feelings beyond words

free verse

we feel things at times
that go beyond words
exceeding that something inside
that wants to express

yet we know
deep down inside, we know
that we’re alive–
feeling beings–
sensing our way through life

we never know when
it might come back to us

an old high school photograph
could whirl us back in time
helping us remember what we forgot
at times, things we never knew
had become a part of us

it’s always in the silence
when the mind is still
and the heart is free to roam about
mending itself
knitting back together lost parts of us
forgotten things that long to be remembered
giving back to us
that sense of who we really are

As Above, So Below

Archetypal Poetry, free verse, Spiritual

All that is above
is also below.
The invisible inside
eventually is projected outward.

What takes form outside reflects back,
like the pond’s perfectly still surface,
allowing the soul to glimpse itself,
if only for a fleeting second,
before dissolving like the day into night.

The world around us appears and disappears
with each turn of the psychic wrench,
tightening and loosening our grip
on all coming and going as reality.

All springing from the inner depths
eventually is planted
in the outer mirror
for all to see.

As above,
so below.
As above,
so below.

Click here to hear me read this poem.
I explain the meaning of this poem in my reading of it.

A Soul’s Promise

free verse, Love, Spiritual

I will forever be yours–
to keep, and hold
in your heart, where
you can always find me, and
where time stands still, and
nothing gets between us, because
there is no separation, when
a heart is filled with love, that
binds and holds us together, like
cloudless blue sky, beaming
with golden sunshine.
I will forever be yours, because
I am your soul.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

We Are All Blind

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

We are all blind,
even those of us
who can see
with our eyes.

We are blinded by:
the incandescent light of day,
the thundering sound of darkness,
by what we take to be knowledge
and also ignornace,
and by what we believe is real and right.

Every word we use colors our world,
strips it of its shapelessness,
robs it of its completeness,
and separates it into pieces
that we struggle against
to find a meaningful connection for ourselves.

All poets are blind.
Ask any one of them,
and they will tell you
they cannot see
past their own verse
and the hideous curse
it casts upon them.

We are all blind,
even those of us
who can see
with our eyes.

Stop worrying about
what your eyes can and cannot see,
and just open your heart.
From there, you can see perfectly.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Also, see the post immediately below.

Borderlines and Boundaries

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

If we are not careful
our lives turn into nothing more
than borderlines and boundaries.

If we are not careful
these borderlines and boundaries
splinter our sense of reality
and cause us to see separation
when there is only connection.

If we are not careful
our lives end up having more limits
than possibilities to grow into.

How can all this be?
It’s easy.
We decide that our life is about judging
rather than simply experiencing
whatever we encounter in life.

We form preferences that exclude
fresh new experiences.
And from these preferences
habits and conditioning grow
that we take to be who we are.

That is not who we are.
We are that which comes before
all preferences, habits, and conditioning.
We are boundaryless beings
without independent form
that cannot be separated from all else
we consider to be the universe.

Contrary to what we may think
reality is not a fixed thing
with clear starting and stopping points.
Rather it is more like the sky, a river, a conversation,
or a loose thought or feeling
that flows without fixed boundaries.

If we are not careful
our borderlines and boundaries rob us
of our joy, well-being, and happiness,
and they leave us barren
of the very life we seek.

Be the boundaryless being that you are.

Light and Dark

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

Light and dark, both parts of one.
Never one without the other.
From darkness, light is born.
From light, darkness takes root.
Never one without the other.

The dance of life, always in between.
Light casts its shadows.
Darkness in those shadows grows.
Night gives way to day.
Day turns back what night has given.
Sun and moon always in twilight dance.

