"Wheels Turning Inward" is a is a rich collection of over fifty poems, following a poet’s mythic and spiritual journey that crosses easily onto the paths of many contemplative traditions. The artwork at the top of this page, is one image found in the Gordon Moore Memorial stain glass window at Trinity Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, by the artist Kim Clark Renteria. The image of these three circles, is emblematic of both the Trinity and the title for this new collection of poetry now available from Friesen Press.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Mockingbird's Song

There are moments,
like this morning,
when my heart is so full
it has become the song of the

Mockingbird singing outside our windows.
Who may sing at any time day or night, its song
of wonder and making.
Who is binding the world together

with each single and heart-making note, whose
songs are as bright as God's love for all of creation.
It is 4:42 AM precisely now,
at such and such longitude and latitude.
(29° 48' 22'' N 95° 23' 47'' W)

And I am sitting in a chair
typing as quickly as I can these
words arising out of the emptiness
of my own being, alive with wonder.

So that no single word may escape the
gesture of my mind, which in this
moment is like a razor's edge,
sharp and clearly defined.

The Mockingbird is still singing its song,
which you may easily imagine moving up through its
gentle heart, and throat, and out through
its voice, to spin again and again

up and around this fragile world, our home.
The song of its being is still winding its way
into the many mansions of my heart,
opening my heart to the mystery of its word and voice.

On Friday afternoon our neighbor delivered to Joanne,
a bouquet of lilies from her garden, Easter Lilies in May.
Oh, more than a dozen I can picture now.
And then yesterday Joanne brought home

even more flowers.
Carnations and mums for church today,
so the house is full of their fragrance,
along with the smell of my morning coffee.

If the self is constantly changing,
from one moment to the next
as my Buddhist friends tell me.
If the self is so impermanent as

to be not-self, or no-self, anattā (uhn-uht-tah).
Why is it then that I feel so
completely and utterly
alive in this very moment?

Why is it that I can still
hear the song of the mockingbird
entering my heart?
Raising it up again and again

like a sacrament,
to the wonders of creation,
to this gift we call life.
Why is it that this one song never

seems to leave me from
one hallowed moment to the next?
Why is the song more, much more,
than a vague and distant memory?

Maybe as the Buddha suggests, this is
a question we should put aside for now, not to worry.
And just to be as we are, to answer or say neither
yes or no, to live in the mystery perhaps.

Still, wherever you may be this morning, whatever
you may be doing, stop now. Stop and take one
deep breath, breathing in slowly and fully, and out once again.
Stop, and realize if nothing else, that you are alive.

And that within your own heart is the same song, of
the same mockingbird, in the very same tree outside our window
that is singing through our own hearts, binding us
together as one human family, a family of humanity.

Let this one moment become a beginning, a healing,
a grace, a passage from one human heart to the next. Where
the world is made new and whole, where we know who we
are with a certainty marked by compassion.

Where we come to see Christ, and even the Buddha, alive in one another.

Ron Starbuck

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mockingbird Morning

Early this morning, I listened to the sound

of two Mockingbirds singing a duet,

with the composition of their song twisting

and spinning through the air

like brilliant streams of light.

When I looked up to find them,

I saw the waning moon bright with the

promise of dawn, framed by the branches

of our neighbor’s pecan tree,

heavy with new leaves from the spring.

On any morning we can go out

to one of our two porches

and listen to the clever and soothing songs

of Mockingbird, Dove, and Sparrow.

The Robins have returned as well, for now;

they always fly on when the heat of summer comes.

It is early May, and the warm humidity of Southeast

Texas is just beginning to edge up.

Each cool morning now is a gracious gift

we treasure, knowing that the hot days

of summer will soon be coming.

What I want to do most today is to

sit for the longest time listening to the

sounds of the morning, arising out of

the quiet emptiness of the earth. To simply close

my eyes and meditate on each song moving up

through the bones and marrow of my body,

and out again through my breath, binding together each

stray particle of my being into one coherent symphony. This is

what God must feel each moment across one universe to the next,

as endless galaxies and solar systems move timelessly through

the deepness of all creation, spinning out the

one clear song of this, his divine design.

If God, as many believe is love. Then I believe

it must be that our love added to others, is helping

to fashion his one song of creation.

And that if we ever stopped loving, really

stopped loving one another, then the world would

truly end suddenly and sadly with no warning at all.

This is why Christ gave us his two greatest

commandments, and Buddha taught compassion,

because they knew and wanted us to know too.

As long as one single person remembers how

to love and forgive anew each morning, like a child,

then the world is saved again and again.

