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2021 Poems: September thru December

A Thimble, a Cup                Print this poem only  

Usually when I open my eyes,

creeping through the blinds a sun rise

brings a thimble of gratitude to my sleepy mind

for yet another day above ground.

 

But last night

news of flooded darkened homes

faces full of desperation and despair

haunted me

delayed sleep until another morning

was about to dawn.

 

I turned the lights on

just to make sure.

 

Now I am awake

and drink

a cup of gratitude.

 

Written 9-3-21

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Spending            Print this poem only

 

When I spend time with you

the investment pays dividends

deposited in my soul

and like a big bowl of cereal in late morning

satisfies my hunger and thirst.

 

Your listening, whispers

sparkling eyes

arrest my heart

and take it prisoner.

 

I am yours.

Written 9-4-21

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Thorns            Print this poem only

 

The thorns in my side

I try so hard to hide

with humor, cleverness, even kindness

but after so long they are well-planted

like seeds they’ve taken root.

 

I am a man full of grace and gratitude

even changes in attitude

I float on great waves

in my wooden dinghy

precarious atop mighty waters

and angels visit

take me into smooth azure lagoons

where I reside in peace

even serenity from time to time.

 

I weep in great sadness

occasional fits of despair

drowning there

I swim up to gulp for air

leap and glide into the light

breathe mercy in my flight

pray for courage and gumption

but discover

I cannot stay afloat alone

so with abandon I dive

into bright souls whose hands and hearts

reach down to rescue me.

Some of them are thorn people too

battered, broken, and rugged

who’ve found the courage to change

the things they could.

 

I guess these thorns are there

to make me come up for air

to give me the zephyr of humility

the certainty of a love

that save me.

 

Author’s note: This is written for those who are in the grip of one or more addictions.

 

Written 9-6-21

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The Builder            Print this poem only

 

It is hot

I am sweaty and already tired

a lone mason out here in the sun

my back bent over the edge of the foundation.

Behind me the stack of bricks

in my hand the trowel

snatched up from my weathered toolbox.

 

My forehead drips joining the goo of mortar

I lay the mortar bed row

and grab the first brick

to begin the southern wall,

the wall that will face the squalls

of this troubled season.

 

Author’s Note: Sometimes one must begin again the project of building sanity and good mental health.

Written 9-7-21

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Surprised by Astonishment            Print this poem only

 

Can I still be astonished

or have I become so inured to the darkness

and fallibility in others

that I expect nothing more?

It does not surprise me if

          the wealthy ignore the poor

          fundamentalists hate nonbelievers

          I eat too much

          men abuse women

          I forget to stroke my wife’s hair

          political fervor stifles compassion

          I reject needed correction.

 

But I am astonished by

          nurses and doctors who care for people who abuse them

          the tenderness of a mother who loves her malformed baby

          when I’m forgiven by someone I’ve hurt bad

          childbirth

          politicians who compromise for the greater good

          a firefighter who runs into a burning building

          when my apology is gracefully accepted by a victim of my folly.

 

Astonishment can

          give me hope

          lift me from depression

          bring a smile in the midst of my sadness

          prove my humanity.

 

Written 9-10-21

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It’s like fishing…            Print this poem only

 

Contemplation is like fishing.

Often my reason fails me

and I cast out into the waters

hoping I can catch that vital energy

feel its power, its resistance, its strength

that is elusive

but I know is there

and those moments of connection

with that mysterious force

give me energy.

I am alive

so I keep castings into the ocean

knowing the elan is there,

the verve that takes me from my mind

to dance, to move, to swerve

in that moment of now.

 

Author’s Note: I bow in gratitude to Brian McLaren and Barbara A. Holmes for their wisdom that inspired this poem and kneel in awe and thanksgiving to all the fish I have caught over the years, for the excitement and nourishment – the life they gave me.

 

Written 9-11-21

 

Wilderness Dreams             Print this poem only

 

I awaken in darkness

still terrified and running

from the mountain lion.

 

But what if I’m the prey

of my own judging

captive of my comparisons?

At times I feel those verdicts in my gut

like when I can’t concentrate on a task

I SHOULD be doing.

 

When I notice my tight gut

and my mind wanting to flee

I can stop trying

and lying to myself

set my imagination free

roam a wilderness I choose

like right here on the flat and fertile plains

of this poem’s lines.

 

Written 9-21-21

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Forsaking Regret            Print this poem only

 

As she lay there, her face pale, almost ashen
tears flowing,
in her gravelly voice
she said how horrible she felt
about a life so full of mistakes and selfishness
for giving her sister a hard time
being crabby and so critical to her boss
who was also her friend.

She looked into my eyes
regret dripping in every wrinkle
of her rugged face
and she began sobbing.

I cried with her
squeezed her left hand
felt the burden of my own regrets
for the ruts and rocks I had left
in the path of my past.

And I told her she was a different person now
I reminded her that the amends made to me and so many
later in her life were a testament
to a soul redeemed
and now in glory.

She smiled wistfully,
closed her eyes,
and drifted on her tears
into eternity.

