched him dying
Crucified by AIDS,
Crowned with the thorns of ugly names.
"He had the most beautiful smile," you say,
And your own smile trembles.
"People always said that when he smiled
They knew everything would be all right."
Then despite your pain, I think:
Blessed are you among women
To have borne and loved such a son.

             Karen Deal Robinson
             April 18, 1997

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First I saw their temples, vast black walls,
And on them, swirling letters carved of gold.
Among the writ, a sacred symbol shone:
The Flaming Crescent, carved a hundredfold.

In bas-relief the mighty statues stood:
The bison and the serpent, and the bear,
The unicorn, and stately kings and queens.
What ancient gods took on these forms to wear?

And what archaic people carved them here?
What worshippers had shaped this mystic frieze?
Old Ones indeed these people must have been.
The Anasazi?  Children next to these!

And then I saw their castles, ruined courts,
Arched entranceways still stood, defying odds.
Tall statues lined the narrow avenues,
And monuments to long-forgotten gods.

Great phallic linga rose into the sky,
And sacred yoni, wombs deep in the stone.
Year after year they brought forth life anew.
They waited now in silence, and alone.
	*	*	*
By moonlight we returned and I could see
The giant Old Ones still abiding there.
Tall bearded faces watched as we went by,
Their gentle old eyes full of love and care.

Who were these gentle creatures, come to life
When moonlight touched the stone and set them free?
Earth's elder children, wiser than we are,
Slower, more patient, standing silently.

	Karen Deal Robinson
	March 17, 1992
	Arches National Park

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         Report from the Battlefront

You stand huddled in the prison of your own making,
Fenced in by your terrible signs:
"God hates fags", they say, and "Matt in Hell",
"God hates America", they say.
Who is this god you worship, who hates us all?
I think you misname him; he has another name.
You bring your own hell with you,
You wrap yourselves and your children in hellfire
And your signs dance like mocking demons in the wind.

Sickened, I turn my back on you, 
And see an angel tall against the sky:
A banner of white and gold proclaiming
"God is Love!"
Rainbows billow around me, 
Swirling in the fierce, clean wind
That blows like the breath of God.
Beneath the tall angels we mortals break bread,
Sharing donuts like a sweet communion,
Hugging and smiling, waving
At the passersby, who return our love.
I have turned my back on Hell
And have entered Heaven.

This is what happens when angels go to war:
A battle of the spirit, fought with words,
With banners streaming in the sun
And lighted candles shining in the dark.
I will pray for you to be released
From the Hell you have made.
I will pray that you enter Heaven
And know that God is love.

		Karen Deal Robinson
		March 7, 2003

On October 12, 2002, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church
showed up in my hometown to "celebrate the fourth
anniversary of Matthew Shepard's entry into hell."  (You can
read about Matthew Shepard in the next poem.)  

Phelps and his family carried signs saying "Matt in Hell", 
"God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for 9-11."

Several local churches, including mine, participated
in a counter-demonstration that turned out to be an amazing
epiphany of the power of love.  As several of our signs said, 
"God is Love", and that love was manifest that day.

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	Sailing Away

The twilight flows in
Through the big picture window.
The moon, like a boat,
Is sailing the sky.
The bright evening star 
Is leading it onward:
A picture as fair
As an old lullabye.

She sits in her wheelchair
For hours by the window,
Watching the moon
And the star’s golden light.
Though her body is failing
Her spirit is soaring,
Sailing away 
In the deep purple night.

When she was a child,
She lived by the ocean
And gathered the waves
With her shovel and pail.
But when she grew up,
She moved to the prairie
And dreamed of the waves
Where her spirit could sail.

When I was a child,
She taught me the star-rhyme:
“I wish that I may,
And I wish that I might.”
But the sweetest of wishes
Are the ones never answered,
The longing as rich
As the blue evening light.

What is she wishing,
Tonight by the window,
Watching the moon
And the star sailing by?
Though her body is failing,
Her spirit is happy,
Sailing away 
In an old lullabye.

--Karen Deal Robinson
March 12, 2009 
(describing the evening of February 27, 2009)

Here's the tune.

Hear the above song sung here.
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Scarecrow, they said.
You looked like a scarecrow,
Hanging on the fence 
With blood in your hair,
A thing human in form, 
But somehow less than human.
Am I the only one?
I can't be the only one
Who looked at you and saw Jesus.

            Karen Deal Robinson
            October 12, 1998

(On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was found tied to a fence, 
beaten nearly to death.  The young man who found him said at 
first he thought the crumpled body was a scarecrow.  Matthew 
died five days later.  As he lay dying, a homecoming parade 
a mile away included a float decked with a scarecrow.  Painted 
on the scarecrow's shirt were the words "I'm gay.")

To learn more about Matthew Shepard, click here. Also see my tribute page for information on two human rights heroes I met because of Matthew Shepard.

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	Sestina on a Midlife Crisis

“Tell people that you only jog at night,”
She joked, when I complained about my age.
I’d screwed my knees up when I tried to run.
You see, I’d had a re-occurring dream
Of running on an open country road,
More real and yet as swift as dreams of flying.

When I was five, I used to practice flying.
The wing-buds in my shoulders itched at night.
With bony legs I pelted down the road,
Then leaped and soared, and for a second’s age
I thought I might not land, believed the dream
That I could take off from a flying run.

And now I’m fifty.  Thinking I could run
Was foolish as my childhood hope of flying,
But it was so seductive, that sweet dream
That spread before me almost every night.
I’d run and not get weary, feel no age,
And pass the cars along that sunny road.

And so I tried it, ran down Trail Ridge Road
At timberline, a glorious place to run.
My heart and lungs and knees betrayed my age,
But for a splendid hour I was flying.
Oh, better than a phantom run at night
To know that it was real and not a dream.

I’m spending summer paying for my dream.
I only hobble down the mountain road,
And lie with ice bags on my knees at night.
My doctor says I shouldn’t try to run.
It’s foolish as my childhood dream of flying.
I really should know better at my age.

And yet--and yet, despite the pains of age,
I’m so glad that I brought to life that dream.
It’s worth the crippled knees to have been flying
Ten thousand feet aloft on Trail Ridge Road.
For one brief glorious hour I could run,
Run and not get weary toward the night.

So now I act my age and walk the road,
But still sometimes I dream that I can run.
I only do my flying now at night.

			--Karen Deal Robinson	
			  July 3, 2006

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	To the Seven Astronauts

For the sake of learning you risked it all: 
Death in the cold, dark void, 
Or death in the blazing fire.

You dared the danger for the chance 
Of seeing the world roll beneath your feet,
A giant sapphire set against the stars.
You chanced the danger for the hope
Of flying weightless as angels
Above those swirling silver clouds,
Far beyond our petty strife.

Though I pity those who loved you,
I do not pity you,
For at the height of your glory
You sprouted wings of fire
And streamed across the heavens
Into eternity,
To find the answers to your million questions.

When princes die, they say,
Meteors blaze across the sky.
How much greater than princes you are,
To become a meteor yourselves,
And mark your own passing
In a blaze of fire across the face of heaven.

Karen Deal Robinson
February 5, 2003

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copyright 2002 by Karen Deal Robinson

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Continental Divide, Colorado

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