Each morning becoming a new creation,

as God’s Holy Spirit moves across the waters

of our life, and we find our way home to Eden.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Hear what our Lord Jesus saith: 

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments
hang all the Law and the Prophets.   Matthew 22:37-40

Book of Common Prayer - The Holy Eucharist Rite One 


Monday, May 3, 2010

Saying Yes to Jesus (Waiting with an Expectant Heart)

Luke 1 (21st Century King James Version) – Annunciation and Magnificat

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  28 And the angel came in unto her and said, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women."  30 And the angel said unto her, "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God.  31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name JESUS.  32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David,  33 and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."

46 And Mary said, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.  48 For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name.

Saying Yes to Jesus (Waiting with an Expectant Heart)

It’s the Christmas holiday season again Jesus.

Help us to know that it’s all about saying yes to you Jesus,
isn’t it; as your mother Mary said yes to God?

And it’s all about learning to share your love with others
and learning to wait for your coming
with an expectant heart.

How can we find the strength within ourselves
to give you that yes Lord?

Every day we wake up and there is always one more
thing that someone has added to our long list of
things to do, and the holiday season only
makes it worse you know.

Here we go again Lord, off to buy our families’ things
they can’t seem to live without; our spouse the
newest iPod, or our children the latest video game.

We rush around during the week and the weekends far
too much and far too fast to even hear
the announcement of your coming birth.

It’s a wonder we don’t miss Christmas Day in the rush of it all.

This year Jesus, will you please help us to slow
down and hear the angels singing?

Will you help us to hear the announcement during Advent
that you, the long expected one, are
coming now?

Will you help us to wait with expectation?  Emmanuel – “God with us.”

Will you help us Jesus to see that now, here deep inside our hearts,
not tomorrow, but now; now is the time of your second coming
and that if we blink too fast we’re going to miss it all Jesus,
we’re going to miss it all.

And when Christmas comes, will you help us to hear the sound
of your voice crying as a baby and the sound of
angels in heaven proclaiming that birth?

Will you help us once again to understand the miracle and
mystery of your birth and what your birth actually
means to a world broken by sorrow?

Will you help us to say yes to God, our Father, as Mary said yes?

Will you even help us to give birth to God’s love within ourselves,
as Mary waited so long to give
birth to you in the little town of Bethlehem?

Will you please help us Jesus to feel and come to know the
holiness of this holiday season, from
Advent to Epiphany, and beyond?


Ron Starbuck

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Which or That

I’ve almost always
preferred the word Which
over That.

I know it is in
writing a most
grievous sin

causing all sorts
of confusions and confessions
again and again.

So, I’m wondering once more, again.
Why I wish for Which, instead of That
and that is simply, well, and you know what

I’m going to say next,
don’t you, instead of,
Just That!

If we could all be clever, beyond
all telling, then one would
think that we could invent a new

Word, for both, like
‘Wthat’ or ‘Twhich’
Or even ‘Whichthat.’

And let all of us pick
one or another, of course
that leaves us where we started.

So, I’ll stay this old and weary
argument, at this, or is it That?
Tell me simply, which one to use.

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

If you are still confused, please go to this page on which and that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sadie Lin

Sadie Lin  -  Sadie Lin  -  Sadie Lin
Is coming, she is coming today
She is almost here you know
She is coming with a

Host of angels from heaven
Above, and will be guarded
And loved by a host of angels
Here on earth, and her name

Means wondrous beautiful loving child
Princess of light and love, and
She will have the smallest
Of hands and feet

With fingers and toes to match
And ears and nose and eyes to
Hear, and smell, and see this world
We call the earth and love so dearly

She will come smiling into the world
As God smiles on us all
With her mouth wide open
With a great cry and a shout

To let us all know that she has
Arrived, and she will arrive as a blessing
A blessing of love and a blessing of joy
Her eyes will reflect the stars of heaven

Her breath will be as sweet as heather
Her cries a sound to mark
The brightest passing of life
From the heavens above to earth itself

She will change the world forever
She will change your world and our world
She will rock the world with her
Very body and being

Even though she is one of
The smallest of creatures
To be born on God’s
Good earth today

And she will bring with her
The brightest visions of heaven
And a new love, unknown before today
Because this is the day of her birth

Because this is the day of her birth
And the world has taken note
Of the miracle of life, of how this
Gift of life always calls out to life

While all of creation waits
With bated breath, to see
Her grow day by lovely day
Into the graciousness of God

