Category Archives: Poems

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.  

Fireflies

The occasional blink or glow that dots our eyes

and echoes light in ink-filled summer skies.

Random, flighty bugs go back and forth,

never staying long upon the earth.

Poetry resides in likened states

upon the page, lying there in wait.

Until the dusk of summer’s memory comes

flitting in our minds and waiting on our tongues.

Then off the paper, wisping as it’s read,

circling ’round our voices, resting in our head.

The instant blink or glow that passes in our eyes

then echoes light amid the ink-filled skies.

Rain (rondelet)

The rain fell hard

upon a pile of dirt and clay.

The rain fell hard

and water flowed as if to say

we cannot choose to stay this way.

and spread amongst our lives today

the rain fell hard.

In puddles, brown –

reflections of the sky retold

in puddles, brown

these ruptured teardrops sparkle bold

wrenched from the clouds, water cajoled,

so unlike the desolate loll

in puddles, brown.

When flowers bloom,

opening up in fragrant notes.

When flowers bloom,

and singing out from amber throats,

look to the azure sky that dotes,

waiting on a quickening dose

when flowers bloom.

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.

A noisy door helps me write (a villanelle)

Opening wooden doors that creak, something went awry.
A spatial sense of order, withdrawn in disarray.
Shutting closed I pass on through, the other side blue sky.

On ladders and embankments, I reach or try to climb.
The pieces always ticking while the motions are in play
Opening wooden doors that creak, something went awry.

Tip-toeing down older roads, hopping over grime,
Slipping over some misstep, it’s difficult to convey. Shutting closed I pass on through, the other side blue sky.

Crafting paths on tile and gravel out of sticks and rhyme.
None are quiet, some are speaking loudly in the fray. Opened creaking, wooden doors. Something went awry.

Careful with the word choice. It happens all the time.
The only advantage in supercilious display
closing shut. I pass the other blue side, the sky.

All this confusion while I wander in my mind.
Noises in their speaking voice carry me away.
I opened wooden doors and something creaking went awry.
I shut the door and pass on others, through to bluer skies.

Diversity

A billion snowflakes fallen down; the sky’s pale light sings them aground.

A population filled with wist over winter’s grey-ness, quiet bliss.

Each one designed of fractal flair; together in surrounding air

covering grass and plants and trees

woven in a blanket freeze.

In silence of a winter sleep

until the sun and tulips peep.

Then drips of water feed the ground and life returns in sights and sound.

And something made so singular moves in tandem in the world.

Solitary beauty at its birth –

flowing through to share its worth.

And so in moments cold, dispersed- all in beauty shown diverse

leads to something else, embrace it differently someplace.

Tarantella

Something that whipped in the wind brought me out in it,

crackling across as a swirl in the night.

Stepping and rattling the tambourine rhythm in

arguments fostered in melodious spite.

Here we are dancing an old tarantella

upping the stakes in each course or turn.

The constant accelerate twirling and gaiting

until we are much to invested to adjourn.

The tune that accompanies us in our effort

accelerandos to meet our estate.

Constantly raising the tensed dance hysteria

and we are now breathless and tired of debate.

Wouldn’t a tango be more aptly suited?

Or maybe a waltz or a foxtrot to try?

The steps, they are beautiful, motions in tandem.

No one is upstaged and nothing goes awry.

Here as I ponder the dance steps of politics,

tightening my tambourine skin here and there.

Adding a jingle to increase the rattle

in this tarantella, poetic warfare.

2020, well that escalated quickly.

The year 2020 will likely go into the history books as a watershed moment. It was the best of times and the worst of times, all rolled into an escalating cluster* of human behavior. We have dealt with (sometimes well, sometimes poorly) a global pandemic, political gamesmanship, natural disasters, ignorance, picking at old ethnic and racial discrimination wounds, asking what constitutes a sexual identity, personal loss, and public tragedy.

Perhaps all years hold this mixed bag of mess to some degree, but it was our home-bound-ness and reliance on all things social media that magnified EVERY SINGLE THING. I personally began rationing my social media intake around June of this year, just so that I wouldn’t give myself an ulcer – or worse – a heart attack. Given the state of things, I will likely continue that limit well into 2021.

Given that it is the end of this year, I want to take a moment to review my accomplishments and speak about goals.

What I read:

This year, I set a goal to finish reading 10 books. As of this morning 12/30, I have now finished 11 books. While that may seem modest to some, I consider it an achievement. Being on lockdown for most of the spring/summer helped me achieve that number. As I have mentioned before, I tend to start several books at once, then gravitate to one as time goes by. Not the most efficient way to read, but I’ve always done that. Among the titles I finished are The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Both novels are books about books, and I seem to enjoy that. Also included were a couple of revolutionary war biographies, Benjamin Rush and David Hosack. The longest of my read books were Tune In, by Mark Lewisohn (a biography of The Beatles) and Sarum, by Edward Rutherford.

What I’ve cooked:

Like many in the early days of the pandemic, I started baking more. I like to bake anyway, so it wasn’t much of a stretch. I started my own sourdough starter and kept it going for a couple of months. Alas, that had to come to a close because carbs are not my friends.

I also have done quite a bit of smoking/outdoor grilling. in 2020, I’ve smoked 3 briskets, 3 pulled pork roasts, 2 turkeys, reverse seared ribeyes, 2 spatch-cocked chickens, a beef tenderloin, 4 racks of ribs, 2 batches of burnt ends, and smoked cheese.

What I wrote:

2020 was not the most prolific year in terms of writing. I simply didn’t feel like writing for large stretches of time. I feel like the things I did draft were of a better quality than most from years past, so there’s that. I didn’t submit any of it for publication, as my distaste of publication rejection continues. I strive to get feedback on this site to understand how readers perceive what I write, but WordPress readers are largely lurkers. Among the poems I’ve written this year, I’m most fond of April 2020 and A Violette, and most proud of Now is the Time for Harvests and Torte, with my Father. If you have a moment, please read and leave a comment or find something else you like and let me know about it.

Goals for 2021

My goals for 2021 are wide open at this point. I would like to write more and better poetry, be published in a recognized literary journal, and attend a writing retreat/workshop. I would love to be able to travel again with my wife with no concerns about pandemics. I will continue to cook because I love to eat. I will continue to read because books are a great way to escape into my mind.

To those of you who stop by regularly to read, I appreciate you and hope that you will continue to find something here that makes you think or that you enjoy. I wish you all the best in 2021.

Happy New Year!

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.