No Regrets, Just One Surrender

When they finally discover my bones —
should the occasion ever arise
that a future someone stumbles upon me
while clearing a plot for Hydrangeas,
tomatoes or more bones —
when they crack through and find
the cracks I’ve put in this
old skeleton, will they wonder
what this being did to collect so many
breaks in his framing pieces?
Will they see the two scarred ribs
and know that each happened in
a different winter of my discontent?
Will they wonder over the dents and
cracks in the skull, and think it was
the castle keep of a warrior’s mind?
Or that of a poet who always tried playing
above his program weight, usually failed,
but never failed to try again?
I wonder if they’ll see my family placed
my coach’s whistle around my neck,
my tablet in one hand and this secret optimist’s
(broken) fingers crossed one upon the other?
What they won’t find will be any markers
of regret on this old fossil for any
of this busted crockery of mine left behind.
I gladly earned each and every one of them.

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo calls for a poem about what future archaeologists, whether human or from alien civilization, will make of us. I took that prompt it right down to the bones. My bones.

One Final Shout of Faith

The old man sat on the bench,
chin to his chest, as birds throughout
the park sang paeans to new life
after the near-death of winter. Yet all
he heard were his own thoughts. Some murmurs,
some plain-spoken facts, but none the shouts
that accompanied his life as he roared
from childhood to old age.
His memory had leaked away the words
to his hymns in praise of life.
Even their echoes within his earthly temple
had been quieted by his body’s
decrepit decline. He’d lost his faith,
the blind confidence that, even in the face
of the worst, something good would happen,
or he’d will himself to make it so.

It mattered not if it was an act
of some deity, the last-second shift
in the winds of pure luck, or his own pluck.
Yet here he sat, in the deepest winter
of his life, a pile of sagging humanity
held up by one last tenacious memory.
He rose on unsteady legs and whistled
a breezy alleluia the birds understood
and began walking, always keeping the winds
to his back. Something said they’d
carry him the rest of his journey.
Maybe one last shout of faith.

On Day 24 of NaPoWriMo, a poem of one man’s faith, not necessarily in some deity or luck, but in his own ability to move mountains. Or maybe just find a way around them to the other side.

An Ode to ‘Femotions’ – A Celebration of Life

It was just another sunny spring  Sunday afternoon, the kind where the wind sings its celebratory air,  when I found her curled up in her  own special chair. She wore headphones  holding back wind’s hymn from her ears,  on her cheek I saw tracks of her tears.  “What’re you doing?” I asked,  with the hard-earned knowledge  never to tell a woman not to cry. She looked up with red eyes and  said “We’re going to die.”  I figured this was another of those  things I secretly termed “femotions,” —  cathartic expressions of feminine emotions — I now understood not to try damming  or I’d be damned, you see, as just another male  whose feelings ran the gamut from A to B. “Yep, we’re all somewhere along  that path. Can I help?” I asked. Perhaps  I could make her feel better if I took on her task.  “Yes,” she said, and opened her fist,  within which I found crumpled a  smudged page titled “Funeral Playlist.” “You let me handle this,” I replied, because  I’d already begun one for when I died. I never thought this morbid, collecting  songs for the grieving, reminding us of  loved ones our sides forever leaving.  But what I wrote, like that uplifting breeze,  came swiftly as I penned titles with ease. And they didn’t echo much of sadness nor strife.  With memories wistful, soon I turned over her own fistful, a soundtrack celebrating the love of my life.

For Day 18 of NaPoWriMo, I combined prompts again. A Life and/or Death poem and a poem using neologisms. A neologism is a word made from combining two existing words (like “motel” coming from “motor” and “hotel”) or they could be words invented entirely for their sound. This piece is a cobbled together thing, but the sentiment is one I think about a lot because I’ve already begun making up my all-too-soon to be in rotation ultimate playlist.

At Loose Ends

As the higher, I’m reserving judgment on “highest,”
species on the planet, by now you would think at least
one of us humans could/would/should have thought
of a way to push ahead our evolution toward a means
of peaceful coexistence among one another.
But suspicion, greed, hatred and war are part of our DNA.

HUMANITY: loose ends with a common thread!

Even if there was an Adam, his sons kicked off the game
of man versus man with brother against brother.
The passage of time grew and multiplied these four horsemen
like funky fruit in Cain’s garden east of Eden.
Thereafter, whether you buy the Biblical or scientific,
original sinning Man’s evolution advanced his four antagonistic
Secondary Sins as much he did fire, steel and weaponry.
Even his thumbs evolved in opposition to his fingers.

