Falling Like Autumn Leaves

The Winter snow is gone, but
the trees still hold Spring
in their fists, as if unwilling
to give up tomorrows
for the chilling prospects of today.
But I still see leaves, some lying
in corners, pasted together
by tears Winter held back.
Others, scoot like squirrels
in the March breeze, trailing
the shadows of seasons past,
before this doleful year when
so many, like autumn leaves,
fall away by the thousands
yet die alone. Maybe tomorrow,
the trees will open their fists,
extending new life on their limbs.
I know groves, though, where
too many others can’t reach back.

Love In the Time of Corona

So…what if this time it’s really the end?
The time to say adios, good-bye, adieu.
If it is, then what better time to send
one more poem, my friend, to say thank you?

Isn’t it strange how many questions I ask
when it wasn’t answers I really needed?
See? Now there’s two more I add to the task
of figuring you out. Never succeeded.

You whispered at me so many secrets,
then pushed me away when I’d lean too close.
Now, I’ve caught so many of your regrets,
and never knew why it was me you chose.

So here’s the end. Not too close, should I sneeze.
Never mind, we were always each other’s disease.

Sorry for the extra beat at the end. Sometimes such things don’t have a suitable explanation. They just have to be. Let’s just hope it’s like an extra heartbeat. Be well, stay vigilant, and know I’m always thinking of you as we each wait out whatever lies ahead. 

A Matter of Honor

They think I don’t hear them, but I do. Or at least I hear the hum of their talk with words bobbing up every now and then.

It certainly bests the sound of breathing, the crackle of my neck turning left and right on the cot, or the heartbeat that longs to feel hers, just to make some poetry that probably doesn’t rhyme anymore.

But out in the hallway, I’m pretty sure the guards are talking about me. I hear “bastard.” And maybe that was a “poor,” which I’d appreciate if this wasn’t the eve of the dawn we’ve been waiting for. Or dreading.

There! I’m pretty sure that was a “governor,” but it just as well could have been a “southerner,” or a “lovin’ her.” They all could apply to me. Though I’m not sure Yankees understand family and honor like we do.

I probably deserve the dance I’ll do when the sun clears the horizon. Eye for an eye and all. Carpetbaggin’ sumbitch deserved every last ball I put in him. Wish’d I had Daddy’s LeMat to wipe the grin off his face with a shotgun blast, too.

But some Yankee’s probably got that, too. Took everything, eventually, didn’t they? Saber, gun, horses, farm, Mama’s honor, my…

I heard the lock clank.

“All right, I’m afraid it’s time. Ya know, I’d have shot that scoundrel, too, Missy. If it’s any consolation. I take no solace in hangin’ a twelve year old girl,” the glossy-eyed, red-nosed sergeant said.

When there are no more of their culturally established defenders around, some women grow up fast to protect themselves and their own. Especially in a mid-19th Century rural society. This 250-word story reflects such a young woman doing what she decided needed to be done in a family whose men were erased by war. It’s in response to that first sentence up there, the prompt for this week’s Thursday Threads feature from author Siobhan Muir.

I Still See a Face

It seems so stupid,
how that face is still in my thoughts
visiting me more often than even
someone’s idea of a Muse.
And while some might call it
my poetic river’s source,
the thought of it brings
more sorrow than joy.
On my ceiling dark, I lie awake
and see those eyes swing
from glad to sad to mad
(or even angry)
and randomly hopscotch emotions
until my mind surrenders
in exhausted relief.
And so thank you
for your curious lullaby.

Your silence is often the last voice
I hear before the darkness
consumes my consciousness
and my dreamless sleep
provides escape from
the gladness, the sadness,
the madness, that would
drive most other men to
slumbering fantasy,
but prods me toward
the sweet relief of a poet’s
near-sleep breath and breath,
hopeful that even if all those
transgressions are not forgiven,
they may, at least someday,
like that face,
be forgotten.

A Willing Suspension of Disbelief In a Fearful Symmetry


Coleridge coined the phrase two centuries ago. The willing suspension of disbelief (WSOD), that is.

I was taught the phrase as part of a course on Romantic poetry – better known by most of us as the Byron and Keats stuff. It is the coin of the realm for creators of fiction, where a reader is only too happy to believe that a kid named Luke, from long ago in a galaxy far, far away, could shut down his target acquisition computer and use some spooky supernatural Force to make the greatest massé shot in (fake) space Western history.

These days, we see it in the DNA of almost every form of media, from books, movies and TV shows (Including “reality” television. Reailty? I mean, c’mon!) up to and including the news. Sure, you count on everything you hear from a talking hairdo on television to be the truth, but I’ve been on the other side of your news mirror (ink-stained, pulpy paper species) and you tell me if you believe what item lands in A1 above the fold or in the first time-part happens organically.

Sometimes News Sense is more like News ¢ent$.

And so we come back to Sam Coleridge, a laudanum-imbibing lotus-eater who would maybe be an Adderall-snorting edible-ingester today. Or a President. He would require you to believe everything he says is Gospel (and don’t get me started on the WSOD of that subject) and even use your opiate of the masses as the pre-warmed lube for the shtupping.

But maybe some don’t mind buying into the jive, especially if it fits into the jagged narrative they’ve got hidden under their sheets. Maybe they’re willing to forget what’s right and what’s wrong if it’s entertaining, in a nostalgic sort of “way it used to be” way. When it really wasn’t. They’re just suspending their belief of history and morality to suspend their disbelief in the lies, damned lies and “What-abouts” of the faux-arrogant fearful.

It’s all so Romantic, in a literary sense. It’s all so tribal, in a political one. You do you. I’ll do me. And maybe someday we’ll meet somewhere in the middle, when the smoke clears and truth means truth again. Maybe we can read Blake together.

Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. We’d have a better chance of rhyming “eye” with “symmetry.” Right, Tyger?

Circling the Herd In a Time of Social Distance

When you’re a kid and you get sick,
most times you’re lucky enough
to have the strength of many around
to tend to you and help you through it.
Or at least that’s how it was
during most of my life.
Oh, we’d run up against quarantines
for measles and chicken pox
and even polio (because I’m old).
The nation was a herd taking care of our own.
Now doctors tell me that a bunch of us
are going to get sick. But the herd
can’t take care of me because it seems
most of our horns have been sawn off
by the wolves in the food chain’s penthouse.
So, with almost seven decades
seasoning my once brown and shaggy coat,
it feels like I might be facing
a predator with no one of any muscle
having my back, at my shoulder,
over my wounded body. Sure seems like
it’s time to circle the herd for protection.
But it’s hard to feel safe while keeping
six feet of distance between each of us.

Terminal Contagion

Mortality casts its shadow jet black
at such dark times as these we’re living in.
My journey will end and I won’t come back,
probably lie on roadside, giving in.

I tried and tried to make my days brighter
to fend off the cause of this affliction.
But these dark clouds won’t let it be lighter,
erasing even my shadow depiction.

I caught this sickness when I was a kid
and it almost killed me and some others.
It’s contagious, and inside me it’s hid,
and can infect me, you and our brothers.

The virus in the news isn’t this disease.
It’s terminal hatred. Don’t succumb, please.