Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cold Winter Nights


Aha! Another poem about writing ... touching somewhat on a process that remains something of a mystery to me ... but also reaching the heart of the matter, I think, the satisfaction that comes from putting thoughts on paper.

The poem:



I have dreamed

that my poetry

might go like

wildfire lighting

the emptiness

of night, dancing

ahead of the wind,

smoke of creation,

furious burning,

rising to join

the lingering clouds,

drifting, drifting.


Ah, but a smaller

fire it is,

burning within,

chasing nothing

before it, raising

no alarms, warming

only me on these

cold winter nights

with a lamp

keeping me company,

and these scratchings.

© 1996

(originally published in ByLine)


Today's word: wildfire

LOOKING BACK (again) ... this time all the way to the May 10, 2002, issue of the (late lamented) Squiggles & Giggles.

I shared a poem entitled "Shy People" in that issue, and then said this:

I'm not saying that writers are shy people, or even that regular readers of "Squiggles," or visitors to my web page, are shy people. They're busy. They have other things on their minds. Other places to be. Other fish to fry.

They don't hang around long. They zip past lie a roadrunner, with a beep-BEEP! and a tiny cloud of dust that's struggling to keep up with them.

On the other hand, there are those who always find a moment or two to say a few words in passing. And I appreciate them all, the busy who zip away, and the really busy who still find a moment to say something in response to what I've written.

After all, where would I be without either group? Most likely sitting here talking to myself, that's where. And I'm not a good listener when I talk to myself.

BUT, HEY, thanks for listening to me.


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, June, for sharing your reaction to the poem. I keep saying that poetry is meant to be shared ... and I really believe that. Then, when someone indicates they have heard or read one of my poems ... and they like it ... well, that's a great, really great, reward.

And thank you, Southernmush, for that heartwarming response to today's entry. I will certainly try to keep on keepin' on, because I continually find myself in good company ... and I like that. Oh, and Happy New Year to you, too! 

I'm honored, Vicki, that you linked your readers to this poem. Sometimes I feel like I'm standing on a street corner ... "sharing" my poems with those passing by ... not really knowing, though, that they "hear" me ... even though the counter gives some evidence that people have at least taken a look. And now ... beep-BEEP! ... I have to be on my way. There were so many things I had hoped to do this year ... and time appears to be running out. Best wishes in the coming new year.

Friday, December 28, 2007


I will always remember that butterfly, and that once in a lifetime event, as described in today's poem.

I remember precisely the hillside on which I was sitting when the butterfly found me.

I had been mowing the grounds of a friend's summer home in Southern Ohio. It was a hot, steamy day. The mower had become balky, so I decided we both needed a rest ... a bit of cooling off.

I was just sitting there, hoping for a bit of breeze, when it happened. But let's let the poem tell what occurred:


I remember sitting

so still, feeling

the sweat trickling

down my back, beading

along my forearms,

a touch like

an angel's breath

when a butterfly

fluttered down

onto my sunburned

hand and sat there

for the longest time

before sipping

that moisture born

of hard labor, then

lifted lightly off, wafted

away like a dream.

© 1996

(originally published in Read, America!)


Today's word: wafted

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Marti, for that comment! When someone says what you did, then I know I've really succeeded ... but I always say, too, that what the reader brings to the poem is so important. I'm delighted for the understanding you brought ... and I hope that made it a pleasant interlude on a wintery day.

Thank you so much, Southernmush, for sharing that encounter with that small yellow butterfly ... that sends my memory flying back to summers long ago ... and I'm always delighted when I'm part of your day ... especially when you share your thoughts with us. Best wishes.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I don't know how many nights I had tossed and turned. Let's just say there were a lot of them.

So many times, during those restless nights, I would think of something that seemed to be the start of a poem, perhaps ... or a bit of fiction ... something I might do something with, if only I could remember it the next morning.

I never could. The next morning? Gone ... the slate wiped clean ... not a trace of that "great idea" which had nagged me so much the night before.

