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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Of the Magical and Mundane






OF THE MAGICAL AND MUNDANE

She is not only the pragmatist,
she is the enchantress.

From the organizing of paperwork,
taxes, forms and receipts,
to reminding me when a birthday is due,
grounding flights of fancy
that have no hope of touching sky,
or reminding me what really matters to me
with half a glance
and that chuckle that only she can do,
her good sense is a benefit
worth my own weight in gold.

Yet even as she props me up,
making certain I am buckled in,
and poking the flashlight of her curiosity
into every corner before letting me ride,
she manages to fire off in my core a set of fireworks,
strobes, shotflingers, cascades and star-bursts,
which I feel as bursts of heat,
warm rockets arcing through me.

How can she make a conversation
about mundane drivel
into a captivating dazzle
that leaves me trying to memorize her?

How is it possible
that her interest in me
is the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen?

What liquid magic exists
in those soft brown eyes
that grasps my throat and squeezes?

And please, for the love of my sanity,
how can this one soul’s approval
hold my entire being
in a thousand clutching grips?






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Monday, April 28, 2014

Where We Have Ended




WHERE WE HAVE ENDED



Not a significant individual in the crowd,
But hey,
This is where we have ended,
Just in time to hear the ragged
Last breath of civilization.
Might as well spend it in truth.

I almost miss the regret,
The naked dismay,
The easy and frank cries
On the street
That come from the deadliest
And most alive of climates.

Of what wonders were we capable
When we did things for the joy,
Felt safe in our own beds,
Trusted in right to make might,
And honored our father and mother?
Been so long,
Might as well ask -
What mythology fits your view?

Are we survivors,
Or predators,
Masters of our domain,
Or pawns on the board?
Can I be a bit of both?
Or neither?

Hold me as it grows colder
For I find I’ve no taste for solitude.
If you remember me,
Then I will never quite
Be gone.





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Friday, April 25, 2014

Always With Me



ALWAYS WITH ME


The wind raises its swift, silent voice
sweeping away my many protestations.
You have left me and left me no other choice
and refused all of my demonstrations.

Stones on the floor of the ocean may sleep
without remorse, or regret, or sorrow,
But I have promises to try to honor and keep
and they will not wait for tomorrow.

You changed my world when you entered my heart
filling in all the chambers of my soul.
Though you have chosen to live far from me, apart
Your gift has made me solid and whole.

I carry you inside me, never to be lost,
knowing that someday you will return.
I will pay any price, suffer any cost
as long as Love’s candle still burns.






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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tell It To The Beatles






TELL IT TO THE BEATLES


“Yesterday,” the Beatles crooned,
“All my troubles seemed so far away.”
And tho’ well-sung and better tuned
I’d no idea what they meant to say.

I was callow youth, barest green
And they were brains to the Stones balls.
I’d not yet seen what they had seen
I had barely lived, not lived at all.

My life was all tomorrows
And what would happen next.
I had no time for sorrows,
And finances had me forever vexed.

“Love was such an easy game to play,”
Was the only part that stuck in my head
Looking back now I’ve got to say
I was not thinking with my head.

Why she had to go, she wouldn’t say
But it is real, not a catchy pop song
Now I need a place to hide away
Until I can figure out where it went wrong.

The Beatles sang, they sang to you and me
They sang and they had something to say
There is a shadow hanging over me
And I believe ….. in yesterday.




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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stopping By The Old House




STOPPING BY THE OLD HOUSE



I stand in the driveway
marveling how small the house really is,
how tiny the garage
which was sailing ship,
fortress, and dungeon
back in my day.

A brief detour on my way home
from a sales trip
brought me within 5 miles
of my origins,
So here I am.

I find the meadow anxious
with grasshoppers and heat shimmer
and knew I was home.

There was the set of steps
where I required seventeen stitches,
back there the pine tree
I was afraid to climb down
for two solid days.

The first house I had ever known –
the back stairs that led to our room,
the dining room where the poodle -
in an epileptic frenzy -
smashed himself to death,
the garden room closed off
and only accessible
if you pull out the refrigerator
to get something out of storage,
and even the cedar room
in the center of the attic,
the source of much fantastical terror.

I sit on the stoop,
soaking up sunlight
like I did when I was ten,
and I can hear my mother’s voice
calling my name.

Supper must be ready.



