Tuesday, July 31, 2007

All Those Trees

Aha! I'm here a little earlier today ... but I'm running late.

How can that be? Well, it's a long story, and I don't have time for details ... (so what else is new?) ... so, let's just say right at this moment I should be pulling things together for watercolor class ... grabbing a bite of breakfast ... responding to yesterday's comments ...

But there I go again, getting you bogged down in details.

I do have a poem to share, though. I hope you'll find a cool spot where you can park yourself ... read the poem ... take a look at the picture (providing I've found time to post that, too) ... and ... well, just enjoy the day.

The poem:


We'd grown tired of winding

along with the other tourists

through the aromatic rows

upon rows of captive plants,

felt our own tendrils tugging

gently toward a nearby hill.

We had paused half-way up

when there was a sudden

flutter of excited footsteps,

the clatter of young laughter,

and we were swiftly engulfed

by a surging flood of children

racing tree-to-tree, so intent

on their game they didn't see

us standing there, recalling

a game we had played so like

theirs, savoring the memories,

and now, loving all those trees.

© 2001

(originally published in St. Anthony Messenger)


Today's word:


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Air Like Fog

I'll always remember those bluffs, those canyons they embraced, the cool air on the trails, the kind of quiet that is only found in the woods.

Giant City State Park, located in the hills of Southern Illinois, seemed an almost magical place to go when I was a child. What a treat it was to trudge those trails, imagining all the others who had walked there before, when it was all wilderness.

As a child I relished family outings there, especially those which extended into the evening, when we'd sit around, watching the crackling flames dancing in a fireplace in one of the shelters, listening to the adults trading stories, hoping to catch some of the night sounds of the woods, too.

Later, I took my own young family there to camp, to go tramping down the same trails I had explored, to let them feast on the same sights and sounds I had enjoyed.

In more recent years, when there were just the two of us on trips back to the place where I grew up, we always managed at least a drive through the park. Those drives rekindled so many memories ... so many ...

This poem, which embodies some of those memories, is part of my first collection, Chance of Rain, published by Finishing Line Press:


Morning air clings to me like fog

as I enter the deep, cool canyons

that thread the water-rounded bluffs,

where I pause for a moment to look

about, to drink an ancient silence

that flows and deepens while lichens

struggle up the pocked, towering walls,

up, up toward a swallow's nest, high

where clinging ferns await the random

blessings of summer shade and transient

yellow light; then I notice soft-edged

flecks of light dancing on the trail

where others must have stood watching,

where they may have heard, as I do now,

a crow, distant, calling them by name.

© 2005


Today's word: crackling

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

That single word, "serene," in your comment tells me, Indigo, that I've struck a responsive chord here ... and that's one of the greatest rewards any writer can receive.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Stolen Minutes

I write a lot about writing. It's not that I'm ... by any stretch of the imagination ... an expert on the subject. On the contrary, the process often baffles me.

Do we know all there is to know about love? Or Nature? Or God? No! But we pursue these, and other subjects, with a passion, because we want to understand.

So it is with the subject of writing.

I write wherever and whenever I can. Afterward, I don't always understand what I've written, or why I wrote it. But I write.

I keep a scratchpad beside the bed, a pen ... actually, a pen with a light in it ... just in case I wake up with some thought bugging me, something that will be lost if I don't write it down right away.

Sometimes, even that isn't enough to preserve it. My scrawled writing, coupled with the morning mental fog that follows a restless night, can be a tough code to crack.

Oh, well, there will be another time, another place, and maybe that same thought will pop up like a rabbit, go running across the clover field of my mind ... and maybe, just maybe, I'll grab it this time, tame it, make it mine, all mine.

But don't worry. I've learned to share. Oh, have I ever.

For example:


I steal minutes when I can,

take them for my own use,

sometimes to sit thinking

my own odd-angled thoughts,

sometimes watching as a pencil

searches its way across

the untracked page, sometimes

listening to that voice,

imperceptible except to that

part of the ear that feels,

more than it hears, what is said.



(originally published in The Christian Science Monitor)


Today's word:


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Oh, thank you, Rose! Honestly, though ... (blush-blush) I think I generally fall far short of your generous assessment ... still, you've given me an excellent sendoff toward that splendid weekend, and I wish you the same.

And I thank you, Indigo, for that insight ... I am often surprised ... often amazed ... and sometimes pleased by what appears on the page (or screen) before me. As for stolen minutes ... I feel that those times ... those minutes ... when I feel I should be jotting someting down, but don't ... well, I feel that I'm stealing from myself ... if I don't grab a pencil or pen and start scribbling.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Running the Hurdles

First the photo. I had a new camera. Who hasn't fiddled with a new toy, trying to figure out how it works, without all the bother of reading a lot of boring, technical stuff?

