Less Than Perfect

Less than perfect;
that I am.
And I would guess
so are you.
Please don’t worry about
the imperfect me and you
for it gives us all
something tomorrow
to live for.

Less than perfect;
certainly I am,
and all you need do
is shadow me
for just one day to see
my bumbles,
and stumbles, and
otherwise unflattering falls,
separating me
from the angels
about which
I so often dream.

Less than perfect,
I shall always be,
for I know not how
to perfect be.
That fact alone
does guarantee me
a starting role
in the next life
where once again
imperfect I shall be.

A Grandmother’s Love in Springtime

Spring will always remind me of my Grandma Secrist.
Maybe it was her fluffy pink and white petunias
that seemed to effortlessly grow
in the green and white flower boxes
that lined her front and side porches.
Or perhaps it was her excitement each spring
that something new, wonderful,
and totally unexpected would happen in our lives,
which it always did.
We counted on Grandma’s intuition,
which budded in the spring,
like the sweet-smelling blossoms
on the knotty apple trees
we climbed in her side yard.
Maybe it was Grandma’s undying love
of all God’s special creatures,
like the stray dogs and cats that seemed to know
they could always find a meal at Grandma’s house.
Just as the Depression era hobos,
hopping trains in Bridgeport,
could count on some food
in exchange for a chore.
Grandma loved to sing, though
her vocal cords never seemed to
harmonize with the songbirds
that cheerfully ate scraps of bread
she left in the morning sunshine
on her side porch, where
we played for hours, and
listened to Grandma’s stories
over and over again.
Many wonderful new things grow
each spring in my life,
but one of the best
is the perennial seed of love
that Grandma planted in me
as a growing young boy.

Irreverence at the Funeral Home

A funeral home is probably not your first choice
where you’d like to spend a Friday night,
but sometimes you find yourself doing just that.
And I would add, it’s far better
being the guy doing the visiting
than the guy being visited.
We’d all agree with that point.
In any case, we visited a man we scarcely knew,
but needed to pay our respects to on Friday night.

The funeral home was an old Victorian house.
You know the type with a thousand little rooms,
whose only value it was to create a market for doors.
After all, to get from one room to another,
you must go through a door.
Kind of a metaphor for life:
Passing through doors, passing through life,
stuck in small rooms, stuck in a small life.
(Ok to laugh here)

In any case, there we were paying our respects,
getting lost in all these ridiculous tiny rooms,
stuffed with far too many oversized people.
And yes, it is true that people were much smaller
in Victorian times, and so
the small rooms made more sense back then.
That should be some consolation
to those at hand needing to go on a diet.

I spotted an empty overstuffed chair
in the small “goldfinch yellow” room near the front door.
I grabbed it just seconds before some guy with no teeth
started his beeline to the chair.
He gummed some farty sounding words at me,
which I failed to understand, but nodded back at him
as sweetly as only a funeral palor angel can do.
I pretended to read my email on my Blackberry, and eventually
the toothless chap drooled his way out of the room.
I secretly wondered whether the man had lost his teeth
in an earlier brawl over a chair, maybe in his favorite saloon,
where he downed shots and beers.

They say if you sit long enough,
the world will come to YOU.
At least that is what my meditating friends (maybe Dan) tell me.
In this case, it was true on Friday night.
A group of used car salesmen-type people
entered the room (my room at this point).
They were talking loudly, laughing, and
trying to impress a much younger woman
with heavy lipstick and sexy red pumps.

The most rotund of the car salesmen,
a man in his early 60’s,
was the recipient of the little known
Annual Funeral Home Clown of the Year award.
I watched intently as the man leaned toward the woman,
who, at the very same moment, waved her right arm.
It happened so suddenly, everybody nearly missed it:
the woman’s hand whacked the rotund car salesman’s head,
knocking lose what nobody imagined, but his jet black toupee.
The hair piece sprouted wings, and flew
till it came to rest in the middle of a crowd
huddled in the next small room over.

Dead silence fell upon the room.
Just the sort of thing that
one should experience at a funeral home.

Because of his sense of humor, dedicated to Floots.