Each soul a dance from light to dark,
and then back to light.
No escaping darkness’ fall.
No escaping light’s return.
Light and dark, both parts of one.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Declaration Day

free verse, Memories, reflections

On this still spring morning
the silence is broken
by twenty-one stinging shots
and the haunting sound of taps
that drifts and lingers
like a ghost
across the cemetery
behind us

Each note
speaking the names
of so many serving
and dying
in battlefields
and on innocent streets
in wars
not theirs
that killed and maimed
so many

Remember those
who believed
in their hearts
they had done the right thing
for country
with their lives

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Click here to hear the sound of a bugle playing taps. (It’s worth it!)

The Battle of Bands on Religion

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

Religious belief.
Few topics are more hotly debated,
and yet most debates go nowhere
except in closed circles
always meant to be left open.

There are debates between circles of belief,
like Christianity and Islam, and
there are debates within circles of belief,
like what different brands of Protestants believe, and
there are debates within circles within circles of belief,
like what different brands of Christian fundamentalists believe.

Most all appeal to an authority,
which they claim is the highest, but
how can there be any truly final authority,
when there are so many?
There can’t be.

The good news is that most belief systems
point to something higher,
which, in one way or another,
helps us keep our insidious egos in check.

The bad news is that most religious debates
seek to emphasize differences
and ignore what all share in common,
which is that none have the answer for all.

Many have tired of the ranting and proselytizing
of organized religion, and have chosen
to label themselves spiritual.
But I find even the spiritual camp
to be overflowing with debates
about who really knows the real deal
when it comes to the Divine.

And then there is the ongoing raging debate
between science and religion,
which makes me laugh, as now we watch
both using consciousness as a fulcrum
to lift up their ideologies.

So what are we left to believe?
Believe what you will, but remember
that whatever you believe
can and will limit what you know.

As for me,
I am writing this poem,
instead of sitting in some hard church pew
on this Sunday morning.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

This poem was prompted by a recent exchange with one of favorite aunts about religion and spirituality. By the way, neither of us won the debate. 🙂

What We Try to Leave Behind

free verse, Memories, reflections

Fresh out of high school,
I left home–
the place I knew best, and loved most,
with a heavy broken heart.
The break-up with my high school sweetheart
was the obvious reason for taking flight,
but truthfully, I had wanted
to get away from what I was
for a very long time.

I will always remember that warm summer morning when I left.
Just two days after July Fourth,
and just two days before Mom’s birthday.
I remember studying the Greyhound bus ticket,
and thinking of John Denver’s song, Leaving on a Jet Plane.
I felt like crying, but my anger wouldn’t let me.
Somehow the break-up, a summer job in Tucson,
and my deep-seated desire to see the world–
all seemed to fall into place,
and so I got on the bus.

Traveling sixty-eight hours on a bus across America
gives you plenty of time to reflect on your life.
My high school love was not completely forgotten,
but the sight of so many other beautiful young ladies,
like a couple of straight-up vodka martinis,
helped to ease my pain.
I re-read her last two letters,
and kept returning to one thing she had said:
What we had was real, but so are our dreams
to make something of ourselves in life,
and that we should not sacrifice.
Otherwise we are likely
to blame ourselves and each other forever.

While the hurt stun deeply,
I knew I wasn’t willing to give up my dreams.

No mental or emotional conclusions to my questions
during the long hot bus trip, but somehow
I felt like I deserved better in life.
That the life I was given,
but really I had created,
was not good enough
to match the “I am somebody” self-image
that quietly grew inside me
over my first eighteen years.
And yes, the “I am somebody” image
is just a cover for my real self-perception:
“I am nobody.”

I remember looking up the meaning of narcissism
in Mr. Sharpe’s English class, and thinking
I wasn’t narcissistic, because
I was sacrificing my dreams
to be what everyone else wanted me to be.
Upon reflection, that is exactly what I was.
I was consumed by my own will and desires.
I could think of nobody but myself.

I wanted to move on to another life–
in another place, and maybe even in another time.
I thought I could do it; that is shed the life I had,
like a man throws away an old hunting jacket
because of the blood stains
that won’t wash out.
So the Ohio Valley and all it meant to me
became a memory–
left to rust away, like the local factories
that once supported so many men and their families.

