Buy Me a Buddha

I have everything
and nothing in life
Just one more thing
Buy me a Buddha

I can’t stop wanting
till I have it all
Everything there is
Buy me a Buddha

Kid in a candy store, maybe
Or just a man pushing sixty
holding onto his life
Please, buy me a Buddha

Happiness used to visit more often
when I was young
I beg you please
Buy me a Buddha

When you have everything else
that money can buy
There’s just one thing left
Buy me a Buddha

Call It What You Like

You must be brave enough to be yourself
And never for a moment, look back
Wishing you were something different
Than who you are

We’re not the same
From day to day
Not even
Moment by moment

We’re not the same
You and me
Thee and Thou
Something then or now

You must be brave enough
To transcend all the bullshit
All the nonsense you think, read, and see
Transcend it all

I can’t help you
To be yourself
You can’t help me
To be who I am

But we can help each other
With reassurances
Undeniably why there are mirrors
Mire reflective moments in time, you and me

The Sweet Smell of Life

Sometimes we try too hard
To be something more, or different than we are

In our haste to grow up
We grow old before our time

We lose track of ourselves–
Our real reason for being

Sometimes it takes an unexpected reminder
To make us realize
We are who we are
And the more we fight that
Our spirit dies

As a boy, baseball was important to me
In part, because Dad enjoyed it
But also because baseball is life–
Running bases, trying to get home safe

A couple years ago
My younger brother Doug helped me reconnect with something
I had lost some fifty years ago–
My Gus Bell-autographed MacGregor baseball glove
My first, the only one I really loved

Tears filled my eyes
When I opened the box
And saw it lying folded over–
Just as I left it so many years ago

My first instinct was to smell the leather
Its sweet scent reignited memories
Of the forever dusty baseball field in Martins Ferry
Early morning practices
Anxious game days
So much more

It changed me
Not baseball, or the glove
Not even my brother’s thoughtfulness
But the sweet smell of life

Still Livin’ Just for You

Don’t much care
No one to talk to
Left it all behind
Seems like yesterday
Tryin’ my best to move on

Too much heartache
Sorrow, broken promises
No gettin’ used to
Life without you
Barely livin’ day to day

Oh baby, tryin’ to forget you
Our happy times together
Even the moments in between
Testin’ us, me and you
Just barely livin’ day to day

I kept your last letter
Read it often, so sad and blue
How you walked in the rain
Cried away all memories
Why I’m livin’ just day to day

Now all I have–this song
Lingering memories, how we were together
Spinning out of control
No idea it would ever stop
Oh baby, still livin’ just for you

Note: Written on July 15, 1969 in Tucson, Arizona

Mom Died Somewhere Between the Window Blinds

Mom died
Somewhere between the window blinds–
The sun took her home
In just a mere blink of the eye

She’s in a grave now, not far
from where she was born
A solitary place, in peace
What she wished her world to be

Morning sun is so important
Not just to hungry house plants
Leaning desperately in its direction
It awakens us all from our sleep
The darkness surrounding our light

Mom died
Somewhere between the window blinds
A place eventually light finds us all
Leaning in its direction
Hopefully to go home in peace

—–

Note: What do any of us know about death until our time comes? Maybe even then we know nothing about it. For all we know, death could be no more or less complex than light passing through the window blinds.

innocent eyes spotting a deer in the wildflowers

lone deer standing so very tall
amidst a patch of spring wildflowers
wearing, as they always do, long stems
and remarkable yellow-red headdresses

not a far off place, a simple place nearby
where spring makes its way past–
all the nonsense, indifferent faces
standing between you, me, and joy
transcending the imagined realities, even
the promises we hoped for as children
forgot as adults, yet
linger as ghosts in our souls

strange but it finally ends–all of it
the pretense, promises, misplaced and forgotten words
losing all effect, ultimately giving back to us
the innocent eyes that gave birth to us
those spotting the lone deer in the wildflowers

The News

He wasn’t going to make it
He knew it
So did his agitated, pacing wife
Though they couldn’t be certain, until
they heard the doctor’s ominous knock, and
his heavy footsteps, carrying him
to the side of the man’s bed

The doctor didn’t stay long
Doctors never do
Whether you’re healthy or sick
In this case, it’s just as well
The doctor’s spotless white coat–
An ugly reminder of death’s ghostly face

From my bed across the hall
I watched the closed white curtain
Surrounding the old man’s bed
Making me wonder what was on the other side
Of the curtain, of life

