Category Archives: writing

Poinsettias (a pantoum)

A vase of red poinsettias,
with blooms all tinged with gold,
sits atop a mirrored cabinet
that reflects her pictures from years ago.

With blooms all tinged with gold,
a glittering of yesterday
reflecting pictures from years ago,
An illuminate display.

A glittering of yesterday
fills a world my mother dreams.
An illuminate display,
her youth, sparkling in scenes.

The world she fills with dreams
reflect the mirrored cabinet:
her youth, sparkling in scenes,
with a vase of red poinsettias.

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A spatial sense of order, withdrawn in disarray.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!

Sowing (for Christmas)

It’s all La-dee-dah until it’s go-go-go.

There’s not much spirit unless there’s snow,

Ornamental twinkles in lights aglow

with fa la lahs and the ho ho ho.

And joy and hope and peace are hung,

reminders of a flower sprung

in our midst. Now with our tongues

the joy, the hope and peace are sung.

Yet those upon this world are tired.

Each and every age transpired

without the love and peace desired,

despite the joy and hope that’s squired.

Though darkness settles, spends the night,

morning always brings us light.

Thus we hope. Our homes bedight

with ornamental air alight.

And in this yearly journey shown,

though some desist and some bemoan,

mankind’s joy and hope are sown

and Love is sprung again and grown.

Scratching Frost

Ahead of my steps in linear course, 
the shovel scritches back and forth
- a sound that scatters with the snow
and bits of debris ground below.

As I amble across the drive
the scratching noise itself derives.
A haul gets tossed to the edge,
bits fall wayside, marking a ledge.

This song in concert with my walk
could not be heard with snowplow squawk-
rumbling in the cold grey air
tossing snow, making bare

the concrete surface on which I stand.
The scraping by a shovel in hand,
the detail frost and snow aligned,
showing what I've left behind.

And as the chore has come to close
I look back at the path I chose.
Leaning on the shovel there,
snow still falling everywhere.

The best way out is always through – Robert Frost

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.