"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, January 31, 2010

Trinity Jazz Fest

Trinity Jazz,
I know you’ve heard that
some like it hot, and some like it cool.
But, how do you like your jazz?

Can you imagine it at all,
as Hot, Cool, and Holy too?

Another Trinity of sorts,
where the music sends and
lifts you to jazzy
states, sublime in the divine.

Can you imagine J.C. on piano or
tenor sax, transcendent, banging and blowing out
the clearest and cleanest notes
you ever heard?

With the Archangel Gabriel,
trumpet in hand, snapping his fingers and
cheering him on, saying “blow Jesus blow,”
sounding out notes, both high and low.

This is no prelude to the
last judgment I’ll gladly say,
but rather a celebration and an awakening,
a call to holiness and to life here and now.

This is a prayer, a mighty invocation of the Holy Spirit
who comes dancing through the air
and spinning into our ears, setting the
hearts of God’s chosen people a flame.

Here is salvation and enlightenment,
wrapped up in each single note
blowing through the sanctity
of the human spirit, tuning up our souls.

Here is a voice to set us on
fire, a personal Pentecost
if you will, from which we are moved
to transform the world.

Here is God, stretching out arms
so wide and loving, gathering and embracing
us all into one musical arrangement, in a sacrament
of spirit and sound.

A blessing of blessings in every note.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

the thing about gravity

the thing about gravity

as we all know so well

is that it grounds us to earth

as an absolute truth

just ask newton

who was knocked on the head

and who dropped an apple

time and time again in wonder

and yet

the bright spaces within us

the places already

filled with God's light

and the clear transparent air we

breathe, calls to us each

calls us in spirit

to stretch out widely

to spread our wings

and take flight

from morning till night

until we rest from our labors

even our dreams

are lessons in flying

feeding flights of

our imaginations

you may not think so

but we are meant to

fly and fly and fly

and fly again and again

beyond all possible

worlds and realities

yes, we are meant to fly


Go   Go   Go

and spread your wings

take flight

into the highest heavens

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When I Was a Boy

when i was a boy

it was easy for me to imagine

living the cowboy life, like John Wayne

somewhere in Kansas

which is where i was born and mostly raised

or even further out west among the mesas and cactus

southwest of home by only a few hundred miles

my imagination ran rowdy in those days

we lived in the far suburbs of Kansas City

but on the close edge of a cultivated countryside

where small farms and ranches

were stretched and scattered between subdivisions

creeks and streambeds were our favorite play fellows

they were the wild companions and places of our childhood

and of my heart i believe still

there was a small field i once walked by on occasion

where two horses grazed, and where

i would often stop to say hello, they weren’t shy at all

about galloping up to the fence, anxious for me

to pet their broad foreheads and dive deeply into the

the black pools of their pupils

where sunlight and stars floated forever

speaking out loud with a neigh and a nod

whispering horse sense to my ear

my maternal grandfather and grandmother were farm folk

all their life, wedded to the land and the changing seasons

the rhythm of their lives guided

by the movement of earth and moon

and Sunday morning church at St. John’s Lutheran

where relatives and neighbors gathered weekly, some still do

i can still see my grandmother’s face and her secret smile

like Mona Lisa’s, knowing more than any child may imagine

and her soft loving eyes, wise with wonder for the world

her hands bent with arthritis, but never a complaint

as she snapped snap beans for dinner

or kneaded dough for bread

i can still taste the delight of those farm days

especially the strawberries and shortcake in summer

vine ripe juicy tomatoes exploding with flavor

into the back of your mouth and throat

and i can still see my grandfather too, so clearly even now

his hands especially, so strong and so sure

calloused from years of work on the farm, but so very gentle

i can remember as a small child, crawling up on his lap

as he sat in his rocking chair by a pot bellied stove, truly

and how he held each of us in turn,

all his grandchildren, joyfully patient

eyes twinkling like some dime store Santa

even though he was bald and beardless

wearing blue jean overalls with

brass buttons and snaps we’d play with

there was no safer place in the entire world you know

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Pays a Visit

Early this January, winter paid us a visit
in Southeast Texas, quite cold for southern folk
as you may imagine,
temperatures plunged well below freezing to
some twenty two degrees or less overnight.

Literally landing on our door step
where several large terracotta pots sit on a side porch,
nursing delicate yellow and white pansies
along with purple kale.

Each plant wilted and drooped for days afterwards
and then by some miracle of nature
or divine design
came back, resurrected if you will
as healthy and wholehearted as before.

There was no fear of death
or dying involved
just life calling out to life, life does that you know
life calls to life and in doing so
makes death a terrible liar.

On warmer days you may
often see a squirrel or two
digging in our pots upon the porch,
to deposit or withdraw
some small treasure they have buried there,
cheered on by the local mockingbirds
and our dogs of course.

Who worry so, barking away at the window,
aching in their bones
to rush out the door
and chase their tormentors back up a tree.
Oh, how they do go on
with their antics and agitations.

Death may be long, forever even
or not perhaps,
but life I think is stronger still.
Life is always calling us back to life,
even back from death,
life belongs to life.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eternal Life

If you believed
  if you really believed, in eternal life
    what would that mean?

