Arc (reveal)

ARC (reveal)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

The room is charged. His eyes two points that arc, revealing his story. He has fought the pain.  But there has been a price. He is so tired and there is so much he has forgotten.

“I sit with this room. With the grey walls that darken into corner. And one window with teeth in it. Sit so still you can hear your hair rustle in your shirt. Look away from the window when clouds and other things go by. [Ninety-seven] years old. There are no prizes.” [1]

[1]Michael OndaatjeComing Through Slaughter

mend (adjure)

Mend (adjure)

Robin L. Chandler, 2018.


Spring has roared awake.

Last Friday’s fervent downpour.

New leaves brilliant greens.

Soft. Supple. Hopeful.

 dear companions, follow Gary Snyder’s footprints:

Hiking Muir Woods to East Peak Tamalpais.

Day born in fog, climbing above misty clouds through rainy redwood rainforest.

Dappled sunshine coastal oaks and bay laurels; woodlands and meadows;

warmth on my skin.

Ridgeline a soft blanket enfolds the city, ocean sleeps

 cozy quilt.

Winding serpentine swale, wild turkey shares stories.

Manzanita blooms humming honey bees.

Twisted Pacific Madrona mark dry north side trail.

Paradox: Winter rains; little fog. A dryland.

Oasis of redwood trees, quench their timeless thirst by a spring.

Summiting: St. Helena to the North, Diablo to the East, Hamilton to the South.

From Tamalpais guardian of the West.

My mind locked in the winter of my Father’s illness. Naked and cold, not yet open to the thaw.

Will the hot sun of New Mexico burn winter away?

William Carlos Williams writes in Spring and All:

“Dead, brown leaves under them

Leafless vines –

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish, dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,

Cold, uncertain of it all

Save that they enter. All about them

The cold, familiar wind –“

slough time


Edison Slough

Edison Slough. Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Sloughs are narrow, winding waterways where fresh and salt water mix with the rising and ebbing of the tides – a cycle of life, death and rebirth. When the tide recedes the muddy, marshy banks are exposed teeming with life; crabs, shrimps, worms, snails, clams make these flats their home. When the tide rises, these creatures feed on a nutrient rich “soup” created by decomposing plants and other small animals; when the tide ebbs, these shellfish and mollusks become a feast for birds and fishes that also call the slough home. In their time, these birds and fishes provide nourishment to yet other predators. Sloughs are a place measuring time by the absence and presence of water. It is a place for the soul to replenish and connect the tidal rhythm to the rhythm of sustaining our energy and our breath: give and take, in and out, give and take, in and out. Buddha was a gentle human seated amongst the world’s phenomena, contemplating life’s multiple rhythms.

Recently we visited Edison in Skagit County Washington. Walking along Edison’s slough, I was mindful of Gary Snyder’s words in The Practice of the Wild “walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind…the exact balance of spirit and humanity. Out walking, one notices where there is food…there are firsthand true stories of ‘your ass is somebody else’s meal’ a blunt way of saying interdependence, interconnection…give-and-take…what a big potlatch we are all members of! To acknowledge that each of us at the table will eventually be part of the meal is not just being ‘realistic.’ It is allowing the sacred to enter and accepting the sacramental aspect of our shaky temporary personal being.”

enchant and attend


Robin L. Chandler, 2018.

Myths and fairy tales are replete with enchantment; tales of magic, witchcraft and sorcery abound. Spells are cast and masks or disguises adorned. Beauty loved her beloved Beast, and Baucis and Philemon opened their home to Jupiter and Mercury disguised as mortals. But what are these disguises but masks, some donned purposefully, others worn in punishment.  My mother was a tiger; she donned her mask daily fighting with purpose. She fought to keep us safe, fought to keep us fed, and she fought to get her children all we deserved and more.  She donned her mask to attend to her duties as a mother and wife, but sometimes she fought with those she loved. The mask protected the sensitive intelligent woman underneath. We must all don masks to survive. Writing about the Mesoamerican mask traditions, Octavio Paz states “while we are alive we cannot escape from masks or names. We are inseparable from our fictions – our features. We are condemned to invent a mask for ourselves and afterward to discover that the mask is our true face.”*  With that insight, I understand why, unfortunately, after a while my mother forgot to remove her mask.

*from Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, quoted in Peter T. Markman and Roberta H. Markman, Masks of the Spirit: Image and Metaphor in Mesoamerica (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), xxi; Octavio Paz, Posdata (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1970), II.

Round Midnight


Robin L. Chandler, 2018.



hope tinged with sadness

lonely cup of coffee with Hopper’s Nighthawks

searching for something; wishing to share

rounded body of all things in one


rough and smooth

wet and dry

loosing yourself in the the act, life emerges

rounded body of all things in one

 “things that gave way entered unyielding masses,

heaviness fell into things that had no weight.”

From Ovid’s TheMetamorphoses, Book I, translated by Horace Gregory

Written listening to Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan play Round Midnight on Mulligan Meets Monk recorded in New York City; August 12 – 13, 1957

to hold and admire


Robin L. Chandler, 2018.


A Mother

holds her child

a duet

a pieta

A baby


the harmony of the trinity

Three apples

Three pointers

Three billboards

outside Ebbing, Missouri

A child


the stability of four

four voices

four seasons

four gospels

four random points

in space

An adult

Ponders the tango of Adam and Eve

Searching for sincerity

between heaven and earth

response and answer


Robin L. Chandler, 2018

When I visit or talk with my father these days, the conversation turns to our shared stories. Several times he has with joy and relief told his version of a story about a day when I was three years old. Here is my version. Perhaps it was the call of the wild, but when my dog escaped, I followed, determined to bring her back home. Too young to venture outside my yard alone, but that fact never occurred to me.  Single-minded, with purpose, I tracked my dog; when she crossed the creek, I walked into the water, unaware of the coming baptism. In a new world where the rules of gravity and locomotion no longer applied, my feet lost contact with the ground. Possessing no vocabulary to describe my new emotions, my grown self now describes the situation: panic flirted with me, but an increasing sense of calm flooded my body. Water felt like home, not enigma. I moved my arms and legs and reached the shore where my dog looked on; I grasped her collar and we began the walk home, my clothes completely soaked. Closer, fire engines wailed and police cars flashed. Neighbors ran excitedly in all directions looking for something. My frantic mother was yelling at my distraught father. I didn’t understand what was going on. Walking up to my speechless parents, I said, “I got my dog.” Suddenly strong emotions of happiness came from my parents. Once grown, I came to understand that adults thought I was lucky; they were probably right. But somewhere deep inside, some part of me understood my life’s journey had begun.

“Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the misermerman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps…”

“Only in the heart of the quickest perils; only within the eddyings of his angry flukes; only on the profound unbounded sea, can the fully invested whale be truly and livingly found out.”

Herman MelvilleMoby Dick