Monday, December 31, 2012

Because We Must





Some of you may have seen today's poem before.

It even made a guest appearance on "Squiggles & Giggles" ... a bit of history here ... my then-weekly ... free, mind you, free... e-mailed newsletter about writing ... and a multitude of other subjects.

But AOL put a stop to that free weekly newsletter.


Meanwhile ... I'm always a little surprised ... on the verge of amazed ... at the amount of discussion this little poem fires up. But that's what the newsletter ... we called it "S&G" ... was all about.

"Because We Must" created a lot of discussion ... but none of those ugly fights in the parking lot afterward. I'm glad for that.

I was thinking about "Because We Must" this morning.

Mainly I was thinking about what I had said about this little poem once before:

When we strip away the outer trimmings, the pretense, the spins which have become the standard of the day, what do we have left?

The truth.

And I like that. Writing, with a few exceptions, is certainly not for the money. Not really. 

That's true, even with those who write for pay.

They ... and we ... write because we must

Because we're looking for a truth ... THE TRUTH, perhaps.

Oh ... and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

For now, the poem:

BECAUSE WE MUST

A voice whispers
and we listen.
Again. We answer,
more rapidly now,
with paper and pen.
We write
because we must.
No ear may hear
our stories, nor
voice answer our
earnest pleadings,
and still we write.
Because we must.
© 2005

(originally published in PKA's Advocate)

Today's word: impelled

Sunday, December 30, 2012

At the Wheel





I sometimes write about driving ... or other drivers ... but not today.

The wheel referred to in today's poem is a potter's wheel ... that device on which a glob of clay is tossed, then, with an expert touch as the wheel goes whirling round and round, gradually becomes a work of art.

It may become something quite fragile, or it may turn out to be a very substantial piece, depending on the imagination ... and skill ... of its creator.

I feel that same process at work when I "toss a glob of words on the wheel" (I always hope it's a somewhat orderly collection of words, even in the beginnings of a poem). Then the revision, the serious shaping and reshaping, begins.

Over time those words take on new shapes, new meanings, sometimes quite fragile, sometimes substantial. Then I let the reader judge ... in light of his or her own experience, for the reader always brings something to the poem.

This one was originally published in Candlelight Poetry Journal:

AT THE WHEEL

I sit watching
these words
mounded, whirling,
rising at the touch
of my fingers,
becoming something
I shall slide
into the glowing kiln
of understanding
and, warmed by it,
stand marveling
at what I've made.
© 1998

Today's word: substantial

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What a Gift!






It wasn't always thus, nor will it always be. 

I'm not naturally a morning person, and I don't recall exactly what I had in mind when I wrote this one; perhaps I was trying to cheer myself up.

Perhaps I had just discovered the magic of retirement: No more punching the clock, no more deadlines, no more phones ringing ... no more ...

It may well have been that I was recalling my childhood outlook, that time in my life when each day seemed a new adventure, a new leaf, a new chapter in the book that was to become my life.

I don't know. 

But I do know that I look forward to the new day now ... despite some of the concerns that always seem to have spilled over from the day before ... like computer problems ... and the frantic effort to catch up on postings here.

It does beckon like a new toy and, best of all, it comes with "batteries included," whether "just for me" or not. 

WHAT A GIFT!

What excitement
as I tear off
the wrapping paper,
open the box,
and find inside
a whole new day,
 
batteries included,
just for me.
© 1996

(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: gift

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sun Catcher






Delia was my grandmother. I can still see her in that cold kitchen, the old wood-burning stove starting to throw out some heat, the skillet in place, waiting for warmth, a dab of oleo, an egg.


The kitchen faced west, but there was a side window that caught a bit of the morning sun. That's where the "film of frost gathered the gold ... poured it softly, like warm milk ... "


Of course, our memories become polished with much handling ... they take on a sheen far beyond that of the original event, and that has happened with this mental picture I still carry with me.


