More Than a Man Behind a Beard

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The Santas have come
to the malls again,
carried in by the warm breeze
from ovens opening to release
the Thanksgiving turkey
to its joyous greeting and
Black Friday leftovers demise.
These red-clad stand-ins aren’t
really the jolly one, though.
Just like Teddy Bears aren’t
named Teddy and definitely
aren’t bears. Not really.
Well, they are in the imaginations
of children and those who wish
to hold onto memories from childhoods
too early lost to revelations
from the older ones who still
feel anger about losing theirs.

I wonder if the shopping mall,
sidewalk and Salvation Army
Santas enjoy their roles as
symbols of something lost
or soon enough so. Just as
they’ll lose their jobs
come the 25th of December.
If I was one of them, sitting
on my photo prop throne or
ringing my alms-seeking bells,
I’d prefer to think I’m grasping
a month in my life, mere minutes
over 30 days, perhaps as some
child’s lifetime memory of something
pureand good. Something greater than
just a man behind a beard.

Nights Covered in Dreams

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My dreams have stopped again, which shouldn’t surprise me because dreams were ever in short supply on the shelves of my mind. They’ve always been scant and what lies on this pillow isn’t some 24-hour emporium of packages filled with images and sensations I once felt, or never will feel again. I like to sleep in total darkness, but enjoyed the light and lightning dreams brought to my nights. Perhaps that’s why, once I awaken now from the dark within darkness, I find dreams in a song, or the kiss, smell and taste of wind and water upon my face, the tracks my pen leaves upon a sheet of paper. Such dreams once were high-flying aspirations, but now bring rest to my mind before it lies dormant, in darkness, whether I’m alone or covered warm beneath other sheets. These woven of percale and reverie, scribbled seam-to-seam with dreams of you.

When We Have Faces Again

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Faceless, by Carsten Frenzl

Should I read between this and that line,
if ever I thought it’d be a good time,
I’d see a piece of you here and there, all right.
But I write in the dark, behind a closed door at night.
So if some of you made your way into the room,
and got stretched across my word-weaving loom,
I’d apologize, but say thanks for the light.

But, reach out I never did.
Rather, I stayed here and hid
behind recollections fogged in,
almost, but not quite, forgotten.
Where you became a thought without a face,
and I, in the dark, one with barely a trace,
a memory of a someone locked out, not in.

Maybe we’ll meet some distant day
and perhaps then I’ll hear you say,
“I think I remember you.
You’re the one who
wrote songs that might be about me.”
And I’d say, “Perhaps, yes.
But my memory it lapses.
So these words might’ve happened without me.”

They may be woven of the chaff
of long ago when I’d laugh
at how I let life put me through paces.
I lost sight of you, and a part of me too.
Perhaps, blurred without traces, but
through God’s holy graces, amen,
we’ll finally recognize
one another not just by words, by the eyes…
but only when we have faces again.

When we have faces again.

Because you asked me.  But I thought I’d torture myself (and you readers) and make this writing a bit more difficult on myself–which will ever be my artistic wont–with some sort of half-assed rhyme scheme. Cryptic, I know…even to me.

Speak to Me in Light

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Get that hurt look off your face.
Darkness will be with us always.
But so too the light, because
without light we wouldn’t’
know but dark. It would be all.
I know some who breathe in
darkness and exhale light,
banishing even my blackest pain,
miracles performed by the spirit
of kindness and gratitude
within them. It’s as simple as
we dispel cold with the white clouds
we speak on even the darkest
winter’s night. I like to dream we
possess that gift, calling
and feeling returned such light
like dawn upon another dawn,
all the echoes of our lives.

Another instance of using the first and last lines of a song by one of my favorite songwriters, James McMurtry. These bookends for my study of light overcoming the dark are from his song, “Dusty Pages.” Such people do exist. You know them, they can take your darkness and turn it to light so you see, if not your way out, at least a brighter path. Oh yeah, and this is another of my compulsive 100-word pieces. 

Prima Ballerina Assoluta

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She’s peeled off her shrug of russet,
just about ready for her
season-long performance
of The Nutcracker.
Anchored firmly in fifth position,
she stretches her bare arms
skyward, perhaps for a demi-détourné.
She’s the only danseuse left
from the corps de ballet that once
swayed and rustled their
crispy tulle in concert with
the West Wind’s orchestrations.
Now she’s the principal,
evergreens complementing her
in her terra cotta-colored costume
as the dawn lights rise above the roofline,
compelling me to applaud with this pencil.
Despite her snow-broken branch
and wrinkled bark, she’s still
prima ballerina assoluta
of the backyard ballet.

Every year, this last oak on the  north boundary of our backyard sheds most of its leaves except for that ring sound its lower limbs. I’ve always called it her tutu, which really stands out when the snow has fallen. She’s dropping her shrug now and we’re supposed to catch some snow tomorrow, but I couldn’t wait to write about her in the dawn light this morning.

Things Fall Apart

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Things fall apart, the Irishman said,
and, as days dwindled like hours
dropping by the temporal roadside,
my life sloughing off like a snake’s skin,
I’d once turn to look at the trail of debris
I’ve left along my way.

Along both shoulders of this
pothole-pocked gravel two-lane lies
the detritus of all my broken promises,
crushed chances, dashed hopes,
severed relationships and shattered dreams.
But I reckon that’s what this life’s
supposed to be, not some smooth interstate
of a heretofore to hereafter.

I’ve found it’s like driving along
and That Song comes on the radio
and you see Her while the highway fades away
for the next six miles. Suddenly
you’ve reached your destination and
you don’t remember how you got there,
what you passed on the way, what
you might’ve dropped while recalling
a better-forgotten past and contemplated
a cloudy never-will-be.

I try not to look back, try not to imagine
my destination. This current place
in my journey is what’s most important.
And every time I think of taking a peek,
I look hard to the right and left
and continue slouching toward Bethlehem
or wherever it is I’ll finally fall.

My thanks to William Butler Yeats for the opening and closing lines of this marathon (for me) of a poem. Those lines come from his poem, The Second Coming. We only get one coming, though, so maybe we should try taking in as much of the scenery of our lives rather than who/what/where we’ve been and what it’ll be like when we reach that nebulous destination that we probably won’t make anyway..

The Hours Lost

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It’s strange how some mornings
I wake up before the sun,
and a light I cannot see
goes on there in the dark.
Even with my eyes closed
I see things I haven’t seen
in a long time. Most likely
because I’ve kept my eyes closed.
It happens more and more
these not-quite days, when
I really would like back
those extra two hours of sleep
these vivid visions stole
in the blackness of this room,
where I thought I shut everything —
doors, eyes, mind — long ago.
Maybe it’s our hours I wish
I hadn’t lost that want me back.