Monday, July 21, 2014


The whispering
Of the maple’s boughs
In evening’s breeze
Is as her sighs.
Sunset fires
Scarlett and gold
Behind the tree’s silhouette
Is as her presence
Ever with me.

Straining to hear
The universe
Hoping for a word
In the wind
I listen to
The rhythms of dusk
Wanting knowledge
Of her.

The little voices
That rise
In dimming light.
The cacophony of speech
Rising from woodlands
And rivers.

Voices everywhere
But not a syllable
From her.

I hear the plaintive howl
Of the coyote
The papery fluttering
Of batwings
Coughing from the mouths
Of caves
The peep of night birds
The squeak of mice
And the barking
Of yard dogs.

But her voice is still.

The planets have song
Stars and quasars
Shout fire
And the moon groans
Low in the trees.

But she is silent.

I will listen always
For her voice.

It is said
Is the last of the senses
To die.

I will surrender sight
Dismiss every human attribute
Save hearing
Hoping to the last
To salvage
But one utterance
From her.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The evening breeze
Stirring the maple leaves
And combing the grasses
Along the boulevard
Where I live.

Sitting quietly
I concentrate
Upon each of my senses
Patiently waiting
For each
To report.

It is an amazing experience
And one of no little effort.

Four at a time
Are required
To idle
As one comes
To full attention.

How sharply
How grandly
Creation displays itself
Against the relief
Of sensory evidence!

Light changes by the moment.

The earth delivers a taste
Upon the waiting tongue.

Hearing sharpens itself
Upon a cricket’s chirp.

Touch accents against
The velvet of a petal.

The aroma of a neighbor’s
Kitchen tantalizes
My sense of smell
Suggesting a delight I will miss.

I savor the amaze of my biology.

After much time
I recombine my body’s
Into one fluid astonishment.

I return indoors
For the inventory
Of my incredible manufacture
And the sensuality of self.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Paper Airplane

I am a paper airplane
Crisply folded
And launched
From a bedroom window
Rising then dipping
To rise again
Banking left
When a sudden gust
Spirals me into a nosedive
Dooming my flight
And I crash into the rosebush.

What a flight I’ve had!
Was I not full
Of early promise?
Did you not think
I may fly forever?
Clearing the hulking awning
The freshly cut lawn
Doing aerobatics
Before the inevitable

Paper airplanes
Are supposed to crash.
Did you ever see
A paper airplane
With landing gear?

I will not remember
The approaching red blooms
Or their thorny stalks.

I will never forget
The thrill of my flight
The wind under my wings
The brief span of cold
Blue air.

At the end
Remember this of me:
I flew!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Along the Tributaries

I stand on a promontory
Overlooking the trail
I’ve forged
Wondering at the markers
Along the path.

I fear
I’ve not done enough
Not encouraged enough
Not loved well
Not have been the man
I might have become
At this point in the journey.

It has been a lonely path
And so remains.
But that does not change
The inventory
Or recapitulation
Of my travel.

There were momentary victories
But much of the time
I’ve spent along the tributaries
Rather than the chief river.

There have been injuries sustained
Most now recovered
But a few remain
Open and bleeding.
These I try and disguise
As badges of honor.
But the truth is
They need not have been received
Had I been
True to my purpose.

The stars gleam
And the moon washes
A bright patina.
I shiver
Not because of the chill
But because I fear
Time too brief
To reacquire my bearings
And finish well
The task assigned
To leave for those following
A faithful rendition
Of the way ahead.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


It came from the west
About nine o’clock high
Floating and bobbing
Across the night sky.

It was dull, it was flashing
It was silent and loud
It gave off no light
As it lit up a cloud.

It flew in right angles
Parallel to the ground
While thundering straight up
Without making a sound.

It was a perfect circle
It was a triangle, too.
It appeared quiet ancient
But seemed to be new.

No one was aboard
But in its window was a man.
It flew like a biscuit
Skipping over the land.

I watched it for hours
Or maybe for days.
I remember it clearly
Through a whiskey-fueled haze.

You ain't seen one, my friend
'Cuz there's one thing you lack:
Unlike me you ain't drank down
A whole bottle of Jack!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Before the Storm*

Before the storm
I was strong.

I was able.
I stood in the blade
Of the wind
Determined to prevail
To outlast the adversary
To overcome.