Aha! The solution? That's explained in the poem.

But it didn't solve the problem I expected it to ... far from it. You'll have to read on to discover what problem was solved:


All those nights

of tossing, turning,

I lay awake wishing

I had pad and pencil

to preserve thoughts

dancing fleetingly

across the ballroom

of my frazzled mind.

When finally one night

I remembered to place

these vital tools

within arm's length,

I went smugly to bed.

And slept like a log.

© 1997

(originally published in Parnassus Literary Journal)


Today's word: fleetingly

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wintertime Waltz


Stop me if you've ... actually, don't stop me if you've heard this before.
It's an old story that went something like this:
I may have commented recently that, after having unseasonably warm weather in our neck of the woods, winter arrived. Oh, did it ever!
It snowed, and snowed, and snowed. And then we had freezing rain and sleet on top of that.
It reminded me of the time we had similar weather conditions ... I stepped out the back door ... checked on the steps before starting down ... they seemed fine ... one step ... and DOWN I went. Ka-BOOM!
I went crawling back into the house with a lump on my head.
THIS time I was carrying salt ... to put on the driveway.
Out the back door ... a careful look ... one cautious step ... and down I went ... Those icy steps had outsmarted me AGAIN!
Nothing broken, thank goodness, except the container of salt I was carrying.
But that reminded me of today's poem, "Wintertime Waltz." After all, where would we be, if we couldn't have a little laugh at our own mishaps and minor misfortunes?
The poem:

I have no

sense of rhythm,
no grace, no pace,
no with-it moves
from some great
dancing school.
But on ice? Hey,
I'm a dancing fool.

© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: dancing

Monday, December 24, 2007

Touch of Spring

So I'm running a little late, you say? Well, you're right ... and there was a time when I would've been so guilt-ridden about that ... but today? Today ... a twinge, maybe ... just a twinge.

We were out and about this morning.

We had a few errands to run ... and, of course, we had to get out for our daily walk ... a bit abbreviated today, 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 ... as it often does at this time of year ... 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 published in 1999.

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 the eventual arrival of spring (are you counting the days yet?), that season of renewal, of hope, that warm promise of things to come.

The poem:


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)


Today's word: embrace

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Hey, Vicki! Thanks for stopping by! And Merry Christmas to you, too! Oh, if I could just spring forward to spring, I would, I really would. But we're already another day nearer to that, right?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Summer Dancers

Picture from Hometown

Speaking of dancing, I felt like dancing last night ... maybe not on the table, exactly, but around it ... and off into the living room ... and back around the table. And I'm not a dancer. Never could dance. Never will. Still ...

Last night I received word from Finishing Line Press that my third collection of poems, Wood Smoke, has been accepted for publication in 2008.

WHOOPEE! What a way to end this year ... and begin the next!

Meanwhile, it's back to the reality of an increasingly colder winter morning ... window-rattling winds ... no snow here ... yet ... but it's coming. I can feel it in my bones.

So-o-o-o ... I thought you might not mind a summer poem today, a mini-break from winter's opening number(s).

Though autumn's my favorite season ... well, spring's a very close second ... there are times, like this morning, when I tend to think just a bit about summer ... and find myself admitting that it's not quite as bad as I make it out to be.

Truth be known, I just don't tolerate winter cold as well as I once did, and shoveling has become more of a chore.

Of course, when summer really comes, I'll probably find myself thinking of crisp, cool mornings, the sun glinting on a new covering of snow ... my search for mittens and scarf.

All that aside, here's a glimpse of a place long, long ago and far away:


Flecks of sunlight

descend through

the leafy canopy,

dancing on the path,

still dancing

after the breeze

has gone off

toward a hillside

lush with wheat

that slowly leans

and straightens,

as though hearing

soft music, too.

