Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Constellations

Persistent through the years,
even after the flame of her red hair
required the help of dye,
every summer on Mother’s arms
a genetic peppering of
freckles would ebulliently appear.
From wrist to blouse,
up and back, a jostling parade
confounded the ability of
calculating curiosity to decipher.
If only that road map
had not proved to be so ticklish.
Still haunting my dreams,
the constellations undiscovered
by a finger’s gentle trace.

Crescendo Of Wings

Tin-eared though I may be,
the grackles
gathering in noisy orchestration
on wire and branch
have struck a note I recognize;
I’m not wanted here.
This organized air squadron,
at the behest
of an unknown conductor,
dive-bombs to
bolster its strident bombast.
Until my indifferent
trespass is finally repulsed,
today’s assembly
persists in creating dissonance.
A riotous chorus
swelling to inspire a fledgling’s
resolve as it awaits
the crescendo of wings.

Marathon

The contest completed
surrounded by family and friends
bedecked with his medal
a long held dream
finally accomplished
that boy
who once outraced everyone
on the playground
is beaming with unabashed joy
never minding he was
outpaced by those far younger
or that it took
the man posing for photographs
a full fifty years
to cross the finish line

Paradise Lost

Lawn chair and shade collaborating on a nap
Unlaced shoes, overturned, resting near bare feet
A carpet of grass welcoming the probe of a toe
Tranquillity found in the blend of everyday sounds
Bourbon on ice diluted harmless by the second sip
It being a Sunday, lethargy is no cardinal sin
If only this gentle breeze could embed the memory
And yet, resurrected, will it matter next February
In its cold, brittle celluloid stutters on the reel
Today’s passing butterfly, absent from the frame
Hung on a hook, your lawn chair still despondent

Hardtack

Hardtack, he wrote,
saved his life, and it was not
hunger kept at bay
that my grandfather twice or
thrice removed was
referring to when introduced
to me in that
scrap of a letter preserved.
Was it his mother,
sister, or lover who received
such joyful news?
The remnants give no clue.
All I can discern
is that hardtack’s taste was
meant for the birds,
even after the night’s meal,
tucked into his tunic,
turned aside an indigestible
Confederate bullet.

Day Into Night

Furloughed for a month,
alarmed, you still wake thinking
you’ve overslept

Your colored tongue
wordlessly confesses who
ate the blueberries

As silence attests
in mid-afternoon heat, birds
too delight in naps

In the dead calm of
lethargy, ambition soon
succumbs to regret

Cloud racing straight at
the moon, helplessly gawking
you brace for the splash

Ripe Age Of Six

Each morning,
her father asks what she wants
to be today.
He suggests a pear perhaps,
or pineapple.
But no, at the ripe age of six,
it might better
suit her to become a tomato.
After all, being
a watermelon would be messy,
and potatoes
are too sluggish for adventure.
Nevertheless,
he’d understand if she chose
avocado instead.
Confidentially, admits he was so
skinny as a child
he once stretched himself into
a string bean.
Stubbornly set on becoming
a princess, his
counterproposal of mango fails
to enchant her,
even when he gives it wings to
a garden’s envy.

Inhaling The Seasons

The cold’s folded fist,
January’s metallic
assault on the nose

A graveyard yet to
bloom, the possibility
found in March mud’s reek

In May’s clamor of
flowers, deep inhalation
hopes to be surprised

Here in August’s drought,
a cloud’s first heavy droplets
awake petrichor

In October, what
smell invokes is a blended
whiff of two seasons

Come December’s harsh
hardening, a sneeze results
in anosmia

Chairs In Fairytales

Choose a wobbly misfit,
or occupy the knobby one that will
force you to sit up straight.
Better to be cramped and ill at ease
than lulled into a sense
of complacency with no excuse
to aid in your escape.
Witches and bores know the first
order of business is
to cushion suspicions by offering
a room’s favorite seat.
After all, their purpose is to keep
one chained in place,
a blazing fireplace and cookies
fuel for your lethargy.
Had Hansel and Gretel known
to beware, there in
a stranger’s home, they would
not have foolishly
chosen the seductive comfort
of its deepest chairs.

