Thursday, January 31, 2008

At Sunset


I can usually recall the starting point ... the impetus ... of something I've written. Not so in this case.

It might be because I've been preoccupied with thoughts of tonight's poetry reading, and just now got around to making today's posting.

It might be because I've written so many. It becomes a bit difficult to recall precisely what triggered each one.

I have a feeling, though, that this one promised to be a longer piece ... perhaps a short story. I was letting my imagination run free on this scene from the close of the day. I'm not sure where it was headed ... its ultimate destination.

Writing is like that sometimes. I always like to get the words on paper ... those bits and pieces of thought which come to me of their own accord ... for, on later reflection ... and a bit of tweaking ... they may turn into something worth keeping and sharing.

This one didn't go on to bigger things. But I liked the descriptive phrases, and it appears that the editor liked them, too.

With that, here's the poem:



Dying embers of day

arc slowly on drapes

drawn tightly

like an old man's mouth

sealed against saying

that which must

not be said. His room,

steeped in darkness,

recalls a steely pool

of tension, burdened

dome of sky,

dark leaves stirring

now, a gathering

of thoughts seeking

shelter for the night.

© 1999

(originally published in Potpourri)




Today's word: steeped

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What'll You Have?

One of the early things I learned about sending my poems off into the company of strangers ... on the chance that some very busy person might pause to read, to savor, to accept something I'd written ... is that there's an awful lot of rejection involved.

In fact, unless you have editors writing to you, begging you to submit something, it's mostly rejection.

Not long after my first acceptance, I thought I was having a particularly good run of luck, so I did the math and found I had an acceptance rate of 12 per cent.

Of course, while achieving that "hot streak," I was also having an 88 per cent rate of rejection.

"What'll You Have?" was probably written during one of those intervals when no math was necessary to tell me my rejection rate was high, high, high.

How nice it would be, I thought, if, instead of sending my poems all over creation, I could just have a little shop on a quiet little street ... a place where editors could drop in when they felt the need for a poem.

I would have poems on the wall, on the shelves, in racks ... all over the place ... even "teetering in the backroom of my mind." I would, of course, hope that visitors would find something they simply couldn't live without.

I have yet to realize my dream of becoming the proprietor of a poetry boutique, catering primarily to editors, but at least this one little poem apparently did make a favorable impression on the poetry editor at ByLine, and there I was, way back in '96, dancing on the table again. How sweet it was!

The poem:


Poems, lady?

What would you like?

I have these

written in the nights

of my despair,

a few over there

when I felt better.

A love poem?

Not much in demand

these days, but I may

be able to find one

somewhere on the shelf.

No picks among these?

I have more written,

on the back racks,

aging a bit

before they travel,

and, of course,

stacks and stacks

teetering recklessly

in the backroom

of my mind.

© 1996


Today's word: teetering

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two-Pocket Blues

Someone ... I've forgotten who ... once said, in effect, that work expands to fill the time available to it. I had a boss who was fond of quoting that.

I was never fully convinced of its being a universal truth.
There were examples, of course, all around us, of little work expanding to fill vast expanses of time.
But there were also examples of industrious, dedicated workers who could turn out a vast amount of work ... by expending the required effort and sticking with the task ... in a relatively small amount of time.
I would not sell those workers short. Their value, to themselves and society, is obvious.
I have occasionally borrowed ... and adapted ... my former boss' mantra, however. Clutter, for example, has a habit of expanding to fill the space available to it. In this instance, pockets. More specifically, in my case, two pockets.
While I lament the passing of the two-pocket shirt, I've found that when I do, on rare occasion, wear a shirt with two pockets, I simply load myself down with twice as much clutter ... yes, clutter ... as I ordinarily would.
So my weepy little poem about the disappearance of the two-pocket shirt, I must admit, is not entirely valid. Still ... there are times when an extra pocket would be nice.
But what about putting some of that stuff in a pants pocket? Hey, if I had any room left there, I would. Shirt pockets are for the overflow, you know.
Today's poem:

Two-Pocket Blues
Shirts I've known
and loved the most
all had two pockets,
a feature I really,
really needed for
my peace of mind.

