2014 Poems

January - April

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acceptance        Print this poem only

 

Stretch open the cells of your brain

and pan the waters for the gold

sift the billion particles of the past

to find a blaze of gems

still rich in your imagining.

He said when I went to him

head bowed, just brave enough

to hold back the tears.

 

And then he embraced me

and in his arms

I wept with abandon.

 

And when I was done he said:

Cast your mind deep into the present

so deep you cannot see the past

nor worry with the future.

Relax there

in the green meadow

and creative space

of acceptance.

 

Written 1-14-14

 
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Discipline        Print this poem only

 

I’m waiting in the checkout line

a woman her face brown and crinkled

with her frail body inclined

and on the floor her coins tinkle

 

from her worn paisley purse

she, slowly searching for coupons there

and me, suppressing a curse

with one warming milk and a pear.

 

Patience, patience.

 

He has this habit of mumbling

and my old ears do not hear

if he’s happy or grumbling

if his mind is far or near

is he talking to me,

self reflecting, asking or saying

something big or something wee

is he pleading or softly praying?

 

He sniffs and coughs and spits

Why does he do this so much?

This nasty habit gives me fits

so I try to find a softer touch

in my voice - with no edges,

use tones that do not betray

the judgment my mind alleges

about this brutish display.

 

How many moments like this

how many people have a trait

that tempts you to hiss

and puts you in a testy state?

 

But no one can make me feel

or think or act in an evil way

it’s up to me to grasp my ideal

to stop and think and weigh:

 

“quirky” or “weird” are in my mind.

So stay calm, pause, and reflect

stop that judgment and be kind

and give the other a little respect.


Written 3-1-14

 
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Full of Dreams – A Sonnet        Print this poem only

 

When I was young my eyes were full of dreams

and all the world and wealth before me lay

I met you through a friend on one fall day

Sinatra sang to us and the Supremes

I looked into your eyes and saw love’s gleams

we talked and kissed a hundred nights away.

But then you said you needed me to stay

and into school I dove to great extremes

 

until I held in hand the precious prize

the paper from the dean with his emboss

I got a job but feared what I had lost.

We went our separate ways and fell apart,

Again I sought and found your big brown eyes

and held you close until I’d won your heart.

 

Written 1-6-14

 
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How far can you throw?        Print this poem only

 

How far can you throw?

The field next door

the next time you are discouraged?

How far you’ve come

to cast your self short

or drop the stone at your feet. 

 

Written 1-14-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lady at the Desk        Print this poem only

 

I am tired and worried.

Will they evict me or not?

They want legal papers from the internet

a place where I am lost and confused.

I have to print and sign them, they insist.

My clothes are old, I’ve no lipstick, and my hair is stringy.

I am ashamed to even be in this public place.

But there she is in front of me,

that lady at the desk

who looks up and says, “Hello there, may I help you?”

I tell her my plight -

that I have no money for copies.

She looks as wounded as I feel.

She speaks to me with the respect and tenderness

a king or a president would expect.

She reaches under the desk for an envelope

retrieving two dollars from her special stash

and hands it to me.

I am overjoyed and try reaching across to touch her.

She says, “I’m sorry, there are no hugs across this desk.”

She comes around and hugs me

and I hug her with all my might,

my tears absorbed by her red hair.

 

I am nine.  My parents are gone,

and me and my sis and brother are staying with my uncle.

The library is a cool place.

I run around nervous and scattered

and the lady at the desk calls me over

and says smiling “Hi little boy, how are you?” 

I’m not used to people being nice to me

they are always telling me:
“Control yourself, shut up, slow down.”

I rain my story on her non-stop.

She listens and then she shows me a book,

pats me on the shoulder and asks me if I will read it.

I smile and sink to the floor and lose myself in it.

She says, “Books are your friends.”

I am happy to find a friend

who I can touch and be quiet with.

 

The lady at the desk listens to me

telling her about my stories, my poetry

and says, “On Monday nights poets meet here,

you ought to come.”

“But I am not a fancy poet,” I tell her.

“I just love to let my images, my people take shape in words.”

She asks me if I enjoy poetry. “I love poetry!”

“Well, that group is for you, meet me here.”

Monday night I go and find a home with kind people

who clap and smile when I read my poems.

And I am grateful for the lady at the desk,

that encourager

and, by the way, her poems lift me.

They sound simply true to me.

