In the Simplest Sense



If I was to write you a story, 
I don’t think it’d be very happy, 
because happy’s hard to find, 
like the tilde on this keyboard of mine.
If I tried to write you a poem, 
I don’t believe it’d very pretty,
since the pretty words left home
just after Christmas this year.
If I did write you something, though,
it’d be from a heart blind to what 
you believe isn’t pretty — but is so.
That’s because you’ve touched me 
and I’ve felt you in a way senses cannot.
I hope that’d make you feel happy ~ ~ ~
even if I can’t.

Hi, remember me? The usual struggle for words got worse over the past month or so. Then I sensed I wasn’t being myself in what I was trying to say. So I went as basic as I could, letting my blind heart lead me here, where you’re beautiful and I’m just the me you don’t need to see ~ you just need. Simple.

Once I Was A Sky-Gazer



I used to notice so much in the sky,
airliners writing travelogues 
in white contrail ink, birds penning
songs in feathered bunting strung
tree to tree, castles and dragons
and here and there your face sculpted
in billowing vapor, even the poorly
cleaned blackboard ceiling upon which
crows would scratch their calls.

After sundown I’d watch the winter moon 
rise working hard to escape from the net 
of limbs the maples tossed skyward 
to no avail, watch the escapee glide 
behind windblown clouds, follow stars 
as they ran their courses as if the gods 
were twisting the dial on the firmament, 
and wonder if I was hearing the invisible
vee calling the cadence as it sky-marched 
from Canada to the Chesapeake.

I don’t sense so much anymore as I wander 
alone beneath that world flying above 
since my neck doesn’t bend back far enough 
to scan the great dome covering 360 degrees 
of horizontal wonder. But over there 
an empty bag of chips is chasing a squirrel 
up that oak, at dawn the neighborhood windows 
glow like apricots or 65-inch rainbows, and then
there’s this flat me-shaped guy who tripped me 
the other day when he caught me while I tried
sky-gazing again.

Hold On, Hold On



I wish I had a life something like yours, 
as sad as you feel you are. 
Yes, it’s dealt you some busted hands,
here and there…even there…a scar.
But at least you’ve lived and loved
and felt, the sense that’s left me just old.
And now I’m seeing that light up ahead,
where the only touch I’ll feel is cold.
Looks like I’ll always be left to wonder
what my life would’ve been like if only…
Wondering doesn’t feel so soft and warm,
wondering like this only feels lonely.
Too late now to hope some day I’ll find 
what I’ve not often felt to feel better.
Your memories hold the warmth you’ve held,
and I pray someday we can hold some together.

The Real Love of His Fake Life



In truth, sometimes he showed it,
but mostly, he just felt it,
though that never made it 
any less real. The feelings.
Over his lifetime there was 
She and Her and You-Know-Who, 
and they all possessed his heart
for a spell. But you know
the one whose spell’s
possessed him the longest.
Guess he could call her 
the love of his life, though
those are just more words 
spoken from this place in which 
he’s happy and fulfilled 
and feeling loved. You know,
the imaginary place where
he’s lived so much of his life.
But maybe we’re wrong. 
How can he have a real 
love of his life when
he’s not had a real life 
in which he’s ever felt 
that kind of love?

A special Two-for-Tuesday love/anti-love poem. Dont overthink it. I also threw in another Writer’s Digest Chapbook Challenge prompt which called for the use of “______ of the ________” as it’s title and theme. Yeah, I cheated.

Call It



I don’t think the trees 
care if the leaves they flip 
come up heads or tails.
They just let them fall, 
like coins into an old 
toll booth basket, something
you must do to get from here 
to there, from Summer to Winter.
Sometimes I feel like
one of those leaves, 
flipped from the branch 
closest to the sky,
where I could sometimes
feel as if I was flying, 
only I’m actually tripping my way 
down the oaken stairway, 
ultimately jumping into
the void between Up and Down.
I know the ground's coming,
cold and sad as another broken heart,
but for a moment or two, 
I’m defiant, ignoring gravity 
upon an October breeze, 
enjoying a freedom I’ve only felt
for so short a time before.
It’s not the sky in which I fly, 
but, soon enough, the bare trees 
won’t block my view of that blue.

         Unless…

                       Heads!

The Nights Are Such Lonely Walks



Perhaps if I dreamed 
I’d not find all my nights 
such lonely walks from
light to light, like 
street lamps pouring down
without warmth on this corner
through the dark to the next
pool of yellow glow ahead.
Or like Tuesday to Wednesday.
I’ve strolled or rolled
my way through each, always
wishing I could reach out 
to touch that warmth 
light and dark and I denied me, 
wrapped as I might be 
in blankets or shadows.
But if I dreamed, perhaps
I’d dream of you joining me here
at the intersection of
Yesterday and Tomorrow.
Someday some warm Tonight.

Revelation



I thought that if I were broken enough
I would see the light
— Robert Creeley, “The Revelation”

Today I went blind when the light of revelation 
poured through the weak places I’d thought 
I’d made stronger with wishes and forgetfulness. 
It felt safe here in the dark, not knowing 
whoever came scratching or pounding on 
these walls we’ve stretched between me and you.

But my best-laid plans most often fail when
it comes to affairs of this hollow old space.
So the light came through, over there 
where I’d punched the wall, up there where
the prayers stop and stick into the ceiling,
down here where my tears eroded the shaky floor
upon which I’ve stood alone for way too long.

