Poem List: 2017 May through August
Beyond the Crooked Trees Print this poem only
I walk among crooked trees
its leaves wind-thrown
and gone to ground.
I feel the cooling breeze
stop and lean close
run my hand across the ragged trunk
its pulse now loving deeply.
On the baseball field dad hits
to his boy who leaps
tips the ball
and ably slings it
to an imagined catcher
at the backstop.
And dad shows him a better arch
for his arm.
Ah! what a sweet scene
this simple love of father and son.
I smile sadly
no such memory inside
to warm this wintry day
but somehow healed
by the peal of that bat on ball
a splendid father’s swing
the smooth lope of his child
across that field
just beyond the crooked trees.
Homeless Print this poem only
I have always had a place to sleep nights
with a roof over my head and my own bed
but my homeless state was out of sight
it was at a lonely space in my mind instead.
I cannot count the years I wandered
on rocky winding roads in dark
nor measure the grace and light I squandered
losing myself in distraction and work.
I can’t remember not having a job
nor count the hours I’ve wasted,
nor the love and care I’ve robbed
nor the bread of life not tasted.
You won’t see me holding my cup
on the sidewalk in the city
my pride’s too great to give up
I won’t ask you for your pity.
Yes, I have often been hungry
I’ve been empty of inspiration
yearned for peace in my country
hoped for the source of creation.
But recently I’ve awakened
from the darkness I had roamed
found the road I wish I’d taken
to a deeper fuller higher home.
Becoming a Hero Print this poem only
In the long or short expanse of your life
can you say you have become a hero?
I often wonder if I’ll be remembered
for anything important when I’m gone.
No biological children to carry my name
no feats that brought me fame
no bravery to save a life in danger
no building or great wealthy gain
no great status or social changer.
But more and more lately
being considered or thought of greatly
is not my concern.
Now-a-days I ask myself if I’ve taken time
to listen or smile or write a rhyme
to pause for a minute or an hour
to stop, notice and smell a flower?
Have I spoken kindly in a bad mood
or shut up when someone was rude
or let traffic in my lane
or fed my soul as well as my brain?
Today I ask not if I am a hero
but simply if I am becoming.
Oregon Passages Print this poem only
The dark oaks’ gentle rhythm
caresses the faltering twilight
and a dim sadness creeps
into the receding day -
a pendulous cloud upon me lay.
In the hotel room
a hazy hint of doom
my limbs are weary
my mind made bleary
by the thickness of the day.
Mind you, this is but one moment in a journey,
but the glories of last week are swiftly fading
the darkness, a stealthy force invading.
I even wonder if death
might actually relieve
or even lift this aging me.
In my early sleep
images gently pass before me.
The greenness of Oregon,
its forests of fir sublime
snow-capped mountains to climb
beaches and surf
flung from the Pacific’s
Images and memories
of this emerald State,
and its coastal cottages
breach my fatigue and float me
into comfort and the peace
of deep blessed sleep.
I awaken from these restful wanderings
wondering about the passages of this journey.
Yes, we traveled the outside:
through babbling bubbling Portland
up and down Eugene’s hills
Salem’s capitol, shops, bars and grills
we drank craft beers, ate fish and chips,
spoke of the coming solar eclipse
storied ourselves to the sea
saw gulls and kids play in sandy glee.
All of these you could see, snap and post.
But the hidden passages strike me most.
As this journey ends
I reflect, I feel, I soar
through the opened doors
and windows - I see inside
what we’ve tried to deflect or hide.
Behind my tears she saw the pain and gain
heard my weakness when I’m drained
saw the joy in my little boy
finding gifts and a big man’s toy.
I watched her speaking with her hands
walking gently as if to caress the sands
not sparing self-critical comparing
telling stories of movies and hikes
and trips across America on bikes
I saw her in her sparkle-eyed girl
heard a woman who’s been in
but not of the world.
Maybe leaving this body behind
is not so horrible and baleful
not so very unimaginable
as when I was young
for now there are fewer songs unsung.
As I began this ballad
I was down and pallid.
And it’s true - the surprises of my life
are no longer popping or rife
with excitement and the new
of audition, graduation and debut.
Instead, now I’m alive and wild
with journeys of faith and love
hearts made of gold
The Sense of Fabric Print this poem only
Thirty-two cents is all you need
put everything you have into it
and you’ll get there.