 

The lady at the desk

said with a lilt, “What can I do to help?”

And with such ease she became a founder

a nurturer, a star in the small firmament

of poets who once a month

reach down through the clouds

and plant their creations

in the soil of imagination.

What fun it has been to be lassoed

with her lines and startled

by her bright soul.

 

What a void there will be

when I enter that place

and that smile, that peaceful presence,

that encourager, that respecter,

that centurion of common sense  

is no longer behind that desk.

 

In some communities there are a few people

who seem to possess a special glue

an ingredient of kindness

a love of people

that connects them,

that draws them from their darkness

inviting them to join the flow of life,

lighting them

with a keen, indefinable radiance.

 

Elizabeth Hobbs is just such a person.

And for her and her gift of light

we are profoundly

and happily

grateful.

 

Author's Note:  This poem is a tribute to my dear friend Elizabeth Hobbs who served in the DeSoto Public Library, DeSoto, TX for several years and became known by patrons as the lady who could and would help, listen, and respect you.


Written 2-4-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for Lucile        Print this poem only

 

The first thing is your smile.

It comes from an open room

where admittance is free

windows are up

air is fresh and full of light.

But this radiance this gregarious glow

is not from outside.

It comes from within

from a peaceful place

a lucid sapphire lake

deep with a strong, sure soul.

 

The next thing is your gaze.

Those eyes tell me to speak myself

whatever and wherever that self is

and surprisingly - right there in front of you

my cup runs over and I know

my voice is heard.

 

Your voice asks for more

betrays a mind as open as that window

willing, available, eager to learn

and create possibilities.

 

In your inflection:

enthusiasm and excitement

like a parent

whose child runs in

proudly presenting a bouquet of wildflowers.

 

I see you in action

greeting people

standing near

bending your ear

to hear their pain or consternation

to share their joy or jubilation.

 

They are touched

because they see on your face

a compassion

straight from a soft warm place

near to your heart.

I see a leader whose compass points forward

to the need, the desire, the hopes and the heart

of the community.

 

And now that needle points forward still

to new deeper horizons

to places both familiar and never seen

to golden sunrises and sunsets

eager for your love and wisdom…

waiting for you Lucile,

you kind and gentle woman.

Written 1-24-14

 

 

 

 

Merging         Print this poem only

 

I walk in marshland

my steps soggy and unsure

in this first light

figures around me barely distinct

they merge

I reach out but my fingers fall away

my feet sunk in the murk

and slowly

within

a cloudy familiarity

with my merging.

Written 2-13-14

 

 

 

 

 

Pause and Reflect        Print this poem only

 

I’m waiting in the checkout line

a woman - her face brown and crinkled

with her frail body inclined

and on the floor her coins tinkle

 

from her worn paisley purse

she, slowly searching for coupons there

and me, suppressing a curse

with one warming milk and a pear.

                  .  .  .  .  . 

He has this habit of mumbling

and my old ears do not hear

if he’s happy or grumbling

if his mind is far or near

 

is he is talking to me,

self reflecting, asking or saying

something big or something wee

is he pleading or softly praying?

 

He sniffs and coughs and spits

Why does he do this so much?

This nasty habit gives me fits

so I try to find a softer touch

 

in my voice - with no edges,

use tones that do not betray

the judgment my mind alleges

about this brutish display.

 

How many moments like this

how many people have a trait

that tempts you to hiss,

puts you in a testy state?

 

But no one can make me feel

or think or act in an evil way

it’s up to me to grasp my ideal

to stop and think and weigh:

 

“quirky” or “weird” are in my mind.

So stay calm, pause, and reflect

stop that judgment and be kind

and give that other a little respect.

Written 3-3-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Next Stanza        Print this poem only

 

The next stanza

awaits your hand, your breath.

It sits right behind you

in front of you

within you

a small hole in the damper of your day

to crawl through

in your search

for something beyond

beyond birthdays

anniversaries

home comings

investments

gatherings

grades

awards

losses

wins.    

Written 1-14-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anita’s Crown         Print this poem only

 

You can’t help noticing her hair.

It endows her with a regal aspect.

You feel privileged and want to declare

her goodness and give her respect.

 

But just stand and watch her a while

as she deals with the ups and downs

with love, compassion, and style -

you’ll know she merits a crown.

