Friendly Ghosts

i slept
in my childhood bedroom
and saw
in the shadows
of memory.

i lay in the old bed
and conjured
friendly ghosts
and saw the
dance of the blinds
and heard the
hum of the old
air conditioner --
rheumatic, now,
but still the white noise
of innocence --

i sank into the sleep
of many decades past
and felt them fold around me.

when i awoke,
my joints ached
and my chin sagged
but my brow was smooth:

the past steps forward
like a shy mare
tosses its head
turns the other way
but has nodded

you are all still with me,
friendly ghosts,
you are all still
my friends
and protectors.

We shall dance,
time's fools,
around the maypole
of memory,

til memory
beckon us

--Mr. Gobley


Your Personal Storm

A storm awaits each one of us:

Custom made,
Bowled toward
The center of our being
In wicked, unjust gyration,

A thing made to unmake.

(Forget those who say
Settle reckonings
With sinners:
Such formulas
Are the stuff of soap opera,
With the Divine
In need of a script doctor.)

The combustible
Elixir of opposites
Is the very stuff of life --
And of its soulmate,
Death --
Twins spawned in the
Blast that made,
And will unmake.

The storm
Is made for us
Because it is made
Of us:

The very heat
And moisture
In which
Our minds reside

Brews in the ocean:
Recognition of our frailty
Is forced upon us:
Our mind

Not a lesson,
Not a verdict,
But a harbinger:

We are always
With the
And the

It's what we are.

Light your way
With the "brief candle":
Its twin will consume you,
But with life's arrowed flame
You will be warmed
And allowed to see,
Even to your

--Mr. Gobley


The Beginning of Breath

i have sinned.

Or have i been sinned against?

i settle into myself
And consider deeply:

Where should i start?
Of whom must i
Beg forgiveness?

i will start here:
i will ask my heart
To forgive
My head
For punishing me,
For telling me
i am not
Good enough,
Strong enough,
Wise enough,
Smart enough.

i will ask my head
To forgive my heart
For fainting away
At high walls
And tripping
Over low obstacles.

After these small,
Private acts
Of contrition,
All requests
For forgiveness
Are easy,
All antagonists

i will ask
Of all things
And all beings.

It is not what they
Do unto me,
It is the stories
i tell myself
About what they have done
Unto me
That cause the burrs
To stick in my heart
And choke my breath.

The Creator of Breath,
Who breathed us,
Wants us to keep
To pass the breath
Of forgiveness
Across enemy lines
And down the generations

So that hearts
And minds
Will grow strong,
Filled with quiet

That love
Is forgiveness,
And forgiveness
Is what is

--Mr. Gobley


Recipe for Repentance

First, you admit that you are not Divine.

And yet you embrace your emanation
From Divinity.

Then you examine your desires.

You understand that these, too,
Are of Divine origin,

And then you turn
The deeds that have
Issued from those

Are they born
Of Darkness,
Of need,
Of grabs for power
And lustful longings --
Twistings of the might of angels
Toward hurling
Bolts of anger at God?

The source of our being
Is the source
Of our desires, too,

And repentance begins precisely here:
Begins with embrace
Of doer
And deed,
Of anger
And hatred:

And so,
To repent,
Admit that
You are not
But born
Of the Divine.

You urges and needs,
Emerge here as well:
Acknowledge this.
Know that
You have twisted
What power
The angels have sent you:


Give back
To Origins of Might
That which
You briefly

Forgive yourself
And give thanks.

In this way,
You understand
As the toxic waste
Of free will,

And forgiveness
As the most loving,
Repentance --

For the Soul.

--Mr. Gobley


God is in my lungs

When I say,
"Of course I know how I breathe,"
It is because I am told
I have lungs.

The corpus
Of medical knowledge
Has well documented
How these
Moist bellows
Move oxygen through us.

And "us" includes "me."

But what is my Prime Mover?
What is the ancient incident
That led to my lungs --
That lent them the spark
To move
To translate
To sluice
And induce
And seduce
Life from breath?

