Night So Long

The nights are so long
when I’m alone in my bed,
sleep having left me for another.
And yet I wait, listening
to the tick-tock of my heart
beat out the stretch of time
between laying my head
on the pillow and when that imposter
embraces me until my eyes open
and I find it wasn’t sleep,
but some ragged shadow held me down
while it sucked more time from
my life than just the few hours
I tossed in her arms. Maybe
it would be different if you
were here, too. But then nights
would be too short.

The Band Plays On

The heartbeat of Spring
taps on my roof and
the winds turn the trees
into a percussion section.
The band plays on.

As I lie here, I hear
my heart beat in time
with the rain, while
a Springtime cold turns
my breath into woodwinds.
And the band plays on.

Somewhere out in the rain,
a man with no roof,
the opening in the overpass
for a window, hums his anthem.
And his band plays on.

People rush past him
as if driven by wind,
shoulders shrugged,
an audience sensing only
its own music.
The band playing on and on.

Love Among the Shadow Children

” … the dark has eyes to recognize its own …” ~David Whyte~

It is in the darkness
we lose ourselves,
forget our way.
Without any light,
You could look like I do
and I could look like You
and neither of us
would know it.
But, as we’ve burned
and learned,
looks can deceive.

I’ve tripped and fallen
in the dark as well as
the light over what
I thought was beauty,
something or someone
I never thought would
hurt me, but did.
Just I have caused pain
to those who put
their trust in me —
a creature never far
from shadow —
when trust was undeserved.

Trust is better given
and received in at least
penumbral twilight,
best under the sun-bright
proofing of truth.
Only the dark
truly recognizes,
truly understands,
can only love its
shadow children, because
only the dark has eyes
to recognize its own.
And I know you.

Day 3 of my National Poetry Month poem-a-day quest. This piece is based on Sharyl Fuller’s weekly Writing Outside the Lines challenge prompt you see at the top of the page. Yeah, I am the penumbral denizen who can easily slip into the dark with but one step. But the light is only a step away, too.

Afraid of Being Afraid of the Dark

Here in the darkness, we all look alike.
Yet we fear that which we cannot see.
If we reach out to explore more than
what we hide or hide from,
we might find whatever differences
we sense are actually differences we share.

I wonder what would happen if we conquered
our fears, raised the shades, opened our eyes,
unlocked our doors and allowed a new day
into our rooms. Perhaps we’d discover
it isn’t one another we need fear,
but the darkness within which we cowered,
covers over our heads,
pillows muffling our ears and minds
we kept imprisoned, locked away
by our own intentions.

It’s fear that compels us to conceal
ourselves from the known and unknown,
fears of being hurt in which
we not only hurt ourselves,
but the shadow-shrouded world
we hope would just go away.
My fear is it already has and
now we’re really alone the dark.

What the Winds Leave Behind

I struggle to remember
so many things that
I know I never will.
They’ve blown away
from my grasp in winds
I once bulled my way
through and now bully me.

I can recall many
random things of puzzling
importance, like the blur
of a certain perfume and
a swatch of freckles,
but not face nor name,
a cold confusion where
a sense of warmth
against my skin
once inscribed itself.

But that’s how
the winds of time
mistreat you.
They’ll stagger your steps,
scrub the carvings
from your monumental
and leave you shivering,
cold and bewildered,
these dwindling nights.

Here Behind the Golden Door

What does it take
to leave your home,
your land, all the people
who shared your heritage,
maybe even your name,
to step into the unknown?
Your destination may shine
like the golden door
the green lady lights
with her uplifted lamp.

What’s it like to line up
for the unknown darkness
with the tired and poor,
hell, the wretched refuse?
See how she invites
all of these, the homeless
and tempest-tossed, to join
in breathing the clear,
the fetid, the piney,
the prairie, the briny,
all of this air
redolent of freedom?

You don’t have to know,
my friend. A handful of
men and women, members
of those unintelligible
huddled masses, each
with your name, or
maybe something like it,
stood in the box and
answered them for you
so you could be born
there on second base,
think you hit a triple
and call this place Home.

Don’t know where this came from. Maybe it came across my creative ocean because I’m tracing my roots back to Ireland, Bavaria and Hesse and have run into the antithesis of a golden door, more a leaden wall.  We’re so lucky, ya know?