Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blue Collar Blues

For those who are interested, what follows is a Renga between David Irwin and myself. The topic of our conversation: work, the working man/woman and the issues surrounding. Watch as it grows!

Bill:
Who am I, really?
Am I the sum of my deeds?
The man that I am?

Or am I what I have made?
Is my labor who I am?

Dave:
These hands and fingers,
how connected to me and
how attached to work.

Be the moment of motion
and the still moment after.

Bill:
The forest is cut
by the strength of my sinews
wielding a sharp saw.

Each tree that falls to the ground
Rises again as a house.

Dave:
In progress, wood falls
to steel, only to rise up
better, more useful.

And wood, burned brightly, gives rise
to steel from the ochre earth.

Bill:
I want to return
to the place of alchemy,
the factory floor.

Sweat and grime are nourishment.
Making is my religion.

Dave:
The body, a horse:
ride it gently when you can,
hard when you have to.

This paste of dust in my pores,
transformation's by-product.

Bill:
By horse, man and plow
The field was broken and turned,
The beast the engine.

Now the work of our machines
is measured in horsepower.

Dave:
Gear and cog fit well
by design; innovation
a love of future.

Water carries our boats first,
Later expands in pistons.

Bill:
Smokestacks reach skyward.
Rolling plumes of steam rising
mark transformation.

Fire, the tool of alchemy
attends the act of making.

Dave:
Smoke, the fool of fire,
dances in the air above
as we breathe deeply.

Shepherding toxins carries
the hidden costs far downwind.

Bill:
My hands are leather.
There is metal in my blood,
my back bent over.

Creation has byproducts.
The price of progress is change


Dave:
The price masks the costs:
the magic of numbers steals
what can't be counted.

The strong back organizes
for a fair share of pennies.

Bill:
Industry's captains
see men as less than machines.
Profit rules their hearts.

The gold and silver they gain
will mean nothing in the end.

Dave:
This circle of trade:
knowledge and pain for money,
though not that simple.

What is the purpose of work?
To create or to live well?

Bill:
When we stood erect
survival was our labor.
To hunt. To gather.

Is punching a time clock yet
another hunt for our food?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Lament

The sound of a switch engine
working the stockyards at night
is like a lullaby humming in my ears.
My taste is for carbon and oil.
The burnt scent of an overheated clutch
is a heady perfume, as magnetic
as the musk of a woman’s desire.
The feel of polished ceramics
caressed by a calloused hand,
is sensuous, arousing,
like stroking the velvety tiny fuzz
along the nape of a woman’s neck.
My eye seeks the symmetry
of bolted parts, disparate shapes joined
like petal, pistil and stamen,
into beauty.

These are lost now,
merely echoes.
Instead, some foreign hand trembles
with the torque of a wrench,
his heart beating in rhythm with
the whirr of generators,
his nostrils flaring with the pungent odor
of lubricated metal and friction.

There are metal shavings in my blood
and my soul withers, unrequited,
another man with a strange accent
making love to what once was,
what still should be, my job.

The title to this one is difficult. I first called it "NAFTA." The current title, "Pittsburgh Lament" is to pay homage to my origins and my father's generation. It's one of those "middle of the night" affairs - the memory of living next to a railroad stockyard, the sounds and smells of my youth, keeping me awake far into the foggy dawn last night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crybaby

Stop pushing me.
I have problems of my own
and your inability to face up to yours
doesn’t give you the right to push me.
See, your job sucks, I know,
and your wife (girlfriend, sometime lover)
is as true as my cat –
right, anybody that feeds this female
gets a lap cuddle for the night –
sure and the friend you thought true
proves false, hell, we’ve all seen that –
come up with something at least different
if not meaningful,
something I haven’t seen, felt, lived,
that will say, shit yeah, this deserves
sympathy.
Stop crying to me.
Stop pushing
or I WILL push back
and I don’t’ think you’re fragile ego
could handle that!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Masochist of Love

She left her mark,
the ghost of her love
flitting between the trampled garden,
shattered crockery
and broken bedpost.
Sometimes, the weaker side of his soul
longs for her
when the songbirds at dawn
sing with the hollow echo of loneliness.
Memories of their wild abandoned
love-making fill his being,
swelling his heart,
deluding him with false hope,
until they pour out and evaporate
where her betrayal had cut him
like an assassin’s knife.
She left her mark,
but he considers calling her,
again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pick Up Line

(an old piece of erotica!)

We should love!
My mind approves and
blood courses in anticipation
swelling my penis until it stands
throbbing, a fountain of yielding iron,
a pipe that gushes creamy hot babies
into the incubating cup of your vagina!

Am I bold to say this to you?
Is it wrong to proclaim my desire?

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Gardeners

A Renga by David Irwin and Bill Graffius

David:
White blossoms push out
from the wood. Wet dirt wisps steam
almost all morning.

Nothing worse than too much time
on one’s hands while the ice melts.

Bill:
The forest dances.
Blossoms fly from meadow trees.
Tall grass undulates.

Seize the moment to watch this
in the mists before the storm.

David:
A clutch of young grass
falls from your hand. Did the wind
take it as it fell?

Ahead, summer's horizon;
Today, sweat and more planting.

Bill:
Baskets on the porch
filled with trailing spring flowers
will bring summer joy.

Dirty hands, satisfaction,
Sense of zen captured in now.

David:
The dirt hands you your
meal - this is where we first taste
the too-young tartness.

Berries, when ready to fall,
are different, not better.

Bill:
When plucked before ripe
fruit and berry are less sweet.
Taste is the victim.

Life must fully gestate
or bitterness will prevail.

David:
There are still cold winds
to make us forget breakfast
and stay in our beds.

Blossoms are a memory.
The flowers do not make spring.

Bill:
Cold dew at daybreak
glistens on the fresh mown lawn.
Wake! And join the day.

Blossoms are the memory
and midwife to spring's rebirth.

David:
Clouds are not bleak or
joyous. Understand the rice
you bring to the meal.

Do these blossoms understand
how little time they have left?

Bill:
Time is circular.
Which season begins the year?
Which one marks the end?

The cycle is a circle.
No beginning and no end.

David:
The moon's white halo
is no sign of anything
but rain tomorrow.

A bicycle replaces
the ox. The field goes fallow.

Bill:
Preparing to change
with feelings of unfolding,
a sense of blossom.

Rain today, sun tomorrow,
life grows from the excrement.

David:
The verde blossoms
are already a carpet
here, gathered by wind.

Thus each gray morning begins
with the usual triumphs.

Bill:
Daffodils abound.
Yellow pollen everywhere!
Summer approaches.

Gaia is blessing us with
rain for our emerald world.

David:
Sweet morning chill is
disappearing. Open doors,
plain tea our pleasures.

The hills are changing daily
when I take the time to watch.

Bill:
Our labor brings joy
as the sun paints our skin brown
and backs bend weeding.

Hummingbirds thrum at feeders.
Ice water is our reward.

David:
Their furious wings
lift them through the warm evening
to sip one more meal.

Tomorrow, summer's journey
up the mountain will begin.

Bill:
The flowers offer
nectar to the travelers
in their migration.

Bees and butterflies partake.
My efforts are rewarded.

David:
Savor sun and growth -
not that there's a choice - because
the cold will return.

Endless vistas from the peaks,
but our crops need the river.

Bill:
Standing deep in green
our joy is restrained, knowing
fall follows summer.

Until the cycle renews
we celebrate abundance.

For those who visit this blog regularly, you have seen two previous "in the middle of things" postings of this poem. It is now officially finished.
For those seeing this for the first time: David Irwin, a poet, writer, musician and longtime friend (I hate saying old friend, even though we're both getting there) read one of my haiku poems and invited me to Renga with him. Renga is an ancient style of Japanes poetry wherein two or more poets collaborate to create a poem by writing alternate stanzas. It is also the original source of the haiku. It uses syllable counts of 5-7-5 and 7-7. In its strictest, original form it goes to 100 verses. Google it for more information. Here is the result of our initial foray into this form of poetic conversation. Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Native Moon

I am nagual, my familiar is peregrine.
When the season is harvest full
and Ix Chel bathes the cooling desert
in her silver light,
I perch in the saguaro, watching,
until in a ghostly shimmer I see
the Surem rise out of the Yo Ania.
They unroll their shining lake
spreading it over the creosote plain,
for a feast at the place of the last dance
far from the modern, disapproving eyes
of monotheism and civilization,
all of existence still intertwined
enchanted, no duality,
no dichotomy of good and evil.
Passing gourds of balche spiked with morning glory
and slapping bones on stretched deer hides
coaxing a rhythm for the dance
the ritual of healing begins.
All the gods have gathered,
Klehanoai dances with them,
lightning in sheets rippling overhead
as Mama-Kilya keeps time.
Grandmother Metsaka sits at the edge of the firelight
warding away the darkness of Tokakami.

Tsohanoai calls, distant, a hint of gray on the horizon
and in a puff of smoke the celebrants disappear.
I am nagual, taking wing to begin the morning hunt,
a shadow outlined against the dust reddened orb
sinking in the western horizon.