When, in a crowd,
One can sense
The crowd moving,
Feeling, as one organism,
What is the conductor
Of this feeling
Along the transom
Of fragile selves?

It is a line
Of energy
That I call

Is "God"
The English major's
For all that cannot be understood?

Or is God
The answer
To this question:

"What is bigger
Than you,
More powerful
Than you,
Part of you,
Tied to you,
As vast as you --
Far beyond
All explanations,
But living in the
Silent spaces
Between the letters of

--Mr. Gobley



You must live

You have no choice

It is what you do

Find rhythm

Make rhyme

The heart's



Is a march

Played to the rush

Of blood

Past vessels

And openings

To the Delta

Of fortune and ruin

That we call


Run to it

Do not fear it

Embrace all,

Inhale all,

Revere all,

Rejoice in all,

Remember all,

Consecrate all:

Leave nothing behind.

Consume yourself

In the heat

Of your own flame

And be remembered

By your atoms

As the

Conquering Creator

Of Oneness

That rededicated




--Mr. Gobley

Mr. Gobley sez:

  • Leave things -- each day, in each realm of your life, and in your life as a whole -- so that they will run even better, grow even stronger, when you're gone. (This may be as close as we get to immortality.)
  • Think of your life as the world's supply of oil: who knows how much there may be? Best to assume it's already peaked, and get much more careful about its expenditure.
  • That first smell of dried leaves, crushed to powder underfoot, is invigorating.
  • It's profoundly gratifying to be befriended by a neighbor's dog.
  • Photos are overrated. Think of all the time you could have spent enjoying the moment. Now, instead, you have a memento of a moment you never really experienced.
  • An office without walls, windows or a door is a cruel, cruel thing.
  • Prescription for those who need a dose of humility: sit them at a potter's wheel and tell them to throw a pot.
  • Prescription for afternoon lassitude: chocolate.
  • Suddenly, those questions about what you would take with you in a (fill in the blank: flood, fire, terrorist attack, apocalypse) dire emergency aren't so academic.
  • Why, when you're walking behind someone who doesn't know you're there, and you try to pass them, do they so often suddenly veer into your path?
  • Best thing you can do for someone you love: don't let them drive if impaired by alcohol, drugs or old age.
  • i don't read the tabloids, but i must confess: it's somehow comforting that people of immeasurable beauty and wealth can still descend into low comedy (or ascend to high melodrama) in their personal lives.
  • i have a recurring image of being held in captivity in a crawl space beneath a building, and not being allowed to stand for a period of months, even years. What would i do? Would my spine crumble?
  • i watch the digital clocks in my home, my office, my car, blink away each second, and i think back at them: "Oh, shutup."

--Mr. Gobley


Can you

Are you able
To forgive
Those responsible

Even as you
The wretched

Can you find
Within you
The strength
To extend

Can you
Labor tirelessly
To fix
To heal
To mend
To soothe --
And to forgive?

Do you
Find time
To work
Without hope
Of reward,
Your own
So that others
May at last
Rest theirs?

What is your cause?
What is your source?

Know that, and pursue it:
There is time for little else.

When moved in the direction
Of Source,
Vast stores of energy are freed
For use --
There is no time for blame,
For there is no hint of blame
In healing work.

Move toward healing:
As you heal others,
You heal yourself.
As you lift up others,
So shall you be lifted.

The rest is

--Mr. Gobley


Friday Afternoon

The leaves turn up their palms
To the powdered heavens.

The geese strut across
The busy fairways
Toward the
Emptying office parks.

The heat rises up
Off the blacktop
Like fervent prayer,

And the school buses
Disgorge children
Delirious with fleeting,
New-found freedom.

The partners in the law firms
And their real estate clients
Are on the back nine, while

The ballparks
And the synagogues
And the high school
Football fields
Fling open their gates,

And everyone
That lives by this calendar
Prepares to put their burdens down
And breathe in
Summer's last.

--Mr. Gobley


That Which Runs Away

That which runs away
As it draws near,
Approaches and vanishes,

A river that bends,
But never floods --
Time --
Will, in the end,
Gently move us
To the
Far shore
Of being.