Oh, how I treasure it. The poem was originally published in A New Song:


SUN CATCHER


A film of frost
gathered the gold
of morning sun
on the window,
poured it softly,
like warm milk,
into the kitchen
where Delia
stood working,
embracing her
with a radiance
like the words
of her prayer
being whispered
to the music
of preparations
for another day.
 © 1998
Today's word: sheen

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sleepless Night






Today's poem addresses something I've experienced at various times ... and is for all those nights before air-conditioning ... or without it ... when I was growing up, when I was in military service, later, in a rented room here and there ... and even later.


There were a lot of those.


It's for those lonely nights when a siren would signal the approach of flashing lights which would go dancing across the ceiling and splashing on down the street.


Once or twice that siren and those lights were for me. But "not this time ... old pals."


It's for the times I listened to the crickets picking up the threads of conversation in the darkness ... and I lay listening to the night ebbing away.

I don't dwell too much on the past, but it does provide the foundation for today ... and tomorrow. It does bear some thought. I try to give it that, and I'm glad when a poem is the end result, especially when that poem eventually finds a good home. This one was originally published in Riverrun.


SLEEPLESS NIGHT


A sharp-edged siren
comes careening through
my open window, scant
warning of lights
that will go slashing
across my ceiling,
tumbling pell-mell
in the littered street,
spattering buildings
with fiery colors
that ooze and fade.


Not this time
for me, old pals.
Not this time.


Slowly, like strangers
waiting for a bus,
crickets pick up loose
threads of conversation,
and I lie listening
to another night
burning itself out,
the welter of chirrups
reeling in another
 
sweltering day.
© 2000

Today's word: threads

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflecting






In the early days, when I received an acceptance of something I'd written, I felt like dancing on the table in celebration.

In all honesty, I never did dance on the table (or anywhere else, for that matter). But I did feel like dancing, and the table seemed the appropriate place ... then.

I still don't dance on the table.

But then I got an e-mail from Finishing Line Press, publisher of Chance of Rain, my collection of poems all about rain, or its absence ...

Gist of the e-mail: "Congratulations! Your book is now listed on Amazon.com ... "

Oh, wow! I was so excited about that ... and I still am ...

But now, the poem:

REFLECTING

Winter rain trickles

and skitters this evening

as it travels down the slope

of my skylight, like spent

minutes picking their way

through another lonely

night, or a speckled mirror

held to reflect the tangled

yarn basket of my mind.
© 2003


(One of my poems from Chance of Rain, a small, limited-edition collection, issued by Finishing Line Press)

Today's word: dancing

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Only Tree




(A "family" of cedar trees which caught my eye on one of my daily walks ... and stirred memories)

We are rooted in the places of our beginning.


Oh, we may develop tendrils as we reach for new ideas, seek new adventures, pursue careers. 

We may even become "tumbleweeds," traveling the countryside ... perhaps visiting ... and even settling ... abroad.


But our roots remain in those places where we began, and this is apparent to us when we sit quietly, thinking ... really just thinking.


One example, in my case, involves Christmas trees. Ours was always a cedar tree, because they grew so abundantly on the hills overlooking our home. It was a special treat to go trudging out with Grandpa ... a few days before Christmas ... to pick just the right tree ... not too tall ... not too skinny ... for our living room.


There was just something about the smell of cedar filling the whole house.


When I saw another kind of Christmas tree ... on my first visit to Chicago, which seemed so distant, like another planet ... I couldn't believe THAT was their Christmas tree.


It didn't look like OUR tree at all. Its branches seemed almost bare, compared to what I had been accustomed to. It didn't have that cedar smell. And it certainly didn't have the bird's nest which I had come to expect to find somewhere in our tree.


Oh, I've finally come around to accepting other kinds of Christmas trees ... even the artificial models ... but I still find myself thinking about those other trees from my early years.


