Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Glorious Day






It was a glorious day.


It didn't start out that way. I'll spare you the details, but regular readers already know that most of my days don't start out ... let's just say that I'm not a morning person.


I attribute that to a symphony of aches and pains, certain stresses that never seem to go away - sorry about that ... I did promise to spare you the details, didn't I?


Let's just say that the day, as my days often do, thank goodness, got better as it wore on.


In the afternoon we attended the awards ceremonies for the annual Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest.


As always, I enjoyed the portion of the program in which I shared something I'd written, but I also enjoyed just sitting back and taking in the various voices of the other poets.


I was also honored to have been invited into the winners' circle.


My poem was written some time ago, but I liked it when it came to me one quiet evening, and I never lost faith in it. 


Once again, I'm dealing with the subject of writing in the poem - and I'm no expert on that, I always hasten to add.


But let's let the poem tell the story:


A GLORIOUS DAY


Someday I shall lie abed
in the innocent hours
of the afternoon, too weak
to walk, too tired to talk,
but writing, because it
pleases me so, gives me 
great comfort, a purpose,
a sense of worth that makes
the hours pass like sugar
coating on a bitter pill,
and I shall curl my toes,
flex my tired fingers,
while remarking, to no one
in particular, that this
has been a most remarkable
day, a time of butterflies
fluttering across my mind,
a glorious day of drowsy 
scratchings on the page, 
a time to go drifting
softly into sleep.


(2nd Place winner in 2009 Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest, Senior Division)


Today's word: fluttering

Friday, June 29, 2012

Favored Paths





My grandparents didn't have a car (as some of you may know, I grew up in their care) ... but that was no problem ... everything we could have wanted was within walking distance ... and trips, real trips? Well, there were passenger trains running then.


Under those circumstances, it's little wonder, I suppose, that I learned the benefits of walking.


For one thing, there was so much to see while walking ... it was a pleasure to focus on a particular view, then watch it slowly changing as the walking changed the angle at which it was seen.


The slower pace made it so easy to absorb what was seen ... to savor the flavor, so to speak.


So, when my doctor suggested ... OK, he may have been verging on insisting ... that I take up walking again ... it was no big deal, even when I first started and found it difficult to go all the way around the block.


I remembered ... I knew the benefits of walking. It was just a matter of time until I could get my body back into shape. 

Well, it took a little more time than I expected ... but I listened to my body along the way ... and moderated my pace, or increased it, accordingly.


And now a daily walk is automatically a part of my routine. I still enjoy the view(s), the pace ... and particularly the poems that sometimes come to me during my walks.


Today's poem, for example:

FAVORED PATHS

I like to walk
where the trees
drink the sunlight
and let only
stray droplets
speckle the earth,

where the squirrel
scampers unseen
to a cradling limb
and screeches
at the stranger
who dares intrude,

where lichens clutch
the brows of bluffs
sitting as in judgment
while merely waiting,
as they have been
through the ages,

where the tiny bird
flits and sings
its song of hope,
and my steps
are less labored
as I am renewed.

© 1996
(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: lichens

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Embrace of Sound




(One of my photographs, symbolizing nothing in particular - "mere interlude")


Another bit of ancient history.

The scene: Phyllis was called out of town because of an illness in her family. I was alone in "Brimm Manor" ... totally in charge, preparing the meals, doing the dishes ... all alone.

This may help in understanding the origin of the poem ... what started the wheels to turning, to bring the poem into being ... but really isn't essential to the poem itself. 

I'm speaking in a general way about the absence of familiar sounds, and what effect that absence can have on the individual.

The poem is also witness to the fact that poetry needn't always be a light, "happy song" rendition. Poetry can, and does, roam the range of human emotions.

I like the way this one came together, the way the silence symbolizes the loneliness which is at the core of it.

But I also like the happy ending, or at least the prospect of a happy ending in "embrace of our voices" ... and that last line: "preparation for a next great leap."

The poem:



THE EMBRACE OF SOUND


I endure the silence, knowing
it will end with a teakettle's
shrilling, the dog's ticking
toward water waiting to be lapped,
the phone's late-night ringing,
embrace of our voices, for this
is mere interlude, this intaking
of breath, this hunkering down,
preparation for a next great leap.

