Poetry by Dan Shaw


To the Pilgrim on Their Way

Traditional Jewish Wedding


Twentysix Winds

I Hardly Know You

Patchwork Hearts

S.O.U. Clubs

Heaven without Stars

Cool light of moon

Hell Looked Like Paradise to Me


Come with me now
Little one
It is time

All you will need
Is this blanket
Your Mother wove over the years
You will need this blanket

You will find your place
On the mountain

Far below we will be drumming
We will be waiting

Listen to the wind
For Spirit speaks with the voice of the wind
And the voice of water
And the voices of all wild things

But until you hear them for yourself,
It is no use for me to tell you so.

Come sit still
Under the slow, dancing clouds
Slow down 'til
The Sun slows down

You will be given your vision
You are ready
You will hear Owl
Speak with your own inner voice

It is time
Put away your toys for now
Be still
Do not shout louder than ant
You will hear

And young man
When you return
We will all celebrate
Hushed, listening
As you sing thunderously.

To the Pilgrim on Their Way

With each step you take
Know it is the most important step
For it is equal to every other
None is less important

With each person you meet
Know this is the most important person

With each step you take
Your certain goal approaches
Your friends all
Go with you in spirit
You have not left them

If ever man and woman
Were sent out of Paradise
It was to take the Garden with them

When you reach a summit
Do not leave it there
Bring it with you
On your Way
You could not do otherwise

For you are the shining culmination
Of the gifts of every where
You have visited

So breathe deep!
Every drop of fresh water wants to quench your thirst and go along for the ride --
The seas want to surf YOU.
The fish are sweetening to get on your plate.
Each clod of dirt hopes for the blessing of your holy footprint
And the Earth you sleep on will be reminded of home.

Take this love letter with you
To our families in every land and
Tell them we yearn
For the days
We will all be reunited.

Traditional Jewish Wedding

I went to a Jewish wedding the other day
It was traditional in every way
Except the bride and bride were gay.


Promises were never kept
snow never fell, or if it did it never melted
the phone never rang
we never woke up together in the morning
time never stood still
doors never unlocked, or if they did they never opened
seeds never sprouted
buds never blossomed
fruit never ripened
eyes never closed
muscles never relaxed
gifts never unwrapped
stars never shined
the sun never set.
We never met
at least, not yet

Twentysix Winds

The wind that reminds children to bring last year's kite out to the park
The wind that whistles through a window left slightly open
Wind that drives rain sideways, under doors usually dry
Wind that picks up dry, fallen blossoms and dances them across the walk
Wind that cuts through coats, and makes men turn up their collars
Wind that clears away the rain clouds suddenly, making men forget that they arrived with an umbrella
Wind that cools a warm evening after a hot day
Wind that gusts down trees and power lines
Wind that keeps people indoors, postponing the day's errands
Wind that lifts spread wings upward
Wind carrying salty fog inland
Wind that makes your eyes water
Wind carrying the scent of rain-fresh forest leaves
Wind drowning out the shouts of sailors
A wind that subsides, annoying sailors
Wind slamming doors
No wind on a hot, muggy night making people wish for a breeze
A steady wind piling fall leaves all along one side of things
A wind that messes up people's hair
Wind making it hard to light a camp-stove
Wind that troubles fire-fighters and spreads wildfire across fire-lines
Wind that makes people take a deep breath
Wind that whips flags full out noisily and clangs the rope against the pole
Wind that makes you think, it must be really windy at the coast
The wind in the trees that sounds so much like water
The warm wind of the desert

I Hardly Know You

I admit, I hardly know you of course, and
I feel unknown by you.
Just days ago we met
I knew you not at all
And I was attracted to you then

Knowing that you wear no make-up,
But that you have pierced one eyebrow
And have tatooed a tree on you back
Tells me nothing. Or does it?

I know in school you are studying religion
But that doesn't tell me your philosophy
I know you are traveling the Pacific Crest
With a party of adventurers
Perhaps that is your philosophy.

You are vegan, aware of ecofeminism
You have made the alchemical connection
Uniting your body with the earth.

As every part infers the whole
From these parts I imagine I know something

This would be the wrong poem
To adore your green eyes
Accented with that dew drop
Of rose quartz bead
On that ring through your brow.

Your youthful and toned body
(Which I repeatedly profess
Perfectly fulfills my impossible expectations)
Belies your dedication to physical health.

I know that you will hitch-hike
You will sneak into bars
You are wild enough.

A drop of blood diagnoses the body
Am I only imagining that I know you
From the way you sit, the way you walk?

Your appearance in my life seems
A moment of discontinuity
Of infinite possibilities
I don't know your plans for the future
But I doubt they're based in the past.

I might read between the lines
I might hear something unsaid.
That would be something in you
Mild and conservative.

Presumptuous of me to claim to be psychic
To know you
Beyond what I could know by reason but
No one can deny the value of intuition

I hardly know you
I don't know what pleases you.
You don't need the clumsy advances of some man
Yet must long as I do to be known.

Often I have regretted something I said
Or left unsaid.
You have said nothing to offend
Your words and tone are comfortable.

