2020 Poems May-August
Poem List 2020 May-August
I come to you
Threshold Print this poem only
Here I wait resting on the door jamb
standing betwixt and between
shall I stay here or drop my hand,
move beyond what I’ve known and seen?
What will be out there to my left and right
where will the next step take me from here?
They said danger is there out of my sight -
threats, jinxes, and disease if that step I dare.
But if I move back into the shady cool
I’ll be safe in this cozy inner space.
Being in between without old rules
not knowing the beyond I’ll face
is scary but this is a journey of revelation
even if sacrifice and loss is in this race
I trust I will eventually find peace and inspiration.
Author's Note: It seems these days we are in what is sometimes called liminal space, it is a place in between what we have known and what reality will be in the future. It is a threshold which is uncomfortable and scary but also full of opportunity and possibilities of new discoveries, growth, and self-awareness.
You sway and sing Print this poem only
You are in the waving limbs
of the pear tree in spring
the inquiring yellow eyes of my cat
the majesty and vastness of the roaring sea
the lively brown eyes of my lover
the soft sobs of saying goodbye
to his precious wife after illness
the soft hop of the toad
the light of the fireflies
the moments of their darkness
the birds who dip and drink
from small puddles of collected rain
the male cardinal feeding his mate
you laugh in the giggle of a toddler
and abide there in his tears
you are the unrestrained laughter of a wife
at her husband’s clumsy goof
the closing off from those we love
and the unfolding of life in isolation
you are my higher power
beyond even the strongest moments
of my fighting ego
as a swift wind
swaying and singing with the sage
and dancing with the sunflower stalk in spring
you show me how to wait
how to breathe in the peace of dawn
how to be.
Light Rain Print this poem only
Light rain falls into my day
darkened skies hang low
inside dry suffused dismay
and a small nagging unease
reminds me a clear sunny day
is a gift in the murky malaise
to make this persistent haunt
until again light reigns.
Holding On to Hell Print this poem only
I have slowly loosened the grip
of one hand on hell
for a slow and gradual gain
but its persistent flame
still licks at my soul
has made me old
and beat in its heat.
I will not win this fight
with the dark and hoary blight
til I loosen both hands
to be wholly free
for the warm and deep embrace
of heaven’s healing grace.
Looking for doors Print this poem only
At every turn I have looked
listened, felt around for a door
a door here and a door there
one that would open
let in the air
let me aboard
not afraid nor bored
or in doubt
always leaning toward
life, whatever would restore
the child’s enthusiasm
the young man’s excitement for the next adventure.
So many doors:
music, art, trees, flowers,
incense, a lover’s lips,
poetry, stories, a lunar eclipse,
lizards, drums, psalms,
the smell of her hair, the feel of her arms.
Still I search for a door open to the light
to heaven and depth and height.
Sunflower Print this poem only
Look at the sunflower
one day standing tall
proclaiming its might
while during the night
darkness enters its stalk
and at dawn, drooping and sad,
it has no light or cheer to add.
Van Gogh felt its moods
change with the path of its star
knew it had much more
to reveal to passers by
and with his artist eye
he stopped to soak in its being and dwell,
painting no fewer canvases than twelve.
I wish zealots of a quest would pause -
like Van Gogh - to consider their cause
from a different angle under the sun,
dwell there unafraid to be outdone,
and for a while refuse to be pulled apart
but gently enter the Other’s heart.
Owner of the State Print this poem only
It comes in, sparkling and exciting,
with the promise of fun and zest
like a mist dappled with thrills
but it is a false promise
like the allurements of commercials
with smiling faces and a myriad of glitz
it ends in a state of shame
controlled by lords of the dark
and the owners of hell.
I brim over with gratitude for love
and the forces of beauty and mercy
that break the trance -
the spell always ending
with the unlit inglorious state of shame.
On Edge Print this poem only
I seem to be at home on the margins
where I can be alone
with my folly
sweltering in my private bowl of stew
simmering in the sins
surrounding and piercing me
but you found me there
invited me into your heart
where you loved me
sewed my seams
pulled together my crazy quilt
made separate parts into a whole.
Author’s Note: I wonder if these times offer opportunities for us to become quilt makers each in our own ways.
A Keen Aching Print this poem only
I wrote a poem for him when he was still here
he was a Cajun artist without peer
for her a paean to a life well lived but now gone
her gentle self slipped into an eternal dawn.
All too few left who care
to read or hear
my poems of yesteryear
not even a single tear
from anyone but me
for these souls who graced my life
and led me to pause, think, feel, and write.
What sweet sharp sorrow
drifting now in this dark and lonesome lake.
Author’s Note: Reflecting on poems written many years ago and wishing these special people were sitting in this room so I could see the expressions of their faces while I read their poems. Losing friends and kin brings a keen kind of aching. For my cousin Marcia Lister and painter George Rodrigue.