HUMANITY: loose ends with a common thread!

Perhaps Man, the upright, big-brain atop the food chain,
never has evolved. Rather, his seed scattered, taking root
in the less green places across the fence from his neighbors’.
Our double helix rope frayed, never uniting us in
perpetual amity. We represent the apex of Nature’s orderly chaos,
only made in some God’s image. Or so the winners say.

HUMANITY: loose ends with a common thread!

On Day 11 of NaPoWriMo, I combined NaPoWriMo.net’s prompt for a poem in the Bop format with the prompt from my friend Sharyl Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines challenge. Hers is the refrain of this poem.

She Left by the Servants’ Entrance

Emily_Dickinson_daguerreotype

She left by the servants’ entrance,
perhaps because she felt as tied
to the upstairs and downstairs
of the Homestead as any
Bridget who left Éire to spend
life rearranging the dust,
baking the bread and cleaning
the dirty laundry of her
Amherst Anglo clan.

She left by the servant’s entrance,
carried by men with accents
green as the Kilkenny hills,
driven off in a Carriage holding
but three, leaving behind the crypt
of a life,hidden behind walls
of wood and words
and eccentricity,
to live on in another –
its Roof scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
from which Miss Nobody soared,
a thing with feathers,
to perch ever in our souls.

She left by the servants’ entrance,
an enigma to her last, a loaded gun
that stood in the Corners –
till a Day The Owner passed –
And carried Her away.
Her story today told slant,
with explanation kind –
Her Truth to dazzle gradually,
lest the light leaving
by that back door
strike us mourners blind.

My pre-Dawn poem in celebration of Emily Dickinson, born today in 1830. When she died in 1886, her family honored one of her last requests, that her coffin be carried not by Amherst’s leading citizens, but by six Irish farmworkers – all employees of the Dickinson family – out of the Homestead’s servants’ door.

When They Call Your Name

The Angel of Death

Angel of Death by Evelyn De Morgan, 1881

When they call your name,
it’s not like some sort of surprise.
It’s not as if several potential
revelers crouch hidden
behind the furniture and curtains,
some half-drunk, some in closets
already making out, flipping on
the lights and yelling “Surprise”
as you enter that darkened home.

No, when they call your name
you more than likely know it’s coming,
maybe dreading the intonation of
your nom de la vie, the whispered,
“Excuse me, Mr./Mrs/Ms./ (insert name here),
it’s time.” Or maybe you’ll be lying there,
all antsy, waiting for that light to illuminate
your way to where they want you to go.

You don’t have much say, you just
have to wait for its arrival
like the patient drip-drop of an IV bag hooked
to the blue vein in some scarecrow patient.
Or it can come so fast, like lightning
or a runaway semi on the interstate, that
you don’t even have a chance to mumble,
“Who, me?”

When they call your name, they just
call it, maybe mispronouncing it like Hersh
or Heesh. There was a time I didn’t care
if they called, no matter how they said it.
To leave all this would be no big deal.
But now I think I’ve earned the right
to be called my proper name, for a proper
departure from here to there, if there’s
a There there.

So I wait, no longer in a hurry.
I’d enjoy ignoring a first or second call,
like they were lame political pollsters or
credit card scammers. I’d just hit
the button that reads Dismiss. Or maybe
I could hide behind the curtains and yell,
“Surprise” when they come to pick me up.
Oh, I wish I could.

Too-long exercise in which I took the first line of the first song I have queued up on the iPhone to start a poem or story, then finish it with the last line. My Apologies to Ryan Adams for pinching these pieces of Come Pick Me Up.

Lost in My Storm

10933004-decorative-tree-silhouette-in-autumn-with-brown-leaves-and-wind-stock-vector

Could you ever stop thinking of me
that way because my arms couldn’t
reach out when you needed them most,
bound as they were by bonds I wove
of confusion and fear? If not,
I wouldn’t blame you, though that’s
a heavy load to carry for so long,
cracking backs and taxing hearts
whose clockworks wind down past
their dwindling supply of twelves.
But if you could, it’d be a blessing
in these latter days granted me,
my leaves tearing from the calendar tree
of this life spent blinded in shadow,
blown from one direction, battered
to another. Ever away from the peace
for which I pray before I fall
and lie forgotten, save for fading lines
on pulp, lost in the emptiness between
the zeros and ones I’ve cast like acorns
in a promiscuous gale of words…
sound and fury signifying I’m nothing
without friends I’ve lost in my storm.