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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Guilty Gambler





GUILTY GAMBLER

There is a strong temptation to bolt the doors-
Bar the casements, withdraw the flags,
Shut the world out, using noise or flashing lights,
Or casino’s video screens,

Pile old lovers against intrusion like stacks of cord-wood
Paint over the shuttered, curtained windows,
With old cigar ash and the sweat of frustration.
Hide the secretive soul away, dammit.

Do you recall the taste of old bruises,
Know the name of every slight?
Can you feel the weight of years and acceptance
Can you know the strength you have yet to know?

Lie low, lie slow, breath as shallow as you might
But you must draw breath once more to live,
And tomorrow’s a decent bet, with better odds
Than finding surcease at the tables.





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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Must Have Loved You Before




I MUST HAVE LOVED YOU BEFORE



As we go through our lives in separate ways,
distant, apart – or so it sometimes seems.
Our together nights punctuated by days,
I keep you held closely in my fevered dreams.

I must have loved you like this in the past,
in lives that unfolded before this one.
Feelings this deep, this wide, this vast
must have their source in centuries done.

You fit neatly into the hollow of my heart’s core,
softening my edges with Love’s gentle blur,
so you must have lived in my soul before,
us two locked in passion as we were.

In pillow talk my soul is laid bare
revealing all to your gentle touch.
No other soul has ever gotten there
or charmed me into revealing so much.

Our every step a dance of harmony
a knowing waltz that feels so right
I sometimes cannot separate you from me
in the darkest hours of the coldest night.

When first we met, I did not stand a chance,
I fell headlong into your soft eyes,
my heart knew yours and in my chest did dance,
I was stripped of all artifice and disguise.





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Monday, April 14, 2014

If I Were Leaving



IF I WERE LEAVING

Old friends – people that I have known for years,
style themselves as monsters
as watches and clocks twitch with silent laughter.
The mind refuses to hold discourse
so I am forced to hold conversations
with my feet, walking away from irony.

The best counsel is to turn out the pockets of my life,
stuff my backpack with extra nothing
and carry on. Lighten your load. Hit the road.
Doors will slam, they have no choice.
Houses will bare their window-teeth
as they smile me a good-bye.

The trail I make is healthier
than the one I follow, until I lose my way.
But I must walk until I find
where the horizon meets the sky,
walk as if there is no greater destination
than the footsteps I just left behind.


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Boston, April 15, 2013



BOSTON, APRIL 15, 2013



A Spring afternoon racing marathon miles -
a crowd thick with families, runners and smiles,
shocked and bloodied by the burst of bomb’s twin blast
decimating the thrill of the finish line to be passed,
forever marking the moment when we collectively cried
as innocents were bloodied, were damaged, and died.

When roar of crowds and victories cheers
turn to blistered rage and painful tears -
when a moment where valiant struggles end
is broken by flesh as it burns and rends -
then the flash of a coward’s malicious act
highlights a city’s strength as fact.

And in the drifting smoke’s noxious gloom -
instead of the terror the heinous act assumes,
the fire that burns in every patriot’s breast
ignites heroism in the strongest and the best,
driving moments of humanity and heart
that refuse to allow us to be torn apart.

A tradition that’s lived more than a hundred years
will outlive a moment of a madman’s fears.
A city that has known two centuries of time,
its citizens stronger than any single act of crime,
will never bow down to the jackboot of fear –
the race will see a lot more runners next year.








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Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Man Stands Tall



OK, so first of all, the Man Stands Tall comes partly from my daughter and mostly from my grandmother. She had a lot of aphorisms, and I loved it when she used them to share some of her ideas, she often said, "A boy becomes a man when a man is needed, there are boys out there 65 years old because they never had to be a man." and "The meek will inherit the earth. That's because being meek means being stronger than you need to be, and wearing it on the inside, not the outside." "“Stand tall, smile bright, and let them wonder what secrets are making you laugh!” And one of my favorites, "When elephants fight, only the grass gets hurt."

She is the one who taught me that Life may not be the party we asked for, but we might as well dance while we are here, and to never piss in a well because you never know when you might need a drink.

My youngest asked me a question not long ago while doing Social Studies homework what it was that makes a man a man. Is it just turning eighteen and growing strong and tall? And I told her, without any reflection, than a man is never so tall as when he kneels to hug a child. Then I said “Stand tall, smile bright, and let them wonder what secrets are making you laugh!” This caused a lot of those sayings to flood in on me, and I shared many of the feeling in the poem and my grandmothers aphorisms. We both sort of came to the conclusion that the stronger you are, the less you needed to show how strong you are, and you could stand tall, no matter your stature.

