2020 Poems September-December
Poem List 2020 September-December
Old men will see visions Print this poem only
I hear the piano playing softly
pulling me from these rutted plains
into a moist green meadow
a vision of a flowing brook down the hill
makes me believe the words of the Prophet:
“Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
yes, I am old, but I see and feel the rising gentle treble notes
lighten my leaded limbs
awaken my spirit
and thrust me into the realms.
It is the touch and glide of the pianist’s fingers
across the ivory skin of the keys
that transports me
in the waning hours of this day.
How sweet it is!
Poor poor pitiful me Print this poem only
I am broken
bent and misshapen
sad and lonely
dark side of the moon
not caught in undercurrents
but submerged in a bog
Oh what a pitiful state
I’m embarrassed by myself
not s’pose to be like this
people need me to be upbeat and bright
not in darkness but in light
good for a laugh or a smile
wanna be with me a while
but this mournful me
like a salty dead sea
they’d rather not
I don’t blame them
I don’t even wanna be with me.
It’s dark outside
thunder storm rolling in
just perfect for my mood
I wanna thunder out loud!
Ha, oh what a putz!
Writing it all down like this
makes me want to laugh
at this oh so pitiful me.
I feel better already.
And here you are reading this
what a pure beautiful soul you are
obliging me by listening.
Now you can laugh!
Have a good day.
Author's Note: This poem demonstrates how writing in general and for me, writing poetry can be very therapeutic. When I started writing (that first stanza) I was just writing down my feelings and sentiments but it became a poem and as I wrote my feelings became transformed and I was able to laugh at myself. Thank God and his Holy Spirit for poetry.
Flickering Green Glass Print this poem only
I am bowed by the weight of bad news
tentacles of evil
creep in to wrap around me
like a dark cocoon
at mixed intervals each day.
Oh how I need love!
It is the only power greater
than the clouds dripping, pouring upon us.
The burning candle
its flickering flame
in the green glass
speak life to me
beyond the reach
of threats and fear.
I bow to the light.
love and its green flame
capture my attention
I adore it
and throw off the cloak of darkness.
Here I stand
What would life be if… Print this poem only
I could paint a rainbow on the moon
Mozart came back to give me a tune
climb in a conch shell and float its coral sea
bring my Mom back to laugh with me
I had a five-year old’s fancy and joy
I giggled as free as a little boy
I could ride a buffalo on the great plains
course through Jesus’ veins
Chief Joseph advised me on a vision quest
I were never ever again depressed
Neruda came back to teach me to write
I could take wing with butterflies in flight?
Author’s Note: This poem was inspired by a Garth Hill photo-creation (seen at the right). Garth usually has an inspirational quote below his photos on flickr.com. This is the quote accompanying the photo: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Van Gogh
Long Traverse Print this poem only
My mind is active ever looking searching
to grasp what lies beneath the surface
but my intellect in its hectic quest
with the short verse
of its voyage.
I have episodes of wandering
with brief sightings -
a dim light cast
in the corner of this room or that
the church lot playing touch football
or singing in my prepubescent tenor voice,
me shaking his soft hand over cookies at rehearsal
for he, in his mostly stern visage,
I open a dusty old book
and smell its yellowed pages
cast back to the university library
searching with eagerness
for evidence of Cortes, Aquinas, Longfellow
or other explorers of humanity and the divine.
I smell incense
and remember my mother kneeling
praying the rosary before Mass
and the candles glowing
gold vessels sparkling
where I heard the call to serve
and with sadness recall leaving the seminary halls
in the middle of the night
to enter the world and all of its allures.
Our fifty year journey together
of loving, laughing, and crying,
our many travels:
west across the Rockies
east to Daddy’s land as a child and young man,
south across the Sabine to the swamps,
crawfish, Zydeco music, mardi gras, cousins,
the Bayou Teche where Mama swam
and the cane fields
in the muddy acres of Inez' French roots
and back and forth to Houston
where I met my bride and her family.
I have passed across many boundaries
for good and evil
gone through stages of life
and it seems I am here
like the Ancient Mariner
with regrets for my sins
and joys for my victories.
I found in Coleridge a verse
to help me navigation what days are left:
“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”
Your Splendid Shallows Print this poem only
You are an ocean of love
I float and drift on your surface
but under your sparkling skin
teems an ineffable life
another world mostly unseen,
selfless, unsung, and undeserved.
But here I am not even skin deep.
Am I afraid
of drowning in your depth
of being overwhelmed
in my modest capacities?
Oh my love
even if I see only what you reveal
to the sighted
I saturate myself in your splendid shallows
and await those precious interludes
of your deeper touch.
