“…loneliness is good discipline for realizing the profundity of the unresolved moments of our lives.”

– Pema Chodron


every moment

finishes with longing

its shadow



my brain cannot


wildfire ash


blowing snow

each delicate fleck

something it wasn’t

won’t be

more than

what is falling

who says why

patterns suffer


like synapses


we can only


in absences

the silence



sudden as

an orbit’s


empty as

a mid-pandemic

jazz club

the end

of crowded






every moment

with unresolved





Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In the early months of the pandemic lockdown, my wife, Alice, and I took turns each morning reading to each other sections of When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun and teacher. Given the circumstances, it made sense to go deeply within rather than longing to “go out.” We were hoping for some “Heart Advice for Difficult Times” (the subtitle of the book). We found  much to contemplate and consider. After we finished reading, I decided to go back through the teachings and look for especially meaningful quotes that could be use as prompts for poems.

The result was published in March 2021 by Turkey Buzzard Press. I’m especially proud to have turned the horrors, anxieties and isolation of the pandemic into something beautiful: a collection of poems. The poems are published in the order they were written and the order of the quotations in Ani Pema’s book. This poem, nowhere, appears early in Sacred Chill. It serves to open wide the spaces I explore and contemplate in the rest of the rest of the book.

Sacred Chill is about Parkinson’s Disease, too, and the constant existential improvisations required as symptoms shift and progress while we hold our life and our self together in a tentative but tenacious unity.

Used by permission of the author.

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Wayne A. Gilbert

Wayne A. Gilbert is a retired teacher and teacher of teachers. He has written three books of poems although he ...more