Poem List: 2019 May thru August
Heart Monitor Print this poem only
There are leads on my chest
to detect any vagaries within
but you are the best heart monitor
circulating in the deep vessels and chambers
checking what pulses and moves in me.
I trust you there
in the darkest parts of me
where life wanders.
Author's Note: In the hospital to monitor how my heart reacts to a new medication. I love writing about my “heart” issues weaving in two meanings of the word.
Magnolia Print this poem only
I see you from the third floor
you there with white blossoms in your hair.
I envy the birds who fly freely
And rest in your shiny green glory.
I wish I could smell your sweet scent
Hold your soft pedals to my cheek
to heal all the blemishes
make smooth the rough spots
witness the fragrance of my serenity.
Seen and Unseen Print this poem only
A gaze upon a man’s weathered face
sees not the loves he’s embraced
churches or jails he’s dwelled
the babies or wounded he’s held.
The lines etched on his cheeks
do not speak the secrets he keeps
or the vagaries of life in his soul
he is just one man solid and whole.
Storm Print this poem only
Outside another storm is waging
but inside is a symphony playing
no hint of violence just a candle lit
flickering echoes of a story knit
in a mother’s shielding arms
freed from ugly worldly harms
and myriad soldiers of the dark
banned from this glowing loving arc.
Outside trees sway in wildness of wind
rain soaks Earth to the brim
present storms clutch and choke,
evil erodes the mind embattled and soaked
heart’s desire is dulled and blunt
by the grim incessant affronts.
Abroad is a yearning for that symphony in the night
of weeping, awaiting, hoping for some sweet redeeming light.
From Father to Father Print this poem only
My father was a good man
he worked hard with mind and hand
was sober and at home at night
spoke and joked with friends
showed me wrong from right
taught me to hammer a nail
level a board without fail
build a bench and stilts to walk high.
But in spite of this Daddy had a roving eye
was prone to flirt or more to my mom's regret
and after work Dad had no time or vigor left
to play with me or throw and catch.
I was sad and even shed a few tears
as I thought of him over the years
recalled his absences in my life
not there to show how to sharpen a knife
to be confident to take a stand
and in other ways to become a man.
But today the tender love I feel
for him gives me peace and I am healed
knowing he was just a man
doing the best he could
to be a dad
in good times and bad.
Now in my later years
when my resentments and fears
have faded or flown away
I have my one true Father
always good beside me
every moment every day
and in this time, to my delight
I have one true Brother,
a man in my heart like no other
there is Jesus the very son of man
who did and does every thing he can
to show us the way to live vitally.
And with my fellows we try mightily
to follow our Christ,
to love as he.
And arm in arm they are pulling me
to a new city on the hill
to do our good Father's will.
Jesus, now it's with you I identify
your hand on my shoulder right by my side
I am always in your sight
you lead me to love and fight the good fight
to be a man who takes a stand
who loves our Father with mind and heart
who brings others together and not apart.
Jesus my Lord you showed me true power
the strength in compassion
the gentleness of a flower
you teach me to work and fashion
a life of kindness, to forgive and heal
even now in this world where I kneel
you reveal to me how to reach through the clouds
beyond the rubble and crowds
to forgive seventy time seven
and touch the edge of heaven.
Psalm of Light Print this poem only
I was headed for the meadow of green
for I knew it was there I would find peace
and on the way I had to cross difficult terrain
strewn with rocks, steep climbs with difficult footing
but you handed me a lifeline of safety to tie about my waist
to keep me from falling.
And when I slipped and began to fall
you reached down and grasped me
you lifted me up and I felt the soft and airy rush of angels' wings
the lightness of wind beneath me as if to usher me higher
seemingly lifting the burden of my body, aching knees and back.
It is this power your gentle power that rescues me without fail.
You are determined in your divine freedom
that I am brought to your bosom
and held tight there by your strong enfolding arms
like the father of the prodigal
or a mother embracing a child
who comes to her weeping and sobbing after a painful fall.
Thank you father for this draft of grace
that slowly, relentlessly brings me closer to you.
May I reach that meadow before I die
and if not, may I find it when I pass from this life
into your bright presence.