Exploding Universe Print this poem only
How small I am in my eyes.
May I see me as tall as you do.
keeps me from the gestation
of the universe within me
aching to explode.
Outpouring Print this poem only
My father said
My dear son I love you very much.
surprised by his affection
in the midst of my daily tedium and afflictions.
overflowed into my heart
and spilled out with tears.
Walking Lightly Print this poem only
You walk lightly,
said the old wizened man,
As if the floor were too thin
and you, afraid to use all your weight.
I looked at him with a surprised grin
You are perceptive
no one ever said that out loud to me.
He just grinned and winked.
God’s Gift Print this poem only
She’s known for her implike smile
as if she’s played a little trick
or hoodwinked a crocodile
or got your cash with arithmetic.
She is tall and very smart
she’s generous and funny too
but don’t try to sell her short
for she’ll definitely catch you.
Love of family and her white dog,
integrity and faith are values she treasures
she’ll give an afternoon to you in dialogue
and not count the minutes or measure.
Conscientious hard work and reliable
are marks of this woman strong
they are her virtues undeniable
but… she’ll tell you when you’re wrong.
Dedication to thrift and saving
have made her successful and secure
not prone to run out and get what she’s craving
she’s a person who’s steady and mature.
In conversation she’s funny and lively
friendly and good at sizing you up
even-tempered but feisty
ready to feed you and fill your cup.
She is a woman of reason,
understands people and their quirks
available in our every season
not easily offended or hurt.
We love how she gives us a lift
and we’re grateful for all the years.
You know, “Dorothy” means God’s gift
And for this gift we raise our voices in shouts and cheers.
Author's Note: For our niece Dorothy
Unspoiled Print this poem only
Look at the moon in a telescope
how pristine and awesome it appears
to us here on this spoiled planet
polluted and darkened by fears
of human egos run wild.
The light of the moon brings a smile
Mama used to say: look at the man in the moon
but the moon is without guile
virus updates and bad news.
May some particle of wonder
keep us whole and awaken the muse.
my daily swim Print this poem only
each morning I get up
and swim in the ocean of your love
your salt soaks into my every pore
and awakens me
to what is real
this daily swim strengthens my muscles
especially my heart
and the deeper I dive into you
the stronger I get
the poetry of your being
and this immersion buoys me
to breath in freshness
and make me alive
Do not cling Print this poem only
Do not cling to me
and our past together
instead stand back to see
the me still to be
a flowing brook
with floating leaves
and other pieces of earth.
The Scars On His Wrist Print this poem only
He held out his hand in greeting
smiling, eyes sparkling,
happy to see me
but I saw the scars on his wrist
his wound public
but easily missed.
We all carry wounds within
that we disguise or otherwise
hide from public view
and if they knew,
who would they see anew?
A disfigured one
or a mass of clay
being crafted and re-formed each day
emerged from darkness of night
into a soul full of light.
Our Scandalous Union
God you are so immense
your being spans the galaxies
yet here you are
in the sweet silence of my room
just you and me and the music
the music of your love
the strains of which fill me with joy and peace.
My sins are no fortress against your invading love
for you permeate my soul
like mist envelops a small boat
on the lake in the morning –
gentle, kind, without fanfare or pomp
you are beyond pomp
for your mighty love is secure
and generous in its being.
Your generosity takes me
takes me away from the weighty confines of this life
this body still struggling
still trying to learn what it means
to be fully human
in all the glory you meant for us.
When I think of your reach into my long life
I am filled with joy
not the giggly joy of a baby
but the deep and quiet joy of maturity.
I am still amazed that you care so much for us
for this ragged and rebellious species
so oblivious of your immense and powerful love.
How can you give yourself to us
when we do all in our power to ignore you
to run from your persistent and relentless reach
into our soul?
Oh sweet sweet Father
my eyes strain to retain the tears of gratitude
for you, my Beloved.
Our affair would be a scandal
to a world lost in its collective distraction
lost and floating across the icy surface
of its deluded reality,
yet the tears squeeze out upon my cheeks
of the river of our love.
I cannot contain you
even these words seem such weak instruments
of my hands and my mind
yet I feel your energy in my fingers
as they sweep across the keys
leaking light from our scandalous union.
So be it, my Lord, so be it.
I am spent yet full of you and your glory.
I come to you… Print this poem only
when I need to be awakened
and my writing confidence is shaken
when I seem to be too far apart
in urgent need of loving hearts
where there’re too many un-live things
and I need to hear a poet sing
the times I need a different take
or can’t move on from some dark ache
I want to see some twinkling stars
and leave the shades of stinking bars
or caught in dark of hellish nights
and seek a flight to brilliant heights
Author’s Note: Dedicated to the poets of HelloPoetry.com
An Evening of Tears Print this poem only
It was an evening of tears.
