You’ll Know Me When You See Me

I might've surrendered, if I had a sword to offer. 
But all I have is a pen, one mighty in myth alone.
I won’t bow, even though I’m already bent 
by the weight of sorrow looped ‘round my neck. 
But I won't fall, because I’m so sick of the taste of dirt 
I refuse to crawl in apparent supplication. 
Yes, with empty hands, love has beaten me again. 
So you can have this pen, this key to a heart 
I've too often locked with it. It’s gone empty, too. 
But I’ll never surrender while my soul 
can still speak the language of your soul.
Because love doesn't require words;
words are merely the filigree surrounding
the mirror in which love recognizes love. 
Even if it's scarred and beaten,
with no sword, no pen, no poetry.
Only open hands, an open heart
and a soul brave and giving.
You'll know me when you see me.

Like My Words Touch Your Heart

When I’m done here, perhaps I'll have touched you,
and, in turn, you might reach out to touch me.
I haven’t given nor received it much, too,
not in a warm to warm sense and such, see.

Is it only with words that we connect?
No, we sense our feelings from a distance.
Words’ warmth a thermometer can’t detect,
not like skin might with skin in this instance.

But the human touch is something we’ve lost,
for so long, both giving and receiving.
Perhaps, to you my embrace feels like frost,
but we can’t see, since feeling’s believing.

Or I guess we could go on just as we are,
comfortably sharing our affection,
with my hands on these keys and this space bar,
yours touching glass and your own reflection.

So this poem’s done, hope you felt it, too, 
and thus in its own way it did its part.
It’s not enough, but the best I can do,
until we touch like my words touch your heart.

All the Tomorrows I Have Left Are on the Right Side of This Book

Tomorrow it begins, this next day 
of what I hope are many more.
Not so much that I want to live 
forever, but more that I want 
however many new days granted me
be shared with you. Many “however many.”
That may seem foolish or selfish 
or even perched on the edge of ludicrous,
but when the shadow of the finite 
stretches toward you from a Horizon 
that doesn't move away as it did 
from youthful you, life feels like 
it’s the right side of a book 
that suddenly got good now shrinking 
thinner and thinner than you’d ever prefer. 
Yes, I know that’s how life and literature
work, but I've no sequel in my pocket, 
only an everlasting love and a desire 
to longer enjoy the words we share,
those we haven’t yet and the ones
we might have, could have, 
but never did. 
Like You 
and Love
and Me.

Where the Sun Shines on Nothing But This Moment

On my side of the mountain
there’s not much but regret,
only ashes and scorched trees
standing in their shadow-creature
accusatory way, ever pointing and
reminding me how I always took the wrong
forks in the road and almost became lost.
They said that on your side,
the forest is thick with shadows, too,
and no one moves forward to the mountain,
always worrying whether any dark thing
ahead is going to hurt them. But
I’ll bet they're just swinging tree limbs,
all wind and no threat. Like a shadow.

If I was to get off my sooty knees
and scrape them up the mountain,
would you shinny your sometimes shaky ones
up there, too? Because I don’t want
to choke on any ashes of regret anymore.
And I’ll guess you don’t want to hide
in the shadows from even more shadows.
If I take your hand and you grab mine
once we’ve reached the peak,
there’s little chance we’ll fall
from where the sun shines on nothing but
this moment and the only shadows we see
are our own, cast down the fall line, into
the shady past and future from which we rose.

I Really Want to Know

With the sun so high and hot, the only shadows 
lie directly beneath the trees. 
The little buildings and addresses sit there 
in shades of golden brown or sugar white 
like baked goods fresh from the oven. 
But they’re not.

A few are fresh, all proofed and kneaded by 
same-named bakers, but most just sit there growing 
stale and lonely, even among all the neighbors 
left, right, front and back, we never knew.
Nobody peers over the walls and says, “How ya doin’?” 
‘Cause everybody knows.

Over there, a visitor sits on a folding chair in the bare, 
baking sun, his hands clasped, leaning forward, his head 
dripping, his cheeks even more. I see his lips moving, 
like the old Italian ladies’ do as they click through 
their rosaries, wishing for something they don’t want to 
believe'll never happen.

And I wonder what he’s saying and I wonder to whom.
Wife, mother? Sister, brother? Son, daughter, maybe his lover?
For a moment, I want to step through this quiet neighborhood, 
just to walk by and see who he’s visiting, maybe hear 
his side of the conversation. But then I remember 
why I came here.

So I pick my way through the yards, not wishing to disturb them 
as I might that quiet man. And I stop by your place, ignoring 
your neighbor. I look down and say, “Hi, Mom. How ya doin’?” 
‘Cause I figure here, as the cars and trucks roll by,  
where nearly no one talks, except the man and me, 
I really want to know.

Another If Only

I awakened again 
before I was ready, 
wondering why I never was so. 
It was five-something and 
I heard a tune playing 
over and over, though 
there wasn’t a sound in the room 
except that shut-eyed sigh.
The blackout curtains held back 
morning over the East's ash and pine.
But I couldn’t black out again
as I began pining over the ashes
of those lost years, mourning 
the missing lives we didn’t lead. 
If only I’d listened closer 
to the songs we shared, 
would’ve shared, could’ve…
I should’ve awakened, 
known when you sighed, 
you were ready.
If only…

The Twist I Wasn’t Expecting

I’m lost in the air.
Down there I know hard 
hard reality awaits, and
blindly trusting I can 
land on my feet from this 
elevation is pure folly. 
It’ll hurt. Bad.
And I fear that’s how 
it’s gonna be, because 
the marauder’s decided 
it’s the right time
to commandeer my imagination,
shanghai my focus and fire 
a broadside at my inside.
I know he’s there, 
no longer hiding, but still 
out of sight, like 
the inevitable floor,
the painful twist ending 
to a story I thought 
written in the stars
that flash flash flash by 
until one of us writes 
The End.

Not what you think it means. Maybe someday I'll explain.