If you ever lose heart and the earth seems as distant as stars fading into the noise of your busy mind, know this. That a tiny island exists in the blue hands of the ocean. That a tree grows upright into the salted clouds. That two eagles love each other enough to spend their lives greeting the morning sun together. That two eaglets stand in their nest, gazing at the heavens. Looking down to the forever ground. They eat and sleep and flap their wings. And one day in July, one by one, they will jump into the air. They will know the difference between existing and what is beyond. They will hold onto nothing. The hurricane will come, courage catching their pinions on fire, as they mount the wind, climbing ladders into realms of the invisible.

--T.L. Stokes

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mandela's Mouse

Mandela's Mouse

I believe you will slip away from us
when no one is looking,
hungry world, unfinished children,
one night like any other.
No fist rants the door,
no flash of light
no bars left on windows;
unnoticed, the idea of time
removes itself
like a mouse,
after finishing the last speck
of the last crumb of bread,
without turning
or needing a thing
tiny feet
hurry away.

We never know
where your eyes will open next.

Once slipped
from antiqued pages
the note falls,
yet the book of your body
does not miss the words
of your life.

Nelson before you go
tell me a story.
Please don't say a word.
Let me sit in the chair by the bed
the room filling with lightning bugs, moths,
an old eagle.

The rattler’s tail shivers
and drums in the distance.

You let go of us
as your breath seems to be something we need
more than you do.

You stand with the sheet around your shadow
burned by a soft light
as with all good ghosts

gone while the getting is good.

by T.L. Stokes

c2013 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Environmentally Critical Land - Seattle Department of Planning & Development

Invitation to Beauty and a Warning

A tree stands on the edge of a gentle park-like parcel
of land, across the street a swamp full of brush, water
and trees (one of those special places wildlife loves)
points outward toward Union Bay.

When we arrive, I stand on a sidewalk catching my
first glimpse of a well-established eagle nest in a tall tree.
Within minutes a bald eagle flies in from the waterfront
and lands nearby, immediately opening its wings to dry.
It moves to another tree as if to find a little more sunlight
behind the gray overcast sky. Soon it flies to the nest tree
perching near the very top, again opening its wings,
as if in prayer.

About half of the nest has recently fallen part way down the tree.
A local resident said there have been no big wind storms lately.

This time of year as eagles return to their nests, they will begin
bringing courtship gifts of large and small sticks and together rebuild
and strengthen the nest to be ready for egg-laying the coming year.

This parcel of beautiful land is in the review stages for a full
subdivision into 82 parcels, platting of new streets, and adding
126,500 cubic yards for grading. This is the sign posted at the
entrance where there is a new gate and fencing.

Seattle Department of Planning and Development is conducting
an environmental review.The comment period ended 12/15/13
but may be extended to 12/29/13.This is considered an
environmentally critical area. You can contact Seattle
Dept of Planning and Development at (206) 684-8467
or email PRC@Seattle.gov.

As we looked over the sweep of grassy fields, small ponds and
trees, there was an abundance of smaller birds in trees and bushes.
The bald eagle flew from the nest tree out over the swamp toward
Union Bay. More stories to come!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Frozen Rose

Frozen Rose

Roses of memory
transform themselves
inside the room of new seasons,

just as love
always the same
constantly changes.
by T.L. Stokes
c2013 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)

Song of Solomon: the Eclectus

Song of Solomon


Last night the sky opened its hands
in the dark and a monsoon poured over the cottage.
From gutters rivers flowed,
spitting and moaning.
We rose up out of our beds to watch
Indians drumming.
the same spectacular moment
God held Mojo in the dark of another room
of too much light.
Holds her still though the parrot
in its cage imagines a shackle
and sings for what it understands
is missing.
The larger the heart, the greater its light shines.
In her room that is too white for winter
bald eagles keep gathering.
The hurried nurse shoos with her arms back and forth
but they won't listen.
You would think it's a salmon run
but the pinks aren't due till December.
Although none of this
makes sense to us now,
eagles perch to tell us something:
like worry is a pastime not suited for royalty,
and God blesses the open-mouthed who sing,
or take a moment to imagine the Wilson,
its bald and good natured company.
Mojo--in her little boat of unfurling sails,
we pray the wind will not find--
smiled at that.

by T.L. Stokes
c2013 TL Stokes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

God goes into Dark Places




always gets like this,
kind of breathless
by the end.

