Category Archives: writing

A Violette

This poem was partly inspired by the song “Arthur McBride”, a protest Irish folk song of sorts that describes a chance meeting during a walk. After listening, you may find yourself humming the tune as you read.

One morning while walking my big yellow dog,
strolling the sidewalk and whistling a song,
the sun creeping slow and the sound of a frog
moaning and croaking, forewarning.

Coming towards us, two men in red caps
and a little boy pulling a wagon in back
I nodded hello, with a smile and a snap.
The sunlight was waking and yawning.

Hello there, my good friend, spare us some time
to explain our day’s mission – the work it is prime.
Our leader needs your vote in this political clime.
The lib’rals are gathering and swarming.

He’ll keep us all great and help us to win.
He is the best president that ever has been.
He’s building a wall, and he’s scourging the sins.
We think he is righteous and charming.

But what has he done, I asked in reply.
He’s lied to the congress and voters alike.
He insults hero’s families and impeachment decries.
He’s neither so righteous nor charming.

He fancies himself a dictator of sorts,
thinks he’s above the law with contempt for the courts.
Others who govern enable this farce –
afraid to lose power, suborning.

Also, he’s ill-prepared to lead us through strife;
He doesn’t know science or healthcare, he swipes
At the laws we enact for our planet, our lives.
We should be outraged and swarming.

He’s not empathetic for his fellow men,
He worships the dollar, he wholly pretends.
My dog shows more care and concern (compassion)
And then the dog barked without warning.

The red-hatted men stood there scowling, their sprog
was contentedly sitting and petting the dog
(Who sat and enjoyed the attention he brought).
The sun it was higher and fawning.

You see that he’s happy and very content,
For the kindness that your boy has given to him.
He’s ever so loyal, a true life-long friend
and doesn’t annoy with his barking.

Let those who divide for political gain
adopt a philosophy that doesn’t give blame.
We need to avoid the one-upmanship game
The stakes are too high for this scorning.

Now fifteen weeks hence, I am here to recall
this chance encounter that we had – one and all,
the red-hatted men, their ward and my dog
stood on the corner mid-morning.

And now we can no long gather for chat.
The boy he succumbed to a virus, and that
has enveloped a world that was angry and fat.
Now we are all sad and in mourning.

While strolling this evening and walking my dog –
Alleyways quiet, no crowds there agog.
My canine looked back to the noise from a frog
moaning and croaking, forlornly.

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.

Isolation

Once among a growing cluster
Can a flower bloom alone?

Will a single word not rhymed
still take on poetic tones?

Does a song without its chorus
soar in hearts, fill a home?

Can a single buzzing bee
pollinate without the swarm?

Will I write if no one listens
In our isolation?

The solitary bumblebee
seeks and finds the pollen source.

A melody alone can cause
a tear, a smile from lonely hearts.

While a single word won’t rhyme
another one will build a verse.

And single blossoms here and there
dot and beautify the earth.

And here, myself in solitude
I craft this poem without remorse.

The bells of truth

(Sung to the tune of The Bells of Rhymney, by The Byrds)
I believe that he’s guilty,
says the voice of Mitt Romney.
Is there hope for conviction?
Not with the witness restrictions.
Where is the transparency?
Cries the moderate constituency.
Democracy is lost and feigned,
shouts the spirit of John McCain.

Other senators fear it,
repercussions and bitter explicits
and other hateful endictments
from the one that the “christians” assented.
Romney’s faith not dissuaded
from the cause that his oath would not betray.
Lesser ones fear it.
Repercussions quench the spirit.

People, pray for justice,
and relief from this, we’re all disgusted.
Bells would ring, ring, ring
if our leaders would simply do the right thing.
We are troubled, our country is bleeding,
and tempers around us, they are seething.
And when will the truth be
given full weight for all to see?

Portamento

As if the sunrise welled and overflowed,
an inkling of light, then creation bestowed.
Anticipation moments pass
from intra-chordal throes,
at last to grounded melody in phrase.

Or let me express in other ways;
a passion builds in smaller plays.

First, the pedal points of tone suffice,
a basis for embracing life.
Like moon and stars and sunlight greet
the common ground beneath our feet.

Tunes of commonality composed
above this founding base suppose
synchronicity imbued,
and many intervals accrue.

Yet, with the suspense here to next
a lingered moment’s desired effect
mellifluous, and tasting sweet,
such to sweep you off your feet.

As memories are long and vast
our songs with portamento last.

A Decade of Poems

The milestone of a new year is upon us, and it also signals the beginning of a new decade.

To mark the occasion, I wanted to revisit some of the poems I’ve written here over the last ten years. I sought out poems that seemed to resonate (number of views) or were meaningful (due to events of the period).  Plus, who doesn’t love a good list.  I write here because it is an easy venue to share.

So, here goes… My top ten poems of the last 10 years.  I didn’t start regularly writing until 2011.