Not of pain or sadness
but those that arise unbidden and unexpected
after witnessing a hardened woman
who finds a sliver of grace
to forgive herself and another.
Tears of gratitude
from the sudden awareness
of undeserved goodness
This flow welled up
from something so deep within me
it belies masculinity, logic,
or the thick and high walls
cast up from hurt.
Tears that pierce scar tissue
wrapped around the soul
from pain or the fear of it
from abuse and the remembrance of it.
These are powerful tears
more mighty than the brutality
and shameless arrogance
I witness on the evening news.
Oh how full I felt
from this unabashed weeping
as if I had been visited by angels,
or something that can only be called
Liquid Light: A Purification Print this poem only
You would expect a mottled patina,
or layers of corrosion,
a leathery impervious surface
laid on by decades of exposure and wear
like an old rusty ship stuck on a sandbar.
But instead from this old hulk
flows streams of tears
in the presence of a human story
an underdog’s long shot victory,
the human spirit emerging
over evil, egotism or cruelty.
I wonder if this fountain of tenderness
comes from a soul transformed in darkness
or as a needed purification
from the news
of a soiled, cracked, and polluted body politic.
A Few Spare Moments Print this poem only
Isn’t it a shame
that I can only spare
a few moments with you
in-between all the really important things
I have to do.
I tell myself I don’t HAVE to take this time with you
when every time I do take time
I am energized and revitalized.
Do I not have enough time for that?
Time time time
energy energy energy…
How I count the costs
and not its treasures!
When I Ask Print this poem only
When I ask you for something
like sex, your listening ear, or your help
I admit my limits.
It is like prayer
which is a moment of giving up
some part of my potency
ceding a share of my energy and control
to a greater something or someone
Intimacy is an asking
a surrender of my image
my public in-control self
a holy moment of exposure.
It’s like the cat who in battle with another
turns over on its back
and bares its tender belly
more and more
I seem to be enjoying less and less.
Dark Charm Print this poem only
You in your dark charm
play in the background
in the shadows
like a minor chord in a thriller
to create tension and doubt
your poison seeps through every tiny crack
in my sanity
all the more at day’s end
through the fog of my fatigue
but you are always poised there
waiting just beneath the surface
counting the moments till
you see an opening.
Tired Print this poem only
There he sits head bowed in sleep
leaning south on the weathered wooden bench
too tired to take another step
he dreams of a broken-masted ship
wobbling in the water
nowhere to go
but a light from the entrails
makes him wonder
if there is hope for a voyage
for another journey
his heavy limbs can hardly move.
Beneath the dank scene
is a lingering certainty
he’s stuck here
stranded in this sad moment.
Transcendence Behind Those Eyes
His ample graying beard
nearly covers crinkled flesh
his eyes focus on the stars
that surround him
his hat with its spangled band
bent slightly down in front
seems to say: I am traveler of Earth.
I wonder what transcendence
dances behind those eyes
slowly moving like Zorba,
arms out gently waving,
an eagle in flight.
Like the old man
I want to bear witness to the universe
in the wave of my mind
to give flight to words
infiltrate, expand and release them
and maybe figure out my small part
in the great mystery.
Author’s Note: I bow to poet, Mark Strand for ideas about a poet’s task. This poem is based on a photocreation by a friend of mine, Garth Mindfeather Hill: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindfeather/8628345020/in/photolist-BJJtpC-t7KXZr-rZg32Q-qDAQN6-e9swnj-cf92s5-q7VAdi-i5hXm4-cvN7S9-kZRjXk-hc1aP9-ThYpFd-SdDME4-SynjPA-uymERL-f7vaww-hWof1d-rz9v3A-9rkYHz-gPpVND
Marilyn Print this poem only
How did she live so very long?
She was simply a woman strong.
After her husband’s tragic demise
she had to find a way to arise.
Under great stress she had to stay calm
to survive as a single mom.
To a life of service she was called
teaching those with problems to stand tall
she was their mentor and wise guide
and stood by them with great pride.
In a world of hurt and cries
she had a certain twinkle in her eyes
a sense of humor brought a smile
to you if you knew her a while.
She raised a son and taught him well
in a tough world to survive and dwell,
to make his way as a man
to use his gifts the best he can.
Marilyn’s spirit was gentle and kind
and anger was not her usual state of mind.
She must have had angels who stood close by
and when she was down lifted her high.
And now she dwells somewhere in sky.
And when we hear a moan or a sigh
think of her and the beauty of her soul
and ask her to make you whole.
Author's Note: This poem was written in honor of Marilyn Ramos who was a friend of ours and a former colleague of Helen. It was presented and read at the graveside ceremony of her funeral 8-28-20. Marilyn passed away 8-24-20.