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41st poem in Valley of Blue Hope: Poems Before and After Diagnosis of Cancer.

via In the Dark Days of Wasting.



Valley of Blue Hope

The One You Don’t See Coming: A Divagation,

Including Blood Cell Count, Water, Polycythemia Vera


“The one you don’t see coming” is the title of a West African tale I’ve come to love. Collected by Harold Courlander, the story is about young hunters who, to prove their prowess, set out to kill Sleep or “the one you don’t see coming” as the Old Ones call this mysterious animal that no one has seen. One of the young hunters waits in a tree beside the river. His plan is to ambush Sleep when it comes for a drink. The night is long and the hunter grows tired of clinging to a tree branch and waiting. Though he can’t see it, he suddenly believes that the mysterious animal Sleep has got a hold of him and is scrambling his mind. He cries out for help as he falls into the river…

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Simple Tools.

The One You Don't See Coming: A Divagation.

Mothers of the World.

Whale Song.

Christmas Cactus


This is the 27th poem in Valley of Blue Hope: Poems Before and After Diagnosis of Cancer. My Holy Week poem, “Christmas Cactus” appeared in in the Fall 2011/Spring 2912 issue of Assisi.


Christmas Cactus


You know the light is right

when in the window facing west

the Christmas cactus drops a spent bloom

in wet April at Holy Week’s advent.

Hours shut in darkness, the ancient plant

flowers twice a year, thriving in dryness

and morning chill at Christ’s birth

and now at his death. I stoop before

the profusion of color in our valley window

for the spent blossom, a lovely promise

someday we’ll find ourselves the right darkness

and light to thirst, flourish and die

on a Good Friday in our blue valley home.

Blue Valley Island Home


This is the 24th poem in Valley of Blue Hope: Poems Before and After Diagnosis of Cancer.


In this poem, I realize that you’ve got to love the place where you will die and pass from this earth. I acknowledge a sense of rootlessness–that I, like my immigrant grandparents and even my second-generation parents, will not return to the place of my birth. The poems express my love as a sojourner for the Montana mountains, valleys and streams where I live my life, even after being diagnosed with a blood disorder, in gratitude and fullness.



Blue Valley Island Home


I live in this valley like an old islander.

The blue hills are my ocean horizon.

I see in clouds roiling island gods, Lono

in the short cloud, Lono in the long cloud,

Kamapuaa the pig god, Hauwahine

the mo’o lizard goddess of the Kawainui.

In daylight, Lake Helena becomes the big waters

of the royal fishpond I once rafted and the mo’o

protected. At night, driving west along the lake,

the lights of Helena reflect the lights of Honolulu

seen from a landing airliner. I must do this,

paganize my Montana landscape before I die.

Here I will be buried, or scattered, where

waters do not lap the shore, but stream

down blue mountainsides, here in my

blue valley home.



This is the 23rd poem in Valley of Blue Hope: Poems Before and After Diagnosis of Cancer.


Wherever I am, Hawaii, where I was born and raised, is never far from me. The islands are, after all, the place I write about—where I breathe and move and have my being.




Blessed by the soft, curled petals,

the fluted yellow throat, the proud pistil‘s

red-tipped stigma pollen-dusted defies

the valley’s blue cold, seeking the sun.

Ungainly branches lopped last summer

bloom profusely a tropical warmth,

my morning window.