All The While…

relentless roil of thunder
reverberating through every layer,
every sigh and song of loss
reaching past and gently tumbling
all these walls fretting against fear.

weary feet follow the deep drumming
and hope’s heart skips beats all the while wondering,
all the while summoning some ancient reckoning.
love and courage beckon beyond the edge,
a plunge for those whose languishing days
are over…


photo by j. ruth kelly, 2017, all rights reserved

All Those Rivers

my feet find me here
on soil and dirt speaking some
long, unending drum
song sung before all
was lost to progress killing
the unfolding feel
of soul from earth revealing
love’s eternal work.

somehow the dance moves
me beyond the fall and fear,
bounty awaiting.
mind kneels to feel
and naked knowing births earth’s
song from depths ancient.

take me always back
to the animal and sage,
my feet drinking all
those rivers erupting earth’s
resonating love.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

What the Ice Storm Brings…

Four packed tightly under covers…eight feet gifting each other with warmth, one pair seeking another less warm, giving kind remedy; sharing space tangled up in an attic bedroom with no power but two candles and giggles and then sweet sleep in a hushed daylight filled with ice. Soft snores after a breakfast too big except for nothing else to do in a town coated in winter’s grasp.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

Then firelight and stove top sustenance, candles lit all over a house bathed mostly in shadow and cold but oh so warm. Games and face time, firewood and laughter, gathered ice for coolers salvaging what we can. Tallulah River stone soup for feet unaccompanied, gathering hot river gems up in cloth to carry up to bed, settling in for a night of no heat.


A renewed, stark, startling awareness of what conveniences pilfer,
their insipid gain robbing us of something only an ice storm can bring…
connection more profoundly felt, reliance more sweetly known.

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

Face time…
turning to the earth for protection…
appreciation for life’s turns less convenient
reminding us of treasure sometimes lost
in what we understand as wealth.

Maybe the earth conspires to remind us how vulnerable we are, both in our advancements and without them. And without our bonds of love, our shared space and renewed survival ability, we would wilt under a perpetually shining sun.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2014

Either way, there’s nothing like the pleasure of finding your kids will make, not complaint, but fun in the face of one more dance with winter’s whimsy.

Back Then…

Back then
when we dug in the dirt,
pushed seeds in and began again,
running to the rivers, streams,
waiting for the deluge ‘midst the hum
of thriving schemes,
back then we knew.

We knew earth.
We knew rhythm.
We knew the taste of sweat
and stains of pride
more clean than anything
these tall towers of
could begin to suggest.

We knew real.
We knew the best of feltness
and none of this,
none of this surreal
education machination
proclaiming prescribed “greatness”
in a gasp of inferiority screaming something wrong
wrong wrong
when never was there such.

Back then
when we heard the heavens cry,
thunder deep in our veins,
we were whole.


Tallulah Therapy

Eight days in Georgia trail behind me now but the water flows more surely within, winding a path of constancy beyond the landslides. The river bathed us in that abandon found when skin sings shock and joy in water barely warmed in summer’s pounding sun. We laughed in a circle of light and water less wily, floating, hair flowing out ahead, forgetting our differences, our past lives, the scars beneath. We followed my two sons in their quest for the sun’s lingering shine on a river we all love. Their little adventure ended in a place perfect where only the crippled and soul-dry weary walk away, a place where clothing soon becomes swim gear and all those fears of cold river wetness washing lose their grip as you sink, slip, melt into riversong. I can’t point to anything that redeems the loss between souls who no longer share the same beliefs. I can’t find any more ground to stand on with some. But. The river. It took us to the flesh of being, pure raw human wash in a flow no belief system or faith revision can devastate. Why do we leave our rivers, how is it we forget that abandon wily romp of washing human pride in the humble truth of skin baptized in river ride? Why do we shun river’s rippling cleanse? Why can’t we all carry such a place within us, into our daily lives, remembering our vulnerability, our humanity? Sink, slip, melt us all into wholeness…

Tallulah River 2011