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Note:  The following poems are from Pamala Ballingham's book:

TRIBUTARIES: A Book of Poetry. You may share these poems, or any part of a poem found on this website, but any use, written, copied, sound-recorded, recited aloud or used by any other means must credit Pamala Ballingham as the author.

Women we

©2011 Pamala Ballingham

Women we -

moon weavers

and earth clay movers,

circle makers and

hunters of berries and cedar

for the winter fires,

wearing children on hips

like jewels in the storm.


Women we -

listeners for cries in the night,

believers in hope for the morning,

picking up the pieces

and the tent

and the tribe,

sweeping up the ashes,

and washing away the bitters.


Women we -


fending off the onslaughts,

suffering the tyrannies

with muscles of forbearance and

the resilience of spring,

keepers of the beauty way

in the ghostly freeze of winter.


Women we -

blood red with life,

pulsing with new flesh,

weaving the pod

and rocking the ancestors

with their new face to the wind,

painting in the eyes and filling out the tongues,

bracing for the circle arriving.

Women we -

seers of the inner world,

instinctive stewards with ears to the earth,

rooting out the stale and obsolete,

holding brave fingers to the steely wind,

knowing the shifts

before they arrive.


Women we -

patient when we must,

daring when pushed to the wall,

baring truth like lanterns in the night

until the silent turning when

the Great Wheel moves

to welcome back the sun

for another season of planting.

Women we -
wisdom keepers
of the seven directions,
collectors of sacred herbs
and fragrant singing stories
with grace like dancing waters, 
shining, shining,
dusting off the stars
so they won't go out.



Places Far Away

©2012 Pamala Ballingham


Have you seen

the splintered silver bones of pinon trees

scattered beneath thickets of late summer green

in places only drifters know,


places where the air is pure and velvet,

without walls, sometimes
not even the wind,

where silence moves

among great assemblages of trees

woven at the roots in vast familial webs,

calling you into rare and sacred spaces,
pulling you into the blue sage of the land


the kind old Utes once used

to brew medicine tea to clean festering wounds

suffered by lives torn from the land?


In gratitude for safe passage,
a small, desolate band

gave white buckskin gloves to Grandfather Albert,

massaged to perfection by worn-down, tired teeth,

the sacrificial gift the likes of which

we don't know anymore.


Have you seen

the splintered silver bones of piñon trees

scattered beneath thickets of late summer green

in places only drifters know?

Raven Song

©2008 Pamala Ballingham

Just before the blinding light of Essence

burst open the clenched fist of darkness,

emptiness waited in vast potential, and

as darkness reached its apogee,

Raven sang her wake-up-song.

It began as a shiver

and then rushed forth

in sparkling silver, stirring sounds

that formed a vortex with no edge,

moving and swirling in boundless winds

that poured out perfect rhythms

of expanding light, and

into this awakening,

Essence breathed,

creating illusions of in and out,

black and white,

now and then,

here and there,

and the great jewel of paradox was born.

Everywhere was nowhere 

and each arising became a diamond speck

amid the seamless heart

of the whole.

In dream time,

Raven's song rises

to sing the great nameless cycles -

where endings are the set points of beginnings,

where the call of demise

transforms our rare and precious journeys

back to spring.

How Can I Say I Love You

©2010 Pamala Ballingham

How can I say

I love you

when you are not a thing,

nor is love?

Oh, indefinable, diaphanous love,

we try in vain to hold it in our hands

like water, but

back to you.

You who are more like the velvet pulse

of a living wing,

a process, mysterious, elusive,

that I observe

still unfolding

within the circle of my heart.

I see you now

as juicy movement,

a shimmering light

living just beneath the mask,


ultimately unknowable,

an incandescence

of something grander

breathing on the other side -

a song shivering along a string,

a wave moving through space,

moving through my skin,

moving me to feel lovingly

that you are.

Tea Ceremony

©2008 Pamala Ballingham



purity, and


begin on this quiet Sunday afternoon

under a monsoon-seasoned sky just off the garden,

as water boils in a song, and

macha is sifted and piled high like Mt. Fuji rising

in the black-lacquered natsume.

Delicate crowns of pink and orange lantana

tilt gracefully in the humble vase,

and incense sends a languid trail

that shivers slightly,

then pivots sideways,

and right itself again,

revealing invisible currents

meandering skyward,

leaving spicy traces

of woody quiet places.

Steaming water

sends clouds into waiting tea bowls

with red silk fukusa



in slow legato -

a precisely paced 

choreographed dance

of chawan, 


chakin and chashaku

in genteel motions

echoing the ancient ritual, tethered to now,

in plays of clay, water, silk, and macha.

