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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


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


          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


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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