Wednesday, February 8, 2012

To Aspire Once Again To Fly

To anyone who has wondered where I've been - Life threw a couple of curve balls at me. I found myself unemployed last July and at my advanced years, finding work has been - well, let's just say eight months later I'm still unemployed. I'm too damned old to move in search of employment and there are very few jobs here on the Oregon Coast. And so far, the jobs I have applied for have turned me down (despite the fact I am well qualified). I'm smart. I still learn quickly. I'm open minded. I'm talented. I have great instincts. I have a great work ethic. I play well with others. But, I think "I'm a little too long in the tooth!" So, I've been writing. Prose. A novel. My poetry got pushed to the side. Then writer's block hit. After nearly two weeks of staring blankly at the screen and fingers beginning to atrophy from lack of inspiration, I turned to my old friend, the Jigsaw Poem. Words given me a couple of months ago by my Brother-in-Law Don, his wife Janet and their son Cyrus. The words are torment, obstreperous, flitting, horseshoe, chilly, glider, shine, opaque, invalid, and vanity. The poem is a metaphor for my current situation. Tell me what you think!

To Aspire Once Again To Fly

I understand these crushed limbs are ugly.
The torment of their twisted uselessness
Is a constant obstreperous reminder
That most of my could have beens,
the should have beens, are gone.
Am I wrong to aspire once again to fly?
Is it just a conceit to think
the dragonfly flitting through the yard
is taunting me as it hovers over the metal stake
Rusting in a long dormant horseshoe pit,
But finds the iron post too chilly to perch upon
And floats on, leaving me here, stuck,
Tethered by gravity, dead nerves and atrophied muscle?
I remember the silver gleam of glider wings
Floating on the afternoon updraft
Dazzling my eyes with their quicksilver shine.
I remember the transparent blue skies
And how my soul soared on the wind.
I remember the opaque brown ground
Rushing up to change me forever.
Is there truth in pain, dignity in suffering?
Has my infirmity rendered me useless?
Are my dreams invalid, my wishes hopeless?
Is it vanity to think I am no invalid?
Am I wrong to aspire once again to fly?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waiting for the cold

He is standing at the foot of the stairs
waiting for her to finish her preparations,
the inevitable abundance of grooming
that precedes an evening out in public.
Her disdain for his longing
has left him folded into himself,
filled with angst and anticipation
of yet another rejection.
The harsh truth tumbling through his mind
is the realization there is no grace left in their union,
just a cold and distant companionship.
No love can be found here now, he thinks,
wondering if, truly, there ever had been love,
or if he had been deluded
by the passion of their couplings
into thinking the emotions overwhelming him
were love, not simply a biological excitement.
The ferocity of their love making long gone,
and frequency a thing of the distant past,
he is left with only her beauty
and benevolent disregard.
The inward focus of his vision clears
when she suddenly appears
fresh, beautiful as always
and floats down the stairway
like a cold winter wind.

Author's Note: Another "jigsaw" poem from words given to me by my brother-in-law Dale Smith. The words are: here, now, love, disdain, angst, anticipation, longing, abundance, grace, vision

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Fiber of a Father

The following was given to me by my daughter Megan for Father's Day. Aside from being kind, thoughtful, caring and beautiful she is also a very talented and artistic young woman. The depth of her imagery always takes my breath away. Even as a little girl of about 7 years she once said "it hurts like when a butterfly loses the powder off its wings and dies!" Wow, eh!? So here is her gift of prose to me for Father' Day 2011:

The Fiber of a Father

The sweet hum of your words brush against my newborn cheeks. A flurry of dandelion seeds flowing from your breath. They gently drift down surrounding me in a lullaby of cotton. Your soothing hum patiently spinning the cotton into song. A playful thread I keep clenched tightly in my protecting hands as I curiously stumble forward further and further into the unknown. Unsure of what lies ahead, I steal the occasional glance over my shoulder to see your encouraging smile reassuring me from the other end of the line. With an approving squeeze of the thread you send a hug shivering its way down, loosening my apprehensive grip. I push forward wishing for a brief moment that I might feel even the slightest tug reeling me back to the shelter and wisdom of your words. Yet there is no resistance, the thread slacks just enough to press forward another step. Pausing, I shake my wish off my mind, meanwhile twisting the thread around and around, watching it slowly twist into a braided pattern, subconsciously re-tracing my steps. Familiarities draw me back, weaving the thread thicker, as it becomes an intricate braid of memories. I inch closer to a realization I wasn't sure of - the gap between us closing in. I can sense your anticipation radiating from you, and begin picking up the suddenly heavy folds of the braid that now resembles more of a blanket. I wrap it around me like a comforter as I take the last few steps into your arms.