The mind settles and opens

like a dry brittle leaf

soaked and softened by gentle rain,

and ears attune to hypnotic swells

of breezes threading through pine boughs,

and water bubbling over pebbles in spring.

When time unfolds just right,

macha greets the tongue like an anam cara,

knocking three times at the door and,

under the spell,

calms and graces the space

then slips discreetly away

through the low and narrow door,

leaving fragrance

in the air.

Climb the High Stairs

©2009 Pamala Ballingham


climb the high stairs

and cast the fetters off

while there is still time, this time.

Have we an idea

how long this has waited?

The cycle is wide,

circling beyond deep spaces of blue,

and this house,

with windows scratched

and doors slanting off their hinges,

stands by.

Often now it seems incomplete

with rooms still in the making,

as we who live here

slowly work the edges outward

and from rough and stained

to a kind of smooth.

The old place has a low little door

to the long haul

that opens to the air at the end,

which moves within this wideness now

that always was -

and so we see,


Small Bird Fledges

©2006 Pamala Ballingham 

Small bird fledges,

winging through the blue-green flesh of spring,

she not a song

but a singing,

the season not a spring

but a springing -

her maiden flight

a translucent lift

into the world of wind -

a living,




We widen our arms at last

to the unfolding,

we not a breath

but a breathing,

we not a ripple

but a rippling -

trepidations on ephemeral

earth-bound journeys

through realms of color

into the silent opening

of our transcendent



©2006 Pamala Ballingham 

At the very loft of the world,

Haleakala holds a luminous prism of air

waiting to be reborn

from the ink-black womb of night.

A flock of white moths

in fluffy hotel robes shiver,

walking ghost-like to the caldera's rim,

picking their way among black boulders

as the predawn sun measures out a slow ascent

through cotton fields of clouds so vast

even Pele holds her volcanic breath.


a shock of neon green, 


shoots across the Earth's rim

as a Native daughter steps to the edge

and sings down into the clouds,

sings into the belly of the world,

sings to her ancestors,


to stay


Morning Raven

©2009 Pamala Ballingham

Every morning

just beyond the fence line,

one lone raven 

flies in desperation

toward the rising sun.

She circles south,

squawking at the world 

in angry staccato,

announcing she has arrived,

then disappears back into the west,

leaving a vacuum of sound

in her wake.

Perhaps she's lost her mate

and been exiled from her constable,

left to restlessly search 

this lonely quadrant,

a vagabond

flying for her life -

for the one possibility

that might work her back

into this narrow sliver of the world.

Unless You Hear the Land

Ode to the Petrified Forest

©2007 Pamala Ballingham

Unless you hear the land,

it lies mostly hidden

among tremors of sparse desert stalks,

naked and unfettered,

whispering a solitary chorus

over silver oceans of sand

and petrified ribbons of rock,

breathing like flesh,

singing on rhythms of wind.

Murmurs of air

playing on shafts of light

ride the strings 

and sing with the wind,

their delicate strums on canyon grasses

humming bony spikes of sage,

sounding up the hollows

in riffs of simple joy.

Once We Were Birds

©2006 Pamala Ballingham

Once we were birds

     with hollow bones

          that drew up incense

               from some finer kind of ether

                    than our wings could fly, yet

                         still we flew and still we fly

                         by the dreams in our veins,

                    pulsing with color,

               coursing us forward

          we know not to where,

     blind but for hope, deaf

but for the distant ringing.


© 2013 Pamala Ballingham

What object

or circumstance,

when finished,

is not a shard -

testament to a process

exquisite or tragic,

immense or miniscule

like love when it is done

or a summer rose when it has faded.

And so it is,

for now,

that we are -

gossamer threads

woven by the grand parade,

fleeting in our outcropping

and precious because of it.

In this ephemeral moment

within which all things arise and are gone,

what matters most is that we love enough

to swell our essence 

into the time and space we share,

reflecting the shining

of the who

that we are.

What If The Pearly Moon
©2014 Pamala Ballingham

What if the pearly moon
shares a communal thread with blades of grass in spring
and crickets clambering up willowy stems in summer,
with you in your autumn
and me in my winter?

What if laughter is kin to the moon,
whelk to the heart of the mountain,
and stars to leaves on the trees?

What if an essence weaves itself so completely
within and between every stripe and color,
penetrating the collective of things so seamlessly,
that we are rendered blind to see?

What if hills and valleys of this fertile thread
so weave and move within the interior of things 
that we are complete as we are
and perfect in this moment,
even in the face of the fiercest wind
we perceive pains and divides us?

If we perceived this truth,
how might we move forward
through this fragile, shining world?




















































































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