Each day,
You are carried closer
To that shore.

The view of
Time's vast ocean --
A circle of being --
Is the same,
Until one day,
Perhaps all
In one moment,
The shore appears.

Others remain behind
While you are ferried

You look back,
It is all one,

Except in this sense:
No longer moves you.

You have ridden it
All your fragile life,
To this point.

We, who waste
Begin by wasting

The presence of mind
To love
And be present

Must start
And end
Our days.

--Mr. Gobley


God on Sabbatical

The original
On the First
The goodness
Of it all:

"All," meaning:
And rest,
Existence sublime,
Mere "Being"
A Singing

Inside and out,
And dwelt in,
Both seen
And experienced,
Like fireworks,
Give life
Like our very lungs.

We are wise
To remember
That each moment
Its sabbatical element.

This moment
Is The Creation.
Even now,
As we rejoice,
God is at work.

Even now,
As we pray
For peace,
For rain,
For relief from rain,
God is on Sabbatical.

God has set all in motion:
It is for us to work within the All,
And to cease our work
When it is time
To remember
That we Are.

--Mr. Gobley


Begin with the end in mind

The beginnings of endings are the most poignant reminders that we are alive: the knife edge between Summer and Fall; the first intimation of impending mortality in one's parents; the concluding acts of plays or operas, the final movements of symphonies or stanzas of great songs; the moment when one realize a love is about to be lost -- these moments are full of life at its most keen, as the cycle reveals itself to be both terrible and comforting, regenerative and final.

Remember that you go on and do not go on. Catastrophes are the terrible end for many -- that end we can all too plainly see. But it is just as true that those catastrophes form new beginnings that are impossible for all but a few to detect.

So as you pray for those whose lives, as they know them, have ended, include yourself, and the others who have begun an ending, in your prayers: know that we all have begun to end, and that miraculous new beginnings have taken root.

It is the roots that we should pray for, and water, and nurture: the salt of our tears does not nourish the roots, but our quiet, loving efforts toward recovery and growth, these make all the difference.

--Mr. Gobley



Web of being
That has no "is"

Mighty force
That does not move

Essence of brilliance
Without thought:

I can only serve you
With what you have given.

Planless architect,
Holy believer
Who is faithful
To fools,

For whom
We are
Both brush
And canvas:

Do not let me
Blame you
For blessings.

Teach me
To work
As you work:

Without end,
With abiding joy,
With passion
And purpose,
Even only at journey's end
The company of angels,

And, until then,
Naught but
The thanks of thieves
And the psalms
Of sinners.

When I serve you,
I am whole:
I shoulder my burdens
With great eagerness,

Not stopping to ask why
I must serve,
But only
To offer my hand

To my
Your beloved.

--Mr. Gobley

Compassion a la carte

A colleague at work said:

"I just don't have a lot of compassion for those people in New Orleans. I mean, if you're gonna live in a bowl surrounded by water, in a climate prone to hurricane, what'd you expect?!"

I said:

"Well, just try to have a little. It may help them some. It couldn't hurt you, either."

--Mr. Gobley


Flood of Compassion

We dance on a thin crust
Suspended over a
Spinning, liquid core.

We live in a fragile,
Scaffolded sack
Of tenous,

Fragile source
And ceaseless pump
Feed the
Insomniac molecules
Which together
What we each call

We ride
In hurtling
Cages of metal,
In whose midst
We also walk.

We fly in
Combustible canisters,
Roaring silently
Over the gridded terrain,
Napping as we go.

But with our hearts and minds,
We make universes:
We stand
On a stepstool
In God's own shadow,

Waving our whittled wands,
Wealth to waste
And back again.

Now -- as always --
With prayer,
And other forms
Of hard work,
We must remake
The shattered,
Lift up the fallen,

And lure away
Our own lower natures
From the opportunity
That has howled into their midst.

Water, like our natures,
Will rise and fall.
What remains
After the flood
Will be the
Starkest reflection
Of our resolve,

The clearest
To our weakened wills.

Let us stand forth.

--Mr. Gobley