Yes, but what do you miss
from the whole cloth
from which those few cents
I see the cloth
I’m poking through it
cutting from it
holding it in my hands.
Did you feel and see the fabric’s weave
the imperfections and texture
making it unique, interesting
and beautiful in its landscape?
I got what I needed
from that poor piece of cloth
to put in the bank
to buy the factory.
The future stretches before you
in your race to the finish line
don’t let that ever-changing line
shrink the wealth of the present.
Winnowing Print this poem only
I know a poem is down there somewhere
so I close my eyes
and in the air
clouds caress me
in a clear blue sea
where I drift and sift.
The winnowing winds of summer heat
gather me up and beat
the chaff from the wheat
making pain into grain
in a harvest of glowflies
from the part of me that never dies.
Of course, it seems
there’s always a store
of darkness and drought
in that needy muddled middle of me.
The small silo of self
is formed from the labyrinthine moss
of saints and sinners
who sowed in me
seeds of success and loss.
I cannot count or dig up
the soil of my past
nor count the cost
of the sad nurturance
still alive in the shadows of my memory.
again feeling those winds
brushing the hairs on my skin
I am grateful for that winnowing
and for the rich aroma
rising from this warm loaf
Bubbling Print this poem only
Words and phrases
soak the parchment
and grassy meadows
of a poetic soul
who cannot resist
marking the slow and uneven marching
of this irrepressible bubbling up
popping its moisture
on anyone willing to stand close enough
to see it
to hear it
to feel it
Is this the mark
is this slow march
meant for me to make
these moments of awake
the final vestiges and shape
of a life of searching and learning
of cloud-drifting bubbling and burning?
Is it enough to write
to speak my words and mind
and make my mark in this way
without caring who reads or hears
or sees or feels these bubbles on their skin
It should be enough
to feel the joy of this bubbling up
to know the tingling of spirit within
to know God feels it on his alive and ageless skin.
Ambition Driving Diving Print this poem only
Whose vote to I need?
Must I go around soliciting
must I go go go around
what preferment do I desire,
is it honor that I seek?
Let my soliciting be a prayer
I need not go around
all I need is to go to ground
no need to make a sound
silence is enough.
When I am in the desert
I will dive deep
for I know you are there
my soul to keep.
Is this enough Glenn
oh my son?
When oh when
will you learn that your heart’s desire
is no lower or higher
than right here at the level of your yard
it is not really very hard
to find me - just open your eyes
and see me in the butterfly
Sonspots arrayed upon my wings
no need to buy or get more things
for here I am right here in front of you
behind you below you and above
I know you and I are in love
always in love.
Yes, you know:
you need not leave this place
you need not win a race
or rocket into space
to find me
you my son are free
to love me right here and now.
You know, you know how
to get to me
just dive dive dive
wherever you are
you’ve already arrived
in my arms and in my heart
you’ve been here from the very start.
Derivation of the word: ambition
ORIGIN: 1340, from Latin ambitionem (Nom. Ambitio) "a going around (to solicit votes)," from ambitus, pp. of ambire "to go around" (see ambient). Rarely used in the literal sense in English; the sense of "eager or inordinate desire of honor or preferment" goes back to the Latin.
Maturity Print this poem only
I am advanced in years
but living many years
does not make me either wise or mature
does not make me advanced
as a person, as a man.
I have known some old fools
and in some ways
(I hate to say it)
sometimes I am one.
I would rather escape
(and I can think of so many ways to do so)
than to live in pain
(my own or someone elses)
but that is what life is.
Yes, it is true:
Life IS difficult.
Accepting that is one of the hardest things to do.
But it is what real maturity is.
Being down from hurt, pain, and wounds
and just standing up and walking anyway.
I see bumper stickers and signs that say:
The people who I know
who are the walking wounded
are the beautiful people.
They carry their pain with a crooked, sad smile
as if to say:
“Yes, life is a bitch,
but here I am walking through it.
Not so much getting over it
as getting through it.
And Baby, here I am, I am getting through it.
I’m still standing.
I might be limping,
but by God, I’m walking.
I’m walking into today and tomorrow.
And that’s something.”
I’ve heard it said:
“Faith is simply to trust the real
and to trust that God is found within it.”
When I have this kind of faith
I’m being mature.
I’d rather be advanced in that way
than to simply be advanced in years.
