Joy Like a Red-Flowered Dress

I found this faded old photograph
at the bottom of my desk drawer.
It captures you in a joyful moment,
as you turned and saw me
with my camera. I’m unsure
which of the two made you smile.
When I took this fumbling exposure,
I think you were pregnant,
which might explain your glow,
the red in your cheeks,
the beaming from your eyes.

I think that’s a gift women
take on to illuminate their way
across that threshold to becoming
a mother. It’s the only photo
I have of you radiating your
womanhood like that. I never
took one of the next child and you.
By then, the space between my heart
and mind had grown so vast, I so lost,
your incandescence would be wasted
signaling me through that darkness.

That was the apogee of my journey;
today I’ve swung back closer to
the sun. But time and circumstance
have extinguished anything like
that singular warm glow. Maybe
that’s why I kept this image
when I’ve lost so many others.
It echoes a time never again
will I see, when I was blind
instead of sightless, and you
wore joy like a red-flowered dress
that’ll always fit perfectly.

Took four random words — pregnant, threshold, echo, space — and built this old-school Storyteller/Poet Me first-draft house of sticks in about twenty minutes. For whatever reason, Jackson Browne’s “Fountain of Sorrow” came to mind as I started stacking. It’s better than a house of straw, but I believe a good huff and puff could topple it. So you’d better read it quick, because I feel an editorial sneeze — or hot glowing ember of Delete — coming on.

So Strong It Hurts

It is a painful thing can we do
to one another, this coexistence,
this dissonant linking of one
with a different kind of other,
this trust-but-verify alliance
of two souls who would love to be
in the state of this painful thing
we can do to one another,
this love.

Maybe opposites do attract,
clanging together with a magnetic
melding of positive to negative,
hard to pull apart, though
easily turned to repulsion
with just one turned back.

It is a healing thing we do
to one another when we lie
side by side, my positive
by yours, negatives turned
upside-down, out of sight
under the covers.

All that’s required to maintain
this alignment of sacred coexistence
is a harmonious linking, a common
face-to-face faith of soul-to-soul,
where heart-to-heart beat soft
against one another, holding, healing,
loving so strong it hurts.

Like a Lion

March Winds, by Graham Clilverd FRSA - 1949

March Winds, by Graham Clilverd FRSA – 1949

March’s winds bend back
the trees, only to fling
them away to swing back for more
bullying shoves, while whistles
and cracks fly like birds
from maple to spruce and back.
Aloft, freezing winds plait
cloud strata into ropes
of black and white, then
knot them into gray snarls
to toss across the blue
like cat toys. Below,
I sway like the trees,
my old joints cracking,
while I whistle and ponder if
this will be the March I’ll
finally untangle myself
from the snarling, the knotty
thoughts of you that roar
in chilling leonine echo
across my ever-blue memory.

Just because…

The Uncertain Certainty of Eternity

poetry-of-the-earth

I stood before their stone
one afternoon, wondering
what comes next. Is death
the punctuation of life?
An exclamation point or
even an ellipsis. The wind
rose and strummed the trees
in a protracted C-major.
The birds chirped in layers
of tiny percussive iambs,
heartbeats that predate us
and likely will continue
long after we’re gone.

For a moment, I heard
a poet who writes on clouds
the wind carries away like
pages torn from a notebook.
Without a manuscript, Nature speaks
in verse without words,
something few understand
until we’re closer to
our own grand editing,
where all will be revealed
and we’ll spend our
final breath on an “ahhhh.”
And our poem will go on and on
for the uncertain certainty
of eternity…even if I won’t

A quickly dashed off poem of sorts based upon the quote from John Keats at the top of this posting. It’s this week’s prompt (the first in months) from my friend Sharyl Fuller.

Enough Rope

2907270-pile-of-old-ship-rope-on-passenger-boat

All my life, I’ve braided
my feelings of confusion and
confusion of feelings into
ropes long enough to hang me.
Each line from which I
counterbalanced better judgment
inevitably tangled around me,
sometimes only tripping me, spilling
my dignity ass over teakettle,
like my shoelaces were tied together.
Others, it hurled me avalanche-like
into the crowd, where I hurt others.
Almost always, the rope tightened,
snaking around me, squeezing light
and life from me, giving me
little choice but to cut it,
dropping me into a thin heap
of compassion, tenderness, love,
pity and sorrow. Scarred by
shattered notions, suspicions,
beliefs and guesses, I limped away,
certain I’d soon begin gathering
new fibers of feelings, blindly
tying different knots of confusion,
seeking another out-of-reach limb
over which to toss my new rope.
I’ve always known how to fashion
such strong, dangerous lines.
I just never figured out why I do.

 

Reaching Out for the Out of Reach

a0719563308_10

I would think of her whenever I heard that song or even the singer. I’d recall the pain of obsessing over that which I could not have, yet still I dreamt of the possibility of it all. There was no way she could be more than she was, or really, what I was to her. But still my heart would leap when I saw her name on my ringing phone, feel the heat rise through my body and the flip-flop of something leap inside me as I held what I could of her in my hand. The distance between us would always exist because we each placed boundaries around one another, defenses against another broken heart. But mine was already shattered by the disappointment I realized whenever I stopped to think what might happen if… If we did breach my fear of our finally being together. How long before the joy waned and she discovered the secret I hide even from myself? I’ve yearned for so many, so much, so often, and the truth burns more than the longing. See, it’s really the yearning I love more than the yearned.

I wanted to dash off a quick something this morning, so I went to the dictionary and opened it to any random word. Up came YEARNING. I know, I know. Rather than wing it and just write, I decided to use an old process of mine I learned from Ray Bradbury. You take the theme of your potential work and then list ten nouns you free associate with it, each preceded by the word the. They’re all up in that block of prose poem above. A free written piece of semi-fiction, semi-confessional by a character who yearned to be expressed, I guess.

Always Another Tumble

tripping

I’d be embarrassed
for you to see me today,
sick and bloated,
dragging body and soul
from dawn to dark.
I know the memory of me
is cloudy and tainted
by another of my tumbles
in this long road of mine to
understanding and forgiveness.
I’m sorry for that and for
all those times I failed you
and you
and them.

Sometimes I’m sorry
for myself, but that sounds
so self-absorbed
it makes me feel even sorrier.
And so I hide behind words,
metaphors, third-person cutouts
of what a real man,
a man of strength and honor,
should be, instead of one more
disappointment with
a Y chromosome
and no good answer to your
question…
“Why?”.

One of those first-draft, still half-asleep, poems that usually get written only in my head, but not on the page. Perhaps that’s why this one should stay there—smothered beneath my pillow.