2021 Poems: May - August
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Poem List: 2021 May thru August
These Women, These Mothers
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I’ve known these women, lived with one for fifty years
many of them sprung from the Pantel line
a line of women with loads of laughter and tears
some of them with husbands with the Pantel sign.
These women are known to be very strong
but full of a love that softens their hearts
and they have firm ideas of right and wrong
that got them through many fits and starts.
Their children knew them simply as mom
but their heroic skills through many a stormy night
helped them to outwardly show strength and calm
while inside their stomachs were tight.
Through ingenuity, tenacity and grit
these ladies got things done.
With plenty of guts and a little wit
they even had a little fun.
Through the years they traveled many a mile
in cars and planes with kids crying and screaming
and somehow ended up with a smile
never losing a tendency toward dreaming.
These women and these mothers
have held families together through thick and thin
embraced their sisters, loved their brothers
and through pain and death they made a win.
For you mothers who have preceded us in death
we are grateful you gave your lives in love
you worked and cared till your final breath
and we’ll see you a little later beyond and above.
Author's Note: This poem was written in honor of the women in the Pantel family
and was read at the family reunion in May 2021
I belong here beside you
we go together
you and I
you in your love
me in my bewildered state
I travel away from you
to visit foreign lands
not to avoid you
mostly to avoid my self
away from your embrace
away from the smell of your hair
the feel of your soft lips on mine
when I am away I miss
your big brown eyes
your sweet kind soul
that wraps itself around me
in spite of my evasions.
That Sucky Feeling Print this poem only
Why do I trip and fall into shame so easily?
I wonder if there is something in me that says:
“Feel ashamed and you will be better.”
But focusing on my limitations and failures
shouldn’t be such a regular habit.
They say that there’s two kinds of shame:
healthy and toxic.
But both of them feel sucky.
It’s healthy to realize I’m not God
and to accept my limitations
Toxic is staying stuck
in that hopelessly defective thought.
This stuckness has a thick cloud of darkness
surrounding it – gripping me.
I guess what people call faith is knowing
there’s always light outside and inside me
if I but look for it
believe in it.
Equanimity Print this poem only
It is good to be at peace with myself
even with all the scars and baggage.
Today I know I rest safely in the arms of life
like a baby with its mother
whose love is unconditional.
Whatever others might say
about people like me
I am content to just be,
confident on my path
with my choices and beliefs.
This what it is like to simply
This Small Cathedral Print this poem only
In this small cathedral we meet
I sit here waiting for you
and it is not long before
our joyful reunion.
I weep tears of joy
being wrapped in your arms
feeling your creative energy
flow through my mind
into my fingers and back out
on this small screen.
I have missed this intimacy
that fills me with poems
and lines along which you travel
from me into the universe.
Those lines pierce my heart
and it overflows with life and love
because you have entered.
This is a sacred space
for here I bring all the trials and pain
and lay them out
for your creative plunging being,
plunging past the terror and hate without
into the deepest part of me
a chamber of reunion.
Author’s Note: Since this time last month (May 2021) I have been suffering some intense pain in my back due to spinal disk degenerative disease that hurts most intensely when I sit and a bit less when I stand. So that sends me to bed or the couch where I can recline and allow my pain killing measures to take effect. I can really understand how people get hooked on pain killers. So this month has filled me with compassion for those who suffer chronic intense pain. I still await a more permanent or at least a longer lasting solution to this problem. The medical profession sometimes moves slowly. I have missed writing and this morning I forced myself to sit here, meditate, journal, and allow my muse to enter the small space of our garden room where my little computer sits and I can enjoy the feast of green life around me and through the windows AND the feast of creativity – inspiring this my first poem in more than a month. It is amazing how the creative impulse arises when we just stop and allow it to do so. I have missed you all and your poetry, your spilling out of your soul life. I hope I can force myself to return to this small cathedral more often even though the pain continues to nag and pulse. Peace and poetry to all of you, my dear friends.
This Magnificent Orb and I Print this poem only
Lightning and thunder
herald the strong arm of nature
awaken me to Earth.
Rains soak soil
and now I walk in the garden
green, pink, and magenta life surrounds me
its aroma suffuses my lungs
my breath makes us one -
this magnificent living orb and I.
This Vibrant Presence Print this poem only
Away on a short but long trip into pain
my absence brought
a keen yearning for our union
so now we touch
I breathe in your aroma
my heart throbs with joy
for this rich vibrant presence.
Sunflower Print this poem only
Just weeks ago you were a seed
soil pressing in on you
and now your yellow
is gold in my eyes
pure joy to be alive
oh what a magnificent pair we are
you in your glory
me in my need
for a small delight.