Before the storm.

I was a shelter to the suffering.
I accepted risk
Ready to pay the cost
To foot the bill.

Before the storm.

I gave solace.
I listened to tales
Of woe
The storied accounts
Of losses.
I staunched others' bitter tears
Soothing disabilities
Encouraging others to rise again.

Before the storm.

Then came the high noon battle
When I was stricken
Like a scythe strikes wheat
Casting it down
As though it never were.

I could not imagine
I would fall
As desperate as those I once

I did not count the extreme cost
I never dreamed the severity
Of the injury inflicted
That would stitch me for so long
To my bed.

I daily make effort to rise
But my legs often are unsure
My arms weak
My heart uncertain.

Searing pain exalts itself
Declaring a new regime
And I tremble sometime
Looking inevitably
For a soft place to fall.

I remember the man I was
Longing for a return
To strength
To honor
To usefulness
To become again the soldier I was

Before the storm.

* There are 19 uses of the personal pronoun "I" in this freestyle poem. There is no question how utterly self-centered is this work, and it is more than a little embarrassing. It nearly did not meet my standards for inclusion in this blog. The only reason it is included is that I believe many others feel as I do, that pain (of any variety) is far more disabling and difficult than imagined before the injury was experienced. Following that event a season of grieving naturally follows. It may be swift, and a return to health speedy. Or, as in my case, that grief may be extended. The challenge is to find a way to be productive, and reasonably adjusted to whatever quality of life may follow. My injury is not obvious. The casual observer would never note what has happened. But the pain dealt me is disabling. To my fellow sufferers, I wish you health. I wish you recovery. And I hope you keep on keeping on. ~ James

Monday, June 30, 2014

Back Porch Reverie

You sit gazing
Into the distance.
You’ve been silent
Though perhaps
Not at peace.

I almost interrupted
About to intrude
To prod your reverie
But thinking better of it
Held my peace.

If you choose
You will tell me.

I do not expect
To always be in your thoughts.
Nor do I hope
To be in their majority.
It is enough
To share the quiet
To breathe the same air
With you.

As a much younger man
I believed I must dominate
A woman’s mind.
How foolish, such narcissism.
On the precipice
Of real age
All I hope is inclusion.

I would reach for your hand
Inches from my own.
By simple touch
I could draw you back.
You would turn to me
But even such honest touch
May be imposition.

There is no need
I be a hulking presence
In your thoughts
Your vision
Or even your heart.

In awhile
You will shake your head
Returning to me.

You will softly smile
An unnecessary apology
Your hand folding into mine.

I will hold your gaze a bit longer
Than usual.

You will sigh and say
“Where was I?”

And I will kiss you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


In the pause
Before first light
Unwilling to wake
Your hands find me
And I rise
At your touch.

I think of last night
Your cheek
Upon my shoulder
Before the slide
Into darkness.

Our ceiling fan
In the predawn

The night has been busy.

In sylvan fields
We roamed
Upon river bluffs
With falcons
Through thunderheads
Down rainbows
Until this half-awakening.

Your touch rouses me
Teasing me
New with promise.

Even the sun rises
At the heat
Of your touch.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Comanche Days

Years ago
The brace
Of burnt cordite
And the explosive
Of my semi-auto
Was provocative.

All up and down
The firing line
Officers leaned into
The muzzle flash
Never to need it
Always to have it.

It shoved
Into my hand
Into my spine.

The kicker:
I hate guns.
But I craved knowledge
That come hell
I would stand
In the angry day.

The stinger:
I have experienced
The butterfly breeze
Savagely singing
Their Death Song
Very near my left ear.

The knowledge you may die
Makes life sweet.

These days
My weapon is secure
Its magazine sleeping
In a drawer I never open.

But I remember
The Comanche Days
The siren song
Of life
Sweet and rare.

I remember.

Replies to Recent Comments....

