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2011 Poems

May - August

Ending in Tears          Print this poem only


In 20 minutes I will be letting go

of the last tattered strand

of bureaucracy glued to me

for thirty-seven years.


I did not imagine that I would feel this way

like falling facing up seeing that rope

wondering how it will be

without this adherence.


I left part of my soul up there

most of my life still is bound

in the spirals of remembered moments

in minds and hearts of those of us who touched.


Being in the air like this

is free and breezy twisting easy

with my muse and pixies

poets and cousins by the dozens.


But still the loss haunts me

in these last moments of goodbye

images of friends and fellows

of embers and smoky nights in bars.


The young whose questions thrilled me

the old who taught me lessons now practiced

with joy and pain as I gain on the finish line

images of those years now gently mingle


with my tears.


My last official day to be employed by El Centro College was today (August 31, 2011), midnight to be exact is the end.  As I look back on my teaching career with the Dallas County Community College District I feel some satisfaction but I cannot deny the feeling of sadness at this moment.  Many wonderful and some sad memories flash through my mind.  I have known some magnificent human beings there - students, colleagues, staff, and administrators.  But I am also loving retirement.  I have been on "phased retirement" teaching part time for the past three years and now I am completely retired.

Written August 31, 2011












A Cajun Concoction          Print this poem only


Chef Paul and painter George

serving Cajun to the world at large

spicing each others dishes

with blue dogs and red fishes.


A grateful public bows in your direction

savoring your Cajun connection

hoping you keep forging a trail

and spreading your art full sail.


Author's Note:

I never met George Rodrigue (image above on left) but I did go to his gallery in the French Quarter in New Orleans with my sister and on several occasions enjoyed crawfish etoufee at his Blue Dog Cafe in Lafayette.  His art is striking and uniquely Cajun.  He is world-renown now and has painted his own version of several U.S. Presidents.  But I really first heard about him from my cousin Gary Reed (sadly both are not deceased) who went to high school with George in New Iberia.  They met regularly in high school reunions and I got to know George's wife, Wendy Rodrigue Magnus, who was devoted to him and did a blog about him and his art. Wendy was kind enough to allow me to use an image of one of George's pieces on a poem I wrote which was inspired by that painting.  George and Wendy founded a foundation which gave thousands of dollars in scholarships to young painters to encourage their growth as artists..  


Paul Prudhomme (image above on right) is a famous Louisiana chef who has had a lasting influence on Cajun and Creole cooking. 

Written 8-25-11









Being Homo Sapiens          Print this poem only


Hi, I am I

and I am a homo sapiens.

Sapiens... the wisdom to know

I cannot be I

without you.


I wandered

an errant ion

yet to be discovered

and named.


Then I walked into this little universe.

You were in conversation

engrossed in your mutual darkness

glowing with grace conferred in stories.


I settled at last

into an orbit

around the star

you managed to find together.


Your laughter and your tears

tore tiny openings

eroded the ramparts

that hid my soul.


My shadow now melts and mingles

in the sapiens of my fellows

where now and then

I happen upon serenity


and find my humanity.

Author's Note:  This poem speaks to the human need for connection with others, for we cannot be human without them.  And hopefully we can all find a few brave and open souls to share the darkness as well as the light. 


Written 6-6-11










Conflict          Print this poem only


Conflict.  It is not an attractive word.

Eyes glaze over as if unheard,

its meaning as confusing and strange

as quarks or the stock exchange.


It might mean divorce or an angry fight,

opportunity, crisis, darkness or light.

It’s just a word like its sister dispute

but where does it lead, what is its root?


Politicians use it for attention and fame

zealots slice with their sword of blame

poets and novelists spin in its web

friendships and love and families ebb.


But when I found the inner space

to fall into its mystic embrace

to bridle my ego and ire

I reached through into the fire.


I found a glen of orchids and springs

where the morning mockingbird sings,

underground streams beyond mental poses

where souls open and the heart discloses.




But I did not arrive to that fertile glen

by accident.  Now, I can remember when

this woman of fine and classy bearing

called me in for conversation and sharing


about a need for training  in ADR

downtown.  And with my mouth ajar

she asked me to help chart

a new program they wanted to start.


And so, unsure and afraid I’d be a fool

I jumped into this deepening pool

of conflict resolution and mediation

slipping and sliding with dedication.


I discovered a field both big and small

too big and complex to learn it all

but under its massive tent

everywhere I went


I found good people trying,

through the anger and crying,

to help others make something new

in the red and the blue.


This field is small enough

that all of us, weak and tough

can paint on the canvas of our time

our own poem with our own rhyme.


Written 8-21-11









Fence Builder          Print this poem only


All the houses around us are fenced.

Boarded against the hoard

of vagrant eyes, imagined robbers.


Five yellow pages of our fears -

fence builders

many hoping we will overcome our thrift

and buy their iron or vinyl

rather than the cheaper wood.


I prefer to see my neighbors

repairing their pickups

throwing their kids a party

driving, walking, scooting

down the back alley.

Where are they headed?

To the store for lettuce or the lottery

to the doctor for their asthma,

some at an unsafe speed,

are they late to the office

or are they slaves to productivity?


It seems we need a retreat

from the attention-demands of a crazy world.

But is it too easy to insulate and isolate?


My no-fence house

is my declaration of dependence

on this neighborhood

and my ties to it.