Leaves begin to hang heavy
under the weight of simmering sun.
Narrow saplings,
lacey cedars,
wide wise maples

write many books,
and when their pages begin to burn
words fly--

--and fall,

thus God
goes into dark places
dreaming of new things.

Consider the worm
testing for a softer consistency
in space between mass,  
cracks, and twigs, and harder things,
leaving moist paths.

Think of sow bugs in armor,
spiders on the roof
and all that’s under,

the sound of all the material
of the physical realm
finally losing its borders,

our names sinking into the ground,
our faces pressing the mud,

our breath rising.
All things fall from gravity, here.
In the end the air coming from us
is the only thing going up
before seeds open.

Before ice creeps with many voices
into bulging streams.

Consider if you fear the end of summer,
life without fall.
How weary life if all things
lived on without emotion,
bored with perfection,
never an old dog,

or a dirt road to follow.
Give me the fog
and her gray ghosts
thinning into invisible
when early sunflower
combs trees.

Rest without effort
is like a child never gaining wisdom.

Who can follow a road without hills,
would hunger egg you on
without fire inside your eyes?

Let your gaze fall into the details,
speak the story behind
every bright occurrence.
Life is brief, a fish with rainbows and thunder.
A song, made up as you go along,
like we sing to babies.

Where is the ruby tucked?
Where are the lost things
coming back to you?
Here. Here.

Consider before you go
home is closest
when mind is wide
and unsearching,

remember the child of your eyes
and fingers when everything was new.

God goes into dark places
putting all the pieces of you
into many pockets;
you the little clay.

c2013 T.L. Stokes (all rights reserved)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Rowboat in the Black Sea

Last night in the black sea
on a rowboat slowly heading
for the Dreamtime

I dreamed my father and I
walked together

until we reached the end of a line
of people
saying goodbye

and sitting on a couch
to our left

sat my mother.

I floated like you do in the land of dreams
opening my arms

with everything that is me

knowing father
still stood quietly
by my side.

What did the heart say in the moment
facing his wife the beloved departed?

Such questions
you need not ask nor wonder

for upon waking
answers are never words.

For my father, brother and sisters,
she looked good.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spirit of the Teacher

In the glorious day of the eagle
while the watchers danced and prayed
I asked the teacher:

Do you remember
when we talked about grief,
Norfolk happened the next day

and then we talked about balance
and the white egg cracked so its voice
could come to us,

and then we talked about Hope,
and honesty and patience,
and you taught us another thing
about the position of life

and possibility of death,
and you held onto us,
teaching in silence and words
typed into the white spaciousness
of the universe.

And you waited with us
as we played Native chants
and Enya
and prayed.

Then in the silence of the great mystery
a little life was spilled
into our eyes.

Alexandra Morton--new abundant vision
of all people--hatchling,
and now AJL you honor us
and vigilant more than most,
you count the small things
noting that all miracles

can be held and charted and
marveled over.

Above all, that these finer things
from a spirit who must love us
more than we will ever understand,
are gifts

to be shared. Teacher
in the treetops. Pointing a finger
into the darkness

for the watchers
in the woods.

for AJL

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Ghost



I am the lame horse in the blanketed field
looking out past a small ghost of a stump.
Nothing here has happened all day, then you walk
into the sticks and frozen grass of our field in the stillness of winter.
You move closer and I look to see just what it is you are looking at.
Ah, the cat’s eyes. White bowl of her face, the almost grin.
As if in her Arctic sweater dwells another universe.
You love her as you never have loved before;
she stays to have you take her photograph,
pretends it is nothing to her,
and you will never
know her name.