Next day I came up with this.


A MAN STANDS TALL

When you find yourself all alone
and the way before you is not clear,
if you are willing to pay the high cost,
willing to swallow the yellow knot of fear,
when angels have left you without a guide
and demons have all drawn close and near –
a male who would be a man stands tall.

When a sister finds herself lost
in emotional hurt, pain and crying,
when a brother stumbles and falls
no matter how hard he might be trying,
when a parent faces their fears
of being alone and finally dying -
a male who would be a man stands tall.

If he has a tender giving heart
and a clear and open mind,
with a willingness to heal,
and the strength to be forever kind,
when presented with others faults
makes the choice to be fault-blind -
a male who would be a man stands tall.

And the circle will forever grow
while the wound of enmity mends,
the bloodied warriors will finally pause
and recognize those who would be friends,
the music starts, the dance begins
the killing finally ends -
a male who would be a man stands tall.

A male who would be a man stands tall.





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Friday, April 11, 2014

How Much?




HOW MUCH?



I guess it depends
on the stuff,
of course,
if you are speaking
trade goods,
consumables,
material things,
then
only a small amount, really.

Emotional baggage?

Think
planetary-scale
weight.
Big enough to have
its own
gravitational
pull.
Enough for
several
lifetimes.

Secrets?

One is too many,
a million
is not enough.




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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Causal Memories




CAUSAL MEMORIES


While digging through a steamer trunk
in my dusty, cluttered attic
I came across an old photo of me
at fifty five, smiling,
with my arm draped over the shoulder
of a stunningly beautiful woman.
In the background you can see
the skyscraper where I worked.

The truly odd thing about this photo
(and yes, I am aware just how odd it is)
is that I am just shy of forty six years old,
and work in a vastly different office building
only three stories tall.

Nevertheless, I recall the moment clearly
when this photo was snapped.
The tie I’m wearing I got for Christmas
when I was fifty.
There is a stamp on my left hand
from a concert we attended the night before.

And the woman in the photo,
laughing, clinging to me,
wearing a sun dress that I bought her
is my daughter,
who is now only eleven years old.
She looks happy, and that makes me happy.

The me that is
looks at the me that will be
and all I can think of is…

the me that once was.








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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tsunami


A commemorative piece for the Japanese tsunami that devastated the country, on Friday, March 11, 2011.

TSUNAMI

As empty and formless
as it was
before it began,
the space where lives once lived,
uprooted
easily as seedlings.
Ancient trees,
livestock, houses
gone
swirling along
monster current,
paper boats that people bent
tossed aside.

The heart has been torn
from the land,
the jagged edge
of coastline
blurred and smudged,
washed
but not clean.




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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Almost Killed Him



I ALMOST KILLED HIM


It would have been easy to snuff him,
a broken cigar in a dirty ashtray.
I had him by the scruff,
bent backward over the rail.
His jaw was already broken.

His whiskey breath was no excuse,
he had said what he decided to say.
I had just trampled his foot
and he was already on his way to jail,
but the wrong words in anger were spoken.

Irish temper flared hot, Irish knuckles scraped,
and he got the worst of it quick,
before he knew he had lost the fight.
His screams made him understand
there is always someone more hardcore.

Then the fool made the mistake of his death -
he suggested a body part to lick.
There was no choice to be made,
his personal Armageddon at hand,
one more blink and he would blink no more.

Then my eyes caught my eye
in the mirror over the bar.
Was it a killer I was looking at,
hot eyes watching from the glass?
The thought hit me like a frozen brick.

A life behind bars was no life at all,
I had plans that were going to take me far.
Crowd’s cat-calling was twelve hot seconds of noise.
This was Life’s biggest exam to pass -
I may not be smart, but I got it pretty quick.

He would keep breathing, I held back,
heaving him over the bar ended the fight.
We heard a low moan then all was still.
I had to dodge an aggravated assault beef
but murder two would not be hung on my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I am no stranger to rage,
I was covering my own self all right.
Three steps later I was out the door.
Breathing clean air and quiet with relief
I kicked up my heels and I fled.




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Monday, April 7, 2014

Of Lulls and Byes



OF LULLS AND BYES


My child was weary and so was I
We had played and sung the day through.
So when she ask for a lullaby
I did what any poet would do.

I sang of ice cream floats and summer rain,
Of butter-cups and daddy’s kiss,
Spun songs that I could never explain,
Some would hit, and some would miss.