Just knowing I had
that extra room,
a place to carry
sun glasses, a pen -
a pencil, too, just
in case - a mint,
toothpicks, perhaps
telephone change,
or a mysterious
scribbled note,
meant so much to me.

But now, sad to say,
I'm a two-pocket
person, being held
against my will, in
a one-pocket world.

© 1999
(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: overflow

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Oh, you've got that right, Helen ... I consider a loaded purse to be a dangerous weapon ... and a loaded pocket, of course, is an accident, just waiting to happen ... which reminds me of a pen I found (I can't resist trying to give a good home to an orphaned pen or pencil) ... I tucked it into an already overstuffed shirt pocket ... and ... that's right ... it leaked through the pocket ... and down the front of the shirt.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Summertime Blues

No, I don't have 'em today.
Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. My fingers are more like icicles dangling over an arctic expanse of keyboard, here in this same corner of the house which was so steaming hot, just a few months ago.
But I like to go against the flow, and today is one of those days.
I thought it might be fun to dwell for a few moments on that now-delicious heat which has become so cherished because of its absence. In other words, I like it now, miss it, now that it's gone.
Posting this particular poem today also gives me an excuse for dragging out this self-portrait that occurred with the addition of a digital camera to my arsenal.
I noticed that my new toy had a self-timer.
Naturally, I had to try it; however, it seemed that nothing was happening. Finally, after several seconds, I decided to check. Just at that moment something did happen.
The camera was working, and the result was this blurry picture, snapped precisely as I turned to sneak a peek.
I thought it was the perfect representation of how I so often appear ... early in the morning ... late at night ... and in between ... always a bit behind schedule, and generally befuddled.
The poem:

I've got those

good for nothin'
summertime blues.

My handkerchief
has wilted,
my shorts have
turned to glue,
my socks have
already melted
and run down
into my shoes.

Oh, I've got 'em bad,
as bad as they can be,
those prickly-pested,
heat infested
good for nothin'
summertime blues.

© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: blurry

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Morning Flight

Poems have many ways of presenting themselves to me.

Sometimes they wait patiently for me to discover them ... and am I ever surprised ... because they've been there all the time ... I just hadn't noticed until now.

Sometimes they almost literally leap out at me. Some event, some thought sets them into motion ... and they're often so fragile ... so like the smoke from an evening fire ... that I have to capture them quickly on paper, or they're gone ... gone forever.

I remember exactly where I was when this poem leaped out at me.

I was walking alone, east on Wayne Avenue, just a block west of Smithville. Something glinted in the early-morning sky, and I paused to stare at it. It was a plane ... just a tiny speck on that deep, deep blue blanket of sky.

When I got back home, I sat at the kitchen table, as was my custom then, and started writing. The result, after many revisions (that process of slowly boiling it down to its very essence):


Great silver-gray fish

gliding silently

across the cold blue

of morning

toward that huge red

bait of a sun,

passengers settled

in your slender belly,

flying away

from earthbound creatures

just stirring awake,

waiting for the sun

to begin reaching

toward them, too.

© 1998

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)


Today's word: essence

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Oh (blush-blush), thank you for those comments, Southernmush. As I say, over and over, so much depends on what the reader brings to the poem ... Me? I just take ordinarysubjects and try to see them in a different way ... like a youngster might, on seeing them for the first time. I'm no youngster, of course, so that takes practice ... and, sometimes, a lot of tweaking, polishing, reworking, to get a poem to say what I really want it to ... then, like a youngster with a newly found object, I try to find someone so I can show them and share it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This little poem is laced with memories.

It began, as many of my poems have, when I was observing other people.

This time I was riding the bus. Sitting near the front, on one of those side-facing bench seats, was a young mother who was chewing gum and entertaining her infant daughter by blowing bubbles.

