weeping willow

(in memory of Richard Cook)

. . . silvery lichen, birches, elms, pockets of
melting snow, paw-prints, forest creatures,
since the Seven Lakes region faces the back door

of my brother Richie and wife Loretta’s home in
Sloatsburg, New York, where they raised six
children, enjoyed their grandkids exploring

nearby trails following tracks of a mother-
racoon with little ones, sparrows hopping
in berry bushes, robins bobbing for bugs,

crows calling in pines, owls nesting in oaks,
unlike the street of our childhood, a few
trees at the corner, yet blest by Prospect Park’s

sleigh-riding, row-boating, playgrounds,
meadow where we’d meet grandma, visit
bears, antelopes, elephants, lions, giraffes,

seals in the zoo, surprised on a high hill to
see sky-scrapers sparkling in the city across
the river, where years later Richie started

a computer company in mid-town, not far
from Equitable Life, where our parents
first met; meanwhile, after Joe and I married

in Greenwich Village, we moved to Santa Clara,
California, so Richie came west for visits,
memorable walking round Golden Gate Park’s

Stowe Lake, he began aiming his camera towards
the opposite shore, below a pagoda: “There’s
the most beautiful tree: a weeping willow.” After

a long work week, in a pergola on the hill behind
his home, Richie relaxed with a mystery novel,
a cocktail, cheese ‘n crackers, while Loretta cooked

a fabulous meal, or he barbequed; we talked
about our families, politics, the church, books,
and always stories of growing up in Brooklyn,

sometimes I confided challenges of living alone
as a widow and he gave down-to-earth comfort,
always making me laugh through tears; finally,

realizing how foolishly I envied childhood friend
Judy Hanley having six sisters, while I was blest
by a wise, funny, older brother-friend who listened

like a sister, inheriting our Dad’s child-like sense
of awe at beauty in city and country; today I
recall our final visit: while Richie rested indoors,

I walked to the upper pine forest, slipping on
late winter snow, birds calling in tree-tops,
bushes rustling, till a sudden silence, as if all

stood still watching the sun come through clouds
in a blue heaven, like a medieval manuscript’s
painting of a landscape with a gold-leaf border

of trees, so it seemed across the lake that last
morning along the shore, angel-like wings
of a weeping willow waving in golden glory.

weeping willow2



                            (in memory of my brother Richard Cook)             1a2a         3a           54






Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 2.45.59 PM arc -image


Click this link for an enlarged view.




(in memory of Joseph Grassi)

Castle Rock

High above the town of Saratoga, California,
up winding Route 9, turn south at the Skyline
crest, you’ll come to Castle Rock State park,

where my husband Joe hiked for many years.
Once upon a time we went to what he called:
his “sacred place.” The last summery warmth

of the woods was retreating. Coolness was settling
in, since the sun was tilting south towards Mexico
these last weeks. Around a bend in the road

kids were playing hide & go seek. Rock-climbing
groups galore scaling several cliffs. Countless
trees losing leaves. Dirt and debris scattered by

unseen creatures burrowing in the brambles.
High above squirrels leaping in branches, carrying
cachets of seeds and nuts for hiding. Familiar with

the trail’s twists and turns, Joe led me to the side
of a trickling waterfall: “By December it’ll be
thriving!” Higher we went along a curving

path leading to ledge-like portico for a large
cave. “Sacred as a chapel,” said this former
priest. Animal drawings, hieroglyphics,

a sketch portraying a phoenix feeding her
young from her heart. A pair of doves calling
in the dark. Light shafts swirling. Tiny drips

of moisture into a small well. Shards forming
a nook resembling a tabernacle. Golden red maple
leaves by the entrance spun miniature rose

mandalas over our shoulders. A faint scent
of incense, crushed sage by our feet. At the back
a rectangular stone resembling an altar. Beeswax

stains on the four corners. An aire of perpetual
presences. Did we pray aloud, swaying beside
redwoods as if in a Sufi dance facing the blue

Pacific! Back at the car, darkness was dawning.
Moonrise over San Jose’s Mount Hamilton,
Silicon Valley lighting up Santa Clara, Los Gatos,

Campbell, Cupertino, Saratoga. Winter rains round
the corner. Perhaps an early spring filling the forests
with fresh flora and fauna, recurring revelations

of hope after the light’s been low and loss,
crushing. It’s then I’ll take the trail he taught me,
to that threshold ledge before my beloved’s sacred site.

At the Peak

Images from https://www.parks.ca.gov/


As Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth, “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” —Matthew 9: 9-13

The Calling of St Matthew…Painting by Caravaggio, 1600Christ Calling Mathew

Before becoming Pope Francis, as a cardinal he always prayed at Caravaggio’s
altar of “Christ calling Matthew” when he arrived in Rome from Argentina.

In all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) there is the story of Christ calling Matthew, followed by his attending a banquet, with a crowd of tax collectors and other. Regarding that event the Pharisees complained:”Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners’?” Christ replied: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (from Wikipedia)


(For: Father Roy Bourgeois M.M.and in memory of Rosalie Rienzo M.M.



To Risk photos

Elsberg * Le Carré * Snowden * Poitras * Greenwald * Manning


Heading-grocery Homeless-Grocery Store

Homeless in CafeNCal Cafe

red chairs cafe poem

Previous Older Entries


"Carolyn Grassi's 'Heart and Soul' is fascinating in its fluent and affecting blend of memoir and poetry, reminiscence and sheer invention, loss, grief and homage. Adopting a persona at times, or imitating a seminal influence on her writing at other junctures, [Carolyn Grassi] has created a quilt of memories and reflections on a life's education—the journey we all hope to make from becoming to being, or from acting as disciples to representing ourselves and our art as apostles..."
Read the complete foreword by Ron Hansen in 'Heart and Soul' published by Patmos Press, San Francisco, CA.

Ron Hansen, author

Recent Comments

Nancy Newman on WEEPING WILLOW
maryjeanneoliva on WEEPING WILLOW
Nancy Newman on SEEKING SIGNS
Elaine Mannon on SEEKING SIGNS


Carolyn Grassi

Ron Hansen and Jim Torrens

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D

Lit Prof at SCU