Life Support

Summer is on life support.
Vociferous two months’ running,
the chorusing crickets
now sound stricken by self-doubt.
For the last three nights,
just in case, the precious annuals
have been covered.
Betrayed by a somber full moon,
sheet-draped tomato plants
haunt a neighbor’s backyard plot,
still green with envy.
As if Halloween has arrived early,
a trick or treating wind
fumbles to open every doorknob,
then finds a fissure in
the foundation to whisper “boo.”
Between gusts, a steady
shower of leaves take flight as if
fearing frost’s bite.
Even with eyes shut tight, long
dreaded, there is no way
to escape the sound of geese,
those somber priests
who always seem to appear in
the darkest of hours
to superintend extreme unction
for a departing season.

Immunity

The entire city has come down
with a cold.
A spreading infection of frost
targets all.
Aching beneath its thin coat’s
penetration,
every exposed girder succumbs.
Lacking antibodies,
iron and concrete alike soon
fall victim.
Tramlines, lampposts, bridges
with sickened
groans confirm the pandemic.
Malaise shrinks
even the embedded plaster
with contagion.
Here, in the wind’s absence
before dawn,
how loud the architecture’s
sneeze seems.
Burrowing beneath blankets,
immunity is
desperately sought in dreams.

Hunger

In autumn’s dimming,
the sound of an axe reminds
one of winter’s length

A garden’s harvest
now put into storage is
still a question mark

Come winter’s killing
frost, how lacking our larder
will suddenly seem

The implanted hope
of another spring fails to
assuage our hunger

Surfacing

Oceanic, the dark’s
rising tide
of silence reaches
out to
engulf consciousness,
thought’s
babbling vocabulary,
a tongue
so sly that despite
submersion,
it will again articulate,
loquaciously
surfacing to chronicle
the silence’s
landscape of dreams.

Barometer

Long before
the horizon announces the danger,
he bristles
and backs away from the window,
furiously
barking at a presence none of us
can make out.
Sometimes it is a plane passing
by overhead,
or a threat never to be identified.

Usually though,
having given notice of a summer
storm’s approach,
this sentry’s duty is discharged.
Knowing better
than to confront a wind’s whip or
its angry rain,
wisely, he turns tail and retreats,
his courage no
match for the sky’s first crackle.

Safely kenneled,
splayed beneath the nearest bed,
Snowboy awaits
a barometer’s rise before he does.

Unanswered Questions

If no one is there
to press “like,” does dawn’s sky feel
singularly blue?

Come moonless nights, in
light’s absence, what does a pond
reflect on instead?

In a storm’s outrage,
who taught these bark armored trees
to bend in retreat?

To outlast spring’s frost,
do flowers hold their breath or
clutch sun’s memory?

On its appointed
path, has that determined ant
heard a word I’ve said?

Warrior

O mighty
untested warrior, so ruthless
and stern,
no matter how courageous
and fearless,
despite your ability to read
battlefields
like a map, knowledgeable
of where
all those others went wrong,
fate will
still refuse to be kind to you.

O mighty
warrior soon to be confronted,
struck by
the arrows of time’s passage,
you will
find, unexpectedly wounded,
deprived of
the glory so long imagined,
now prone
to tears, you’re a soft target
like the rest,
humbled by caution after all.

Near Miss

Last evening
I thought I heard the moon sigh.
But it seemed
a stoic rock when I looked up.
And yet from my
vantage point I understood why.
Night’s shadows
were about to be blotted out.
Hungry clouds
approaching threatened erasure.
Its intricate
brushstrokes painstakingly inked
on landscape
seemingly about to disintegrate.
I cannot
swear that my ears heard true.
All I know is
I witnessed its clever sidestep.
And afterwards,
saw the moon wink in starlight.

Stacked Deck

Today’s doctors
have taken the place of psychics

Running tests
that speculate what lies ahead

For a price, they
promise to reveal our future fate

Left for us to
interpret, a destiny spelled out

Insurance offers
no assurance that when spread

into a fan after
carefully watching the shuffle,

the deck wasn’t
stacked against us all the while

Short Wave Radio

Nightly, as a teenager,
I would listen to Father’s short wave radio,
plumbing the dark’s thin air
in search of a language I didn’t recognize.