Into the fullness of Sadie Lin

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Sadie Lin Meek was born Saturday morning, May 1st, at 10:25. She is absolutely precious. She weighs 8 lbs. even and is 20 inches long.  Mother and child are both doing great.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Beginning in the first moments

after the Sufi poet Rumi was born

pieces of him over time, began

dissolving into all the elements of earth

like sugar in water, and to this very day

he is with us still, we breathe his breath

in the air, we taste his words

in food grown from our good earth

we find the essence of his verses

floating like seeds of light

locked inside the molecules from his

body and being in the very water we drink

his verses when spoken out loud

are an invocation to the Holy Spirit

they ripen us like wheat

for a harvest of the heart

his words are written inside the chambers of our

hearts like a holy sacrament, he who searched for

God the beloved, or Allah if you wish, in church

and shrine and mosque, to find him finally

tucked inside the pocket of his own heart

can we as Christian, Jew, or Muslim

do any less, to bring an everlasting

peace unto the world, to be as one

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Luke 11:33-34 (21st Century King James Version)

"No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they that come in may see the light.  The light of the body is the eye. Therefore, when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light.”

Matthew 6:21-22 (21st Century King James Version)

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  The light of the body is the eye. If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vassar Miller

Ah, Vassar, tell me that it
was only yesterday and
not twenty five years
ago nearly.

When we were sitting
in your living room together,
while you listened to me
reading my first poor verse.

I loved our time together then,
drinking Coca Colas in six once bottles, you with
a plastic straw because that was easiest. Sucking
up life as much as you could with quiet desperation.

And I loved how your little dog
Cricket, would look at us
with the kindest of eyes,
knowing how good the company

was for us both. He was wise in dog
years and understanding then, as I loved
how he reminded me too of Toto from
the Wizard of Oz. Which was always

more than appropriate, since to the
world you were and are still
a wizard with words, spinning out
verse like golden threads and

weaving together each phrase
carefully and thoughtfully as if
they were made of fire and light
that could both burn and enlighten our minds.

You taught me how to listen, oh so
carefully, haltered as you were
in your speech, grinding out each word
with such loving labor, milling them down

to the finest of flour. I could see how
quick your mind moved, and how slow
the words would come falling out of your mouth
frustrating you beyond measure.

Still, you continued, the work was
that important, wasn’t it? Passing on
whatever you could from one
generation to the next.

If heaven is as bright and wonderful as we
wish, then my wish is for you is to be an
angel of verse, whispering in our ears a word or
two that will continue to heal the world.

Our world needs such healing still, we need
words that will lead us into the deepest
places of our being, where the stillness
waits with compassion and wonder.

Pain was your steady companion
all your life, and you faced loneliness
each single day, like a back pew Christian
no one notices entering into God’s holy house.

And yet, I suspect now, with your many tongues untied,
that you are shouting out verses across all
the heavens. Stitching together lines like sutras
and weaving together a tapestry of brightness

and light, that causes all of creation to take note
of you, and your voice. You have come home you know.
You have come home to the cradle of Christ, holding
the Incarnate Word like an infant close to your heart.

You who loved words and poetry so well, and spoke
with eloquence I am still grasping for now. I wish
your words would enter my mouth, spinning out again
and again a peace to repair the world.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

I first met Vassar Miller around 1987, when I signed up for a poetry writing class she held in her home on Vassar Street (named after her mother, Vassar Morrison), close to the museum district of Houston.  She lived in a small cottage, in a neighborhood that her father as an architect and builder helped to develop back in the 1930's.  

Vassar suffered from cerebral palsy.  Her body was bent and her speech broken, you had to listen to her very carefully to understand each word as it fell out of her mouth.  She attended both St. Stephen's Episcopal Church and Covenant Baptist Church in Houston, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  These two sacred communities were her lifelines to the world.  I took her to church once at St. Stephens, and she may have had some influence on me later becoming an Episcopalian.

The last time I saw her was in 1991 or 1992, when I stopped by her home just to say hello and to share a new poem.  She was always excited to have visitors, especially ones who were brave enough to share their poetry with her.  Life has this way of picking us and taking us on new journeys and new adventures.  I inevitably got caught up in my career at work and single life, until one day I met the woman I would one day marry.  So, sadly, Vassar and I lost contact with one another in her final years.  And that is something I still regret to this very day.  Still, she taught me a love of poetry, her poetry especially; instilling in me a desire to write good poetry.  Here I am years later, in another life outside the corporate world, trying my best to do exactly that and to write good poetry.

I like to think that she is smiling at my efforts and cheering me on still, as she once did when we first crossed each other's path.  My experience of Vassar as teacher and mentor was one of great patience and gratitude.  Not so much from me, although I was, but from her.  She loved the company and the chance to interact with others, to build relationships, for her that was a true blessing.