My Furrowed Mind Print this poem only
My mind is plowed with deep furrows
a thousand canals
through which hapless fantasy
rushes with such ease.
But on occasion
when I least expect it
the realms rain upon that soil
that glisten and giggle
turn this way and that
wild and tender
and full of life.
Tomato Man Print this poem only
In late spring when it is still cool
he busies himself outside
preparing the soil for planting
while we are within,
comfortable in the warmth of our homes.
He has gathered all the ingredients
and pieces for his raised bed
and in the soil near the alley
he will dig to plant
the small tomato sprigs
that will grow into large bushes
full of the rich red fruits of his labor.
Now the raised bed is booming with growth
of okra, various small tomatoes
and other delicious vegetables
that grace the table for family meals.
In the alley
people pull to a stop to admire
those green tomatoes as they ripen
in the summer sun.
They must delight in what my neighbor
with mother nature.
Arrested by this fertility
they cannot speed past it
on their treks to work.
The tomato man has caused
these working men and women to pause
and feel a slice of earth’s wonder.
My wife and I who inside in our warmth
watched him toil at winter’s end,
now hear a knock on our back door.
There he is smiling
holding up a paper parcel
of delicious juicy tomatoes
offered up to us
from his hands and heart:
varieties of love.
Where are you? Print this poem only
In snowy peaks
and gray valleys
and lower back pain
and rivers of grief
thorny branches of the bois d’arc tree
of a lily or a lady
pioneers and sinners
losers and winners
on the road
in the heart of home
what you imagine
and what you dream.
Author’s Note: My muse
Homecoming Print this poem only
Here among the trees
leaves, birds and bees
breathing in summer air
the sun embraces me
into its life-giving energy
I feel loved
and part of the great mystery
each day is a homecoming.
Here I can just be me
fearing no judgement
or condemnation for my sins
but pure acceptance
This day, each day
is my birth day.
Puffs of Dust Print this poem only
The smell of new rain
permeates the air
the first heavy drops raise little puffs of dust
in the dirt.
Covered porches protect her
from the storm outside
and the dread inside
where benign neglect reigned
ennui and death strained
threatened to pull apart
the joy sleeping in their wondrous souls
that lived beyond the confines
of the dark brooding grip of family
inside the ancestral home.
Author’s note: Inspired by my cousin’s memoir. With gratitude to her for this courageous masterpiece, Crossing Bayou Teche (p. 40). I hope this will be the first of many poems sprung from this work which has shed revelatory light on my personality and familial past. I will refer to these poems as “Teche Series”
Temporary Residence Print this poem only
It is a worthy mercy
to take up temporary residence
in another’s suffering body
Appetizer Print this poem only
I wonder if I will ever know real satisfaction
until I get to the other side
of the moment when I run out of time.
Is this life but an appetizer
and all I can hope for
is to be occasionally
surprised by joy?
Sage Life Print this poem only
Watered in the heat and fervor of summer
the sage explodes its magenta glory
bees buzz and feast on its nectar.
It captures the sun
smiles and giggles its delight.
It is a joy to see life burst
and stir a flurry
as the zeal and vigor of its limbs
cannot be contained.
I too need watering
in this infernal season
of clashes and wrangling
to turn my verdant soul
into a desert.
Pure Linen Print this poem only
Sometimes it seems my little world,
all its attractions, issues, and challenges
conspire to keep me from you.
But in the morning,
before I fall into the coarse canvas of my day
I encounter the pure linen
and texture of your love for me,
the thin red yarn
of my love for you.
Growing and Dying Together Print this poem only
In the first light of this day
with too little sleep
I am feeling tired and vulnerable
but I have entered the dreams, fears, and pains
of other poets from far and wide
and it seems
we are all growing and dying together
maybe just a little at a time
line by line
these spirits enter me
and assure me I am not alone
in this drift.
Author's Note: I came into our garden room before dawn this morning
and read several poem of my friends and fellow poets on
the website: https://www.HelloPoetry.com, one of which
was from Khoi, my South African friend, who seemed to be
telling me, in his beautifully poetic way, that some kind
of end is near. Lately I have been feeling my age both in
body and mind. So this poem is what came out of my
sense of angst early this Thursday morn, August 12, 2021.
In a Tear Print this poem only
My tears drip down my cheek
each one a piece of me
atoms of my love
Being an Earthling Print this poem only
My line of sight is broken
by the leaning tree
I cannot see the universe.
an inborn malady
but still the red-headed sparrow
perched on a nearby branch
in its small simple beauty
gives me a glimpse
and makes me grateful
to be an earthling.
Dare I spend time with you? Print this poem only
Dare I spend my time with you
puncture my soul with your deep breath
feel the pain in your feet
walking the Earth and the universe with such love?