Watching them, I was reminded of an incident long ago ... I may have been three, or younger, certainly in my pre-school years ... of being seated outdoors in a tub of warm water ... summertime ... bright sunshine.

I still have a distinct memory of a bubble my mother made from that sudsy water, how the bubble glistened in the sunlight. How fragile it was. How magical.

The poem was written, eventually published, and put away. But the memory lingered.

Then, I was out walking with Phyllis in a nearby park, looked up at the fluffy clouds lazing in the sunshine, and noticed the lights near the pavilion ... how like bubbles they seemed to me, as they glistened in the sunlight.

How like that bubble of so many years ago.

The poem:


My mother's

hand descended

into sudsy water,

a delicate circle

of forefinger, thumb

slowly emerging,

soft lips breathing

life into a bubble

I still see, quivering,

shimmering, a miracle

unmatched in all

of my three years,

and all of these

searching years

since then.

© 1998

(originally published in PKA's Advocate)


Today's word: shimmering

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Hechan, for that beautiful, shimmering comment. I'm always delighted, of course, when somebody likes the poem ... but when they notice the illustration, too ... well, that's icing on the cake.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

At Daybreak

Okay, so I'm a little preachy in this one. So be it.

That's probably sufficient commentary on this particular poem. After all, I'm not really a morning person ... never was, probably never will be ... but I have to admit that morning is ... can be ... a beautiful time of day.

There is just something about the kind of quiet which accompanies a sunrise, especially if you've pitched your tent in a good spot ... or if you're just rolling out of bed at home, feeling rested, ready to face another day.

There's something about seeing each day as an opportunity ... a new beginning ... no great need for fanfare or ceremony ... just a new beginning.

And I don't think it's too much to ask of ourselves ... myself ... (I'm not big on forcing others to see things as I do) ... to do our part to avoid ruining our environment ... after all, this is our home, this is where we live ... any more than it already has been.

That said, here's the poem:


The day glistens

with natal dew,

freshness riding

still-cool air,

booming red sun

nudging thin clouds

aside, a perfect

setting for pursuit

of the serious

business of saving

this while we can.



(originally published in Candlelight Poetry Journal)


Today's word:


Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Welcome back, Featheredpines! I'm glad you found your way to "Chosen Words" again. But no, sorry to say ... Squiggles & Giggles, the newsletter, is no more ... that was ended abruptly by AOL. Despite the fact that S&G was only going to those who had asked to be on the e-mailing list, somebody ... or some thing ... at AOL decided that S&G was SPAM. I was suddenly cut off from my e-mail account, also from "Chosen Words" ... and from my web page. I couldn't even find a human being to talk to on the phone ... until much later ... about what I perceived as an injustice ... to say the least. Meanwhile, I got a new Internet Service Provider. Eventually, I did get back to e-mail service with AOL (free) ... and to "Chosen Words." But not to my beloved (by me, at least) newsletter. I still miss S&G, for all the "conversations" I had with those on the e-mailing list, for the sunshine it brought into my life ... for the sense of purpose it gave me. But AOL intervened ... and that was that.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Take a Peek

This is one of my "dream" poems. I remember the sensation of waking up in a strange place (I'm dreaming this, remember), being asked by some remote, impersonal voice to produce something that would identify me.

I knew there was this slip of paper in my billfold, but I couldn't find it, couldn't, in fact, find my billfold. I kept searching and searching.

Then I woke up. The dream would have been lost, had I not scribbled something on a scrap of paper as a reminder.

I don't usually dwell on the meanings of dreams. Sometimes they mean nothing more than the excesses of a late-night snack. Or they may reveal deep-rooted frustrations, unattainable goals, hunger, thirsts, fears ... all the makings of a poem

Still, I try to save them all. I don't always manage, but I try. And here's today's:


My billfold

contains a slip

of yellow paper

with the name

of the President

written on it.