The poem:


THE ONLY TREE

I grew up believing
that a cedar was
the only true tree
for Christmas,
plain, struggling
stubbornly
on hillside clay,
having so much
in common
with folks like us.
© 1996
(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: cedar

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Moon Tonight





I grew up in the country ... not on a farm, but in the country ... away from city lights.

As a result of that ... and hearing my gandfather talk so many times about the phases of the moon ... its importance in the planting of crops ... knowing about its pull on those distant oceans ... its effect on young lovers ... I was always intrigued by the moon.

The front porch swing provided a great vantage point for watching the giant harvest moon rising slowly over the hills.

I remember being so intrigued by the quarter moon ... the new moon ... the moon showing in the late daytime sky.

When one lives in the city, though, the moon can become a forgotten item ... unless it really asserts itself as we're coming up the driveway on a late-winter evening.

Then there's no denying it. I still remember that evening ... can almost hear a choir, singing a cappella, celebrating the rising of that moon.

The poem:

THE MOON TONIGHT

What a gorgeous sight,
lodged in the darkness
of the walnut tree,
the nearer maples joining
to hold it, glowing
in the late-winter sky,
broken, and yet whole,
like a stained-glass
window catching evening
light, holding it high
under the ceiling while
voices rise in song.
© 2004


(originally published in Capper's)


 Today's word: a cappella

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lattes for Two



(Just a photo of an old fence, you say? Oh, but I think fences ... old ones in particular ... have things to say to us, if we will just listen)
                                   
Meanwhile:

Each of my poems has a past life.

Sometimes that background is quite complicated ... though the poems are usually pretty straightforward ... ordinary subjects presented with few adornments.

This one, I suppose, might be considered as having a "complicated" earlier life. I'll try to present the short version.

When I started painting, I simply started painting. It was later that I decided it wouldn't hurt to have a few lessons ... maybe a lot of lessons ... but that's another story.

When I started writing poetry, it was much the same. Eventually, I signed up for a class.

Needless to say, I was an older student ... THE oldest in the group, even counting the instructor. The class was very accepting of me, though, and I really enjoyed it.

Among those with whom I became acquainted was a young student who worked part-time in a coffee shop.

Possibly because I reminded her of her grandfather, she one day gave me a couple of coupons for free coffees.

Phyllis and I couldn't resist. We were soon sitting under the umbrellas, sipping our coffees ... er, lattes. It was the first latte I had ever had. I found it rather nice ... inspiring, in fact.

The rest is history, as they say.

The poem:

LATTES FOR TWO

We're sipping vanilla lattes while sitting
beneath the umbrellas outside the coffee shop,


enjoying the soothing warmth of the cups
against our hands, the coffee sweet and gentle,


not aggressive, as it can sometimes be.
In my coffee and cigarette days, I slugged down


many a cup, always automatically topping off
after absently stubbing out another butt


and lighting up again, phones ringing, nerves
jangling, my paradigm of perpetual dependence.


But I've grown independent of such things,
an enforced laying to rest of my worst habits


in these years of summing up, a slow falling away
from a tendency to overindulge in so many


things that cheered me up or calmed me down.
Until today. Lured inside by the tempting offer


of a sample, I've wavered, weakened, lifted the cup
again, and after a few tentative sips to make sure

my taste buds weren't playing tricks on me, I think
I might be hooked, feel myself being reeled in.


Oh, if Eve had only suggested a hot, sweet latte
back then, what a different world this might be.
© 2005


(Part of a my third collection, Wood Smoke, issued by Finishing Line Press. To visit the Finishing Line Press site, please click here:


Thank you for taking a look.)

Today's word: hooked

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Interlude






Today's poem likely began life somewhat larger than the version I'm sharing with you.


That's not unusual. When a poem ... or what may become a poem ... begins to present itself to me, I often just let the words go trickling across the page.


Sometimes that works. Sometimes not.


