Friday, September 7, 2007

Feline Testemonial for Humanity

He was standing over the saw finishing a cut and didn’t immediately notice me walking toward him. His hermitage, built twenty years or so ago, is in the midst of a remodeling, getting a second story. I stood still for a few moments admiring his handiwork while watching him in motion. It’s a labor of love and it shows in his movement, in his work—focused, intense, flowing.

The sweat beads up on his brow but he doesn’t look uncomfortable. The sun, speckling the forest floor, lights a glistening strand of moist graying hair that falls in tight ringlets framing his face. He senses someone’s presence and turns to face the direction of the intrusion. His face explodes into a smile as he notices me standing there. And the bluest eyes I have ever seen sparkle in recognition. “How are you?” I ask, “How’s the project going?”

“Hey neighbor,” he grins, “I’m great and even better now that you’re here.” One gets the feeling every visitor is greeted in this way. It’s part of his nature. “What brings you here on this glorious day; are you staying at the center?”

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dog Fighting, Violence and Vick

Outrage won’t cover it; depravity won’t describe it. What possible joy or thrill can be derived from watching dogs chew on, bite and attack each other with the intent to kill? What kind of parent takes his youngster along to witness the “sport” of dog fighting? And why would someone who makes millions as a star quarterback with a National Football League team care about a $20,000 purse for his winning dog? Obviously it’s not for the money, then why is he involved in dog fighting? There can only be one reason—to satiate a sadistic appetite for blood sport and gore satisfied by watching animals socialized to tear each other apart and kill within an enclosed space from which there is no escape.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Looking Back" Anthology just released by the publisher.

A Kay Kennedy fan, I was honored when she chose some of my work to include in her new anthology "Looking Back- 1940-2005 History as seen through the eyes of those who lived it."

The book has just been released! You can read an excerpt and order the book at

I've read Looking Back and this book is rich with experiences lived by and chronicled in prose and poetry in Kay's new book.

When I was in high school and college the American history classes were stale and boring and involved a memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no life! I never quite understood how the professors could be excited about history! As chalk flew everywhere and teachers eyes shone and bodies became animated while recounting events of the past, I wondered "what was I missing?" Why didn't my imagination catch fire like theirs did; why did I feel I had to drag myself to class daily to listen to someone drone on and on about events that had no humanity, no connection, no magic?

World history managed to pique my interest with its fascinating cultural traditions, beliefs and diversity. How the world had unfolded, how humanity had developed, now that was exciting! I especially resonated with anything about ancient Egypt; I still do. In college and in seminary, world history and events were viewed through the eyes of human philosophy and myth. Now that made history come alive.

If only Kay's kind of book had been available back in high school... To re-live events through the eyes of someone actually living them in real time lends a rich mixture of energy, philosophy and myth-- it brings history alive. Wish someone had tried that methodology before.

I caught the excitement in what Kay was proposing and I submitted a few things having lived through some history that changed the world and the future and introduced the concept of peace as not just a way to feel, but a way to live upon the planet.

Monday, July 16, 2007

And the Animals Shall Teach Us


Publication: "Nature's Pathways" Magazine © 2007
A new way to live in the world is being birthed and a new awareness is dawning in the collective psyche and on the planet. Humans are becoming weary of the way things are and long for spirituality and wholeness in their lives evidenced by the trends toward naturalness, alternative healing and community. Penelope Smith calls it “God is on the move.” Penelope Smith is the author and “guru” of animal communication with 30 years experience in human-animal-nature bonding. There is definitely a link between animals, nature, wholeness and spirituality. Mahatma Gandhi once said “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way its animals are treated.”

Animals certainly stir passionate feelings in humans. That’s good news. The bad news is that not all of that passion is merciful. Think for a moment about all the ways that animals impact human life—as companions, experimental subjects for laboratory tests, farming, hunting, safaris, mass production of commodities, as food for human consumption, as pets, as service animals, as breeders and livestock, entertainment and movies. Now think about your personal relationship to animals. What we are learning as animal communicators in a “new” and popular field, is that animals too, have feelings. They feel, can be passionate, have opinions, love and sometimes exist to teach their human companions.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I Have Met the Soul In Passing

© Barbara Kaufmann 2007
I am in awe of the human body. It more than fascinates me. I can’t fathom the intelligence required for a biological mechanism to work in perfect synchronicity with multiple thousands, even millions of microscopic, cellular, hormonal, electrical, chemical, organic, and systemic decisions. How does a single organism make selections and movements in its best interest and on its life enhancing behalf continuously with dynamic accuracy and precision for twenty four hours per day 365 days per year over the average life span of about 77 years or more?

My fascination led me to study the brain and mind, to delve into psychology and to a practice in neurological, neuro-rehab, addiction and eventually psych nursing. I found the mind and psyche as fascinating if not more fascinating than studying the body.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Award Winning Short Story: Trading Faith With A Tibetan Monk

Togden (left)
First Place Award Adult Division "Everybody's Different" Unity in Diversity Short Story Contest 2000-2001 sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation

“Not so very cold here,” he said, still in shirt sleeve’s and appearing very comfortable in mid-October. It had been raining all day and I was bundled knees to neck.

“Yes,” I answered, “not like the Himalayas.” I thought about Mount Everest because it was my only reference for ‘the Himalayas’, about the climbers they had found after the disastrous 1996 expedition. Everest was so cold that the rescuers couldn’t even bury the corpses. The most they could hope for was that the later snows would respectfully cover their bodies. I suspected that even in Wisconsin winters, I could never know cold the way he knew cold—Himalayan cold.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Becoming a Writer was like...My God I'm Somebody's Mother!

