2017 Poems

After suddenly finding poems arriving in my mind space the first time in years, I thought I’d start collecting them in one place.


Open heart’s door as you are able,
No more, no less often than you care.
The world is a mighty storm.
Welcome it as you would any beggar, any refugee.
Leave the world a better place for you in it.
Hear it, embrace it, witness it.
Practice cracking the door a minute, an hour, a day
So the faces of your darkroom guests are illuminated
Without destroying the film.

~ Erin Waterman



Find any key to the sacred door.

One spreads
paste of poppy seed, diced date, slivered almond
into pillows of cardamom dough.

One mouths
verses of dormant languages,
birthing shut away pages to light.

One baptizes
fecund hand crevices,
mulches past and present,
turning forth seed.

One saturates
canvas in goldenrod, sapphire,
lichen, and clay.

One feels
histories in hand-dyed loops.
Sheep and alpaca, nubbins and plush.
Lanolin comfort molds to the touch.

One dances
emotions in motions,
twirls, leaps and bends.

One listens
with patient presence of trees
to celebrations of salmonberry,
oceanspray, huckleberry, salal.

One sings
Stardust melodies in chorus,
Strings, horns and drums.

One burdens us daily
with fear everywhere.

Welcome your sacred and breathe the good air.

~ Erin Waterman

Free Write On An Unwritten Page

The child’s wings are nearly formed.
Halfway to 100, I stare at an ocean,
a mirror, an unwritten page.

I see I have mastered nothing I have been told is necessary.
Language of intimate partnership,
Fluency in economic excess,
Ownership of home or property,
Ambition to build.

What I need I have attained.
Ability to sit in a room with nothing and find happiness.
Life is a gift, food is a gift, water is a gift, breath is a gift.

Molecules are celebration of atomic particles and subatomic particles
infinitely attached to all that is.

Peace is possible until the day it no longer exists inside one human heart.

In proportion to people’s capacity to live into love and peace,
true power can outlive control of a few.

Community is the law of survival.
Even a lifelong loner-learner belongs to the circle of gold crowned sparrows.

Whether I remain, float or swim to a new shore is immaterial to the ocean.
I have all I need.

~ Erin Waterman


Fold into yourself like fresh-washed linen.
Place your weight on the ground.
Be a stone.
Listen to breath ebb,
Flow, ebb, flow.
Let ocean of air launder your spirit.
Nothing, nowhere to be.
Clouds above,
Moss below.
All of you center.
All of you whole.

~ Erin Waterman


Not knowing what to do with so many tears,
I walked to the mother of all maples,
Planted myself before her great trunk, tilted my head back
and looked through time.

I spoke a few words to the dark,
“I recognize you, you resilient ones. I want to bless you millions of stars
that suffer no more, but give light.”

Your lives’ suspended animation
Reached across a shivering silence hundreds of thousands of miles
To move my heart.

(In honor of photographs of Henryk Ross of the Lodz ghetto).

~ Erin Waterman


The moment we emerge, we are measured.
Days and months chart our appropriate or inappropriate growth.

School days drag us from bed too early, end too late.
Wall clocks stare.
Learn this: Never enough,
Never enough, never enough time.

Good worker bees produce, produce, produce
something bitter that rhymes with honey.
Learn this: Never enough,
Never enough, never enough money.

Sit on Earth, touch ground, look at sky.
Learn this: What you are is immeasurable.
Your profound accident of cells carries
Elements, atomic fragments of all.

Measure this: How we exist inside this moment inside this space.

~ Erin Waterman

Vision Without Sight

Blindly I touch, listen,
stumble about, a lid removed from my being.
Spines of tree. Solid, rough.
Something spongy I dare say feels green.
What is this? A whisper of leaves.
Smooth pearls,
poky twig.
Wind is loud.
Textures bloom under my fingers.
I never knew fingers could see.
So many birds, even mid day.
Scratching chatter must be a squirrel to my left.
A tree frog chirps somewhere to my right.
I attempt inching ahead,
testing my weight on lumpy sod.
Which way is forward? Where is behind?
What is me expands to encompass
everywhere I cannot see.