I feel secure

having it with me,

like a number,

next of kin,

to be called

in an emergency.

Perhaps someday

after surgery,

responding to

trick questions:

What's your name?

Who's President?

I can say,

"Take a peek

at my billfold.

There's a slip

inside. It's all

I've got left."

© 1995

(originally published in Potpourri)


Today's word: identify

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you so much for that comment, Hechan. I'm delighted when something I've written strikes a chord with a reader ... serious, light, thoughtful, or just interesting ... As I often say, so much depends on what the reader brings to the poem, and you've brought a great deal to this one. I appreciate your sharing with me ... and others. And I do hope you're feeling much better. Welcome back!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Shovel? Maybe Later

Sometimes, it seems, I have this thing about "going against the season."

A couple of times a year it happens ... in summer ... and winter. Spring and fall? Hardly ever.

What do I do? Oh, when we're sizzling in summer temperatures, I like to think about those cool ... er, cold ... days and nights of winter.

And in the winter, of course, when I'm freezing ... I keep my mittens on ... and try writing something about summer.

So ... I should have my mittens on today ... and I probably will, when I catch a glimpse of the winter sun and decide to venture out for my daily walk.

We don't have snow (knock on wood) ... but we certainly have winter temperatures ... in the single digits, I understand (I haven't even looked at the thermometer yet).

Meanwhile, here's a winter poem that I may hold to my fevered brow in the peak of summer months:

Shovel? Maybe Later

From door to street

Isn't all that far,

But with a sleet-

And snow-bound car

Stuck in the drive,

I might just as well

Take another five

And snooze a spell.

© 1995

(originally published in Mature Living)


Today's word: later

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Linoleum Days

According to my handy-dandy dictionary, "linoleum" comes from the Latin linum (flax) plus oleum (oil), and describes "a smooth, washable floor covering, formerly much used, esp. in kitchens."

That established, class, let us proceed.

In the home in which I grew up, linoleum reigned, not only in the kitchen, but the dining room ... and the living room. Maybe in the bedroom, too.

It was a regal floor covering. Or so I thought then. Actually, I still do.

But let's get right to the poem:


Linoleum was forever,

or so it seemed,

lying regally there

with its smell of new

filling the room,

cupped at the ends

from having lain

in a tight coil,

waiting patiently

at the general store

until someone

purchased its freedom,

took it home

and unscrolled it,

where it still lies

in the living room

of my mind,

so fresh, aromatic,

I hardly dare think

of walking on it.

© 1997

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: aromatic

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Fireflies seemed such magic creatures in the place where I spent my early years.

They still do.

Especially in that period of transition from day to night, when darkness is beginning to settle in, they do seem to be wavering up some kind of invisible ladder.

They do seem to be signalling to us "that dreams still take wing."


Slowly, randomly they rise

from daytime resting places

into the cool, embracing night.

Tiny wings whirring against

the sodden, clinging atmosphere,

they labor to lug their lights

blinking up wavering ladders,

beacons signaling that dreams

still take wing on such a night.

© 1997

(originally published in Sisters Today)

Today's word: randomly

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Featheredpines, for pausing here to enjoy the fireflies. They were so much a part of my growing up years ... I stored up so many memories of those summer evenings ... the memories have kept me company all these years ... and have been good medicine when I really needed it. Best wishes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Empty Boxes

This is an inventory poem, a listing of items. But it's far more than that. It's a poem about departure, loss, a certain amount of pain.

"Healing," perhaps, is too strong a word for the ending, although I felt a need for something ... for comforting, I guess, as I looked over some of the items left behind by one of our sons.

He had discarded them as being of no use to him in his new location, his situation of being out there in the world on his own. I was double-checking, I suppose, to make sure he wasn't throwing away anything of value.

The basement was very quiet that evening. The memories came flooding back. It was the same ... all those memories ... with the departure of each of our four sons.