The sweet hum of your words tuck in around me as I drift into dreams, knowing that you were always with me, the fabric of my existence woven into my blanket's embrace.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Morning Fog

Thick fog at dawn
softens the rising sun into
a pale yellow white glow.
As the new day erases the dark
he is content to embrace
the morning symphony of bird calls
as prescriptive medicine
against the unrelenting pain.
Dark, shadow, fog,
all of these obscure
both what is true, and what is false,
or, he thinks, do they mask the content
with blurring simplicity,
blinding the eye by softening clarity and form
into a mix of indistinct shape and shadow?
And, he asks, what is pain
but a fog over the soul?
Dawn, again, alone,
another vigil awaiting the first rays of sunshine
to come shooting through the trees,
but today the heavy fog has muted the sun’s
triumphant ascendance.
Is peace unreachable, he wonders,
surrendering to his torment.
The fog that blankets his morning world
cannot soften the harsh details in his vision.
Still, the birds trill busily
and in this one thing only
is he content.

Author's note: Another jigsaw effort. Words from my daughter Megan: Thick Blinding Unreachable Dark Embrace Symphony False Content Shooting Pain.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An Unfinished Poem

The years have rushed by
like a small mountain stream
chortling through moss covered rocks.
It's hard not to see my life with my beloved
in the same way, rushing along as it should
ever changing, ever the same, timeless,
but moving so swiftly.

I cannot define love.
It is like trying to define the ocean ...
it is too vast, too complex,
the only continuity to its expression
is water, beyond that, everything else
is but a matter of degrees.

Such is love.
A man's love for a woman
has no comparison
to his love for his mother,
or his sister, or his daughter.
Each is love - each is different.
The only continuity to its expression
is that it is an emotion of caring.
Beyond that, everything else
is but a matter of degrees.

I have never written my beloved
a love poem.
Oh, I have written love poems
and their subjects were often women
I "loved." Still, I never referred to them
as my 'beloved' like I do her.
The images were usually drawn
from the language of desire, of lust,
things still so familiar
evan after all these years
of faithful monogamy.
But this is not my love for her,
only a part, like the great whate
that swims in the ocean
is only a part of the greater whole.

So how do I define my love for her?
No one image can express the depth,
the breadth, the breath of life itself
that is my love for her.
I think about her beauty
and any simile falls short,
or seems too cold, too static.
Her spirit has become something
almost palpable to me .
I can sense her being
even before I see her,
her energy washing over me
like cool scented air.

I am content to simply have her near me.
I need no words, only her presence,
to calm my fears and reassure me.

And this, then, is my love poem to her.
Simply being with her, my life with her,
these are the stanzas and rhyme.
An unfinished poem
of love.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Die Off

Standing on the brackish shoreline
watching millions of fish float belly up
on the gray waters of the Chesapeake,
he worries for his childrens' future.
Poking the shiny bellies
with a small crooked branch from a Loblolly Pine,
he is looking for some kind of sign, or meaning,
knowing he has no science for the search.
He wonders if Captain Smith ever saw
this drowned valley of the Susquehana
in the same light?
Not likely, he thinks, or the Captain
would have penned it in his journals,
beseeching God for an answer.
Is this just another case of hypoxic waters,
he wonders,
or has some runoff brought
another round of Pfiesteria?

An Arakansas farmer watches redwing blackbirds
fall gracelessly from a cloudless sky
as familiar as yesterday,
and the day before,
no harbingers to forewarn of plummeting feathers.
He ponders the meaning of this dark shower
to the suckling baby nestled
in his frightened wife's arms.

The experts say this happens all the time,
mass die-offs are part of the natural flow of life
while these two men think,
"I have never seen the like before"
each offering a silent prayer of supplication
to a God with a history
of sending punishing pestilence and plagues.

For each, and neither
Science, nor God,
is providing an answer.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mint and Rhododendrons

Standing in the lawn,
a cup of hot coffee in his hands,
warm Spring sun on the back of his neck,
he looked at the dead rhododendron
sandwiched between two of its kin.
He was’t sure what had sickened the tall plant,
"Did I kill you spreading cedar chips
around your base,
their improper pH soaking into the ground,
poisoning you?" he asked, sipping his coffee.

But it no longer mattered.
The two adjacent trees were bursting with new growth,
this one a pale, spindly specimen,
a handful of leaves weakly protesting
“Not dead yet! Not dead yet!”
“Shut up!” he growled, thinking
"I’m finishing the job, today,
the chainsaw is gassed, ready,
the cutting chain filed and oiled."

If he has vision it is to see
growth in barren spaces.
Mint, he decides.
Spreading, pernicious take-everything-over mint.
Something that can be ignored
and if it grows too full of itself,
hack it mercilessly away
without any fear of killing it all.

Ignoring the pleas of the yellowing leaves
that life still remained
he perched his cup on the deck railing
and reached for the chainsaw
to jerk it into life
and deliver the finality of death.
I wonder what the other two
will think of mint, he wondered,
noting their vibrant Spring green leaves
seemed to have nothing to say.