Dance with the Wind Print this poem only
The ceiling fan sends its emissary
to breathe upon the candle’s flame
the humble blaze enclosed but free
in the small clear glass vessel.
Silently it wiggles and swirls
asserts its freedom
responds to the breezy envoy
May I and you, constrained and nourished
within life’s bounds,
embrace freedom’s grace
and respond with light
as we dance with the wind.
Escape Print this poem only
dings and whistles from the slot alert him escape -
sit before my image enter its wild wolf canyon escape
winding road in lofty forest landscape
beckon her - leave him for my green escape
triple x signs promise writhing bodies
heavy breathing and dark dank escape
the flute lay still on the silent table sparkling
sweet melodic memories of fingered escape
the frothy surging surf traces the seam of the sea -
bathe in my bosom; wrap your self in my fluid escape
locked door soft light from below, no sounds
inside, creative energy sparks a poetic escape
on the placid lake he casts his hopes
awaits the tug - he and his prey escape
she stands eyes closed, smiling face turned upward
feels the breeze in her hair thanks God for this sweet escape
he runs in the field of goldenrod; tears stream
and he screams a desperate entreaty for escape
the sylvan spirits flown from the mountain trees
into the green glen whisper as angels - escape!
Author’s Note: This is my first modest attempt at writing in the Ghazal poetic form. Thanks to poet Rob Kistner whom I met on HelloPoetry.com for the inspiration for this poem. Rob is an extraordinary talent who writes with a free yet disciplined artistic brush. This is the URL for his poetry on that website: https://hellopoetry.com/Artheo/
A traditional Ghazal consists of five to fifteen couplets, typically seven.
A refrain (a repeated word or phrase) appears at the end of both lines of the first couplet and at the end of the second line in each succeeding couplet.
One or more words before the refrain are rhymes or partial rhymes.
The lines should be of approximately the same length and meter.
The poet may use the final couplet as a signature couplet, using his or her name in first, second or third person, and giving a more direct declaration of thought or feeling to the reader.
Glenn: I use more of a free verse style without much rhyme and no fixed meter.
Each couplet should be a poem in itself, like a pearl in a necklace.
There should not be continuous development of a subject from one couplet to the next through the poem.
The refrain provides a link among the couplets, but they should be detachable, quotable, grammatical units.
There should be an epigrammatic terseness, yet each couplet should be lyric and evocative.
Adventures of Old Men Print this poem only
I wonder if adventures still await me
or if they are artifacts of my youth
but then I remember I’m still alive
and the realms still circulate
like eddies in the stream.
The candle still burns
below the tiny hot air balloon of my life
and I float with the wind
sometimes to the south of my past
or to the northwest
where my winter wolf patiently awaits
the soul-hunter in me.
Adventuring into their eighties
Black Elk and Geronimo spoke their wisdom
created legends, histories
and still-revered mysteries.
Can you two speak to me
across decades and miles
of triumphs and trials
fill my soul with your heart
give me hope for a splendid new start?
Lao Tsu, Abraham and the Apostle John
all of whom still live on in me
make their place in my history
give me hope there are yet places to go
inches and miles to grow
princes, paupers and saints to meet
calluses to make on my feet.
And should I die this week
maybe those further realms I seek
grab hold of my soul
and make it whole
with one more superb endless adventure.
When a man loves a woman Print this poem only
When a man loves his wife he loves himself
I have heard it said
and I’ve read
of the interplay
of self love and love of another.
Can I love my brother, cherish my mother
if I do not accept myself?
I’m still unclear which comes first or if this dilemma
circles and confounds
and will puzzle me forever.
But I know with sureness when I love you
you soften and look at me with those big brown eyes
and sometimes I think I detect mist there
and when I run my fingers through your hair
I know your complexity and gentleness.
When I embrace you I know the fullness of your heart
that you loved me from the start
but even more now my precious one.
Maybe being a man this paradox of the circle of love
will never be mentally clear
but in my heart I know, my dear,
my love for you makes me me.
Author’s note: Some of my reflections on Ephesians 5:28
Idealism Print this poem only
When I was a young idealistic thinker
I took the bait hook line and sinker
now I’m an old more skeptical believer
but I hope I’m still an open receiver.