There was always that twinge of sadness at the ending of another chapter in our lives. Even with the good memories to bolster me, there was this sense of loss at their leaving to live on their own.

In that awful quiet that settled in then, I had to remind myself that they would do well, they would stay in touch, they would be back. We would still be a family, as we had always been.

Then I could throw away the empty boxes. But I kept the memories.

This poem received a First Place award in the Ohio Poetry Day Competition of 2000, and is now part of a manuscript in search of a publisher:


I touch worn corners,

torn, misshapen lids,

as though mere touching

might ease the pain,

and in the scattered

emptiness I find

a battered brown bag

with a piece of paper

crumpled in a corner

like a dried leaf,

folders for your

drawings, writings

sprawling across pages,

a fragment of pastel,

pencils, a flattened

glove, engulfing me

with memories as I

sort through, hoping

to find somewhere

a measure of healing.

© 2006


Today's word: crumpled

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Clutter, Glorious Clutter

Mind you, I'm not advocating clutter, even though ... looking around as I write this ... I can see that a stranger might think I'm clutter's chief spokesperson.

I try. Oh, how I try not to clutter up the planet in my immediate vicinity.

In my own defense, I must say that I don't toss litter out the car window ... I don't drop candy wrappers on the sidewalk ... in fact, sometimes, when I'm out walking, I pick up the occasional strayed aluminum can and deposit it in the nearest trash container.

But in my immediate vicinity ... here in the study at Brimm Manor ... there's just some invisible force which seems to be at work ... and I am powerless in its grasp.

Things just seem to pile up ... mostly poems in progress ... little notes I've scribbled along the way ... magazines that I really must read (someday) ... little watercolor sketches ... big watercolor sketches ... drawings ... notes to myself. Things like that.

Some days I seem to make progress ... but other days? Well, then it's like trying to sweep the ocean back with a broom.

But I promise you this (and it's not a political promise) ... I'll keep trying. Meanwhile, the poem:


Someday I shall have room

for everything I possess,

all the room I ever dreamed

of having, room to lean back

casually and survey the vast

reaches of things collected

in years of serious pursuit

and delayed disentanglement.

But the jam-packed reality

of today is that I shift

cautiously among the poems

poised for avalanche, books

teeteringon the brink

of revenge for being left

stacked like cold flapjacks

all these busy-busy years,

treasured items gathering

dust, clipped so long ago

from forgotten magazines.

So much of my past, perhaps

my future, too, nudging me

when I turn, bumping me when

I bend, skittering when

we touch, hugging me like

a lover just before the train

pulls out. And I stand here,

loving it all right back.

© 2000

(originally published in Nanny Fanny Poetry Magazine)


Today's word: avalanche

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bridge Builder

Sometimes, I think, it's best just to let the poem tell its own story. My comments about a poem's beginning ... the inspiration for it ... my purpose in writing it ... in transforming scribbled notes into the finished product ... all of these, sometimes, are helpful.
Today, though, I think I'll just step back and let the poem do the telling ... all of it:

My grandfather built bridges,

not the bright, towering
monuments to engineering like
those spanning the Mississippi.

His bridges were squat, dark,
wooden things, put up by gangs
of common laborers who spent days,
weeks, sometimes, away from their
families, so trains could go
rolling smoothly across the creeks
and small streams that wrinkled
the face of the earth.

One evening I watched as his
rough, scarred hand gripped a stub
of pencil and the pilings,
cross-members, all the timbers,
ties and rails took shape across
a ruled page of my writing pad.

His eyes glistened when my small
voice asked how far he had traveled
in this work, eating alien food
that strangers plopped on his plate,
trying to sleep in crowded, hot
bunk cars alongside the mainline.

"Too far, and too long," he said,
and I knew the story was over.

That paper is gone, his bridges
replaced by steel structures,
or abandoned as railroads began
surrendering to the superhighways
and airplanes, but how I wish
I had that little drawing, so I
could slide it out, look at it
again, something of him to hold,
now that I’ve come to appreciate
his most important bridge, those
huge hands reaching out to me,
the child nobody wanted, saying,
"Come ... live with me."

