Saturday, August 19, 2017

Daybreak, Autumn




(Oh, how I wish I'd had my camera with me that morning; instead, I again offer my little watercolor study, done in a different time, different place)



It may have been a bit later than daybreak, but not much. The feeling of newness was still in the air as I walked the paths of one of my favorite places.


The play of light across the clouds was beautiful.


Improbable as it seems, they did look like paving stones to me.

They had that worn, traveled look about them, and the early sunlight did make them look like they were cupping the coals of an overnight fire which had just been given a breath of morning air.


The ducks were on the pond, of course, keeping an eye on me for any move suggesting a handout for them.


And the crows, the raucous crows, who always seem to be arguing about something, were there in the trees.


It was a sort of shopping list of images, but I tried to make a little more of it than just that. I think ending with the hint of coming snow added to the mood.


The poem:


DAYBREAK, AUTUMN

Clouds hang
like paving stones
in the eastern
sky, hammered silver
cupping the coals
of early light,
while ducks glide
like fallen leaves
on the shadowed pond
and crows crowd
the feathery trees,
swaying and talking
raucously about
the chances of snow.
 
© 1999

(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: raucously

Friday, August 18, 2017

Carrying the Water





(Just a photograph, no relation to the poem, really, taken on one of my daily walks)

This is another poem based on childhood memories of that place where I grew up in the care of my grandparents.

We had no running water, no indoor plumbing ... not unusual for that time and place.

Our water source for the house was a cistern, with a crank and chain which brought the stored rain water up. It was situated just outside the back porch.

Water for other purposes, watering the flowers, providing drinking water for the chickens, the cats, the dog, was carried from the well, some distance from the house.

This was not easy work. Like most young children, however, I wanted to try it.

Grandpa was willing. In fact, he probably took a certain pleasure in my struggles with that heavy bucket ... the water was so heavy, too, and it really wouldn't sit still ... I can imagine he also relished the memories that my struggles stirred, of his own young efforts at the same thing.

I simply couldn't fathom how he could carry water without spilling some ... while I always spilled a lot.

Eventually I learned the value of experience.

And now, the poem:

CARRYING THE WATER

My grandfather could take
the swaying bucket
all the way,

uncertain as he was, from
well to house, and not
spill a drop.

The water sat, contented,
even though his hands
were trembling,

his step less steady than
mine, his eyes unsure
of the path.

But, hard as I might try,
I couldn't carry it
without loss.

Rising up against me, it
bounded over the top
of the pail,

splashing against my calf,
making dark splotches
on red soil

when I dared set it down,
like sins denied
but still mine.

© 2007

(This poem received an honorable mention in a Sinclair Community College contest; it was subsequently published in Capper's, and is part of my second collection of poems, Hollyhocks, Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, KY)

Today's word: contented

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Autumn Dreams






It wasn't raining as I stirred, turned my pillow cool side up, and went drifting off again, but I thought about the coolness of that pillow, later, while I was shaving, thought about the sound of rain ... and about this poem.


So here it is again:


AUTUMN DREAMS

Softly, the rain
descends, puddling
in the darkly
glistening street,
pausing to quench
the thirsting roof
before dripping,
a muffled sighing,
to the ground.

Wind chimes stir,
and the cows
are suddenly home,
winding along
that narrow path
where the sun
lately streamed.

I stir, savoring
quilted warmth,
softness of pillow,
go drifting off
again like a puff
of milkweed.
© 2000

(originally published in St. Anthony Messenger)

Today's word: puddling

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Winter Glow





Today's poem is another example of the kind of subject I write about most frequently ... an ordinary, everyday event or topic ... but perhaps seen in a slightly different way ... as though with "new eyes."


I try to impart that difference ... and I'm greatly rewarded when a reader sees that difference ... or perhaps points out something about the topic that I hadn't quite seen myself.


It's all about the learning process ... and I love it!


The photo? That's me ... somewhere in my teen years ... standing between the grandparents who reared me.


The original was rescued by one of my relatives ... passed along to me ... and is now one of my most prized possessions.


The poem:


WINTER GLOW


Cracked, yellowed snapshots
surrender from inside
a musty box


circled with twine, speaking
of times gone, like thin
ribbons of vapor


slowly curling and uncurling
from a neighbor's
chimney


while I sit in this cold
attic space looking
at relatives


and places I never knew,
their images saved,
but stories lost,


beginning to sense a feeling
of warmth, a winter
glow, spreading


over me as I touch the faces
of these strangers again
and close the box.
 © 2006
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: warmth

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Under the Oaks




The oaks may have been "massive" only as their size was relative to my own, but they did seem to be towering, dominating, clustered there at the foot of the bluffs.

But the shade was mossy. I am positive of that.


Where the memory may be playing tricks ... it was a long time ago, you know ... is that the young trees I remember may not have been oaks at all. They could well have been hickory, or even maple.


Still, I like to think of them as "understudies," waiting for their turn in the spotlight ... in the sun.


I suppose there is some deeper lesson to be taken from this. Perhaps I had some application to humans in mind when I wrote the poem ... or it might just have been a little piece about trees. 


Oh, and the illustration? It's a digital photograph I snapped because the leaves reminded me of a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe.


The poem:


UNDER THE OAKS


I really admire
the persistence
of those small
trees struggling
in the mossy shade
of massive oaks,
understudies
learning their
lines, patiently
waiting their
turn to take
the stage, too.

© 2001

(originally published in Capper's)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Touch of Spring




(One of the paintings I've done ... of a favorite place, Charleston Falls) 

We were out and about ... had a few errands to run ... had to get out for our daily walk ... a bit abbreviated, but still a walk.


It was a little too crowded indoors ... and a little too nippy outdoors, so we compromised, cut the walk a tad short, stopped in at a favorite place for a cup of soup, a bit of conversation, and came on home.


The weather had me thinking about spring.


No harm in looking ahead, I always say ... or, in this case, back to a particular day well before this poem was originally published.


I still recall that moment ... a brisk day, the exact bus stop where I felt the sun bouncing off the brick building ... like it was putting an arm around me ... offering reassurance.


And so it is with that season of renewal, of hope, that warm promise of things to come.


The poem:



TOUCH OF SPRING

I feel a touch
like a friendly hand
on my back, an arm
across my shoulders,
for the sun has
broken free of clouds
and is projecting
a warmth I had
almost forgotten.
I smile at strangers
and they smile back,
for they're feeling
that touch, too,
that warm embrace.
© 1999

(originally published in Capper's)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ordinary Moments





(Just an ordinary gathering of leaves at curbside ... but they caught my eye with their colors, shapes, texture ... and I captured the moment with my camera)

Sometimes it seems that all my poems are rooted in memory.


This one is no exception.


From those distant beginnings ... the foundation stones of all those "ordinary moments" in a young boy's life ... to today ... there's a long bridge of discovered excitement, adventure.


I often go trudging back across that bridge, in search of those beginnings, because I see them now as more than just ordinary events.


Isn't that always the case?


The poem:


ORDINARY MOMENTS


... in which I discover
travel-rounded stones
on the meandering
creek bed of my mind,
each a found treasure
whirring me back
to rainy days spent
with musty books, nights
floating in wood smoke,
mornings with eggs
frying in a dark skillet,
moments when the world
seemed to be
just waiting for me
to kick off the covers,
resume my pursuit
of this great adventure.

© 2001

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)

Today's word: travel-rounded