Monday, September 30, 2013

Autumn Trees

(One of the photos I took during a visit to Pondview)

Yes, my children, there was a time ... no, not back in the days of the dinosaurs ... a little more recent than that ... when there were candy stores, and others, I suppose, which sold their sweet wares for a penny apiece (I hear that the price has gone up a bit since then).

The poem is not about the penny candy store, exactly, but it helps if you can bear that image in mind as you work your way through. 

Imagine, if you will, a place where there are so many choices all around you, each one seemingly more appealing than the one you just hovered over, and that one over there ... so mouth-watering alluring that you simply must have it.

No, wait ... there's another one.

Transfer that to a tree-lined highway at its autumn peak, you're driving along enjoying ... well, you've got the picture. This one was originally published in Capper's:


Lining the highway
like penny candies,
they invite us
to pick this one,
no, maybe that one
there, each seeming
a little prettier,
more alluring,
all bidding wildly
for those precious
pennies clutched
in our sweaty hand.

© 1998 

Today's word: alluring 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tomato Patch

How long ago ... and yet how vivid the memories of those childhood summers helping in the garden that my grandparents had each year.

I'm sure I wasn't much help in those early years. That came later, when I had the stature and muscles to be an effective weed chopper.

Oh, but I still recall how hot and steamy it was there ... how a bit of shade and a drink of water did seem to be so far, far away. But, as the poem indicates, those memories are still valuable to me ... I still treasure them.

Of course, memories tend to lose their rough edges over time. They become smooth and shiny ... much like the blade I remember, chopping those weeds, loosening the soil to help retain the moisture the plants so sorely needed.

The poem:


I found no poetry
in the tomato patch,
drone of a horsefly
drilling the silence,
drops of my sweat
salting the soil,
my hoe dispatching
smartweed, with shade,
a drink of water
so far away. Why,
then, do I miss
that seasoned handle,
so glassy-smooth,
sliding in my hands,
that dark blade
worn thin and shiny,
glinting like
treasure in the sun?
 © 1998
(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: glinting

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Solitary Candle

(Again, the illustration doesn't mesh readily with the poem, but this scene ... those stream-side rocks with their collection of autumn leaves ... happened to catch my attention ... there are so many vying for that ... and here it is)

I've shared today's poem with you before ... when I was having computer problems. And who hasn't had those?

I hoped that visitors would remain patient while my computer and I continued our recovery from our latest adventure/misadventure ... 

I was a little tentative, but I said that I thought the computer was working right ... "now" ... though the counter didn't seem to be counting ... 

As to whether I was "working right" ... I admitted that I still bump into furniture ... misplace my car keys (there they ARE ... in my OTHER pocket) ... trip on cracks in the sidewalk. 

You know, the kinds of ordinary things that ordinary people do as they pick their way through the fog of the day.

Meanwhile, today's poem:


My candle sculpts
itself in its corner
of the room, flame
gyrating in the draft,
tiny avalanches
of wax slithering
into the maw,
a fungible, seething
mass that labors
back up the wick
to sacrifice itself
as a bit of light,
distant warmth. It
flickers, warning me
that I shall soon miss
the warmth, its quiet
companionship, gently
flowing memories, its
solitary, sustaining
work of holding
the darkness at bay.

© 1996

(originally published in Anterior Poetry Monthly)

Today's word: fungible

Friday, September 27, 2013

Sea of Beauty

Confession: Today's poem speaks of wheat ... the photo doesn't ... at least not directly.

The illustration is one of mine, of course ... a photo of some decorative grass. I don't know exactly what kind, but it did remind me of the wheat I had seen making waves in a field ... now all part of distant memories.

And the sky?

That's sky as reflected in the windows of the tall building near which I found the decorative grass growing. I was taken by the color and the shapes ... so I snapped it ... kept it ... and here it is, today ... famous. Well, a little more "famous" than it otherwise might have been.

I really hope I haven't spoiled the mood for today's poem, but I thought the photo and the poem made something of a match.

The poem: 


The wheat leans

and straightens
in the summer breeze,
a sea of beauty
set in motion
toward the horizon
by plain hard labor
and the hand of God.
© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: wheat

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Moment

Memories. We can't live in the past, of course, but memories can help to make the going easier in the present.

Today's poem is based on earliest memory.

I find it hard to believe that I'm going all the way back to the cradle in recalling my mother's words ... not the specific words, but the memory of the sounds, enhanced, perhaps, by the distance, the years since I heard them.

Or I may just be imagining it all, the product of my wanting to "hear" them.

When I was about two years old, I went to live with my grandparents, who reared me to adulthood. My contact with my mother, over those years, was, by various circumstances, limited to a certain degree.

It would be natural for me to have more memories of my grandparents than my mother. Still, there is that connection, that need to go back as far as I can to those earliest days.

