Witnessing Spring

Flickering moments of light
Faint memories
Wayward ghosts wandering in unplowed fields
Spring is nigh
Soon the farmer will plow his fields

Once in a while we’re lucky
A new window opens
We see past our narcissistic pain
What we think we can’t live without
What the farmer must plow under

It takes courage
To leave things as they are
To be just the witness–
Watching the watcher
Till both become one

Spring is a good thing
Especially after a long hard winter
It’s time to plow the fields
Laugh and dance
Sit without purpose in the sun

Looking for Possibilities in Our Darkness

We slip into our darkness
Tattered old gloves worn on matching left hands
While fingerless right hands grope for the illusive light switch
We remember from childish old dreams
Refusing to set us free

This darkness clutches itself in disgust
Joyless masturbation, blank expressions
On faceless strangers we call friends
But deep down we know
There’s no befriending the darkness

There’s no reasoning with the unreasonable
Let alone shadows birthing shadows
In the absence of light
No daybreak to brush off the nightmares
We’ve learned to wear night and day

Only loneliness can reach into our darkness
The place we call home
Because we know it, and it knows us
Like our mothers, who can’t let go
So their pain becomes ours

Week Beginnings

Some things we carry around, even Mondays
Till our arms give out, or they kill us
Most things we encounter in life
Work themselves out, or move on

Our possibilities always exceed
What our attention can bear
What our patience will allow us
Leaving us what we cling to

Mondays will always be mere appetizers
To our full-course possibility week
This Monday is no exception
Leaving us hungry for something more

Tuesday will come no matter what we do
How we greet it, how it greets us
Depends upon us, our attitude
Our ability to transcend all Mondays

Eventually We All Become the Water

For a long time, she was good
Able to carry her own water
Now, she is the water, flowing
Restlessly toward the ocean
Where it all began
And where it always ends

Life becomes a mystery
The moment we step outside
The flow creating us
The moment we wander beyond
That simple knowing point
We call the now

The water eventually claims us all
No escaping her pushing and pulling
Sweeping us in and out
Seashells on shifting beach sand
Hoping a believable answer will wash up
Washing all waiting away

Youth’s Spring Within Us

Just because it’s spring
Doesn’t let us off the hook
To be all we can be
At times, more than we imagine

So many springs come back to me
In memories, long lost moments
Hovering in universal timeless expectation
That place we wait till peace finds us

One place I shall always remember
And truly honor till it completely fills me
Is the side yard of our house on Indiana Street in Martins Ferry
Where each spring the forsythia blazed in golden glory

And where amidst this blaze
Truth never waited, dallied, or slumbered
While what we truly are, bloomed
In each breath we took

In Life’s Fullness

Life is filled, so many promises
Things we’d never imagine
Lest we’re reminded each moment
Who we are, why we’re here

Growing up, the possibilities overflowed
Went far beyond expectations
Yet, we knew inside, we had limits
Indelible resting points along the way

I never quite knew
We’d ever be held so accountable
For what we are, have always been
And who we’re destined to become

Who could possibly imagine
Or fathom the depths
Surrounding us each moment
So much left for tomorrow

So in these last moments
Let us celebrate, give appreciation
For the truth showing up
Even when the sun births new shadows

Thinking of Martins Ferry and James Wright on St. Paddy’s Day

Funny what we remember
When we’ve had too many snoots
More than our share
At Dutch Henry’s Bar in Martins Ferry

Not the kind of place Zagat’s would ever rate
Let alone a place you’d tell your mother about
Unless of course, you grew up in Martins Ferry
Where James Wright and I were born

James is gone, now thirty years, can you believe it?
So it’s entirely up to me
To tell the story my own way
But certainly, in a way James would approve

Dutch Henry’s was a working man’s bar
A place steelworkers and coal miners drank
And brewed stories they hoped
Would set straight their broken, exasperated lives

It was also a place they bragged
Even about their overweight intellectual sons
Who’d never survive a Friday night in autumn in Martins Ferry
Where all that mattered was Purple Rider football

James never spoke above a whisper at Dutch Henry’s
He knew the pain one drunk could impose on another
Without remorse, or even the slightest regard
For poetry, Plato, or even uselessly expensive Scotch

Nothing very special about the place
Other than the exceedingly ordinary people there
Who removed their masks once in a while
And played themselves in real life

Only twice did I overlap with James Wright at Dutch Henry’s
Both times his smile out-lasted mine
And both times, he drank me under the table
In long beers, bruising shots, and unrehearsed words

I was no match for Martins Ferry’s first poet son
Yes, Minnegan’s faithful eulogist
Martins Ferry’s best-ever poet, and a man
Whose silence will always speak louder than my best words

Flowers Spring to Fall

Early spring, vernal equinox
First crocuses, then daffodils
Stately bright tulips, in all colors
Magnolia blossoms, flowering dogwood

Eventually lilacs, peonies, and jack in the pulpits
And before we know it
Violas, bleeding hearts, carnations
And ever so many lilies, all shapes and sizes

Then not so far behind
All the cosmos, pink and white
Soon behind, the pugnacious coneflowers
Standing their ground so galantly

Then ever so close to fall
Come the asters and mums
Who wait an eternity
For the marigolds to sing last songs

Servants of the Moment

They talk, in no uncertain terms, about the strangers
Those benignly listening outside nondescript motel rooms
Places people stay when they’re very lonely
Hoping to hear something, anything
Reminding them of even the small things
They were born to remember

I’ve been there, like you, and back
That place you wished, at the time, never existed
But in retrospect, you hope lives forever
Some low-pitched moan, or an unrepentant whisper
Giving notice, paying homage
To the chance to start over again

At times I think
Nobody will ever know
Why I was here, or what I did so significantly
Warranting me a place, ever so humble
Beneath the giant oak tree–
The one under which
We took shade as youngsters

Now at fifty-nine
Somehow I find the courage to remember
Not only who I am
But why I was called here in the first place
And now hearing this answer
I can gladly give it all, a servant to the moment

Watching a Farm Awaken

I love the way a farm awakens
especially in the early spring
How it knows to be itself
Just like the faded red barn knows
there is nothing but the moment
What we see between sips of morning coffee

I love the morning songs cardinals sing
Chips and whistles carried by the wind
Who isn’t spellbound by how
the darkness slowly gives way to light
How the old barn never complains, or begs
for a fresh coat of red paint

I love the way the morning fog hugs low places
in the still unplowed fields
Where soon fresh ears of corn will grow
And crows will wait in anxious clusters
Sumptuous meals, Heaven’s delight

Yes, I love the way a farm awakens
especially in the early spring
There the soul knows no boundaries
Its vastness spreads in quiet repose
Across a to be defined horizon
Painting a pretty picture, a new day begins