Gray Man Print this poem only
He leans against the old battered lamp post
just as twilight fades away
hands in his pockets
the lamp spills its soft rays on him
as if to assure him there is light left.
His rumpled gray suit
has seen its better days
perhaps in a high rise a few blocks away
it hangs on him like a haunting shadow.
Despair looms in his eyes
a frown droops his pale face
he barely breathes
staring at the drainage grate
just beyond his dusty shoes.
Has his life seeped down into the gutter?
He is bowed by some awful weight.
And across the street
I gaze at him
in my own shadow.
After the Storm Print this poem only
In early dawn I watch
the syncopating rhythm
of yellowing elm leaves falling,
wounded by an autumn storm
their drifting seems so gentle
but I slept through the storm
its violence ripping off a limb.
There is no healing of this feud.
I loved that limb and its bird feeder.
Is my small grief wasted
or does it cling to my soul
in tiny measure
to deepen it
like forgiveness after a marital tiff?
Predawn Awakening Print this poem only
It is the cool of the predawn morning
and I lay in my bed
your peace settled into me
in spite of the troubles that awakened me.
Here in these moments
you tip toe into my bedroom
and lay beside me
your being so soft and peaceful
I hardly notice your presence.
But this is so typical of you, my Lord.
You do not arrive with bombast
of the need to be noticed
as I have done the largest measure of my life.
You are the Great Mystery.
I have seen your silhouette laying upon the mountains
in the gray and orange twilight of the west.
You are all around me
in the deep layers of being.
You are there in storms
with your lessons for my species
that we ignore to our detriment.
Still you do not force Yourselves upon us
but always free us from constraints
allowing us to say no to You with alacrity.
But I am humbled by your silent soft presence
early this Sonday right here in my bed beside me
awakened by you again -
You gently inviting my consciousness
into your heart
into your Love.
Hold My Hand Print this poem only
I have my hand out, won’t you hold it?
I won’t hold your hand
I want you to want all of me
my sweat and body odor, my dirty feet.
If I give you my hand, you will stop looking for me.
Before you feel my hand in yours
I want you to find me beyond these walls
where the old man falls
the hungry child calls
touch me out there
and in your wife’s chair
with your eyes and your lips
caress her hurting loins
go to the widow in another place
and don’t forget the book of grace.
That’s ok, Lord.
I know you are here beside me
on my shoulder I feel your touch
Lord Jesus I love you so much.
Emerald Days Print this poem only
The afternoon sun shines green in the Elm
bathes the day in transparent glory
autumn grants a few more emerald days
in a clear bright sky of blue.
Oh how the wonders of this earth
cast hope to me
piercing shadows with what is true.
October Muse Print this poem only
I embrace you in all your goodness.
I embrace your spirit, the breath of freshness.
I embrace you the creative force in the universe and in me.
I embrace you in all your humanity that I love,
in my humanity I love.
I am waking up to you in my day dreams
where figments of you
sneak into my psyche.
If I but take a moment to laze, to relax
and give the slightest effort
to place myself in your presence
you creep up into me
and even in a shallow breath you enliven my lungs.
You are here in the slow cool breath of winter,
hardly seen in the young tallow trees
whose hearts are just barely moved
but even in what cannot be called a flutter
they shrug the change of the seasons
as if to say to you:
we are here, ready to be transformed.
Stubborn Print this poem only
How stubborn am I
switching off the guy
who dares disagree
or who once offended me
like the pious phony pols
their oily speeches and hollow calls.
See what I mean?
I can’t resist a keen
cutting critique of my doctrinal foes
in my poetry and my prose.
Why can’t I give up judging
and like you, be stubbornly loving?
Return Print this poem only
Again I come back to you
head bowed in shame and guilt
like Israel of old who abandoned their love,
the love they could not hold
against the lure of glittery gold
and empty promises of pride
and ego we can barely hide.
Breakthrough Print this poem only
This morning tiny drops of rain
hang on the leaves and branches
without the slightest strain
small dim lights in the cloudy expanses
but right now
I am above the clouds
in the stratosphere
soaking energy as the sun allows
hoping it won’t disappear
when the shroud of darkness again pulses here.
Author’s Note: I am hoping to transform my attitude and to live with the fact that I am just an ordinary man blessed with extraordinary love and light throughout my life.
Narrow Window Print this poem only
I stand before the narrow window
and see more clearly more deeply
in this smaller space
than my years with the picture window
and its crowd calling for attention.
Author’s Note: I do not negate the immense value of a life filled with variety and richness, but lately with a smaller aperture, it seems I can see some things more clearly, more deeply.
