Around the corner and down a way, just before the main road, two staples hold what’s left of a piece of paper to the power pole. I’d pass it in its fullness on my way to or from when snow still covered everything. It was hard to read then, weather having already faded it, the home printer’s ink running in tears down to the oiled wooden pole. But I knew it was a picture of someone’s white cat that had left the house and not returned. It could have run away, but I doubt it. It could have gone out and run afoul of a winter-hungered coyote, or maybe it got lost in the expanse of white upon which Home happened to be and a car or snowplow had sent it spinning like a snowflake to join the rest of the white on white landscape, maybe until Spring. And now all that’s left of someone’s plaintive posting for their loved one to come back are two staples and a tear of shredded hope. And I thought about the times I have been spun and hunted and lost. When I didn’t know which direction was Home, or if I even wanted to go there. When the dome of sky and the plate of earth are indiscernible from one another, and you look around you for help or escape and you know not which way is the N on the compass, let alone the road to redemption, you just have to find your way within. I once saw a litter of puppies tumbling down a hill toward the busy road upon which I sped by. There’s was nothing I could do for them, surrounded as I was by semis and fulls – the former, trucks and the latter, idiots. I filed that scene as a short loop that runs in my head and heart for thirty years. I have no idea if the little black bundles of bumptiousness hit road level and found a diverting chain link fence there (I pray so) or if a frightening inevitability ended their lives. I just know that they still live within the Home that is me, just as that cat might live in the lives of its family, or whoever saw its snowy invisibleness now indivisibly rendered in the home within them. Whether we know it or not, there will always be a Home for us, grim, gritty or glorious as it may be, in the memories of others, even strangers. Perhaps someday one of them will remember the shred of me when I passed through their day on the way Home. Theirs or mine, the direction doesn’t really matter. We’re Home.
On Day 27 of my Poem-a-Day quest, a “direction” poem. I saw the prompt and could only think of the line from Dylan…Bob, not Thomas. My taste in poets runs toward Minnesota, not Wales. Now, don’t nit-pick if this is a poem or not. It’s a first-draft expression of something within me. Let’s say it’s a prose poem, just for the sake of giving it an address in these last few days of April. A home on the way to May.
Sometimes I wonder why
I live so much life
when you are done
living yours each day.
As you lie in your bed,
resting and recovering
from the energy spent
being you or assuming
the role draped across
your waking shoulders,
I come to life,
in the near-sleep,
staring straight up
into the dark, where
my imagination shines.
While you sleep,
we are performing
in daytime, when
the light blinds
my mind’s eye.
It is my balancing time
between day’s dull reality
and night’s brilliant hope,
no matter how fanciful.
Maybe that’s why it’s called
Poem-a-Day for April 26th, an “evening” poem.
I sit here by myself.
I am solitary. As usual,
Yet I’m speaking to you.
You are sitting there,
alone in your chair.
Yet you are listening to me.
Our hermit lives aren’t wrong,
just separate from the throng,
a decision made in a moment,
over a lifetime.
But by whom?
Them? Him? Her? Us?
Yes. The simple answer.
We are exiles, banished,
because no one wants us,
sometimes not even ourselves.
But even in exile, we are together.
Because I am speaking to You
and you are listening to me
(yes, still Me),
in our solitary confinements
we share with a world,
each other and no one else.
Soon I’ll rise from this island,
as will you from yours,
but you’ll not be alone
because I’m with you now.
And, on this sea of white light,
you’re exiled with me.
Day 25. An “exile” poem.
The further twisting of this twisty tongue,
made of words homegrown and appropriated,
has gone unabated since I was young,
and some I have even procreated.
I guess that’s the price for a language loose
as the American vernacular.
I’m fine with words made up by Dr. Seuss,
but it’s the disuse I find spectacular.
You may not notice how the public speaks
as they hear language on TV mangled.
In texts their lack of care or knowledge peaks.
I gave up on participles dangled.
I’ll still weep for Mother Tongue, totally annoyed,
whenever I hear, “completely destroyed.”
Day 24 of my poem-a-day quest, which I’ve already completely destroyed…uh, I mean…
Oh, and the prompt for today was a poem with a title beginning with “Complete…”
What’s it like to be free,
to no longer feel the weight
of it all upon your shoulders,
not bear so much upon your back
of what you can’t even see?
Is it like a life spent in the sky,
unbound from that which would
bring you down among we
who think we’re un-free?
We are silly sometimes,
wishing we were loosed from
our chains that truss us
to the day-to-day track,
expecting an oncoming train
that may never arrive atop us.
You thought you might be free
when you flew off from your
nest built of broken promises,
and curse-propelled spittle.
