Poem List: 2015 May thru August
Shade of Black and White Print this poem only
Have you heard of the yin and yang,
the combination of black and white
of which the ancient Chinese sang
female and male, darkness and light?
They are opposites or so it seems
but in truth one compliments the other
I don’t think of them as extremes
any more than father and mother.
On a hot day who doesn’t want shade
relief from the sun on a summer day
the protection the dark oak has made
the coolness of black and white into gray.
It seems apparently contrary forces
are complimentary in mother earth
and not from totally different sources
both are good and of equal worth.
When we wear our black and white
we know how good they go together
and as the day recedes into night
we bow to both in equal measure.
Not a Native Print this poem only
For six decades I felt bad
about not being able to say:
“I am a native Texan”
until I rediscovered later in life
and possibly for the first time
the mysterious beauty and charm
In pre adolescence
just as childhood seemed to be taking hold
we moved across the Sabine
for a new life
in the land of cowboys and Indians
where people walked,
said my dad,
with a distinctive dip of the hip
from right to left and back
with every step –
it was the Texas walk –
the first hint in my young mind
of what it meant to be a native Texan.
With so many return trips to
the bayous, mossy oaks, crawfish, and cousins
I never forgot from whence I came
in spite of my intense desire to fit in
to a peer group
composed, to my chagrin,
of native Texans.
I was destined to be
“not really a native”
of any place -
forever on the margins
in between here and there
what “getting back to normal” means.
But that’s for another poem.
Maybe this “not being a native” thing
is why my keen interest in Native Americans –
so tied to the Earth
yet not wishing to possess it
without wishing to “home” it.
I too am a roamer
never completely at home
in one place
But here I am in Texas
this big bad wide state
too big for any one person to grasp
with its own mystery
inhabited by oh so many
from the margins
a perfect place
Prayer of Thanks Print this poem only
This evening I am filled with gratitude
and an unflinching positive attitude
for the beautiful people in this group
like a bowl of warm rich and tasty soup
you make me feel satisfied and full
you make me happy to stand and pull
myself together each month we gather
you’re one reason my life seems to matter.
Bobbie Williams comes to my mind
making sure people are greeted and signed
as they enter and join us in this place
I can’t wait to see her smiling face
feel her spirit, hear her strong voice
see her eyes sparkle and rejoice
when she speaks with a smile of her PIP
and you’d better not give PIP any bad lip.
And how could we forget our brother Dave
who loves to joke and misbehave
and read his poems quite aloud
and speak of his country so proud,
Dave who swears to his love of rhyme
Just ask; he’ll tell you a limerick any time
wearing his mischievous little grin.
Dave and Bobbie are absent to our chagrin.
So let us now bow our heads and pray
that these two beloveds won’t stay away
for very long but will return to us wholly healed
that God will grant his protective shield.
We pray that all who have entered this place
will have strength for every trial they face
We thank God for the wonders he has done
in the souls of these poets each and every one.
Author’s Note: Written for the members of our poetry group at the time, Poetry in Progress which met monthly in the local civic center. We came to appreciate and love each other and our gifts. The group no longer exists, but it was glorious for the 4 or 5 years it did.
Print this poem only
That first reunion on the grounds of the Tonns
Johnny saw grandpa and his Falstaff beer
he smelled the mustard on the hotdog buns
and as always his smile brought us cheer.
He felt his muscles flex and move
running around with the other boys
learning to read lips soon he would prove
how needless is gossip and malicious noise.
Johnny felt the babies he loved and held
he bounced them and giggled and cooed
off to their mamas with their poopy smell
yet not prone to be mean or rude.
When he saw someone in trouble or need
he’d be there with a helping hand
maybe stubborn but gentle indeed
he was also a hard-working man.
He tasted life with openness and verve
he loved family and kitty cats and trains
attacked cancer with purpose and nerve
refused defeat by his multiple pains.
But Johnny’s most outstanding sense
was his humor - it made us laugh -
our own troubles seemed less immense -
he made our hurt decrease by half.
In the end his sense of spirit and soul
called us to a higher power
as he heard the bells of heaven toll -
may we hear God’s call in our final hour.