For packing so light,
my suitcase seemed so heavy.
Much heavier than I ever realized.
I guess that’s the way life feels,
when it’s filled with blame, anger, and sadness.
And all along,
I thought I had left those parts of myself behind.
Just for a fleeting second,
I felt the tiniest hint of regret.
But that was washed away,
as the bus door opened, emptying us
into a dingy bus terminal just outside St.Louis
for a restroom and snack break.

I never turned back,
but for a long time looked back over my shoulder
at the ghosts that seemed to be following me.
Eventually, I stopped looking back,
and the ghosts disappeared–
into my dreams, awakening me often as shadows,
where the unknown and forgotten
always seemed to linger and dance.

There is a lesson in all this, and that is:
No matter how hard we try,
we can never live happily until
we claim all parts of ourselves.
No matter how hard we try,
we can never forget,
nor go back and change,
what are lives really were, and still are.

I realized all this some time back
while rummaging through some old things
in a trunk in the basement.
I found that old hunting jacket.
I slipped it on.
Surprisingly, it still fit,
but mysteriously, the blood stains were gone.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

(Warning: Sorry, but this is a very big file and it will take 3-5 minutes to download, BUT I think you will enjoy hearing this one.)

On Spotting a Red Fox in the Tall Grass

free verse, Nature

I saw a red fox today,
and watched it stealthfully wind its way
through the tall grass on the edge of the forest.
Its bushy tail, with a distinctive white tip,
swayed back and forth,
as it carefully made its way toward a nearby thicket.

It didn’t take long for the birds and chipmunks
to spot their cunning predator,
and scurry away, abandoning their lunch
to avoid becoming the fox’s midday snack.

Nor did it take long for the fox
to sense my footsteps closing in on him.
The rusty red canid froze in the grass,
hoping I would lose sight of him.
Then, without warning, he bounded off
into the forest depths,
leaving me only with my footsteps.

I know it sounds silly,
but I felt privileged having seen the creature.
He made me feel that just maybe
God was smiling down on me today.
And I swear, as I was walking back to the house,
two huddled chipmunks high-fived me
to show their appreciation to me
for scaring off the dredded fox.

I told them they could save their applause.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Cloverfield

free verse, Memories, reflections

There are many fields of clover,
but just one Cloverfield
that means anything to me.
Cloverfield was a special place for me,
as a boy growing up in Martins Ferry,
along the shores of the Mighty Ohio.

I don’t remember when I first visited Cloverfield,
but I recall passing many peaceful summer afternoons,
lying on my back amidst the sweet clover,
watching clouds pass overhead,
and dreaming of far off places
that someday I would visit,
if only in my words.

I didn’t know back then
that James Wright,
Martins Ferry’s first poet son,
had also discovered this place–
this magical field of clover,
where contented Holsteins fed, and
where poets were born.
Well, at least a few anyway.

I didn’t know back then
that Cloverfield would mean anything to me today.
I didn’t know that all those quiet afternoons passed
watching the clouds and listening to the birds sing
would come to mean anything to me,
but they did.
Oh, how they did.

Perhaps there is a Cloverfield in your life.
A simple place where you feel suddenly alive.
A place that feels like home,
where you’re not afraid to talk to yourself.
A place clouds are allowed to be more than clouds,
and where your voice is yours,
no matter what words you say.
A place where poems, like clover,
grow thick and sweet
without even trying.
A place you don’t mind taking to your grave
because you know
you have found your place.

Dedicated to James Wright, a man I knew only through his words, and Annie, his sweet wife.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

Meditation on Highest Callings

free verse, Nature, Spiritual

Help me linger
in the morning sun.
Help me soak up
its powerful warming rays
that fall like velvet
through the trees.
Help me dance
in unending circles
in the scented breeze
blowing gently
across the yard.
Help me never again deny
the magic
that life sweeps across me
in every breath I take.
For then
I have reached my highest calling
in accepting
what life does bring.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

T-r-u-t-h

free verse, Metaphysical

Those of truth
live in shadows
like those rarely seen.

