Category Archives: free verse

Poteau (For Patricia)

In the mornings we always welcomed the day looking at your Poteau Mountain.

And far away the mists crawling over its topmost trees towards the base –

the sun rays up through the field, a race.

A visual prompt of creation’s way, and you would say – it’s going to be is a pretty day.

Our conversation would turn a phrase while we drank our coffee

and up the hill, the blue-green tinted tree line spilled into oak and rock about halfway down.

In summer, with the evergreen on display – it always was a pretty day.

In autumn when the leaves turned red, we made a trek – the road ahead was rocky, steep,

We climbed the hills and look out on the valley’s thrills below. A cloud passed through the brush and stayed.  It blocked our view but didn’t ruin that pretty day.

A frost would settle winter mornings on the upper trees under a cloudless awning clear and blue. And as we sat behind a framed glass view, the window shared your mountain too.

With winter’s frigid accolades, you never ceased to smile and say – it sure is a pretty day.

Springtime storms would hang and cling, the thunder from your mountain sings a song of praise and grace.  The distant rumbling warned of storms, but you were never made forlorn or worn or gray.  Even this was such a pretty day.

Those mornings when you weighed your heart, did you ask God for each fresh start?

The mountain only in your view – a post -but sky and land beyond that too.

And all this scene of wondrous awe, the trees, the sky, the rocks and all

in your witness, don’t dismay –He said –

for here Patricia is your pretty day.  

Life on the game show channel

I sit and breathe in your long silences,

the room filled with TV conversation

about the puzzle just done or the prizes they won.

Lounging in quiet while you sleep,

then you stir to acknowledge the commercial break

about stuffed-crust pizza, ready to bake.

These moments are interludes,

built as a ladders to an afterlife. While we brood

all our days picking out letters for words forsooth

or the answers from among the multiple choices we choose,

we have one eye on the stuffed crust pizza, ready to bake.

The beginning of the game is rapid fire, and everyone gets an answer right

and we are introduced to each contestant’s life, the bright light

of their enthusiasm spurring us to play along

wishing we knew all the correct responses from wrong

or knew the best path we could take.

The episode of this game soon passed

the winnings of our participation never would last.

While from question to question we walk in our mind

’til our slumbering surpasses our tangible time

we are barely awake, our dreams filled with ladders

and craving for pizza already baked.

Torte, with my father

The flourless cake, its heaviness derived of bittersweet.

Chocolate dense as darkness.

A china cup , a black pool swirled with an opaque liqueur.

The taste of each as contribution –

rancor offset by the affable.

I sit across the from the empty seat you once used.

My memories are heavy with the affection of your company

and controverted by your absence.

Each bite with a following sip a battle of emotions.

How it lingers, the memory of your sudden death

followed by the overtones of your prescience.

The night we talked late, and you said “the parent becomes the child”

Yet, I still want to ask you for advice and you never quite accepted mine.

The sound of my fork clinks and the resonant ding of the cup

as I set it down upon a saucer

all I hear in reply.

Cantabile

America,

about this unfinished symphony…

The movements that proceeded this one are fading and the players are tired.

This current antiphonal fugue section isn’t working well. The swells grows louder and less melodious by the measure. Gone are the phrases that rise and fall in unison. In their place are resonant pedal tones, brassy glissandos and clashes of cymbal and blat. Largely single voices that raise the din.

Remember the sweeping melodies of the past. True, the ancient tunes of the indigenous are mostly lost, but they were here when the land was born and still echo in our ears if we just listen. Our young work of art holds the jigs of immigrants, the hymns of the pious and yes, the blues of the enslaved. Some songs were joyous, others dripped with pain and sadness. They may have been singular in their experience, but they are unifying in their impact.

Across the landscape, the gospel choir of sinners and saints and the choral moments of victory shouted that we shall have a song, and you gave us one.

Contemporary ditties dot the eras, but do not define the work. Populism accentuates the moment, but ad libitum cannot sustain the chords. Intervals from fourth to fifth and augmented sevenths resolve themselves to prime.

Anger and happiness are to be heard throughout, folded in as motifs – but it must lead to where it begins and ends, in one voice.

A voice shared of past and future songs, of freedom for all, ringing bells of prosperity for each one of us, crescendo in equality and building the next movement.

Cantabile.