I murmured songs of playground fun,
Of dressing up in wild costumes.
We dreamed of spaceship rides to the sun,
And riding through skies on witches brooms.

I sang of heroes and dragons in times gone past
Of second chances and seven tries
Songs of times both slow and fast
And whispers of both lulls and byes.

I spun stories until I had no more,
Hoping that our time I could keep,
I only ended when a heard a soft snore
Telling me that my babe was asleep.










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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mistakes About the Moon



MISTAKES ABOUT THE MOON

Far from lifeless, the moon plays host
to a pageant of shadows and light
cavorting over landscapes
with each pirouette. Never
blending, each razor edge
sharper than the one before,
dancing lunatic kinetics live brief lives,
a monochrome kaleidoscope
of binary art.

There is romance there as well,
not the kind collected from
generations of love-struck youth
or geriatric companions, the
reflected warmth of
millions of upturned faces,
the romance that lives on the moon is
between satellite and gravity well,
an eternal gavotte of cosmic cadence.

There is horror to be found
on our nearest galactic neighbor
if you look for it,
in the knowledge than mankind has arrived,
left footprints in the sand,
and made plans to return.
Eons of peaceful, clean solitude
have come to a grisly end.










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Friday, April 4, 2014

Since the Day Love Died




SINCE THE DAY LOVE DIED

The bonfire I made from our past
threatens to engulf my present;
eyes sting, lungs sear, the skin
of my face tightens against the heat.

There was a lot of it;
photographs and mementos,
cards from every holiday, birthday,
anniversary and event.
I had newspaper clippings, ticket stubs,
poems I had written for you,
the menus we had saved
from restaurants where we enjoyed each other,
even the dried flowers you kept
that I had given you on our first date.

It all blazes merrily, a testament
to the power of fire to consume,
cleanse, and make things go away.

I find it ironic that I get more warmth
from the destruction of what we had
than I did from what we had.

And as the last remnant
of what you brought into my life
goes up in greasy black smoke,
smoke that curls in filagreed tufts
rising higher than I could ever reach,
I set my sights on the horizon,
where you and I do not exist,
and I am able to move forward.







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Thursday, April 3, 2014

No Fooling



NO FOOLING


I am good at hiding things
I have been doing it all of my life.
If you met me
on the street
at a party
on the job
you would never know
that I am a core of hunger
wrapped in fleshy enigma
wanting what I cannot have,
or gave away,
or let slip from my grasp.

Wish in one hand,
spit in the other,
see which one fills up first
was Nanny’s advice,
but to never let myself
be who I was
behind the mask
was to deny myself
the freedom to fail.

Is it possible to accrue time
day after day as I age,
and lose the time I have left
day after day spent
simultaneously?

I look at the gray,
the wrinkles and creases,
my six-pack become a keg
and the only part of the boy I was
is the twinkle in my blue eyes.
And I try to fool myself into thinking
that is enough,
that I am still me inside here
even if nobody ever knows.

But there is no fooling
an old fool,
is there?










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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Guest Duties



GUEST DUTIES

A guest does no laundry here,
cleans no spilled milk.
Free from domestic responsibilities,
there is nothing to be done
save drink our wine, eat our food
and give us the joy of your smile.

When you are welcomed
you can do no wrong,
owe apologies to none,
are forgiven our collective past.

Yet when the time comes for you to leave,
when you step off my porch into the world
you are relied upon, obligated even,
to leave behind a small scrap of joy,
a warmth of recall,
a pleasant memory
of your having been with us.




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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Jester's Mask


A Ekphrastic poem is one that is specifically inspired by another piece of art - whether painted, sung, blown in glass or carved from chocolate, one artist's work directly gets expressed in another. Of course, everyone always mentions Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" at this point in the discussion, and that's cool, it is a very well-written poem.
I have always loved this painting. The hard life of a court jester.

Inspired by a painting by Stanczyk.
THE JESTER'S MASK


Silk and brocade wrap a bursting heart.
The language of truth both a weapon
and a curse. The one soul at court
allowed to speak his mind,
he lives on the knife edge of
regard and the head-man’s axe.

Immune to courtly games or manner
his voice cut through threads of feint,
a plunging eagle through cobwebs.
Yet malice shines in every eye
and honeyed poison is on every tongue,
each step more treacherous than the last.

Wisdom and folly walk hand in hand
through the gardens of policy.
More genius is to be found
in a cracked vessel, rather than whole,
so capering and glib fa├žade
are the masks of foresight and honesty.






#1 for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month)








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