I hobbled over to this one crack and scraped away 
the wish I’d forgotten I’d made so many times 
it sounds like an echo in this empty heart of mine. 
That’s when I closed my eyes for good, because 
I saw the one trying to bring love’s light to me 
wasn’t you, but me. I understand, but I’d rather be 
broken and blind than whole and not see you.

Leaving the Straight Lines Because



Memories fade in the growing dark, 
which has increased its pace and 
one day soon will grasp his shadow,
the long cutout of light in the shape 
of a man as featureless as his life.
The sun sits lower on the horizon
than he’s ever seen and blinds him 
to what lies ahead as much as the dark
conceals the nothing he’s seen and been.
He stops to wonder if it’s even worth 
taking another step toward a future 
as featureless as his shadow, one 
he knows will be more nothing and 
nothing more than a monotonous shuffle 
of heartbeat steps.

“Let the darkness have me,” he sighs, 
consigned with becoming part of the forgotten.
That’s when the voice comes out of 
the dark past, growing louder and warmer 
as its memory approaches him.
“Why are you in such a hurry toward a light 
that only blinds you to all around you? 
And if life only needs you staying one step ahead 
of the darkness, why must you always walk 
the straight line, my friend?” the voice says.
“Because…” but he could find no answer.
He realized while the shortest distance 
between two points is a straight line,
it can be fully colorful off the lines
they give you.

Courageux compagnons



So they told me I was booked,
but I never bought a ticket.
Destination? I haven’t looked,
I mean why bother? Frick it.
It’s one-way. At least that I know,
no round-trips this millennium.
Then I heard voices call, “Hey Joe!”
T’was a flock with angels tending ‘em.
Now I may not be that thrilled how
so much of my life’s played out,
but I did meet you, then “POW,”
agreed with what life’s about.
Some times we’ve traveled together,
but didn’t even know it.
Side by side, the trips were better,
if we checked our baggage to stow it.
I’d love to ride with you, you see,
if you’d have me as companion.
Such adventurers we would be,
wise Constance and rube D’Artagnan.
But I’m now kept in The Bastille,
my only escape with that doomed flock.
Death of body or soul quite real,
Hobson’s Choice and I’m on the clock.
I choose not that trip, don’t fret,
though staying’s thousand cuts kill, too.
I don’t wish to stay or go just yet,
unless it’s leaving here with you.

Like the Loons on Oven Lake

Ben reflected on the flames licking from six chunks of maple he’d split that morning and pulled from the truck bed that evening. If he looked to his right, he may have noticed how Lissa’s brown eyes reflected the flames, too, only doubled. 

He just stared at the fire and sighed over his disabled truck, stuck there just off the old Adirondack logging road near Oven Lake. A less practical guy might think it looked like it was kneeling there in the brush, its headlight eyes peering into the dark like it was searching for something. 

But Ben was anything but impractical. Lissa told her sister that Ben had one direction – forward — and two speeds – fast and stop. She’d almost learned to accept him missing the right and left of things, like how Lissa’s heart beat twice as hard since her accident.

“I doubt you planned getting us stuck in such a mess. Too out-of-the-blue, even for you. Too many moving parts,” he said.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. But now that it has, I’m kinda glad it did. You know, we haven’t cuddled like this since…”

“Are you cold?” Ben said.

“Nope. I’ve got you and this fire to keep me warm,” Lissa said.

She kissed his cheek not facing the fire and noticed how it felt almost as cold hers was hot. She pressed her cheek against his. 

“So what are we going to do?” he said. “Why can’t you make a call?” Lissa still didn’t understood Ben’s refusal to carry a cell phone. How he said he felt uncomfortable being tailed by some invisible overseer. Maybe, she mused, like an electronic conscience. But that was Ben.

“Tomorrow morning we can walk out to where I have coverage. For now, I just want to snuggle under this blanket, the fire crackling, moon smiling down, the loons looning by the lake.”

Ben broke her cheek-to-cheek link and stared into her face glowing in the firelight. 

“Looning?”

“Sure, like how they’re being in the moment and dealing with things as they come.”

“Like large rocks hidden in the brush?” he said.

“Like nature revealing itself in its own time and its own way.”

“Like broken axles on an F-150 loaded with firewood and other unexpected…”

“You said you thought I’d be okay. And is it really so bad?”

“Hell, yeah, you need to be careful.”

“I thought I was. But I guess I was looning.”

“In the moment, eh?”

“Yes. You know how when things are too heavy and the momentum builds and you just can’t stop in time and…stuff happens. Right?” she said.

“Yeah. But look what your being in the moment got us. So when are you gonna…”

“Call? Tomorrow, soon as I can. Tomorrow.”

“Jesus! Wish you were more careful,” Ben said.

“Me, too.” Lissa said. “I’ll fix it all tomorrow.”

“Get some sleep, will ya?”

But Lissa’s stinging eyes already were closed tight as the wind shifted away toward the lake, carrying away the fire’s smoke with it. But not thoughts of the loons on Oven Lake and the accidents that got her there.

Here’s a double-sized version of my 250-word super-short story I drafted for Siobhan Muir’s weekly Thursday Threads feature. I had to use the phrase “you need to be careful” in it. This story started in one direction and then got Hemingway’d in an entirely different one.