An atmospheric gift when
it suddenly materialized in our rec room.

In today’s shrunken world
all such elsewhere is just one click away,
and how mundane it seems
once translated as the weather forecast.

Back in the day, I cast
kites skyward and used their strings to
unscramble a fickle wind
to get a sense of wonders unimaginable.

Now, fully translatable,
I’m disappointed by voices understood.

Physicians

In the darkest moods
of winter, sparrows are physicians
sent to dispel doubt

The medicine they
dispense is merely the healing touch
of their persistence

How can something
so small possibly slay a Goliath,
skeptical minds ask

But, when they burst
from nests despite dawn’s frigid
grip, eyes answer, see

Even if a placebo,
hope responds to the prescription
set by their example

A Proper Distance

In April’s boom,
visiting grandchildren next door
are blowing kisses
and sounding like cheerleaders
to be properly heard
through double-paned windows.
A distant dog adds
counterpoint, while wind-driven,
someone’s chimes
diligently contribute percussion.
Across the street,
boredom has motivated a man
to pick up a hammer
for the first time since moving in.
Home-confined, I’m
unable to escape the hubbub.
Today, the only thing
that maintains a proper distance
is silence itself.

April Blue Sky

A tempestuous wind
has grayed and darkened
an April blue sky.
All four corners of it meet
in a tight fitting
garment seamlessly woven.
Smothering clouds
press down with a crackle
of pent-up energy,
sure to raise hackles and
eyes skyward.
North, west, south, east
have merged into
a colloid that has erased
the space between.
When a downpour finally
curtains windows,
it seems an entire ocean
has gathered there
in a sky’s eyes, intent on
turning us aquatic.

Lung Capacity

Upon each dive, I hold my breath,
but time and again,
before its unruffled reappearance,
I have to gasp for air.
But then, after a winter restricted
to short, cautious
errands about the neighborhood,
there’s no denying
my lungs have grown flaccid from
enforced inactivity.
While by no means disrespecting
that loon’s talents,
had I stubbornly flown for weeks,
from dawn to dusk,
my lung capacity might be equal.
And upon inhaling,
its possible I too could disappear
just long enough
for the ripples to again heal into
a placid surface,
persuaded that I was never there.

“The Will To Die”

How, in a time of
contagion, does fear spread?
Weather link clicked,
the page opens to display
a pop-up that
ominously declares we’re
all going to die.
But a fearful second look
reveals it to be
an advertisement for a new
mystery thriller.
The mind’s eye has spoken
before reading.

Whirlwind

I once thought it
would be imposing and grand,
something so
forceful and mobile that there
could be no escape.
A whirlwind of such intensity
that its genesis
must have had biblical roots.
In its aftermath,
a landscape’s script rewritten,
its scarred legacy
testifying to fate’s fickleness.
I never imagined
that an airborne calamity might
be as silent as
a mouse that has tiptoed in,
targeting us alone.

March Madness

Unlaced, mud caked boots,
a day’s hard work discarded
for dry woolen socks

The zing of a stone
crossing crackly ice before
open water’s plop

Taxes done, a box
appears asking if I’m sure
I want to submit

Lingering daylight
leaves the dark incredulous
this close to bedtime

Freshly sprouted and
unscented, a flower sparks
memory’s perfume

Its weather fickle,
March madness keeps us all on
the edge of our seats

Flap Of A Wing

A stitch in time,
the crows flock and coalesce,
their black thread
basting through the fabric
of another day.
Churned to a noisy chorus,
darkness follows
in their wake as they announce
dusk’s arrival.
When descending like saints
to anoint roosts
in dim backyard evergreens,
their wings fold
to fasten the night’s curtain.
Come daylight,
with a sudden uplifting flap,
the boundary
between tree and sky again
will be erased.
But here in the stillness of
their settling,
wrapped in shadow’s mesh,
a stitched knot,
temporarily obscured, they
await resurrection.

