Monday, December 31, 2007

Still


I hear the silence
even though there is
noise circling my head.

I see what needs to be done
and my arms grow
tired of their burden

I taste the bitter fodder
while craving sweet
rations on my plate.

I know what waits for me
but still I fear
its arrival.

I touch the wind
as it swiftly flows
through my fingers.

And each day I live
and breathe to greet the sun
but I don’t feel...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Salvation

Muddy Waters playing in the background,
just the right music for my mood.
He brought me a lamp and quietly plugged it in.
I should’ve figured out why I was reading in the dark
but instead he brought me a lamp.
I didn’t deserve it.

Another time it was
St. Joseph’s Orange-flavored baby aspirin.
I found them hidden under the clothes
in my grandmother’s bureau drawer.
Sweet bits of citrus heaven
melting on my tongue.

I’m still lost but
held together for the moment by
a roast beef sandwich and jalapeno potato chips.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much-
sometimes it takes more,
maybe it takes banana pudding.

Perhaps it’s the face I don’t recognize
watching me whirl and spin in anguish
smiling kindly at my clumsiness
offering little in the way of compassion
but touching my shoulder
on his way out the door.

Every so often it is the
tiny steps of the dancer
leading me to a softer place.
Other times it is the
solid stride of the wizard
guiding me out of the abyss.

And now and again the way to salvation
is found in the trickling water
on smooth river stones,
with the sounds of traffic
and a quiet, gentle voice
leading me home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

running in place

chairs: the ultimate in function and utility
ergonomically designed for dignified or common use
gateway to reflection
task or easy
hard or soft
offering relaxation and repose,
a place to escape
a seat in time and space
where we sit and wait for life to unfold
or when we can wait no longer where we spring to action from...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Star Skipping

moving on
no looking back
unscathed
unharmed
intact

skipping through the stars
dreaming in the moonlight

doesn’t work that way
too much has changed
to leave it behind
it goes with you
wherever you travel

skipping through the stars
dreaming in the moonlight

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Questions and Answers

When I asked you questions

About matters of the heart

You gave me bitter answers

I didn’t really want to hear.


But still I listened to every syllable

Your face bathed in early morning light

With an audience of song birds

Singing proverbial melodies above your head.


And yet we never get it right

Even with countless chances

Our words pour forth

In perpetual circles of futility.


In spite of everything I know the secret

that will unravel all the mysteries.

It lies somewhere between the stars of Orion’s belt

And the petals of the black-eyed susan.


If you don’t find it there

It just doesn’t exist

Except in sordid back rooms

Where we hesitate to enter.


As your angry replies continue

I know your truth is what I need

If only we could find the answers

Before the sun sets and darkness falls.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sudden Storm

I’ve memorized that afternoon
ceiling fan spinning leisurely
an expectant silence so thick
it filled the small room
then moved next to your chair
tapping you on your shoulder
to make sure you noticed
just how quiet it was.

the approaching tempest startled us both
rain pummeling against the pane
wind ripping through the branches
of the tree right outside our window
the thunder loud and forceful
hammering on the window
to make sure you noticed
just how unruly it was.

after the downpour
the room again fell silent
with no expectations this time
just the kind of stillness
that follows a sudden storm
tightening around your chest
to make sure you notice
just how lonely it is.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Empty House Haiku -


in the quiet house
         curtains dance in the warm breeze
  shadows come alive

video

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hard Times


Hard Times Come Again No More

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count the many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears
Oh, hard times come again no more
It's a song a sigh of the weary
Hard times hard times come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh hard times come again no more
Though we seek mirth and beauty and music bright and gay
They are frail forms a-waiting by our door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading seems to say
Oh, hard times come again no more
It's a sigh that is wafted across the lowly plains
It's a wail that is heard upon the shore
It's a dirge that is murmured across the lonely grave
Oh hard times come again no more

Written by Stephen Foster. My favorite version of this song
is on the CD, Appalachian Journey, and is performed by
James Taylor and YoYo Ma.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

For Susan

Time stands still, breathless by her side.
Unfettered breath rises, then falls.
Can it be captured?
Or will it escape to rest silently on crisp white linens?

Long slender ache,
Blue-veined hands stroke my heart.
Creamy, white softness covers the pain.
Shadows take flight as sunlight collides with darkness.

The radiance blinds our eyes.
Each step is on a precipice.
balanced on the edge of a spiraling chasm.
When the pieces fit will the puzzle be complete?

Eyes dream of faraway,
Time stands still.
Shivering breath rises like a feather,
bounces off the horizon and lands on a distant shore.

Unspoken words lie scattered on the floor.
I gather them all in my hands, eyes lock.
Doors close in a hundred corridors.
We each accept the gift.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Savannah


The road stretched out far into the distance,
heat waves shimmering on the horizon.
My thoughts reflected the bright sunshine.
Then his words brought me out of my reverie.
His warm voice resonated inside my skull.

I felt the ground circling in a turbulent orbit beneath me.
My eyes closing, I longed for a resting place to embrace.
I climbed a spiral staircase to a balcony
overlooking a sheltered lush garden.
I spread my arms to grasp a mighty oak
but instead found myself roaming through
a forest of gigantic oaks strewn with moss.