A Delicate Challenge
Print this poem only
Silence silence nothing
at this moment of now
this nothing is not nothing,
but a delicate challenge
to a mind used to saturation in noise
What do I fear here in this now
what phantom do I imagine
lurking in the darkness
basking in this brightness?
Tandem Print this poem only
I watch Paul putting his ladder in his truck
atop the plywood to begin his day
on the road to a job.
From my perch slightly uphill
seeing him and his wife,
partners in the seasons
walking in their yard barefoot
looking at plants, watering them,
speaking softly to one another
puts a kind of fragrance in the afternoon.
This tandem talking and walking
a sweet intimacy that assures me
in spite of turmoil and conflict on the planet
here in this small patch of earth
things are as they should be.
The Front Print this poem only
Before dawn the front thundered in
launching with its deluge
the first glimpse
of an approaching winter.
To how many more autumns
will I bid farewell
before my own returns me to heaven?
Edge of Winter Print this poem only
The leaves are falling
I hear the winter calling
but autumn is stalling
on the window ledge
waiting for the cool edge
of frost and its solemn pledge
of the softness of snow
on the jagged land below
on the rocky landscape I know.
Accretion Print this poem only
What is it I love about autumn?
Is it the syncopated falling -
an umber mirror of my life
the chronic crawling
back from a dying state,
the challenge of letting go,
hope of writing a clean slate
or is it the blessed wait
of this transition season
for the coming blast
and its harvest
Author’s note: I’ve often said that autumn is for poets. I think about how autumn is a season very reflective of the process of creation. Just like giving birth is full of pain and suffering, without it there is no new life. Just about the time we think we are in control, basking in the sun of late summer, we are thrown into a state of dying in this present season, this present reality. So in a way, autumn is a natural process of growth. The adolescent must let go of the joy of childhood. The adult must let go of the passionate soakings of adolescence. Definition of accretion - an increase by natural growth or addition, (astronomy) the formation of a celestial object by the effect of gravity pulling together surrounding objects and gases.
Uncertain Journey Print this poem only
The simple peasant girl
received some blessed news
that would overturn the world
she grew up in, the life she knew.
Chosen to receive a special gift
she was confused and dismayed
to get this favor she had not wished
for which she had not prayed.
She felt unworthy, confused, and awed
she knew not whether to make this start
on this journey to which she was called
but said yes and opened her heart.
I wonder if I would have the nerve
in spite of feeling so unworthy,
knowing this gift was undeserved,
to be open to such an uncertain journey.
Ode to a Young Tree in Fall Print this poem only
I see the ebb of your small life
preparing for a new season
you have turned amber gold
as you fly on the wind
luminescent in the morning sun
as you join your tiny breath
to the great murmur of earth
sweeping across the landscape
here in the december of this sad year.
Near Approach Print this poem only
Here in the gray light of dawn
I see you, gentle and tender,
and I am in wonder
thinking of my ignorant and obstinate species
and curious about why you keep coming back to us
you beautiful being
each morning and twilight.
My deep sleep dreams disturb
confuse and trouble my mind,
but awake here and now I find
the placid lake of your presence
and abide in your uncanny arrival.
Author’s Note: I have been thinking about the recent alignment (December 21, 2020) of Jupiter and Saturn in the twilight sky. This alignment of the two planets and ours is called a conjunction. The last time humans saw such a close conjunction was 800 years ago. And the experience of this near approach reminds me of the awesomeness and force of the universe, yet it seems such a tender quiet moment like the arrival of dawn.
God’s Sadness Print this poem only
I am sad when I see what you are doing
fowling your lakes and streams
melting your icecaps
killing species after species off the earth
your obstinance annihilates
by the dozens, by the thousands each day.
My eyes are doleful
at how woeful your actions
and without remorse
you burn your trees
turn rainy lands into sand
create excuses for your sins
then make excuses for your excuses
with logic and reason
and assumptions false and corrupt.
This Island Print this poem only
I come here
to this island rich in growth
clear warm fluid
to catch its currents
and swim its nurturing depths
where I can breathe underwater
and leave traces of my darkness
to float like drops of ink
in a glass bowl.
reside on the map of my heart
for me to locate
by layers of sand
in the desert
on gray slate days
barren days of lost inspiration
when I am turned in on me
and my tottering self
the me I see
on my pockmarked well-traveled and aged face
each morning in the mirror.
I arrive here
each time with a glimmer of hope
that I can find
within a point of light
some soft and pure place
a source a force
where I can rise again.
Rûah Print this poem only
Dear dear Father, my love,
send your rûah into me
build in me a new reality
a reality of resurrection.
Lord, raise me up from the dead today
so that I may believe
in your resurrection tomorrow.