Those of truth
try their best
to go unnoticed,
like the last flicker of sunset,
before it turns into night.

Those of truth
have stopped searching,
because they know, they have
all they will ever need.

Those of truth
pause to wonder
because wonder is
even more than it seems.

Those of truth,
last and foremost,
find Scarborough Fair
in all they see.

And those of truth
will always know
the end is near
for all but truth
that lingers long
and wanders wide.

But in the end,
truth we know
can never hide.

A Day Without Expectation

free verse, Spiritual

Some mornings, even before
we launch out of bed,
we set expectations
about how
the world should be.

Some days,
we form ideas too quickly
about what we want
from the world, and
in so doing,
we preclude truth’s possibilities,
which can set us free
of the illusions
growing inside our dreams.

Just this morning,
as I shrugged off last signs of the night,
I set demands on this very Sunday,
which greeted me
with cheerful chirping birds
and a slight breeze,
rustling the young spring leaves
in the nearby forest.

Fortunately,
a tiny voice inside
nudged me back to reality:
let this day be what it is, and
may you befriend the surprises
that it brings.

Blue Sky Meditation

free verse, Nature, Spiritual

A perfectly blue sky
hung overhead
all day long.

Something about such a sky
makes you wonder deep and wide.

Something about such a sky
makes you release yourself
just a little bit more
than you ordinarily do.

Something about a sky
without clouds
makes you carefree
and almost endless.

Something about such a sky
unfetters you
releasing you from yourself
and letting your heart float
like a bright red balloon
into the sky’s vastness.
And there
you disappear
and become the sky.

Don’t Forget Who You Are

free verse, Spiritual

Don’t forget
who you are.
Never lose sight
of what makes you real.

Don’t forget
who you are.
Always remember
what makes you special.

Don’t forget
who you are.
Forever see
the beauty
surrounding
who you are.

Don’t forget
who you are.
Just for once
look at yourself
and how wonderful
you really are.

Don’t forget
who you are.
Close your eyes
and imagine yourself
and why you’re here.
There is a reason.
There is a reason
why you’re here.

Don’t forget
who you are…

Reflecting on Our Karma

free verse, reflections, Spiritual

So much karma to work off,
In this life and the next,
So many little things we scoff,
No need to write in this life’s text.

Through life, through life,
We walk and we walk,
At times, it seems too much strife,
So we talk and we talk.

There’s no undoing what’s done,
And no changing what’s happened,
Wherever we are, a new chance has begun,
A better life ahead to be captained.

There’s no good looking back,
Or feeling ashamed,
Or searching for a new tack,
For some life still to be named.

What’s done is done,
And life goes on,
What’s done is done,
And life goes on.

Going Back Home

free verse, reflections

Seeing the river again
and the rolling green hills
took me back
to another time–
a time before this time,
when all I was
was much simplier.

I carry around more complexity now.
Complex stuff that people carry with them,
like subtle dillusions of grandeur
that a two-bit play actor
would hold onto
just because he thought
others expected him
to hold onto these notions,
and because
we can never go back
to the beginning,
even when we visit
the place we were born
with best friends from then.

The faces are different now,
but still the same.
You know what I mean–
people struggling to get by,
people trapped in their dreams
that they pray will save them, and
people who will die, wishing
they had done
so many things differently,
while they had the chance.

But we can never go back–
back to when we began
as young boys playing beside the road.
Young boys in Martins Ferry.
But we can rejoice in our reunion
in another time–this time
when we are much older, and
when we can remember earlier times
with much love in our hearts.

Dedicated to Dan and Richard. Thanks for all you have given to my life.