From 2011, Poet Biographies

From 2012, What to do when there are three heels in your loaf of bread

From 2013, the chnott and the sarborant

From 2014, Gratifying

From 2015, Sonnet for Longing

From 2016, Immersion

From 2017, Puzzled

From 2018, Maybe

From 2019, That’s me

I wish you all the best in 2020.  I hope you will return to taps and ratamacues to read and comment.  I appreciate all of my readers.

Happy New Year!

A description of her mantle piece

Designed to draw eyes upward,

scraggly stakes of winter are positioned

to point to the space above the mantel.

Here, only brick and mortar backdrop reside.

A façade of permanence, punctuated with lines.

Below the weathered twigs, a swath of green spreads about the shelf.

This comforting shawl teems with dense sprigs,

lush in every moment and angle

both symbolic and real, a mantle.

Interwoven are ornamental moments of silver, or of color and contrast,

fancied by a studious mind and placed by fussy hands,

yet are accustomed and sincere.

Tapered pick of crystal, a moment, the glittering fractals suspended in time,

And though a sheaf in days of stored abandonment,

it is now her manteau from twig to bough,

subduing winter’s darkness,

that embraces the starkness of an empty hearth and warms the room.

What Sweeter Music

Traditions start as single activities.

A one time event makes an impression so that it is planned for again in order to recapture the excitement and joy of the first one. Nothing celebrates holidays like traditions.

I had the fortune of growing up in a musical family. Both my father and mother were music teachers and my two siblings and I had lives that were intrenched in music lessons, church choirs, band, piano, choir concerts, etc. No time of year was more filled with music than Christmastime.

At early ages, my sister and I would wear out the phonograph playing my father’s vinyl albums of the Robert Shaw Chorale “Hymns and Carols Vol. 1” and the Harry Simeone Chorale “The Little Drummer Boy.” I don’t remember the first time I heard them, I just remember listening to them every year. This grew into my own tradition of seeking out and purchasing a unique Christmas album each year. My collection on CD is extensive. 🙂

When we were slightly older, perhaps tweens or so, my parents taught us a Christmas carol to sing for our relatives after we made the long car trip to Grandmother’s house – in 4 part harmony. It kept us engaged and perhaps kept us from fighting over spots in the back seat. Our first carol was an arrangement of Deck the Halls, followed in subsequent years by several Alfred Burt Carols. It became a tradition throughout our teens, with my oldest brother contributing the final carol we would rehearse and perform as a family unit (written in a fit of inspiration during his first year of teaching and sent to my parents as a Christmas card – much like the Burt carols).

A most memorable tradition began soon after we had moved to Arkansas in the early 1970’s. My father had become the choral music director at (then) Arkansas Polytechnic College, a place that at the time was known for its band program but never had much of a choir. I suspect that he decided that he wanted to give a grand Christmas program one year. Preparations would always begin the Friday/Saturday before the concert with the search for the appropriate Christmas tree to cut and bring into the main lobby, the crafting of decorations, and last minute rehearsals. The program grew each following year and would begin with small ensembles singing in a pre-concert venue around a Christmas tree.

Antiphonal brass and choirs would perform from the open balconies of the music department lobby. Processional pieces that involved brass and organ announced the start of the program. Unique stage decorations such as large evergreen wreaths of cedar and pine or a mock stained-glass window would adorn the center of the stage.

There were exciting new choir pieces and familiar favorites and the community came out in droves year after year.

My father passed away a few months ago, and these memories have been a comfort these past few weeks. I am fortunate to have a soundtrack for my memories of him, and much of it is Christmas music. Here is a top five (ok, six) list of Christmas musical moments influenced by my Dad.

1. O Come all ye Faithful (Robert Shaw Chorale)
2. Come Dear Children – Alfred Burt
3. Ríu Ríu, Chíu – Anonymous
4. XIV: The March of the Three Kings, from Hodie by Ralph Vaughan Williams (really this entire work, Hodie, is worth a listen)
5. His Yoke is Easy, from Messiah by George Frideric Handel

And finally, a moment of sweetness that expresses my father’s love of music greater than any song, poem, or piece that I could have written.

What Sweeter Music – by John Rutter

I encourage each of you to embrace your traditions, not only during this season of the year, but all year. It might be baking or going to events. It might be meals together or a hike in the woods. It could be singing or storytelling. It could be volunteering to help others. Watch them grow each year. Make something your own tradition and share it with ones you love.

********

Images within this post are my own.

Now and then

It was entire durations of a dream, she stood behind me, not a sound.

Then a gleam of light hit the ground, a shadow fell and her voice sang a round.

Now, the memory a more abundant chorus than I recall

with my littered words that clash and brawl – my slumber at an end.

I never saw her face, neither that of lover or a friend.

Another day may bring her near, perhaps with some quieter verse to hear as when it was just then.