Bugged – A Pair of Cinquains

Silent harpest
Never plucking your strings
Invite your prey to play their dirge,

Buzzing, circling
Lighting only to drink.
Does my vintage meet your standards

A late entry for Day #13 (it figures) of the National Poetry Writing Month PAD Challenge. Supposed to write an insect poem but got stuck on a nasty one and froze in terror. Just before bed, I thought to try something from the old days, a micro poem of sorts, a cinquain. And just like that, along came this spider who sat down beside her. My muse, that is. And frightened my block away.


The Strongest of My Senses

It never registered, back when
I stood in the middle of the world,
and absorbed it in every detail.
I’m sure I saw Grandma
and some old nuns lose contact
with what occurred around them
or even right in front of them.
But now I view the world through
the foggy mail slot of glaucoma.
The sounds of birds, the wind,
the waves and your voice are muffled
by the pillows of hearing loss.
In don’t feel these lettered keys
with a few of my fingertips ever since
that disc in my neck blew out in ’90.
My diet restrictions dole out
flavors as if boiled cardboard boxes
are the last of the world’s diet.
Allergic rhinitis can close my nose
like a kink in a garden hose.
I only list these things because
I can see you smiling at me,
hear your voice and our music
as if we’re again sitting together
in the dark, smell your perfume,
feel your cheek and taste your kiss.
My sense of imagination shines brighter,
rings louder, feels warmer,
smells lovelier and tastes sweeter
than anything I can remember,
if I’m even remembering these things
in the first place. What’s that?
Another kiss?

Day #7 of April PAD 2018 calls for a senses poem. My once super senses have been dulled considerably by disease, age and lack of care. That’ll teach teen (and older) me to blast Led Zeppelin, Seeger, and Waylon through my headphones at jet engine decibels. But even with these losses, I’ve been gifted with another sense that will have to carry me through to my next life, my next chance rapaciously consume the world’s every sight, sound, touch, aroma and taste. Though you’re looking particularly nice today from this seat.


I can’t tolerate eating liver.
It gives me this weird feeling
under my tongue, as if
someone’s placed the handle part
of a fork or spoon against it.
I told you it was weird.
Besides, I can’t wrap my head,
let alone my mouth, around
anything defined as “organ meat.”
Steak and kidney pie?
Sorry my British friends,
I couldn’t, no matter how much
gravy and ale you provide me.
You might like liver and
I won’t hold it against you.
Well, maybe a little.
As a word guy, perhaps if I
changed that initial vowel
from a short to long “I,”
I wouldn’t have such a visceral
(and isn’t that an interesting
adjective to use in this case?)
distaste for it. Say it out loud,
“Liver helps you feel live-er.”
That gives it a better vibe,
don’t you think?
Except if you’re a cow, of course.

Day #6 of PAD April ’18. For today’s prompt, I was asked to pick a food, make it the title of the poem, and then write away with that word as the theme. As much as I love so many foods, the word “liver” came to mind. 

A Man Can Dream

His eyes were going,
but he said he didn’t mind
too much because he saw things
most clearly in the dark,
especially during those hours
he stared at the starless sky
of his bedroom ceiling.
His hearing was shot long ago,
owing to genetics and
a corresponding need to turn up
his headphones to 11.
But he heard the voice and music
no one else could hear in this dark.
His heart was failing him, too,
what with the stiffened scars
he hated to admit it bore.
Some were idiopathic etchings
of unknown origins, while others
marked wounds self-inflicted,
one way or another.
So now what? no one asked, because
no one heard him whisper through
life’s lightless vacuum.
Not even the one whose caress
he felt on his arm, his cheek,
his chest, when it was really
his own left hand in that meantime.
But a man can dream.

The Constant Shoulder

You probably don’t remember
when I would let you rest
your head on my shoulder.
Maybe you’d cry or yawn or
do whatever pretty heads do
when they come into contact
with that strong bit of muscle
and bone they could always count on.