In between that kind of beginning, and publication, there is a lot of revision. That usually means tightening.

Fewer words. More left to the imagination of the reader.


Does this one work? Well, the editor thought it did ... but I tend to think the reader has the final say on that.


If you've ever watched the sunshine come crawling (swarming?) through a window, the poem may work for you as it did for me. If not, well, ... it may still be food for thought:


INTERLUDE

See how the sun
comes crawling
through the window,
like hungry bees
on a single sprig
of goldenrod.
© 1997

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)

Today's word: crawling

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hills






Today's poem pretty well tells its own story, I think. 

The hills I'm referring to are in the extreme southern portion of Illinois, an area that was sometimes referred to as "Little Egypt," perhaps still is. 

I grew up there. With military service, schooling and marriage, I left that area, but for many years we returned at least once each year. 

Now those kinds of travel are pretty much in abeyance ... as my orbit remains quite close to my present home ... 

Still, I travel back there in my thoughts ... and sometimes in my dreams ... particularly during those times when the peach trees are in blossom across the hills. 

My timing, I'm afraid, is a bit off ... but I have been thinking again of those beautiful peach trees "in full array" ... how the hills seemed so alive with them ... so inviting ... and, oh, how I miss seeing them in person!

The poem:

HILLS


Rolling smokey-green hills
keep calling me back to my
beginnings, where generations
of my people scratched out

a living, a sprinkling of small
victories for those, a stubborn
and proud people, laboring
to the cadence of the seasons,

while I, like so many others,
drifted away, lured by dreams
of a better world somewhere
just beyond the harsh horizon,

making a promise to return;
and now, with the peach trees
in full array, those hills are
calling again, and I must go.
© 2006

(Originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: array

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Good Deed




My reaction at the time the event occurred went from puzzlement ... to surprise ... to that pleasant feeling you get when somebody does a good turn for you ... and doesn't want, in fact, would refuse, anything in return.


The poem tells that story.


Oh, I suppose my neighbor was grateful for the small favors we did him and his family when they had a house fire shortly after moving in. But he didn't owe us anything for our help, either.


That's what neighbors do for each other.


He was grateful then ... and I was certainly grateful for all that shoveling he was doing for me. I had been waiting out the storm, dreading the task that confronted me.


Then, suddenly, there he was, the good neighbor.


If I were to go ahead with this, I'd probably become preachy ... so, I'll just say that this one was originally published in The Christian Science Monitor:


THE GOOD DEED


All day the snow
has come sifting down,
obscuring objects
in our shaken globe,
and I'm standing
staring out the window
when I see the shape
of a person who's
obviously been driven
wild by the storm,
who pauses and turns
into someone I know
... my neighbor,
shoveling my
 walk.
© 2003

Today's word: shoveling

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fickle Petunias





(I know, these definitely aren't petunias ... but that's another story ... so let's just consider them stunt doubles ... and I hope you won't mind)



There's something about walking ... that steady rhythm ... the relative quiet ... the way thoughts float in and out ... nothing in particular ... just random thoughts ...

One of my favorite walking routes ... even in dry years ... is blessed with flowers.

It's obvious that the owners ... give a lot of thought to the flowers' gift of color ... that they tend them carefully ... and they enjoy sharing the beauty of flowers with others.

This poem is an outgrowth of some of those flowers.

Actually, I only became casually aware of this particular clump of blossoms ... my thoughts were wandering ... and then it seemed that the blossoms were actually nodding at me ... as if in greeting.

I thought about that ... thought about it some more ... and when I got back home, I sat at the kitchen table and wrote this little whimsical piece:

FICKLE PETUNIAS

I have a nodding
acquaintance
with some petunias
who bob excitedly
when I walk by,
but then they
do the same when
a stranger passes.
© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: excitedly

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Encounter





(It has nothing to do with today's poem ... I just felt like sharing my little watercolor with you)

It was such a strange encounter. I was startled, but not frightened. After all, it just took me a second or two to realize that what I was seeing was my own reflection.