We hear Johnny’s unique blended voice
echoing in the curves of our hearts and ears
when we think of Johnny let us rejoice
and know when we speak kindly - Johnny hears.
Dedicated to John Tonn Jr. (4-14-1961 to 6-28-2015)
and his family
The Breaking Sea Print this poem only
I view the frothy chaos of your wide breadth
you break on the rocky shore of my day
but fear foils my dive in your depth
that seems so dark and far away.
Yet from the clutch of that fearful night
your hand and heart in the waking tide
reach for me in the dawning light
I feel you calling inside.
How long my careful measured walk
in your shallows only ankle deep
how can I evade your steady stalk
will I bravely take the leap?
All around me I hear surf breaking
in songs and laughter and weeping
yet here I am my lonely soul aching
to wholly trust in your keeping.
Long have I known the ocean of your care
your hand at the ready by my side
I’m ungainly with the dance of prayer
as my mind and my heart collide.
I know not if I’ll immerse in you
if a bright and amber union is in reach
or if ego be tamed to bring me through
and beyond the wide and sandy beach.
But I shall go down to the sea again
at twilight and search the waves
I hope I will find you waiting when
I’m ready for the sun/Son that saves.
The Name of God Print this poem only
You know me and you know my name
You call it and I do not hear
in a thousand ways you call,
Why do I close my ears?
I stand away from the edge
of the abyss of your great love
afraid to take the pledge
shrug off your gentle shove.
Yet how many times do I jump
ignore the hesitation in my soul
the voice that beckons me to you
to you my Lord who makes me whole.
You know the name my parents gave
you call it all the day
but what is my name in heaven
what is that name I pray?
When my name is called I hear
it rules me clear as a bell
my name says I'm a person
and you know it so very well.
Your name says you're a person too
not just a fading cloud
you’ve been so loyal and true
Why can’t I sing you out loud?
If my name is special to me
why do I delay to proclaim
to the world that I plainly see
the power and scope of your name?
Now I speak the goodness of God
how pure his love and his grace
it is not wrong it is not odd
to shout God’s name in this place.
Goodbye Poets Print this poem only
I never was much good at math
and got nervous and scared at PE
so I took a more enjoyable path
because words were always good to me.
Words made me curious and brave
big ones stumped the bullies and bums
and I liked the feelings those victories gave;
they influenced what I’d become.
It was words wonderful words I heard
when I came to this place Monday nights
here I found the mystery of the word
made my soul soar to the heights.
Here among these poets and friends
I had fun and I let my light shine
and as my time with you comes to an end
I know I have tasted something divine.
On this journey you showed me you
we’ve reached our fine poetic goals
you’ve been kind and creative and true
thank you for your words and your beautiful souls.
Author’s Note: A poem written for the last meeting of our local poetry group, Poetry in Progress.
Waking up with you Print this poem only
Intimacy is a strong word
but so weak to say who you are to me.
Sometimes it feels as if you are me
more familiar than a brother
or even my dear lover.
You inhabit me
yet you are a someone
who is not I,
observing but not just an observer
you abide in me.
Like no other.
Not so much other.
Oh, Christ Jesus
where are the words?
I cannot find them
they escape me
you ARE the word.
yet so close
you are not near
you abide in me.
You bring me to tears
when I awake in your presence.
You comfort me
you make me me
closer even than my mother
in your love.
Ah! Here you are
your smile fathomless.
Here you are
caressing my soul.
We are so cozy together.
You know me
but you are you
and I am I.
I am not sure
I can be I anymore
The Palace Down the Road Print this poem only
There’s a palace a good piece away
it opens its doors to all on Sunday
and for those who enter that place
there are endless treasures of grace
Bracelets, lockets, and chalices of gold
wines of vintage foreign and old
priceless objects shining bright
and flowing arraignment of light
Some of the wealth is tough to bear
requiring much thought and earnest prayer
there are precious lessons and pages
of thought and wisdom gathered for ages
But the man presiding on the stage
provokes and prods and makes you engage
your moral compass before you receive
his riches, before you can leave
Who wouldn’t go to this palace each week
to gather those gems to hear sages speak
who wouldn’t eat the food, drink the wine
sing and listen and discover the divine?
Author’s Note: This poem describes what I get from my church.