Rainbow Sky

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The rainbow sky floats so close,
they can almost touch it.
I thrill they at least try.
Again and again the five-year olds 
hop with arms stretched, hands high,
laughing, screeching, reaching for
something they’ll never really grasp.
Above their heads, teachers flap
a color-wheel parachute, coaxing
the wide-eyed little ones ever higher,
instead of letting them slowly down,
down, down in its adult role.
But they don’t know this yet,
nor care. I hope they never read this,
because I’d hate to be the one
to first let them down, down, down,
dashing the sweet innocence of
their still airborne dreams
with the maturity of gravity
and the gravity of maturity.

Weathervane

I watch as she faces the wind,
because a breeze like this is something
newish to a one-year-old.
She squinches her eyes, but then
comes what I’d never expect.
The little one opens her mouth,
inhales and accepts the breeze like
it was a sacrament, a communion
of nature and nurture, as I carry her
from front door to car door. “More,”
she says,twisting in my arms, always
facing windward, a beautiful weathervane
with my DNA. “Okay, let’s go,”
I laugh, and turn with her.
“More,” we echo, because this is
something newish to each of us.

A Blessed Wound

I must admit, the damage done
has served me well. This hole
we tore in my heart opened a door
for my captive emotions,
hugs, longing gazes, a kiss,
and even streams of words like this,
to finally break free.

Across these expressive decades,
through all their joy and pain and
drying tears, I never sought to heal it.
To close the hole and seal it
with a scar would return me
to my hermit cell, and its days
of numbing darkness within.

I’m growing tired, though,
and see my body bending with age,
feel this heart folding upon itself.
That’s why some tomorrow or
its tomorrow, you may not feel
the warmth and scratch of my cheek,
won’t again sense my lips
brush yours in such whispered song.

That would tear a hole in my soul.

Dust to Dust

So today I wrote a poem for you,
because if I didn’t, I’d forget
these words. I’d forget the times
I wondered if you were there,
forget how I once lost my voice
yet still sang for you anyway.
I’d most surely forget my way.
I can’t give much more than this,
and most of it is dust,
some sparkling still.
It illuminates the dark
under my bed, the walls
and even the ceiling
upon which I wrote this.
And it lights the path
back where this journey began.
Or maybe I’m just too old
to understand it never did.

Élan

Amanty_Airdrome_Building_47_-_France

Amanty Aerodrome Building 47 – France

At the squadron’s makeshift bar, Lt. Mansfield Parkman (Princeton, Class of 1917) poured himself and Lt. Edmund Whitney (Class of 1918) another glass each of cognac, lifted his and said, “To our brave comrade, Albie Filmore, who lived, flew, fought and died with the greatest spirit of élan!”

At a small table across the floor of the leaking shed, Captain Fred Meek, a veteran of three years flying for France and now the United States, drained his own glass and said, “Yeah, Philmont seemed a spunky little fella, but buzzing around hellbent for election chasing Boche as he did, I figured he was bound to ‘go west’ in about a week’s time.”

“His name was Filmore, and how dare you sully the name of a brave young man while Taps still echoes in his memory?” Whitney said, charging from his canvas chair toward Meek with fists clenched.

“Easy there, Lieutenant, I was only making the observation — and you’d be wise to take to heart — that Filmore’s or any other pilot’s élan or whatever you romantic boys wish to call it doesn’t keep a watch out for you or your tail feathers, nor stop 7.92 mm machine gun rounds, at 12,000 feet,” Meek said, staring icy warning at the new pilot.

When Parkman gathered up Whitney and escorted him from the tent, Meek turned to his drinking companion, a fellow veteran flyer, and said, “Depending on the weather, I give each of those spunky idiots no more than five élan-filled days before they join their friend”…and it was four.

A shaky five-sentence fiction based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word  SPUNK.

Desperate Measures

Ever wonder how the once-prolific though often actually dispassionate poet guy comes up with the hundreds of bits of story and verse he’s posted on this small wall? Lately, so have I.

Sometimes, when my shallow puddle of passion leaves me (like during the past month or more) and nothing in life wants its story written that day, I free write a list of ten words, sentences or impressions based upon a word I pull randomly from whatever book is near my hand.

Some of the inhabitants of these lists, once I gaze at them for a spell, form connections with one another, like moderately successful blind dates. (Hopefully, more like a weekend at a swingers’ club.) And sometimes these connections become ideas for poems and stories you’ve read and maybe even liked.

It’s a desperate ploy by a desperate man, but damn if it hasn’t worked more times than not.

I’m beyond desperate these days. I am bereft of emotion and insight. That’s why I reached over to the bookcase, opened up the first book I touched (a crossword puzzle dictionary, if you must know) and dropped it upon its spine, poking my finger between the pages and using the word upon which it came to rest.

Today’s word, at this point pretty damn useless for this fairly blind imagination, is GREEN.

Here’s what happened after that:

1. Green, nothing but green, surrounded me, lying there on the 30-yard line, once the white, red and black cleared from my head.
2. Green tomatoes, breaded and fried, sounded like a decent side dish, but the blonde who walked in while I ordered would have been an epic one.
3. Green fluid seeped from beneath car and puddled on the roadway.
4. Green buckskin uniforms lay scattered above the village, waiting for the signal to attack.
5. “Green grass, will return someday, my son, when Manitou is once again pleased with his fallen people,” the old sachem told his grandson. But each of them knew otherwise.
6. Green-clad cheerleaders pranced and kicked along the sidelines, while the backup wide receiver stretched his hamstring and strained his eyes for a look at one blonde’s personal 50-yard line. (A sad, but true memory from the concussed dude from up there in Number 1.)
7. Green like no green I’d ever seen greeted me when I emerged from the shadows beneath the mezzanine and saw the diamond-cut emerald set in the red velvet infield dirt of Fenway park.
8. “Green antifreeze, I told you to get the GREEN antifreeze,” Dad said, tossing his cigarette away in disgust.
9. “Green beer for you on this fine day, darlin’?”, the barmaid asked. (Wonder what would have happened if I asked for orange?)
10. “Green pants and a green clip-on tie bearing the SPI monogram of St. Patrick’s Institute, were my uniform for nine years, after which I vowed never to wear any combination of blue mixed with yellow again, Sergeant,” I told the Army corpsman at my Draft physical. (Another truth, long-forgotten.)

I hope one of these images springs forth a little literary life soon. Otherwise, I’m going to have to put away my pencil for a spell. And I’m forgetting where I put a lot of things lately.

Unillumined

He sat by the window, the one facing north,
and watched the dark piece of dewy day
the backside of the house cut from the lawn.
He watched the birds fly from day to night
and back into day again, all in a second
and fifteen feet of airspace. And then
he watched that bit of shade shrink
as Sun climbed over the slope of roof.

He watched the terrier tied next door
snooze closer and closer to its
shadow-shrouded backdoor, until noon
forced him inside the airless gloom
of his sky blue dog house.
He watched as Sun crested the sky,
breaking today into smaller pieces,
and sliding downhill toward tomorrow,
bruising the western horizon,
somewhere over those trees,
in a glow of purple and then indigo.

Still he sat by the window, waiting
for a different kind of light to inform
this forever darkness, something that
would carve dawn into moonless ever-eve.
He blinked like the terrier, inching
closer and closer to some glowing hope,
the kind you think you see when you stare
into night too long. But it’s only another
chance to sit by the window and watch
the arc of this life unillumined.