© 2001

(originally published in Potpourri)
Today's word: ticking

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dandelions





Sometimes even the writer is not sure of the full intent of a poem.

This one represents an attempt to capture one of my earliest memories. 

I was a pre-schooler, and we lived in town then. I remember the long, sloping yard as always being flooded with sunshine.

There was a cat, perhaps more than one ... and those beautiful golden dandelions. I remember tiger lilies, too, but it's the memory of those dandelions that stands out.

Whose hands they were, I'm not sure. My mother's or my grandmother's, I suppose.
I do recall plucking the blossoms and running with them like newly-found nuggets of gold. They were so bright, so treasured. I just had to share them.

Then the memory blurs, becomes "a tangle of wilt." The poem ends, but there are those "promises of things to come." And I sit here wondering ...

Meanwhile, the poem:

DANDELIONS

Plucked like pats
of butter amid
the swirling hum
of puzzled bees,
taken at a run
toward waiting
hands, lying now
a tangle of wilt
and promises
of things to come.
© 1999

(originally published in Potpourri)

Today's word: promises

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catching a Wave





(No waves evident here; I just thought it might be good to share one of my peaceful photos ... this one taken at Cox Arboretum ... with this particular poem)

I don't think I was intended to be a morning person. Mornings have always been a struggle for me.


I know, I know. Morning is the best part of the day for the writer. Other concerns have not begun to intrude. 
The house is quiet. The brain is rested, ready to rev. Here's a whole new day beckoning.


But for me it's ... well, it's just morning. It takes me a little while to build some momentum.


I roll over, get one foot on the floor, then the other. I stand. I go teetering off in the general direction of the keyboard. I find the switch, flick it on.


By this time I have both eyes open. Things are starting to come into focus. And then, look out. Oh, look out! I'm starting to roll. I may even be writing soon.


This one was first published in Capper's:


CATCHING A WAVE

Down the avenues of my early-morning
mind zooms a flood of crowded, honking
thoughts that seek a place to park.

I’m too tired to direct traffic, too stressed
to sort them out. That must wait till later,
tongue losing its taste of suede, on the

verge of talk. But then they’re gone, not
a thought in sight, not a word of that
early-morning roar. Perhaps tomorrow.
© 1999

Today's word: momentum

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beyond the Words






Regular visitors to "Chosen Words" know that I often discuss ... in far too much detail, I'm afraid ... a particular poem's origins ... what it was that prompted me to write a particular piece in a particular way.

That can be interesting sometimes ... and even helpful to the reader.

But I frequently overdo it. I hope to avoid that today by simply presenting the poem. 

Oh, if it happens to resonate in a certain way with you ... if it takes on a special meaning as you read it ... I'd certainly be glad to hear about that.

It's sometimes helpful to know what the readers feel I've said, rather than ... or in addition to ... what I think I've said.

Meanwhile:

BEYOND THE WORDS


I was born hungry for words
that tempted me like popcorn
on a string, rested lightly,
melted sweetly on my tongue.

I grubbed them out, devoured
them, savored their aftertaste,
grew in vision as their images
nourished and sustained me.

Now, lulled by the puffed up,
empty words I'm fed each day,
I sleep fitfully, wake up starved,
not for words, but for meaning.
© 2005

(published in the November, 2005, issue of Poem)

Today's word: hungry

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Aromatherapy




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.

AROMATHERAPY

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 Capper's)
Today's word: honeysuckle

Saturday, June 23, 2012

When, at Last, It Rains





I learned about rain, or its absence, at an early age. That happens when you grow up in a rural area. So much ... in fact, everything ... depends on rain, whether you have it or you don't, whether too little or too much.


That early experience shaped me, no doubt about it. It shaped my writing, too, when I finally took that up. It created the shape of my first collection of poems, published in 2003.


This particular poem requires little explanation, I believe. Except ... except that, while it is written as something which happened one evening, it is the sum of many evenings ... spent on the front porch, "watching the stars, counting the days since last rain."


It embodies my reaction to the ending of a long drought.


It could be taken further than that, if you wish, to a celebration, not just of the return of rain to the parched soil, but to the ending of one of the many kinds of droughts we endure in our lives.


