Words to live by

However many holy words you read,
however many you speak,
what good will they do you
if you do not act on upon them?
Whatever words we utter
should be chosen with care
for people will hear them and
be influenced by them for good or ill.
Better than a thousand hollow words,
is one word that brings peace.
In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west;
people create distinctions out of their own minds
and then believe them to be true.
The way is not in the sky,
the way is in the heart.
A jug fills drop by drop.
Every human being is the author
of his own health or disease.
To understand everything
is to forgive everything.
In a controversy the instant we feel anger
we have already ceased striving for the truth,
and have begun striving for ourselves.
No one saves us but ourselves,
no one can and no one may,
we ourselves must walk the path.

This poem is written with the words of a man named Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha. I am not a Buddhist however if one were to internalize his words, they would change that persons life forever. It is that simple. May they bring you reflection and peace.

©2015, Donald Harbour

Morning in the South

I arose this morning –
the dawn silently tip toeing,
across the sleeping dark horizon.

Bare stark branches of trees,
gatekeepers of the coming day,
beseech the horns of Luna to stay.

Night has left behind diamonds
glittering, strung across the ground,
a gift for the coming spring.

Tendrils of fireplace smoke waft
with the musky clear, crisp air,
a ritual offering to the hearth.

Fluffy feathered birds chirp awake,
shaking the cold from drowsy beaks,
tenors tuning up for their work.

A distant hound speaks its mind,
announcing another glorious
morning in the American South.

This magical moment of wakening,
carries the heritage of time,
of past and present, of tomorrows.

It touches the soul, the heart,
with things that are gentle reminders
of what it means to be a Southerner.

 ©2015, Donald Harbour

What they have made me

Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, home of my Grandmother Elsie "Ferguson" Harbour's family.

Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, home of my Grandmother Elsie “Ferguson” Harbour’s family.

Awakening this morning
I am blushed with the dawn,
Standing at a frosty window
inhaling with an icy yawn,
Dogs are greeting the day
whining at the frozen grass,
You snug under the covers
my blonde blue-eyed lass,
I leave off my bathrobe
the cold good against my skin,
Feeling the call of forefathers
those Celtic Highlander men,
From deep in my sired soul
voices reach an open mental ear,
Guiding my footsteps in life
each day, week, month, and year,
There are others there to speak,
all from a far distant time,
Crafted by their ancient wisdom
knowledge carried in my mind,
I am grateful for their presence
for the things they let me know,
I am that which they have made me
a mosaic of my clan past tableau.

©2012, Donald Harbour

A Desert Passage

Long shadows cross the canvas floor,
A dying ember fades through the open door,
Evening breezes gather dusty lint,
Spell casting in this desert tent.

Trees grow not on the craggy rock,
Life here harsh and sorely mocked,
Amid distance bells of a tended flock,
The roosted cries of a guinea cock.

Taguella served on a wooden plate,
Butter, onions, dried tomatoes, a bit of date,
Green tea to drink the thirst to slake,
Settled in the dark of night to wait.

Overhead the universe show is displayed,
God’s infinite brilliant cosmic statement made,
A canopy of stars dream of Salamah bint Saïd,
The veil’s temptation of the flesh betrayed.

A woolen blanket safe and warm to share
Flesh to flesh, heart to heart bodies bare,
Emi Koussi sacred breath cools loves’ night air,
Inhaling the jasmine scent of kohl dark hair.

The cycle complete as the morning awakens,
Day beckons to return what night has taken,
Camp is broken and the blankets shaken,
Gourass and milk to the journey hasten.

There is a hole in the heart at leaving,
Women wail and men tear with grieving,
Ma’a salama, ila l-liqa’ – well wishes pleading,
No joy is found in the sight receding.

