This morning, I found myself standing atop that old hill, that long expanse of the Sisters’ yard between me and something they never offered. The old penguins would give me prayers and this scar where my index finger made a run for it. While I never did. <Big inhale> I’m soaring down the hill now, shadowy trees behind me, as I race gravity toward the flat-world surety of the Faithful. My youthful stride’s so long I feel I’m flying down as I fall up, youthfully sure my other foot will beat my face in the race to the ground. And in this competition between the Devil and the details of a life spent looking uphill, I think I may have reached that place, where you stand, ready to catch me before I pass by, if I’m lucky enough to keep one foot in the present, while the other hides somewhere between the past and future. My heart pounds. Lungs beg. We reach out. I open my eyes as I touch the window, realizing haven’t made it. I fill my lungs again with possibility, close my eyes and wonder what it would finally take to reach escape velocity. Just once.
Somewhere in a Christmas fantasy, something like my Life’s sugar plums resting all sweet and spicy upon a cosmic comfit plate, right next to the roasted chestnuts I hear about, warm and soft as a lover’s kiss. Or so you tell me. Because this is a fantasy, a dream straight out of one of those Hallmark Christmas movies, only none of us are princes, princesses or destiny’s darlings fated to leap holiday hurdles to couplehood and, per every fantasy’s script, fall into one of those chestnut kisses in the last thirty seconds before the credits roll. The sweet and spicy? I don’t care. But we all need dreams, don’t we? Otherwise why even have that one day of the year when wishes can come true and hopes aren’t dashed and danced upon by a fantasy fleet of reindeer, an ill-fit significant other or make-believe mean girl. Maybe that’s why I keep my list short, written in invisible ink between lines of fanciful good-boy reveries of an exchange of Life’s gifts you can’t buy, nor steal and I’ll likely never get to try. Like sugar plums.
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…
Turns out those dim old reveries were only the dreamy memories of a man sustained more by wish than reality. Eventually, though, he realized wishes are just hopeful dreams, images of someday somethings without substance, even though they can feel so real they'll spur a heart to galloping almost as cloppity as a touch from the one who spurred them. In the end, though, it was you who turned this someday something into a reality. No one else could’ve tended it for so long, never letting it die, just waiting for the right time to bring what it always really was into full bloom.
I don’t know why it is I find the midday heat on this searing summer day so very uncomfortable when all I’ve ever wanted was to be wrapped in a certain 98-degree embrace. To wander outside right now would be an act Sir Noël Coward could most definitely write a song about. Not that I wouldn’t mind being thus immortalized, but I am neither an Englishman nor a dog. Though to dream I’d ever find myself melting into anywhere other than noon’s shadowless sidewalk rather than some evening into those not-very-tan arms…? I must be quite mad.
The wishes spin around in my head like dandelion fluff caught in the breeze. They’re there when I’m awake or in bed vexing me more than just a sneeze. I’m not allergic to them, oh no, though so many are born from an itch. And I wish I could scratch it, you know, but that wish fits in but a wee niche. The big ones whirl in my mind nonstop even coming to me in my dreams. I know half are just fanciful glop, though e’en they brought you poems by the reams. Like, I wish we could go back in time, to start over again, a clean slate. But erasing our pasts would be a crime if we weren’t brought together by fate. I’ve wishes about you, just a few. But a few flowers’ fluff can turn a field gold. I wish your best wishes all come true, and we remain we as we grow old.
I still count my days by my nights, or at least by the single blink each night has become. Slide into bed, click off the light, settle my head and BLINK…morning. The problem is the moments spent between settle and BLINK, that period of near-sleep where I breathe those pretty or sad words next to the face that will appear in maybe-light or almost-chiaroscuro on the ceiling. When my mind finishes, it closes its own eyes and we rest without sensing the passage of time. We'll have done all our dreaming in penning the words on the ceiling. Then dawn, the "K" piece of BLINK, scatters them like birds except those I was lucid enough around "B" o'clock to slip under my pillow. For Day 23 of NaPoWriMo 2021, I borrowed a prompt from my friend Carolee Bennett again. She asked that I consider what repetitions in my life mark time, and write a poem featuring one or more of them. If you've been around for my relatively short "life" as a poet, you know about my love/hate relationship with sleep. Perhaps this poem explains why.
Contemplation, by Karen Hollingsworth I think it would be like heaven, sitting there in my writer-mind’s hell, to look up from that bedeviling blank page and see eternity stretch out before me outside my mean little frame of reference. That’s where the sea breeze coaxes the window sheers to tickle my bare calves like my angel’s toes might, given the right circumstances. But then a wind-blown whiff of dusty curtain would remind me I don’t visit this heaven enough to shake loose the idle cobwebs of my shuttered imagination, and, you, the angel I perceive waving to me from the beach, are just another of my writer’s dreams unfulfilled. But I believe we all have a shot for at least one visit to heaven. Don't we, angel? NaPoWriMo poem-a-day makeup poem #3. An Ekphrastic poem...I think.
The answer is complicated; it's not a black or white. In truth, it lies ‘tween the two. garbed in gray shadow. I won't lie to you. But in poems I write of my dreams in black and white, with you, in color, I'm lying For Day 6 of my poem-a-day April, I've followed NaPoWriMo's suggestion of using the poetic form called a shadorma. A shadorma is a six-line poem with a specific number of syllables -- 3-5-3-3-7-5 -- assigned to each line. I chose to make mine a mirror image version, which adds six more lines of 5-7-3-3-5-3 syllables, respectively.
Did we really once move
through the night,
our shadows holding hands
beneath a moon that could
read my mind the way I wished
I could intuit yours?
In those moonlit hours,
it cast shadows so dense
I tripped and fell over yours.
Its beams would cut ‘round you
like a silhouette artist
leaving me these shadowy memories.
We stand alone in the night,
eclipsing lunar light beneath
its face, once-radiant as yours.
Your face, how it gleamed
like alabaster, projecting
its own glow to my glib sincerity
and welcomed lies I always knew
could be final goodbyes.
Perhaps there will come
another tomorrow night when
these clouds will roll away
and the moon, in all your glory,
will extend its searchlight fingers
to fumble and find the missing
you never missed, the supine echo
of a man painted in light, and
a shadow of what he never heard.