Monday, January 9, 2017


Here's a lovely short poem by my friend Paul Gerhards. Paul, who lives up in Oregon, is the author of a little book that I found very useful when it first came out: Mapping the Dharma--now unfortunately out of print. Paul also writes a blog, When This Is, That Is: Exploring the World of Conditionality--from which you will know that he shares my deep regard for Buddhist thought. For a while he managed a small publishing operation that he called Parami Press, and published two of my collections of essays, Persist: In Praise of the Creative Spirit in a World Gone Mad with Commerce; and MindWork. I'm grateful for the interest he took in my work, and remain more than a little sad that Parami Press did not survive the many challenges facing the small publisher.

Paul's poem presents us with at least two big ethical conundrums in its few short words, and asks us to reflect on how we learn that "right" and "wrong" are wonderfully slippery concepts, even--perhaps especially!-- for a little boy. Nicely done!

By Paul Gerhards
MagnoliaWhen a little boy—maybe
Three, maybe four—
I plucked a magnolia
Blossom from a neighbor’s
Tree and gave it
To my mother.
She told me it was wrong
To take what did not
Belong to me, yet she
Acknowledged my gift
By placing it afloat
In a crystal dish.


  1. Wow, thanks, Peter, especially for the glowing introduction.

    1. Delighted, Paul! Let me know if you have more "boyhood memories"!