If you would like to read some of the work of Vassar Miller, here is a link that will take you to several of her poems.


Wiki link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassar_Miller

One More:  http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0005&article=000531

A Vassar Miller Reader
Adam’s Footprint. The New Orleans Poetry Journal Press, 1956.
Wage War on Silence. Wesleyan University Press, 1960.
My Bones Being Wiser. Wesleyan University Press, 1963.
Onions and Roses. Wesleyan University Press, 1968.
If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1974.
Small Change. Wings Press, 1976.
Approaching Nada. Wings Press, 1977.
Selected and New Poems, 1950-1980. Latitudes Press, 1981.
Struggling to Swim on Concrete. The New Orleans Poetry Journal Press, 1984.
Despite This Flesh. University of Texas Press, 1985.
If I Had Wheels or Love, Collected Poems. Southern Methodist University Press, 1991.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Parousia (Divine Presence)

how do you imagine it may happen
will it come all at once, suddenly
as so many say,
with the echo of Gabriel’s trumpet sounding

through the ears of all humanity?
have you ever anticipated
what you may be doing, at the moment
when Christ comes again

or is the Parousia something else
altogether, a newness of the spirit
we have never thought of before
something we can envision

and embrace even now
beyond all expectation, surprising
in the soft gentleness of its coming
O Lord, I have often imagined

Christ’s Second Coming
as something more than we may begin
to comprehend in this weary world
a binding of the Incarnate Word to

our soft flesh and hard bone
the inner meaning of God’s
deeper Word opening up within
the most vulnerable places

of the human heart
as tenderly and as wholly as a rose opens
under the warmness of sunlight
Christ is the rose then

blooming with brightness
filling us up with a newer light
a revelation if you will
an enlightenment even, that

welcomes him as this Second Coming
O Christ, let the Advent
of thy Second Coming
come upon us all like a great brightness

opening our hearts to your Word
the Word made flesh, this is what
we find in the celebration of the
Eucharist, the Great Thanksgiving

where you come to dwell in each of us
and we in you, and we in you

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Healing Hymn (for Kylene)

this is a poem, a healing hymn
a prayer most especially
for a friend with breast cancer

a reader and writer of books
a teacher of teachers, of many children
a wife and a mother of two

it is a prayer not just for her
but for all the women
who have struggled, again and

again with breast cancer
my aunt was one of them
and yet she lived a long and full life

generous in spirit
generous in love
generous in hope

there is a healing
there is a healing
there is a healing

I say this three times now
that we may all join in
it is a healing

of the heart, of the body
it is a deep healing
of the spirit and of the soul

it is a healing found, through
the compassion we give to others
to those we love and even the stranger

this is my prayer
this is my prayer
this is my prayer

I say this three times too
pray it with me, pray it
out loud with a strong sure voice

let the light of God’s love
the love within you each
be joined to flesh and bone

let such a love
enter into every cell and organ
let it rush in passionately and fully

through every vein and artery
through the blood and heart
down deep into every molecule

into genes and DNA
healing each single one
filling them with a light

a light of healing
that repairs the body
and transforms the soul

let this be a healing hymn
a hymn of praise and wonder, one
that echoes throughout creation

let this healing be the next
great thing, let these words
and thoughts shape such a reality

and teach us all, of the
infinite possibilities of love
found in life, the blessing of life

let life call out to life
and love call out to love
let it be so, always

this is my prayer
this is my prayer
this is my prayer

I say this again, three times three
pray it with me please, sing it
out loud with a strong sure voice

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Here is a link to Kylene's blog, where she is sharing the story of her journey.  If you read this please say some prayers and send some healing thoughts.

As of Tuesday, 4-21-10, Kylene has been told by her medical team that she is 100% cancer free.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life is a Conversation

more than anything

life is a conversation

a coming together

of all our longings

a youthfulness of

knowing and being known

are you ready

for the next step

are you ready

to speak up, to sing out loud

with the voice of a

mockingbird, whose brightest songs

are spiraling out joyful threads

of light, mending together

the deepest sorrows

of the world

are you ready

to speak up, to listen to

a single child’s

cry of loneliness, or

an old gray haired woman’s

gay laughter, do you know now

how to look and to see

how the thread of each thought

leads you inevitably to

the next moment of your life

there is gathering

within me a great gratitude

of the earth (and all she teaches)

in these

early morning hours

when the world is

stillness itself

when unspoken words

begin forming the day

it is in these moments

of sanity where I begin

realizing the salvation

found in silence

I am the stillness then

singing out loud

from the quiet depths

a song which marks

the bright passing

of the self into the

world, becoming its own

kind of blessing, as the

earth breathes in once more

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

For The Sake of Ten (A Poetic Midrash)