WHEN, AT LAST, IT RAINS

I sense its talking to me in the depths
of my sleep, hear its melody settling


softly on my ear like a lover's whisper,
see it, with my mind's eye, falling


into a steady rhythm, slipping slowly
down the slope of the tattered roof


on the porch where I sat last week
watching the stars, counting the days


since last rain; then with a shout,
a slam of the screened back door, I'm


standing in the crusted yard, greeting
the rain with my arms outstretched,

dancing wildly with it, receiving its
healing kisses on my upturned face.
© 2006


(published in my first collection, Chance of Rain, issued by Finishing Line Press, 2003; included in Common Threads, issued by Ohio Poetry Association, Spring-Summer issue, 2006)

Today's word: healing

Friday, June 22, 2012

Transformation






I think today's poem requires little in the way of explanation.

When the idea came to me and I tried to capture it on paper, I struggled to squeeze as much into eight short lines as I possibly could.

I was operating then under the mistaken impression that Capper's ... where I was thinking I might submit it ... only published eight-line poems.

I believe, however, that I may have succeeded in conveying my central message: The world does take on a new aspect when we view it with "new eyes."

Oh, if we could just manage to maintain that perspective.

The poem:

TRANSFORMATION

The landscape
seems different
from yesterday,
brighter, softer,
and yet the same
in all details.
Could it be that
have changed?
 © 1996
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: transformation

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slice of Summer




Now I've done it.

In today's poem I've used a made-up word to describe what I think is going on.

I was going to say that I made it up out of thin air, but I think thick air would be more like it ... thick, moisture-laden summer air, so heavy with dampness that it feels like layer-upon-layer of water bearing down on us.

There's a related ... real word ... that has something to do with water and a cavity created in it.

I pictured the fan as doing something similar  with the heavy summer air. So, not finding a suitable word in my handy-dandy dictionary, I made up one.

It's like grabbing a tool ... one not really intended for the task at hand ... and making it serve a different function.

And my photo which accompanies today's entry?

Oh, that's a tranquil scene at Cox Arboretum, a local favorite walking place, with lots of shady places in the summer to sit and just enjoy the view.



But enough of that. The poem:

SLICE OF SUMMER

The cavitating fan,
patiently oscillating,
slicing the air,
lets it fall
like cold bacon
across the griddle
of my overheating
horizontal body.
© 1996
(originally published in Anterior Poetry Monthly)

Today's word: cavitating

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Renewable Glue







Someone, a person I'd never seen before ... likely would never see again ... had paused, held the door, and motioned for me to enter the store ahead of them.

I thanked them and walked on in.


Big deal. A few minutes later, when I was leaving the store, I had already forgotten about this small act of thoughtfulness, but I paused, held the door for the person behind me, then strode off to my car.


That's when I started thinking about these small acts of kindness that we bestow -- or withhold -- as we go about our daily routines.


How easily they become a part of our lives. Or how easily they are forgotten, neglected in our rush to get to the next red light ahead of everybody else.


They are such simple things, so easily given. They cost us nothing, yet have the potential of great dividends. 


What fragile threads they are, holding together the fabric of this thing we call civilization.

They are the "renewable glue" that holds us together, these little gifts we bestow on others, whether at the door, in the checkout line, or out there in the jungle that we call traffic.


What does it cost us to let someone else go ahead? 


As in the simplest childhood game, we'll "get our turn." 


Meanwhile, we've done a good turn, no matter that it's almost unnoticeable, for someone else. They may then do a good turn for someone else.

It has the potential for going on and on, this "renewable glue." It might even work on a larger scale than just person-to-person.


End of sermon ... now the poem:


RENEWABLE GLUE


An act of kindness,
a nod, a smile,
the door held open --
gifts easily bestowed,
yet vital as droplets
of renewable glue
keeping civilization
from falling apart.
 © 1995
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: renewable

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

On Waking





I grew up in hill country, where fog was rather common. I still identify waking up, the beginning of the day, with fog that lingers in the valleys.

It's something like the fog that lingers in my own head ... beading on the cobwebs there ... but that's another story.

