Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sliding Into Third

Don't worry.

I'm not about to slide into third base ... or even run the bases, for that matter. Not even slowly.

Still, there's the imagination which is stirred by warm breezes, the proximity of a playing field, the sun on my back.

The possibilities ... and even that is a stretch, too ... are interesting.

If I were really to try it, I can imagine that I might have to call time out ... if and when I reached first base. From there it would be rapidly (or slowly, perhaps) downhill.

I can just see myself going into that slide ... sliding ... and sliding short of the bag ... just lying there like a bag of potatoes.

No thank you. I'll stick to the poetic possibilities ... thank you very much ... as opposed to the reality of these tired old legs.

But, for now, the poem has legs:


when I’m walking past
the empty field,
I’m tempted
to go legging it
around the base paths,
sliding into third,
maybe stealing home,
but then I think
about getting caught
in a run-down
between second
and third, cut down
trying to extend
a beseeching leg
to hook the refuge
of that dusty bag,
and the vision
of that humiliation,
the disgrace of being
the winning run
tagged out, finished,
game over, is more
than I can chance.
Still, on one of my
better days,
I just might try it.
© 2000
(originally published in 
Today's word: beseeching

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Morning Glow

This is what I said when I shared this poem with you before:

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 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 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 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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In the Choir

How many times I've wished I were a singer, if only for singing in the shower ... but that gift seems to have been taken from me forever when my voice changed.

I have become an avid listener, instead.

It is from this listening that the metaphor for this poem arose. I do wish my voice might rise, realistically, not as a singer, but as a writer.

Even there, I am reconciled to the possibility that mine might not be a voice intended to be heard above the chorus of other writers' voices.

If that's the case, then, let my voice ... my writing ... remain steadfast, I say in this little poem.

There, now that I've explained the whole poem, I hope you will still take a look at "In the Choir," originally published in Capper's.

As always, I know that the reader brings a special point of view ... a special knowledge ... to the poem ... and I do enjoy the reader's perspective, the added dimension this gives to what I've written.

I appreciate your taking time to drop by ... even if it's just to "sit for a spell" and listen to my ramblings ... but if you choose to join the conversation by leaving a comment, well ... that's always icing on the cake. In either event, many thanks. I'll keep trying.



Oh, that my voice
might soar like
a tenor's rising
as clearly as a bell
from the choir,
but if that wish
is not to be, then
let me remain
a faithful voice
among the many,
my song steadfast.

© 1998

Today's word: dimension

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heading South

I was out for my daily walk when I saw those geese rising ... stood watching them ... don't remember if I sat at the next bus stop to put my reactions on paper, or waited till I got home ... but I had a poem in the making, right there on that street.

The poem:


Just beyond the trees
giving up their gaudy
leaves of autumn, five geese
rise slowly, dark against
a mottled sky, heading
generally southward,
seeking those highways
that the wild geese take,
while I stand rooted
where chance has put me.
I shall think of them,
wishing vaguely that I had
their gift of flight
as I ride out the storms
of winter, waiting to hear
their honking again,
telling me the season
is breaking, melting into
spring, skein of renewal
linking those who can fly,
those who can only wish.
© 1997
(originally published in 
Today's word: renewal

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Early Writer

I write any time I can, but I've found mornings best, before other details of the day ... yesterday's unfinished chores, today's agenda ... begin pressing in.

Still, I'm not naturally a morning person.

I don't spring out of bed singing and laughing and dancing.

I'm not a total grump either. It's just that I'm not fully wound at that time of the day, as evidenced by this little poem ... which is, itself, further evidence of why I don't write much rhyme, and perhaps shouldn't.

But here's the poem:


Up at the crack of dawn
After a restless night,
Sleeves rolled up, thinking cap on.
The time has come to write.
Outline great, title gold,
The rest should be a snap,
But I feel vaguely old,
Like I should take a nap.
Still, I grope for the keys,
Get set to take the leap.
One moment, if you please:
My brain is still asleep.

© 1999
(originally published in 
PKA's Advocate)

Today's word: asleep

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Biking by Degrees

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

Friday, September 24, 2010


I arrived early at a place in the country where a few of us were gathering to share poetry.

I had time to do a little walking, so I headed down a path that eventually wound its way around a small lake. It was so quiet there ... that is, there was an absence of traffic noises, nobody was setting off fireworks ...

It was quiet in respect to the usual sounds I've become accustomed to, but there was a lot of "conversation" going on as the birds were calling it a day, settling into roosting or nesting places for the night.

I had forgotten how they sounded at that time of day, as though discussing their activities, discoveries they had made, narrow escapes they'd had ... and, I imagined, reassuring each other of the relative safety night would bring.