2:47 AM: Imagining Life

free verse, Metaphysical

So many thoughts at 2:47 AM.
Mostly loose ones,
drifting like ghosts
in and out of you.
All as fugitive as breath, yet
some presenting themselves
as incarnate as rays of sun,
lingering at sunset.
We know better,
or at least we should.
We can be closer to ourselves
when we’re captured
by moments like this.
Night moments, when
it’s quiet enough
to hear the house sigh,
and you can glimpse
another side of yourself–one
demanding the utmost gentleness
before it will show itself.
But even that disappears,
like the dream awakening you
in the first place.
You wonder what really holds us–
here in this moment.
It all seems so fragile.
Not in the sense of shattering
like a glass slipping from your hand, but
more like a mirage on a hot summer day.
One moment it’s here, and then
it’s gone in the next.
Just like life.

Morning Clouds and Sun Sing Their Songs

free verse, Humor, Nature

Scarlet-orange clouds
painted their way
across an early morning sky.

I watched them
slowly turn,
like autumn leaves,
into a chorus of color.

I heard them singing…
Simon and Garfunkel’s song, Cloudy.
I laughed
at how out of tune
a couple clouds sounded,
especially those singing bass.

After all,
this is Saturday morning,
and there is no need
for thundering voices
to fill the sky.

The sky brightened suddenly,
as the sun jumped in
with its own song:
the Beatle’s Good Day Sunshine.

Getting Past Ourselves

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

Our biggest struggles
in life
are with ourselves.

Some escalate
into battles, and some
into life-long wars
that take
the best part
of who we are.

And
when we lose
that part
of ourselves,
the struggles deepen,
causing the battle lines to grow,
exposing more of us
to even more
of what consumes us,
breaking us down,
and ultimately destroying
any hope we have
for peace.

The answer is
always the same,
and that is to surrender;
letting go of all
that causes us to struggle,
including even
our desire for peace.
For as long
as we struggle
even for peace,
we remain
at war with ourselves.

Each Day We Paint

free verse, reflections

Paint we do
each day
on our life’s canvas.
Some days
the brush moves beautifully,
leaving behind
inspiring sunrises and sunsets.
And other days,
we paint dark clouds
that pass over us
and shadow our life.

Paint we do
each day
on our life canvas.
Our hand
at times
is steady and focused.
And other times,
it trembles uncontrollably
with fear.

Some days
the brush never leaves
the hand that feeds it.
Other days,
the brush lies untouched
on the table,
where neglect
hangs heavier
than any storm cloud.

Paint you must
today
on your life canvas.
Remember always
most of what you paint today
can be undone
by tomorrow’s strokes.
Including the glorious sunsets,
the storm clouds,
the smiling faces,
and even the tears
streaming down your cheeks,
painting straight from your heart
onto your canvas.

Paint we do
each day
on our life canvas.
Given the choice,
paint boldly
but gently,
and with patience
toward yourself.
Paint what lies
deepest
in your heart.

Never Close Enough

free verse, Nature

It’s hard at times
to feel close enough
to Mother Nature.
Even when draped
in her glorious colors,
dazzled by her magic, and
overtaken by her beauty each spring.

It’s hard at times
to feel close enough
to Mother Nature.
Perhaps I expect too much, and
want to hold onto
what belongs to everyone,
but really no one.

Maybe I dally too long
in the wake
of the precious Mother’s waves of glory
that lap at me until
I submit to her persistent advances.

And then,
once I am hers,
resting comfortably in her arms,
she sets me down,
only to pick up another child.

Our Fathers Died Fighting

free verse, reflections

Our fathers died fighting
in places we never knew.
Far away places never imagined.
Places like Timbuktu.

So many faces died fighting
for things they didn’t do.
Our fathers died fighting
in places we never knew.

Too easy we forget
in dark graves they lie,
and for most, before their time.
Without glory, without fame,
in far off places
they died fighting.

Places we never knew.

A tribute not to war, but those who died fighting.

Shall We Dare

free verse, Metaphysical, Spiritual

Shall we dare
linger one more moment
and let the warm morning sun
fill us with peace and comfort?

