2020 Poems January - April
Poem List 2020 January thru April
Jade Sea Print this poem only
I was caught up in the usual daily wrangle
for my attention among the images and stories
on my phone and the computer’s tangled
tries for some small measure of life’s glories.
Then I looked up from the bright screen
and saw the long elegant leaf lit by the sun.
The tributaries of its mysterious green
softened and focused me from many to one.
I lost my crazy mind in this living blade
and found this poem waiting there for me
in the simple power of its now where I stayed
for a tender eternal moment in its joyous jade sea.
Let Love Settle In Print this poem only
There it is - first light - the debut of dawn
another first - soft rays of a new day
fresh dew settling and cooling the lawn
the dew and irrepressible light make way
to this browning patch of earth
another prelude in my eyes
a gentle affirmation of life’s worth
in this glistening silver sunrise.
This freshness prods my lethargy
and is easy for me to take
but do I have the kind of energy
to allow a love without break
unconditional and pure
I wonder if I have it in me
to let such a love endure
to settle into me like dew - light and free.
Wisdom of Fog Print this poem only
In the first light of dawn
fog shrouds the trees
and gentilizes the landscape
softens hard edges
What is the fog telling me?
Subtract the number of details
that consume attention and energy.
Unify the landscape of life
into something more simple.
Maybe I should listen to the wisdom of the fog.
Freedom to Die Print this poem only
When someone fears not my freedom
opens their grip and surrenders
any hold on me
the blessed result is a kind of peace -
maybe a pause before I approach the cliff
but in that small moment a glimmer of grace
enough to save me
a space to crawl a few layers deeper
to find what lies beneath,
a slender root, a fertile bit of soil
a mystery on the desert plain
that nurtures a tender shoot
to take me into a hazy future
Freedom to die
to the hell within me
to the surface me
that pretends control
to the hidden pain that gobbles my light
These little deaths free me
to embrace the little boy within
the creative self
the beautiful alive soul
the pure core
that sustains us all.
When Some One, anyone, fears not my freedom
opens their grip and surrenders…
A Little Darkness Print this poem only
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day
morning soaked in light of the sacred
sacred not scared
love not fear
listening and learning
raising my voice for good
connecting and respecting
of grace and peace.
But I can take only so much light
and then in the darkness
artists are projected
girls learning to be little women
me falling into my own little darkness
later escaping a world they call super
feeling excitements and delight
but sinking into a black hole
in my soul
yearning for joy
ending with anxious waking…
until now when these scribbles
scratch scrape and claw me
out of the pit
into a coral-streaked Dawn.
On the Fringe Print this poem only
Sometimes I am still in high school
feeling alone like a fool
on the margins an arm’s length away
a nobody with nothing to say
just out of pace
chosen last for one side in a game
but I graduated
moved into the world to find my place
but at times I get in a clinch
and still feel on the fringe.
Dawning Print this poem only
The first soft gray light of day
creeps in from the east
not even a glow
just barely enough
to see the clouds stretching over me
but I know a love
that is the dawn in my darkness.
the shifting layers of gravel and soil,
the thin crust of busyness
are the hours of merging and melting
from our friction and romance,
in other words
the love and trust
that is our bedrock.
A Vision of Daisies Print this poem only
I am in a field of daisies.
An array of white faces
enclose small suns that light the day
and send forth sweet scents of God’s graces.
This field echoes the glory of God.
I hear his Spirit whisper in the wind.
This language rises from dark sod,
but speaks the vibrant voice of a friend.
How blessed I am on this patch of earth!
God tells me to preserve and protect
his creation as a gem of great worth
to clothe it in a silken gown of respect.
Words Took Me Print this poem only
The foam of ocean waves
the cries of a newborn babe
the profusion of pedals in a daisy-dotted field
clouds nudging each other
a kiss a sloppy seal
a song that thrills
all these words owned me
took me for a moment this morning.
Pruning Print this poem only
My neighbor pruned his pear tree
he did it with such deliberate care
for the load of summer fruit broke limbs
he waters and nurtures that tree so special to him.
Pruning lets in the sunlight and air
vibrant limbs and blossoms appear.
What can I prune for good health,
for light, love, and soulful wealth?
Harp Print this poem only
Like fingers running across a harp
from shoulder toward feet
I fall deeper into you.
My fingertips pause
here and there in their journey
to feel the sweet vibrations
of your body
and in these small silences
I enter your divinity.
Suriv Print this poem only
May I be infected
with a sureness
of your love
May it spread within me
like an IV flowing confidence
in my okayness
In the face of fear
and desperation may
I be a cove of calm presence
May you be well
whole and robust
in every cell
In this time of solitude
may I encounter
the awesome power of now
Silt Print this poem only
I feel you easing into me
occupying thin layer
upon thin layer of my soul
and I occasionally notice
a smidgen of joy rising
as if first light was dawning.
But this is not first light
for it has been accruing
like silt in the river delta
depositing fertile soil
for an emergent growth.
Fear is dumb Print this poem only
The birds are pecking away in the feeder
they know what they need and just act
no dreamers or blind believers
they live in the now world in fact.
When I make a theory into a mount
or a bit of research a law
I tell my freedom it doesn’t count,
subtract my spirit and cancel my awe.
The germ of anxiety sown in the womb
the genetic material of doubt
from mama’s story and cloud of doom
don’t rule my choice nor rout it out.
So when future events appear to me real
and I crash in a chasm all glum
let me grasp the steering wheel
and remember: fear is just dumb.
Poetic Partner Print this poem only
A poem is not finished
until it is read or heard by another.