But I'll never forget that feeling, as I turned slowly, not thinking about anything in particular ... perhaps about where my bus was, when it would pull up at that corner ... and there was this reflection in the store window, a reflection so much like the image of my grandfather, one I had carried in memory for so many years ...

I had never thought that I looked very much like him. Still, that first glance at the reflection was like seeing him again ... my reaction, as I saw it in that window, was like seeing him reach out for me ... again ... as he did when I was just two years old, and needed a home.

It didn't occur to me to rush home and write about the encounter. I wasn't writing poetry then. But, much later, when I began learning the practice of sitting in a quiet place, waiting for the words to come to me, these are the ones that made their presence known to me:

ENCOUNTER

There was no mistaking the slope

of his shoulders, the shape
of his head; it was my grandfather
staring from the store window
while I stood in sprinkling rain
waiting for an afternoon bus.


I recalled how it was raining
when I had stood in uniform
at his deathbed in that darkened
room, how I had wanted to say
things he could not hear, how I
had finally broken and wept.


And now, all these years later,
I watched as he reached his hand
toward me, the unwanted child,
then, as I stood watching his image
blur in the rain against the window,

we knew I had finally become him.
© 2003

(part of my first collection of poetry, Chance of Rain, issued by Finishing Line Press, 2003)


Today's word: image

Monday, December 17, 2012

Deadly Sin





Let's see, now. I was riding along on a city bus. My stop was coming up, so I had put my magazine inside my briefcase ... snug there beside my lunch ... and I was sleepily watching the street signs.

Actually, I guess I was watching buildings and store signs, more than anything. I had ridden this route so many times, I hardly had to watch for street signs.

Then I heard it.

The click of a ballpoint pen was unmistakable. The sound came from the seat immediately behind mine. Obviously, somebody was preparing to write something.

Was it a thought which had just jumped out at them? A line for a poem? Maybe just a reminder. Maybe another item on the grocery list. But writing.

Someone writing! Another writer? Someone who, like I had done so many times on the bus, was jotting something down that would later become a real poem?

Oh, how tempting it was to turn to see this person ... to ask, "Are you a writer?" To ... well, the poem says it all:

DEADLY SIN

I heard the click of a pen
in the seat behind me,
imagined the scratch of words
across paper, the beginnings
of something so compelling
I was tempted to turn, to peer,
suggest, but resisted as though
in the presence of deadly sin,
and at the next stop got off
the bus, feeling I had been cast
out of The Garden as the doors
folded firmly shut behind me.
© 1998

(originally published in ByLine)

Today's word: tempted

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Conversations




Today's poem is about those spring-time "conversations" which seem to go on so furiously around ponds. Frogs! There seem to be hundreds ... maybe thousands ... of them, all adding their voices to the din.


I remember them well from the place where I grew up ... they seemed to be in especially good voice at night ... somehow conveying a certain kind of "all's well" to the listener.


But, feeling my way back through the fog of memory, I don't think I heard them this year. Maybe I just wasn't in the right place at the right time.


Could it be that I haven't been listening? Or that I've simply ... well, forgotten?


Meanwhile, today's poem:


CONVERSATIONS

How vexing to hear
the voices of those
I could not see
abruptly going silent,
like the gabble of pupils
halting in the presence
of a new teacher.


Then, after I'd passed,
renewed murmur of gossip
growing rumor-upon-rumor,
going mouth-to-ear, flying
too swiftly to follow,
too dense to filter
into any semblance
of real meaning.


If I dared step too near,
I heard sounds like stones
plopping into water,
new silence ascending,
a sense of being watched
by large, careful eyes
judging me from the depths
of a green-coated pond.
© 1997

(originally published in M.O.O.N. Magazine)

Today's word: gabble

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bubble






(No, those obviously aren't bubbles, but a cluster of lights which caught my eye at one of my favorite walking places, Lincoln Park)


This little poem is laced with memories.

