Wednesday, January 15, 2020



Before sunrise
silhouettes of peaks rear up
as high as any I’ve seen

At this altitude
the earth tilts toward sunlight
in seeming slow motion

Like the star it is
the sun appears white hot pulsating
between two aretes 

From where I stand
the peaks remain mysteriously untouched
by heat and light
cold and black as spent coals

I practice subjecting myself to paradox
neither accepting nor rejecting 
the light and the dark
of the sun and the peaks
the light and the dark
within me
letting Nature become

Copyright Diana Shellenberger 2020

Wednesday, October 23, 2019



The pious who make excuses 
for the sins of their leaders
must enjoy witnessing their anti-heroes
getting away with what
they themselves secretly dream of doing

All humans learn to be ashamed
but for some their shame metastasizes
into rooting for those 
whose shamelessness is mistaken for boldness

Rather than enjoying what they have
they spend their days worrying
about what will be taken away from them
as if all is earned and nothing is given

These idolaters appoint a stand-in for God
and rather than rising 
they fall
reasoning that if water can become wine
sin can become virtue
rather than something to atone for

For them words are boundaries
to keep out the strangers
doubt, forgiveness, connection, transformation

They do not acknowledge that words are also invitations
to grow in wisdom and equanimity

Their leaders say they didn’t know
they were doing anything wrong
but they would do it again

This is evil playing dumb

One may know the Bible
chapter and verse
without knowing
the difference between good and evil

Confusing the devil for God 
is a choice
a vulnerable world can no longer afford

Copyright Diana Shellenberger 2019
Art by poet/maker William Blake

Monday, June 10, 2019

Blank Pages

Blank Pages

Following every pattern change
every streaming color 
of the mind’s kaleidoscope
sends me into vertigo

I mistakenly believe I must be true
to these fluctuations
though I am no more obligated
to trace these shapes
than I am required
to color inside the lines

Five pelicans soaring
light as clouds
spiral their languorous way
to their friend floating in the lake

There is no preset midair path
no blinking lights to guide them

They are free to close the distance 
between them and their friend
any way they choose

They remind me I’m here 
to dream and create 
on the blank pages of this lifetime

Wednesday, February 13, 2019



Forgive me
for focusing on your demons
rather than my own

I have perfected the habit
of pointing to the splinter in your eye
while polishing the plank in mine

I confess 
I will do almost anything
for admiration
except for the actual work 
of earning it

Enlightenment is the end point 
of a process toward liberation
of removing what does not please the Maker
of bearing burdens patiently 
until I can shed them
and live in the light-ness

I don’t know
exactly how it’s done
but I’m open to guidance

I begin
by sliding from the driver’s
to the passenger seat

I receive 
rather than give direction

I stand corrected
rather than offering correction

I want 
to walk into the next world
demon free
without the weapons I carried into this one
without my woundedness
and its terrible power to inflict suffering

I want to be healed

Wednesday, January 30, 2019



The word resent is from a late 16th-century French word resentir, the prefix re- expressing intensive force, and sentir, the Latin word for to feel.

Somewhere between truth
and the stories we tell ourselves
is memory

Memory has its way
of distorting what happened
into being better or worse

I have a habit of replaying
my life’s most painful moments
re-feeling the resentment
the injustice

For some things cannot be fixed
They can only be borne
and are improved 
only through gracious acceptance 
of the lessons each event contains

My mother taught me
to take a bite of any food
whether I like it or not
because fussing over what’s put in front of you 
not only insults the Maker
it is ungrateful
and guarantees insatiability

You are not a baby
putting everything into your mouth

You have learned the difference
between poison and nectar
parasite and ally

Most of life is lived
between these extremes
and yet 
it is no less vivid

Greet each moment 
for what it has to offer
and what it might require of you

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Hygiene of the Spirit

The Hygiene of the Spirit

I don’t want to make war with you
I don’t want to make love with you

If I could I would
make peace with you

Like war and love
making peace takes two

I can
make peace within myself

I accept
my part of the failure we share
and not a morsel more

I displace
resentment and disappointment
with commitment to improvement
of the atmosphere 
within my heart 
and within my mind

I practice 
the hygiene of the spirit
sweeping up the bitter crumbs I can see
mopping away any residue
and polishing it to a high shine
and every day

Copyright 2019
Diana Shellenberger

Monday, September 25, 2017

Why We Kneel

Why We Kneel

When strong men kneel on their stage
announcing to the world their indignation
about the deaths of unarmed boys and men of color

People with white faces
wave their flags
and close their ears and their hearts

People with angry white faces tell them
their playing fields are neither 
the time nor the place
to bear witness to injustice

People with smug white faces tell them
there are better ways to protest
Even though every other way they protest--
sit-ins, street marches, the ballot box--
they are told there are better ways to protest

People with confident white faces
tell them there are better ways
to manage their anger
which would be funny
if their own failure to manage their own
wasn't so obvious

People with irritated white faces tell them
they used to enjoy watching football
before all the protests

The millions athletes of color and their talent earn
is not hush money

The current law of the land
[White Male] Citizens United
claims dollars equal free speech

Nowhere in the law does it say
wealthy athletes of color 
must not kneel
must not speak about injustice
must not speak
must let their playing speak for itself

People with white faces refuse to see
how you use your privilege
to continually change the rules
frame and reframe every dialogue
to suit yourselves

People with white faces want to make it about the flag--
a symbol--
and whether protesters pass 
your citizenship pop quizzes
and can pay your toll to the poll

You argue
that people of color don't teach 
their kids to respect authority

Their kids are mouthy brats
their words are weapons
and when they protest their treatment
death is too often their penalty

For the quadrillionth time--
If it sounds like I'm clean out of patience I am--
We protest
the killing of unarmed men and boys of color
and the guaranteed acquittal
of their uniformed murderers

Their deaths and their families' suffering are real
not a symbol in red white and blue

I kneel
with these strong men
not only to pray
for this country
OUR country
But to show the world 
what I cannot stand for