I was musing about that, enjoying the wildflowers along the path, the aromas gently enfolding me, the relative absence of mosquitos ... when I noticed movement in the grass ahead.

Ah, a ground squirrel, I thought ... but no, as I ventured nearer, it turned out to be a very young bird who apparently had left the nest too soon. It stared at me with interest and no evidence of fear as I gave it a wide berth.

Ah, but the parents. They were a different matter. They swooped and scolded me for intruding ... and one of them followed me some distance along the path as I kept moving toward completion of my circuit.

I kept hoping this story had a happy ending ... that the youngster was rescued, was at least watched over ... and will be ... until it's ready to fly off to seek other adventures.

It occurred to me that we ... and nature ... do seem at times to intrude on each other ... but we seem to manage a sort of accommodation ... and life goes on.

All of which has so little to do with today's poem ... except, perhaps, the aroma of those path-side blossoms which reminded me of this little piece ... and I dusted it off again for today.


The freshness
after summer rain,
honeysuckle wafting,
pie still bubbling,
smoke of a wood fire,
that new-car smell.
In a former time,
our aromatherapy.
© 1996
(originally published in 
Today's word: honeysuckle

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Already Pocketed

"Writer's block"? I'm not sure it exists.

Oh, there are times when the ideas flow with the slowness of cold molasses ... there are times when the well seems to have gone completely dry ... but usually not for long.

I always carry a scrap of paper and a pen or pencil, just in case.

Then there are times when the thoughts come gushing forth ... and I wish I had my handy-dandy pocket recorder with me, so I could capture them in the midst of the heavy traffic that I'm trying to pick my way through.

Thoughts ... writing-related ideas ... are, indeed, fleeting ... and the intervals between them can seem to be endless ... but "writer's block"?

I don't really think there is such a thing ... and I hope I'm right.

I hope I can keep riding down this seemingly never-ending trail ... writing and sharing ... until ... well, until the very end.

And now, today's poem:


when I search
the rock pile
of my mind
for new ideas
to grind
and polish,
my hand goes
to a pocket
where one lies
already shaped
and shined,
just waiting
for a setting
worthy of it.
© 2000
(originally published in 

Today's word: pocketed

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Summer Showdown

I've recently been lulled into a sense of invincibility (OK, so I'm exaggerating just a bit) ... actually, I have been thoroughly enjoying the somewhat cool weather we've been having ... during the nights, at least.

I tried to contain myself, though, and speak cautiously about it, because I know it's going to come to a sudden halt. This is Ohio, after all.

Story of my life.

The coolness ends suddenly, and the heat is back. Then as I sit at the sizzling keyboard at mid-morning, the temperature still rising, I can almost hear eggs frying on the sidewalks around town.

Summertime! It's officially over, right? But, judging from some of the recent afternoon temperatures, it doesn't know that. 

Anyway, I'm really ready for steady, cool ... not COLD, mind you ... but cool, pleasantly cool weather ... ple-e-e-e-ase.

Meanwhile, today's poem:

Summer sun’s so boiling hot
I can almost hear the soft
clinking of spurs, stealthy
creaking of the boardwalk,
a sudden, smothering silence
in which the buzz of a fly
sounds sinister, foretelling
a showdown on the sun-baked,
hoof-pocked, clatter-plaited
street, where a tumbleweed
pauses in the sanctum of shade
cast by a tumble-down saloon,
where I stand, suddenly struck
by a lightning flash of thirst.
© 2003
(originally published in 
St. Anthony Messenger; now part of a manuscript in search of a publisher)
Today's word: tumble-down

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I've often said that I can't rhyme worth a dime ... but here I go again.

I keep trying. For me it's something like trying to leap over a high picket fence ... uphill ... and on a slippery slope, at that. I have trouble maintaining any kind of a rhyme scheme while trying to tell a story ... if, indeed, I have a story to tell.

I keep promising that I won't, but I do ... keep trying, that is. It's simply the challenge, I guess.

The result? Today's poem ... a double-edged blunt blade, if you will ... a poem about the difficulty ... at least the difficulty I have ... with keeping promises, especially to myself ... a poem in rhyme.

And I can't promise you that it won't happen again.

I keep being drawn back to this difficult task. I keep thinking that this time it will go well and I'll end up with something I can share with others. But it seldom does.

Today's illustration, I suppose, speaks to promises unkept ... I prefer to think of them as promises I will keep ... just as soon as I can get around to them.

Actually, it represents things I should've done yesterday ... must do today ... but probably will still be working on tomorrow.

Ah, tomorrow ...

Meanwhile, today ... and the poem:


I begin my year
With high resolve,
But my plans, I fear,
Start to dissolve
As the new wears off
The leaf I've turned
And the flames flare off
Bridges I've burned.
© 1996
(originally published in 
Mature Living)
Today's word: rhyme

Monday, September 20, 2010

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

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So many times, it seems, poems simply come to me of their own accord. I think of them as gifts.