Drenched in Rainy Night Thoughts

Rain pitter-pattered on the tile shingled roof last night.
The sound of a thousand tiny drums
Marching through the night’s silence.

Crescendoing around 3 AM with a mighty climax,
We lie sleepless and beaten,
Left wet with our lingering thoughts of work
And other monstrous mental intrusions.

Undeterred by the rain,
The vigilant raccoon found his way up the feeder pole
And stuffed himself on sweet succulent seed
Intended for the morning birds.

I thought back to when
We were young boys growing up
In the normality and conformity-obsessed 1950s.
We were raccoons!
Devilish dervishes.
Clever, mischievous
And if allowed, nocturnal.

Once your mind sets sail in the midst of the night,
There is no telling where it might end up.
I even recalled Miss Woods, our fifth grade science teacher,
Telling us that a baby raccoon was called a kit.
Not to be mistaken for kittens,
The offspring of the friendly household cat.
And throwing in a dash of sociology,
Our well-rounded teacher added that
The word “coon” was considered pejorative by Negroes.
Yes, there was one African-American girl
In my homeroom class at Elm School.
To her school mates, she was always Lizzie
But to her parents she was nothing less than Elizabeth.

Having survived the night, the drenching rain
And my fickle hoboing thoughts,
The morning broke in panicked sunshine
That nervously worked its way through remaining clouds,
Threatening to shower us again with wet blessings.

As I watched the sun struggle through the clouds,
I could only but think how so often
I manage to rain on my own parade in life.
That I cannot blame on the night’s steady downpour.

Reflecting on What Really Makes Us

There comes a time
When we allow our collectiveness to matter.
When our place with others seems more important.
When what we see as our generation
Shapes us and the identity we project.
When we make being a Boomer, or
Remembering the Beatles’ Abbey Road album
As more important than they ever could be.

There comes a time when we realize
That so much of what we are
Makes little difference
In the grand scheme of things, and
That so much of what made our world
Was nothing more than a long series of random events
That we just happened to be a part of.

Eventually we see; at least most of us
The improvisational nature of life, and
So improvise we do, in ways we like best,
Until the time comes
When we must ultimately surrender
All scripts and all we think we know,
And give ourselves over
To that which cannot be changed, and
Most likely not even remembered
Until the next time
Some random event
Makes it all seem familiar.

And so, there comes a time
When we finally accept that
Life rolls through us
Like an unscheduled freight train
That only stops
When it stops.


Sunshine is so subversive…

leveling all darkness in its path.

Sunshine is so revealing…

shrouding the world in hope.

Sunshine is so cleansing…

washing away all lingering self-doubt.

Sunshine is so enlightening…

bringing light to all life’s questions.

Sunshine is so overwhelmingly welcome…

giving us cause to celebrate

even the mundane in our everyday life.

Sunshine is just the excuse needed

for us to overflow in joy.

Welcome to the Poetic Alchemist

Welcome to my new poetry blog.

Why give a poetry blog the name Poetic Alchemist? For me, writing poetry is an act of alchemy. Most poets turn alchemist in mixing and blending words to create a poem. Successful poems seem to contain magic, which the poet some times intentionally salts the poem with, but even more often, the magic simply appears like an unexpected rabbit drawn from the poet’s hat.

Successful poetry speaks to the reader from the inside out. That is the beauty and mystery of poetry. Some poems seem even to possess you with unshakeable images and feelings.  Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken has always hit me like a ton of bricks. In this poem, Frost gives image to a feeling inside me about the choices I have made in my own life about my work, relationships, and other things. It helps me to see how I am. That is very powerful!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth;               

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same,               

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.               

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

I hope you enjoy the poetry brewed here at Poetic Alchemist.

May you live a poetic life!

Don Iannone


The reasons for things

Being what they are

Go beyond left brain answers

Or right brain cures.

Things have alchemy

Like how stars make constellations

And like how two impassioned lovers

Touch each other’s souls

As their heaving bodies

Collide in rhythmic ecstasy.

Or how abandoned kittens grow up

To become royal lionesses.

All because of the chemistry in them

Making them what they are.