I stepped into the cool shadows,
each tread cushioned by fallen leaves.
Every step brought me closer home.
All paths led me to where I belong.
Now I lie down beside him
and listen for my cue.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The way out

All my time
taken by force
given back in
small boxes
each one a
different color
scattered ribbons
on the shoreline
drifting out to sea.

Shadows surround
And conceal the sun
his disguise fools no one
A black coat slips over
the horizon
As the bather
enters the surf
walking slowly
pulling the clouds closer.

Cool and dark
the tide erases the footsteps
every step leads somewhere
each stride obscures the path
silver curtains drawn back
reveal a wooden stage
draped in blue velvet
the yellow moon
smiles and wanes.

Scale the fortress
enter the tower
soft music rises
candles glow
all is forgiven
as the wax flows
onto the sifting sand
sweet surrender
take my hand

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old School

This summer I have been reading the book, Writing Down The Bones. The author, Natalie Goldberg, suggests writing practice everyday. The rules for writing practice are simple: Keep your hand (or fingers on a keyboard) moving; Don't edit as you write (or type) ; don't worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar; lose control; don't think and don't be logical; go for the jugular (meaning don't avoid scary subjects that arise during writing practice). You are not trying to write a poem, an essay or the Great American Novel. You are simply getting in touch with your inner voice. Many of her suggestions I can use with my students when they are writing. I thought I would try to discipline myself to write everyday this summer. I write for ten minutes without stopping following the rules listed above. Today I would like to use this picture as a jumping off point for my writing. Here goes...

I walked into the auditorium of the school. It was right across the hall from the room where I would be teaching summer school. I'm glad it was so close because I love this auditorium. At first I saw it from a photographer's point of view...great light coming through the windows and bouncing off the smooth, worn wood of the seats, the lines of the old radiator and the rough, patched walls. Then I stepped further into the aisles and was transported back to my childhood. I went to a school that had an auditorium like this. The smell was the first thing I noticed. What is that smell? It seems to be a musty mixture of furniture polish, old wax on the linoleum tile floors, and damp plaster. I could almost hear the seats squeak as children filed in row by row, class by class and sat in their assigned seats. Then the giggles and talking, the teachers shushing, the feet scraping on the floor. And without fail the PA system would have to squeal and everyone would cover their ears until someone, usually the janitor turned down the volume. Remember in the winter, the first day it was cold enough to turn on the radiators, there was always the scorched smell of dust being burnt off, dust that had settled during the spring when the weather was warm and the windows were always open to catch the slight breeze and the sounds of the traffic passing by... I remember the assemblies were usually boring...someone talking for a long time while we whispered to our friends , passed notes and watched to see if the guy we were currently in love with had noticed us yet. For some reason I remember Allen...of all my friends he comes to my mind when I am in the auditorium...I also remember him on the playground. Trying so hard to show everyone he could do what all the other boys could do. He would climb fences, walk on monkey bars and jump from the swing. He was shorter than everyone else and because of polio he had braces on both legs. I can still see his dark brown eyes and determined face. He would not be treated differently. I remember hurting his feelings once because I offered to help him perform some task...his eyes filled with tears and he said he didn't need my help. Seems he also had that chip on his shoulder... I saw his picture in the paper years later...he was an archaeologist and had made some very important discovery...dinosaur fossil I think. I'm glad he received the recognition...in the picture in the newspaper he was taller...no braces on his legs...handsome...with those dark brown eyes and the slightest hint of a proud smile...good for you, Allen! I sat in the cool darkness of the auditorium remembering...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Escape


The door battered and broken, stood open.
The room was dark, cold with curtains drawn.
Chairs and tables were overturned.
The mirror was shattered into slivers,
the broken shards being swept away in the wind.

Escape, wrapped in gold and silver,
rested on her pillow. Magical and enticing,
like a secret lover in the afternoon,
bananas sizzling in butter,
or the soft smell of sea and sand.

She awakened as from a deep sleep,
seeing what wasn’t there before.
She gathered seashells and starfish,
built castles in the sand.
Driftwood became her fortress.

All the scattered fragments were gathered,
They were given to her whole again
wrapped in gold and silver,
laying on her pillow--
just within her reach.



Monday, June 18, 2007

Each time the lock is turned


Grinding weights crush against my form.
Please spare the one in the middle.
For that is where I must suck the marrow from the hand.
The one drenched with milk and honey,
while deer cavort in the sun-dappled shadows.

Too easily the ground gives way.
And earth, sky, sun and clouds
collapse into the dark regions below.
I walk through the gray fog that remains,
my feet sinking into the loamy mire.

A horse without a rider gallops by me,
His hoofs spewing mud into the air
The chimes from the tower in the distance
peal a mournful dirge.

I feel it quicken so I begin to run toward the hunched figure
limping on the path ahead of me.
Before I can reach him he enters a house.
Inside one candle burns in the window.

I stand outside and watch,
as the shades are pulled and the shutters fastened tight.
I know they are because I feel the click there,
each time the lock is turned,
each time the lock is turned.

As the candle is extinguished
stars descend and swirl around me.
The quarter moon ascends.
It’s creamy whiteness evokes a prayer

for the one in the middle that waits.

First Note



Every piece of music begins with a first note.
Each journey starts with the first step...