My Soul to Keep

You think you know
who I’m talking about,
but I doubt you’re right.
You’ll say, “He’s going on
about me/her/us again.”
But you may be wrong.
I can’t say for sure myself.

I know you’ve been here somewhere,
since you left such a distinct mark
on my visceral poetic parts.
Bruise, scar, tattoo,
or something only I imagine?
Yes, no, probably. Who knows?
The question is, do you want these
to be about you? Do I?

Do you want to remain attached
to whatever it is containing
the emotion I never show?
Would you like to be the one opening
that little valve and releasing
the drips and gushes
with which I paint fantasies
too real to bear and realities
that can never be.

So if you don’t wish me
to write about you, don’t worry.
I’m not. But if you desire to be
remembered in a way so few are,
I’ll always hold a warm place
for your memory, my soul to keep.

I so wished to write a story today. Failed. So I just turned loose what remains of my scraggly creative wolf and he howled out this moonlit song. It’s not melancholy, at least. In fact, I think it might even be a little hopeful, Lord help me.

Lori

I always felt I was the one
discovered you out there in the aether,
while you were still gigging
never very far from Boston,
since you had to get the kids
off to school in the morning.
Yep, I was the one who heard
your ringing instrument with
a vague accent from the South side
of mid-America. Nothing like
your native Hah-vahd Yahd.

I downloaded all your freebies
and shared them with the ones
who counted and could appreciate
how you knew exactly what they felt,
as if they were the ones
scraping their chairs across
your kitchen floor, leaning in
while you’d try something new,
cut a demo, or poured
another cup of tea. Not coffee.

But I decided to let you go
after Nashville discovered you.
And I really got pissed when
Oprah told the world how she did.
What a silly, jealous man.
I guess I wanted to keep you to myself,
hidden like a whispered secret
beneath my headphones.
I still move my fingers to the chords
of the old songs when I listen
to them for hours on repeat.

But then, what’s one more time?

I decided to check in at Writer’s Digest’s Wednesday Poetry Prompt today. Especially since my mind’s currently incapable of finding inspiration on its own dime. The theme was a Composer poem, where I’d take a composer’s name, put it in the title and then let ‘er rip. I don’t know why, but I chose Lori McKenna, whose music I discovered online almost 20 years ago. You know, when she was still, as I said, gigging around Boston or so. The music was  great. But her words!! I didn’t realize it back then, but the title cut from her second album, Pieces of Me, became an anthem of sorts for this past section of my life:

I have been a poet all my life
With really not too much to say
So you can push me anywhere you like
But you can’t push me away

My life is written down on papers in my room
And yours is bottled up somewhere
So I’ll send you letters from half across the moon
And it will cross your mind but you won’t dare

The Magic in Gray and White

It’s been four days
since the storm left
it’s two feet planted firmly
over the property,
standing there on the roof
and straddling the road.
And during that time,
it lost its serene demeanor,
aging with wrinkles, scars
and the spots that time
will paint on your skin.
But she who ordered the storm
to leave a guard on this realm
until told to stand down,
that is until the coming March,
has sent in a bit of reinforcement.
Silently, the new minion
fills the gaps in the line
left by a few days where
the sun made its counterattack.
And now, with two inches of reserves
softening the uglies
that follow an early snow,
all’s quiet on the northern front.
At least until, I’d suspect,
some ranks of sun and rain
make this army of white
run down my roof
for the storm drains.
I can wait until
Christmas, though.

This study in gray and white – the poem, not necessarily the photo – is the winter view I have from my writing desk in the basement – my Lair. It’s just a gray wooden shed with some pines and maples holding up the sky behind it. But when the snow decides to fall, it becomes something magical, where the dull and plain become something to write about. At least to me.

Something About This

We need to do something about this.

I know. If this goes on much longer, I doubt he’ll ever be able to – you know – again…

Don’t even think that. If he stops for good he’ll just lose the will to go on…with anything.

Then we need to do something.

He’s tried almost everything, walks, music, reading. God, look how he just sits there. A blink, blink, a sigh.

I caught him crying the other night.

No you didn’t!

Yeah, in bed, alone, staring, like he was expecting someone to come to him from out of the ceiling. Or past. You know how he likes the room totally dark and cool.

So how do you know he was crying?

Heard him. Like a stage whisper. Said her name and then…well, a sobbing sound. Like he couldn’t catch his breath.

No kidding! Maybe we should suggest he reach out to her. And yeah, we both know she’ll eventually make him more damn paralyzed with misery than he is now. Humming away in his chair one minute and then…

I know. But he can’t go on like this. I’m afraid he might just…you know, POOF, gone. And what about us?

Okay, you go to his right and I’ll go left.

Wait. Listen. The laptop. Is he writing her? Think she’ll answer? I mean kindly? What’s he say?

Let me check. Oh… Well at least he’s trying.

Okay, but what’s he written?

It says, “We need to do something about this.”

(This is pretty much the only way I can write fiction these days. I imagine two characters speaking and then my imagination follows their conversations. But I’m miles ahead of where I’ve been for months.  In this case, I’ll let your imagination discern who – or what – these two speakers are.)

Table for One ~ A Rondeau

Table for one, that’s what I get
Since we no longer talk, and yet
I’m not alone like other men
Might be in bar, cafe or den,
Since here you see the place I’ve set.

That’s no surprise to you I’ll bet,
Knowing how I would sit and fret,
Even at this lonely, this Zen
Table for one.

Sure, there have been others I’ve met,
whom places in my life I let.
But only you are with me when
My obsession cries through this pen.
Two ink stains we’ll leave at this wet
Table for one.

Pyrrhus’s Desk

It looks, from this warrior’s level,
as if the battle finally has ended.
Upon this field, once-sustaining empty vessels,
as well as worn, broken and crumpled weapons
lie strewn from edge to edge,
foreground to horizon.
More still have fallen out of his sight.
Dreams, hopes, plans, idle inspiration,
they hover above the expanse
like a morbid miasma, like the fog of war,
like the spirits of the dead.
Over there he seee the pictures
of the warrior’s children, forever young,
He thinks, “This is what defeat looks like.”
And yet, as you can see, he’s won the battle.
This time.

The bottles can be returned,
the cups, pencils, paper replenished
and with them this warrior’s resolve.
Pyrrhus will live to fight another day.
He is Homer, he is Herodotus.
Or perhaps he is Caesar, writing
his own history of battles joined,
won, lost, best forgotten.
He knows the end could come tomorrow,
but that same tomorrow he’ll engage
the enemy once more, fighting
with himself on this 4′ x 2′ battlefield
for what makes him feel most alive
and keeps one day’s words forever young.

Where There’s Will, I’ll Find a Way

The rhyming poet his words moves around,
even though no one ever talks that way.
It’s more important to match that end sound
than put a verbal horse before the dray.

Sure, the rhymer throws words no one uses.
Great you’ve got vocabulary to burn.
Though he may try accepted abuses,
like slant rhymes and language kinda “fureign.”

Lately, I can’t conjure story or verse,
a condition I still fight more than fear.
Since I have no muse to help break this curse,
I’ll play this game to get my ass in gear.

I’ve a Shakespeare costume, and I don it.
then strut and fret on this page…my sonnet.