Poem List: 2018 January thru April
Frontiersman Print this poem only
I try to go back to sleep
after awakening from a dream
from the images of the cloaked visionary
who wanders the inner wilds
where I happily get lost at night.
But your deep calls mine -
not in words - rather in some impulse
to leave the usual wounded landscape of self
to travel and search,
to be the pioneer you made me to be,
the frontiersman - unsettled, itinerant –
a hunter sensing his origin
longing to return to his Source.
And so here I am
for the gray dawn
quietly revealing itself
behind the dark wintered branches of the elm and the pecan
in the awakening fields,
the fields where you patiently await
the emergence of my sight.
Feline First Print this poem only
The sun is already warming
the first arousal of morning
but my lover is traveling the hills
and valleys of her dreams still.
Sweetpea knows the sounds
of my awakening and abounds
onto the bed’s corner place
where I read my first daily stirring of grace.
She knows of all the places she could land
it is here she gets the glide of my left hand
my hand across her soft brown coat she is well-versed
for she knows this time of day she is first.
Mystery in Waiting Print this poem only
I remember the loneliness
of looking across Boston harbor
on that cold morning.
It gripped me
an invisible shroud.
It was an insulation
I remember the feel of the moist wind
sweeping across the waves
passing through me
as if I weren’t there
a ghost lingering alone
not even in the company of
John Adams or Nathaniel Green
or any other revolutionary.
No revolution in me in this illness
not even evolution.
Six weeks if this
quite enough for a lifetime.
I want to forget
but I should remember
remember the lessons
reading in silence
and at rest.
Since those days
in that weak and lonely haze
I have discovered
a God who needs nothing from me
a faith alive even in dormancy
like the elm in the back yard
stripped of all signs of green life
but standing there in its dark mystery
gnarled branches reaching outward and upward
alive waiting patiently
resting in the sweet prospect
Author's Note: The memory of standing at the edge of Boston Harbor looking across the water at the city came out of the blue. But I went with the image and it brought me, as poems will do, to places I had not intended to speak of. But there it is. I was relating to the first stanza of V. Blake's most recent poem and how it described in another way, what I had been feeling during my recent illness. But it is good to be arriving again in the world of "the living."
Ablaze Print this poem only
I looked up at night
yearning for the stars
but the man made light
eclipsed the ruby hearts of Antares and Mars.
Red and white pairs of light
move slowly up and down the hill
they fill the orbs of my sight
these lamps of electric human will.
I’ve a longing for the universe out there
for the touch of God’s creative hand
there must be a cellular link with each far flare
flung by some eternal plan.
But maybe the light I seek
is not in the sky
or that of which astronomers speak
or something captured by the eye.
But something of the universe within
scarcely noticed in the rush of my days
something beneath my skin
in stillness, silent, but deeply ablaze.
To Grasp Print this poem only
To find one human person
who without your erudite
can stand under
your poem or line of words -
said with a mysterious smile -
and simply nod
and with her smile
tells you she knows what it is
you’re trying to express
To find one human person
who is quiet and calm and sad
with you when that tear rolls down your cheek
and you need not say a word of explanation
To find one human person
who knows the love
the affection and respect
contained in a single soft touch on her shoulder…
is an ineffable gift
as rare as a fist-sized diamond
suddenly appearing in a miner’s eyes.
It is a gift so precious you feel humbled, unworthy,
with a gratitude that lies deeper
than you can feel,
much less express.
Author's Note: Author’s Note: I read something profound this morning and I thought to myself: “Oh there is a poem in that, but if I wrote it who would get it, who could stand under it and hold it and appreciate it and know me enough to catch that region within me from whence it came?” Then I remembered one man, a fellow poet, a fellow traveler who could and would. And I felt grateful for him, a man, almost as old as I, with Parkinson’s Disease who has difficulty walking and talking, but who under stands.
Teetering Print this poem only
Last night sitting on the edge of my bed
a bed that seemed more like a ledge
there with a burden in my head:
Should I look up or just feel the dread?
I sat longer and I think I prayed.
I knew he was a God who cared,
but lately on the verge of afraid,
my faith seemed weak and impaired.
I wondered if they were right
that the short blast of rays
won’t hurt and will kill the blight
the doctors say is in its early phase.
But why pray to a God who seemed unable
to help my aunt who died
from a disease so unstable,
so good at finding places to hide?
So here I was, teetering between trust
and its evil opposite, doubt
doubt he can alter life’s thrust.
Does he have any real clout?
In this dark of mind
I came to see I really don’t know!
So why let my inner skeptic always lurking behind
reign and empower its verdict of no?
Instead I choose to lift my head
from that lonely fretting place
and embrace a Father not gone and dead -
but here, now to create and renew me with grace.