© 2001

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: canopy

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

You are so right, Magran: summer = HEAT. And I agree, it's nice to be snug as a bug in a rug when it's cold outside ... like right now. But there's something about summer, too ... the challenge, maybe. I've found that one secret to surviving the onslaught of summer is to take "shade hikes" ... in other words, I try to shun those indoor places with their air-conditioning ... (OK, so when I do feel my sox starting to melt, I duck inside a mall, or some place equally cool) ... but I like stayiing outdoors and darting from one shade to another ... possibly finding a bench there where I can just sit and watch the heat waves dancing, way off there.

Thank you, Southernmush ... I'm glad you liked the heat of this poem ... and I hope you're staying as snug as a bug in a rug (a phrase I borrowed from somone). Thank you, too, for those kind words about my third collection of poems finding a publisher. As you may have gathered, I'm pretty excited about that ... it gives me something to look forward to in 2008! Merry Christmas, and a happy new year to you, too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Mouse

My computer had a little trouble waking up this morning ... I guess we're becoming more alike ... I say "a little trouble," but that translates as BIG TROUBLE for me.
I'm still struggling to understand the electric typewriter ... and, no, the first typewriter I used was not a wood-burning model ... it was a standard, mechanical ... clackety-clack ... sturdy, understandable typewriter.
When something got stuck, I could usually track down the problem and ... with the help of a paper clip or a brush ... could usually solve it.
Computers, though, are a different breed. I know nothing. Well, I do know that this one seems to be working now ... (how many times have I thought that, though, only to be wrong?) ... and if all goes well ...
But I digress.
What I started out to talk about was today's poem, based, as are most of mine, on the material at hand ... you know, tangible stuff ... things I understand ... at least sorta ...
Now that I think about it, though, it seems that this particular poem kind of tells its own story:

I slept serenely one blustery night

while a timorous sweet-toothed mouse
stole into my house, chewed a jagged
hole in the right-hand pocket of my
old blue robe and took a foil-wrapped
chocolate by surprise.

Discovering the theft, I, Superior
Creature I, smiled at such waste
when my poor pocket was open
all the time.

But who has dined on prized chocolate?
And who stands here holding crumpled
foil while a finger waggles foolishly
from a hole?

© 1998

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: timorous
Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Good luck, Magran, in that HUGE mouse war ... as you may recall, I grew up in the country, and we expected an annual invasion as the nights grew colder ... so did the cats (they thought the mice were delicious), until they'd had their fill ... and realized that they were vastly outnumbered. And you're right, having mice is like ... well, like no fun at all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lost Pencils

Picture from Hometown

Phyllis pretends she's not with me when I discover a pencil lying on the sidewalk. She knows I can't resist. I'll simply have to pause, pick it up and put it in my pocket.

I've learned not to do that with pens. Sometimes they leak.

But pencils?

There's something safe, reassuring about a pencil. Even the most chewed up, stubbiest, disreputable looking pencil has the potential of a few more words, of writing a few lines, perhaps, that could someday turn into something big ... maybe a poem.

Here's one now:


I find them during my walks

past schools, lying there, poor,

fallen things, pointing forlornly

to some vague destination.

Many bear the jagged markings

from anxious scholars' teeth,

some have been sharpened

to the point of extinction,

some are broken, and might not

write again, without my timely

arrival to bring them home.

Handling each with the care

one would accord a fallen bird,

I slide it into the warmth

of an inner pocket to keep

it safe, for this could be

the one I've always needed,

the one with something to say

that I really need to hear.

© 2000

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)


Today's word: potential

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Day for Flying

But isn't that always the way it is when you're in a hurry?
So, for a few minutes at least, I'm putting hurry aside. I'm sitting here calmly at the keyboard, serenely typing a few words which I hope will make their way into "Chosen Words." Not a worry in the world.
Like, yeah, sure.
Meanwhile, here's the poem (I hope):

Crisp autumn breeze sliding off
some unseen glacier, sun busy
burnishing the copper leaves,

as though trees were incapable
of doing it themselves, and not
a cloud in sight. A day made

for flying. Indeed, overhead
dozens of silent chalk marks
of planes drag themselves along,

blade marks slowly multiplying
on a blue rink, crisscrossing,
widening, turning into fluffy

cotton batting stretched along
the cold, these diaphanous
contrails abandoned in a flight

to somewhere, as though planes
of the world were gathering
on this day to make clouds,

being impatient for the regular
kind and for the needed rain,
the prodigal, dallying rain.
© 1997
(originally published in Potpourri)

