This page is really dedicated to the talented John Fox, author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem Making (Jeremy Tarcher, 1997). I was working as an alcohol and drug counselor in 1997 when a client didn’t show. So I strolled down to the Small Mall, a little strip mall on the corner a half block away from my office. I was browsing through the books when I spotted John’s book resting on a stack of other books. I picked it up and was transformed by the first poem on the first page. Lawrence Tirnauer’s The Sleepless Ones. I purchased the book a few days later and as I read, an avocation became a calling. I attended my first John Fox workshop in Santa Cruz. He invited me to attend after I either e-mailed him or phoned him to thank him for introducing me to my new life. At breakast the second day of his workshop John Fox asked me to be on the advisory board of the Poetic Medicine Institute. I was stunned but accepted. Any time spent with John is time spent with transformation into the better, the higher self. John Fox will be in San Diego this month, October 2017. You can reserve a place for this “don’t miss” poetry retreat by going to the Poetic Medicine website. I’ll see you there.

The below poems are about my self-discovery through verse, through carving out writing time, through listening to the small voice that insists on not being silent. You have a similar, original voice in you. As a member of the advisory board of the Poetic Medicine Institute I love the opportunities presented when we write in community or in solitude. Where is your pen?

Jim Moreno, San Diego, CA

When Donald Trump Washes the Feet of the Homeless: For Delia

Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 disabled people this year,
A boy paralyzed in a diving accident,
A man and a woman with cerebral palsy,
Got down on his pope knees on a pope pillow and washed their feet,
Washed the feet of two elders who could hardly walk,
Then kissed their feet & smiled a kind smile.
                                                                              The gentle pontiff poured water from a silver pitcher,
their feet in a silver bowl,
Wiped their feet with a clean white towel,
Kissed their feet and smiled a kind smile.
He knew that Jesus said if I’m your teacher
and wash your feet then you wash the feet of others
In the spirit, not the letter, of the law.
Last year the good pope washed the feet of two Muslims
and two women at a juvenile hall in Rome,
Years ago washed the feet of young mothers
in a maternity ward in Buenos Aires,
Pope Kindness washed and kissed the feet
of 12 AIDS patients in a hospice in Argentina,
Washed and kissed the feet of recovering
addicts in a treatment center in the capitol.
The good pope reminds us that it’s not
who’s feet are being washed, it’s
the spirit behind the gesture.
Donald Trump, raised in a Christian church,
knows the example of Jesus.
Jesus is his teacher, right?
Oh, maybe not about respecting women
but Jesus is Don’s teacher, right?
Does that mean President Don will wash my feet?
Will he wash your feet one day & not smirk?
Pour sacred water from a silver pitcher on your feet?
Catch the dirty water in a silver bowl?
Wipe your feet with a clean white towel?
Kiss your feet, look you right in the eye and smile a kind smile?
When Donald Trump kneels on a pillow, just like humble Pope Francis,
and washes the feet of a woman,

If You Don't Mind

Tired mind is a lonely bird with small nest
in Winter’s tree,
Rested mind is soaring bird hunting
Angry mind is hot wind embers’
burning path,
Laughing mind is light wind
sooth tickle chuckle mad,
Stress mind is chaotic dance,
thought flood, flash flood fear,
No-mind is meditation dance,
seed-flowering water, sun, loam,
I breathe in, I breathe out light portrait window,
blue sky, Sumi-e sprig elk horn branch,
Just me and Blue Boy shifting gears,
rested mind, meditation mind, no-mind,
Wind calls me home in years gone by,
beside the fence of rainbow flowers,
Sky is my father,
Earth is my mom,
Moon my grandma,
Mystery my mirror
I cannot explain,
So I breathe in, I breathe out,
I dance, I sing, I teach,
I am the silence after the koan.
Jim Moreno, Winter 2014
When Donald gets on his knees and washes the feet of a Muslim,
Washes the feet of the Mexican man who’s
back is bowed because of ignorance and hate,
Washes the feet of the broken and the poor,
That’s when America will be great again.
In the spirit behind the gesture.
Jim Moreno Fall 2017

el regalo del arbol (the gift of the tree): in honor of pablo neruda

pablo spoke of branches in the night,
branches found me in a dream, white gowned, chippewa princes
floating above motherearth, waving goodbye,
branches lay wise, loving wooden fingers on my chest,
lightly touching, lightly loving, soothing, as had the woman,
branches penetrated my chest searching, finding,
gently holding, healing my wounded heart;
dream gift of medicine man.
when poetry finds me I am always alone—
sitting, watching, like eagle in deep, blue sky mountain nest,
when images, paintings…portraits of my mind find me
I am waist deep in snow melt river water,
washing, rushing by with wet, blue-lip whispering words,
soothing sounding liquid beauty,
tears welling, rising, blessing peace—
above me, winged-ones singing joyful feather songs,
when poetry arrives companioned by grandfather wind,
caressing my tired mind with grandfather love,
―grandpa tenderness―
I hear words surfacing from some ancient, sacred place,
sounding sometimes hot—like a forest ablaze with heat & thunder,
sounding sometimes gentle―like a child’s sleepy bedtime prayer,
sometimes muse summons by shadows drifting lazily,
cloud shadows wafting on windows of passing cars,
like phantom horses floating down sand dunes from pharaohs past,
pablo might say: I am summoned by branches of the night,
mi corazon es muy fuerte; porque son las palabras en mi corazon,
y el toque de las ramas en mis suenos.
my heart is very strong because of the words in my heart,
and the touch of the branches in my dreams.
Jim Moreno Spring 1994