Copyright: 2008, Donald Harbour

The Feather

Magpies perched a craggy branch,
The canyon shimmered far below.
Mountain breasts of mother earth,
Dusted by spring’s last breath of snow.
The smell of the air was crisp and clean,
Ages carried upon a gentle breeze.
Ancestors chanted their sacred songs,
Verses rustled last autumn’s dried leaves.
There is a point in one’s dream quest,
Where the spirits meet together,
A council called to pass the pipe,
As a young man receives a feather.
In the twilight of the departing day,
Rose I to inhale this dreamer’s smoke.
To stand as a wondering fearful child,
A sapling to become a full grown oak.
Passed before me in ghostly dance,
The coyote – the buffalo, elk, and deer,
To remind me through this journey of time,
Life is carried on the point of a spear.
I felt the prick of a giant claw,
A mere touch of a talon upon my skin,
The Great Spirit ordered the eagle summoned,
To clasp my seeking mortal heart within.
Thus he held me in soaring flight,
Until the earth began to fade away,
He whispered to me among the gathered stars,
Then, returned before the first light of day.
The eagle grasped his mottled chest,
Plucked a feather and cast it to the air.
It floated over the canyons stony depths,
Landing in the dark below I knew not where.
He said, “The feather is but a symbol,
The path you take the feather’s flight,
As in the dark you slumber until dawn,
The feather is your path to light.”
He placed me in deep peaceful sleep,
Upon the rocky ledge where I began,
This timeless passage one must travel,
When, a boy attempts to become a man.
Awakening from the night dream sleep,
All creation called out my name.
I gazed about me with the sun’s first rays,
But the place I lay was not the same.
There was a melody of joy about the hills,
A crown of light over where I stood,
A feeling of knowledge and wonderment,
Of belonging, of feeling all that is, was good.
Raising my arms to praise the sun’s warmth,
I looked and saw a feather in my hand.
The Great Spirit’s voice echoed in my mind,
“Go my son, for now among the people – you are a man.”

Lost to Time

Amid the pounding –
Of the past’s distant rolling thunder,
Memories are shattering in a shower of tinkling glass.
These mirrors of our lives reflect –
Who we were,
Who we’ve become.

A glass menage –

A fun house of distorted images,

Forms warped by the very substance
Of tomorrows reflections.

Night’s dark shadows cast.
Lying flat upon the landscape of this moment,
This yesterday.
Sentinels of our passage
Toward the inevitable threshold
Of eternity.
Smiling on a fools errand
The soul reclines
Upon a promise of salvation.
There are times when
We feel lost in the cauldron of creation,
Walking into the fog of ones kismet,
Feet dragging to slow the step.
There is no stopping along the way,
A pause is movement
Facing destiny.
So we continue,
Our path littered with life’s sparkling gems,
The mist of existence surrounds us,
We pass and become lost to time.

©2009, Donald Harbour


Have you taken an inventory of your loves?
Which of them comes readily to mind?
Are there those you must ponder to remember?
Our memories are limited
By the moment of desire.
That which seemed love,
A mere channel,
A smokestack.
“I love you.”
I desire you – rather intensely,
I will add.
You churn my butter,
Make my juices flow,
Turn me on.
C’mon, let’s do it,
Preferably to each other.
Does that give you perspective?
Or, what of the real loves,
You know the one sided ones?
Most love is duplicity,
One sided I mean.
Those where you or someone presumed
Couldn’t make the cut.
What’s that line?
“I just don’t think this is going to work!”
Yowsir, yowsir, yowsir, step right up!
You have been dropped.
Or the real prize winner,
“I’ve met someone else.”
Then the codicil,
Wait for it,
“I didn’t mean to hurt you!”
Ahhhhh, perfection!
Damn decent of you, don’t you think?
Damn decent.
That’s called constipated reasoning;
Now put a little quiver in your voice.
Here we go one more time (quiver),
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Hell yes you did!
What you mean is you hope you haven’t screwed up.
Then there is the return
Of the prodigal mattress tester.
Most appropriately a month after,
“I’ve met someone else.”
Ring – Ring – Ring: “Hello.”
“Hey, it’s me. Can I see you; I mean can you meet me at Starbucks?”
“Hell no! Come on over now and strap me on.”
That’s real!
“Haven’t had any since last night, you’ll do!”
Why are we creatures of these habits?
Most of our little quips of love
Are learned responses.
We learn them to possess
Excuses for our personal
Deficit gymnastics.
All the psychologists,
All your best friends
Can’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.
You’ve cracked the egg,
Baked your tamale,
Plugged the port,
You are toast.
There is always tomorrow.