And then you couldn’t.

It’s not like I lost it, though
perhaps it slants more downhill
with each year and beatdown.
It still teeter-totters on either side
of this head swirling with wishes,
what-ifs and why-nots, ready
to support your thoughts.

And now you don’t.

I’ve never had that kind of place
to nestle my bleary or teary eyes.
I shook off dreams and sorrows
like a Labrador loses the blue lake
he just emerged from, splattering
them in all directions. But
I’ve never been able to shake off
the blue I’ve swallowed.

And I’ve swallowed plenty.

So now you’re gone, grown and
different from when our heads
would share this bar from which
my embrace hangs for you. It waits
for some day when cooler heads
will bring ours back together,
when adults no longer act
like children and children don’t
suffer the acts of adults.

And this, dear reader, is officially Post #1,000 on A Thing for Words. I probably have written and posted more, but have deleted ones someone’s been kind, wise or unwise enough to publish or I collected in my own books. But the WordPress counter today says 1,000, so that’s what we’ll call it.

And I could never have accomplished this without YOU there to read and, in turn, encourage me not to stop writing. For that, I cannot thank you enough. Just your act of reading these ramblings has helped bring out emotions and words I never knew I could express. And you have no idea how close I am today to stopping expressing them anymore.

But I will wake up tomorrow and at least try to write one more something. Maybe there’s someone out there who may stumble on it in searching for words to help them smile or just let them know they’re not alone in what they’re feeling. So let’s just say as long as you’re willing, I’ll always try to shoulder my responsibility of giving you somewhere to lay your head. It’s what I’ve always done. And, despite all my personal “bleary and teary,” I guess I’m not done yet.

Thank you all. You and I know who you are. Thank you for helping me better know me.

Gentling Me to the Other Side

Today, I once more dove
into this river so cold,
to see what I’d find
on the other side.
It grows colder and colder
as I grow older and older.
So often I jump in and
almost founder, my body
and mind not willing
to endure this shivering
self-immersion again.

But you often appear
as I reach out and pull
the water close to me, and
I remember the warmth
of those embraces,
when last we embraced.
That touch of your cheek
always helps gentle me
to the other side,
where I find I’m holding
something warm and white,
though it’s never your hand.

Instead it’s a craft you
helped me lash together,
with which others might
float upon our memory
of close and apart,
as if we’re moored boats
banging against one another,
tethered by our shared history
on this river where
I’ll always fight
for whatever touch
we might share.

So often, this is how it happens. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I guess it just IS. By the way, only three more pieces to hit my 1,000th post on A Thing For Words right around its seventh birthday. I had no idea I’d been so inspired by whatever muse reaches out to me from time to time.

Dribbling Out the Clock

It came and went so swiftly,
the February evening snow
and its morning melt.
You could hear its heartbeat
as it ran down the rainspout
once the sun climbed above
the trees’ skeletal arms.
They shook small fists
newly clenched on their
branch tips, as if protesting
Winter’s next icy incursion.
Such protests never elicit
the preferred end result
while the calendar still
has March to march through.
But I admire these maples’
sanguine rush to get their
life’s blood flowing again
now that it’s sugaring time.
I raised my fists, too,
and shook them until
the blood rose in my cheeks.
Then, I slapped the old maple
on the ass like a teammate
from a dimly recalled basketball
season. My recall of those years
melts as quickly as this snow.
It drip-drip-drips as fast as
the gutter and the sweet sap
of memory dribbled by #44,
Acer Saccharum.

For those of you not hip to the vernacular of basketball, a sport I coached for 30 years, “dribbling out the clock” is the practice a team ahead in the score might use to burn up what’s left of the amount of time left in the game. One or more players will just dribble the ball as the clock runs down, rather than attempt to score any more points. In other words, the game is for all intent and purpose, over, save for that final buzzer. You may read into that bit of between-the-lines (another bit of sports argot) what you will. Oh, and Acer Saccharum is the  scientific name for SugarMaple.