Note:
Ix Chel is the Mayan moon goddess.
The Surem are nomadic precursors to the Yaqui People who chose to shun the rise of religion and civilization and live in a parallel universe, the Yo Ania.
Balche is a drink made from the bark of the balche tree mixed with honey and water and is mildly psychoactive, even more so when mixed with morning glory and other hallucinogenics. Believed to be used by ancient Mesoamerican cultures in religious rituals.
Klehanoai is a Navajo moon god who face is said to be covered with sheet lightning.
Mama-Kilya is mother moon, an Incan moon goddess important in the calculation of time and the Incan calendar.
Metsaka is the Huichol Indian moon goddess known as grandmother moon. She guards the huichol against Tokakami – their god of death.
Tsohanoai is the day bearer, a Navaho Sun God

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Boomer Son

It isn’t so difficult.
I don’t lead a tortured life,
no longing for some sweet release
like a cold wind through a hot kitchen,
dad in his dirty white wife beater
pounding down another pony bottle
of Fort Pitt beer,
cursing the officers
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dark German forest
frozen forever in his memory
rising up through nightmares
to become midnight screams of terror.
There is nothing I have to fear,
nothing to drown in cheap alcohol
dulling the razor cuts of each monotonous
identical day of machinery
and mass production
cursing the white-shirted managers
who didn’t have to breathe in the ceramic dust
and metal filings,
who never had to sweat, just decide,
who spent men like pennies
somewhere in a dirty factory hall,
straddling some sickly yellow stream
belching sulfur and disease
winding its way toward the Allegheney,
the Ohio, eventually the Mississippi
and the freedom of the Gulf.
What I have to endure
isn’t so bad
that I can still mourn for my father.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Must have been an omen

To me it was an adventure -
new city, new life.
Our home was a 1941 Dodge ambulance,
parked in a friend's driveway
where five people, 10 dogs, two cats
and a handful of chickens shared
a two bedroom house.
Our cat, whose life had been lived
almost exclusively,
in a one bedroom apartment,
lived in terror in the oleanders,
hiding from the dogs.
When the dogs ate her shoes,
my bride began to cry.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garden Horror Story

It promises to be a hot day,
tache de soleil in an altercation
with the electromagnetic spectrum
making the radio scratch and sputter,
has melded its intensified radiation
to high humidity and no wind.
Winged insects with bulbous eyes
and high pitched buzzing attack,
always around the eyes, nose and ears
like they’re seeking ingress,
spelunking for the liquid gold
they know pools in the mucous membranes
somewhere deep in the sinuses
behind the freckles surrounding your eyes.
Dahlias marinate in the humid sun
while the hostas and impatiens hide in the shade
ignoring the droning insects,
waiting for the crepuscular creatures,
when the fireflies rise to mate,
the signal that soon gastropods
that shun the sun
will creep out of their dark crevices,
antennae aloft like chopsticks seeking rice,
slowly, almost stately inching forward
a grand poobah entering the ritual chamber
to devour the acolytes.

Ok, this is a jigsaw puzzle using words provided by my daughter Megan and her friend Leanne Fawkes. The words were: marinate, altercation, freckles, bulbous, gastropod, grand poobah, chopsticks, fireflies, tache de soleil and liquid gold. Thought they had me stumped, they did. Little did they know just how bizarre (perhaps perverse) my mind is!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Opportunities lost eat at the soul,
a cancer of ‘if only,’
a litany of despair at having survived
without having lived.
Warmth, content, these are the thieves.
Discontent, cold, pain, fear, all true friends
that give brief breath-taking gasps of life lived.
Once, risk was oxygen
and the faint scent of disaster
an intoxicating perfume.
Now, faced by what could have been,
perhaps should have been
had I courage to gamble everything
for the momentary thrill
that leaves a permanent memory
I am left to wonder
would my life, albeit different,
be any better?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perchance to dream

Daylight filters
through the curtains
of sleep chasing
the dream snakes back
into the dark depths
of the subconscious.
Thoughts born in
awakening
make lists of things
to do with the day,
locking the last barrier
between dream and reality
but knowng that darkness
and sleep
will bring the snakes' return

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summertime

Summertime kisses our thoughts with a smile
that’s made up of flowers and walking for miles
down tracks stretching silver by clear water streams
or through evening forest with air perfumed green.
It whispers of lullabies played upon leaves
rustling, suspended, from moss covered trees
and dances with fireflies mating by lights
arising in meadows on nuptial flights.
The low drone of honeybees softens the noon
as bright colored butterflies follow the tune
that a summertime memory plays for our ears
a song that’s been playing for thousands of years.

Monday, May 18, 2009

White Noise

There is a shushing noise
like the sound imagined as the ocean
when putting a seashell to your ear.
It fills the mind
until thought, even movement
seems in slow motion
with only the gentle susurrus
in the background.
The somehow amusing detachment
of mind and body,
consciousness no longer seated
in the physical
holds no fright
as sensation
becomes more like a whisper
than touch, taste, smell and feeling.
“This, then, is death,” he surmises,
the thought itself enveloped
in solitude,
rippling through the white noise
like a boat slapping through riffles
on water.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

mirror, mirror

Now, before your eyes
appears
dawn upon the shining
mirror
you perceive a brace of
flowers
color in a jar of
water
just before your thoughts
arrive
you can feel the room grow
hotter
summer falling through the
shutter
pictures dreaming in the
morning
on the pale walls of your
hallway
when, before your eyes
appears
me, waiting by the
mirror.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Age

Some say this is a New Age.
They believe something,
the air, the earth,
the fabric of the universe itself
has somehow been changed,
made new.
I wonder at this,
crouched aside a game trail
called a boulevard in this new age
watching canis latrans root
through the overflow
of a restaurant dumpster.
Digging through the rotting carrion
of another predator’s kill
or pawing through plastic and cans –
which of the two ages is New?
The new moon that does not shine
smiles the same for each.

This is a poem under construction. A little unpolished and in need of I don't know what yet. It will mutate and the original hard copy has sprung other ideas. don't be surprised to see it again - I'm not getting repetitive - just better, I hope.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Freeze Tag

I can sense him sniffing around
like some working dog seeking a point.
I smell him, too,
in the taste left from
running the tongue over a decayed tooth.
He's seeking me, I know.
We've danced like this before,
a couple of times to be sure
but never with me this slow
and visible to his blind eyes.
The hackles rise at the base of my neck
and the white hot flash of ice
across my chest heralds his approach.
This time, caught in the open,
I can only freeze to immobility,
gathering each emotion that shoots
behind my eyes and soothing them into silence.
Will he pass this time? I wonder.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Gardeners - Redux

David:
White blossoms push out
from the wood. Wet dirt wisps steam
almost all morning.

Nothing worse than too much time
on one’s hands while the ice melts.

Bill:
The forest dances.
Blossoms fly from meadow trees.
Tall grass undulates.

Seize the moment to watch this
in the mists before the storm.

David:
A clutch of young grass
falls from your hand. Did the wind
take it as it fell?

Ahead, summer's horizon;
Today, sweat and more planting.

Bill:
Baskets on the porch
filled with trailing spring flowers
will bring summer joy.

Dirty hands, satisfaction,
Sense of zen captured in now.

David:
The dirt hands you your
meal - this is where we first taste
the too-young tartness.

Berries, when ready to fall,
are different, not better.

Bill:
When plucked before ripe
fruit and berry are less sweet.
Taste is the victim.

Life must fully gestate
or bitterness will prevail.

David:
There are still cold winds
to make us forget breakfast
and stay in our beds.

Blossoms are a memory.
The flowers do not make spring.

Bill:
Cold dew at daybreak
glistens on the fresh mown lawn.
Wake! And join the day.

Blossoms are the memory
and midwife to spring's rebirth.


David:
Clouds are not bleak or
joyous. Understand the rice
you bring to the meal.

Do these blossoms understand
how little time they have left ?


Bill:
Time is circular.
Which season begins the year?
Which one marks the end?

The cycle is a circle.
No beginning and no end.


David:
The moon's white halo
is no sign of anything
but rain tomorrow.

A bicycle replaces
the ox. The field goes fallow.

Bill:
Preparing to change
with feelings of unfolding,
a sense of blossom.

Rain today, sun tomorrow,
life grows from the excrement.


David:
The verde blossoms
are already a carpet
here, gathered by wind.

Thus each gray morning
beginswith the usual triumphs.


Bill:
Daffodils abound.
Yellow pollen everywhere!
Summer approaches.

Gaia is blessing us with
rain for our emerald world.

This Renga is an on again off again effort between David Irwin and myself. It's David's turn next but he has been occupied otherwise. For me, work consumes. I think we need to move on to summer, fall and winter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Make it Pink, Make it Blue

Each evening, after dinner,
scraping left over food from the plates
she invariably turns the discussion
to color, to hue and contrast,
which paint would look best
on the nursery wall.
It is a marathon discussion
but with no end in sight,
no cry of victory expected.
At first it was a simple entertainment,
he would sit, listen to the speaker,
marveling how she could spin
an entire web of plans
from a tiny strand of hope.
Now, it has become, almost,
a challenge, with her shopping
through the pattern of responses
for a pivot upon which
she can force an altercation.
Frustration from an empty womb
drives her until exhausted
with emotional effort
and his unyielding love,
expressed through approving nods,
relentless optimism
and a preference for blue
or pink.

Another jigsaw using the words food, wall, sit, marathon, spin, altercation, speaker, shopping, paint, entertainment – provided by a friend, Teresa Arwood.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Seeing You Again

After such a long time
and so many reasons
imagined and otherwise
to feel bitter,
seeing you again becomes
a test of will
to not drink the poison
of regret and enmity.
The weave of two lives unraveled
seeks explanation, cause and effect,
but is best left a mystery
for the mendacity of blame
denies the truth of diverging paths.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Favorite Things

Fresh coffee
The smell of pine trees
Fast moving trout streams
Full moons over desert landscapes
Planting flowers
The smell of mulch
Talking to mom (grandma)
___________________

A hard day finished
feet propped
sitting back in my chair
the nightly ritual
of jammies, brushing teeth
and saying goodnight.
A small being reaches up
"Goodnight Da-Da"
"Goodnight Sweet Pie,
I love you!"
"I love you too Da-Da!"
Another hard day finished
and made easy
as night falls.