Perception

You ask me to think about paint colors,
and the soft gray you’ve chosen.
The hue of it is blue, but it reflects
a green during midday, when the sun is highest.

Blue is a color that knows no season, and paints the infinite sky

while green implies the growth of things – dotting where the eye sees.

Grey, itself – like clouds obscure the sky or fog obfuscates the landscape.

Such a color – gray/grey – spelled two ways yet has a continuum of sound transitioning between “a” and “e”

– in both, the sum is intermediate.

I slow down the diphthong
and try to catch the tones between the chromatic versions.
I voice this change in sound color aloud, with the intention
to consider them without interference.
You give me a sideways glance
and say, ”No, I meant, how do they look?”

******

A poem originally written in 2015 during NaPoWriMo, dusted off and reworked here.

Seasons

Standing next to the brick wall to gain a view on an edge,
I see seedlings of a future beginning to assert their presence in a distant hedge.
A clutch of vines hold firm to their path in runners along the wall.
Green patches vie in the foreground, soon to fill the emptiness with crawl.
It all fosters a belief in rebirth. Yet that requires a conviction in the death of things in every place
when what happens is metamorphosis on a pace approaching eye level.
I see a world that sleeps, then grows to the horizon.
In ten years or so, this garden will all be changed and enlightened
from point-to-point, the severity of existence rearranged.
The florets, grasses, leaves, and life with its meandering display,
just as the vine that climbs the wall wrestles with the moment,
the energy of infinity wins out as nature foments.

*Photograph taken by me in March 2019 at the Gardens of Kylemore Abbey, Connemara, Ireland.

Now is the time for harvests

Now it is time for harvests and from this I glean:

My small garden teems with tomatoes and poblanos, the plants endured through the dry spells of July and August – seeming to hope against events that their fruit would would come forth.

The window box of basil and sage and thyme is overflowing and beginning to seed, whilst the onions (shallots) share their home with clover – ever-present even after my attempts to weed.

This is a testament to their community and synergy, and I have learned to let them be.

The linden and pear are beginning to yellow and will soon fade and wear – leaving bones to bear the brunt of winter’s ungracious wind, the rattling leaves entrusted to another’s care.

By and by, more near than far – time will rest in plentitude with harvests of what I’ve tended to. I’m hopeful that my days were seeds – that the times I grew and raised and reaped met others’ needs or made amends, or shared a bitter cup whilst making friends.

There’s always one more

In the still life of a stand of flowers, beauty only lasts as petals are reaching their horizon. In a second, they fall and fade from memory.

I pick just one in that moment.  On another day it will grow elsewhere, the memory of the first a propagation of seed and light.

In the waning moments of a day, there is a gasp of light before the darkness draws down the shade.

There are many more specks after it fades. A memory in one more snapshot.

Getting to know the sky requires the memory of space, the distance between and among the stars.  Finding one and remembering where it is.

But if you misplace it, no matter,  there’s always one more.  

The wisdom of stick people

We make a step.

Then two. But never alike. There is so much space and planar geometry to consider.

Those drawn from points and lines, making conclusive statements from their biases in plain “right and wrong”

If x then y. Then straight ahead.

They are the ones inconsiderate of the spherical or the enveloping things about intervening axes and overlapped arcs.

Sometimes our way becomes brambled and thick with their branches.

It’s a crowd that crossed our path with felled reasoning, their limbs mangled in the present disagreements, All attempting to move forward.

We can go around it if we choose. We can scale the brush if we desire.

We may assist the ones blocking with compassion, convincing them to move another way.

Yet, the wisdom of stick people is to pile on, despite all admonishments, losing ourselves in the entanglements, rather than consider the spatial options.

We make a step, then two…

April 2020

This is a time of blossoms.
Each day, a petal grows to hide the thorns.
The wind-kicked clouds cry onto the pavement
where people walked in groups
chattering just a few weeks ago.

The clatter and rumble of man’s progress replaced
as the thunder ricochets into the emptiness of night,
followed at dawn by singing birds
among our edifices
from their nests embedded in the steel and concrete.

Mountains breathe the clearing air in a respite
from our industriousness.

We mourn what we have lost,
both the temporary and the dear.

Yet as we cover our mouths in silence,
our eyes are open to see a blossoming world
giving so much in our absence.