January thaw. 1-10-2018

bitter breath of winter freezing,
blowing snow that drifts,
hiding all in a blanket of ice.
Just when no one can stand the wind
howling around the roof gables
seeking entrance through locked doors
and windows
silence comes with a thaw.

Fog slips in layers of cloud,
skimming the surface of the road
as it flies over fields and fairways,
thick as pea soup if the soup was white
instead of green.
Tires on the pavement
squish water from their grooves,
forcing spray to either side.

It sounds like spring,
but that’s the effect of a January thaw.
Warm tempts us to shed a layer or two
as we run errands bareheaded,
delighting in our reprieve,
knowing it cannot last.
For the moment
we cannot bring ourselves to care.
It’s forty degrees in January
and a warm wind tousles our hair
while tomorrow is far away.
Lucky day, today!


An Itch 12-28-17

Absently soothing an invisible itch
she followed her momma
with questions of this and that;
wanting, no,
needing to understand why
life was a puzzle with so many pieces.

Directed to go outside and play
she lay on her back in sun warmed grass
contemplating the forever blue of sky
and wondering at clouds
tugged and pulled by the wind.
What made the wind blow way up high
leaving stillness down below?

Why did weeds look as pretty as flowers,
or tree bark feel both smooth and rough?
Why were babies and puppies small and soft
while grownups got so big and tough?

Somewhere between childhood and teenage,
she lost her voice,
having learned that curiosity killed the cat
but not her questions,
which continued in a running dialogue with God.
Why did bad things happen to good people?
Why did death frighten instead of welcome like a friend?
Why was wrong so easy and right so hard?

Once in a very great while
she actually got her answer,
not with bells, whistles and a marching band
but in a blissful rush of peace,
a knowing calm that held her safe,
reassuring her along the way.

Apparently, her creator was chuckling
on the day she was conceived,
giving her both the ability to wonder
at all the questions he would pose
and the heart to appreciate the wonders
lavished upon her world.
With the final gift of free will, it was up to her
to create and fulfill her destiny.
Time would tell
and eternity held all the time
one could ever need.

Thoughts on the day before the day before. 12-23-17

Early morn, before birds
cat and horses are stirring,
the world holds space for the day to come,
pausing before the rush is begun.

The farmhouse hums with energy
barely suppressed,
ready with the flick of a switch
to respond
but we sip our coffee slowly,
peacefully in the grey prelim of day
savoring the stillness,
as if we could set today’s pace accordingly
releasing our zen incrementally
as we bake the last cookies
and wrap the last gift.

It is a comforting thought,
a gift to ourselves
on this last day of advent.
Ready or not, the sun has risen
as must we
but responsibility will be carried
lightly today
with good cheer and a smile
come what may!

On my mind at almost Christmas

I thought at this stage of life
I’d be better prepared,
my stance ready
but I never see the curve
Life is about to throw me.
I thought I’d have more answers
but have found more questions instead.
Things I wanted to remember have fled
my conscious mind,
so I move forward cautiously
without the boldness
I desire.

I find that Dickens
deserves more credit than he gets,
for each year I too, am visited
by the ghosts of Christmas past.
I, too, am weighted with chains
of loss and regret
while faced with a future unknown,
softly drifted with snows of uncertainty
and shadows of actions
not yet taken.
I rise each day
with the wonder
of Scrooge faced with the beauty
of a clean slate and opportunity.
Now I must do my best
and face what comes.

My word is my honor 11-15-17

My family, my church, my schools, my community
combined to shape me in my youth
but now each decision made
shouts who I am.
Though I aspire to become
better than yesterday’s self,
I know the weight of failure
and the bitter taste of regret.
I know how far from grace I stand,
yet gifted with hope
I continue.

How tempting to respond in kind,
to offer hurt for hurt
but those feelings I seek to leave behind,
compost for improvement
while I strive, alive in the reality I create.

How amazing!
To swim in the waters of human chaos,
where morality varies like glints of moonlight
on silver scales, ever shifting and changing.
A world where respecting others
does not require respect for me.
Still I swim against the current,
constantly pulling myself
towards who I want to be
because of the shifting sands
of who I am.

In the end, none of the rest matters,
not the jibes from smiling faces
nor the words whispered,
rising in bubbles of air to surface exploding
mixing in the babble
of wind blown conversation.
I create myself daily,
rising from dreams to follow my own,
the best that I can.
In the end, my word matters to me,
my honor matters to me,
that self I renew and define each morning.
Focussed on beauty,
I let blessed water currents
carry the past away
while the song of my honor
sings me along my way,
as best I can.

Doorway of no return. 11-16-17

Carved oaken curves kissed
the weathered wooden door,
framed with ivy leaves
of deepest green,
refusing to wither
instead waving hither and yon
at whoever traveled near.

No beams or structure supported,
no mossy roof protected it from rain,
just a a door in the middle of moonlit woods,
directly centered in a dusty path,
going neither forward nor back.

I could sense no purpose,
no threat of harm,
just a tug of curiosity,
a tickle of wondering
beneath sleeping autumn skies.

I should have wondered at being there,
an unlikely choice for one
who preferred the comfort
of four stout walls and a peaceful, crackling fire.
Safety, I craved, though a small voice within
whispered with a grin,
that adventure was exciting,
enticing me from my comfort zone.

I reached for the doorknob
which should have been chill
but instead was warm like mother’s cheek.
Turning it round in silence
like a well oiled household knob
no sound to warn except
the pounding of my heart.