What is the dogma of a tree? Print this poem only
It is firmly rooted in earth
adheres there and is bound
in absolute union from birth
no freedom from ground.
The truth of its life proclaimed
to cardinals, jays and dove
soaked in lore and legacy of rain
given from the sky in love.
What doctrine is professed by a tree
but to adapt, sway and grow
leafy limbs lift, joyous to be free,
faithful juices rise in blessed flow.
If dogmas learned from trees
without stiffness, disdain or conceit
if they too made friends with the breeze
happy with winter cold or summer heat,
if they were as loving as the divine,
courted poets and painters and art
as giving as oak or fir or pine
aroused not only the mind but the heart
and like our fellow creature the tree
if they made oxygen for the air
they would attract poor souls like me
to join other lost souls who care.
Author’s Note: This poem is partially inspired by a line in Chris Sorrenti’s poem, “Eating pizza with God” The line is: ”while discussing the stupidity of dogma” I started thinking about my negative reaction to the word, dogma. I know that dogma has its place, but I have found that concentrating on it rather than on people and loving relationships pulls me away from God. I didn’t know how to approach this subject without getting pedantic and then I looked out the window and saw the spring trees moving heartily in the breeze. By the way, the definition of dogma is: "Something held as an established opinion; especially : a definite authoritative tenet." or "A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true."
Vying Print this poem only
Sometimes I feel like a steer in a cattle drive
herded with the snap of the whip
hear the calls, gripes, and urgings they contrive!
“Come on now! Move it! yip yip yip!
Or maybe the ache in my foot or back
has captured my focus
or last night’s anxiety attack
or computer glitches and hocus pocus.
A thousand things each day
stab and grab for my attention
dig, dab and want their way
tighten my gut in a terrible tension.
But all this while in your embrace
your love surrounds my heart
and wraps me in grace
just as it has from the very start.
Written 3 5-18
The Aviator Print this poem only
Long ago I flew hostile skies
prayed and dodged enemy fire
wiped sweat and fumes from my eyes
tried to climb higher and higher.
But today a neighbor heard about me
and invited me to fly in his acrobat plane
I didn’t take long to agree
Oh to be up there in the blue again!
To see Carolina’s wonders in early spring,
trees and fields - even in bumpy air
crops, trees, gardens - amazing things
bring reverence for glorious earth down there.
I’m grateful for this short resplendent flight
for this new aviator friend
for being in air - what a delight
not in war but in love with flying again.
James Brown was in W.W.II as a Navy night-fighter pilot on aircraft carriers. Then as a civilian life insurance salesman between the wars. He was recalled as a night-fighter pilot during Korea when he was in combat again. Returning to civil life he resumed his career in the life insurance business as a CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) while still flying in the Ready Reserve to ultimately become the commanding officer of a jet fighter squadron.
Twilight Tree Print this poem only
In the coolness of a waning winter
spring waiting in the wings
here you are you beauty
in your dark magnificence
you stand quietly without pomp
your silhouette a public secret
unassuming and unnoticed
reaching out to the fading light
as if to say “I belong here
so nice of you to visit.”
I belong here too.
And in this now
I feel a harmony of being
in our moment of silent union.
My eyes and my mind
are drawn upward
as if in a Gothic cathedral
and its pointed arches
but here you are gesturing
in all directions
with your thousand fingers
serene in your eastward lean
a perfect prayer of earth
to the beyond.
God's Depressed Print this poem only
It’s a cloudy day today
forecast predicts lots of wind
my mood’s a darker shade of gray
than it has lately been
dissonant as the music playing
today as out of sync
as my heart is staying -
feeling on the brink
of I don’t know what
like the weather - wanting spring
for this winter’s tightened my gut -
wondering what the news will bring.
Reading poetry and seeing art
makes me believe God’s within -
as co-creators not wholly apart
even in our darkest sin
but sometimes faith’s leap
seems too long
the chasm between us too deep.
If in weakness I’m made strong
maybe this day I’ll find the strength
find the art of which I’m possessed
discover the joy to jump that length
through the dark that says God’s depressed.
Author's Note: Author’s note: Yesterday (3-22-18) I discovered my heart is again in AFIB (atrial fibrillation – arrhythmia). It temporarily threw me into feelings of disappointment and discouragement. But the feelings passed soon even though the national news seemed particularly bad. I don’t know what is next for me or the nation, but I am buoyed by the knowledge that I am in God’s embrace – that at least HE’S not depressed.
In Custody Print this poem only
I sit here on a metal chair
hunched over, my head in my hands
I feel incredulous unable to wrap my mind
around being in this chamber of fools
with the others who came here as slaves
of a monster master.
But each of us came with a captor within
who led us here in chains.
So here I am hiding my head
under a hood of shame.