There is something about simple list making... I do it all the time. I have also come to see the poetry within them. A grocery list. A chores list. These are the stuff of day-to-day life and if you listen, you will hear them sing.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Infidelity

The rabisu are among us.
We know by the pricking sensation
at the nape of the neck
sensing something crouching at the door
but nothing seen, we enter,
ignoring potent warnings.
Such was his fate,
bearing water from the river channel
infidelity awaited at his doorstep.
He failed to see the demon
and crossed the threshold
to find himself bereft of wife,
of home, of sanctuary.
A wound dealt by a choice
he is unable to heal.
Such is the raw power
lurking at all portals,
especially the vulva.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another God

Change...
Now there's a god
worth worshipping.

Eternal mystery
with a constancy
that cannot be refused.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Divorce List

Bank accounts
Penney's charge
Shell charge
Mastercard
Credit Union
Mellon Bank
Insurance on car
Insurance on house
Insurance on lives
W-2s - tax time
The car
The cats
The divorce
Any other outstanding debts?
Financing records
Division of property
Your stuff - my stuff - our stuff
Anthing else?
Craig's car

This poem dates back to 1979. It actually wasn't a poem, just a list I had made to try to organize my wildly scattered thoughts as my practice wife and I separated. A friend, who had gone through a divorce himself, came over one day, saw the list on the kitchen table, and remarked, "good poem." I didn't disagree. I just titled it and have been passing it off as a 'poem' ever since.
If you have been through a divorce, perhaps you will see the poetry in it too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"...the moose scored!"

Woody Allen

He marvels at the blood stained sheets
remembering the tacit understanding
that in the morning
she would be gone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Defense of Love Poetry

I have been a serial monogamist,
one lover at a time, no playing field.
Like the male of any species I have been led,
no, driven by my reproductive organs,
More than once, while still connected
to my practice wife,
I stopped far short of adultery,
yet well into the realm of lustful thought.
I have been wired since birth to faithfulness
and for this I must stand up for love poetry.

A poet once said love is exponential.
I agree.
While I think she meant our capacity
is to love more than one person at a time,
for a quarter of a century my love
for my forever wife
has grown from attraction, to friendship,
to lust, to passion, to adoration to such dedication
that for me there can be no other.
We have become, in a wonderful way,
a dyad that allows two separate souls
to live as one.

The same poet said monogamy is static.
I disagree. Even after all these years
we continue to discover each other
and rediscover, in ways only time
can gestate and grow to full fruition.

We, the combination of two Is,
have learned through our love
how to love others,
to open our hearts and cast aside judgment,
secure in ourselves,
protected by our communion,
to accept the potential of new relationships,
while saving true intimacy
perfect, unblemished,
for each other, for the poetry of our love.

Let the poets sing of love.
I stand for love poetry.

Sometimes, at least for me, the fun of poetry is to participate in a conversation - point . counterpoint. Dorla Morehouse posted a wonderful little poem Polyamory (you'll see a link to her blog at the right of this page). I felt compelled to speak. Watch yourself, though. Her piece is layered in meanings. I simply snatched one of them for my poem. There's more there with which to wrestle.

A Conversation Remembered in the Morning

A Monostich

I earned the damage that was done.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oops!

Packing snow
to a consistency round
let it fly, then run
at the sound
of breaking glass.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Do You Know Belial

The raspy whispering of Belial
hissing in your ear
comes with a warning
with just a hint,
the faintest touch of a scent
like a sensation half remembered,
the stench of sulphur and death
bloating in the sun.
The flicker of light
bathing the corner of the room,
in a welcoming yet eerie,
cold and artificial glow,
is dishonesty invited
into the family hearth.
We listen, we watch
and we applaud as he casts
his three nets into our lives.
The storm is the space
between the rain drops.
Everything we deem innocent
is tainted, only vigilance will protect us.
Do you know what is without worth?
The entanglement of wires and diodes
paints a phosphorescent sheen,
can you scent the decay?
Do you hear the cozening canard?
Do you know Belial?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Do Not Understand

I do not understand religious fanaticism
that twists a love of God
into hate for those who are different
in thought and belief,
or how a child's hunger
can be ignored by society,
or why possessions, wealth,
rule so many lives,
or why we resort to fear,
an expectation of ruin and danger
to mold our behavior and make our decisions.
The deepest mystery of all, perhaps,
is how I can see the truth, sometimes,
and recognize wrong,
yet sit idly by, like Hamlet,
wandering through the cold stone passages
debating with myself in protracted soliloquies
afraid to act,
or worse, like Chamberlain
facing the rising evil of Hitler,
unwilling to act.
Maybe Hamlet delayed picking up his rapier
because he understood revenge
albeit justified, may not be just.
And possibly poor Neville could only hear
the clamor of a civilian government
grown tired after centuries of war.
If I have a knowledge, an understanding,
it is that life is transient
while hate, hunger, avarice and fear
are unfortunately eternal.
I also know with absolute certainty
love, abundance, generosity and courage
are ageless, as well.
I do not understand men’s choices,
the allure of darkness.
I do not understand.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Head of the Pin

“I’ve bin sittin’ here watchin’ ya
and if y’ll stand me a beer
I’d be for asking ya a question
and, may be tellin’ ya something too!”

This is a familiar face, one I’ve seen
back when I hefted aluminum barrels
into the holes where tired and dirty
factory shift workers poured their wages.

I have smelled this same pungent mixture
of souring whisky, smoke
and men’s sweat brewing
in these social cauldrons
that change lives through
some strange alchemy of spirits.

It is here the golden hope for prosperity,
through a strange reverse metamorphosis
is transformed into the dross
of poverty and anger.

Tossing the correct coins onto the bar
I catch the keeper’s eye
and nod at the old man’s empty glass.

His rheumy eyes are dark,
the whites glazed grey,
the border between iris and pupil
barely perceptible.

He lifts the vessel of amber liquid
to his lips carefully, is if to caress,
not so much tio savor the bouquet or taste
but more from the hard knowledge
that the next glass
will be hard to find in empty pockets.

Wiping foam from his lip
he leans on the bar, facing me,
his head slightly cocked.

His gaze into my eyes is not entirely direct,
too sidelong fro complete honesty or trust.
He asks, “ ya Cath’lic or Protest’nt?”

“Neither.” I say.

“A heathen then!” he nearly shouts.
“Unless y’ve adopt’d the fashion’ble
taste for saffron robes ‘n past lives
‘n such, ‘n a heathen then, I’m sure!”

A little taken aback by his words,
delivered aggressively, a touch of beer spittle
flinging through the air, I lean back.

“No. No heathen.” I say.
“I’m a believer. I believe in God.
The same God, I think.
I simply have little time
for sects and denominations,
the way they confine, dim
and blur the Light of God.
My faith tells me God is One
with everything
and God loves the many,
that there are countless paths
up the mountain.”

“Then y’r a heathen,”
he pronounces simply, smugly sure.
“Wit’out the church
y’ kin have no abs’lution.”

I sip my own drink, feeling its burn
aglow in my chest, warming to the debate.
“No. I am no heathen,” I respond again,
a little more forceful, finding the itch
of irritation at the accusation.

Tavern philosophers do not listen.
They prod you to answer
and capture the first questionable
dependant clause,
hoisting it like a flag
demanding some kind of salute.

This one was no different.
Ruddy complexion, dying eyes
sunken into creased flesh.
He had stopped listening early.
“If’n ya b'long to no church,
then what do ya believe?” he asked.

I have talked to his old man before..
As a young man, driving truck,
delivering beer to the multitude of taverns
lining the pathways winding through
the various ethnic neighborhoods
surrounding the mills of Pittsburgh.

“I believe God needs no statement of faith,
no special incense, robe or collar,
no specific ritual performed and spoken
in a certain way.”
This I say to the mirror over the bar,
peering into the brown eyes staring back,
seeking that glint of certainty born of faith.
“God will judge me, if He indeed judges,
on what I am and what I do,”
I say directly to the old man.
“I can profess to anything.
But what I do is what God sees.
He is no fool.
Does this make me a heathen?”

“Stand me another ‘n I will answer,”
the empty husk of a person beside me
orders hopefully.

More coins rattle onto the varnished wood.
He accepts the fresh glass and drinks.
“What has bin done t’ me ‘n my kin
by the English landlord,
the divisions beaten upon my father
‘n my father’s father’s father
by the theivin’ damn’d protest’nt English,
this gives me joy t’ bow t’ the priest
whose vow of poverty is known.
Y’ must believe and y’ must pray
and y’ must bow down ‘n beg fer yer forgiveness
or y’ be a heathen ‘n y’ be fer HELL!”

The word ‘hell’ echoes,
the dark smoke-filled room suddenly silent.
He throws the rest of the amber brew
down his throat, slams the glass onto the bar,
stands, turns and lurches for the door
as the stool he was perched upon
staggers and falls noisily to the floor.
Pass out and into the night,
a slammed door claps finality into his departure
and argument.

I turn back to the mirror,
sipping again from my beer.
Another withered old man
crosses the room, righting the stool
and assuming a seat next to me.

“Ol’ Finney, the poor ol’ mick,” he declares.
“Ain’t got much of’n unnerstandin’.
I guess it’s th’ Rom’n Cath’lic.
Him’n th’ damned Dagoes.
They all think their incense don’t stink!”
Hey pal, buy me a beer
n’ I’ll tell y’ the truth,
how it ain’t the damn’d priest
but yer tribe ‘ats import’nt.”