So when you read or listen
you become a partner
in this humble endeavor.
for one eternal moment
Author's Note: the poetic partner referred to in the title is my good friend John Call, pictured here.
I am hungry Print this poem only
My emptiness gnaws at me
erodes the dark coating on my soul
my hunger is a yawning bowl
of clear glass yearning to be filled
with your love
what nuggets of golden light
or even what suffering you might
will to me
to grow me
into what I need to be.
I trust you with my hunger
with the calluses
on my hands and feet
and the hardness of my heart
to touch, soften, repair,
and birth there
some fibers of new life.
The Piano Listener Print this poem only
Mom has been gone for years
but just now I was brought to tears
from a poem about my childhood piano playing
and how she patiently listened, probably pained
Mom told me she loved hearing me play soft or loud
and ‘twas the one thing I could do to make Dad proud.
Replaying years of hurt for mistakes they made
bound me in shadows and shade,
but now late in life I again recall
the character of their care for my soul
and cherish the humanity of these two
and their suffering that got me through.
Author’s Note: Written after re-reading a poem I wrote two years ago, “To tired to write?”
Small Sufferings Print this poem only
The life of parents is gauged in teaspoons
of sweat, vinegar, blood and tears
in early mornings and tire of late afternoons
all collected in a cup of salvation for years.
Small sufferings and moments of pain
become sacrifice for a child’s little sins
so the youth won’t suffer the blame,
cost of loss, but the joy of life’s wins.
All these payments made without wrath
may never be repaid to them in their time
but lessons taught will etch a path
for a child to grow up into its prime.
Anyone who loves the unkind
or selfish or one who has spurned
virtue or left goodness behind
pays debts the errant don’t earn.
Author’s Note: Dedicated to Kevin Williford in honor of his forthcoming work: Serving in the Lord’s Blackberry Patch.
Flute Player Print this poem only
He is walking slowly where step by step
measure by measure in the lush meadow
he plays a dulcet meandering air
inviting me to join him there
unbound by dark and foreboding forces
of the viral pervasive present.
I join him and we fly to the open plain
recently refreshed by rain
Oklahoma and its green fields
where the spirits of Native peoples reside
and in soft spring breezes glide
and remember their ancestors’ names
and the simple childhood games
they played kicking up dust of earth
in earshot of their mothers who gave birth
to those precious souls and bodies brown
made of love and Red River and ground.
The flute’s tune again catches me
in its lively streaming strain
and pulls me up to airy heights
to join the dance of darkness and light
in spirit realms where beauty
and reality tango together in peace.
Author’s Note: I bow to spiritual writer and mystic Richard Rohr and Kiowa, Pulitzer Prize winning author, painter and poet N. Scott Momaday who grew up in Oklahoma and once said “Realism is not what it’s cracked up to be.”
Weeding and Writing Print this poem only
There is a war I fight each day
between doing the garden weeding
and conjuring thoughts and writing to convey,
between praying-thinking and speaking-leaping.
Meditation is my resting
in peace and tranquility.
Chores are my wrestling
with just being and doing things of utility.
I hear I should not be a human doing
but instead be a human being
but how do I balance my wooing
with silence and dreaming?
Being a lover means moving and touching
deciding to extend myself for another
but it also means hushing
listening and abiding in wonder.
Ave Maria Print this poem only
Tonight I heard a girl singing
softly the Ave Maria of her choice
a faint memory moved into my mind
playing and singing in a tenor voice
it was the sound of a dreamy child
soaring to heavenly heights
inspired to bliss sweet and mild
with but a fledgling faith
a heart unsealed and open wide
breathing a small hope to create
to make something full of light
pleasing to the heavens
perhaps a strain to take flight.
And in the next room mom shed tears
of pride in her musical son
of such promise in tender years
in wonder of what her womb had spun.
Author’s Note: Hearing the Ave Maria – a piece of sacred music beloved by many even today - brought back a stream of memories and feelings and threw me back to my youth and the first stirrings of a creative spirit within. I played the piano and before my voice changed I sang the Charles Gounod version with the Latin text. That spirit still occasionally flies into my soul and squeezes out small soundings of imagination in the form of poetry.
Half a Cycle Print this poem only
I find myself caught in recycling
not cans and paper and glass
but thoughts and actions
habits can help
but being stuck in the habitual
sloshes me into a swamp
dank and stagnant.
What if I broke the cycle in half
opened myself to hidden reaches
of my mental soulful caverns?
Maybe this interruption
would reawaken my muse
from her drowsiness
sparkling and sprinkling me
with poetic stirrings.
It’s worth trying.
Green Glory Print this poem only
Outside life is in its green glory
springs and explodes with gusto.
Trees and plants shout with joy
irrepressible energy pulls me forward
leaps ahead from my dust and darkness
and takes me into sky from my fright
transforms my darkness into light
I thank you life for appearing in my night.
It is in this mixture of shadows and sun
that you appear most awesome overflowing
running over the fearful edge of my soul.
Slave? Print this poem only
I had forgotten him
until he appeared in a dream -
he so qualified
me so average -
and I awakened barely recalling him
but the shame attacked me with a fury
and has not loosened its grip
even in the late afternoon.
And I thought I became a different person
after twenty years,
even in the last five years.
Am I still shackled to that old self
with scars like ex-slaves carried
from the chains and whips?
It seems people fade but feelings rarely do.
Author’s Note: I bow to Samuya with gratitude for the poem below:
“You can forget the person
but can you forget the feeling?”
--Maybe the writing of this poem will loosen the grip of that feeling.