I gave up my freedom
with each seemingly harmless fix
and step by step I led myself into the custody
of this man across from me.
Just this little bit won’t hurt,
I told myself.
And before long that trickle
became a roaring ravine -
me in the middle desperate
to keep my head above water.
The counselor sat there silently
with a look on his face that said
“Man, this is serious as a heart attack.”
But I’m not a heroin addict like the rest of these guys,
I thought to myself.
I shouldn’t be here.
And still he sat there, silent,
watching me cry, sniveling like a baby.
This is not me
but here I am in my body
without the comfort or warmth
of a caring arm around my shoulders.
Author’s Note: This is from a dream, but it felt so real and the images and feelings still are with me. And still I am a food and sugar addict, soon to go in to the hospital for yet another heart procedure.
On a Ledge Stuck to You Print this poem only
with nothing there
to grasp - on edge.
The height has me scared
all alone on this wall.
Can’t find the person I am
not ready to let go and fall
into the deep black below this dam
I’m not connected to future or past.
But it’s not a time for lamentation
it is time to glide to climb boldly
for clear clean air of creation
reach beyond like you told me.
What am I hiding behind
looking all around?
My mind’s not mine
up or down
This is a revision of a previous poem, “Stuck to You.” The first stanza comes from a nightmare I had this morning. The poem is also my attempt to write a poem using a form new to me. It is called an Etheree Poem. The rhyme scheme is my own and the Etheree form does not specify whether it needs to rhyme or not. It was fun writing it. Also, the way I wrote this is actually a Double Etheree. I have discovered from another website and a friend the following: The poetry form, Etheree, consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables. Etheree can also be reversed and written 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Or you can get creative and write an Etheree with more than one verse, following suit with an inverted syllable count. Reversed Etheree: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Double Etheree: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 9, 8, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...Triple Etheree, Quadruple Etheree, and so on.
Based on info from Elizabeth Squires and http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/etheree.html
Risings Print this poem only
Say no to arrogance and power
no to being totally devoured
by ego, division and separation
no to hurt and alienation.
I’m grateful to all those who day upon days
in a thousand little ways
say yes and rise from the dark
who strike the stone to make a spark.
I am grateful for the Great Mystery
that fills my personal history
that wakes me in ways surprising
with a thousand moments of rising.
Author's Note: Written Easter Sunday, 2018.
Morning Encounter Print this poem only
In the morning coolness
just after dawn
settles upon me
in these few moments with you
alone in this sacred space.
Here You gently filter
your peace and love
before this day’s stream rushes upon me
with its swift flow
Here for now it is just you and I
in this silent colloquy
in this exquisite intimacy.
I rest unperturbed
in the presence
of your quiet majesty
in your warm embrace.
This precious moment
of trust envelops my heart
protects it from all harm
says good morning
to my soul.
Author's Note: Written this morning while journaling in our garden room.
Who do you know with a twinkle in the eye? Print this poem only
A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart
someone who’s set apart
who loves being alive
with a mind in drive.
The Proverb’s truth set me thinking
of who I know with that twinkling
and it took me a while
to think of one with eyes that smile.
I then considered the heart of joy
and remembered the little boy
who learned to play the chord of C
to sing with glee in a major key.
But it happens a boy becomes a man
and sadness, hurt, and error span
years of breakups and loves in the dust
vanished dreams, promises and trust.
Still his soul stays open and awake
and he learns to forgive mistakes,
to forge new ties to fall but rise
and again that twinkle dwells in his eyes.
Author's Note: Author’s Note: My reflection on Proverbs 15:30 “A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.”
Quiltmaker Print this poem only
Every evening when day is done
my body tired from an active day
you cover me and ready me to come
into an orbit far away.
A place native peoples reside
where Kokopelli wanders and plays
and eagles ride the winds, glide
and rejoice in setting sun’s golden rays.
I fly into a patchwork sky
where I am stitched together,
comforted, protected under your watchful eye
where hawks soar and tickle with feathers.
I visit frightful places
hear horrible screams
see angry and twisted faces
feel my fears in my teary dreams.
I am grateful for these flights
for the certain and steady care
that covers me on cold and windy nights
for this Quiltmaker beyond compare.
Dedicated to my sister-in-law, Virginia Hilton whose love and dedication are sewn into the magnificent quilt she fashioned and created for me with blood, sweat, and tears, who came to our aid and was there for me for so many years.
In Your Arms this Night
In this softness of evening
I rest easy in your arms
it is here free
from distractions of day
I fall into your embrace
and know the comfort
of being lost in your warmth
lost in the incredible orb of your love
love so abundant it humbles me,
not as a child who takes it for granted
but as a man, seasoned and smoked
soaked in burdens
bumped, knocked, and pushed
by broken and bruised fellow travelers.