Let me not forget my daily resurrections
when I approach death,
the death of discouragement, hurt, despondence,
the death of my body.
Let me remember your breath within me
when I came back to my beloved,
from an ego-anger
when she could or would not hear my hurt,
your breath that came from my love’s mouth
in her invitation to me to come back to her.
Author’s Note: The Hebrew word rûah can be translated as wind, breath or spirit, but it is often ambiguous as to which of these it is, or if it is some other manifestation similar but not exactly one of these three. It is a word whose meaning is really based on the context in which it is used – as is so often the case with poetry. This ambiguity in the poet’s hand is like the brush in a painter’s hand the stroke of which is formed by pressure, angle, and the chosen paint and pigment. The ambiguity is intentional, perhaps, because the painter wishes to elicit in the viewer a highly individualized reaction based on the viewer’s mood, disposition, experiences, and even the amount and angle of light and heat in the room in which the painting is viewed. This freedom of expression in poetry is what allows it to be a thing of the spirit/Spirit.
Prodigal Print this poem only
I always thought prodigal meant
profligate, dissipated, or debauched -
such unpoetic but robust words.
There’s the story of the prodigal son
the young man who got an early inheritance
from his old father and left home
to spend the wealth
on whores, and sinful living
yet when he returned home broke and broken
his father received him with open arms and tears.
Sadly I can identify with that son
having spent so much
in such a way
over my lifetime.
But a man told me it should be called
the story of the prodigal father,
the daddy whose love for his son
was utterly lavish, reckless, and generous.
Oh, to be a man
with such an extravagant love!
Remember the Greek Print this poem only
I told the wise old man I didn’t like the word, “sin.”
“My son, remember the Greek
an archery term – to miss the mark -
no human always hits the bulls-eye
just practice your aim
train your muscles and eyes
so next time you release the arrow
you will come closer.
Practice, practice, my son.
Don’t wallow in shame
it will bog you down.
Instead, stand up, pick up arrow
check its feather
raise it and bow together
open your eyes and again take aim
release yourself from darkness of blame
and again your humanity claim.”
Don’t Wait Print this poem only
til it’s too late
take time to love now
don’t put it off til somehow
or sometime I will find the time
to spend a moment with you, to speak
to listen with great attention and reflect
on what you say to find your soul and connect
with it if just for a moment a moment of eternity…
Fear of Breath Print this poem only
A tragic result of this virus
is our fear of others’ breath,
of being right next to death.
Yet when poets breathe
it is the words they leave
that render light and life.
May we again
on our faces feel the wind,
a gale of passion
a tickling breeze to tease
our imaginations and wit.
May we soon smile
or even laugh in a little while
and be close enough to hear whispered
a naughty limerick
or an intimate loving verse.
Homage to Books Print this poem only
If I were to reflect on my life
if I were to spend the time
such a reflection deserves
I would be here for a week
seeking just the right words
to speak the inexpressible gift
of authors who gave their love
to finding themselves
to an idea
as new life.
The sheer volume of these gestations
trumpets and sings
anthems and hymns of grace
broken through inside the human heart.
I would not be who I am
but for their inspiration
and daily dedication
to pressing pen to page upon page
so I could turn a new leaf
and become all I was meant to be.
Books are acts of making love
right there on my table
day after passionate day
long after many have passed away
from the mornings they woke up
to this work, this play
that would open worlds
for me and millions
to create something
ordinary or magnificent
for our presents and futures.
I bow to these small lumens,
authors and makers
who birthed their creations
and bound them together
from genesis to revelation.
Soon enough Print this poem only
Soon enough we will be divided
from each other and this life,
our spirits flown to a brighter day.
So while each of our bodies
occupies its small patch of earth
why not choose to live
in the spirit we all have now,
our common humanity
and the life principle uniting us?
Author’s Note: So many of our loved ones have passed from us and this earth in recent months. Death is a difficult reality to face, especially our own death. So I wanted to reflect on that reality but on a larger one too.
What We Need Print this poem only
What would we do without our lovers
to prove that we can think about
and cherish someone other
What would we do without autumn
so show us the flow and passionate ebb
of life’s force?
What would we do without birds
to show us the possibility
What would we do without suffering
to lead us beyond our painful confines
in search for joy?
Three Sisters Print this poem only
They are miles apart
each searching for hues
of greens and reds and blues
pieces of their hearts
to sew in arcs and swirls
quilts quite elegant and soft
fabric strewn with flowers and pearls
stitched by women for little girls
spanning generations and lives
to cover grannies and husbands and wives
These sisters who think of each other
how they’d piece this or that color
stitch a border or binding
each path of thread defining
their ties and closing the distance
linking their separate existence.
