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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Time is a Miser


Time is a miser
Doling out life’s
One at a time.

Today you get
A warm smile from a child
Tears will be
What notes the day
For you.

All of your Destiny
A spoonful at a time
Never more than
A mouthful
At once.

For once your belly
And mind is full
You are done.

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Playground at Night


“Daddy”, the little one asked, as she pulled on his sleeve,
“Can we go to the park? “No, sweetheart, we have to leave.”
“But why, Daddy, do we have to go home so soon?”
“Because my dear, we have been out all afternoon,
There are things I have to do, to make sure you grow up right.
Besides its getting kind of late, it is almost night.”

So he took her home, kissed his wife, and took off his coat.
He lit a smoke and cracked a beer, to wet the back of his throat.
When the phone rang he watched his wife move across the floor
And for a moment realized that he loved her more and more.
“It’s for you,” she said, “Doctor Benowsky’s on the phone
And his thrill of fear froze him, clean down to the bone.

“I’ll take it upstairs,” replied the man, and he pinched her as he passed.
At the top of the stairs he felt time dilate, slowing down then going fast.
He went to his desk, fell into the chair, before picking up the phone.
He could barely lift the thing, it seemed weighted down with stone.
“Yes Doctor,” he whispered into the piece, his voice harsh and dry,
“I’ve been waiting for your call,” he said, trying not to cry.

“My friend, I hate this part of my job, I’ve been doing this for years,
I still can’t find a way to do this without breaking down in tears.
The results are in, I’m afraid they are bad, the worst I’ve ever seen.
Despite advances in medicine, your choices are few and far between.”
“How long have I got?” the man asked with tears in his blue eyes
“There’s no way to know, days, maybe less, it will come as a surprise”

“It has spread throughout your system, gotten way out of hand.
There is no real way to tell where else it might expand
I am so very sorry my friend, I’ve done all that I can
But there is a higher authority than the mere science of man,
I know of some good hospices, places you can be at ease
Know that I care about you, call me if you need me, please.”

He hung up the phone with a buzz in his ears, a weight inside his core.
He thought of his years on this earth, his hopes for a few years more.
He saw his daughter’s far-off wedding, with an empty place saved for him
He thought of his son, becoming a man alone, his heart drew grim
And his sweet wife, the best in the world, how he loved her, dear and true
How would she continue without him, what could she possibly do?

He said he was going to go to bed early, he felt a little worn out and weary
She’d be up when the kids were asleep, her voice was warm and cheery.
He thought of leaving this life, without notice, warning or word
He imagined her reaction in the morning, when he could not be stirred
She came and lay beside him, softly kissing him goodnight.
"I love you," she whispered softly, then curled against him tight.

As he lay in bed after midnight, his thoughts chasing each other around
He wiped his sweating brow, then swept his feet out onto the ground
He woke his wife, and began to dress, you can guess, she was worried
“It’s OK, get dressed”, he said, his voice was calm and unhurried.
“Where are we going,” she asked, “in the middle of the night so dark?”
“First I’m going to wake the kids, then we are going to the park.”

©2010 Christopher Reilley

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Protocols of Resistance


The Wind is a living god out on the open sea.

She tears at your form, pulls you out of your shoes,
and rips at what you used to call strength,
redefining how you walk, stand, lean, or work,
schooling in you in the protocols of resistance,
eternally unyielding
and primal in her refusal to be coerced or countered.

Ocean spray can hit like buckshot
when she whips it into your face,
trillions of salted drops, just above freezing,
swarming like bees at the speed of dark;
and the ones that hit sting worse.

The world is a binary thing, oceans below, wind above -
and what lies below us is a mystery more than a platform.

But the wind that lives just above the waves
is a binary again, both the gentle lover of calm skies
and the lash of her biting, storm-fueled kiss.

A man cannot stand upon a ship at sea
without growing up,
a boy becoming a man because a man is needed,
a man becoming a sailor
because the sea will accept no less,
and the wind promises
to kiss each one.

©2014 Christopher Reilley

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Waiting for Solstice


Each season steam-trains toward the next,
gathering speed in impatience to become
something other.

Waiting for solstice.

Pebbled days followed by bouldered nights,
the sands of time grow large
at summers end.

We stroll among the remnants,
picking at shards -
foam caps washing ashore,
late season steamers,
kissing amid trillions of warm raindrops,
soft breezes redolent of popcorn and hot dogs,
warm sunny days that become chilly nights,
the screams of gulls protesting
Nature’s change.

The body of water rolls over in its sleep,
a giant settling in.

