Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Always a Dad

Marie (not her real name) was telling some of her co-workers about her recent visit of a few days with her father.

Her account was interrupted, though, as she recalled one particular detail of that first evening back home ... in Detroit, I believe it was ... and burst out laughing.

This poem, written well after the fact, tells the story, I think:


Marie, a young exec,

on the first evening

of a few days' visit

with her father,

dined out with a trio

of school-day friends.

Opening the door softly

well after midnight,

she found her father

dozing in his chair,

yesterday's newspaper

asleep on his lap,

just like the old days

of curfew and concern.

She gently scolded him

for waiting up for her.

Saying he really hadn't,

he struggled to his feet

and silently received

an understanding hug.

© 1996

(originally published in Anterior Poetry Monthly)


Today's word: dozing

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

And sweet of you to say so, June. Thank you.

I'm glad you identified with this one, Marti ... and I especially got a chuckle out of your description of that return visit after you had moved out ... your observation about it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Morning Songs

Back in the days when I was known as "The Cake Man" among my co-workers, it was, as you might guess, my favorite food. Any kind of cake could get my attention ... and have me reaching for a fork at the same time.

Even the smell of a freshly-baked cake would catch my attention as little else could.

I still relish the smell of that now-forbidden food.

Where am I going with this? I'm wandering just a bit down memory lane. Just as I still relish the smell of a freshly-baked cake, I relish old memories. They don't feed me like present events do, but they bring me comfort ... and I like that.

I certainly don't live in the past ... any more than I can experience a future which hasn't arrived yet. I do like to pay visits to some events of the past, though ... just like I enjoy "visits" to the possibilities of a future which lies vaguely ahead somewhere out there.

That said, the poem:


Cold mornings,

when I fold

my towel, drape it

again on the rack,

I sometimes hear

the music of eggs

sizzling, gravy

burbling softly

in the frying pan,

coffee perking,

leaping against

its knobbed glass

ceiling, muttering

in darkening tones,

and sometimes

I catch the scent

of that kitchen,

that magic time

so distant, but

still wafting.

© 1998

(originally published in Moose Bound Press)

Today's word: sizzling

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Mmmmm ... I smell that coffee again, June.

Love that comment, Magran ... you had me going there ... all the way to the punchline. Thanks.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chance of Rain

Today's poem, originally published in Capper's, is the title poem of my first collection, Chance of Rain, published in 2003 by Finishing Line Press.

To listen to the poem, please click here

I apologize to those who have heard this story before, but I feel impelled to share it just one more time.

"Chance of Rain" is my lucky poem. It began life as a much longer poem, written at the kitchen table after one of my summer walks.

It was so hot that I had paused in the shade to consider whether I really thought I could make it up the next hill and then home. Just then I felt a slight breeze. Thus encouraged, I set off again toward home.

But I had started thinking of how the oppressive heat and humidity were so like the area of Southern Illinois where I grew up. I kept thinking about that, recalling what it had been like, that terrible heat.

When I got home, I started writing. I imagined an older person, about my age, sitting on a porch, scanning the skies for signs of rain. I imagined the rain's coming, sweeping across the fields. I described the old man's reaction to the rain ... all of this in considerable detail.

This narrative became a long poem which I submitted to Capper's. It was there that an alert editor, Ann Crahan, spotted eight lines that appealed to her in the middle of my poem.

She suggested that we keep those eight lines and my title. I agreed, and it became my first poem accepted for publication.

Over the years, I wrote many more pieces about rain ... or its absence ... and when those poems suggested themselves to me as a possible collection, it seemed fitting that "Chance of Rain," my first-born, my lucky poem, should be the title piece.

The poem:


The rain comes

in great galloping

gulps, faster than

the soil can sop it up.

It drums on the roof,

dances in the yard,

celebrates all the way

down the hill.

© 2003


Today's word: lucky

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

And I hope this is a lucky day for you, June ... like, hitting it big in the lottery ... or finding a five dollar bill in the parking lot ... or being treated to a beautiful sunset. Luck comes in so many shapes and sizes. Me? I feel lucky to have had so many visitors to "Chosen Words" ... where each visitor is special, really special.

I'm doing well today, thank you very much, Southernmush. I am so glad you haven't grown tired of my rain poems ... especially this "lucky" poem ... the one that started it all. I'm glad you enjoyed a beautiful fall day, but I know you're hoping for rain to visit the parched soil, too. We've had a touch of drought here, too, but nothing like your area has suffered. Let's hope you get some relief soon.