I think it would mean
  that you live each moment of your life now
    fully aware, completely awake, without hesitation

I think it would mean
  that you see the world as it is
    without a veil or tinted glasses

An echo of each single thought
  flowing from a mind far too busy, to stop
     and to see, the wonders of heart beat and breath

The wonder of relationships, and how each one,
  forces us to find the other in our truest self, to see that we
    are not two, or three, or four, or more, but one body

Flesh bound to flesh, bone grafted to bone
  organ paired to organ, rib joined to rib
    neuron matching neuron, our DNA dancing together  

I think it would mean
  celebrating each day as a Great Thanksgiving
    a Eucharistic feast, hosted by God in top hat and tails, smiling

As we each smile back.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Poets of Creation

a friend once told me
    that each artist must
        develop a new language

this is true of poets too
    words are more than words
        as thoughts are more than thoughts

the power of poetry
    comes through how each
        word turns into a subtle reality

if I am to understand
    the mystery of creation
        then I think it is found

in the pain of others
    in their own humanity and inability
        to release themselves from desire

and to learn the language of poetry
    to grasp it so fully and so completely
        that they then become someone beyond themselves

they become a vessel of light and compassion
    a torch burning brighter and brighter
        a gentle flame moving from sun to sun

lighting up the visible universe (28 billion light years in diameter)
    and beyond, becoming starlight that travels and bends
        beyond all the distant horizons of time

creating new realities, infinite in scope
    our imaginations can do that you know
        as our lives move in a motion of poetry

becoming the first poem ever spoken by God
    as such a poem God uses us to make and sustain creation
        we are the poet and the poem out of which each moment arises

                                                                              Ron Starbuck
                                                                              Copyright 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Trinity of Thoughts


God’s Holy Spirit travels upon each breath we breathe,
Breathe deeply my friends, breathe deeply.
With each breath, let light spread inside yourself,
As morning spreads in luminous waves across the heavens at daybreak.
Or as light refracts through the prism that is ourselves,
Revealed in rainbow spectrums brilliant with primary colors.
Mirroring the mind and thought and vision of God
As that vision pierces the mystery found in a human heart,
To fully comprehend each isolated soul.
And where we, we who are born from a word
Spoken from a tongue flaming with divine desire,
Become the intention and the passion and the sparks of creation
Meant to maintain and give birth beyond all measure.

Breathe deeply, and between each breath we breathe
Illuminate each passing whim and desire
Rushing unclearly through the mind,
With a radiant ray of transcending light,
Holding it there with calmness,
Until we discover the miracle in a fleeting moment.
To see with such a clarity, that we may arrive knowingly
Where the stillness of heaven begins and time is born,
From the emptiness of creation before thought is formed.
Let each thought like highly polished seeds, suffuse our hearts with joy
And bloom as a rose blooms with a radiance brilliant as a diamond, overflowing with
Wisdom and compassion, shaping our deeds and actions
To help repair and redeem a world broken by sorrow,
As God redeems the world through a divine word who dwells in us.


God’s Holy Spirit travels upon each breath we breathe,
Breathe deeply my friends, breathe deeply.
Let God’s sacred breath blow upon us and
With each inward breath we breathe feel light
Pour inside the body as a balm poured from the hands of God,
Ardent with anticipation, filled with love
From crown to foundation,
Clearing the mind.
Let light stream through
Every nerve and vessel

Flowing up and down the spine,
Transforming the cosmic dust of our souls
Into unimagined colors,
Shimmering across galaxies unending
In a universe of infinite possibilities.

Where illumination composes consciousness,
To expand from there,
Like the swelling of a symphony.
Entering each cell and organ,
To dance with luminous precision
Through nucleus, chromatin
Genome and DNA, renewing life itself.
Breathe in the breath of God,
Being and becoming children of the Most High,
Holding the light of a new creation
In the palm of their healing hands.


God’s Holy Spirit travels upon each breath we breathe,
Breathe deeply my friends, breathe deeply.
With each outward breath feel energy spring
From the stillness of creation, 
Rising up through the silence
To encircle and enclose ourselves
Like coronal auroras surrounding the heavenly stars,
Reflected in the eyes of a thousand angels gazing into
A calm dark sea above a midwinter’s sky.
Witnessed by constellations beyond counting
Dancing across the deepness of space.

May the breath of God’s Holy Spirit rush in with a mighty force
To guide and fill us with such an illumination.
Let God’s righteousness be laid upon us
Layer upon Layer, Light upon Light,
Becoming vessels made from the dust of creation,
Fired with passion, filled with compassion.

O Lord, as such a people,
As a people born in the baptism of your Holy Spirit, and
As people shaped by thy Word.
Let us enter into thy Heavenly Kingdom
Here on this earth, at this time.
In this place where we learn,
Not only of love, but how to love.
And let your love grant us the courage and strength
To transform this world,
Filling it with thy justice and peace for all people,
Everywhere, Forevermore.
O Lord, help us to make …. “Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Amen.