Promise Of Spring

The promise of Spring
is best appreciated in Winter’s depths.
Come April, there will be
mud and a plethora of dandelions to
uproot on your knees.
It will only be a matter of time before
someone complains about
the flare of another seasonal allergy.
But on this February
afternoon, a 30 degree temperature
upswing awakens
a joy that’s slumbered since October.
We momentarily forget
a full month still separates us from
expectation’s reward.
Today, as we imagine its deliverance,
Spring’s golden luster
tantalizes us without the irritation of
an insect’s first sting.

Vermont Poem

Lean and lanky,
some poems resemble the state
of California.
Others, puffed up with bluster,
widen to encompass
the page like the state of Texas.
Imposing as
the Great Divide in textbooks,
a noble few
are loftily proclaimed as ethereal.
But what I
create is more akin to the state
of Vermont.
Landlocked there among giants,
my words usually
conjure only an insignificant pond.
But occasionally,
when enlivened by moonlight,
a quiet repository,
such poems succeed in dazzling
New York state.

Third Eye

The sky moonless,
oceanic black, and deep enough
to drown in; whispering
stars, like sirens,
draw you into the mystery of an
unfolding highway
and entice you in over your head.
A wall on either side,
corn fields hold the memory of
the afternoon’s sun,
their tassels still noisily ripening.
Windows down,
senses flex and catch the dew-
damp fragrance of
freshly cut hay, a scent carrying
with it the tang of
a recollection that ignites reverie.
With looping curves,
straight stretches, and no other
headlights to disturb
a languorous cruise homeward,
your thoughts only
snap awake when, by chance,
or simply by rote,
you brake and sharply turn into
the right driveway.
After turning off the car engine,
shaken, you sit for
a moment, no longer miles away.
With fate tempted,
in lieu of the two, you’ve trusted
a third eye to drive.

Summer Memory

If I could, I would
uncap those lightning bugs in jars,
be careful not to
trample that orchestra of crickets
beneath my feet,
and allow morning’s fishing bait to
escape plucking as
I hunted night crawlers after dusk.
But then, as a child
I’d yet to realize that I was merely
the audience
and not the necessary ingredient
in the composition of
a summer memory that excluded
my presence entirely.

Captain, May I?

Sunday…snow.
Monday…mixed precipitation
hardens into an additional frosting.
Tuesday…clouds wave
a magic cape and the two inches
predicted transform
into an accumulated five.
Wednesday night…busy city plows
replug driveway aprons.
Thursday…sunny and warmer,
snowbanks are renovated
into forts by industrious children.
Friday…hallelujah,
it’s a heat wave at forty degrees.
Saturday…bemused
neighbors engage in a game
of hopscotch
as they unsuccessfully
try to navigate swollen puddles.
Next week’s forecast…
no one dares to venture a look.
Winter still…tomorrow
is sure to demand that we take
two steps back.

Winter Sequence

Ash colored clouds
still smoldering with embers
there on sunset’s hearth

The hallelujah
of the first snowfall is soon
muffled by the next

Growing impatient
for the car defroster’s balm
we pray and proceed

Direction decides
if one’s comfortably dressed
in winds such as this

After house cleaning
with no other place to go
dust motes resettle

Banana Seat Bike

Big circle
little circle
twirling into
a figure eight
I imagine
myself a dancer
on wheels

Cards in bike spokes
sing as I go

An appreciative
public
holds its
collective breath
when I
almost pull off
a wheelie

How aerobatic
a banana
seat bicycle
becomes
when fueled
by youth’s
imagination

Cards in bike spokes
sing as I go

Propelled
by summer air
drunk
on enthusiasm
I bow
and exit with
aplomb

Cards in bike spokes
applauding

Calling Card

Yesterday you walked barefoot
through the grass,
and you will this afternoon, too.
But dawn’s light
now lingers beneath the covers.
Despite the day’s
later heat, August has awoken
this morning to
find a note left on the doorstep.
Encrypted by
today’s fresh northerly breeze,
its wordless inquiry
is cool, astringent, and concise.
Even if dismissed as
a vagary once the sun patently
asserts dominance,
Equinox, house shopping, has
left a calling card.
Uninvited, it is sure to be back.

