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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Only the Living*

Sometimes you ought to run.
Sometimes you turn and fight.
Sometimes it’ll hurt like hell.
Sometimes it’ll surely bite.

Sometimes you find strength
Other times, you’re just tired.
You make choices in a moment
With knowledge you acquired.

There’s mystery in every fight.
That upon which it depends
Is that the fire remaining in you
Will decide where this battle ends.

Be determined to win this round
Though you know this bout will hurt.
You'll wrestle with the aching wound
As you brawl in the sand and dirt.

Only the living struggle.
Only the living bleed.
Only the living may know
That only the living succeed.


*I discovered this poem in a file I hadn't seen since 2008. It reflects a struggle I was in at the time. I suppose all of us have had times when we had to roll up our sleeves, ball up our fists, and either figuratively, or literally waded into the fray, come hell or high water. The victory was mine, that time. I "marked it on my hull" as a combat star. But the war continues. Be strong...and be careful out there.

A Letter

I never
Wrote her a letter.

I sighed out
My hopes
Teased with
My wants.

I communicated with
My eyes
My body
My heart.

But I never
Wrote her a letter.

I drew her to me.
I enfolded her in my arms.
I kissed her mouth.
I warmed her
Cherished her.
I loved her.

But I never
Wrote her a letter.

I held her hand.
I sat with her
Walked with her
Lay with her
Dreamed with her.

But I never
Wrote her a letter.

I wish I had it all
To do again.
I would change nothing.
Every day
Would be the way it was then.

But one thing I would not regret
Were it mine to do again.

Next time
I would not lament that
I never wrote her a letter.

On Her Way Down

The riggings
Shriek and moan
Of the hulk
Hurled by winds
By seas.

It is a shrill
Extended lament
Exceeding that
Of the most
Desperate widow.

It is the groan
Of lost souls
The siren of the seas
Rooting the mind
Never to leave.

It is the whine
Of tortured spirits
Climaxing
With decks awash
With creaking timbers
With brackish spray
With scorching jets
Salting the seafarer
With brimstone
From the shattered masts.

The devil takes those
Who cower ‘neath
The cry of the damned
From the rigging
Of the doomed
On her way down
Down
Down
Forever lost
And down.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's Simple

When I was really thirsty
(And I have been)
It was water I craved.

Not soda.
Not coffee or tea.
Alcohol did not fuel
My passion.

Water.
I wanted water.
Cool
Clear
Clean
Water.

Flowing over my tongue
It splashed my throat
Swirled down my inner pipes
To chill the burn at my core
To satisfy the longing.

I can do without bread
Far longer
Than I can water.

The desert rarely blooms
But when it does
It’s because of rains
Because water
Works wonders
And brings even sands
To flourish.

The camel stores moisture
In its humps
As water
Not as Coke
Or Pepsi.

The Big Gulp is truly great
As two atoms of hydrogen
And one atom of oxygen.

Give me water.
Water.
Give me water
Or I die.

It’s simple.
^^^^^^^^^^^^

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All I Can Tell You

Tragic
How the mind loosens
Its grasp
On memory.

It begins
With the blur
Of definition.

Details
Once crisp
Soften.

The firm grip
Of youth
Transits
To the gentle contact
Of advancing age.

I know
I spent days laboring
In the torrid heat
Of August noons.
But what I recall
Is simply
They were warm.

I’m certain
I gave much time
Shivering
In frigid Februarys.
But all I remember is
I was cold.

I know I tossed
Sleeplessly
In worried nights.
But all I recollect is
I was concerned.

I know
I thrilled
To passion’s touch.
But all I remember is
I was loved.

I know
Her eyes
Were the color
Of October’s leaves
But all I can imagine is
They were hazel.

I know
Age brings loss.
But all I can tell you is
I have already forgotten more
Than I ever really knew.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Silent

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.

Strange
The little voices
That rise
In dimming light.
The cacophony of speech
Rising from woodlands
Prairies
Hills
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.

Hearing
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

Sensuality

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

Sitting quietly
I concentrate
One-by-one
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
Machinery
Into one fluid astonishment.

Standing
I return indoors
Grateful
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.

But
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
Crash.

But
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.

But
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.

Tonight
The stars gleam
And the moon washes
A bright patina.
Tonight
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

Jack

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!