Today's word: diaphanous

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Biking by Degrees

Today's photo is of one of my "neighbors," having a snack, or, perhaps, just engaged in thinking up new tricks ... and, as far as I know, has nothing to do with the poem.
Meanwhile: In discussing a poem, particularly one of my own, there's the temptation to say so much about it that there's no need to read the poem itself.

I hate it when I do that.
I'm trying not to, with today's offering, but I'm afraid even the title may tend to give it away.
Let me just say that while I have an aversion to making New Year's resolutions (just around the corner, eh?), I do occasionally concede there are some activities I need to take up ...
"Biking" is one activity that I need to resume. This kind of biking appeals to me because I also like it when I can engage in "multi-tasking" ... at least to the extent of doing two things at once ... not that I'm such an efficient person. Quite the contrary.
Here, now that I've verged on giving the whole thing away, is the poem, originally published in Capper's:

I’ve put tons
of happy miles
on this bike,
clinging to its
slender seat,
pedaling steadily
while I catch up
on my reading,
its single wheel
whirring, pages
blurring, while
I exercise here
in my basement.

© 1996


Today's word: multi-tasking

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Hey, Magran, so you like "dessert" first. Welcome to the club. Before that particular food group went on my personal forbidden list, I was known to wolf down dessert first ... a time or two. I see nothing wrong with reading the poem first. In fact, I like it that you're looking forward mainly to the poem itself. The commentary is merely the door to the room where the poem is waiting for guests, and I try not to open the door too slowly ... but sometimes I do. I know. I do.   

Monday, December 10, 2007

At the Doctor's Office

Picture from Hometown

I'm dusting off one that some of you have seen before.

It came to me on a routine visit to the doctor's office ... I was, indeed, perched on the end of an examining table ... waiting ... and watching the rain.

Then I reached for the folded scrap of paper I always carry in my hip pocket, and started writing.

"At the Doctor's Office" was originally published in Potpourri, was subsequently nominated for Pushcart Prize honors, and is now part of a manuscript in search of a publisher:


Random needles of rain

start darting diagonally

like the silent scratchings

of cat claws on the window

where the traffic is zooming

and sizzling past, hauling

away the remains of Thursday,

blurring beyond the sycamore,

its mottled gray-green trunk

whispering of a deep-forest

stream while seeming utterly

misplaced here where concrete

suffers the presence of so few

trees, where my strongest

efforts at contiguous thought

produce only fragments too tiny

to mend, unleavened images,

lacking all savor of meaning,

where I perch, dry-mouthed

and nervous, my legs dangling

from the end of this table,

and wait, as I always do,

for a door to open softly,

carefully, into this silence,

this sterile, stifling silence.

© 2001


Today's word: needles

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Magran. I'm glad you felt that the poem put you there, sitting on the examining table, watching the raindrops slanting across the glass of the window. When that happens, I feel I've really done it right.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Picture from Hometown

I remember tooling along the highway somewhere in the Midwest.
The sun was shining, the landscape a quilt of varying shades of green, a sprinkling of houses and farm buildings.
Then suddenly ... it seemed sudden at the time ... I became aware of those acres of sunflowers "staring" at me. I was reminded of a classroom, not as a teacher, for I was never privileged to have that role, but as a visitor entering quietly, yet becoming, for the moment, the center of attention ... all those young heads turning, those eyes all focused on me, evaluating, questioning.
Oh, how that field of sunflowers reminded me of that moment. And now, this morning ... when there's a deep blanket of snow spread across Ohio, and the temperatures have plunged into single digits ... I'm enjoying the memory of that sun-drenched scene ... and how it set the wheels turning toward another poem.
It goes something like this:


Great gray ribbon
of road unspooling
steadily beneath me,
then, to my left,
acres of big brown eyes
all intently focused;
first day of school,
teacher's talking.