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

This time I was riding the bus. Sitting near the front, on one of those aisle-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, 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:

BUBBLE

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beginning





When I was in high school, I was a runner, a sprinter, mostly, because I found I could more readily tolerate brief bursts of all-out effort, followed by moments in which my heartbeat returned to normal and my breathing became easy. I found the distance competition simply too punishing.

Oh, I ran distances. That was part of the training. I competed some in the distance events, too, but I relished the explosion out of the starting blocks and the swift crunch-crunch-crunch of spikes digging into the cindered track, the lean into the tape at the end of the sprint, the sudden halt, the quick recovery.

I lived to run - to sprint.

Little wonder that I dreamed about running. I still do, sometimes, but the result of that, now, is that I often wake up with leg cramps.

This poem is the result of one of my dreams of running a lonely, nighttime race, then finding my track coach there at the finish line, as he so often had been.

"Beginning" was honored with the First Place award in a Sports Poem contest sponsored by The Listening Eye, literary magazine on the Geauga Campus of Kent State University.

The poem:

BEGINNING

No crowd had leaned
forward and no shouts
had floated to my ears
except the faint few
from a group of friends
in the highest seats,
but on I ran through
a starlit, ominous
night, my crunching
footsteps echoing,
not knowing whether
the race was entering
the gun lap, barely
beginning; suddenly
ahead there loomed
the finish-line tape,
beyond which I aimed,
thrusting through
the way I was taught,
staggering to a halt,
blue stars bursting
in my oxygen-starved
brain, long-dead Coach
beside me, saying,
"I knew you could."

© 2000

Today's word: staggering

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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 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:


AT SUNSET


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, December 12, 2012

Waiting to Play





This is another "walking" poem.

I had no idea, when I took up walking as a regular, daily pursuit, that it would also lead to poetry ... or at least fragments of thought that might become something akin to poetry.

But there's something about the rhythm, the cadence of walking, that seems to stimulate words and phrases.

When this happens, I try to keep them in mind until I get home ... where I used to sit at the kitchen table while I jotted them down to share with Phyllis later.

Now I usually head to the computer.

In this case a scattering of leaves on the sidewalk caught my attention.

It struck me that they looked like colorful, broken pieces ... how the sunlight danced across them ... and some of them seemed to come to life when a breeze came gliding through.

From there it was just a short leap to imagining that the leaves were really waiting for children to come out to play with them.

Those images turned into this little poem:

WAITING TO PLAY

The leaves lie
like broken pieces
of fine porcelain,
catching sunlight
in the autumn quiet,
stirring slightly
as a breeze comes
gliding through,
but mostly they’re
waiting for children
to come romping out
to play with them.
© 1999
(originally published in Capper's)


Today's word: romping

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tall







I don't often do dream poems ... that is, poems about dreams ... simply because I have trouble recalling the dreams when I wake up.


This one was different, though.


I had this sense, as I say in the poem, of actually being taller than John Wayne on his horse. What a feeling that was. I wrote down what I recalled of that feeling.


Then, later ... that's right, pardner ... this one turned into a poem about writing, a subject that I find mysterious and perplexing. Even when the words come together neatly to form a poem, I'm sometimes puzzled as to how that really happened.


Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not completely baffled by the writing process, but it sometimes seems that poems, in particular, "write themselves," and I can't help expressing some amazement at that.


And now, the poem:



TALL

I dreamed that I
was tall, taller than
John Wayne, taller than
John Wayne on his horse,
and I just stood there
looking tall

and silent,


looking at all those
people looking up
at me, at last,
looking down at them,
but treating them
quietly as equals,


because that's the way
it is with me,
pilgrim,
no matter how tall
I get, nor how many
poems I’ve roped
and led home.
© 2000

(originally published in ByLine)

Today's word: equals