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

Snowy, Snowy Christmas Memories

Snowy, snowy Christmas Eve
In Santa Claus we believe
Even now that we’re old
Before our eyes, miracles unfold

Snowy, snowy Christmas morn
Twas the day Christ was born
Though long ago and far away
All remember that magical day

Snowy, snowy Christmas night
Full moon sky, candlelight
The tree aglow, oh so bright
Never such a beautiful sight

Snowy, snowy forests and fields
Sparkling beauty nature yields
In her arms in peace we rest
Nestled close to her warm breast

Snowy, snowy village square
Wreathes and trees everywhere
Shop windows beckon, call us near
Inside our hearts, Christmas cheer

Snowy, snowy sleigh ride home
The sky above a star-lit dome
From chimney tops puffs of smoke
Sweet smell of slow burning oak

Snowy, snowy Christmas carols
Sweet blackberry wine aging in barrels
The smell of cinnamon mixed with pine
A nip of brandy tastes divine

Snowy, snowy morning after
Happiness lingers, holiday laughter
The fireplace crackles and sparks
The dog asleep, never barks

Snowy, snowy windowsill
By the fire, our hearts do fill
God is good, God is great
Till next Christmas our hearts await

Nam Christmas

No perfect world
So very far from it
Yet here we are
This place called Vietnam
It’s almost Christmas, again
And we’re still here

Not a place we dreamed of being
When we were kids
Hardly could we find it on a map
But we’re all here
Somebody else’s home
Courtesy of…the US of A

Here we are
Hoping, waiting, doing what we can
To survive each day
Outlast what belies us
What eventually unravels us all
Hidden in these hideous forests, swamps

After a while
You forget the reason
Why you signed up
Why you forgot
A razor thin line
Separates us all from life and death

Christmas Eve has just landed
Give thanks to God
No more incoming fire
Just dead silence
If only now there was some sign
There will be a tomorrow

Boys Climbing Trees

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Some things always remain a part of you
Like when you were seven
And shinnied up your first tree
Like some starved Colobus monkey
In search of tenderoni leaves for lunch

Sooner or later, every boy climbs a tree
A rite of passage to manhood
Maybe to see the world from a higher place
Or just because the tree was there
Teasing you silly in the hot mid-morning sun

My first a massive sprawling oak
Jutting out our weedy backyard
Into the red brick alley
Where wood frame garages and steel garbage cans danced
On howling winter nights

I climbed high way up
To the big “y”
Where I perched for nearly five minutes
While my friends below
Proclaimed me a hero

While half the tree remained unexplored territory
I reveled in my accomplishment
Tomorrow was another day
A chance to climb higher
Seeing even more of the world’s vastness

Once the neighbor’s cat, chased by a maniac dog
Darted up the big oak, climbing too far too fast
The fire department was called
To retrieve the terrorized calico
From the high branches

We boys gathered to watch the rescue
Lasting twenty long minutes
Because the cat wouldn’t budge
Till assured its canine assailant was clearly gone
And control of the world returned to the cats

Somehow you just knew
That 1958 would always be
A watershed year in your life
Preparing you for higher climbs
Bigger life adventures ahead

Losing Myself Inside a Japanese Wood Poppy

Stepping inside a Japanese wood poppy
I took leave of myself
As some mad man might veer off the highway to work
Only to find himself fishing
Along the banks of an idyllic stream

Not often enough we surrender ourselves
To that something larger
Contained in even the smallest thing
Like a tiny blade of grass
Or the petal of a spring daffodil

Why quibble over a name, or anything
Standing between you and beauty
‘Tis better to be naked of all words
Even poetry
Than miss a flower’s healing kiss

Home but Still at War

So much, unsaid
Like all the mute soldiers
Returning from war
Wordless wanderers
Trying to forget themselves
What keeps them there

It’s in their eyes
Hiding under the lids
Like thunderstorms
Lurking behind clouds
Like numb fingertips
Wiping away frozen tears

More came back than didn’t
But even those returning–
Still there, in that place
The one they carried back with them
That’s now their prison
Life sentences, every last one of them

Will it ever end
War that is
Not over there
In here
It takes your words away
Then takes your life away

Dangling Winter Leaves

Dangling winter leaves
Strangers to each other
And to the world watching on
Quietly hoping for a sign
There is something more
Something worth dangling for

Dangling winter leaves
Strangers to reason
And that which it demands
Like leaves clinging to their branches
Each of us, you and me
Cling to each breath

Dangling winter leaves
Faded, tattered, icy reminders
Long past their season
Beyond all reason
Holding on to our gaze
As we hold on to them

Click here to see my photo “Dangling Winter Leaves”