The Hard Heart of Morning

Somewhere between asleep and awake
I find myself in the only place
I never think of you.
Maybe it’s because I tried
too hard yesterday and tired
too hard last night, hoping
I might see you, hear you,
perhaps in that dreamtime
before sleep spits me out
like a cherry stone, the too
hard heart of something
soft and sweet. Or even tart.
It is the silent moment
before voices call and
the eyes open to morning.
This is the quiet place
where I am ever alone,
and I’ve come to love it
as much as I love you.

Day 1 of Poem a Day Challenge 2019. A “morning” poem.

Living the Dream

It’s 7:00 AM and I’ve been awake since 4:55. If the birds were up then, I never heard them through the black that oozed beneath the gray window blinds. Sleep and I are having issues again. She turned her back to me the past couple of weeks and finally booted me from the sack this morning. If you can call the lingering darkness of five to five morning.

I pull the cord down to open the blinds and see the flocked canvas of grass out back. Or what passes for grass among the yellowed weeds, spiny moss and tawny pine needles, composed in the half-glow of dawn’s pastel palette. A squirrel flies his autumn-fluffed tail in a chain of low-gravity leaps, scouring the scene for acorns the oak has dropped in exchange for holding onto its baseball mitt leaves for another month.

And I realize the scene framed by my bedroom window will be soon enough wiped away, baptized by the too-soon-for-comfort whitewash of winter, smooth and cool as those sheets must be by now.

I close the blinds for one more try, offering sleep this squirrel-gray bouquet of words in the twilight dark of early morning, my flag of surrender and supplication for just one hour in her embrace, perhaps to dream of floating through pastel pastorals, amid falling leaves, the wind whipping from north to west, gentle on my cheek. Gentle.

Two minutes later, I’m out back, living the dream.

The First Race


They stomp at the gate,
already sweating,
lips pulled back,
keen for the start.
Eyes darting
left and right
at their competition,
they push forward
as the starter
checks his watch,
and then…
they’re off!

Hearts pumping,
jostling for that
prime position…
There! an opening,
and one just in
from New York
darts for daylight,
pounds down the lane,
edging the one
in pink and green
who lost a shoe
at the eighth pole.

Slamming his
beer cooler
on the picnic table,
the victor exults
in winning
the first race
of the meet.
It’s 7:02 AM,
opening day
at Saratoga.

If you’ve never seen the 7:00 AM dash for prime picnic table turf at the Saratoga Race Course (which opens for its 147th meet today just north of my home), you’re missing a primal competition that rivals Saratoga’s Travers Stakes, the famed Summer Derby of American horse racing. And now, the great secret: In six decades on this earth, in this place, I’ve never once attended a day at the races. But I have a vivid imagination.

Fighting the Current

English: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis...

English: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) catching salmon at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park, Alaska. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sunless trail turns left
and breaks through into
the sterile clearing and its carpet
of rank smelling gloom.
All around rings with the cicada song
of air-conditioning and mini-fridge,
and Bear alone disturbs the ripple
of this eddy in the shallow stream
of sound.

What passes for dawn here beams blue
from the flat-screen sun burning
not his pallid face, only his retinas.
Old flashing words fight the current,
and the silvertip grizz wades in,
plucking them from the air to feed
his need before the other beasts
lumber in to scare them back
to the depths.

It is sunrise in Cubicle 200-A.