 

In that crown many jewels:

talent, kids: grand and two greats,

over Guam, Japan, and Hawaii she rules

and God knows how many states.

 

The gold of her crown glitters

with her faith, courage, and art

her energy shows she’s no quitter

she is very wise and oh so smart.

 

A gem of a seamstress with family threads

both coarse and fine all pulled together,

business partner to the man she wed,

cooking to Elvis in good and bad weather.

 

Painting and fixing flowers-a-plenty

making hats to be pretty and bright

the points of her crown are many

her humor and love turn wrong into right.

 

A queen who is loved by kith and ken

her loyalty and compassion endure

wherever we are, through thick and thin,

through our lives she’s helped us mature.

 

She loves us when we croak like frogs

or act like we belong in a zoo

with a special affection for dogs

we bark out loud, Happy Birthday to you.

 

Author's Note: Dedicated to my beautiful sister-in-law, Anita Mills on her birthday, March 2014.


Written 3-28-14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lady Grand        Print this poem only

 

Loyal to us for three years and more

she sits each meeting at the door

to greet the poets with their art

and give our meeting a good start.

 

She’s been a mainstay for our group

urging others to join our troop.

She stands up and speaks out -

our trusty recruiting scout.

 

She is full-hearted, kind, and nice

with valuable thoughts and advice.

She listens to us with keenness

makes us think we’ve got genius.

 

But best of all she’s been a friend.

Her love and commitment transcends

mere membership on a list -

a beautiful spirit in our midst.

 

We are glad you’ve reached this age

and played a vital part on our stage

but our larger community knows your care,

service and determination to share.

 

So without further ado

we wish happy birthday to you

Bobbie Williams our lady grand

and now we’ll give you a hand!


Author's Note:  Dedicated to Bobbie Williams who was an active member of the Poetry in Progress group for the four years it was active.

Written 2014

 

 

 

 

Crossing the River        Print this poem only

 

She gets up in the morning, feeds the cat,

and with her face washed, teeth brushed, hair fixed,

and dressed,

she carefully puts on her shoes -  one foot aching so bad

she wonders if she can walk through this day.

 

Already feeling tired

but not yet out the door,

she takes her pills, gathers her purse and work things,

and speaks in her cute little voice to her kitty

telling her to be good, blowing her a kiss.

 

She feels pain.

And pain does something to you.

It depresses, it foments fear -

its dread, dark and heavy -

can blanket and engulf you.

But still, she closes the door

and takes those first painful steps to her car,

moved and motivated by the faces in her mind,

faces of her co-workers

and her beloved students

knowing her special bond with them.

 

 

She winds her way through the traffic

and the too familiar streets of Baton Rouge

and approaches the bridge

the bridge that she will mount

to cross the river.

    .    .    .    .    .

 

How many rivers have I crossed

into mornings

with early feelings of sadness or fear?

 

How many rivers have you approached

in the dailyness of your life

that challenged you to find a bridge

across.

 

Sometimes I think I know someone so well

they fall into easy categories.

My judgments are so sure

my perceptions so comfortable
in the terrain of my mind.

 

And then something happens

revealing without warning

the tenderness

the fragility

the exposed humanity

of the person I was so sure I knew.

 

And I feel confused and lost

in an strange and foggy place

where all my certainty

seems subtlety

and disappears in the mist.

 

I wonder if we can really know another person,

even family and close friends,

and how the plows of life

have carved their inner contours?

    .    .    .    .    . 

 

Across the river

on the other side

of her troubles and pain

she arrives in a place where she belongs

a place where her skills

and her good intentions

flower each day

and she lends her hand and heart

in modest service to the young growth of her students.

 

 

I cannot say what ache is in her

nor grasp my own pain - much less hers.

But when I slip on the downside of being human

I fall into her arms

I caress her heart

I know she knows what it’s like. 

 

When I trip on the rug of self-pity

I catch myself and think of her resolve

and the flight of courage

she took with each daily challenge

her body presented.

 

    .    .    .    .    .

 

So here today we remember the June we loved:

 

The June Bug, the baby sister

who drew our affection –

and who learned she could depend on her family.

 

The young Wonder-Woman-June

so stunningly gorgeous and impressive -

the June who loved to see that wondrous impression

in the eyes of others.

 

The June with a surprising down to earth humor

who made us chuckle

and see the lighter side

of family and ourselves.