 

Written 9-22-21

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Blossom            Print this poem only

 

A man wants to make his mark on the world

to leave something of himself that will endure.

It is the human thing to do.

 

For some it is children

for some a book

a dare-devil act

or other feat

that will interrupt the routines

of a father, mother, farmer, pipefitter, or pastor

make them pause and notice

for a moment

or even learn a thing or two.

 

But I wonder if these small interruptions

in the lives of other mortals

are worth

the sweat, angst, hours, gut wrenching

and immense energy of a life.

 

The sage’s magenta petals fall in the heat of the afternoon

and no man, woman or child notices

but bees lit there and sucked a little life

from the blossoms’ hearts.

 

Maybe I should be content to bloom

for a few days in summer

then fall away

to the earth

the love

from whence I came.

 

Author’s Note: A friend of mine just published a book of his poems: Apothecary, by James Kenneth Blaylock. I opened it this morning as I lay in bed trying to wake up. It is a nice little volume of his poems written over many years. It felt good holding it in my hands and remembering James and our little poetry group in our town, remembering him in his wheelchair struggling with his strong arms to propel himself into our lives - which he did. Now he has kids and three books. His gentle voice has been heard. His sad smile has been seen. He has made his mark. Reading his poems, James caused me to reflect for a moment on my own life.

Written 9-27-21

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In This Now            Print this poem only

 

It is good to be in this place

in this time

the plants awakening to the light

the soft music

easing into my soul

the candle flickering

the air and me

cool and still

in this now.

 

Written 10-2-21

 

Final Judge            Print this poem only

 

Talent shows have judges

who measure the gifts of the contestants

and proclaim who is the best

based on their performance.

 

We all have gifts given to us

by parents, friends, loved ones, and other teachers,

each of us also being a teacher or gift-giver of sorts

for others and ourselves.

 

When I judge myself

may I be merciful, wise, and accurate

taking into account

how I became me.

 

So, now and in the end

may I be the true me

and not a me conjured in my imagination

or a me who became me

by comparing myself to other mes

for in the final analysis

it is all a gift.

Written 10-2-21

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It's too late…           Print this poem only

 

It’s just too late

foes on the verge of a trounce

fate is surely defeat.

Is there one more ounce

of hope, of effort

one more cup of fire

to eek out a victory?

 

It’s too late

to turn back now

you’re too far gone

your past hangs on your ankles

like rusty chains

the ruts in your road too deep

to swerve

to curve

off and out onto smooth.

 

Besides, you’re too old,

too set in your ways

to change now.

It’s too late baby

It’s too late.

When you were two

it happened to you

the stage was set

too bad my boy.

 

But I take a deep breath

look up

and smile at the voices describing my supposed fate

determined…

but I say to those voices:

be silent

because now is my moment

to step into brilliance.

 

Author’s Note: It is too easy to tell myself there is no chance for a future at my age and to give up. I don’t know what it is but I’m just not ready… to give up on the possibilities.

 

Written 10-3-21

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Hidden Canyon            Print this poem only

 

Vines and their tributaries

climb the wall overtake

and name of our neighborhood:

hidden canyon.

 

Four decades ago

we explored the woods

and found the rocky canyon

etched into the landscape by Ten Mile Creek.

Our limbs were limber

muscles young and strong

adventure coursed in our veins.

 

But now no woods

just houses and streets

our jaunts into the wild

with woodsy small creatures and critters

are gone.

 

The mystery we found there

now supplanted by novels, poems and stories

of children, young explorers and writers

and I traverse the thicket

of my small universe

searching the hidden canyons of

mystics, dreamers and poets,

combing a terrain deeply inscribed

by the hand of the divine.

 

Written 10-4-21

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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

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It’s so easy to leave you            Print this poem only

 

It is so easy to leave you

to get lost

in the garbage

fix the sink

watch the cowboys and chiefs

cut the grass, rake the leaves

shop for milk and eggs

exercise my arms and legs

take out the trash

pick up the mail

and a thousand other details.

 

It’s so easy to leave you

to get lost in the garbage

and before I’m through

we’ve drifted apart

and all I had to do

was sit down and start

to look into your eyes

speak from my heart

listen to you

and hang on your words.

 

Together take a walk

forget the clock

listen and talk

laugh a bit

maybe even cry

just you and I.

 

And before long

there we are again

we made it

that’s all we had to do

just be

me and you.

 

Written 10-5-21

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Getting to know you            Print this poem only

 

Isn’t it strange

how in this brief exchange

of the creative impulse

we gain

a certain kind of intimacy

with each other

yet we never

smell each other

shake hands

breathe the same air

put up with personal idiosyncrasies

and off-putting voice inflections –

all the things our friends and loved ones have to.

 

Yet here we occupy hearts and minds

many of our friends and loves do not know

with such closeness, interiority, and connectedness.

 

What a strange and magnificent gift!

 

Author's Note: This poem refers to a poetry community of which I am a part, HelloPoetry.com. 

Written 10-9-21\

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