The moon-tides have a fondness for love
I do not want to forget
as I trade shorts for coats,
sandals for galoshes
honeysuckle for holly.

The day I post this is the winter solstice, the longest night in the history of planet Earth.

©2011 Christopher Reilley

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Busker


His fingers spidering up and down the frets
tease morsels of purity from sound.
You would never know that he eats from dumpsters,
lives in a vacant lot that floods in autumn,
terrified of getting a fever.
He knows that if he dies,
his story will be told over cold beers
and home-rolled smokes,
by men he only thought were his friends.

But here, in this sweltering moment
he plays, soaring, wailing music that lives,
grows, swells and beseeches coins from passers-by
departing from commuter trains
holding only thoughts of home, dinner, sleep.
His rock-hard fingertips bend notes sweetly
while his hand strums to a heartbeat
not his own.

Invisible to most, audible to all,
he has no name, no face, no choice.
But what he has, he cherishes;
shade, fresh air, and his music.
He smiles softly over grizzled whiskers,
his bubble-gum pink tongue teasing his teeth
as his soul teases the Blues from strings
and his heart implores coins
that tinkle in counterpoint.

©2012 Christopher Reilley

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cold War


Vengefully, that neck I would wring,
pained cries would satisfaction bring,
pleading and begging would no mercy fetch
no pity for the rancid wretch,
if only I could get my hands around
the throat of that infernal hound
who, without a crumb of civility,
inflicted this damned cold on me!

Like a whipped dog, to bed I must crawl
and pray vainly for sleep to conquer all;
the sinuses that never cease to run,
the plugged up ears that throb & hum,
that upper lip - sore, red and raw,
my poor nose – stuffed with baling straw,
the teary red, and rheumy eye,
oh what miserable suffering have I!

And, mores the pity, I won't die -
even though I might like to try,
eventually I will survive,
though the bacteria will always thrive.
Oh, woe to whom passed this on to me
I hope to return this plague to thee,
and you there, who watch me sorely vexed
I must pass it on, will you be next?

©2012 Christopher Reilley

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Case for Faith


Death came by for a visit today,
but I was busy, I'm glad to say.
“So sorry that you cannot stay,”
and Death was hurried along his way.

Pride came over for a little while.
As usual he brought a private smile
but his antics are not my usual style,
I normally strive to be more versatile.

As he was leaving Fear poked through the door
and asked why I never called anymore.
I had drunk with Fear quite a lot before,
but now I felt he was one to ignore.

Anger made Fear want to quickly leave,
something I had always sought to achieve,
yet I had originally been too naive
to see Anger's ability to deceive.

When Anger was gone I was left with Grief,
a visitation I hoped would be fairly brief.
And then I discovered to my disbelief
that he had stolen my Joy like a thief.

Sadness came by to offer his trade,
but decisions had by then been made.
I launched into a great tirade,
and when he'd left I knelt down and prayed.

I wished to live a life with Faith at my side
and so Joy returned to stay and abide.
With my Lord whom I knew I could always confide
I welcome the happiness that Faith can provide.

Death will return, I have no doubt that is true,
but until then my faith will constantly renew,
and the strength of my Faith I will always pursue,
those negative emotions I will strive to eschew.

©2011 Christopher Reilley

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Friends That Might Have Been


We do not share our journey with just anyone.
We pick and choose who we spend time with,
this one is too sharp edged, too negative,
that one has no spine, lacks color, or taste.
We pick who, and how, and when.

Of course, they pick us as well.
How else can you account for feeling so at home,
so close to someone you just met,
a face in the crowd, or a face in the book?
Our pockets are full of friends.

Contemplating the sun that may have been
or the moonrise that we just missed,
makes of our heart sea sponges in fresh water -
surrounded by what we think we might need,
gasping for breath nonetheless.

©2009 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, December 15, 2014



Whiskered breath, hot on her ear.
Callouses scratching with horned grasp,
she twists and writhes
both hoping and pretending

Strength and demand fuel him.
Her softness is both lure and limit.
Her whispered denials are enflaming
for both of them.

Rolled in sheets and tangled limbs
salt from sweat on their shared tongue
they push, pull, withdraw and slam,
bite, as a kitten bites a litter-mate,
lick, the way ice cream cones would be licked in Hell,
feasting on the flesh sparking the soul in their arms
while time drops away

To feed this hunger,
fuel this fire,
warm these lives,
they will come together -

The chance for Love
the probability of Pain.