I knew it had some kind of gizmo that would allow me to take my own picture, or appear in the photo with others, if I chose. But I wasn't exactly sure how it worked.

I pushed a few buttons and set the camera on a nearby shelf. I waited. I waited and waited. Nothing seemed to be happening. I decided to take a look to see what was wrong. At that instant, I heard a tiny z-z-z-z-zip, and I was recorded for posterity.

Blurred, but recorded.

The poem, I think, cries out for more poetic detail ... and more detail would call for more than its eight short lines could deliver.

The poem may, in fact, have been longer when it was first written ... but I was under the mistaken impression that Capper's only published eight-line poems.

So there you have it, two mistakes coming together to make today's entry:


Have you

ever noticed

how many more

things go wrong

when you're trying

to get away

early, or make up

for lost time?




Today's word:


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Indigo. I'm glad you liked the combo today. You may have noticed, also, that I'm a little behind schedule with my responses to readers' comments ... I'm still "running the hurdles" ... between thunderstorms ... computer problems ... and a few other complications. But I am still going ... and I hope to get caught up again ... one of these days.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Morning Glow

She was my playmate, my friend, my competitor, my companion, my sister. She was Jean.
She was the firstborn of the second marriage of our mother, a distinction which meant nothing to us in those early years of beginnings, nor in all the years that were to follow.
Because of the proximity of our births, we were always close, even when the miles separated us ... even when adult responsibilities intruded and took us down our separate paths, there were letters and phone calls ... and those memories we shared.
We grew up separately, but together, too. There was always that cord, that connection that kept it so.
I was the big brother to her, she the little sister to me. I was the protector, the hero, the example ... roles I little deserved, and almost never lived up to. But I relished the position that put me in. All older brothers seem to.
She was the example to me ... of hard work and persistence, of a person whose sense of humor never flagged in the face of obstacles ... a fine example of honesty and devotion ... of all the good things a person should be.
She was my inspiration ... and I tried very hard to be hers.
But now she is gone ... her suffering ended ... her earthly journey over.
And now the memories come flooding back ... memories of hard times in those early years, yes ... but mostly memories of the good times we had ... or dreamed of having ... those good memories which well up at a time when they are needed most.
I think of the games we played ... the places we explored ... times we had visits with each other ... where we walked ... and ran ... and sat quietly together ... brother and sister ... enthralled by this world we were just beginning to discover ... little knowing what lay ahead ... but willing to meet it full-tilt, to make it ours.
And this morning, as I'm being consoled by the good memories, I have a poem I would like to share.
I was privileged to have shared it with Jean ... and she liked it ... as she (wonderful sister) liked so much of what I did ... I hope you will like it, too ... may find a measure of comfort in its word pictures, as I do now:

The geese go sauntering
across the ice, distant dark objects
moving away from us and open water
where they’ve had a morning dip,
a drink, a taste of the coming spring
that will bring matings, nestings,
new beginnings.

But now they’re frozen
in memory as we watch them
from the windowed warmth
of this place beside the lake.

We watch them, arrogant creatures,
still going, sure-footed and confident,
away from us, like a dozen old men,
hands behind their backs, strolling
in the morning glow, quietly
trading stories they’ve heard before.

© 2002

(received an honorable mention in Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest)


Today's word: memory

Thursday, July 5, 2007

One to Grow On

It's awfully quiet here this morning. Even the smoke has cleared away from last night's barrage of Fourth of July celebrations.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I like quiet.

And I've nothing against Independence Day celebrations. But it was just a bit noisy in our neck of the woods last night. So noisy at one point that I had a little trouble hearing the local news ... about Fourth of July celebrations.

Some of them were interrupted by rain. The threat of heavy weather dampened the turnouts at some celebrations, too.

And here, just about the time the local celebrations seemed to be reaching their peak, rain ... heavy rain ... came galloping through ... but it only produced a brief pause in the backyard festivities.

Ka-BOOM! They were at it again.

All of which ... finally, you say ... brings me to today's poem. OK, so it's a bit off-season, but we can take a little of that during these steamy summer months.

Not the fireworks, but last night's sudden, heavy rain brought this poem to mind, and I got busy, digging it out:


Winter rain

comes sliding down

the glistening trunk

of a sleeping tree,

delivering a sip

to be savored

when it awakens

early next spring.

© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word:


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

I'm sorry it has reached the boiling point there, Southernmush ... but hold onto those thoughts of winter rain. That's how I make it through the summer ... and, I keep reminding myself, we're another day nearer to cooler weather ... I hope. And now I'll see if I can find another winter poem in the cooler.