I prayed my news tomorrow would be better
That God would decide He’s not finished with me
That I might hold my wife’s hand for a little while longer

In Defense of the Resistance

Always remember Grasshopper
Life definitely comes and goes
No “this or that” right or wrong
In the eyes seeing past it all

Being rich and famous gets you nothing special
No date with the ultimate queen
No special time with her father, and
No forgiving your countless speeding tickets

I’ve given up feeling sorry for anyone
Proclaiming they are “county commissioner” special
Someone demanding our obedience
Expecting our surrender to their misplaced sense of favor

Call me an idealist, or
Someone who just doesn’t cope well
With social injustice, or forsaken compassion
But every offense indeed deserves a defense

And in this case
You should know you’re dealing with
A 900-pound middle linebacker
Running the 100-yard dash under 9 seconds

Rain When You Want Sunshine

It rained this weekend, again
I wanted sunshine
In the yard, in my life

I didn’t curse God
I just felt sorry for myself
Too much rain in my life
Too many days without sunshine
Too many things slipping through my fingers
Lost and wasted chances
Spilling on the floor
Cluttering my life
Like the dump where we shot rats
When I was a boy with hope, and dreams

It’s not the rain that bothers me
It’s the dreariness, the gloom
The heavy gray clouds pinning me to the muddy earth
Covering up the dream I hoped could be my life

It Feels Over

It feels over
Like the best part of me has ended
Leaving little of what I once called my life

It feels over
More water under the bridge
Than waiting its time to flow

It feels over
Accomplishments, getting things done
A looking forward to tomorrow

It feels over
No need for a calendar to remind me
Of what I used to look forward to

I can’t help but wonder
If it’s something I did, or didn’t do
That drove it all away

Cell Phone Babblers

Mindless cell phone babblers irk me to death
Raising serious questions about technology’s role in our evolution
They bark, hiss, snark and cackle
In otherwise quiet city parks at noontime
Where gifted bird quartets sing spring into existence

Miraculously, you even find these nefarious twits
Along serene country brooks
The kind running the edge of remote pastures
Where halcyon cows wordlessly eat grass
Some days as much as twenty-five pounds
And whose digestion will surely suffer
Hearing the tinny voices of these squawking heads

Don’t get me wrong–
I own a cell phone
And use it when necessary
But never while sitting on the commode
At Chicago O’Hare Airport
One of few places
Where travelers can quietly enjoy the company of their own farts

A Tribute to Shirley Buck Welton

God always seems to know
When certain people should show up in our lives
That is the case with Shirley Buck Welton
An amazing woman, one hundred years young
Who signifies an undying passion for life
Not just life, but a rich and creative life

Shirley was also my mother’s name
Mom lived a short life, just 59 years
This Shirley, a more refined work of art than my dear mother
A deeper sense of who she is
And able to live that sense each day
That’s something to admire and emulate

Shirley’s blue eyes sparkle with life
Letting those she encounters know
That something beyond what we seek
Is embedded within us, deeply
Undeniably omnipresent
Unforgettably shaping us, and all we touch

Shirley showed me her Steinway piano
With her since ten years of age
Which will likely endure beyond in that special place
Where played piano notes linger forever
Feeding the reverberating hum of the universe
A sound only our hearts can hear

With these words, I honor my new friend Shirley
Giving thanks to her, and God for sending her my way

Discovering Spring’s Promise One Early April Morning

Spring’s back, her presence all about
Bluebells soaking up sun by the giant oak tree
Perky yellow daffodils lining the cobblestone walkway
Gossiping in the gentle morning breeze

Cardinals and robins know what’s ahead
Things we can’t foresee
Their sweet songs drift across the back woods
Poetry in honor of spring’s eternal promise

One can’t help but dawdle
Linger in the sunshine
Robin egg blue daydreams fill our heads
Carrying us off, another place and time

No escaping her contagious spell
Cast upon us, we dally
For just an instant, forget ourselves
Remembering things that really matter

A Sparrow Worthy of Honor

I watched him closely, as he watched me
Our eyes locked, just for seconds
But long enough to see his soul
That something wrapped about him
Like a sheer linen blanket
The sort of material grandma used
To make living room curtains
Light, airy, gently filtering light
Never blocking it
Or letting too much in

Once our eyes disengaged, I thought
He’s just a simple bird
An ordinary bird, wearing drab brown and orange feathers
Much like myself, I must admit
But there is something special about this bird
Certainly not his colors, or his official pedigree
And not even his choice of music
Some almost unknown Bach overture
Perhaps it was the fact, he called me by my name
And perched upon my right shoulder
That I believe, entitles him to some praise