A moment of hesitation,
reflection of choices past,
the worst a measure of fear and doubt
the best a reflection of soulful desire.
It was enough for a start,
a willingness to begin
thus I entered the doorway of no return,
determined to find another missing piece of myself,
regardless of sensing there was no way back.
accepting the invitation after all.

November is the month of Remembering

Sometimes, Dad seems very close.

Ready, aim, fire.
My father’s words ricochet
in my mind,
tugging at the corners of my soul
as full eyes spill silent tears.

I squeeze my lids shut,
breathing deeply of wet, fallen leaves
and sifting woodsmoke
as I drift back in time.
I feel his presence as tangible
as the scratchy wool of his red plaid Mackinac,
coarse yet comforting in its weight and warmth.
I am held in his arms,
secure in love, protected from a world
I didn’t understand.

Through closed eyes,
I watch smoke rise above his head,
gray wisps caught in lamplight.
He peers through the glasses on his nose
at the paper in his lap,
legs crossed at his knee,
one foot absenting rocking the maple curves
back and forth, mesmerizing in rhythm.

Eyes wide open,
images linger to blur my vision,
changing my choices.
Not the day for target practice,
rather for remembrances and revisiting,
I sit in the sun,
warm enough to bask in thought
and relive the good I thought I’d lost.

We gather together,

those who study words
for shades of meaning, nuances of intent.
Always searching, seeking
for ways to improve,
to refine our craft.

Bright words that sing in sound and color,
be spelling listeners to other worlds;
the voodoo of velvet and chocolate
in lyrical charms that ensnare heart and mind
with magic as earnest as batwing, roots and webs.

Spider art glistens with orbs of dew
ready to catch the unwary and hold them fast.
It’s a choice of which word
best conveys our thought, our feeling
so we practice and rewrite
again, then again.
We thirst for hidden knowledge,
the alchemy of syllables,
the correct composition of mind, ear and heart,
certain that effort will be rewarded
with the elusive golden connection
we all so desire.

Thus we gather to share our pursuit,
our frustrations and our joys,
the pain of our learning and yearning
catalyst to momentum.
In the midst of our journey, we listen and learn,
debating and speaking in turn,
celebrating the truth of who and what we are:
Wordsmiths of novels, stories and poems,
Spell masters of written and oral speech,
voices unique and valued in their differences.

Gather round one and all,
this is how we heed the call
that beckons us and brings us near,
Gather round, we’ve words to hear!

C’est la vie, c’est la guerre. Such is life, such is war.

C’est la vie, c’est la guerre,
black and white,
right and wrong,
life and death,
always a coin with two sides,
flying in an arc,
golden glints catching the light,
hope spinning with chance
in the eternal game.

L’aissez faire,
taking it easy,
taking it as it comes,
each new day a fresh start
enticing us to play again,
to try our luck,
wishing for the best
while avoiding the rest.

Fair of face, full of grace
so the old rhyme goes,
youth now a figment of yesterday,
grace now a prayer
on whispered lips and whiskered chins,
golden memories, golden days
older ways and means,
nothing really as it seems,
good enough to get us by,
until the bye and bye.

Reunion for the class of ’72

It rolls around
every year,
sooner than some would like,
how quickly time goes by.

Echoes of memories emerge
of teachers and coaches:
some good, some regrettable,
unforgettable images of yesterday,
moments in time that will never return,
when we, as children and teens,
actually walked to school
come sleet, snow or ice,
before it was hip to exercise,
before fear began to rule.
Neighborhoods where almost everyone
knew your family and your kin,
friends and relationships
we took for granted
searching for adulthood.

Our valedictorian bravely
asserted her choice of future,
facing down critics in a sea of blue and white
wishing her a different path,
choices Gloria Steinem continues to advocate.
Our class defiantly willed the pill
to the junior class,
a decision no less momentous,
no less complicated today.
We thought it was childhood we were leaving
in yesterday’s dust
of country roads and small towns
chasing adulthood and freedom
wherever they led.

We rushed to our futures
and found fate
waiting to teach us
lessons not written in books.
We thought winning defined the best,
whether scholar, athlete, vocalist or musician.
The challenge
to outdistance the rest
with the hottest date, the fastest car
and the appearance of money
was an illusion of life,
reality was yet to be learned.
For most of us, fate had other ideas.

Some found answers in faraway places:
fog covered mountaintops
slippery with snow,
across deep green seas
with white capped waves
or cities
climbing to the sky in shimmering towers of glass,
following roads of asphalt and concrete mazes.
Some, like me,
found happiness in
our own backyards and fields,
clicking our heals together and chanting
“There’s no place like home!”
No place like here.

We’ve survived jobs
that tried to smother us,
and debt that tried to crush us,
putting one foot after the other,
step by step with grit and determination,
sometimes sheer stubbornness,
day by day,
chasing the American Dream.
We survived the trials of raising children
wearing wrinkles and grey hair as badges of honor,
or hiding the damage as best as we can.
We’ve survived bodies
that came without warranties
with parts and hearts
that want to wear out
but we are still here.

Life has a way of showing us
how small we are
in the total picture,
that the only real winners
are the ones who survive.
That’s us! We are the winners,
the team that never gave up.
Our club is select, growing smaller each year.
All the more reason to raise our glasses with cheer.

Here’s to the class of ’72, winners all, far and near!
Toast us with water or soda, wine or beer!
We deserve this,
we are here!