© 2006

(Second place winner, Dayton Metro Library 2006 Poetry Contest)


Today's word: reaching

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ahead and Behind

I suppose it was there all the time ... an ability, on occasion, to say something that sort of had the sound of poetry ... something that, while alien, perhaps, to the formal, prescribed structure and style of real poetry, had an element that conjured up poetic images for the reader ... or listener.

I began writing these things for myself. They usually came to me during my daily walks. When I got back home, I would sit for a few minutes at the kitchen table, scribbling away.
Then I began sharing these scribblings with Phyllis. She liked them ... at least said she did ... and encouraged me to keep writing.
I did keep writing, and writing, and writing ... and, though today's poem is a bit of an exaggeration ... poetic license, you know ... it does sometimes seem that I've gotten ahead on my writing ... behind on everything else.
Meanwhile, the poem:


For many years

I wouldnt venture

into this strange
realm of poetry,
but then, like
a water-loving dog
finding a pond,
I plunged in,

cant be coaxed

back out, and Im

paddling around,
getting slowly
ahead on poetry,
way behind on
everything else.

© 2001

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: paddling

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Take comfort in knowing that you're not alone in that department, Magran. It seems like only yesterday that I started out feeling full of vim and vinegar, determined to make a lot of headway on the stacks of things waiting patiently for my return ... but it didn't turn out that way ... and I'm afraid to look now ... I know I've fallen farther behind ... on everything, it seems. Among other things, I let myself fall behind on my responses to readers ... and I apologize for that. I know you'll understand ... and I'll be given another chance ... but I apologize. And now ... back to the stacks!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What Was That?

I write a lot about ordinary things ... those things all around me ... things which are seen ... or heard ... almost every day ... things which might go unnoticed, had I not started trying to "see things with new eyes."

Or, I suppose, in this instance, to hear things with new ears.

The poem deals with a bit of ancient history ... so much time has passed since the incident about which I've written ... but it's good to be able to look back, sometimes, to remember ... to chuckle again over something that happened ... something, in the broad sweep of things, quite ordinary ... but still valued.

The poem:


When I heard

a chorus of crickets

in my son's room,

I wasn't surprised.

When I heard bird calls,

that didn't faze me

in the least.

But when I heard

the songs of whales,

I sat upright

and took notice.

Just a CD, Dad,

he reassured me,

and I drifted off

with hardly a ripple.

© 1995

(originally published in The Christian Science Monitor)


Today's word: ripple

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thank you, Magran. I agree, it is comforting to remember. I do find comfort in so many of the memories I've stored up over the years.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Such Silent Grace

I was only a block away from home, fighting the wind all the way from the bus stop, when this flight of birds caught my eye. They moved so easily, so gracefully, "as one fluid body" ... a kind of movement that has always intrigued me ... while I remained rooted on the sidewalk, struggling.
They were quite like a school of minnows, quickly changing course, darting this way and that.
Perhaps there was some urgency in their movement ... they may have been seeking shelter from the coming storm ... or they may simply have been exulting in their ability to fly ... and not just to fly, but to fly in such a masterfully coordinated way.
Oh, couldn't we take some lessons from them as we go through life, bumping and jostling each other?
This one received an honorable mention in a Poets' Study Club competition; it was also included in my first collection, Chance of Rain, published in 2003 by Finishing Line Press:


A flight of birds
passes like a whisper,
soaring and swooping
as one fluid body,
moving swiftly under
darkening clouds.

Rain-bearing winds
swirl as if echoing
such silent grace,
rocking small trees,
making street signs
dance and chatter,
sending pedestrians
scurrying, holding
onto their hats
as they go leaning
toward home.

Still, these tiny
birds remain aloft,
their movements like
a school of minnows,
rippling, darting,
in their element.

