Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Photograph

Why, I wondered,
had a friend sent me a photograph
of total darkness?
On second glance, I began to sense
the faint impression
made by a distant moonless night
leaking starlight.
A Rorschach test, what seemed to
emerge was an inkblot
that suggested a canopy of leaves,
but nothing more.
How surprised I was two days later,
upon reexamination,
to find an owl’s focused eyes staring
straight back at me,
its charcoal wings still folded tight
into invisibility.
Camouflaged with the intensity of
patience itself, there
in a cavern of darkness, hunger’s
glare betrayed.

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Bing Cherries

Eating bing cherries,
I have taken shelter on the porch
beneath its skylights,
studying a downpour that has
changed my plans
for the day from active participant
to mere observer.
Believing myself to be alone and
closeted in privacy,
I begin to sing aloud along with
its steady drumbeat.
But scattering droplets as it lands
on a nearby bough,
not about to be outdone, a lone
cardinal defiantly
enters the fray with its own refrain.
Off in the distance,
the lonesome wail of a locomotive
colors the interlude.
Quickly admitting amateur status,
demoted, I choose to
bow out and feign my disinterest.
Digesting the bitter
along with the sweet, I silently
savor another cherry.

Once, Awaiting Again

The garden becomes a fallow field
once put to bed.
Distant vegetation reduced to root,
once undressed
reveals a skeleton composed of
hardened frost.
Once all joyful outdoor labor has
abruptly ended,
tools are hung to rust in peace on
garage hooks.
Bird song at dawn barely dents
day’s lethargy
once the steady pulse of crickets
becomes faint.
An instrument no longer played,
once unattended,
the silence seems merely a violin
without strings.
What once insistently bloomed
now awaits again.

Relapse

I look both ways to make
sure there’s no one that I recognize
in this convenience store.
Approaching the line at the register,
I pull my cap lower on my
forehead, aware of the camera
recording my every move.
When I set down the purchase,
no eye contact is made
when I fork over the cash; after all,
this is something I do not
want showing up on a joint credit
card statement later.

After forty years clean,
what’s brought about this relapse?
I do not stop to address
my guilt or shame, rather, I kick
myself for not buying two.
Finding a dark lonely lane, head-
lights turned off, I wait
until a passerby has disappeared.
In the car’s unlit interior,
erased into invisibility, I’m safe
from the judgment of
friends or a spouse who’d never
condone such hunger.

Little Debbie and I embrace again
in intimacy’s gluttony.

Recycling Apples

None of us yet seduced by
the bruise-free,
soulless sheen from store-
bought counterparts,
as children in frostbitten
October we would
hunt for autumn’s windfall
strewn among
God’s packing material,
crimson leaves
donated by a neighbor’s
maple softening
the impact of each jewel,
and rewarded,
we’d burnish found booty
to a deeper glow
of red on shirt sleeves,
then, with relish,
recklessly eat our way
around wormholes,
down to the pithy heart
contained within,
before spitting its seeds
back for future
generations to treasure.

Proof By Example

When Grandmother
learned that I in good conscience
could no longer
attend a church I’d lost faith in,
this woman who
had rarely missed a 7 a.m. mass
did not condemn,
shun, or question my decision.

Setting an example
where many faithful would preach,
instead, I was
gathered into a smothering hug
with a whispered
“I understand,” as she stood firm
in the conviction
of her belief despite my doubts.

Fable

Tired of his restricted view,
he resolved to remove
the towering pines to reveal
a mountain’s majesty.
Paying no heed to the nests
huddled among needles,
weaponized, all day long he
wielded his hungry saw,
not stopping until the final
pine toppled to expose
midnight’s star-studded sky.
Then, he too crumpled.
But when dawn drew him
from bed to admire
his magnificent new vista,
the view disappointed.
Laid bare, stripped of finery,
no longer framed by
the trees or chorusing birds,
a mighty mountain had
shrunken in its nakedness.