Early Spring Promises

On this eve of first April
We cannot but wonder
Whether fools we are by nature
Or partisan glad tidings we keep

March has nearly passed
Just moments left to go
Before we turn the page
Another month we must ready to go

They speak of spring
Its renewing praises we sing
Yet monarch butterflies lie so far ahead
Warm weather surely awaits us all

Sometimes I sit in hopeless wonder
Wishing intermittent patches of sun
Could only grow
Filling us complete, inside and out

Spring of course waits no person
Not a one ever so worthy
And so I sit and patiently wait
Spring, its promises, never can break

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

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

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

Till Next Christmas

One day past Christmas
Stranded on a magical isthmus
Feeling very blessed
There find a long awaited rest

Our hearts filled to the brim
A long walk on a whim
Overflowing with pure joy
Peace yet lingers, never destroy

So many gifts still wrapped under the tree
Things making us happy, you and me
Best of all, family and close friends
Love shared always transcends

Till this time next year
Each moment savored, not one tear
We shall patiently wait
Christmas in our hearts, what better fate

Yet Another New Christmas

Narcissism, so very hard to digest
Deep intrapersonal indigestion
For all seeking its source
That is the place
It all comes from
Yes where we all begin again

Every once in a while
We must go home
Could be Martins Ferry
Maybe East Cleveland
A place where all unraveling ends
And all beginnings start again

A new Christmas is here
A time for introspection
Exploring the inner depths
Infinite light and dark places
We’ve either been
Or dream about on such special nights

Two days before this Christmas
My heart is still stirring
So many vibrations filling the house
I must look in the mirror
And there find myself staring
In a dark suit of clothes, not truth I am wearing

Easier times behind us lie
I sit in bed and sometimes cry
Last log on the fire
Watch it burning
Life inside me
Forever churning

A new Christmas has finally come
A destination of hope
Ever deep repining
And so back in the magical mirror I glance
Hoping to see
God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

We’re All Naked

Past a point
We’re all naked
Without purpose
Any end destination

Once you look closer
See past all good and bad
Where we live daily shows up
Like a boil on our ass

Crude you say
How life treats us
Or what washes up
On life’s ever-churning beach

Don’t lose hope
Or forget all reason
For surely in between
Life worth living reappears

December Years of Our Lives

I wish I could be
Satisfied for just one moment
Unafraid of serendipity
Strangers stealing sweet complacency

Somehow we manage
To find ourselves
Side by side
With truth and unreality

No answers
To all questions
Far less certain
Than our lingering fragile suspicions

So many times
I, like you, wondering
Is this all there is
Have I lost my direction

Just the other day
I met a man using fire
Forging reflective glass
Helping us see ourselves, find our way

Dismissing youth
Men with fewer years
I sat and watched
My own dismal, fading sunset

December Reminiscences

Sometimes I wish I could go back
To my younger years
When magic walked the Earth
And all destiny rested in my dreams

Dreams that went beyond what was
To new untouched places
By me, you, anyone
Places deep inside our then tender hearts

Things weren’t particularly easy
Plenty of struggles with reality
But you felt what love was
Never more than a hug away

Things meant something back then
For their own sake, it seemed
Not because they helped you do anything
Or be anybody

Back then, dreams could overtake you
Grab you up in their big arms
Hug you like a bear
Shake you to life

We laughed and cried
Because they were the right things to do
Joy, as simple as a shiny red apple
Pain, just tiny scratches on a mountain

If you wished hard enough
Any day could be Christmas
Daily experiences outnumbered memories
So many lingering sweet first kisses

Days and nights were playmates
Not irreconcilable opposites or indecipherable dialectics
You said your prayers each night
You woke up happy in the morning

I go back once in a while
More and more as I grow older
And as life and death become equal partners
And goals give way to just being

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

November Sparrow

Hear me read this poem (click here).

See the photograph inspiring this poem (click here).