© 1995
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: focused
Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Thank you for stopping by, June. When someone does that, and says, "I know that feeling" ... either about the poem or my own commentary ... I know I've succeeded, and that ... well, that just makes my day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


the rains of spring

were, thudding

on the empty drum

of my young life.

Renewal lacked

meaning for me,

but the years

have washed away

that emptiness.

Now the song

of those gentle

drops on my roof

nurtures dreams

of beginnings

and new growth.

© 2002

(originally published in Brave Hearts)


Today's word: beginnings

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Oh, I obviously cling to beginnings, too, Magran ... and I think that attitude comes, not just with age, but increased understanding ... which can come at any point in our lives. I see these beginnings, even though they may not be large ... and may, in fact, be spaced close to together ... as my stepping stones to the future.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Morning Talk

Picture from Hometown

I like to think that poems come to me ... and they will, I've discovered, if I can just sit still in one place long enough.

This one may not have come to me, exactly, but I found the material for it in the tree just outside my window. I sat listening to a certain sound, then located its source ... and watched.
From there it was simply a matter of putting my impressions on paper before they ... the impressions, that is ... flew away.
I admit that I found more than just the sights and sounds of a mother-and-daughter exchange between two cardinals to write about.
Before I'd finished, I couldn't resist drawing the parallel between these two beautiful little creatures and the rest of us ... we superior beings who "own" so much of this material world ... and are, perhaps, so bent on possessing more of it ... that we neglect to build little bridges between us ... particularly between the generations.
End of sermon. And now, on to the poem:

Amid a rising tide of summer sounds,
I slowly become aware of one pair
catching my ear more than the others.

Then there they are, a mother cardinal
and her offspring, flitting and talking
to each other in the blue spruce.

Talking of food, perhaps, or safety
in these thick boughs, weighty subjects,
or maybe just chit-chat between

this mother and her young daughter.
I have no way of knowing, but they
seem to have found an understanding,

a quiet accord, like a gently swaying
footbridge between the generations,
that we humans keep hoping to find.

© 2003
(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: chit-chat

LOOKING BACK – I don't do a lot of that ... looking back, that is ... but I was going through some old binders ... getting rid of things, downsizing, if you will ... and came across a printout of one of my outgoing e-mails from January 27, 2002, Subj: Scribblings.

Oh, did that bring back some memories! I notice that it went to 18 recipients, included a copy of my poem, "Only the Best Will Do" ... and opened with some meandering thoughts about "Scribblings ... by Robert L. Brimm."
Scribblings was my web page ... on AOL, if memory serves me right ... but (sniffle-sniffle) that page has since ceased to exist. It was fun while it lasted, though ... with an offering of a poem and some chit-chat about what inspired it. Sound familiar? 
I noted that there had been 363 visitors to the page since its beginning on January 8 ... but I was wondering why there had been so few visitors over that most recent weekend.
Maybe it was because my writing had put everybody to sleep.
Anyway, I noted that we were off to a good start toward our first million visitors to the page, adding ... "Also, if just one of you would click on Scribblings, that would get us off that uneven number."
Oh, that uneven number ... there was just something about being stuck on an uneven number, I guess.
So much for looking back ... for now ... maybe we can do it again some time. Meanwhile, thanks for stopping by.
Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
I know that feeling Magran. I feel like a "taker," myself, when I fall behind ... as I often do ... with my responses to the comments I find here. I'm still "sprinting," of course ... typing as fast as I can, but at brief intervals ... for various reasons. On the other hand, I take great comfort in knowing there are those who come by for a visit ... even if they don't feel like chatting. When I look at the counter, it's like hearing their quiet footsteps as they approach, read a bit, then go on to re-enter the busy whirl of their lives. So, Magran, you ... and they ... are not just "takers," but "givers," too ... and those visits ... yes, even the quiet ones ... help to keep me going ... and going ... and going.