Advent Tease

At the start of Advent,
there in a neighbor’s front yard,
cardboard cutouts appear,
populating an incomplete Nativity.
Mary, Joseph, and sheep,
already joined by three Wise Men
who have arrived early,
probably guided by GPS rather
than an eastern star.
Left out, a baby Jesus swaddled
in December’s snowfall.
Teasing an upcoming Christmas
premiere, the ensemble
gazes intently at what the plot
has yet to reveal.
Staked in the baby’s absence,
a placeholder suffices.
Handwritten, its sign proclaims,
“Arriving soon…”

Prescription (Waiting For Sleep)

Visualize a feather waltzing with
the night’s wind.
Construct, step by step, a stairway
to the stars.
Summon the sound of a stream
gurgling over rocks.
Conjure a cloud of blackbirds from
a summer’s sunset.
Whisper into silence’s ear a mantra
that makes no sense.
Let the thunder of today’s emotions
fade into drizzle.
Prescription taken, morning’s sure
to tiptoe in.

Invaders

The spider is no match for
a napkin once it’s weaponized.
A book on meditation,
upon launching, can be used as
a nuclear bomb to
obliterate a scurrying centipede.
Used tissue will do
to stop an invading ant before
it reaches that crack.
Bats require the blast of artillery,
tennis racket or broom.
In the annals of guerrilla warfare,
poison suffices for mice,
an intense flame for a tick’s shell.
Based on past encounters,
such home invaders should know
by now not to intrude.
Even if we profess benign intent,
a fly swatter’s within reach.

Language Of The Wind

Just imagine all of the secrets
that were whispered
when only it was there to listen.
If the language of
the wind could be translated,
surely, a million years
worth of ancestral longings would
finally be revealed.
A history of intimate exchanges,
those private prayers,
given voice in the wind’s song.
Aired and exposed,
an ancient story is made new.
Desire seeded
eons ago in the wind’s memory,
interpreted at last,
humbling us with its sameness.

Andrew Can Walk Now

He throws a pebble into the puddle
to see what’s there.
When nothing happens, still curious,
he steps even closer.
Ready to retreat at the first noise,
he dips his finger in,
then frightened, pulls it back out.
After careful examination,
he concludes no harm’s been done.
Caution discarded,
he plunges both hands down into
the pool’s depth.
Soon, his feet are splashing, too.
Having conquered
the unknown, with a triumphant
shout he slaps
the water again as he overcomes,
like his forebears,
another of life’s murky obstacles.

An hour later, overhearing perhaps
the melody of toes
or the musical beat of a sidewalk,
he holds a suede shoe
up to his ear, laughing all the while
as his eyes dance,
listening to the sweet noise inside.

Dare I Dream

Just when did those squeaky violins in
our backyard fall silent?
How many weeks ago did those crickets
succumb? Why didn’t I
think to bring one inside before the first
killing frost? If I had done so,
would it have practiced its lonely song
the whole winter long?
When exactly did we close the window
and then forget to open
it again? Was I sleeping when the last
geese honked south?
Those noisy birds that woke the dawn,
where have they gone?
When did the accumulation of daylight
fail to appreciate?
In the dead quiet of these long nights,
how can we keep
the conversation from expiring, too?
Does anyone teach silence
as a second language? Will April’s
warm inquisitive fingers
finally crack open the tight cocoon
that winter has spun?
So entrapped, dare I dream of wings?

Sixth Sense

May you come
to possess a sixth sense,
be blessed by
its ability to interpret what
the silence
patiently tries to teach
and, so gifted,
experience the weight
of something
so boundless and delicate
that—breathe
and it vanishes instantly
without the other
five senses ever knowing
the source.

Double Dared

Double dared, a child climbs
onto a garage roof’s sloping domain
where, shutting out fear and
shouted jeers, tentative steps nearer
the edge are encouraged
by a wind’s persistent nudge forward,
and with skyward focus,
courage is infused at the sight of birds
gliding despite gravity’s strict
dictates as defiance countermands
common sense. Although
aware that vital plumage is lacking,
she sprouts glorious wings,
even as doubt incessantly prepares
for the expected shock of
impact. But who among us knows
if, momentarily, she wasn’t
ascendent before she conceded to
rejoin our unfeathered state.