~ Erin Waterman


Human healing
Emerges from minds, hearts, hands.
All we can do is

~ Erin Waterman


If denial of truth
is everywhere,
then truth must exist.

~ Erin Waterman

On The Cusp

Who am I? Where do I belong?
All I am is on the cusp.
Two parent cells become the zygote become the embryo
Become the fetus become the infant expelled
From the womb. The toddler, child, teen,
Young, middle-aged, elder.

All I am is on the cusp.
In moments I can be tender and cry
In moments I can be stoic and hard.
I knit lovely lace and fill wheelbarrows with heavy labor,
Feminine, masculine, single, partnered, centered, scattered.
Very alone, always interconnected.
Parent, child. Egg, chick. One is always becoming another. Or both.

All I am is on the cusp.
I envy people who say proudly and loudly, “I am this.”
Life might be clarified, shining, intact. Pull your title
From a library shelf and proclaim “I found my story”
And check yourself out without ever being overdue.

Habits I like are how I live. But that is not who I am.
I live in a location on Earth among a certain community.
That is not who I am.
I do a certain job to pay bills.
That is not who I am.
I do not mind not knowing,
belonging only in others’ minds.
All I am is on the cusp.

~ Erin Waterman


No, not gray.

Preferred is the E of Grey Gardens, Earl Grey tea, and smoke grey wool.

Equal measure red, green, blue, grey is gorgeous neutral hue. Grey is ceiling, roof and sky, storm and ash, slate and fence. Wisdom lives inside grey hair, climbs the aging spider lair. Grey rats, parrots, moths exist. Even squirrels enjoy the mist. Grey beach, driftwood, seal and stone, none of these are alone. Grey, you rock in all your glory, understated understory.

~ Erin Waterman


Prudence, Dear Prudence, The Beatles, Great Britain, Brexit,
European Union, Berlin, Hamburg, family lineage,
family spring vacation I am not joining
because it is prudent for me to stay at home to make
prudent end meet prudent end.

Prudent prunes, prudent fruit, prudent prudes,
censorship, limitations, fragmentation,
caution, fear, prudential forethought,
protective perfunctory prudence, sagacious prudence,
calculate risk backward and forward to arrive at wisdom.
Dot every I, cross every T if you want success.

It is prudent not to expect greatness.

It is prudent not to expect anything.

~ Erin Waterman

Year of Female Red Firebird

Feathered flames,
Female power
Contained, warms faces in glow
Freed, disintegrates buildings and towers
Or a rigid place inside a heart
Where fear and illusion of control collide.
Leaves ashes churned in wind,
Readied for the ultimate power,
Something new.

~ Erin Waterman

Day of Mo(u)rning, 01-20-2017

Night terrors shudder you awake before sun.
Make your way to the deep half-moonlit woods.
Wait for the curtain to be lifted, the switch flipped,
Blue-black lightens. All of a sudden, the birds.
Follow the trunks of your fellow beings, tall trees
Silhouette hands raised.
Know you will be okay as long as the birds rise
And the trees stand tall.
Stand like these trees, rise like these birds.
Tomorrow, float in a sea of pink compassion.

~ Erin Waterman

Reverse Origami

If you could unfold a section
and see how the fingertips smoothed the corner
straight and to a point
would you?
In order to hold a peace dove in your palm
you need to fold in half, in half again and unfold,
turn and lift wings, let them fall.
If you could go back,
read instructions mindfully
be fully present,
maybe the dove would look less like an elephant.
Your life might contain another shape,
more coherence,
more symmetry,
more what you intended
so when you look back you are not ashamed of your decisions,
have nothing to run from,
be nowhere but joy.
You need good light to make good origami.
Unfold this beak and see where it takes you
or begin again with a fresh tissue paper square
this one shocking red.

~ Erin Waterman – 2014