Shall we dare
lie perfectly still and listen
to the rhythmic beating
of our hearts resting in love?

Shall we dare
forgive ourselves for what
we so much more easily
can forgive another?

Shall we dare
stray from the known path
and explore one not known
during our daily walk through life?

Shall we dare
grant another blessings
that we ourselves
cannot possess?

Shall we dare
accept what we always questioned
and question
what we have always accepted?

Dare we shall
all this, and more
and in so doing
allow the life we love to appear.

The Epic Tale of the Dreaded Sumo Chair

free verse, Humor

When most Americans think of 1973,
they think of Richard Nixon and Watergate.
For me, 1973 was the Year of the Chair.
I will tell you why shortly.

Those were my college days, and
the days of living in crowded Little Italy in Cleveland,
where everyday everyone battled
for a parking place near their house.

Even with my tiny red VW Beetle,
which never started
when its distributor cap got wet,
it was a struggle to park
within a 5-minute walk of the apartment.

Those were the days
when the City’s sanitation workers,
a.k.a garbage men,
picked upon Monday’s trash maybe on Wednesday.
Too often, your car competed with garbage cans
for a place to park.
And in the springtime,
when the spirit moved folks
to throw away
what they held onto for too long,
there were more garbage cans and boxes
than cars parked on the street.

Our neighbors to the west of us–
the strange ones nobody knew or rarely saw–
every spring engaged in some potlatch type ceremony,
where they threw out what seemed to be
most of their belongings,
including a huge ugly brown stuffed chair,
that I suspected doubled as a sumo wrestler
on Saturday evenings.

I will forever recall
one fateful late Monday afternoon,
when I arrived home from school,
went to my little red Beetle,
and readied for my drive to work.

Trash was piled as close as possible to the front,
rear, and passenger side of my car.
Extricating my poor car from the trash
would be no easy matter,
but something no less that must be done.

The object was to get my car out,
without toppling the mountains of garbage
surrounding my little car.
Finally, I decided to slowly pull the car forward
and attempt to nudge the trash out of the way.
Those old stick shifts never were very reliable,
as you will shortly see.

I thought I had the car in first gear, but somehow
it jerked into reverse, and sure enough
the mountain of trash behind my car
was sent flying in all directions.
I was pissed and mortified at the same time.

There was no time to clean up the mess.
After all, it was those damn nobody-knows-em neighbors’ fault
in the first place.
With nobody to be seen,
I pulled my Beetle away from the curb
and off I drove for work.

No sooner did I reach Euclid Avenue,
when car horns began honking.
Surely everyone is crazy, I thought,
as I drove to the traffic light at Severance Hall,
where the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra plays.
Then I learned the reason for all the honking.

The guy in the car to my left points frantically
to the rear of my Beetle.
Confused, I turn to see what is the matter.
I thought I was hallucinating.
There, at the rear of my car, was THE chair.
Not any chair, but the goddamn sumo chair,
which we dodged every day in front of the house.

Dumbfounded, I jumped from my car,
in the middle of rush hour traffic,
and discovered that the 400-pound chair
was no longer the street’s problem, but mine alone.
I quickly sized up the situation:
sumo chair on my bumper,
a dozen or more baffled people
standing in the nearby bus shelter,
and the esteemed Severance Hall just twenty yards away.

My primal instincts kicked in at this point,
and I began spasticly jumping up and down on my bumper,
trying to free my little car from the wiry arms
of the dreaded sumo chair.
By now, a crowd had gathered to watch.
Without looking at them,
I sensed their eyes fixed on me.

One last jump, and the sumo’s hold was broken.
Now, what does one do with a butt ugly 400-pound chair
in front of the City’s respected concert hall?
I grasped one sturdy arm of the chair,
and with unexpected Herculean strength,
I dragged the chair from the street
and onto the sidewalk, directly in front of Severance.