I hardly know you
But I know the smell of your body
And the dreamy way I felt when
After you left I breathed your lingering perfume.

I hardly know you and
That compulsion to discover
That drives explorers to the ends of the earth
Pounds in my heart

To know you would take years
Chances are, in the profound complexity of humanity
We're not compatible.
Yet, against all odds, we met.

You have that rare quality --indescribable--
That makes me want to know you.

Patchwork Hearts

I have skinned my knees
Stitched together
Fabrics from many eons
Family treasures

Photo books have broken apart
There is no opening a broken heart

My past my path my future
Has sheared off
I am left standing on a precipice
The next step in any direction
Looks a long long way down

And yet the smoldering fumes of destruction
Some small fleeting part
Rises up to the Heavens
And circles the Earth freely

Salty tears shed all over the Earth
Wind down merciful creeks
And join the wise ocean

Two tiny snowflakes in a blizzard
Cling together
Falling a long long way down


If you don't know what to do
I think we have a club for you
In Ashland at SOU
There is so much you could do
It's hard to know just where to start
If you want to feel more safe
Why not learn a martial art?
Kempo, judo or aikido
Will teach you how to punch and throw
If you'd rather let something throw you
Why not join the rodeo?

Clubs for those who like to scuba
One club just came back from Cuba
If you're gay or lesbian
Black, Chinese or Native American

Clubs for Criminology and Anthropology
The Naked Frogs is for biology
There is a club for those pre-law
And one called, "living in the raw"

One club event that's most bizarre,
The Physics club hosts a race of edible cars
Teams make cars of potatoes and carrots
Teams make cars of chocolate
When the cars have made the jump
The judges measure just how far
But the race is far from done
To determine who has won
The winning teams must eat their cars.

If you love philosophy,
If you'd rather be playing rugby,
If you want Tibet to be free,
If you believe in anarchy,
If you just want to rant on K-S-O-C

Clubs if you want to learn to act
One called, "quantum maniacs"
A club for German, one for French
One for those who promote hemp

Muslim, Catholic or Baha'i
Or if you came from Hawai'i

If you didn't hear one right for you
Remember there are 72.
You can always start one, too.

Heaven without Stars

Beyond all reason I am enamored of you…
In my sight you are the most feminine woman ever
Surely you must note my awkward stare
If you knew how irrationally I admire you!
Your voice and laugh I relish like water in a desert…
It evaporates too quickly
While I am not a perfect man, I imagine that I am a perfect match for someone
I have to stretch my self-esteem to imagine that I could be right for you,
I have imagined you are perfect
Your slightest imperfection could crush me like a snowflake
For weeks now you have inspired my awe
Like in some fantastic nightmare where I can find no words
Your name is the closest the alphabet can come to evoking your beauty.
I have told you I want to date you; what do I mean?
In my wildest fantasies we share a moment of silence
And I gaze at you through the steam of a cup of tea.
I am in no hurry to compose a lifetime
As I approach a mountain, I savor the view
Anticipation, longing for the summit snaps at my heels
But I tread slowly, enjoying the progress, the incremental advance.
Magic is of two kinds,  spoken and unspoken.
Wishes spoken are sometimes strengthened, sometimes diluted.
If I remain silent, you will understand it is not because I am not thinking of you.
On the contrary, feelings strongly felt know no words
But the mind loses feelings in the translation to thought and word.
My heart is the vault of heaven without stars
Blackness beyond description, infinite expanse
A sparkling star thousands of years away
Siezes the eyes,  fixes the focus.
My life sweet and full saves room for one ingredient
One heart could shift everything
One tender feeling could fill the night sky
The moon smiles gently on hopeful courtship
Hope holds the hand of the uncertain first steps of love
Possibility dances between the razors
Unseen attendants applaud the considered daring boldness
Forgive my presumption for speaking to you so intimately
Intimacy is the consummation of two open hearts
Scorched in the furnace of blazing singularity.
My heart peeled like a fruit – yours wrapped like a gift.

Cool light of moon

When I let my fantasy come true
You came to me
I bow down to kiss your feet
Poor Goddess, you just want to be an ordinary girl
I know you imagined me, too
More than you know I adore you
More feminine than the moon
Dancing across the stars
Night has become my day
In you the whole universe I love
Glow ecstasy dance universe
Goddess moon Venus beyond
Every ray of sun cherishes you
Love-drunk lovers, and yet the cup is still full
The body loves the hot rays of the sun
And the eye loves the cool light of moon
Humble hopes small daily gifts
Of halting words like these
And deeds
Bring us closer
To Earth and Heaven

Hell Looked Like Paradise to Me

I went to Hell
I actually expected to see flames
Hell looked like Paradise to me
God was there
But nobody could see

I went to Purgatory
It was no Hell
Each person had as much joy as they could stand
We actually have to get re-accustomed to ecstatic bliss
Before our inevitable ascension

I went to Heaven
It looked just like Earth
Rainbows have extra colors there
Every color has all the colors in it
In Heaven every tear melts an icy heart
God feels our every Joy
In Heaven...We are all already there.

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