No Direction Home

Around the corner and down a way, just before the main road, two staples hold what’s left of a piece of paper to the power pole. I’d pass it in its fullness on my way to or from when snow still covered everything. It was hard to read then, weather having already faded it, the home printer’s ink running in tears down to the oiled wooden pole. But I knew it was a picture of someone’s white cat that had left the house and not returned. It could have run away, but I doubt it. It could have gone out and run afoul of a winter-hungered coyote, or maybe it got lost in the expanse of white upon which Home happened to be and a car or snowplow had sent it spinning like a snowflake to join the rest of the white on white landscape, maybe until Spring. And now all that’s left of someone’s plaintive posting for their loved one to come back are two staples and a tear of shredded hope. And I thought about the times I have been spun and hunted and lost. When I didn’t know which direction was Home, or if I even wanted to go there. When the dome of sky and the plate of earth are indiscernible from one another, and you look around you for help or escape and you know not which way is the N on the compass, let alone the road to redemption, you just have to find your way within. I once saw a litter of puppies tumbling down a hill toward the busy road upon which I sped by. There’s was nothing I could do for them, surrounded as I was by semis and fulls – the former, trucks and the latter, idiots. I filed that scene as a short loop that runs in my head and heart for thirty years. I have no idea if the little black bundles of bumptiousness hit road level and found a diverting chain link fence there (I pray so) or if a frightening inevitability ended their lives. I just know that they still live within the Home that is me, just as that cat might live in the lives of its family, or whoever saw its snowy invisibleness now indivisibly rendered in the home within them. Whether we know it or not, there will always be a Home for us, grim, gritty or glorious as it may be, in the memories of others, even strangers. Perhaps someday one of them will remember the shred of me when I passed through their day on the way Home. Theirs or mine, the direction doesn’t really matter. We’re Home.

On Day 27 of my Poem-a-Day quest, a “direction” poem. I saw the prompt and could only think of the line from Dylan…Bob, not Thomas. My taste in poets runs toward Minnesota, not Wales. Now, don’t nit-pick if this is a poem or not. It’s a first-draft expression of something within me. Let’s say it’s a prose poem, just for the sake of giving it an address in these last few days of April. A home on the way to May.

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The View From My Window

I see greens (a few) grays (a lot)
and shiny cars outside my window.
Duplex houses in varied earth tones
standing cheek by jowl
chain the cul-de-sac beneath
high, hazy clouds diluting
the morning blue sky.
That’s what I see.
That’s my view.
Yours would be different, even if,
right this instant, you sat
in this spot by my window.
You might see the tan patches
and brown mud splotches
where I see grass,
see the dirty pickup truck roll by,
the white sticks of winter’s
snow plow reflectors still standing
in doubt this Spring day will last.
But you wouldn’t see my view
unless I told you, and I wouldn’t see yours.
That’s why I like art,
almost any art.
It speaks the truth of the artist’s view
of her subject. And I can choose
to listen, read, observe, feel what
she says she does, as she does it.
Or I can turn away and
not pay attention to it at all.
Just as you can skip on by
my view from my side of this window,
the town, the country, the world.
And I can skip by yours.
I wish life was more like that.
I don’t necessarily need to hear
if you do.

Day 13 of NaPoWriMo.  A “view” poem. There are a lot of lines up there and just a little more between them.

Song of Self

Here I am again,
whispering in your ear,
telling secrets about myself
so maybe your own you can hear.

Here you are again.
Is that your name you hear
even though you’re all by yourself,
so no one can see your tear?

Here we are again,
conversing as if we’re near,
sharing secrets about ourselves,
yet each always alone, I fear.

There I go again,
never exactly making it clear,
but it’s no secret, this Song of Self,
which you read alone, is yours alone, my dear.

Day 10 of poem-a-day NaPoWriMo, a “lone” poem. It’s strange that someone who has written scores of poems about loneliness and isolation, while sitting all alone, hopes they might touch many people, though each in the alone-ness of their own minds and hearts. Loneliness is a lack, a feeling that something is missing, a pain, a depression, a need, an incompleteness, an absence. Aloneness is presence, fullness, aliveness, joy of being, overflowing love.You are complete.Nobody is needed, you are enough. Love makes you complete. This loving act of talking to everyone by talking to just myself makes me complete.

Before We Get to Trail’s End

I do ponder what’s to come
out ahead on this long hike.
Maybe because I can sense
trail’s end could be just over
the next rise. Whether toward
sunup or sundown I don’t
even guess, since I keep my gaze
low, to the right and the left,
lest any roots or hoodoos
choose to trip my dragging feet.

I’m not racing anymore
to eventually get where
we all shuck our loads and sleep.
Who’s to say who’s a winner
or loser when we all get
the same prize at the finish?
Did I mention how I try
not to look behind myself
to see which racer’s making
that final kick to beat we
mere stumblers, our packs chock full
of the aches and memories
we’ve picked up along the way?

And while I’d like to recall
the places I’ve been and the
things I’ve seen out behind me,
this road’s been a curvy thing
so one can’t look back too far
anyway. Perhaps when I
hit the finish line, I’ll peek
inside my pack and all those
memories will come tumbling
out for me to see. I hear
that’s what happens anyway.
But wouldn’t it be so great
to share a li’l sneak right now?

Let’s.

Sirocco

I suppose I could tell you I missed you
but there never really was someone to miss.
Just idle dreams and strung-together words
that few would see and none would recognize.
But that’s all right, the idea is to purge
these images from an exhausted mind
and a soul tattered and faded by time.
Well, time and times I’d wave it like a flag,
not so much to draw your kind attention,
but perhaps just to show I was alive.

I guess this is living, blinking these nights
into days, and letting the days drift away
like tossing Hope seeds in a desert wind.
So here’s another handful you might catch
if you wish. Every time I think I’ve
tossed out the last of them, some more appear
at the bottom of the bag, something like
a miracle, tiny loaves and fishes
addressed to someone who looks like you looked
when you were the oasis I might miss,
instead of the sirocco I dreamt to.

Footprints in the Snow

As I descended into the basement,
lit only by a ground-level window,
I mused on my soon-enough internment.
Oh, I know. How morbid, depressed. How Joe!
Guilty as charged. But sometimes I ponder
any non-spiritual afterlife
that may come my way like I ponder those
piles of my life living under the stairs.
What’s to become of us, the dusty stuff
and I, once I trip on a rainbow?
So today, I began throwing away
bits of the life I never really had.
Yellowed newspaper stories I wrote when
I knew not how to be a reporter,
stories quoting me when at last I did.
Books of knowledge I didn’t really need
and second place trophies that showed I did.
Pictures of my young face, aged face, old face
chronicling how I forgot how to smile.
And dust, so much dust, maybe dust to dust
of someone else who one day figured out
we walk through life and all we really leave
behind us are footprints in the snow.

Ripple Effect

It makes no sense to consider
a life where we never met.
We met and that’s it.
Whatever pebbles we disturbed
started rolling down life’s mountain,
either missing other stones altogether
or eventually triggering landslides
where I always seemed to be standing.
But these avalanches of angst,
or anxiety, never touched you,
just the anger at all my dust
drifting by, obscuring your view
of what you found most important.
Your reflection may not look like
it once did in that mirror pool.
No, age didn’t cause the change.
It’s really the ripples
of concentric circles that your
fleet of pebbles set off now that
they’ve finally come to rest
upon what might’ve always mattered
to you most.