a note to my children:
You were all born with an Angel on your shoulder
Disguised as a small invisible white bird.
Look at you now! All grown up with a smile;
And without a frown, that ultimately always shines,
As bright as the moon clears the clouds.
Who knew how each of you would grow up;
with your mother and I. (in each smile and frown!)
As you were born
Sitting on your shoulder
we heard a white bird
Which our hearts still hear.
I’ve been washing dishes since I was twelve years old. Sometimes wiping, sometimes scrubbing, and once in a while soaking. Which brings me to my current state of six spoons, four forks, and three knives. And an assorted accouterments that rattle and roll freely every time I open and close the drawer.
To make a long story short, at seventy-four, I use one spoon a day. Then on the seventh day I have to do the dishes. I rinse one out for the day’s coffee, having run out of spoons and noticing the mess it has created during the week before, I throw it back into the suds; and begin my day of service.
shit shines every night
along with the star light bright
“dew shine”, anyone ?
two mourning doves: (haibun)
relationships are being defined in the environment of the nest they live in.
–some in a tree with no leaves that once held dreams.— the true skeleton behind the feathers exposes its heart.
rattling off to a branch, bones tickling each other, they wait for another Love’s morning.
sunlight drying dew
summer’s warmth removes the sheet
pillow soft asleep
lost in an April afternoon [ haibun]**
arms by her side, gently moving
with the rhythm of her stride,
she walked on the sidewalk
by lake Waukewan.
her gray hair, scattered by the lake’s breeze,
she waved to me with a smile and with an age-old hand
inviting me to enjoy this this day and who I am;
in April, lost in the afternoon.
Darkness and despair
“there’s a crack in everything” *
Grass above concrete
** haibun is the combination of two poems: a prose poem and haiku. The form was popularized by the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Both the prose poem and haiku typically communicate with each other, though poets employ different strategies for this communication—some doing so subtly, while others are more direct.
the sound of april rain
i was born in the sound of rain.
whether it was from the grass,
or the splash of baptism;
or the windows of isolation;
or on barred pounding glass in prison;
or when I was safely home,
when it rocked me to sleep.
spring rains bring soothing sound.
proclaiming the birth, I would greet again,
in summer rain…
misty at times
other times as storms…
making roots become stronger
fall’s rain blows the leaf’s
to carpet the cradle;
before it freezes,
and blankets spring
in a lullaby of snow.
i was born in the sound of rain.
There is a sickness in the air
Tree tops are passing the news
To the stones and the soil
To prepare the paths
Through the forest
And into the valleys
To the villages of compassion;
To be cured .
Above darkening gray clouds
The dim glowing sun
Caught my eye.
I started to hum,
“Everything’s gonna’ be alright.”
As dusk, settled on my chair.
I silenced it with a sigh.
From ground to empty stoneware pottery,
my soul poured out my life
into my morning’s coffee cup;
existence to non-existence.
Oh, then to remembrance;
of knowledge, when I first held out my hand
—holding, the first summer’s rose.
I emptied my cup
holding empty stoneware pottery
waiting in anticipation for tomorrow’s coffee..
“From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw —
I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone –“
“Alone” Edgar Allan Poe
C hapter I
High in a dying butternut tree, above the climbing bittersweet,
a pair of sparrows sat entwined.
Bobbing and pecking, with tail feathers visible,
they pushed and pulled, constructing a nest
from winters fallen twigs and kites’ missing strings.
Both unaware of the advancing wings on seductive winds
gliding in the heat of post-World War II victory;
with bold brown patches and brasso colored flares
flirting shamelessly with all the birds in nesting trees.
Mother: after laying her eggs, suddenly took flight on a south east breeze:
wings spread, open feathers, abandoning history.
Father: in haste, wondering who was first;
found in the chase, with another mate
in a steeple of an abandoned Christian church.
Four hatching , cracked through egg shells
in a nest below a large branch, in a dying butternut tree.
Small insects dropped, in sacrifice, as meals
to their gratefully awakening beaks.
