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2021 Poems: May - August

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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

 

Written 5-7-21

 
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We Belong

 

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.

 

Written 5-10-21

 
 
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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.

 

Written 5-11-21

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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

be free.

 

Written 5-12-21

 

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.

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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.   

 

Written 7-3-21

 

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

and gratitude

for this rich vibrant presence.

Written 7-3-21

 

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.

 

Written 7-3-21

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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

sprout seedlings

that glisten and giggle

turn this way and that

wild and tender

and full of life.

 

Written 7-8-21

 
 

Weary            Print this poem only

 

I am on the tense edge of fatigue

its gray snare

its numb mute grip

squeeze out 

my vigor.

 

Written 7-9-21

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

has done

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.

 

Written 7-10-21

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Where are you?            Print this poem only

 

In snowy peaks

and gray valleys

grassy plains

and lower back pain

the falls

and rivers of grief

thorny branches of the bois d’arc tree

the womb

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

.

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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

and bliss.

 

This day, each day

is my birth day.

 

Written 7-22-21

 

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

children’s hearts

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”

 

Written 7-29-21

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Temporary Residence            Print this poem only

 

It is a worthy mercy

to take up temporary residence

in another’s suffering body

by listening.

 

Written 8-2-21

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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?

Written 8-10-21

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

seemingly determined

to turn my verdant soul

into a desert.

 

Written 8-14-21

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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.

Written 8-16-21

 
 
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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.

 

Written 8-12-21

In a Tear            Print this poem only

 

My tears drip down my cheek

each one a piece of me

atoms of my love

for you.

 

Written 8-12-21

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Being an Earthling            Print this poem only

 

My line of sight is broken

by the leaning tree

I cannot see the universe.

This short-sightedness

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.

 

Written 8-11-21

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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.

 

Written 8-19-21

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Summer Nights on the Porch  -  [Teche Series]            Print this poem only

 

June bugs crash into screens

mosquitoes whine

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.

 

Written 8-18-21

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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.

 

Written 8-17-21

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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.

 

Written 8-17-21

 

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

of life

to be

transformed

into joy

and beauty

 

Written 8-26-21

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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.

Written 8-23-21

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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

a refugee

an immigrant

with infinite possibilities ahead

wrapped in a small universe I accept

but with freedom

to search

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.

 

Written 8-22-21

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.

Written 8-28-21

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