A Twilight Psalm Print this poem only
Father, you fly into my soul as the birds of the air in their perfect freedom come to rest on the branches of the great Elm. Your beauty and its sheer perfection is alive in the trees and my eyes soak up your freshness and your magnificent green glory. I hear you whisper in the wind as if to speak softly to the quiet spaces in me, assuring me of your constancy.
Your affection flows into me like the swift sparkling force of the stream. Your love is alive all about me in the brown eyes of my wife, in the sparkling intensity of the cat’s eyes as she looks upon me entreating my soul to awaken, inquiring the gentle affection of my heart.
I hear you in the sound of the piano playing, breathing the spirit of the balladeer in gentle strains that pulse and uncurl the strings of my soul. My Father you are all about me and permeate the walls and halls of my home with your goodness. You are a good good Father. That’s who you are. And I am loved by you. That’s who I am. You fill my spirit with your assurance and dedication.
This is my psalm, this is my prayer, this is me yearning for your companionship beckoning you to open the doors and windows, to rush into my soul, lift it and give me hope for a pleasant and peaceful eternity with you.
Writing is diving Print this poem only
Writing is like jumping into a deep mountain lake
to find some tiny piece of my soul
submerged and floating there
an immersive brooding wistful prayer
or a flight into the blue thin air.
It is a cinematic journey
recording the fruits of noticing
what is right in front of the eyes
and finding what is deeper
Writing is looking into an old man’s eyes
and discovering the person there
just as much a spiritual venture
digging toward his center
as a physical sensation.
It is a magical mystery tour
taking the visible threads
in hand and feeling my way
to the roots
or pausing and squeezing the fruit
for its juice.
It is fun
it is a morning run
or an evening rest
pain, joy, and dreams expressed.
Writing is moving, grooving, including
taking a moment in time
exploding it in rhythm and rhyme
finding in the ordinary the sublime.
Mariners, Poets, and Seekers of Peace
She stands at the wall reflecting
on those who were lost at sea
names and poems and words connecting
her to those poor souls and to me.
Beyond those memorial walls
the mighty Columbia into the Pacific spills
whose depth and wealth have called
so many to sail from Oregon's green hills.
From the safety of their home
they left for the great unknown
where writers and poets travel
every time they pen their spirit in word
to explore what God and life has unraveled
what pain, sorrow and joy have stirred.
Her kindness and her reflection move me to write
my poems of wandering from a safe and tidy home
to regions of imagination’s heights
shadows, sorrows, or oceans’ foam.
She reads and lives life’s poetry
knows its canyons and desert sands
she yearns only to be free
of the noise and anger of badlands
to smell the freshness of a cool and gentle breeze
feel the air brushing her arms
to look up and see the greenness of trees
to be free from crushing and brutal harm.
I see her standing and watch her reflection there
with seafarers, poets and lovers at peace
where God’s creative breath stirs air
and torments, terrors, and quarrels cease.
Author’s Note: My sister Geneva visited Astoria, Oregon where the Columbia river ends in the Pacific and citizens have erected a memorial park where several walls of polished black granite display the names of mariners lost at sea. There are also sentiments and poems about those lost souls one of which Genie photographed and sent to me. As I examined the photo I could see her reflection on the wall as kind of a background for the poem. That photo and my sister who loves nature and trees inspired this writing.
Below is the poem on the memorial wall pictured in the above image:
Weep not for me that I go to sea
Weep not for me that I go to sea.
I shan’t be lonely, though vastness surround me.
The brotherhood of the sea shall be my family.
The kinship of the deep my company.
Weep not for me, nor worry over harm.
My heart stays with you, still and warm.
In sunrise and starlight my hearth and home
I carry you with me wherever I roam.
Weep not for me, whether bad luck or good.
Tossed about in a shell of steel and wood.
An ancient salt sea sails within my blood –
I but follow its tide through ebb and flood.
Weep not for me that I go to sea:
in the limitless ocean I am free.
Author’s Note: A poem on the wall of Maritime Memorial Park in Astoria, Oregon.
The hen and her egg, the poet and his poem Print this poem only
She drops the egg
fruit of her womb
formed of her food and drink
her bouncing steps and short flights
the egg with its imperfections
but perfectly shaped of her being.