Ron Starbuck
Copyright 2007

Hannah's Smile (For Hannah who is wondrous gift of God)

Hannah has a smile,

Hannah has a smile,

Hannah has a smile

as wide as the world!

When Hannah smiles, she smiles with the

smile of God.  Hannah all by herself

is a perfect reflection of all creation.

(Bright with heavenly promise.)

Hannah is her own heaven,

a heaven of playing, and laughter.

A heaven of running and  

gleeful (soul-filled) squeals spilling

out of her whole being.

Hannah’s smile is an infinite

smile arresting all sense of time.

Hannah’s smile makes time stand still

and angels bow with grace.

Hannah’s smile is a healing smile that

heals a tender heart.

Her smile is a joyful smile, boundless

beyond all measure, that

fills you with the delight of life.

Hannah is a heaven of kisses, of

small hands and feet

and gentle hugs

and arms to hold you tight with love.

Hannah is the love of two people

falling in love (always, may they fall further still)

who brought her (as God’s astounding gift)

into this world.

As a blessing for you,

and for me, and

for all the earth to see.

Ron Starbuck

Copyright 2010

Hannah, just so you will know, is my great niece.  The daughter of my niece Heather and her husband Darryl who live in Houston, Texas.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Person Who Is Awake - A Christian comments on the Dhammapada and the Psalms

The Person Who Is Awake
has conquered the world.
How can they lose the way
who are beyond the way?

Like Christ and the Buddha,
like all enlightened people,
their eyes are open and
their feet are free.

Who can follow after them?
The world will not claim them
or lead them astray,
nor the poisoned nets of desire hold them.

They are awake.  They are awake.
They find joy in the stillness of
prayer, contemplation, and meditation
and in sweet surrender to the Lord of Hosts.

They seek the highest consciousness.
They are free from fear.  They are free to live.
They live in joy and in love.
They find their joy in love.

They live in compassion and loving-kindness.
They look within and are still.
They become still to know the Lord
and are renewed with a right spirit.

They are still, and know the Lord.
They are exalted with humility.
The Lord of hosts is with them.
They find refuge in the Lord.

They are washed clean,
whiter than snow.
Their flesh and bones, once broken,
are made whole.

Behold, they have found Thy truth
in the deepest and inward places of themselves.
Through these hidden places
they have come to know Thy wisdom.

With a quiet mind
they open their hearts to compassion
feeling the joy of the Lord's way.
They are delivered.

They are saved, and sing aloud
of Thy righteousness Lord.
Their broken hearts and spirits
are healed and made whole.

They rejoice.  They rejoice.
Because they have seen the Truth
of Thy word, from the very beginning of time.
They rejoice, in seeking your pleasure Lord.

They arise. They arise.
And all about them the earth changes.
Compassion rules their actions.
Their hearts are open to one another.

They abide in love and
are known by the Lord.
They help to heal the earth
and to restore Thy people to Thy ways.

They have found that we are one.
They have discovered we are all Thy people.
They rejoice in righteousness and
offer themselves before Thy holy altar.

Thy Holy Spirit dwells once again within Thy people. 

Ron Starbuck

January 2010

I will not try to claim a proper copyright on these verses, I could not, since all are based on my interpretation of scriptures and translations taken from both the Old Testament Psalms (46, 48, 51) and the Dhammapada (14, 15, 26) one of the earliest masterpieces of Buddhist literature, ascribed to the Buddha himself.  It is surprising easy to combine verses and ideas from these two sacred scriptures.  This is essentially what I did by reading each one back and forth, which was part of the creative process.  Some verses however are completely new, ones I added, inspired you might say by the Holy Spirit, or at least by my seeing how closely they align to one another.

There are several different sources and translations of both the Psalms and the Dhammapada found on the internet.  For the Psalms, I used the 21st Century King James Version found on the BibleGateway.com site.  For the Dhammapada I drew heavily upon the 1993 translation completed by Thomas Byrom, which I found to be the most appealing, straightforward and easiest to read for a Western mind.  On Wikipedia, there are several different sources for the Dhammapada, which I would encourage you to explore on your own.

In exploring both Judeo-Christian and Buddhist concepts about God and the divine, many scholars will agree that they each conceptualize God quite differently.  They both begin in different places, within a specific historical, linguistic, and cultural context that goes back thousands of years.  As the world we know today grows smaller and smaller and as ideas fly at the speed of light across a worldwide internet, we are all challenged to re-imagine our relationship with the divine in new ways.  Many people believe that God is changeless, and I would agree that this may indeed be true, but it also seems that creation itself is constantly changing as is one moment from the next.  If God is endless, has "no end", is "unending", in which "there is no end"; if God is boundless, has no "boundaries;" if God is "ineffable;" if God is more than the Alpha and the Omega of all creation; is not all of creation and how creation is changing, also contained within God, as in Panentheism?

I have intentionally used the word Lord, instead of God in the verses above, because the word Lord seems more intimate to me and can be widely applied to different religious and cultural concepts about the mystery of God and the path to enlightenment or salvation. But, in nearly all cases it also refers to a meaning of a monotheistic God, as in the Lord God Almighty, and the Lord of Hosts to put it into a more traditional Judeo-Christian conceptualization.