“Barkeep!” I call,
pushing paper toward the well,
nodding at the short, stout, dark
and somewhat swarthy new philosopher
at my side.
Mediterranean? Balkan? I wonder,
asking, “tribes?”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Time

Time is circular.
Which season begins the year?
Which one marks the end?

The cycle is a circle.
No beginning and no end.

This is a stray stanza from the ongoing Renga, The Gardener, previewed earlier in this blog and still under construction via, of all things, Facebook communications. (finally, a usefull application for Facebook!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Truth of Penmanship

The truth of penmanship
is lost on me.
What can clean, elegant lines truly offer?
I have seen whopping lies
written in beautiful cursive,
script that flows so effortlessly
even Palmer would think it an opportunity
to peer into the window of the writer’s soul,
yet the writer is laughing all the time
knowing they have masked their intent,
two faces, one hidden, one revealed,
deftly, mild, so as to cause no ripple
that would reveal Janus in the illusion.
A keychain is neither the keys,
nor the locks or the car.
Such is pensmanship.
Is the meaning of the words
held in their portrayal?
I cannot write prettily
in appearance, but,
I can write prettily
in meaning, leaving,
the truth of penmanship,
a mystery to me.


My last jigsaw, for a while, at least – until someone throws this gauntlet down and offers up ten new words. This one came from a good friend, Jennie Clark. The words are offer clean, opportunity, window, two, keychain, laughing, whopping, mild, penmanship. Whopping proved a troublesome word, but keychain was amazingly difficult to fit in. Do you like my solution?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Meant To Last Forever

A single dead tree at the end of the alley
behind the tenement row stood
like some ancient English highlands monolith.
Our young minds viewed it in an almost religious awe.
To us it seemed as if it had been there forever –
for our brief lives, at least,
a testament to nature’s endurance.
Transcending even life.
leaves gone and sap long ago frozen
it still stood sentinel, beckoning,
gathering young minds to its base
like a swirling wind gathers leaves.
When older brothers would lift us to the lowest branches
we rode the wind like ancient mariners,
climbing to the main mast crow’s nest,
to shout “sail on the starboard beam!” or “Land Ho!”
like the buccaneers we had seen
in the plethora of 25 cent movies
flashing in darkened halls on Saturday afternoons.
If no booster was available
hours were still spent beneath the gaunt limbs
studying the smooth wood
forever stripped of its clothing bark,
now marked with the cuts of neighborhood knives,
hearts and names entwined together
in pledges meant to last forever.
Though it was an escape from the boredom
of plastic toys and city sidewalks,
mothers would chastise for the climbing
with horror stories of broken limbs
snapped necks and untimely deaths.
One day when moisture began to fall
from an angry looking sky.
we ran from the stinging rain
to huddle on Tommy’s back porch.
A sudden flash left us wide eyed,
the air sizzling as a blue white streak
caressed the tree from crown to foot
and with a deafening crack
clove it in two, half still standing,
the second half lying across the alley.
An electric smell of burnt carbon
and sulfur rose in a steaming hiss.
With heart crushing certainty
we knew our ship had been sunk by
a single cannon volley from God’s long gun.
Later, when men quickly and easily carved
what we thought permanent into sawdust,
we stood amazed that someone had thought
to motorize a saw!
Perhaps this was the tree’s last gift –
that invention and ingenuity
could also be the stuff of dreams.
But first, Tommy climbed up upon
the flat topped stump
swiveled his hips in a familiar exaggerated gesture.
and pretended to strum a guitar while shouting
“Hey, look at me! I’m Elvis Presley!”

Yet another jigsaw poem - a friend, Jeff Kilday, provided the words plethora, lift, booster, alley, moisture, carbon, monolith, boredom, motorize and property. Plethora? Motorize? Did I mention I was trying to write a poem? Geesh! For guys, this old tree has been around since we climbed down out of them and started walking upright. But Beverly is able to relate too - and she spoke of how in her youth girls wore dresses and how she was often scolded for coming home with a burst seam or other tear, the result of "the tomboy" in her. There's a poem in that image too - but one the ladies will have to address for me! (let me know if you do!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Persons Singular

Were I
(the first person singular)
to approve the loss of syntax,
the order of words,
and heartily embrace the chaos
of prepositions stranded -

Would you,
(the second person singular)
agree to discard formality,
the order of behavior,
and tell the world
we love as we want to?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Poor Cow

Noting how easily
she could be brought to tears
she exclaimed
"If I dropped a pen, I'd have a funeral for it!"
She needs other people
more than her self,
and that's just a mal(e)adjustment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Gilt Clad Night

I wonder why she cries in the darkness?
The night has nothing to hide from the day.
I believe she has no sin to confess.

Emotions she works so hard to suppress
emerge in the sunshine to have their say.
I wonder why she cries in the darkness?

With song and laughter she will sunshine bless
Then darken with the light fading away.
I believe she has no sin to confess.

I ponder on the source of her distress
How can I pull her from this path I pray?
I wonder why she cries in the darkness?

I dare not with my concerned questions press.
Embarrassed, she will frightened shrink away.
I believe she has no sin to confess.

To this dichotomy I will acquiesce,
of nighttime tears, sharing laughter by day.
I wonder why she cries in the darkness?
I believe she has no sin to confess.

It was a poem Asocial by Dorla Moorehouse - http://dorlamoorehouse.blogspot.com - that launched this effort. Did I ever know what a villanelle is? Maybe. Somewhere back in my sex, drugs and rock and roll addled late 1960s, early 1970s. English Lit classes, T.S. Eliot, it HAD to have come up. Back then, however, it was content I worshipped – form was unimportant, restricting, confining – free the verse was my rallying cry. e.e. cummings was my hero for disdaining capitalization (I have tons of his books).

I’m not sure about this little effort. I do know it did not come easily. Kept me up late last night. I’m not sure I’m saying what I mean to say and the picture, portrait if you will, that is in my mind is not as clear to me in the words here as I think I would like. The flow is awkward, almost Hemmingwayesque (is that a word?). there is a staccato dissonance to the “I believe she has no sin to confess.” This was one of the toughest ‘word puzzles’ I’ve attempted yet. For good or ill, here it is.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Get Ready to Renga!

David Irwin, a poet, writer, musician and longtime friend (I hate saying old friend, even though we're both getting there) read one of my haiku poems and invited me to Renga with him.

Renga is an ancient style of Japanes poetry wherein two or more poets collaborate to create a poem by writing alternate stanzas. It is also the original source of the haiku. It uses syllable counts of 5-7-5 and 7-7. In its strictest, original form it goes to 100 verses. We didn't get quite that far. Maybe David will pick it up again. Me I just have fun with words.
Google it for more information.
Here is the result of our initial foray into this form of poetic conversation (which, apparently, is only 1/3rd finished). I'm calling it:

The Gardeners
David:
White blossoms push out
from the wood. Wet dirt wisps steam
almost all morning.

Nothing worse than too much time
on one’s hands while the ice melts.

Bill:
The forest dances.
Blossoms fly from meadow trees.
Tall grass undulates.

Seize the moment to watch this
in the mists before the storm.

David:
A clutch of young grass
falls from your hand. Did the wind
take it as it fell?

Ahead, summer's horizon;
Today, sweat and more planting.

Bill:
Baskets on the porch
filled with trailing spring flowers
will bring summer joy.

Dirty hands, satisfaction,
Sense of zen captured in now.

David:
The dirt hands you your
meal - this is where we first taste
the too-young tartness.

Berries, when ready to fall,
are different, not better.

Bill:
When plucked before ripe
fruit and berry are less sweet.
Taste is the victim.

Life must fully gestate
or bitterness will prevail.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Break Up The Marriage

Not the Card Game, Please!

Casually tossed
an ace preempts argument.

Jealous that power
has joined finesse
she scrawls "Pig!"
above the winner's name
and growls
"Shut up and deal!"

I was talking to a someone yesterday who is going through a divorce. He had mixed feelings. There were things he and his wife did together, like playing cards, that he would miss. I dug this old chestnut out of the archives remembering how it was for me when my practice wife and I split.

Friday, April 3, 2009

TV Dinner

The TV and dinner have pushed me
far too close to the edge.
I have fled the house to stand on the back porch
gulping down as much fresh air
as my damaged lungs can consume,
trying to create that belch
that will relieve the turbulent indigestion
created by burnt minestrone soup.

Even the wind soughing
through the early Spring blossoms on the trees,
a sound that once soothed,
now grates on my ears.

Sour food and television politics
working in concert
have left me twisted and sickened.
Half truth, gleefully delivered as full fact
by smug pundits whose idea of argument
is shouting down the opposition
has taken an overdone dish
and angrily knotted it into toxic distress.

I will not be misled.
But I worry for all those who are,
who cannot see through the fire and bluster
and know that Oz is merely
an ineffectual man behind the curtain
jabbing rhetorical buttons,
and pulling emotional levers.
The epitome of charade,
yet, unfortunately, this is not a game.
Fresh air and nature bring calm
and it is easy to vow
never to eat dinner and watch
the electronic madness again.
But, it is difficult to hear
the poisoned words parroted
by coworker’s mouths the next day,
making a fresh, no doubt unsullied lunch
suddenly look and smell distasteful.