The Traveling Troubadour Print this poem only
He asked me, “What is your method as a poet?” I paused, flummoxed and embarrassed, as I fumbled for an answer. Haltingly I told him, “I write me - whatever is going on inside at the time.” It was an inadequate response. But since then I have thought about his question, even awakened with images or metaphors jabbing at a better answer.
But the best one came one morning as I was close to waking for the day. I pictured a lone traveling troubadour, singing or speaking the lyrics of his life and love. He improvises, playing in the rhythm and rhyme of his heart. He is on the road and feels the wind, smells the trees and grass, stops for interludes with folk he encounters. Over the years he lingers for long periods with kindred spirits who evoke something precious in his soul, make his heart race, make him certain that he is not made for this world but belongs with angels and their God. He is someone who moves, changes, cannot be tacked down or easily charted. This frustrates many who try to make sense of or connect with him.
But I have no guitar or microphone or stage. My tools are my words, my conversations with God, my frustrations, my moments of ecstasy or pain, my silences in early sleepless mornings where I sort out and make sense of my dreams and the other realms of my mind. I do not have an instruction guide, poetic encyclopedia, or academic course, only other poets and people who are willing to talk and listen and love – on the road.
A Crossing Print this poem only
I roam the roads of this land
hop the hills, read the script,
listen to the sounds of logic and consequence
feel the wind on my skin
smell the flowers and grass
in this familiar landscape.
But I yearn for another place
an unexplored, exotic, even eerie space
I approach and tiptoe into a foggy
twilight border devoid of signs
nobody, no memory, no lines
I try to surrender to the fog.
But soon I’m back in the charted
remembered current waters
picking up the day’s packets bracelets and bobbles
but my legs soon start to wobble
in this state of awake
and again I search for a crossing
through the foggy realm
into the sweet lost land
In Brief Praise of the Silverleaf Faithful Print this poem only
They gather round on Sunday
touching hands, knee to knee
Brother Fred in a taller chair
so all can see and hear him there
his words shorn from a life of fights
and struggles for what is right.
And these faithful Christian folk
who willingly take on Christ’s yoke
sit, listen, speak and sing
reaching for that silver string
cast by their Father into their hearts
spinning there his sacred art.
This small community who holds fast
to the call of love that God has asked
meet each week to seek and find
that which pulls them together and binds
them to the cross of salvation and love
pulls them from being low to a place above.
These faithful need one another
to gather there as sister and brother
for in a world of sin and distraction
they know the need to take action
to move from this small sacred space
into Christ’s heart of passionate, loving grace.
Author's Note: This poem was written in gratitude for a gift from the small community of elders who live in a senior living housing development in east Texas. They are led by a retired preacher spoken of in the poem. In spite of health problems of him and his wife, as well as other obstacles, he faithfully leads the little group each Sunday morning in the community room of the headquarters building.
Mere Sin Print this poem only
Your sin cannot remove you from me
for just beyond what you can see
I am there seeking your body and mind
you cannot restrict me or confine
my grace and its reach
but you must act to mend the breach.
Even though your human craving
makes you think you aren’t worth saving
if you turn back to me, stretch out your hand
take hold of the silver band
I will snatch you up to me
and here in my arms again you are new and free.
My limping leg Print this poem only
Each morning right before I rise
I open wide and raise my eyes
to find you there for me awaiting
please hear the voice I will be raising
and take my hand to be my guide
and walk this day right by my side.
Oh Jesus help my limping leg
and raise me up for this I beg!
And as the day goes on progressing
remind me Lord to be confessing
my love and need for your protection
and grant me Lord your kind affection
when I get lost in life’s distractions
please place your heart in every action.
Oh Jesus help my limping leg
and raise me up for this I beg!
I know sometimes I am mistaken
your grace is cheap and need awaken
to follow you and bear your cross
and stay with you through every loss
obey your law of love and find
regret for leaving you behind.
Oh Jesus help my limping leg
and raise me up for this I beg!
I hear your music Print this poem only
It strums and hums who I am
finds me when I’m jammed
makes me a balloon flying
yet anchors and keeps me trying.
But when I hear them decry and condemn
into the camps of “us and them”
and I join them in their soundproof rooms
I can’t hear your music in the gloom.