once a long time ago, I can't really
say how long, a man and his wife
welcomed three strangers

by the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron
and in true hospitality prepared a simple
meal of milk and curds, with

bread and tender calf
and received in kind
a blessing of life

a promise of pleasure
and a son to come
too wonderful to believe

the woman when hearing this
laughed to herself and wondered
at such a marvelous claim

she (Sarah) who was old and barren of life
beyond all memory of delight, of
youth filled joys and sensuous nights

it was a promise kept, within a year
he who will laugh (Isaac) with joy
was born, as the Lord had spoken

then the story of the passing stangers
continues, and this may be my
favorite part of the tale to tell

when the three men passed on to leave
the man (Abraham of the Good Eye)
went with them for a while

only to question again and again
first for fifty, then forty five
then forty, then thirty

then twenty, and finally
for the sake of ten
righteous people

moved by his own sense
of justice, mercy
and compassion

he questioned the Lord of Hosts
as advocate, even in his fear he questioned
how can we do any less?

and yet, God who heard the outcry
was teacher here as well as judge
one who would know the truth

God invites such dialog
you see, he does not hide
he chooses to be engaged

and by doing so
seeks to guide us in
transforming our world

by the plains of Mamre
near Hebron, he came
giving birth to a nation

a people of God, chosen of God
through which all the nations of earth
will become blest

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Azaleas II

this year our azaleas                                     
have come late
right on time
on how you look at it

it has been a long winter
for Houston,
for me.

The azaleas
quiver in the air,
Like can-can dancers
their pink and fuschia skirts held high
their stamen legs kicking
corralling my attention
and beckoning me
to come closer
and inhale this solid mass
of buzzing blooms.

do you remember
that each flower has both
both male and female parts?
horticultural hermaphrodites.

there are two types of flowers:
imperfect and perfect.
the imperfect ones are always
either all male or all female
while the perfect ones
have both male and female parts.

Our azaleas are perfect.
Their silky magenta petals
Puff and sing their way through our home
revealing spring
in a chorus of floral angels.

Julie Macksoud and Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Julie Macksoud is an internet friend of mine who is at Colby College up in Waterville, Maine. We’ve been friends for quite a while now, since before Joanne and I were married in 1997. Our initial connection was due to Nanci Griffith, we’re both fans of Nanci. Julie was inspired with my original poem about our azaleas at home and came up with this lovely version that I wanted to share with folks. She asked me if she could revise it some, as a gift. At the end of the poem, I put her name first, because ladies should always go first, and because she did such a lovely job of adding something special to the poem, with a certain touch of femininity. It’s fun to look over the difference and a lesson for me, I say this humbly, in how to compose good poetry. I say compose, because writing poems is probably more like writing music, than prose. Although, I do think that well written poems and prose, can both call to mind the feeling of a well performed symphony.

I get impatient with myself or the poem at times, and rush too quickly into print and publication. Perhaps that has something to do with instant gratification, something we all suffer from these days. There is a lesson in that too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


this year our azaleas                                     

are coming late

or right on time

depending on how

you might want to look

at it all

it has been a long winter

a cold winter

here at home

I love the colors

they give off

floating there

in the air, like

can-can dancers with

their skirts held high

their stamen legs kicking

freely into the secret

spaces of our hearts

do you remember

that each bloom has both

both male and female parts

stamen, anther, filament (male)

pistil, stigma, style, ovary, ovule (female)

then petal and sepal (shared)

and did you know that

there are two

types of flowers

imperfect and perfect

the imperfect ones are always

either all male or all female

while the perfect ones

have both male and female parts

I’m happy to report that

our azaleas are perfect, and I wonder

if this is not some hint from God on how

we are to each reach godly perfection


you should also know that we have

the bright pink and deep fuschia

electric magenta ones, whose colors each spring

sing through our home, a chorus of brilliant angels

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Falling the Third Time

Jesus falls again, for the third time

the dark skin of his hands and knees

raw and broken

blinded by blood

from the torn flesh of his brow

still, he moves on

so that we may be forgiven

loving us that much

A final kenosis, embracing emptiness

emptying himself completely, his blood

poured out upon the streets

of Jerusalem, for you, for me

this is what I want to know from you now

when will we do the same for one another

and I know you may say that it isn't needed

but I tell you that it is, at least in our hearts

we must learn again and again, how to die

for the sins of the world, how to give birth

to Christ's compassion, if the Resurrection

is meant to mean anything at all

we too must walk

the same hard and bloody road

through Jerusalem, as did Jesus

his road to our forgiveness

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010