Today's poem is another jigsaw effort utilizing 10 words by my sister-in-law Janet Smith. The words are argument, concert, misled, epitome, curtain, minestrone, soughing, turbulent, indigestion, gleefully.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Her Epiphany

To him, her heart was a piece of wood
to whittle into a new shape,
a form he could appreciate better
in his understanding of what
a woman should be.
Playing hopscotch games with her emotions,
careful not to step on the lines,
he would move her from square to square,
a gentle compliment lifting her to ecstatic happiness,
then a pejorative crushing her into absolute despair.
A touch of truth with each delivered comment
allowed him to absolve himself of guilt
at least in his understanding of what
constitutes shameful action.
One snowy day
she sat on the deacon’s bench
in a chill room,
bathing in the reflected sunshine
streaming through the frosted window.
Staring dreamily at the treasure chest
releasing tiny bubbles into an aquarium
she watched the lid open,
revealing the treasure,
and a stream of bubbles would
dance to the surface of the tank.
Then the lid would shut,
concealing the treasure
and stopping the bubbles.
In a sudden, emotionally lucid moment
the metaphor of her relationship
became clear to her.
As the bubbles rose to the surface
her understanding of what
a woman can be
chose a new path.

Another jigsaw poem - using words given to me by Kennedy Smith - whittle, lucid, absolve, tank (thanks for that one KC - it really forced me to find an image); John Toyooka - pejorative; Bill "Boomer" Preston - appreciate; Laraine Bugiski - treasure, ecstatic, snowy; and Megan Graffius - hopscotch (another toughie, thanks). Have you ever been in this relationship? And when you finally escaped wasn't the epiphany as oddly delivered and as fully certain. I haven't been on either side of this - but I've seen it enough to know it.

Streetwalker: another haiku

The bleeding harlot
counts the crimson flow as cash
lost to queasy hearts.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Jesus! I Paid Money For This!"

For Allen Ginsberg - 1980 Recital, Bisbee, AZ

Sitting on a hard-backed folding metal chair
with today's sour lunch roiling
in my intestines,
I can really appreciate you Allen!

Wanting nothing more than a healthy shit
in a reasonably clean toilet,
I sit here squirming in pain,
marveling at the similarity
between my bowels' discomfort
and the sight of an aging faggot
masturbating his senses
with a queer rhythmic rocking
and twitching.

The Port-A-John outside
this deconsecrated church where you vomit
inane repetitious pathos
offers no sanctuary.
It has no lights
and some men don't care where
or on what they piss.
Much like you I'd say, Allen.

Perhaps my gastronomical distress
will produce an appropriate applause.
Perhaps this pain will be worth it
when a thunderous stinko fart claps
its response to your performance.

Now THAT would be a poem, Allen!

OK - I can see the torches being lit and the rope being knotted into a nice noose. Get over it. I wasn't a homophobe then and I'm not now. I was less intimidated to speak my mind back then, nor wasI afraid to use language that only those who were actually what was being named could use. This was written on the back of a paper plate on a Bisbee sidewalk shortly following Ginsberg's recital. After I destroyed the restroom in the Hotel Bisbee, actually, with a stench that probably still lingers today. The black bean burrito lunch consumed in some aging hippie granola-crunching restaurant nearly killed me. They probably never read the warning signs about washing your hands. But back to Ginsberg. Yes, I know how he strode like a giant acress the literary stage. He was the originator of rant as literature. Who am I to argue with the critics? There was a slate of poets that weekend. Two stand out. Ginsberg - who completely disappointed me - some poets just shouldn't be allowed to read their own work! Jared Carter - who blew me away. Then a bunch of others, some of which became famous - or as famous as poets tend to get these days. To be honest - I think Ginsberg himself would have liked this poem. If you are offended - sorry. If you like this poem because you think it bashes gays - you're an idiot and you didn't get it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

a Jigsaw haiku

An ecstatic child
gleeful for a snowy morn,
memory’s treasure.

I have been playing with a poetry challenge suggested by the blog - Poets Who Blog - called Jigsaw Poetry. Looking for a creative kick start I have asked friends and family to suggest words. I ask for 10 total to put in a poem, with everyone suggesting anywhere from one to ten words. One friend from high school who just reacquainted through Facebook suggested 'ecstatic, snowy and treasure. ' here is a little haiku using them. They will reappear later once I have a full ten (actually I have three sets of 10 already!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

God's Awful Judgement of Sodom

Perhaps, I am told, it is me
Out of step, out of time,
Lost in a world changing
In increments too large for me
To accept willingly, spiritually,
Increasingly morally.
Call me a dinosaur (if you think it correct),
Anachronistic or reactionary, but please,
Leave me to cling to the values, the beliefs
Lovingly taught by my parents
Yet, I think, appropriate still in this new age.

In the course of time and society's seeming advancing decay
New attitudes and profligate behaviors
Chosen by a burgeoning licentious species
Obsessed with their libido
Rear in assault upon my beliefs, my values,
Reaching even further to my children,
Enjoining them to reject my teaching
Clamoring for me, my progeny, to accept
Tenets repulsive to me, to my ancestors.

Tyranny engendered of this new politic
Heeds little opposition, yet,
Intuitively I know preference is simply choice,
Not justification for parading peccant behavior.
Kindling for a cleansing fire will be found
Inevitable when conduct and rectitude clash!
Now, for my fathers, for my children, I will reveal
God's awful judgment of Sodom.

Read this one carefully. Look at it. See the Gestalt. Understand the argument. This is a specific style of poem but the reader must discover it. It is OK to disagree. In fact, that is the point of the poem! If still confused, contact me and I will give you the key.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Final Dream

The gleam of sunlight on fresh fallen snow
conceals a lone broken syringe
at my frozen feet.
Ironic imagery, I think, for
seven years lost in alternating
pleasure and pain,
eventually numbness.
Even the bite of winter wind
fails to break through
and the blurring world becomes
A fantastic kaleidoscope of color
And light.
Across the park the old woman
feeds bits of burnt toast to the pigeons.
Death, albeit belated, has finally come
I think, for me, and I hope
I do not startle her in her daily
life giving ritual
as I sink into my final dream.

Note: This poem was inspired by Poets Who Blog who had a little challenge called "Jigsaw Poem" in which ten different words were offered up by ten different bloggers with the idea of constructing a poem around them. The words were gleam, lone, broken, syringe, seven, fantastic, toast, belated, snow and bite. Toast proved to be the hardest for me, and at the same time the most inspirational as the image of the old woman feeding pigeons gives a nice counterpoint to the junkies descent into darkness.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Daddy's New Alarm Clock

It's some time around 3 a.m.
when a rustle, soft moan
and sharp cough
sit me bolt upright in bed.

Mom knows these sounds.
She stirs momentarily in her sleep,
then burrows deeper into the pillows.

But I am not connected as well.
I lack the internal psychic bond a mother has
to filter out the transient sounds
a newborn makes at night.

So I listen carefully,
energized with alarm
waiting for another noise,
any noise, to come from the crib.

When I hear my baby's intake of breath
followed by a soft exhalation,
only then can I lie back down
and drift back into peace -
until Daddy's new alarm clock
awakens me again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In You

In you my dreams teetered
on the edge of the wind
like a fledgling stretching
pinions virgin to use.

In you my hopes nurtured
at the breast of promise.
In you my faith resisted sacrifice
on the alter of fear.

In you my heart drank
at the well head of emotion
like a water-starved fawn
finding moisture in a shaded dell.

In you all things were possible.

In you my soul foundered
tasting the kiss of betrayal.

In you I learned despair.

This was originally a 'heartbreak' poem. Over time I came to understand that it can also be an expression of failed leadership. Consider the headlines that reflect fallen religious leaders, politicians and any of the myriad heroes we prop up on pedestals, only to be disappointed by their behaviour.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Loons And I

As crazy as a loon am I
yet unlike loons, I cannot fly!
And when loons fly it seems they mock me.
Ya-honk! You fool! Until eternity!

O' upward would I sailing swing
and gracefully float high,
the clouds like rugs about my feet,
my room would be the sky.

Or would I swim in mountain streams
beyond the ken of man.
Or would I spiral to the stars
and try to know God's plan.

But no, I can't aspiring fly
to where my heart would play
and loons but mock with silver wings
as they pass by my way.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nobody Home

I've been calling you
and getting no reply.

If I was sure I had the wrong connection
it'd be time to quit trying.

The number always worked before,
now the phone just rings.

And if you answer, the number's wrong.
There's nobody home by that feeling.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

In Search of Knowledge in America

If you want to know
first you have to push
insist until the clouds tinge pink
behind their eyes watching you.

They won't like it (or you) much -
screw 'em, you need to know
so you push
insist until they grind their teeth and spit
at you hoping
maybe one molecule
of their diseased spittle
will fly into your throat
and make you more like them.

Why do they resist?
You only want to know
so you push
insist until they attack with denial
and subterfuge
dying before you
thinking they prosper and grow.