Meanwhile, today's poem:

ON WAKING

The dense gray fog, that
silent stalker of valleys,
crept in like a dream
while we slept, lingered,
defying the sun's efforts
to take back this place
where the sassafras shares
a hillock with honeysuckle,
outdoing the dew itself,
globules riding a coolness
that speaks of changes
coming, a shift of seasons,
a briskness that will make
the covers more precious
in the morning, gentle fire
like a warm embrace when
evening brings us home.
© 2001

(originally published in Waterways)

Today's word: embrace

Monday, June 18, 2012

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):


MORNING FLIGHT


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, June 17, 2012

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 DAYS


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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

In Praise of the Mundane





(Today's art is a cooperative effort ... my grandson, Thomas, did the construction ... I took the photo ... quite a long time ago

It seems like only yesterday ... but obviously was a little longer ago than that ... when I shared my poem, "Ordinary Things," with you ... and mentioned that it was an outgrowth of a rejection.

In response to my request for his comments on some poems I had submitted, the editor had scrawled something about "mundane treatment of ordinary subjects" on the rejection slip. 


My initial reaction? I had hoped for something a little more constructive. 


But I managed. As a matter of fact, I managed to get two more poems out of that comment.


Oh, and both were subsequently published ... elsewhere. I think there's an obvious lesson in that ... so obvious that even Professor Squigglee (remember him?) would be unlikely to fly into a detailed explanation.


Today's poem:

IN PRAISE OF THE MUNDANE


I don't howl at the moon,
read the entrails of chickens,
plumb the mysteries that reside
in the implacable eyes of cats,
nor take up strange, aromatic
cigarettes, sip unaccumstomed
teas, nor leave my body
to roam the universe.

I do write across the chalkboard
of my mind, or on a torn paper,
an envelope, about simple things
that come to me of their own accord,
quiet, mundane things that I welcome
and treasure as old friends.
© 1996

(originally published in ByLine Magazine)
Today's word: mundane

Friday, June 15, 2012

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:

HEADING SOUTH

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 Capper's)
Today's word: renewal

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Glass, Drinking





(Just another photo I've snapped along the way ... this one at Cox Arboretum, one of my favorite walking places)

Today's poem is on such an ordinary subject ... and I'm sure the editor who once scrawled something to that effect on one of my poems would agree ... but I find many of my subjects in "ordinary things."

So much depends, I think, on how one looks at them.

I'm not exactly sure where ... or when ... the particular glass of this poem caught my attention.

It was a cheap green drinking glass ... I'm sure of that ... but it wasn't a recent observation, because the trains don't run past the house where I live. So it had to have been in the past ... perhaps the distant past.

But I do remember how that glass caught the light, and I can still see those few remaining droplets dancing.

The moment could have passed unnoticed. I'm sure there were other things ... far more important things ... going on. But I did notice, though I had no idea I would ever write a poem about it ... or write any poems, for that matter. 

I'm glad the memory was stored somewhere in the recesses of my mind, just waiting there for the right moment to show itself to me again.

It's just a small descriptive passage ... a single sentence, if it were presented as a bit of prose ... but I treasure the memory it represents ... and the other memories which keep it company.

Oh, how I wish I had a picture of it to share with you. Instead, there's a photo I snapped during one of my walks at Cox Arboretum. 


GLASS, DRINKING

It gathers the light to it, sparkling
with morning warmth, wraps itself
in rings so bright they might be taken
for some kind of pretense, but it’s
only a cheap green drinking glass,
empty except for a few remaining
droplets that tremble and dance
to the passing song of a rickety train
and then subside like an echo yielding
itself to the cold of late autumn fog.
© 2006

(originally published in St. Anthony Messenger)
Today's word: rickety

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Folding the Laundry






Memories! Where would we be without them?

Oh, how they help us to keep our bearings ... pointing out where we've been ... and sometimes helping us to remain pointed in the direction we should go.

They don't have to be of the greatest moments of our lives. They may even be of moments that could have been easily forgotten.

What, after all, is memorable about folding the laundry? Something obviously was ... and still is ... for me.

I still remember how the sun played across the items hanging from that sagging line ... how the movements of those items reminded me of dancing ... line dancing, I suppose ... long before I knew what line dancing was.

And now, before I wander off in some other direction, the poem:

FOLDING THE LAUNDRY

Still warm as though
just sloughed off
the bodies of wearers,
it yields softly
to my hands tonight,
recalling those times
Grandma and I pulled
sweet-smelling armloads
of hand-washed laundry
from a sagging line
in the back yard.