But how well I know

my dark talent

for building walls within

to divide me from those I count

as family


and intimates.


I don’t want to be

a fence builder.

The costs are too high.


Written 5-9-11  Revised 9-1-19









Hackberry          Print this poem only

Near the sidewalk beside the house
you tilt slightly toward me
in your brown hackberry beauty
as if to remind me to lean into life.

Written 8-30-11











Jambalaya and the Grandfather Clock          Print this poem only

The rhythm of our conversation
slow and easy as we dip
deeply into the chambers
of our hearts
is joined as if on some cosmic cue
by the deep-throated avowal
of the grandfather clock.

Between gongs time stops.
I am on a peaceful planet
the laws of physics suspend.
Space bends between breaths
in these emerald moments
fertile with quiet attention.
Something sacred is happening here.

Strands of connective tissue
like the brown bayous
narrow roads
and roots of Evangeline Oak and water lilies
stretch across generations
into our accented words
and mist in our eyes.

It is good to be here
taking in the crazy simmering kettle
of jambalaya
called family.


Author's Note:  A visit to my cousins in Louisiana prompted this poem.  As I sat and shared with my cousin Marcia the big beautiful grandfather clock behind me gonged.  And on another day my other cousin John prepared the most fabulous jambalaya I have ever had and I had a wonderful reunion with other cousins and their children in their home in New Iberia, Louisiana.

Written 7-31-11





















Jot          Print this poem only

What do you see -

standing there looking at me?


The dip in my back

from the loads I've packed


the silver between my eyes

or the sadness in disguise


a worker for my man

just a dumb creature who can


do nothing but obey

what the reins convey


or the children I took

back and forth from the brook


the family I support

the dreams I transport?


Who are you, standing there

in your momentary stare?


I stand here being me

my jot of eternity.


Author’s Note:  Written after a visit to New Orleans’ French Quarter and Jackson Square.  Photo taken by me.  One of my favorite and most memorable photos I’ve taken.  I love this picture.  I felt a strange kinship with and compassion for this animal. 


Written 6-2-11








Mosquito          Print this poem only


Mosquito you flit and ride the air

Your little eyes always seek

while you blow north and east

looking for a place to feed.


Your flitting doesn't cease

until you light on my arm

find your way through the hair

to plunge your sharp needle there.


Mosquito you in the big office

checking your wealth finding mine

got your minions on the line speaking

finding loopholes, sneaking


around in every cranny and nook

bumping against the rule book

to find a warm blooded beast

for your next asset feast.


Which of these creatures am I?

The one with cash in its eye,

a bug with a hungry need

or some other stealthy stalking breed?


Author's note: I loved my recent visit to the Jungle Gardens of Avery Island, Louisiana, but was surprised by the multitude of mosquitoes. 

Written 7-31-11









Oh! blessed fall          Print this poem only

Oh! blessed fall
I rise up, I crawl
where art thou?
My sweaty brow
yearns for just a hint
of your coolness in this heated stint.

Written 8-30-11








Our Wondrous Wanda            Print this poem only

I heard laughter from the room

stopped there in my tracks

atypical of the normal gloom

on students writing just the facts.


I looked in to see the source,
the stimulus of this brightness,

she spoke with such great force

on matters of both import and lightness.


What I didn't know then

was the depth and strength of her care,

the great love and respect she'd win,

or the times of fun and pain we would share.


Ms. Jones, the thing that will never vary

is the love of learning and life you've taught

and a spirit wondrous and extraordinary

in whose net all of us have been caught.



Author's Note: This poem was my birthday gift to Wanda Jones on her birthday. It was read to her in the Blue Moon Cafe amidst the bells and beeps of the slots at Choctaw Casino June 9, 2011.


I had the pleasure and privilege to teach with Wanda for several years at El Centro College in Dallas, Texas where she was renowned for her skill and verve as a history teacher. She was one of the most popular and beloved teachers among students.


Written 6-11-11











Stroking Fantasy          Print this poem only


At Jackson Square my small sliver

of imagination paints plowed land

the calliope plays the river,

brush cradled crooked in my hand.


Clods I kicked Monarchs chased

romping dirt mauling shoes

in earthen colors I trace

and strokes of fantasy suffuse.


Author’s Note: This was written after a visit to Louisiana, recalling a brief stop to watch an artist painting along the outer fence of Jackson Square in the French Quarter in New Orleans. 


Written 5-14-11










Verdi            Print this poem only


Now I am a memory.

In recollection -

a silly smile, twinkling eyes

betraying my plot to make you laugh,

for life was much too ridiculous

to be taken seriously.


But - don't berate memories!

A nephew of mine visited with me

no more than half-a-dozen times,

but he'll remember me forever.

At first he'll feel a void,

but when he remembers

those crazy moments with me

the void will become a smile.


Memories are impressions,

and by God! I made a lot of them.

And don't you forget it!


But seriously...


I will be the natural wit

of the earth

a daisy growing from soil

fertilized by manure.

I will be the hops

flavoring the beer for a bachelor party.


But really, seriously...


Death is peace,

the noise of the city - silenced.


Death is freedom,

life's burdens finally lifted.


Violence and disorder are no more -

now... harmony with the earth,

at last all is calm.

The earth and I are one.

I will renew it. 


Author's note:  This was written shortly after my uncle Verdi's death.  I think he died between 1970 and 1973. I post it here because I re-found the poem in 2011.


Found in poems written probably in 1973

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