I cannot fathom the depth of your love
in spite of my leavings
beyond my grieving
vain and hollow
And when I dive into the beautiful brown eyes
of my lover I know acceptance
I know the fullness of this life
and I am made ready for the next.
To tired to write? Print this poem only
my body seems to be telling me
to go to bed and sleep
but I know I couldn’t,
for this poem is lurking inside
and won’t be denied
as much as I try.
Can poems be found in the tired
in the brain of one who’s wired
to look here and there and everywhere
like the bird perched atop the chair
in the backyard, its head swiveling to and fro
watching for cats or humans or hawks flying low?
I guess I shall see if there is a poem taking flight
here and now teasing twilight
will it swoop and settle in my mind
will my muse becomes archly inclined?
Or maybe I’ll dwell on that attentive bird
and in that dwelling find the words
and take a lesson from the throat of its being
breaking forth in its flight or its singing.
Is there a verse down there I’ve been saving
while the sapling Tallow is waving
saying goodbye to the dying day
dancing the wind in lusty ballet.
Is there a line
in the recesses of time
between vital concerns
and issues that burn?
I hear the cello’s refrain
playing nearby in mournful bane
it takes me back to practicing Strauss
on the piano, filling our house
with dissonance and verve
getting on my mom’s last nerve.
But oh how music flourished and reigned -
the joy in my soul could not be contained.
Thinking of what music has meant to me
and composed in me a sweet symphony
brings me alive here in this sacred space
replaces fatigue with energy and grace.
I stayed here long enough to find
these wisps of memory and rhyme
that so often provide the spark
to lift and fly me out of the dark.
Bemused Print this poem only
I read something on a bumper
and it’s captured my wonder
still thinking it through
can’t decide if it’s true:
“If you don’t lose yourself
you can’t find yourself.”
Oh I’ve been lost many times
admitted my crimes
confessed my sins
more losses than wins
can’t do it alone
still searching for home.
But is this self I must lose
a thing I can choose
seems it was cast
from the stuff of the past
by my mama’s abuse
or is that an excuse?
Is there even a self who’s me?
Today the me that I see
differs from me as a child
my twenties so wild
I’m amazed I’m still here -
did that me disappear?
Is self and ego the same
this guy with his daddy’s name
with a history so prideful
the moments of spiteful
but then I think if I had no ego
I couldn’t let me go.
This bumper sticker
has made me want liquor
it’s made me confused
it’s got me bemused
I seem all out of sync
so what do YOU think?
Lizzie’s Flowers Print this poem only
One flower after another
too much glory to extract
like the glint in the eyes of mother
more poetry than fact.
How do you feel seeing a flower
surprise, delight, hunger for more
thanks to your higher power
a wish to praise or to adore?
There is nothing to describe that feeling
when hibiscus, azalea or basket of gold
thrust you, send you reeling
such beauty cannot be told.
Lizzie sends pictures of blooms
matched only by her brightness
they remove my moments of doom
and raise the spirit with lightness.
Four guys Print this poem only
Four guys sitting around
each with a life of crosses
sharing their ups and their downs
jobs and families, wins and losses.
What James asked our church to weigh:
would the rich man be highly seated
but the poor one out of the way
and how would each be greeted -
with a smile or with a frown?
Which one catches our eye
the shabby one looking down -
which do we want to sit by?
Out on the street would we give to a guy who begs?
or would we focus on the issue of trust
what about the guy with no legs
or a chap in a pickup scarred with rust?
Each of the guys sitting around
had a different answer to James.
Each from different backgrounds
but all with similar aims.
One is a hospital man
another in the field of oil
the third from a media brand
the fourth seems of the soil.
Each of the three guys is wise with love
each familiar with sacrifice
but the fourth seemed strangely above
known in their hearts as the Christ.
Author’s Note: I was in a small men’s group at church today studying James 2:1-13. I was so impressed with these guys to whom I dedicate this poem: Barry, Steve, and Ernie. And of course, Jesus who is always there with us on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays when we meet.
Yeast Print this poem only
I feel you rising you yeast
you’ve brought your land inside
and increased - wonder if my
death’s at hand.
Or is this just a taste of heaven
calling like groom to bride
kneading in me your leaven
is it you exploding inside?
It seems this you I recognize as if you
and I've been here before yet this
you in me’s a surprise this rising
I can't ignore.
I've asked for you in prayer and song
and here you are in me expanding
my soul - this can't be wrong its all
I'd rather not leave this earth
just yet if its ok with you
but keep on with this
rebirth keep on coming – it feels true.
Wherever you want me I'll go
deeper, farther, west or east
if you say come I’ll follow for I
know it’s you my Yeast.