Dare I spend time with you
and risk falling into the abyss of deep sad blue
and losing my self in that fall
all with the chance that I will become
who I was meant to be from the start
of the sperm reaching the ovum?
Dare I spend time with you
laying myself out
on the expanse of your skin
feeling its coarse surface
learning its beautiful layers?
May I have the courage to take this small leap
to find you in the saddest and most joyful places.
If I dare to spend time with you
I will find myself in the strong grasp
of your immense reach.
Summer Nights on the Porch - [Teche Series] Print this poem only
June bugs crash into screens
to get in by any means
dogs howl, frogs croak
like the bass fiddle
in Lightning Hopkins’ blues.
Sticky moisture from the bayou
envelopes, and soaks through,
permeates still night air
like the sad strains of Claude’s La Mer.
Growing up in southern climes
slowed days, stretched years
put me on the edge of tears
yearning for escape from there
from dominion of church
and Mama’s monarch perch.
Hints of her softness
were so rare and spare
that when she let us smooth her hair
we forgot how parched were we
for a trace of this tender intimacy
on summer nights’ scorch
spent on our homestead porch.
Author’s Note: Before the advent of air conditioning families, especially children, spent lots of time on their front porches. This poem is an attempt to describe the experiences there of one little Cajun-French girl. This is the second of the Teche Series of poems inspired by the memoire of my cousin, Melanie Durand Grossman, Crossing Bayou Teche.
Beyond the Veil Print this poem only
Her mind seemed red as an apple
she looked at me squint-eyed
as if I were a dark ugly shade of blue
when I spoke ideas
on the other side of her veil.
I could tell the veil had divided us,
me now a continent away.
Later a sadness washed over me
thinking of her departure.
Then I thought of her kind heart.
Both of our hearts pump life
into the most distant cells,
to our dirty toes and grimy fingers
fingers we must poke into stink and rot
poked with love
beyond our comforts.
So next time we meet
I will remember her heart.
Loch Lomond Print this poem only
Listening to some lovely piano music
I am transported into another realm
my eyes misty with gratitude and appreciation.
What is it about good art
that punctures my heart
and pours into it wonder and light?
When I encounter it I know
I am but a dot,
insignificant in a beautiful universe,
yet I know I belong.
Author’s Note: Inspired by “Loch Lomond “ piano music of Rick Sparks.
Waking in Fog Print this poem only
I woke this morning from a dream
left in a brief fog of unease
just on the misty edge of anxiety
then I remembered
I am wrapped in a great mystery
in the heart
of the world and humanity
in a sacred space
and a promise of which I am heir
and now in the first light of dawn
I am caught in the spawn
Being a Caterpillar Print this poem only
The feeling of fear meeting someone for the first time
the delight looking at a little child playing
near ecstasy smelling a magnolia blossom
a secure feeling upon seeing Pampas Grass.
The unsafe feeling being with the blonde man
who had been nothing but kind to me
then… finally I remembered
the sandy-haired boy who made an object of me
at age seven behind the barn on a summer day.
So much of the self is hidden
chaining me to the old
keeping me in a caterpillar state
stumbling over chunks of earth
ignorant of what can happen
in the cocoon.
But learning, writing, remembering
can make me a Monarch
flying into spring.
Author’s Note: I bow to Ray C. Stedman and his article: “The Great Mystery” and to Melanie Durand Grossman’s memoire, “Crossing Bayou Teche,” that brought a kind of enlightenment to her, her cousins, and others. The book effected in some of us a new awareness and freedom from formerly hidden realities that had shackled us to the past. This poem is part of my Teche series.
A Crossing Print this poem only
As she crossed the bayou
the dark lily-padded strip of water
seemed a gateway to a wider world.
The train departed
leaving her family and church behind
anxious but excited as the locomotive
slowly picked up steam headed for a world
she had only seen in pictures.
I am on the road
with infinite possibilities ahead
wrapped in a small universe I accept
but with freedom
always moving toward
a home with no limits.
Author’s note: Inspired by Melanie Durand’s memoire, ”Crossing Bayou Teche.” Poem three of my Teche series.
Foreigner on the Road Print this poem only
I read poems, stories, see movies
where protagonists fall in love
give themselves to their lovers
only to later be betrayed or abandoned -
a story as old as humanity.
We two lovers
entwined for five decades
still must re-new our love over and over
each still a mystery,
in a fashion a foreigner, a traveler
on the road
a road strewn with rocks
tiny pebbles that get in our shoes
irritate the soles of our feet
unsettle our souls.
And on our better days
we can laugh at our folly and flubs
and end with a knowing smile and hugs.
But still there are molecules of our being
hidden from each other and ourselves
that will betray our trust.