 

The feline June

who knew in cats a kindred species,

the June who empathized

with troubled ones – the ones regarded as lowly.

 

We are here to remember the June

whose depth and whose soul

were beyond our reach

but were as sure and true

as the God who filled her being.

    .    .    .    .    .

 

I remember  the June  

whose childlike spirit

and delight in her simple life

make me humble and grateful

that she was family.

And I am now sure she and I belong together

we are one

in all the important human ways.

 

This beautiful spirit

is what I will try to recall

the next time I encounter

my own raging river.

 

 

Dedicated to my beloved cousins, June Marie Thibodeaux [February 25, 1955 - January 4, 2014], Rodger Landers, and David Landers

 

Author’s Note:  June worked as a teacher’s assistant in Port Allen, Louisiana - in West Baton Rouge Parish - across the Mississippi River bridge from Baton Rouge where she resided with her cat in her modest apartment of which she was so proud. This poem was read at her funeral.

Written 4-1-14

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful        Print this poem only

 

I am young, naïve, and scared of my own shadow

working to carve a small path in this unfamiliar universe.

I feel like an alien, unformed in this new world

a small animal in a jungle of skyscrapers

vulnerable, gentle, and without sophistication.

 

And here is this man, confident, mild of manner

inviting me to join him for a beer.

We cross three intersections

the loud and boisterous pulse of the city

beating against my alert but suburban senses.

 

We open the door to the darkness.

I feel the cool rush of beer soaked air

see the bright rectangle of green

and hear the crack of the pool cue,

the juke box playing the Age of Aquarius.

 

I was entering the culture of the city

with a man so charming and kind

my defenses relaxed and my mind began to open slowly.

Maybe this was no jungle at all but an oasis.

I know now this was a watershed for me,

begun with this magnificent teacher

I would come to know, admire, and love.

Here, at the center of a burgeoning city

I was baptized in beer

by this most urbane of men.

 

             .    .    .    .    .    .

 

And so here we are, Rudy, again drinking beer

again in your gentle presence,

this time grateful for all the years, for all the lessons of how to be:

compassionate but wise

tolerant but firm in truth

open minded but open hearted

enthusiastic but intelligent.

 

Grateful to have flown with you to the heights:

of inquiry and reflection

of joyous appreciation of mankind’s creations

of raucous laughter

of thrilling success

and exciting ideals.

 

Grateful to have dived with you to the depths:

            of personal angst

of sadness and regret

of conflict and forgiveness

of pain and tears

of ethical questioning

and spiritual awareness.

 

Here we are – later in life – and again I find myself grateful

that you are my friend

my fellow traveler

my brother on the journey.

 

And still you teach me:

how to persevere in a calling

how to be a faithful husband and father

how to endure pain and illness

how to laugh at yourself

and make light of your predicaments.

 

But above all, my friend, you have taught me

how to be human.

 

Thank you, Rudy, and happy birthday.

 

Author’s Note: Written on the occasion of my old friend and colleague, Rudy Rountree’s, birthday. Rudy was a kind of mentor especially in my early years of teaching at El Centro College, downtown Dallas.  Nearby was Belle’s Green Glass, a popular watering hole for faculty, students, and a multiplicity of people from different walks of life, from the night editor of the nearby Dallas Times Herald to carnies who visited there when the carnival was in town. 

 

Written 4-14-14

 

 

 

 

 

Kindness        Print this poem only

 

Have you ever known a person

who escaped apt description

whose depth was too deep

whose gifts were so vast

whose voice was so gentle

and whose smile disarmed

every ounce of malice

hiding within you?

 

Have you ever known someone

whose boundless generosity

made you wonder

if you deserved it?

 

Have you ever encountered

a man whose charm

was matched only by his sincerity

and the depth of his desire

to make you feel at home

in his home, his city, his world

so you knew for sure

what was his

was yours?

 

You are a fortunate human being

if you have known another

who did not seem other at all

but just like you

in all the good places in you

 

in whose presence you were certain

you really are a special person?

 

I would say that I knew such a person

but instead I say I know Don Haywood

because this sort of kindness

stays with you

and resides within

the softest

brightest

most loving

and open

and clear room

in your soul.

 

Dedicated to Don Haywood [July 31,1938 - April 24, 2013] and Rodger Landers, his life partner of 42 years.

 
Written 4-1-14

 
2020 Copyright by Glenn Currier