I feel the fatigue
again, bare feet
picking their way
among the honeybees,
finding little comfort
as she directed me
to look up, see
the clouds, which,
she insisted,
were somebody else's
laundry left out,
still flapping,
and now, an easing
of my tired back
as that memory
gently enfolds me.
© 1998
(originally published in Riverrun)

Today's word: flapping

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Echo



(Today ... for no particular reason ... one of my watercolor sketches)

Today's little poem recreates a childhood memory of the sound of my voice coming back to me, not literally saying, "lonely, lonely," but giving me a feeling of being alone in those woods, with just that echo for company.


Of course, this was only a momentary feeling, for there were other adventures to pursue, other trails to explore, other bluffs to climb, other voices to hear ... either those voices answering me or those calling me on.


Still, recognition that, for the moment, I was all alone there, listening, not to someone else repeating what I'd just said, but to my own young voice bounding faintly back to me, was a feeling not easily forgotten.


I still think of it sometimes when I become immersed in a certain kind of quiet.


Memories! How we cherish them, make them forever ours, polish them, enhance them, store them away, pull them out to comfort us in our old age.

The poem:

ECHO

The sound of my voice
hurried through the woods,
past sandstone bluffs,
went running across
cooling ridges,
dipped into hollows,
then came back to me,
repeating
lonely, lonely ... lonely.
© 1997

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)
Today's word: repeating

Monday, June 11, 2012

Detour - Expect Delays




Today's offering is obviously a summer poem, but it represents a "philosophy" ... an outlook ... which can be adopted almost any day of the year.


I think it was written on just one of those lazy, hazy, steamy days when I felt the backlog was secure ... no danger of avalanche, at least for the moment ... more important things, those pressing chores from day before yesterday ... and beyond ... could just wait their turn.


I think it's OK to do that sometimes ... to take time to look up from our everyday chores to see what's happening all around us ... the hollyhocks ... the cardinal ... the sunflowers.


Of course, the backlog will still be waiting ... but we can then approach it with the feeling that we're a little more evenly matched now. Try it. It works.


The poem:


DETOUR - EXPECT DELAYS


I have chores
to do, but it's such
a distracting day,
hollyhocks cupping
morning sunlight,
a cardinal swaying
in the evergreen,
a jury of sunflowers
eyeing me suspiciously,
as well they might,
for I, too, may just
follow the sun
the rest of the day.
© 1999

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: backlog

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clutter



(No, I don't think the photo represents "clutter." To me it's just the opposite, a slice of orderly progression ... from rough-edged to well-rounded stones. As to today's poem, I encountered a fellow writer/artist whom I hadn't seen for some time ... and he mentioned "Clutter" as one piece of my writing that he remembered. So here it is, again.) 
 
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, at least 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:


CLUTTER, GLORIOUS CLUTTER

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
teetering on 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

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Before I Gallop




No, I don't have any immediate plans for a big move.

When I wrote this one, I was beginning to think about the time when downsizing would be the practical thing to do. I looked around at all the things I had accumulated over the years, and it seemed an impossible task.

It still does.

It's really hard to turn loose of things ... I have trouble seeing them as being only "things" ... because they stir so many memories.

I'm actually making the effort now to turn loose of some items ... to use up others ... to give some away. It's still not easy, but I'm trying.

When I wrote the poem, I tried to take a light-hearted look at this dilemma which faces so many people.

Still, after one reading before a small group, one listener told me that she liked the poem, but found the ending a real downer. She thought I was referring to someting very dark there ... death.

That hadn't occurred to me ... in fact, was furthest from my thoughts. I was actually thinking of Hawaii, a place I've never been, but wouldn't mind seeing someday.

Meanwhile, back to the shredder ... but first, the poem:


BEFORE I GALLOP

The time has come,
in this hunkered down,
bunkered up life
of mine, to start
turning loose of all
those precious papers,
stacks of things
left unread,
undone, untouched
these many years,
to end each day
with less than I had
at the beginning,
to divest, to shed,
to shred, to trash
all those dear things
that I can't take
with me, whether
I simply move
to more fitting
local quarters, or go
the whole route,
whisking away
my tell-tale tracks,
then galloping off
toward some
distant paradise.
© 1999

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)

Today's word: furthest