You only want to know
so you push
insist.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Portrait Of A Woman

Raindrops splashing through the window screen scattered into a mist of fine drops lying on the window sill. Pressing her nose to the screen, the woman looked out of her room into the cool of the landscape and storm. The dry pungent odor of the screen mixed with the cool damp smell of the rain freshened grass and caused her nose and throat to tingle in an unpleasant way that was somehow hard to resist.
The gutter tapped softly as the rain finished its descent, pinging against the sides of the spout. The gurgling water rushing through the downspout began to rise in a cacophonous din of splashing and tapping. The woman listened to it as the mixed odors of metal and moisture brought her to the point of sneezing. Her eyes watered from the acrid scent and the memories of childhood, a time when she had trouble reaching the window sill to press her nose against the screen, smell the odors and hear the rain dancing and singing in the gutter.
Turning from the window, she took a small cloth lying on her bureau and sponged the screen-filtered moisture from her face. She walked slowly out of the room, giving a quick tug to the bedspread as she passed. She paused at the top of the stairs, wishing for a moment that she could perhaps slide down the bannister. Shaking her head sadly, catching a quick glimpse of age, she walked down the steps and through the living room, pausing occasionally to straighten and pick up. Reaching the front door, she went outside onto the porch and stood at the railing. Feeling the rain splash against her face, she lifted her arms in an almost supplicatory gesture, turning her face towards the sky, opening her mouth to taste the rain.
Her clothes became soggy as she stood there and they began to paste themselves with a gentle suction to her skin. Water trickled from her chin, splashed onto her chest and slipped lightly between her breasts to tickle her stomach. Her long hair grew stringy and plastered to her head and back. The woman laughed as the sun broke through the clouds and painted a rainbow across the meadow and trees before her home.
As if the splash of color across the sky were a signal, she kicked her shoes away, ran down the steps of the porch and out into yard and through the front gate. Crossing the narrow dirt road she leapt across the ditch and into the tall flowers of a broad meadow. Dancing and twirling through the soggy grass, she bean to sing as the rain slackened to a soft shower and the sun escaped the clouds further to brighten and embellish the vibrant colors of the rainbow.
Suddenly, she laid down on her back and watched the rainbow shift and shimmer through the misted rain. Shutting her eyes, she remembered how she had once laid in the rain, a shower of long ago, and had lain naked with a handsome young man who had loved her. She smiled gently, welcoming the memory and wished she could see and touch that young man again.
Rain mixed with tears, and she stood. Slowly walking back to the house, her arms gliding silently by her sides in a half-forgotten waltz, her face glowed with the deep warm smile that good memories bring. Reaching the house and sitting on the top step of the porch, she hugged herself, feeling the chill of the approaching evening. The memories, while pleasant, held a sadness and she began to grow cold as the sun set behind the dissipating storm.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Feral

She's not mine anymore.

Nevery wholly domesticated,
her allegiance temporary,
she dealt out affection sparingly.

Pleasing her was difficult.
Complaint was not permissable
and she responded to indecision
with indifference.

With no leash other than love to hold her
she began to wander.
The newness of an unmanaged world beckoned
with a thousand things to explore.

She visits now and then,
curious, yet aloof.
Seeing little has changed,
her curiosity satiated,
she soon leaves.

She's not mine anymore.
She's feral.


Author's note: This is a poem about a cat. It could also be about a few love relationships who passed through my life. If you have ever had cats of the indoor-outdoor variety, you will see some of them in this poem. If you have ever 'loved and lost', you may see your lost love interest in this as well.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On The Cliff

Standing on the cliff
with outstretched laughs rebounding
off the canyon walls,
over the train tracks
and into the river.
Wishing for a moment of calm
with upturned smiles reflecting
off a gnarled tree
over the clouds
and into the sun.
Standing on the cliff
with an empty bottle clinking
off the stones
through the weeds
and into the abyss.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Defiant Despite the Odds

Carefully picking her barefoot way
across a river of emotion
she imagines his kiss
and seeks the taste of her feelings
in that moment.
In the midst of the swirling eddy
of her heart's desiere,
she stands her ground
as sensual tides overwhelm
the place she has chosen.
She faces him.
His eyes pierce her with promise.
His touch invites surrender.
No tears reflect the despair
that tugs at her balance.
She has learned to feel the undertow
as massage
and only succumbs to the promise
of reaching the shore.
They kiss
and she doesn't fight the current
that sweeps her resistance away.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

An Old Mesquite

Even as the snow frosts
the jagged edges of the mountain,
rain fills the valley sky
dancing a flamenco rhythym
on my roof.
I watch the river each day
waiting for the red muddy waters
to swirling rise above the haunches
of an old mesquite, gnarled and bent
nearly prone from previous torrents.
I watch the crows tuck their wings
tightly agains the driving wind,
almost sleet,
but no white flecks appear
to show the effects of winter
on their wings.
I watch the skies.
I watch the river.
And I listen to the staccato bump
of raindrops on the roof
waiting for them to soften
into snow.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Out Of Service

There has been some kind of communication
breakdown.
Wires crossed
been have.
W brkn rods aig up
CLICK*

There has been communication
some kind of
break
down.

The Party of the First Part,
(hereinafter referred to as The Respondent)
categorically rejects the purious claims being made
by the Party of the Second Part,
(hereinafter referred to as The Petitioner).
Contending that differences are irreconcilable
The Respondent denies Paragraph A of the question
and rejects Paragraph B of the message,
submitting for the court's approval
that Paragraph C of the inference by the Petitioner
lacks substance and merit thereby
causing the union to be irrevocably...
CLICK*

There h been
so e kind of
com un ic ti ns
bre
k
d own...
CLICK*

This poem was written about the breakup between my practice wife and myself some 29 years ago. In rereading it, however, I see a view of today's political climate in the words. In fact, anytime anything goes into a court of law or a discussion (struggle) to determine who is right.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Made In America

My stressed business demeanor surrounded
by the towering white cumulonimbus of Arizona monsoon
reflects in the polished fender of a Japanese import,
the paradox of an image much more,
yet much less than what I really am.

With red-rimmed watery eyes bleary
from long hours, I stare at the portrait,
sensing what is conscealed
behind the clouds' soft facades -
flash flood water, wind and lightning.

A quick focus to my distorted face hopes to find
beneath the clean-shave and tie
a poet's wild abandon.

Above all, I see the image of a father
lacking courage to risk finding shelter and sustenance
for his wife and four children
in verse, prose, and editors' opinions
of what the public will buy.

This is no Detroit image,
but it is an American portrait.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Careless Remark

Portions of the dinner sit untouched.
Wrinkled peas and crusty potatoes
even now begin to show decay.

The wine was dry, the salad crisp and fresh,
but somewhere in the middle of the main course
something was said.
A little thing.
A careless remark.

With bowed heads,
and forks aimlessly pushing food
across our plates,
we share a silence
and digest the hurt.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thunder In My Heart

Asleep in your mountainside bed
the sudden clap of a storm cresting the peak
rattles the windows.
I wake to find you beise me.
My thoughts, dream clouded,
run with the mists pouring
down the mountain's flanks.
With the same abruptness as the change
in weather announcing its arrival,
you lie quietly beside me
and your presence claps like thunder
in my heart.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Moon Ghosting

Awakened by the yodeling chorus
of coyotes gathering,
the dream image of your face
lingers in my mind.
The staccato yipping
and occasional sustained yowl
send shivers down my spine.
It has been long since I have seen you.
The image of your face haunts me.
Green eyes pierce my heart.
The memory of our love passes
through my soul
like the silhouette of a new moon
ghosting through the star-clouded Milky Way.
Another refrain from the song dogs stirs me.
In my sleepy reverie I wonder
whay are you in my dreams tonight?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Faces

Where will you be
in this carnival of faces
when the calliope stoops hooting
with the last golden ring on the merry-go-round
caught?

Will you be in the House of Mirrors?
Or would it be the Tunnel of Love?
The Penny Arcade?

Or will you be but another vendor
selling balloons and pretty things
that break
sooner or later?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Maybe I'm Still Dreaming?

I think of you
when the morning sun splashes
through the flowered curtains.

The textured patterns on the bed
bring the memory of your face pillowed
in thick brown hair,
lips slightly parted and moist,
breasts rising softly
in the muted breathing of slumber.

I rub my eyes
and the memory is gone.
Only dust motes dancing
in the shaft of sunlight remain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Non-negotiable

After all the plans are made, and
the faith is acquired to make hope viable,
the ability of youth to determine the world
as something manageable begins to fade.
Age diminishes one's bargaining power
with reality,
and death is non-negotiable.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seeking Rhythms

Finding a place to start
even though it has already begun
and looking for the ending
though it's never done
seeking rhythms
in a syncopated world
first one way
then another
it all comes unfurled
like a flag that's raised at dawn
another sign
another time
just another direction to be taken
knowing all along
that what is right
may also be mistaken.
Rhythms
silly repetition
like waves, a sign of constancy
that always seems to change.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Storm Coming

Alone with the desert night
I hear the city rumble
breaking like waves on a distant shore.

The breeze is stiff, rain scented.
A dust cloud blossoming
at the base of a towering thunderhead
paints the horizon a pulsating
dirty orange.

Alone, I await your return
with dust-stung eyes searching
the lighted street.

No rain comes, just dust.
And you don't come,
only the storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homecall

Treebloom...
the river is fat.
And oh! The old lady next door is dying.

Child's call...
cold mud stands thick.
And oh! Yes she is, the old one is dying.

Kitefly...
the yellow sun burns.
And oh! There's an old man, an old man that's crying.

Homecall...
the silver moon gapes.
And oh! It's Spring!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do Flowers Dream?

I have heard the trees discussing
the wind's steady climb up the hill.
I have been startled by the exclamation of rock splitting
from oak roots carving pathways into granite
spotted with colonies of mustard colored lichens.
Growth shines in the excrement for those who can see.
Life lies waiting in the rotting carcass.

It is said our own death is implicit
in the consumption of fur, feather and scale.

The truth of this has not been revealed to me.
I do not pretend to know
which is higher in the scheme of things.
Is the food chain linear?
Is there a moral hierarchy with a line
marked clearly in God's handwriting
saying, below here you may
with clear conscience consume for food,
above here you may not?

Some say life is linear
and there is an ethical line drawn
at some indication of consiousness.