Captured

As we play hide and seek here
in after-supper twilight,
despite the crushing weight of
night’s pronouncement,
we decide to continue the game.

The lights in surrounding homes
are already glowing.
Televisions divert the housebound.
Soon, the only
creatures left will be nocturnal.

Down an unlit alley,
hunted only by the mosquitoes,
perhaps I’m too well
hidden in a garden’s camouflage.

One by one, the neighborhood
children are found;
in vain, I listen for “all-in-free,”
then realize, tonight,
nobody will be calling me home.

The dark’s already captured me.

Calculus Of Repetition

A repetition of
black tiles interspersed
among the white.
Hopscotching
down a crowded hallway
necessitates
the ability to pay no heed to
parental censure.
Trying to make it safely
from one dark
island to the next requires
concentration.
Should a jump fall short,
the chalky chasms
in between are surely alive
with sharks.
Balance must be
secured upon landing.
At four, in conjuring the rules
for this game from
the calculus of repetition,
daring wins all.

Stardust

Banding us together,
diamonds are priceless according
to the adverts,
nonetheless, they come at a cost.
Still, they seduce most
with their sparkle and promise
of love’s perpetuity.
But tonight, they seem mere paste
in gloved hands.
This winter walk has presented us
with another currency.
Overhead, the sky has opened to
reveal a vast eternity
and snow-covered fields smoothed
to an even plane.
Returning us to childhood dreams,
it is as if a fairy has
waved her wand to surround us
in crystalline glitter.
Imagination sprinkled by stardust,
this gift is invaluable.
How dull a diamond seems when
held out in comparison.

Wagging Baton

Bored with idleness,
I’m drawn to the window by a flurry
of unexpected activity––
the neighbor’s dog is burrowing
a hole in the snow.
Only its rump and an animated tail
are fully exposed.
What attraction has focused her so?
Could the sheltered grass
still be lush and green underneath?
Is she determined to
exhume a bone buried long ago?
A pirate’s treasure?
With the dark freezing its assets,
the snow’s pliancy has
stiffened as nightfall encroaches.
Nonetheless, she digs.
What scent is beguiling her so?
Oblivious to the cold,
why is she ignoring her owner’s
worried summons?
Conducting a silent orchestra,
attuned to the quest,
that wagging baton isn’t saying.

A Gray Sunday

Unopened on the counter,
a green bottle with just enough red
to color a gray Sunday.
Aglow, with an occasional crackle
and pop, a fireplace’s
embers generate a comforting heat
for stocking feet.
With dusk’s darkening presence now
asserting itself here
at mid-afternoon, why fight back?
Forgoing a planned walk,
uncorking bottled inspiration, let’s
enliven taste buds instead.

Unoccupied

For weeks, I’ve waited for this,
to walk in the door and find the house quiet,
unoccupied by anyone but me.
The dirty dishes in the sink of my own making.
Knowing when I finally sit down,
I will not need to get back up at someone
else’s behest. Flipping through
the channels, I can stop wherever I please.
For the sake of modesty,
there is no need to close the bathroom door.
And if were to sing along to
the music, only the silence will be disturbed.
I can stay up past bedtime
and not have to tiptoe when I crawl into bed.
Nobody will be shortchanged
should I brazenly steal an additional pillow.

And yet, before I can fully enjoy
tonight’s solitude–all of this wasted space–
unexpectedly, I find myself
wistfully wishing that the phone would ring,
for your voice to reassure me,
come tomorrow night, you’ll be home again.

Clothesline

Late in autumn,
well-bundled against the cold,
out on the porch
smoking the season’s last cigar,
I watch a hawk,
white-bellied and magnificently
persistent, draw and
retrace a single straight line on
the sky’s canvas,
its purpose left to interpretation.

Invisible and abstract,
what it is trying to emphasize
only becomes evident
when, my cigar burnt to ashes,
I realize an entire
afternoon has been spent with
thoughts pinned to
a piece of art that is not there;
summer’s ensemble
hung to dry on its clothesline.