Dear Fellow Poet, who commented on Mixed Joy...I'm just a novice poet too. I make this stuff up as I go along. Most of it comes from my life experiences, but not all. In response to your question, I encourage you read the classic poets, and most contemporary poets (Pablo Neruda, Sara Teasdale are two of my favorites. By "contemporary," I mean those who have written in the last 100 years. A living poet, Billy Collins, always amazes me, but in ways far different from the first two I mentioned). They all are willing to "get naked" before their readers. Writing good poetry requires the poet be willing to expose, from his/her life experiences, those things nearly everyone has in common. Yes! You may alter what you write, making it a bit different from what actually happened. But be "stingy" with that. Your best work will spring from truth. Some of the poems I write have nothing to do with my personal history. It's manufactured. I've never been a cowboy, but I write about cowboys. Never been a soldier. But I write about soldiers. (I do have qualities from both, however. I've chased loose bulls, and been shot at)They're okay poems. But I have been seriously injured. I've been hurt. I've been loved and left. I've been satisfied. To me, those poems really shine. Everybody has suffered, known devastating loss, experienced passion, thrill, and mystery. You must help them visit again those moments by allowing yourself to be their lens. That's what I mean by "get naked" with your readers. Maybe 20% of your readers will understand. Write for them. Those who read you in hurried exasperation will never understand. Be kind to them. Do not discount them. They may return. If you would like me to read some of your work, and offer constructive thought, e-mail them to Remember...I'm not a "pro." I'm just a guy trying to present life as I've seen it. "Good Luck" is a meaningless sentiment. "Get Busy" is far better. Just write. Don't stop writing. That's what writers do. Writers write! I hope to hear from you again. Thanks for reading me! ~~~ James

To the reader who commented on F...Yep. It hurts. It really sucks. Words mean things, and our society places incredible value on the "F Word." We call it the "F Bomb" for good reason. It flings burning shrapnel directly into the human heart. Lovers use it to provoke passion. Actually, I think that's a base and low word to employ for the most amazing and transformative of human actions. People who are provoked to rage use that word to slash, inflict emotional pain, and establish, what they think, is a position of dominance. I feel pity for them. Unfortunately, I have experienced this very thing. I don't usually respond well, but I have never slashed out. Engaging in passive behavior may seem to be the reaction of a weakling. But I submit that, to not return anger for anger, shows great courage, and restraint. I hope to achieve that someday. I'm getting better at it, but turning the other cheek is a life's work. You asked why I stayed so long in the marriage. Great question. Perhaps for the same reason beaten dogs stay...there's no open gate. Expectations of others I hoped to please kept me there. But that's a flimsy reason. I hoped I could change her. After all the time I'd invested, I was unwilling to walk away. Dumb, yes. I've learned a truth that most folks likely already knew: there is no change coming unless the one in question is ready to engage in healthy behavior. I no longer see myself as tenacious. In retrospect, I see myself as foolish. Thanks for reading me! But please don't feel sorry for me. All the pain I've endured (you would be amazed at the variety) has made me a wiser man.....James

To the Reader who Commented on Solace...I am stunned. For the 1st time, I am unsure what to say. My mind is reeling, and trying to imagine who you may be. Perhaps you are a voice in the wilderness, for me, reminding me of who I once thought I was (See how the mighty have fallen!) But, okay. Let me respond as best I can. You are right. I had the world in my cross hairs in the '70's. I believed I was capable, and I was thrilled with the prospects that lay ahead. As a young man I took risks. The late 80's and 90's were full of risk, and I accepted each one of them. But life beat the hell outta me. I was pushed, dragged, threatened, injured, I lost, I won. I had 2 life threatening events that nearly killed me. I left, I was left, I made promises and broke a few, I fell, stumbled, picked myself up, grew bitter, learned to accept what happened, got right, made mistakes, made good choices, but mostly got beat to a pulp. And presently....I am a burned ember. Observed from the outside, I appear irrelevant and used up. But the fire of which you spoke...Ah! That remains. But it's burned into my interior. I appear a grey hunk of used ash. But if one got close enough to feel the's still there. But it has found its home in my heart, where it does me the most good. If you please, I would love to hear from you again. You can contact me at Let me correct myself a bit. I'm not saying I'm just old and used up. I'm saying my "uniform" is ragged, soiled, torn and bloodied...but it's still my uniform, and it proves I've been there, done that...and I'd do it all again. I know what I've just said is contradiction. But I am a contradiction, in the flesh. I am not what I appear to be, and I appear to be what I am not. Life has been...difficult. It's my life. I love it. But if there's a next time I'll duck, where needful, and punch where possible. I'm still a fighter. Thank you so much for your expression. It means more to me than you could know. By the way, you may not be as anonymous as you think! But what do I know?...James