They see with their mother’s eyes
and the fabric of their souls rise
like the harmony of a holy choir
and the passion of an artist’s desire.
This common creative endeavor
forges something mysterious beyond measure
and somehow sews the seams of their lives together.
Author’s Note: Dedicated to my wife Helen and her two sisters, Ginny and Lucy.
Written October 2020
Mourning Print this poem only
I saw the woman kneeling at his grave
weeping at his premature departure.
Were her tears a liquid bridge
between their love, their passionate past
and a new still aborning present?
My heart ached for her
thinking of the way they gave themselves to each other
and to a greater cause
his life was a small stone
for building something
Author’s Note: I recently saw a documentary: “Section 60 – Arlington National Cemetery.” It was beautifully done but it was so painful to watch, these women and men weeping and lingering at the gravesites of their loved ones fallen in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. I had trouble articulating my feelings and the reason I sat through those painful beautiful scenes until the end of the film. I also wish to thank Sharon Talbot for her poem by the same title and for the idea for this poem. Sharon’s HelloPoetry.com page: https://hellopoetry.com/u697570/poems/
There was a man who for all appearances
was living the american dream
fine clothes fancy sleek black car
women at his beck and call
celebrity and media attention
awards and accolades
but he was lost and empty
And I wondered if such a dream
is really a nightmare.
there is nothing deeper
then I do not want that dream.
I’d rather be awake in wonder
in the richness of now
in the arms of my old lover
reading a good book
or asleep at home
under the covers wandering
a bright afternoon
or the shadowy byways
and rocky crags
of the universe.
Dreaming Again Print this poem only
Now I can float with you
on dreams of possibilities
daring to hope again
for a season of light.
We are partners of the universe
Dreams are made of possibilities
not of economics or hands
and bare-boned probabilities
but of living tissue
Author’s Note: I bow to and send thoughts and prayers of gratitude to Cne for her poem, “It’s Good to Dream” on her page on the website HelloPoetry.com. Here is her page: https://hellopoetry.com/livandletliv/poems/
No Joy Print this poem only
Worldwide they sing of joy
at the birth of that baby boy
but I have to say that this day
I feel as empty as a holey vase
from which all the water has leaked
dry, unable to feel,
lifeless as a brown fallen leaf.
I wish I could feel his life inside
this empty vessel
feel his tiny beating heart and collide
with angels hovering around
hear their celestial sound
but on this day - of all days
again I feel a sadness
as silent as the night
he breathed his last breath
empty as a cave of death.
But a small crack on the side
lets a beam of light
in this night
so maybe a particle of hope will abide.
Let it be enough
to help me rise
to make another start
and give some life
to this dry heart.
An Angel Came Print this poem only
I was at the bottom of a dark pit
when outside a red bird lit
on a branch of an elm
as if to say: “lets fly to another realm.”
He was an angel I needed this day
arrived just at the right moment to say
a message I needed to receive
a note of joy that was a reprieve
from a darkness that seemed all around,
but from its throat a glorious sound,
a song of hope, a hymn whose every chord
brought me back to our precious Lord.
That bird was an angel arrived
to herald some news I needed inside
that Jesus has come in the dead of night
to bring us hope to bring us light and life.
Author’s Note: As expressed in the poem above, “No Joy,” I woke up Christmas morning feeling joyless, unenthusiastic, barren of inspiration, and empty. I sat there on the edge of the bed trying to figure out what I was feeling and this image of an empty vase with holes in the bottom came into my mind. Immediately I decided I needed to go in and journal about how I was feeling on this Christmas morning and the poem “No Joy” came to me. As soon as I finished writing the poem, I got a wonderful text message from my nephew who told me how he wept at the priest’s sermon about joy on Christmas morning and later he felt moved to text me about his feelings of Jesus’ presence in his heart. This text seemed miraculous to me because it immediately gave me a feeling of peace and joy, picturing him weeping in public and being slightly embarrassed and a bit unworthy that Jesus had come into his heart, but he also felt full of joy. The red bird/angel in the above poem is the metaphor that came to me to represent my nephew as I began writing.
One More Day Print this poem only
I woke up this morning
even in the warning
my legs gave in my first steps,
gratitude for one more day
for one more hour or minute
on Earth now in my brief stay
on this tortured beautiful planet.
Here Now Print this poem only
Just to be here now
nowhere else but here
is a feat for me
in my erratic mind
but now it’s just you and nobody else
no beauty queen
with voluptuous breasts and sparkling eyes
just you in your magnificence
I melt away my I-ness
and fall into your love alone.