But that wasn’t freedom.
That was escape.
And the only escape that makes
us free is the one where
the spirit slips the ties
of You and Them, You and Me,
You and its nest over which
all bid adieu with a quiet “Amen.”
Day 23 of my poem-a-day NaPoWriMo quest. Had to take some time away because all my girls were in one place at once for the holiday. Priorities, y’all.
In a life spent standing
astride the penumbra,
the margin of light and shadow,
I’ve spent most of my days
braced against the winds
always blowing from the sunrise
toward the sunset.
it’s been the darkness that’s
illuminated my way to tomorrows.
It is a wearying place,
cold and fraught with the hidden
and the injurious. And yet,
I’ve come to know it as I would
rising from bed and finding
my way around this room at 2:00 AM.
But someday, I hope to see you
again in bright light, standing there
with the sun at your back
and a smile on your face
reflecting the mirror of mine.
Maybe that’s why, each morning
before I stride to my post
on the melding-point penumbra and
glance at my well-worn path
melting into the darkness,
I still hopefully check which way
the winds might be blowing.
Day 20 of my poem-a-day quest. A “dark/darkness” poem. I guess they didn’t know darkness is my metier. Though it’s been more difficult to get to the writing with the Easter holiday and family visiting from out-of-state. Never said I was the perfect host, though. Just a dark one.
Perhaps we should
earn licenses to operate,
we of the human species.
And by that I mean not
that we need licenses to exist,
because that would be in-human.
No, I think perhaps we should
be licensed in humanity,
in behavior that is humane
toward all living things,
each other, the planet’s beasts
and even the planet itself.
And yes, that sounds inanely
Pollyannish, but there must be
something we can do to help
straighten out the behavior
of homo sapiens before homo sapiens
falls back into mere homo erectus.
Of course, along would come
homo advocatus, to get a mean drunk,
busted for humaning while
ability impaired, off on a piddling
harsh language ticket.
Oh, sorry, my fellow humans
of the bar, there I go proving
even the most well-meaning
of us can’t help but revert
to our baser instincts.
Oh well, I’m only human.
Day 19 of my poem-a-day quest. A “license” poem. And this is the first and only thing that crawled out of my creative primordial ooze. Probably should have stayed there.
Each night I lie in bed
and ponder why I still sit
in that chair every day
trying to tell stories
of a me and a you
that never happened,
why I scribble about memories
that are the barest of vapors
moved by a breath I’ll
never feel on my cheek.
These days I ponder
that same question even
as I sit in this chair
talking to myself alone and
not listening, just transcribing
the silence where once spoke reason.
Maybe that’s why I still do this.
I’m searching for reason
where reason doesn’t exist.
No longer reasonable,
yet unreasonably necessary.
Day 17. A “reason” poem. It’s true. I lie in bed at night and wonder why I even do this pointless exercise, this seemingly fruitless waste of what time I have left. Then I get up, sit in this chair, open a new document, start typing and still don’t know why. Maybe that last sentence, which I just looked up and found sitting there, is my unconscious self’s explanation. It’s necessary for at least one of us.
He never actually tried to catch her,
but she clung to him like a cocklebur
at his every move and thought.
And when he tried to remove her,
she stung him sorely, even drawing
some of his blood. Because it turns out
she was caught upon his heart.
She never really tried to catch him,
but he’d bull through her space
as men do. Men are about the catch,
the possess, whether they catch
that truth or not. And when he tried
touching her, she’d sting him sorely,
even drawing blood, as if she caught
upon his heart.
Now he no longer enters her space,
too tired of fighting her inadvertent cling
and too chastened from her deliberate sting.
Sometimes she’ll pick through the old days
when he’d carry off a piece of her.
She pretty sure doesn’t miss him,
but might miss being caught upon his heart.
Day 16. A “catch and/or release” poem. Maybe I did both here. Perhaps this is the only way I can tell stories anymore.
The pessimist might be the best
at predicting the future,
since they might never suffer
for being wrong.
If their prediction of something
calamitous comes to pass,
you can hear their “Told ya so”
in obnoxious sing-song.
But if their prognostication goes
cockeyed, people glad for the error
might give the pessimist a pass even
for being wrong all along.
However, should the optimist’s
prediction go down in flames,
dashed expectations are likely
to incite the milling throng.
This is why I tend to lean toward
the negative call, since I’ve found
safety in not coming on too brightly
Now I’ll end this piece, positive
in predicting your negative reaction
to my forcing these “-ong” rhymes
way, way, way too long.
A “prediction” poem on Day 14 of this poetic death march to May, when I try to write a story every day.
Prediction: I won’t.