Let Sleeping Tigers Lie

Tiger-like, I once would leap with alert body and mind,
uncoiling in hair-trigger lightness from alleged sleep,
to pop the alarm clock within a second of its own awakening,
to grab the phone across the darkened room before
its first ring decayed and a second bloomed in its place.
I still swiftly swipe and silence the alarm,
chiming and flashing on the nightstand,
still jump at that first ring of incoming call, too.

But where I would mash or crash with
the aggressive audacity of an RAF fighter jock
scrambling to his Spitfire to meet incoming bogies
over The Channel, now I tickle my granddaughter’s chin
as she smiles at her granddad from the photo
on my cellphone’s lock screen.
Blitz be damned, no one wants me to leap much anymore.
Old-man moans and cracking bones disturb
the house more than alarms and ringing phones ever did.

Sunrise Again


Photo by Joseph Hesch

I’ve missed you, day-pioneer,
first-light blazer of time-trails.
We’ve not met since our friend
left me holding her in final-sigh.

I confess, during this cold earth-rest
I dreamed to join the forever-sleepers
beneath the far, flat margin
of life-light and eternal-dark.

Today you were waiting there for me,
golden-greeter, life-illuminator,
encouraging one more cast
into the eastern sea of tomorrows.

I felt the leash-tug forward,
telling me look not back
at the long, black, only-me
lying at my feet.

Taking a tentative step, I sensed you,
warm upon my face, she,
warm against my leg, and we,
sharing soul-sunrise again.

My Swedish friend Björn Rudberg has asked that we try to write poems with Scandinavian style phrases called kennings. A kenning is a very brief metaphoric phrase or compound word that means “to know” (derived from Icelandic, but exist in many other languages like Swedish and German). It was used extensively in Old Norse (later Icelandic) and Anglo-Saxon poetry to add both color and better meter to the skaldic songs. For instance “whale-road” was used as a kenning for the sea in Beowulf, and “wave-stead” replaced ship in Glymdrápa.

Readers know I make up a lot of compound metaphors because sometimes words don’t exactly exist for my feelings I express that even I don’t understand. This is another 100-word poem, and I think a poor effort, at using kennings to express my emerging from a long winter–of the body and soul. But that photo up there is the sunrise that inspired this piece, and it wouldn’t be denied.

Light in the East

The Next Morning

The Next Morning (Photo credit: AnkySoho)

When that light in the east returned this morning—
I knew it would be there even if I didn’t see—
it ignited my world in such a comforting glow.
It always reminded me of the hugs shared
while we slept. And when I left my bed,
it was not to run for the crass camouflaged
Christmas commerce beneath the sparkling tree,
but to greet this new light as it dressed today
in its accent of what feels a long ago spring.

Outside, the firs stood at lazy attention
in uniforms of green, but it was the young maple
caught my eye, gangly and excited as a child
bursting with a secret it would share only with you.
The few leaves it had left hung attached to the ends
of spindly limbs, as if pinned to its wrists by Mother.
As it heard your voice upon that illuminating breeze,
it waved a greeting only a few would understand,
and I hugged the light in the east to myself,
warm, one more day.

Merry Christmas, from me to you! 

To Wake

Dawn Birds

To wake,
to wake to birds
calling to one another.
Calling to one another
in amity, in anger or fear,
in the joy of seeing that
bright face peek over
the far ground.
So eager to greet that sun,
greet one another, halloo
this life of time and time of life,
they rise to the trees,
even fly above them,
to see day coming
before you or I know
it’s there. Before I peek
above my blanket horizon.
And so I wake.
Wake to the birds
calling to one another…
calling me.

Fighting the Current

English: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis...

English: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) catching salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sunless trail turns left
and breaks through into
the sterile clearing and its carpet
of rank smelling gloom.
All around rings with the cicada song
of air-conditioning and mini-fridge,
and Bear alone disturbs the ripple
of this eddy in the shallow stream
of sound.

What passes for dawn here beams blue
from the flat-screen sun burning
not his pallid face, only his retinas.
Old flashing words fight the current,
and the silvertip grizz wades in,
plucking them from the air to feed
his need before the other beasts
lumber in to scare them back
to the depths.

It is sunrise in Cubicle 200-A.

The Third Degree


Sun (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

The sun is still asleep
over the foot-end of my bed,
no sign yet of its tousled rays,
while I am cooing with
the mourning doves.
Who, who! they say
in definitive reply to
question unspoken, unheard.
Who, who? I ask,
with no one but me
here to hear an answer.
As I lie back now, resting
from this interrogation,
Sun glows bright in my face,
giving me the third degree,
asking burning questions
about my day, this life,
for which I’m still
searching in this dark
for answers.