Help me leave the stifling shouts
within those walls, help me out!
I want to hear your music there
breathe the freshness of your air
but the judgers’ stern refrains
echo too loud inside my brain
drowning music from others
who could be my sisters and brothers.
I feel strangely alien there
not one who’s loved and dear
I wonder if I’m being cast out
and I feel the darkness of doubt.
I yearn for the music of your heart
that pulls me in and not apart
I crave the touch of your gentle hand
that helps me up, helps me stand.
Sing to me your blessed Psalm
anoint me with your healing balm
when I feel so aggrieved,
bound up and squeezed.
Show me a freeing loving place
send the Spirit and your grace
from beyond confining walls
let me hear the music of your call.
Author’s Note: This is written while reflecting on the intense polarization I observe in society and social groups. I wish I could say I never partake in this thinking, but sadly, I cannot. In this piece I try to reflect on what it does to me when I fail to see individual human beings as such, when I fail to make an effort to respect them and love them as whole persons (as God does) rather than categorizing them as being in this camp or the other. I think of an individual whom I judged based on a statement he made that triggered a knee-jerk reaction in me. But when I spoke to a person close to him and discovered more about him, his loves, values, and experiences, it changed my whole attitude toward him and softened my heart.
Speck Print this poem only
I open the big glossy book
full of beautiful illustrations
galaxies, nebulae, moons and stars
cross into my view
as I travel its pages
In the black background
clusters of color and light
in this page-turning cosmic flight
a tiny speck
in the expanding universe.
dot this inner space
in scattered remnants
undetectable by astronomy
or particle physics
in this collapsing sun.
Thank God for the stars
in my universe
who need no telescope
or cosmic observatory
to enter the inner space
to trace and find the heart
in this still expanding speck.
These Old Shoes Print this poem only
Back in the corner of the closet
they rest covered in layers of dust
so thick I can barely see their color
but I remember the days of trust
I placed in them on ladders
dragging the hose through mud
standing before the radial saw
cutting with fear of drawing blood
Yes they are quite ugly
scuffed and parting at seams
soles worn and getting holey
walked through broken dreams
But I’ve got more work to do
I shake off the past with their dust
put on these old shoes cozy and true
and step into another future with trust.
Hold Me Print this poem only
Hold me in your arms
fold me into your heart
touch me and let me feel your softness
take me away from me
help me to see
through your big brown eyes
drench me in your light
for I am down
and in the dark
remind me to laugh
and lift me with your wings of hope
smile me that last mile
before I am too tired.
The River Print this poem only
The River flows
moves steady relentless
wind-inspired ripples ruffle the surface
waves make their way to the far shore
to the distant landing I cannot see
to a place of the great mystery.
I have joined the deeper currents
unseen by this sun-drenched day
or the small vessels
of genius gathered
of a pounding past
where in our youth we cast
our simple handmade lures
hoping to hook and set
something, someone in the rolling caravan
of gypsies making their way
with story and song
ballads of valiant endeavor
sometimes weak sometimes strong
dotted with groans and sighs of love
the small sounds of stringing beads
drops of trust and hope
to sell other searchers
on the way.
Testament Print this poem only
What did Marcia Lister leave?
What was her testament old and new?
What did her life help us believe?
What was her witness to me and you?
She taught us the art of flight
to hold fast but remain unchained
faithful friend, mom, and cousin in both darkness and light
a woman standing in the respect she gained.
Her old testament rooted near Bayou Teche
its brown water, crawfish, and family ties
yet she wanted a life forward and fresh
where loyalty and hard work helped her rise.
Her life helped us believe in gentleness and sweetness
generosity and industry in a world of men
where women struggled for a life of completeness
she had to pull herself up again and again.
She was a seamstress and bore witness to pulling together
resources, energy and a hard working crew
she sewed cotton and nylon and even leather
creating things useful to help us get through.
Her enduring will was her generosity and love
faith in God to take her that last extra mile
she wouldn’t stay stuck; she raised her head and looked above
and her always new testament was that ready smile.
These are just a few things that Marcia Lister left
to us whom she loved that she humbly bequeathed
she would not want us to stay sad and bereft
so let us take flight in her relentless love and belief.