Do leaf and stone have knowledge without voice
(at least that we can hear and understand)?
Do the flowers dream?
(I think I caught a field of poppies dreaming, once.)
Should we refrain from eating dreamers?

Dogs dream, I know, a hind leg twitching
untethered chasing dream bunnies.
We do not eat dogs
except, I hear, in Korea.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Natural Selection

Watching dark ash and dust devour the sun
was a hard lesson for Rex.
Strength, claws and incisors
were no match for the advancing ice
and his reign ended.

We were prey, not predator,
running bent, adrenals pumping,
hoping to avoid being supper for the tigers.
But, we learned, and knowledge became power,
a subtle, but awesome substitute
for sinewed muscle and sharp teeth.

Once life was a struggle for food and shelter.
Successful procreation was a clear measure
of the success of the species.

Now, Nature begins to stack the scales
in counterbalance as we foul our nest
and eat the seeds of next Spring's harvest.

New viruses are multiplying,
reproduction is no longer a hope for the future
but a gamble with extinction.

Like poor Rex our blood has betrayed us,
beginning to freeze.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Morning News

The sun rises in peach colored splendor, again.
A hummingbird hovers at a feeder outside the window.
A jackrabbit dines at the end of the lawn.

Newspaper headlines greet the sunrise with fear.
It seems tribes are warring...
The food we eat is poisoning us...
cancers lurk in the air we breathe...
abuse is rampant...
crime is up and the Dow Jones is down...

Last night I stood at the end of the pavement
where a long expanse of moon bathed mesquite
and prickly pear provided an amphitheater
for the crickets' serenade.

A stench of gasoline, burnt rubber and radiator steam
swept away the cactus blossoms' delicate odor.
A body lay covered by a faded orange blanket,
dark blood seeping through the makeshift cover.
Desperately trying to keep a second soul within its vessel
three men and two women worked feverishly
stemming bleeding, immobilizing shattered limbs,
forcing a rhythm onto an unresponsive heart.

I looked up at the moon, waxing full,
and saw written at the breakfast table
Two Dead in Traffic Mishap.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

City Sidewalk Whispers

A partially avulsed ear
loosely wrapped in dirty gauze
listens carefully -
the eyes have long ceased meaningful input
staring fixated to the steaming sidewalk grate.
Maggots devour the dead flesh,
tickling like a child's whispered secret.
He strains to hear, to understand,
jugulars distended like dark blue rivers
crossing an ashen wilderness.
Voices are gray tides blurring across the grate,
footsteps strobe consonants through the iron slats,
occasional sirens break in red waves, pooling,
draining into the blackened cauldron
rising back up again as a gray steam.
"What?" he exclaims,
throwing a displacement wave into the foot traffic
pattern around him.
"Stop!" he shouts,
as the memory of a slashing razor
swoops out of the indistinct night
seeking his neck, but finding his ear.
Another whisper.
He listens carefully
watching the grate,
a tickling in his ear.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chasing Rainbows


Every now and then I'll see him.

The sun will be just right

flaring through the trees,

diffusing the shadows,

bouncing glare from the water

in a cascade of sparkles.


He'll be creekside, crouching,

knees bent and sitting low,

his fly rod lying across his thighs,

his head leaning forward, eyes intent,

peering into the fast moving water.


Sometimes, chasing rainbows with my children

I pause, looking downstream

and I see him hunkered in the shadows.


"There." I hear him say softly.

"There the big fish lie hiding.

There is where it takes skill

to tease a fish from its lair,

catch it on the tiniest of hooks

and work it through the riffles

to the shore, into the creel

and onto the dinner table."


Even when the sun is lost, swallowed by dark clouds

and the first thin raindrops of a coming storm

cause thousands of tiny circles

to ripple onto the water's surface,

even then when the forest is filled

with the silent clarity that precedes thunder,

I see him by the water,

jeans, blue work shirt and hunter's cap,

a tan fishing vest, cigarette dangling

from a hawkish face squinting

through horn-rimmed glasses.


I wish I could hold these moments

and look at him closely, to see those strong hands,

the stubbled face, the mischievous grin

and piercing eyes again.


But, as with all visions, it seems,

any attempt at seeing clearly, focusing,

and it's gone.


Still, when I take my children

chasing rainbows along the stream

I'll catch a fleeting glimpse

of a short, wiry man crouching creekside,

and I point, saying softly,

"There. There is where the big fish

lie hiding. Where it takes skill..."


And my son and daughter hear the voice

of the grandfather they never knew.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Demons

A blanket and old cotton robe
draped from her teenaged sister's top bunk
help keep out the monsters
that haunt my five-year-old daughter
alight with a keen imagination.

They're a blossoming warrior's shield
through which none but family may pass.

There is nothing in the dark
that isn't there in the light, I tell her,
remembering how like her
I would pull the covers over my head
to hide from ominous dark shapes
lurking in the night-light gloom.

I wonder if some day,
will she stand where I now stand
watching the milky way slip silently
across the desert sky?

The film of stars is like a blanket
that somehow shields me,
an aging warrior alight with a keen imagination.

I wonder if my sweet daughter
will also wrap herself in the comforting march of stars
exorcising life's demons?


An older poem but I still gaze up toward the nighttime sky and take comfort in its vast possibilities.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Your Presence is Electric

Your presence is electric!
The curve of your buttocks
and the soft swell of your breasts
send a blue fire sparking through my veins!

My nostrils flare and tingle
with the scent of your body.
My mouth waters in anticipation
of the taste of your lips.

Fuses blown, circuit breakers tripped,
the back surge of power generated
courses unchecked through all my connections
entangled in a web of hot wires fused
to each nerve charged with desire.

Your presence is electric!
Your being a dynamo, and I
short circuited with lust
wait anxiously for your voice,
for a touch,
for the power of lightning
alive in your flesh.


Love poem, lust poem, even after all these years my bride does this to me!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where My Love Finds Denial

Tracing the gentle curves of your breasts
and running my fingertip across your belly
in the teasing tickle of love making,
my finger pauses at the tip of a long scar
stretching from below your sternum
to the coarse thatch of pubic hair.

We are beings of light.
The strength of our souls emanates
in fine tendrills of luminescence
from our navels.

Your scar, cold and white,
belies the black strand of despair
that eclipses the glow of your being.
It is here my finger pauses
touching the source of darkness
I have sensed in you.
It is here where my love
finds denial.

This is a true poem or should I say a poem of truth, perhaps. It happened. There was a scar. We are beings of light. All of this. And because of these things, these true things within the poem, I have had many tell me the poem spoke to them in some manner about a failed relationship. There is something deeper here, I think, than love denied. You decide.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Philosophy

Each day contains a wealth of sights and and sounds,
of joy or sorrow, of pleasure or pain.
Each day reveals a secret of the gods
in this wondrous world of sunshine and rain.
We are alive! We can think! We can feel!
It is these things and nothing more we need -
To bathe our toes in sun-warmed ocean sand
or run to catch a floating thistle seed.
Philosophy upon life's wonders fed
will seek no answer more, but pause and stare
at what marvels a searching hand may find
and all the inherent mysteries there.

There you go! A sonnet!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Desert Kill

Burdened with the weight of fresh carrion,
feathers struggle in the dead air
seeking the elusive updraft
that gives an easier flight to aerie.

Soon there will be a patient stand at guard
as the present and future meet
in the yaw of hungry beaks.

Each year the shells grow thinner.
Each year more of the destroyers
pass by on the muddy river far below.
Each year there are more beaten paths
to every arroyo and promontory,
trails lined with stumps where mesquite once grew,
trails dissolving from the summer rains
into unwelcome canyons of the next millennia.

Some day the rodents will run riot on the mesa,
their fleas shrieking plague and hallelujah!
the eagles are gone, the coyotes are poisoned.

Only the fire ants will partake
in the desert kill.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fear of Fire

Color floating on the breeze
has caught my eye, a butterfly,
And no, I may not try to run
and capture her, I must not try!

For if we touched the spell would break,
She'd never fly again.
And I would have to bear the blame
for causing such an end.

My love for her must be content
to mark her flight among the trees
and take my joy in watching as
she dances on the sun warmed breeze.

But oh! Such colors strike a flame
that burns within my heart
and fills me with a crazy need
to tear my world apart.

For want of something I can't have
do I follow my lust and run
the risk of losing what I have
for colors flashing in the sun?

No. I just stand here helplessly
imprisoned by my wild desire
to touch and hold the dancing flame
yet fearful of the fire.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh, To Never See Cortez Again

Clouds are crashing
against the jagged mountain skyline.
Ice on the wind rattles the blackjack pine
and the forest sings with a susurrant waving of boughs.

Puffed white against cobalt blue
cumulonimbus underbellies stretch darkly
with the promise of snow.
The mountain receives them, impaling and holding them
until the vellum of mist rips
spilling the gift of moisture onto the cold dry rocks.

A mile below in thevalley
rain is tapping on fogged windows.
The gently pinging litany of the drizzle
is the prayer of hope for Spring flowers.

It is this cycle that engorges each wash
with rock crushing water
cascading into shallow streams
swelling finally into the green river
that once ran to the Sea of Cortez.

But the sea no longer tastes the snowmelt.
Red canyons are drowned behind concrete dams.
Now the moisture is scattered helplessly into the air
above the thirsty creosote and sajuaro plain
by fountains, stale artificial lakes,
swimming pools
and golf course greens.

Still, the clouds return from the Pacific
and the cycle begins anew each season
despite this broken spoke in the wheel.
And a river that searches for the Sea of Cortez
rushes to a pointless death in Phoenix, Arizona,
never to rise from the ashes again.