They were sparkling souls-- those who encouraged, chided, leaned on, threatened and goaded me over the years. Wonderful mentors, professors and teachers showed up when the student was ready. They used whatever method worked at the time. But mostly they said one word: “Write!”

Thus the one word smith (One Wordsmith) born of the frustration (Write!) of “elders.”

I remember when my Art Teacher said to me, “You must practice saying ‘I am an artist’ until you believe it fully yourself.” (gulp) One day I just no longer choked out the words; they came out quite nicely. That was the day I sold my first painting.

I loved poetry, read a library of poets and began to write it. For the first few years, my musings sounded stiff and like a child’s hand had written them. Once again I tried the method that had worked for me. “I am a poet.” (double gulp) The first time I was published in an anthology, they called me to ask if I would read my work at a reception for the authors. Oh Nooooooooooo! Poetry was a performance art? Who knew! How to go from closet artist to public speaker? And a little voice said: “How much do you love poetry?” Geez.

And to this day, when something is published I feel like I did that day in the hospital when they handed me this squalling, pink, fragile little body wrapped in a blanket and I thought “Oh my GOD I’m somebody’s mother!”

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Matters Are Soul Deep Now

Publication: Healthy Thoughts (Summer 2007 Issue 42-7)
What does it mean to have “soul?” It’s hard to describe, isn’t it? But we do know it, don’t we? To have a meeting of the minds is significant toward cooperation and to have heart to heart communication is even better but what happens when we make a soul connection. Feel the difference? You can feel the difference when something is on a soul level. Mind to mind occurs on an intellectual level, heart to heart is with feeling and perhaps love, but a soul connection registers in your body. It happens on a very deep level.

If you check in with your body, it has a binary system, a kind of “field.” Your body does not know how to lie and it recognizes truth. It has an intelligence far beyond the mind or heart. This binary system will tell you “yes” or “no,” “off” or “on,” “good” or “bad” if something is soulful or not, and so on. It is a deeper knowing. You can feel into or simply know in order to discern whether something has soul or not. If I ask you which of something has more soul could you discern that? Ok, let’s play. Choose which has more soul…

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Memorial Day Doesn't Tell a War- for Somebody Who Once Wore It.

This poem was composed in 1992 at Highground*. It first appeared in Highground Newsletter and the Marshfield Herald. It was re-printed in the chapbook "We're ALL In This Together" and now reappears at One Wordsmith.

“Highground" is the name of a war memorial built on a hill outside Neillsville, Wisconsin. It is a typical bronze casting of soldiers in war but at the back of the monument is a rifle turned upside down (a symbol for peace and “war no more”) and a large set of chimes that ring through valley below with a stirring sound when the wind blows.

Highground is said to be a place of great healing for veterans and those who have been touched by war. You can visit * Highground virtually at


~for Somebody Who Once Wore It
I cry today the Memorial.
An empty wind
stirs chimes and hills,
echoes the flood plain
to Southeast Asia.

I smell a country,
taste a soldier’s fear
feel burning straw,
hear a twig,
a mother’s heart,
and a story break
on the six o’clock news.

Sculptured bronze
metal bodies
freeze time
and history
for a nation too easily
forgot the words
“never again.”

A national flag
snaps to attention,
salutes a lonely wind,
and unforgotten war,
a hypnotized people,
an uneasy belief
that a Persian Gulf
and fresh new war
can heal another.

It stings like yesterday
twenty-five years later.
A generation of peace
still missing in action,
the human race
still prisoners of war.

Flowers die,
war memories fade
for those who don’t touch it
but the green patch of cloth
placed on the ground
in the center of a Memorial Day wreath
speaks an authentic story,
tells a war.
A somebody once wore it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Poem.... A Poet Tries to Write 9/11

© Barbara Kaufmann, September 2001

I think I know
how the spider feels
when she spins a web
from the juice
of her own body.

Today, Nine Eleven,
there is no juice
only weary hollow bones,
thirsty tissues, a heart
that’s cracked and dry,
the only moisture
a mind that weeps.

When the heart of humanity splinters,
silence screams a land,
and a triage hunts for hope
anywhere alive,
the tightest dressing
is not enough
to stem the bleeding.

When a numbing mind
must caress the carnage
but dares not wander
too far into the gaping despair
for the fear of no return,
it searches for meaning,
gropes to understand
or even just find words...
people looks to poets.

There are some days
the flailing, the wailing
has no voice
nor can the poem.
Some days
the paper stares dumbstruck
and words won’t spill
or peaceably assemble.

In order to write it
the poet must inhale
allow her body
to span the essence
like Egytpian mother Nut,
absorb it to her core
hold it long and deep
like her breath.

Only then exhale the strands
weave them onto paper,
give dimension,
form the matrix,
birth its life and being.
For that she needs moisture.

Go in search of a spider,
watch her spin.
Listen for the wailing in the web,
see her body shudder,
know the sacrifice she makes
to spin such gossamer thread
attach it to the invisible
and hang by it suspended.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Hello and Welcome to...

One Wordsmith
Where you will find
  • A writer
  • A Poet
  • An Artist

in residence.

Writers write not because they want to but because to not write is, well, it's simply unimaginable.

"Spilling one's soul onto paper is either a very foolish or very courageous act; but then I've always loved the fool!" ~ B. Kaufmann

A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...