Weeks passed in the aging butternut tree
providing shelter, meals, and summer comfort.
The first hatching , thou gh weak,
fluttered, stretched, and skittered
to stand on quick strengthening feet;
to peek and seek for something he felt, was missing.
Something unable to find, something not complete.
Something to teach him about sky, ground, gravity
and all that scary in-between.
Innocence in the face of dilemma,
all of them eventually perched on the ragged brim.
Taunted by instinct and haunted by uncertainty;
to leave and fly, to land on air, or just plain fall and disappear.
Watching them teetering on the rim,
the brave-born, with a sweeping two wing lurch
pushed them off before him.
Falling! Falling! They fell then dipped into swooping grace.
Wings with instinctive motion, caught them in flight.
Never looking back, they disappeared swiftly
between the pines, the hardwood’s, and the butternut’s plight.
The last sparrow, now with confidence, excited without anxiety,
leaning chest first, feathers outstretched, he jumped too.
Falling much too close to the butternut tree
he became entangled in the vines of the creeping bittersweet.
Tumbling, swirling, crackling, he landed with a broken wing.
Oh mother, oh father, in his screaming,
he spoke not a word. It was only in their hearts
that they heard him fall.
Who knows, as i sit in an anxious state
waiting for Godot; hoping they never show,
like a sparkle in the glass, asking me if i care to go?
I will deny its invitation —to stay and enjoy the sparkle,
as all sparkles go.
Who Knows as i move in trepidation,
waiting for the fulfillment of my day?
Afraid to recognize it when it is here.
So i deny its invitation —to listen as it fades,
rolls, descends, and disappears.
Who knows the mysteries attributed
to the ground i stand on?
If traveled, i will have accepted its maze,
if understood —i will have accepted its direction.
Who can remember,
that we can go through the eye of a needle
with the sparkle of a moment?
i believe, only in the beholder’s mind
and conscience, threaded within our soul.
an experience from the stars. blinking, shinning, glittering,
far too far from it all; sends its notice to me through heart and senses,
dusting my mind in powdered confection.
how can the infinite space of the universe capture and descend into my arms
a heart and mind so unfamiliar to mine?
from where could it fall?
i thank the morning for logic unimaginable;
quietly sharing toast with melting honey,
black coffee and smiles unspeakable.
“…if you do not know yourselves
then you are in poverty,
and you are the poverty.”
logion 3, The Gospel of Thomas
i emptied my pockets with rattling and scattered coins on the dresser.
facing me, an obtrusive un-welcomed ever-present mirror.
i could not look away; i was centered within its paint chipped borders.
off to the edge, a stack of black-and-white old family photos;
mixed in with a bunch of sticky colored Polaroid’s
of a motorcycle weekend and penny arcades at Weirs Beach.
and, blurry ones of a start-up rock and roll band
“jamming” at the Beanstalk variety store.
(it’s still at the junction of route 106 and Canterbury road).
i can hear the screeching tires on the curves of Gunstock
and the giggling, lovemaking, in a pup tent between laps.
the racers often change the lead before the lovers
pressed themselves, arm and arm, against the fence again.
i can see in their Polaroid eyes, nothing cared except to be there.
it was a black and white transition for me then.
pushed up against the mirror, an old mason jar
half full with silver coins. nickels, dimes, quarters,
and one unspent Kennedy half-dollar. a permanent resident.
i found that faded earth smeared mason jar digging in an old bottle dump;
carried it in my backpack, hitchhiking down many promising roads.
never did fill it. always dipped into it. emergency funds, you know.
on the floor beside the dresser, getting harder to push aside,
squats a fading bluish plastic water cooler jug, three-quarters full of pennies.
my retirement, i suppose.
i begin to sort copper from silver and silver from copper.
jar vs. jug.
i smile at myself trying to find something
that i may have forgotten in my pockets.
something, with at least one or two digits to fold.
the mirror returns my smile. we stare at the lines on our faces
listening to each distinctive clink, clunk, and thud
fade into its equally appropriated space.