© 2003

(By the way, some time during the night Chosen Words received Visitor No. 34,000. Thank you for creating that milestone by stopping by. I hope you enjoyed what you found here, and will find time for another visit ... soon.)


Today's word: exulting

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My Three Loves

Picture from Hometown

I think a love poem might be in order today ... at least to get our minds off the winter weather for a little while.
This one is mainly about my eighth-grade teacher, who stirred an abiding interest in reading in me, but it's also about the librarian I met at another time, in another town, as a result of my interest in reading.

That librarian and I are still sharing a mutual interest in reading, and she is the one who listens patiently to the things I've written.
But, getting back to the main thread of the poem: I was so glad when I was able to visit my former teacher, Miss Pearl, a few years ago, to thank her for imparting her love for reading ... and to introduce her to that librarian, my wife, Phyllis.
The poem:

Could Miss Pearl have known
that her own love of reading
would so transform the life

of a hungering eighth grader
whom her gentle, healing voice
touched with daily readings?

Fragile fingers softly turning
the pages of her beloved books,
she made visions of mere words,

openings to worlds where people
could dream, hope, and achieve.
These, she told us, were worlds

where we, too, might go, in fact,
belonged. Did she know, or did she
merely dream the teacher's dream

that the tiny seeds might endure,
take root, flower? Did she know
that her devoted love of reading

would become my own, eventually
leading me to that certain library
where I would find you? How else

could she have sustained herself
through those despairing years?
Questions still seek answers,

but of this I'm sure: Her gift,
so freely given, became more dear
than I, or even she, ever dreamed.

© 2001

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: sustained

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
You're right, Southernmush ... I certainly do owe much ... so much ... to Miss Pearl for fanning the spark of interest I had in reading ... that has stayed with me ... and helped to carry me through some difficult chapters along the way. And now I'm savoring the results of that ... sharing my poetry with those who pause to listen. That is really the icing on the cake.
Thank you, Vicki, for that comment. I was headed toward teaching, too ... or so I thought. There were a few obstacles in the way, though, and I ended up doing other things, instead ... but there were always helping hands, too ... people who showed me the way ... patient people who helped me along. I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude ... and my poetry, I suppose, is one way of paying back part of that debt.   

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ice-Cold Memories

We're "enjoying" single-digit temperatures in this part of Ohio this morning ... but it has stopped snowing ... I think. I'm almost afraid to look out.

When I was a youngster, winter was probably my favorite season. Oh, I could've done without the tingling toes, the fingers sticking to cold metal ... the nose that froze ... but I loved the snow. It was like having a featherbed ... albeit a very cold one ... to romp on.

But that changed.

I suppose age has something to do with it, and I don't know if the weather is becoming more extreme ... or if I am becoming more sensitive to changes ... or it's all just my imagination.

I'm sure of one thing, though, a search of my extensive records would show that today's poem was written in the middle of one of those sizzling summer months when the pavement starts turning to goo and thoughts turn to the prospect of frying an egg on the sidewalk.

And I know this, too, I was looking for ways of surviving.

Ice-cold memories, pressed to the sizzling brow, may not be the answer, but I think they help. Right now, with the cold chasing me indoors after about ten minutes of shoveling, I'm storing up a lot of those memories.

I think I may already have more than enough to help pull me through whatever next summer's heat can bring.

The poem:


In the root cellar

of my mind

I have memories

of last winter

lying on the shelves

to help me survive

these front-burner

days of summer.

I shall pull them out

one by one, to press

to my sizzling brow,

daily hoping that

I have stored enough

to carry me through

until autumn

comes galloping up.

© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: sizzling

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Oh, Southernmush ... I know what you mean about the layers and layers of clothing ... if I were to fall down outdoors, I think I would just roll around and around, until somebody came along to help me back on my feet. But remember ... as Professor Squigglee would say ... we're another day closer to spring. It's not just around the corner, yet, but it's out there ... someplace.