Author's Note: Dedicated to my cousin Marcia Lister who passed away August 9, 2019. She and I were simpatico and kept up with each other. My life has a void in it now that she is gone. The reason this poem is similar to the next one, "She Has Wings" is because I thought I had lost the latter and wanted to write a poem to read at Marcia's memorial service. Then Marcia's daughter, Mardell found the earlier poem and I was able to revise it. That revision is what follows.
She Has Wings Print this poem only
She has wings
her woman life sings
of mystery and strength
for she went to any length
to work, practice, and learn
to make her mark and to earn
a place of respect and trust.
She did what she must
to fashion, create and complete
without regret or retreat.
She has wings
not satisfied with the things
that most in her hometown
did to make themselves renown
she’d not embrace what was “normal”
stay in the confines of the formal,
she was willing to swim upstream
refusing to let go of her dream.
The Air Force opened doors wide
to a place she could achieve with pride
where she earned her bosses’ trust.
She succeeded when tested and thrust
where women had been forbidden
she excelled with the talents she was given.
She spread her wings to cross the sea
where she made her mark in Germany
discovering again that she could fly
conquering fear, piercing the sky.
She became a seamstress
delighted with the seamless
she used the fabric she was given,
determined and vitally driven
to take each irregular piece
smooth each stubborn crease
take threads of discord and dark
get from the dull and lifeless a spark
turn all the pieces in her control
into a rare and graceful whole.
In the seismic world of oil
she learned to pierce the soil
go down deeper, probe and measure
the truth - that rare and precious treasure
just as valuable as her common sense
and she had integrity without pretense.
They called her Mother Superior
for her standards forbade the inferior
she persevered with her given task.
Quit before done? Don’t even ask!
Through many trials and tribulations
she rose above expectations.
From injuries and harm endured
she thrived, survived and matured.
She married and had a little girl
raised and nurtured her like a pearl.
A loyal and faithful friend,
she was good to young and older kin
through storms and tears and awful things
beyond this life’s years, Marcia has wings.
Author's Note: Revised from previous 2015 version - also please see author's note in the poem immediately above this one.]
Revised and rewritten 8-29-19
Finding Victory Print this poem only
They vote for different sides
opposing thoughts sometimes divide
but both hold fast to the same Ark
pulling them together and not apart
they’re in the same Vessel of salvation
drink deeply the same Libation
go to a common place
to be filled with His grace
at the foot of the same cross
where they get victory, not loss.
Author's Note: Dedicated to Glenn Stromquist.
Written August 4, 2019
by Manuel Hutchinson and Glenn Currier
My politics on a Facebook page
her reply with such rage
I sat in shock
for we’d held her at baptism
kept her overnight tucked her in
like good godparents do
all the tender moments we knew
but now a pinch in my soul
my heart’s racing pace
felt like a flight from grace.
I didn’t expect the monster to rise.
The taste of bell flowers is so sweet,
Even the devil smiled at me.
He caught my soul asleep,
As he picked up the double edge sword.
I should have never turned my back that day,
I made a commit to walk on heaven’s grace
But chains on my feet prevented me to walk towards faith.
I’m living with my eyes closed.
Is this what happens when you embrace the pain?
Rolling along singing a song
it felt so good to be high in joy
not since I was a little boy
was the air so free
but then the email dripping with sarcasm
cut me deep with its slice of sad
like dad used to do when he was mad.
I thought I’d forgiven the cuts
but now I’m in their clutch
the cape of this demon covers me
I’m bound in anger without a key.
I got the whole wide world, in his hands
I got the whole wide world, in his hands.
I got his tears weeping in my hands.
I finally understood
vengeance doesn't make you a man.
Now I reaped what I sow,
loved how he burned my soul.
He said is it too late to confess my sins?
"God let me be free! I'll never meet Lucifer again."
The truth is unfortunate,
because only the creatures of my past life answered him.
sins of a little boy
clipping the wings of toys was the joy
watched angels descend
they never knew
I was the one who poured that bleach at her baptism.
This is only one monster under my bed.
All my life, I never chose to open my eyes
when I did, I saw the devil
as he came for his
“Revenge,” Copyright 2019 by Manuel Hutchinson and Glenn Currier