In 1994 this poem took third place in the Flagstaff Festival of Arts Statewide poetry competition titled Arizona Anthem. And yes, I know there is a split infinitive in the title. So did the judges. I may have placed higher but the grammar police busted me on this one. I did it intentionally. I really did. I toyed with "Oh, Never to See Cortez Again." I liked it - I liked the sense of never to the sea of Cortez sense of it. But.... there was this "to boldly go" thing in my head and I liked the rhythym and - so, I split an infinitive! I dangle participles too, you know!
p.s. by the way - in this same statewide contest, my daughter Megan took 1st place in the under 18 division for a sweet little poem titled "friends." She was 7 years old at the time! I got a nice placque, she got a paper certificate - it should have been the other way around.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Future

The future is some miles away
in fading light that fails
to reach the ground through the trees.

It is raining now and will rain tonight.
This is the future - a bit of rain predicted.

The ground will saturate soon.
The rain will run down the road,
pooling at the intersection
into a vast cauldron of brown mud.
This, too, is the future -
a known result of weather.

Or is it the past?
Have we seen the clouds gather just this way?
Have we seen this
and rain that followed later
saturating the ground and running down the road?

Is this the past or the future?
Or is it the present
and the tapping of rain on the roof
says there is no future,
and cold mists rising from wet ground argue
the past is only what we thought
it might have been?

It is raining now and will rain tonight.
In the mist I see the past, present and future,
far, dim, like the forest grasses
below the branches where the light faintly comes.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not Quite Reality

Clutched in the throes of an early morning fever dream, I could suddenly see clearly, lucidly, that computers are a huge lie.
Virtual Reality.
The use of the word 'virtual' is a cozening. Rather than saying fake reality, which would be more accurate, virtual suggests what the computer offers is just a little bit short of being actual reality. It's nearly there, a difference so small as to be hardly worth mentioning.
That difference, however, is an entire universe. Water and a rock have infinitely more in common.
The lie spreads, as well. The "Internet," the largest repository of information in the history of mankind, is largely unverified, unsubstantiated, and usually agenda driven. Navigation of this interlocked web of opinions, lies, half-truths and occasional substantiated fact is increasingly difficult. The basest of lies are couched in attractive professionally designed and executed pages. Failure to update and manipulate keywords and search engine optimizations can drive bona fide information into backwater pages that only the most diligent of searchers can find.
Before the advent of the internet, factual accuracy was substantiated in the pre-publication editing process. Now, factual accuracy is debated post publishing.
Perhaps it is not just the computer - but technology on the whole.
Text messaging has supplanted voice to voice contact. Text messaging is 'virtual' reality. All of the nuances of grammar and voice inflection are lost, pared down to a bare string of characters speaking in cliches.
Online gaming features teams in different parts of the globe fighting intergalactic battles without ever seeing each other, even the members of the same team, thrashing away in their darkly lit upstairs or basement bedrooms.
Thanks to computers and technology we have an entire generation losing touch with their basic humanity, socialization skills atrophying, yet convinced of their intellectual superiority because they have the internet at their fingertips and can find "proof" for whatever it is they want to think.
Computers are a calculator, television and typewriter rolled into one. They are nothing more despite our continued efforts to raise them up on some ungodly technologic altar.
What did we say in the 60s? Tune in. Turn on. Drop out!
Perhaps someone should be telling today's youth to Turn off. Unplug. Experience reality.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TV - Where all rational thought goes to die.

I have been home ill with pneumonia since Saturday evening. I cannot sleep because of the coughing. I have watched enough television now that my brains have taken on a gooey consistency and occasionally there is leakage from one orifice or the other.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy's chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton Minow, referred to television as a "Vast Wasteland."
Keep in mind there were only three channels. Color televisions were not in every home. Stations "signed off" at night and back on in the early a.m. Even PBS - the Public Broadcasting System, didn't come on board until 1969.
Now we literally have 100s of "cable" channels. We have news and opinion viewed from a right wing viewpoint (FOX), we have news and opinion viewed from a left wing viewpoint (MSNBC). I can watch fly fishermen work a stream in Alaska, soccer from Argentina, a guy who travels, eats and consumes mass quantities of alcohol, a guy who eats bugs, people of every ethnic stripe showing us how to make food that is probably bad for us, comedies, and a constant slaughter - at any given moment you can find someone getting shot, knifed, blown up, etc, on some channel or the other.
In more than 40 years, literally nothing has changed other than the length, breadth and depth of the wasteland.

Temporary Container

The piece below was first published November 25th, 1999 in the Seaside Signal newspaper when I was the general manager.

Whenever stress starts to tighten my jaw and make my stomach churn, I have learned to practice a little ritual that helps me regain my balance, relax and wade back into the business at hand.
I simply count my blessings.
This is not something I've always done. There was a time when I counted my challenges, my glass was half-empty and I was convinced that only my vigilant worry was what kept the wolves at bay.
It didn't help this attitude and approach to life that I was also a firefighter and EMT and had daily up close and personal experiences with the awful tragedies that can impact our individual lives without warning, without reason and without mercy.
Now, a little older, hopefully wiser, I have come to realize that I was focusing on the wrong things.
When sad, or worried, or stressed out - whatever the problem, I take a moment to count my blessings and know how fortunate I truly am. Remembering this helps me to understand that the difficulties facing me will pass.
This past weekend I had the awesome honor of helping my brother-in-law scatter the ashes of his beloved - a wife and mother taken at a very young age by a terrible debilitating disease.
With the widowed husband and his two boys present, I carefully unwrapped the plastic box containing the cremated remains. Molded into the lid of this nondescript featureless box were the words "Temporary Container."
I told the children that those words not only talked about the box, but the contents as well. Our bodies are simply that - "temporary containers" - and we should see ourselves as souls temporarily inhabiting bodies, instead of bodies with souls.
It was a very emotionally charged day. The ceremony was simple but eloquent. there were tears shed, but the relief of closure was present as well.
I remained at the site after everyone else had begun walking back toward our cars. I was filled with a profound sense of loss and I struggled to find "the blessing" so I could move on.
I counted my own blessings - my home is filled with love, we have our health and while our possessions are fewer than we would hope, they are far more than we truly need.
but what of this lonely man and his two young sons? Where was the blessing?
I turned to see the others, some distance away now and a thought, sweet and soft like a whispered secret, entered my mind - "Look at my beautiful sons!"
Looking again to where her scattered ashes lay, I whispered back, "Yes, you did a wonderful job."
This Thanksgiving, put aside your worries and your stress. Though for some it may be terribly hard, allow yourself to find your blessings. I pray you can.
We all live in "temporary containers" and our physical lives are but a brief moment that fades all too quickly.
But oh, such joy is ours, if only we take the time, even in adversity, to count our blessings.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Feline Therapy

Even the cat knows something is up.
She stops and looks at me,
inscrutable as ever,
then she jumps up and nestles
into my lap!
The cat never sits in my lap!
That honor is reserved for her mistress.
Somehow I find this oddly soothing
and I accept this quiet gift
as healing.
A few minutes later, she rises
and drops to the ground.
To say anything out loud is to cough,
so I think a warm note of thanks
towards her, and her tail twitches
"You're Welcome!"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Unrequited Love

I was sending a love note to you
thinking this time I had said
just the right words
to melt your heart
and soften your resistance.

While licking the stamp
I got a paper cut on my tongue
and knew your answer.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cat's Eye

God is angry
at this moment in infinity.
He thunders into the room
with disaster reeking omnipresent!

I run from His fury clutching
from the Heavens.

He has caught my irreverance,
my blasphemy,
my pissing on the furniture.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Chosen Father

God has chosen me to be a father.

It is my task now to find patience,
to answer difficult questions,
to allow small hands to participate
in what I am doing,
no matter how counterproductive.

It is up to me to lead,
to quell my own quaking fear
when things go bump in the night.

It is my lot to watch carefully
to guard against tragedy
without spoiling the adventure.

Sometimes I must frown meaningfully
and speak words sharpened
with a threat of punishment.

And always, I must put aside my fears,
and recklessness.

It is a strange paradox
to discard of necessity all the things
that made me a child,
yet discover them again
as a gift from my children
to their father.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Are You In Truth (a love poem)

Are you in truth anything more
than a wild dream, an invention?

Are you in truth anything for me,
or for that matter, I for you?

Each moment freezes in a touch
and thought suspended grows
a taste of longing.

The lie revealed then is precious.
For dreams are lies
and the truth is only denial.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For Ethan and Carol

Bev and I experienced this same loss back in 1993. It's never easy. I wrote this for my catharsis. We hope it helps anyone who travels this painful path.

Small Spirit

We all so wanted to hold you,
to nurture you with smiles,
hugs and love.
We were waiting, filled with hopes
of teaching you all things are possible.
Your sisters dreamed of playing
peek-a-boo games.
Your brother planned to show you
free-wheel bicycle tricks.
Daddy, who knew in his heart you were a boy,
envisioned quiet hours along a trout stream
talking about little things,
like why the delicate flying creatures
are called dragonfies,
and where the big fish can be found feeding
when morning mists rise from the water.
And Mommy,
with only sadness left to fill a silent womb,
aches from empty arms that longed to hold you
feeling your strong sucking tug at her breast.
For mommy a feeling of despair
knowing she has lost you
before she could sing to you the songs
her mother sang to her,
before she could gently kiss your forehead,
asleep in her embrace.

Small Spirit that fled our lives too soon,
newly conceived, still in the womb,
know peace and comfort we pray,
sleep warmly wrapped in the love we send
as angels carry you back into God's arms.