It's a wistful poem, a semi-dream poem. And I found a certain healing in the writing of it, a certain comfort in reading it again. It was originally published in Capper's:


In the moment
between sleeping
and waking,
when morning light
drifts strangely
through the trees
and sounds seem
borne aloft
by distant voices,
my mother’s words
come curling back
like wood smoke
on a rainy night,
and I am comforted
by that memory.
© 2001

Today's word: wistful

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Today's poem, I think, states the obvious. When we've always had little in the way of material things, we're content. Ah, but when we have more, the appetite is whetted. We want more.

I was interested in the content/discontent relationship as I jotted these few words on a scrap of paper. Later, it seemed to me that it had a certain feel, a certain sound ... a poem, perhaps.

Here it is:


I was content
with what I had,
until I had more.

After that,
I discovered,
I could not
be satisfied
with any less.

© 1996

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: satisfied

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Come Out, Come Out!

(The art -- no, that's not me -- was created some time ago by my grandson, Thomas, out of materials at hand during a family gathering)

Today's offering began during one of my frequent searches for my glasses (I don't really lose them, that is, they're not gone someplace where I'll never find them again, it's just that I can't for the moment ... for many anxious moments, sometimes ... locate them).

It occurred to me that I might try keeping an old pair of glasses in one special place, then use that pair to help with my searching.

Then it occurred to me that my plan probably wouldn't work: That "searching" pair would probably become misplaced, too.

And that's how this little piece came into being. 

It ran in the February/March '06 issue ... actually on the front page ... of PKA's Advocate:

Come Out, Come Out!

If I had glasses
To find my glasses,
Oh, what would I do?
Not one brain, but two,
Would I need to keep
Up with two pairs, when
One can hide like ten.

© 2006

Today's word: searching

Monday, September 23, 2013


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

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another Autumn

Autumn brings some slight moderation of temperatures, at least ... but it also brings on some of my favorite colors as the trees begin their autumn parade ... displaying their changing leaves up and down the streets ... and across the countryside.

Autumn brings back memories of those hills where I grew up ... hills laden with hickory trees ... oaks ... walnut trees ... sassafras ... sumac ... oh, what a parade that was, too!

Another thought which came to me this morning ... how great it would be if these postings came together seamlessly, instead of the way they sometimes do, particularly when time is short.

Ah, but what would I do then, just sit and twiddle my thumbs?

The poem:


Change has boomed
along quiet avenues
where great, green
hulking symbols
of summer loitered,
visages burnished now
into fiery displays
that climb and swoop,
zoom and explode.

And who could go
kicking through
the crinkling swirl
on the sidewalks
underneath them
without being just
a little pumped up
about it all?

© 1998
(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: visages

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Little Envy

Today's poem is about driving ... another area in which I am certainly no expert. 

No, it's not about some adventure, or misadventure, with our former conveyance, The Little Red Car ... whose exploits were often detailed in Squiggles & Giggles, which had a life as a weekly newsletter.

Little Red was fine for local driving, and we still do a lot of that, but now, when we go out of town, those lo-o-o-n-g-g-g trips, we let Little Red's successor rest while we pick up a rental car.

Our regular vehicle is a very basic, usually reliable car, but lacking some of the bells and whistles, not to mention mysterious buttons and tracking devices found on the newer models.

That has led to some adventures, too ... like the time we drove all the way to Illinois before we found out, thanks to a friend, how to dim the headlights.

It usually takes me a couple of counties, at least, before I master the "set speed" and "resume speed" settings.

This is a poem about discovering one of those marvels:


Leaving a town,
heading west,
the car senses
my light touch
on a button,
and I marvel
as it resumes
highway speed,
this collection
of steel, plastic
and fabric
with a memory
better than mine.

© 1997 

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

Friday, September 20, 2013

Winter Comes

(Just a spur of the moment shot I took of a snow-covered table sitting alone outside a dining place; it reminds me of one of my favorite foods, now on my forbidden list: C-A-K-E)

No ... winter hasn't come to Ohio ... yet. 

But winter will come, believe me. 

Today, though, I'm thinking ahead ... well beyond winter to ... those things I speak of at the end of the poem.

Take a look, please:


When it arrives like
a gentle rustling
descending a stairway,
the wary resident
might slam a deadbolt
against it like some
grumping, groggy bear,
were it not for a tiny
preserved memory
of a far warmer world,
where flowers are not
mere speculations,
where the ice has fallen
away, the bees jubilant.

© 2000 

(received an honorable mention award in a Poets Study Club competition)

Today's word: jubilant

Thursday, September 19, 2013

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.


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, September 18, 2013

One to Grow On

Winter rain, under the right conditions, can be like a lullaby as it dances softly on the roof and goes running off down the street.

But if conditions are right for freezing, as they are here sometimes, it's an entirely different story. We venture out gingerly and pick away at the layer that's still gripping our driveway.

One consolation, we tell ourselves, is that we're a little nearer to the beginning of spring, and we're warmed by the potential that implies.

Meanwhile, back to the subject of a kinder, gentler rain ... the kind which inspired today's little poem:


Winter rain
comes sliding down
the glistening trunk
of a sleeping tree,
delivering a sip
to be savored
when it awakens
early next spring.
 © 1995

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Morning Talk

(Not the kind of tree I'm talking about in today's poem ... but I thought I'd share my little watercolor sketch with you)

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

This one may not have come to me, exactly, but I found the material for it in the tree just outside my window. 