They are definitely gifts to me ... and I'm glad when I can share them with others.

When this one came to me, it was speaking of those poems ... and notes ... random jottings ... scribblings ... items on their way to becoming poems ... all of which I will leave behind ... as someday I must.

I don't dwell on that a lot, but the thought intrigues me ... particularly the idea of these little poems ... or the notes written on scraps of paper ... thoughts which never quite made it into poetry ... being able to flit around, like butterflies released ...

I like that mental picture.

And now, the poem:
Someday they'll find
these little things
I tried to write,
things that might have
become poems, had I been
able to find the words
I needed for the beauty,
the sorrow, the pain,
the joy of what they
really were. Had I just
found the words.

I hope they will turn
them loose, let them
fly like the butterflies
I always supposed them
to be, free to find
a flower, another, and
ever another, across
the sunlit valleys
of thoughtful minds.
© 1998
(originally published in 
PKA's Advocate)

Today's word: sunlit

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Autumn's Leaves

I know ... those who have long memories will recall having seen this one before ... but I hope they ... and you ... will forgive my repeating myself.

It is autumn-like again here in Ohio ... and the trees in my neck of the woods have begun showing tinges of autumn hues.

Now where did I put that rake?

Even with all the raking involved, I still consider autumn my favorite season. Oh, there are certain redeeming qualities about spring, the new growth signaling the end of winter. And summer, too, if it doesn't get unbearably hot ... I like the good walking that season provides. And even winter has its moments of beauty.

But autumn ... well, there's just something about autumn ... quiet, cool evenings ... the play of late sunshine across the colors of the foliage ... and sunrise ... oh, sunrise simply outdoes itself. I like the show that the trees provide. Always have. Always will ... even with all that raking.

The poem:


Across the fence,
my neighbor's trees
droop with tons
of gorgeous leaves,
and here I stand
with a single rake
to defend against
the inevitable.
© 1996
(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: inevitable

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Surprise

Speaking of memories, it's time and distance which make memories so sweet ... they've been stored away for such a long time ... seasoning, taking on new flavors with each visit back to them.

Today's poem deals with some of my earliest memories ... living with my grandparents ... beginning to discover the wonders of the world around me ... seeing things for the first time.

I still try to look at things that way ... as though I'm seeing them for the first time. I discover so many things that way ... and, if I can get my observations on paper soon enough, they may go on to become a poem:


My mind's long lens
goes zooming back
to pre-school years
when I first discovered
those magic leaves,
a sea of crinkly color
lying like carpet
on my grandparents'
dusty front yard,
swirling, scattering
like scared kittens
when I went charging
through fiery reds,
golden yellows,
browns, all the way
to Grandma's hug,
her chuckle joining
my own laughter
at being a part of
that autumn surprise.

All these years later,
I still see those
magic leaves as though
for the first time,
hear that chuckle
so close to my ear.
(originally published in 
Candlelight Poetry Journal)
Today's word: discovery

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accepting Change

I don't know where I'd be, if I hadn't accepted change ... a lot of change ... make that changes ... along the way.

I can remember when television was just an idea ... something far, far down the road. 

Likewise the idea of sitting at a keyboard (I'd done that, thank you very much) ... but with the typed words appearing on a screen, much like a TV screen, in front of the writer.

Yeah, sure. I could accept the concept, but had serious doubts about ever witnessing such a thing in my lifetime.

And here I am, sitting at a keyboard, watching as the letters turn into words and the cursor keeps crawling across the screen.

Oh, and the idea of someone ... a human being ... actually ever setting foot on the moon. 

I came to accept that as reality, too.

I've even learned to accept some of the fashions I've seen over the years ... not for me, though ... but for others. 

But I think it's the smaller things ... smaller,  personal things ... and I won't go into detail here ... except to say that they involve habits, like hanging onto old magazines long after I've finished reading them ... or picking up a pencil or a crayon someone has lost near a school ... things like that ... habits that I simply find hard to give up.

Oh, and yes, the other day, as I finally discarded a watercolor brush which had worn out eons ago, it occurred to me that perhaps I should get some sworn statements from witnesses. 

How else was I to convince Phyllis that I had thrown something ... anything ... away?

And I guess we might as well include my inclination to say I won't go into detail ... and then unleash an avalanche of detail. I find it hard to break that habit, too.

I guess you get the idea. I find it hard to accept change ... in certain areas.

Meanwhile, the poem:


I'm not always
a willing partner,
but I must go
with the times,
leaving a trail
of scuff marks
where I've been
dragged along.
© 1998
(originally published in 
Today's word: change

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

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:


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