Internal Ambience Print this poem only
The smoke drifts over the audience,
the piano, the throaty singer and the sax
permeate the room with a jazzy ambience.
My nerves vanish in the vibe, and I relax.
I enter the parlor to a flower-scent rush
there’s solemn gloom in the room for the viewing
I hear sniffles and mourners speak in a hush,
the ambience here shaded with blueing.
The senses soak up the atmosphere.
Smells, sounds, touches, and sights
on the outside penetrate like a spear
take us down or thrust us to the heights.
Every day every inch of the way
is a new journey. I can choose my stance,
embrace the unexpected and pray
for openness and grace in my internal ambiance.
Pay Attention Print this poem only
I’ve often thought that attention costs
and human meaning and value is lost
in the media muddle and disarray
that capture our eyes and ears each day.
I recall a lousy teacher shouting: “Pay attention!”
And my mind left for another dimension.
He wanted payment he hadn’t earned
and I lost the lesson I should have learned.
The phone rang while I watched TV
It was my sister asking: “Are you free?”
I smirked and reluctantly said, “Sure!”
deciding to make my attention secure.
Paying attention is a choice
just like the decision to raise my voice
to a child: “You’d better not!” or to say “I do.”
or to smile when I’m feeling blue.
When I pay attention I make a trade
and what you offer is quickly weighed
against the energy and time I’ll spend.
Honestly, I’m measuring my dividend.
Is paying attention really a subtraction
of ego from an interaction?
Or is it adding something to you
by making one out of two?
[Ambiance: the atmosphere of an environment; a surrounding influence]
Bethesda Print this poem only
There he was laid out - couldn’t move
wanting to get into that healing pool
just wanted help had nothing to prove
didn’t want to break the pool’s rules.
Others stumbled over him without care
to get the magic when the waters stirred
but he was helpless there breathing his prayer,
he thought his plight surely absurd.
Then this man who was passing by
turned and noticed him, stopped and kneeled,
leaned over and looked him in the eye
and asked him if he wanted to be healed.
The broken man said he was powerless to rise
and the kneeling man said: Get up! Step away.
And he got up with tears in his eyes
and he walked into a new day.
Maybe the first step to our healing
is to admit we can’t do it alone
swallow our pride stop concealing
that we can’t be human all on our own.
And if we’re lucky or blessed
someone will notice us in our need,
love us, take time and invest
the energy to listen and to heed.
And if we really believe
in Love’s power to heal
maybe we can rise and receive
the new day and make it real.
Written Friday July 28, 2017
Speaking with Authority Print this poem only
I asked my love if she listened more -
if paying attention was less a chore
when in my eyes or voice she’d detect
some sign of my regard and respect.
I wondered how my words fell,
if they just rolled off or if they’d dwell
some place deeper and longer inside -
if I found a room where my heart could abide.
Nodding, she smiled and said, “Of course
and your words have more force
if I can tell they’re from the heart
or just from your mind apart.”
It seems when we speak from the soul
where the divine resides, where we are whole
people aren’t just using their ears
it’s their faith in us that really hears.
Real Wealth Print this poem only
When I find myself in an anxious state
wandering aimlessly in futile debate
over what to eat, drink or buy
let it be to your cross I’ll fly.
There you hang, your message clear:
Give up slavery to fear
abandon relational fixation
avoid material subjugation.
All those attachments merely distract
and the payments they severely extract
mount into a terrible debt
amass a treasure of regret.
So, when I’m in a state of dis-ease
trapped in the costs and the fees
I’ll repair to my soul’s true health
the currency of love and real wealth.
Until the Next Tide Print this poem only
You are so at home by the sea
among the tidal pools
gazing at the distant surf
grateful for its holding back
while you linger here
for a few moments,
a precious cultivation
of time and peace
It is here away from the sounding city
its brash and bullying demands
that you touch the divine.
It is here that you find
and its truth.
Your floppy hat, sunglasses,
turquoise-laced walking shoes
and your regular scan of horizons
profess your love affair,
your Muir-like intimacy with trees.
You have a natural sense
and a sonority
with the soul
of a place.
Your rippled reflection
with the shells and stones
laid at the end of its assault
by the morning surf.
The sand where you stand
is your sister
for she too has been pounded and rounded
by the surrounding currents,
and here she too surrenders
at last at peace
until the next tide.
Author’s Note: Remembering my three days on the Oregon coast with my beloved sister Genie.