I sat listening to a certain sound, then located its source ... and watched.

From there it was simply a matter of putting my impressions on paper before they ... the impressions, that is ... flew away.

I admit that I found more than just the sights and sounds of a mother-and-daughter exchange between two cardinals to write about.

Before I'd finished, I couldn't resist drawing the parallel between these two beautiful little creatures and the rest of us ... we superior beings who "own" so much of this material world ... and are, perhaps, so bent on possessing more of it ... that we neglect to build little bridges between us ... particularly between the generations.

End of sermon. 

And now, on to the poem:


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

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

Talking of food, perhaps, or safety
in these thick boughs, weighty subjects,
or maybe just chit-chat between
this mother and her young daughter.
I have no way of knowing, but they
seem to have found an understanding,

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

© 2003

(originally published in Capper's) 

Today's word: chit-chat

Monday, September 16, 2013

Into Warm Light

Those of us who write ... and there are a lot of us ... thank goodness ... know about obstacles.

My day ... and I'm sure yours, too ... is filled with little distractions, interruptions, barriers, hurdles which must be cleared, if I am going to have a few minutes that I can devote just to writing.

I must.

I have this burning need to write ... for myself, if nothing else ... possibly to share what I've written ... possibly to submit it to an editor who may ... or may not ... have time to give it a leisurely, thoughtful reading.

But finding time ... those few minutes for scrawling something on paper ... or, these days, sitting at the keyboard and watching the words as they appear across the screen ... is the problem ... a major problem.

Somehow we do find a few minutes to listen to those voices which beckon us ... and we do write ... and we do sometimes emerge, then, into the warm light of understanding.

The poem:


An afghan draped
on my legs, fingers
aching with cold,
fatigue slowing
the curl of letters
unspooling to become
words, I write
in a house gone quiet
except for random
creaks and groans,
the laboring clock,
going where voices
softly beckon me,
down the corridors
that eventually
widen out, opening
into the warm light
of understanding.
© 2001

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: understanding

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Do They Sleep?

Sometimes, especially with a whimsical piece, any explanation is too much ... so I'll spare you the details of my ordeal by squirrels ... the pain and humiliation I've suffered at their hands (er, paws) ... the ongoing battle of wills ... my refusal to concede that their ancestors were here in this country before mine ... all those things which went into the making of this poem.

If they were to write poetry ... perhaps it would keep them out of mischief for brief interludes, at least ... I suppose it would be as accusatory of me as this is of them.

I'm willing to settle for an uneasy truce. But are they? This one was originally published in Capper's:


I've seen 'em
nodding off
on a quiet limb
during the day,
but when do
pesky squirrels
really sleep?

And where?

Maybe they go
to little motels,
or perhaps they
go zipping off
to the suburbs,
where they plot
new mischiefs
on tiny laptops.

Some nights,
when the wind
sits and traffic
thins, I think
I see the glow
from their tiny
screens, hear
them chuckling
to themselves,
and I lie there ...
awake, wondering.

© 1998

Today's word: chuckling

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Brittle Poems

Still another poem about writing, but without any technical advice.

No how to- piece. Instead, some sounds, some images painted with words.

Add a bit of a twist with "fireflies ... looking for someone with a jar," and there you have it.

Many of my poems are "little thoughts" ... whether they blink on and off is another matter ... but they are ordinary little topics, depending a great deal on what the reader brings to them for completion.

Also, I keep saying that poems are meant to be shared ... so much depends on "someone who/ will catch them, enjoy/ them, let them fly again."

And there are so many out there worthy of being caught ... enjoyed ... shared.

The poem:


My poems are written
on brittle paper, little
thoughts that blink
on and off like fireflies
scouring summer nights
looking for someone
with a jar, a quick
hand, someone who
will catch them, enjoy
them, let them fly again.
 © 2001
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: brittle

Friday, September 13, 2013

Ahead and Behind

(Yes, that's me ... caught in the daily whirl of activity)

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

Oh ... and before I forget ... many thanks to those who extended birthday greetings yesterday. It was an exciting day ... but no dancing on the table ... not at my age. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

After Summer

In keeping with my repeatedly-broken 

promise (to myself) to be brief, I’ve selected a 

short poem to share today. 

I’ve written a lot of those. Perhaps it has 

something to do with writer’s cramp ... or

writer’s block ... or maybe attention 

span. But that’s another story.

Briefly speaking, though, I see now that it 

might have been just a line or two longer ... in 

order to incorporate the chorus of leaf 

blowers (which also provide background 

music) ... and then I could have mentioned 

the dreaded snow blowers.

But I did indicate I was going to be brief, didn't 


The poem:


Comes autumn,

when the mighty

chorus of mowers

ceases singing,

an intermission

too soon followed

by a chorale

of snow blowers.

(originally published in Capper’s)

Today's word: chorale