©2010 Christopher Reilley

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gift of a Star


The sun does not merely rise.
It beckons to me, enticing and sly.
Whomever I will grow to be on this day
it will not be the fault of the star
that shares with me, unwittingly,
the warmth of its fervor.
That which I choose is what will be chosen,
synchronistic or not.

What if I sang forever
just to find you?
Would the sounds scraped raw from my throat
let you know how much I care?
There are eternities filled
with my playing of charades
that you cannot surmise.

Whomever I come to be
I will not surrender.
for you, I will bend but not break,
give without taking,
cry but not weep.
For you, I would sell my eyes,
but never my heart.

©2011 Christopher Reilley

This poem is in the collection Breathing for Clouds, you can get a copy HERE.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Until They Are Found


To be caught and unfurled, held aloft,
fluttering glory and rapt delight,
I would sell my past, forget my life,
begin once more,
with you.

Everyone is afraid of something,
I am afraid of you.
You have the power to rend me,
tear me,
pull me loose and let me go,
that I might fall.
This power I have given you,
which I fear most of all.

It is common to know
that you do not miss a thing
until it is lost.
What is uncommon is knowing
that there are things
you can miss until you ache,
That you will not know
what they are
until they are found.

©2011 Christopher Reilley

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dear Santa, Let Me Explain


Dear Santa Claus, way up in the North Pole
Please, at least give me a chance to explain!
How was I supposed to know Dad’s remote control
Would get crushed when run over by a toy train?

I am not as naughty a boy as you might think,
I’m not a bad kid, I am not as bad as all that,
Who knew paint should not be poured down the sink?
Or that you should never try to shave the cat.

No matter what stories you might have heard,
I can be pretty darn good when I give it a try.
The cat will never again be stuffed in the cage with the bird,
Or slingshot to see if he can be taught how to fly.

I eat all of mom’s cooking, no matter how bad
I do my best to clean up my plate.
Only once did I hide the car keys in the freezer on Dad
The line I walk is narrow and straight.

I am sorry about the window, it was an accident
I was just playing ball with my friends.
I will pay for the glass, one hundred percent
And do whatever I can to make amends.

I am sure that Grandma has forgotten about those plates
She has forgotten about almost every other thing.
And I never bring her frogs or the snakes she hates
I have not muddied her carpets since Spring.

And about my kid sister, her hair will grow back,
Dad said she looked cuter than cute.
I think the rug in my room looks better in black
And Grandpa already replaced his gray suit.

So give me a break, Santa, I’m trying real hard,
It’s not easy keeping grownups happy, you see.
Maybe pirates really did bury treasure in our yard,
If I had found it, they would be happy, I guarantee.

So maybe sometimes I get in trouble when I get into a fight
Maybe sometimes I have to clap erasers after school,
I’m just full of energy, holding me down is not right
So what if I don’t follow their stupid rules

That rat Benny B., he had it coming, St. Nick,
He has been giving me guff for a week
He is a bully and a punk and he just makes me sick
With his nonstop tormentor’s mean streak.

You are Santa, you know the truth, I am really OK
I’m not a bad kid all of the time,
Just please bring me Christmas, I’ll do whatever you say,
I will even stop writing in rhyme.

Just one more thing Santa, and I hope you don’t mind
I really want to spread holiday cheer,
So if your list falls a little bit behind,
Please cut me a little slack for next year.

©2009 Christopher Reilley

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Monday, December 1, 2014

The Honesty of Love


Tongue, skin, heat and thighs,
love shows the truth in lies,
lust increases the weight of deceit.
Kisses stolen are kisses sweet.

We come to grips with much consumption,
laying weight to past presumption,
growing slowly numb to real emotion,
paper promises pass as devotion.

Each of us tending our personal fires,
pretending we are not all deviant liars,
climbing up and jumping off words,
hoping against hope that we fly like birds.

Variety is the great equalizer,
we get older but not often wiser.
Eventually all those lies leave us numb
to the shell of the person we become.

True Love is not love without true words spoken,
even love bends under the weight of words broken.
So if your relationship is one you cherish,
heed my words lest everything perish.

If love is real it will survive every fire,
except the ones you set by being a liar,
giving your all means opening a vein,
you have less to lose than you stand to gain.

How can your lover love you if they never know
of the things that you steadfastly refuse to show-
those secrets that you keep deep inside,
the shameful parts that you try to hide?

Give them the chance to show you what's real.
Allow them the honor of feeling what you feel.
No greater gift will you ever give your heart,
no better reason to keep from drifting apart.

Though Love be sweet, know this of me,
no love sweet without honesty.
And when I slip, falter, stumble and fail,
know that you will hear every word of the tale.

©2009 Christopher Reilley

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