An older Asian man, waiting for his bus, was screaming at me
that I couldn’t leave this chair here.
He indignantly informed me
he played violin for the Orchestra,
and this act was highly insulting.
I screamed back at him: It’s not my goddamn chair,
and I have to go to work!
With that,
I leaped back into my car and sped away.
In my rearview mirror,
I saw the crowd swarming around the sumo chair.

For the next two weeks,
the chair proudly maintained its position
in front of the home of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Everyday I drove by the chair.
Eventually my embarrassment gave way to humor.
Even to this day,
I quip about endowing an honorary chair at Severance Hall;
perhaps for a violinist.

Reflecting on a Meaningful Life

free verse, Metaphysical

Life in the abstract is meaningless.

How’s that for an abstract,
and therefore meaningless answer
to the critically important question:
Is your life meaningful?

I ask the question because I care,
and also because asking you the question
creates a mirror allowing me
to reflect upon my own life
and its meaningfulness.

Certainly philosophers serve their purpose
by raising age-old questions
perplexing all pondering them, but
a meaningful understanding of life
flows from living a meaningful life.

Should I say that again?
I shall.
A meaningful understanding of life
flows from living a meaningful life.
Mr. Thompson, my much feared and revered
high school chemistry teacher, was right:
The proof is in the pudding. Always!

So, what is a meaningful life?
Look in the mirror
and ask yourself that question.
Prescriptive answers by another
to that question, are indeed unjust.

You must decide for yourself.

So, how is your life, and
is it meaningful enough to you?
Moreover, how do you decide
whether your life is meaningful?
For most of us, we decide
based upon what is most important to us.

And what might that be?
The list is nearly endless, and
it includes everything from love
to fame and fortune,
good health, family, and friends,
serving a higher purpose,
attaining spiritual enlightenment,
helping others,
freedom and individuality, and
for some novelty and creativity.

Is my life meaningful?
As I stand before the bathroom mirror,
on this gorgeous early May morning,
an unexpected smile breaks out on my face.
I think: What a ludicrous question!
Need I ask such a question of myself
on this beautiful day,
overflowing with life possibilities?

Indeed, my life is meaningful, and
not for any particular reason.
It just is; as I am.
And that is enough for me.

Now that I’ve resolved that issue,
I am curious to know:
How did mirrors ever get to be so smart?

Immigrant Reflections

free verse, reflections

On boats they came
from far away.
Places large and small
they left behind
with their hearts in tow.

For many,
never to return again
to where they started.
To where their hearts began.

And from the boats,
now leaving them behind,
they travel onward to find a home
where their hearts can grow like flowers
dug up from one bed and planted in another.

New lives they’ll sprout, hopefully better
even than the dreams carrying here.
And yet alone they’ll be,
because they left behind
those they loved for the very first time.

So many they will never see again.
Whose hearts will die, broken
because those they loved
moved so very far away.
And some who left,
will try their best to remember,
and not forget those left behind.

New faces, on their children born,
will wear the names of those left behind.
And these new faces,
if they’re lucky,
will be reminded time to time
of those they never knew.

And perhaps, if they are lucky,
someday they will see the faces
who first wore the names they now wear.

Dedicated to all leaving the home they had to find a new home.

The Flowering You

free verse, Nature

It’s springtime!

Imagine you are a flower.
This is your day to bloom.
Show off your new blossoms.
Allow the sunshine to touch you
from your roots to your leaves.
Smile at the other flowers around you.
Sing! Flowers have beautiful voices, you know.
Raise your head proudly, and feel
the gentle breeze moving you from side to side.
Wallow in those refreshing spring showers
that make you grow.
And by all means, give thanks to all
who have helped cultivate you
throughout your beautiful life.

Less Than Perfect

free verse, Spiritual

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

dreams, free verse, Memories, reflections

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

free verse, Humor

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

free verse

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

free verse, Metaphysical

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

free verse

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.

Alchemy

free verse

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.