So small, delicate
So full of November
That something making you
Fit perfectly into the whole
That I so desperately seek

It’s so easy for you
To be yourself
Not worrying what others think
For somehow you know
Who you are without trying

You, the November sparrow
Just happened along one day
I saw the sparkle in your eye–
The sparkle of life
As the sunlight fell upon you

There was music
No words
But life’s sweet melody
Drifting from you, through life
Touching everything about you

You make life seem so instantaneous
So there
Within reach
Approachable
Sadly believable
For all us nonbelievers

You, the November sparrow
Sitting meditatively still
Your hush overcomes me
My heart fills
Overflows with emotion

I am angered to think
That for so many years
I have hurried through November
On the way to Thanksgiving, Christmas
And all these years I have missed
The blessing of November

But for this moment
Because of you
I am filled with November
Her barren trees
Faded gray skies
Earthy browns and rust

My dear November sparrow
I thank God for you
My sweet reminder
Of November’s beauty, grace, charm
Because of you
November is a special place inside me

Her First Christmas Without Him

Hear me read this poem

At the window she stood watching
Waiting for him to meet her
As they had met so many times before

This hotel
Once filled with their happy moments
Times they had spent
In each other’s company
Sometimes just talking about small things
Only mattering because these things they shared

It was just before Thanksgiving last year
They had had a quite lunch
At their corner table
Their spot away from the world
Where they held hands
Where he looked at her
In that special way
Only he could look at her

She felt beautiful in his presence
She felt loved
He felt safe from his demons
Those he lived with all his life
And besides himself, only she understood

Nothing lasts forever
Not the happy times, nor the sad
Not even the demons
Even the memories fade away
Like paper-thin clouds
On a breezy summer day

He had been gone nearly a year
It had taken her that long to return
To their corner table at the hotel
The same three men were hanging the Christmas ornaments
A sight they had shared together
So many times before

They always closed their eyes
Until the last wreath was hung
At the window overlooking the square
Only then did one of the men turn on the lights
Only then did they open their eyes
And again their dream came true

She waited till the last wreath was hung
Before she walked to the window
Then she closed her eyes
Letting her tears fall
Like they never had before

She kept her eyes closed this time
Not quite ready to let him go
Maybe next year
After her first Christmas without him

A Sunday Morning Reflection on Nothing Special

White satin flowers
Azure summer sky
Gone for now
No need to cry

Wispful thinking
Maddening dreams of hope
November morning
Life’s unending scope

Seasons change
One to another
Watch your window
Thank Earth Mother

Faint gray-white clouds
Paintbrush sky
Leaveless trees
Oh my my

Easy going Sunday morn
Nothing to be done
Take it easy
Walk don’t run

No Words

Sometimes no words are needed
To say what the heart feels
Sometimes the words simply aren’t there
Perhaps they never were, never will be

At times like these
We can only share what we feel
Through a quiet hug, a knowing smile
A hand’s gentle touch

They’re never easy–
Fragile moments like this
Ever so beautiful flowers
Waving in a summer breeze

It’s hard saying goodbye
To the golden orange sun at sunset
Or the full moon casting shadows
On fresh fallen snow

And when we feel the melody so deeply
There are always tears
Those reminding us
It can never last

A Wednesday Afternoon Metaphysical Rant

Here is a poem I performed back in September. I have posted the poem with the prompts (found in caps and parentheses) I used in its reading so you can see how I approached the poem on stage.

Prefer to listen to me read this poem? Click here.

(GAZE OFF & EARNEST TONE)
Each moment, a piece of it all
A fragment, flash on the screen, an echo
An engagement of our most sacred being
If we REMEMBER, something reminding us
Who we are, who we’ve become
IN BETWEEN good looks in the mirror (PAUSE)

(SHIFT: SHAKE HEAD & SERIOUS) Growing up, I NEVER liked my hair
Too thick, too curly
Not flat and combable like my friends
(EMPHASIS & LOUDER, PAUSE, SHOCKED FACE) NOW LOOK AT ME!
Silver-white hair
Too thin
My Dad’s BALD spot at the back of my head
(SLOWER) Now I wish I had thick curly hair (PAUSE)

(SHIFT NORMAL VOICE My annual physical is next week
I’m not looking forward to it
Ten pounds heavier than last year
THOUGH I’ve been on a diet ALL year
Well, not the one those CLINIC doctors put me on (PAUSE)
(EMPHATICLY) Mine instead
Much easier, FAR more satisfying (PAUSE)
An extra dollop or two of mashed potatoes
Ice cream once a week
REAL ice cream
Not that low-fat stuff tasting like frozen wallpaper paste (PAUSE)

(SHIFT) This year they stick that tube with the flashlight up my BEE-hind
(EMPHATICALLY & SHAKE HEAD) Why would anyone want to be a proctologist? (PAUSE)
Don’t get me wrong (PAUSE)
The world needs butt doctors
BESIDES it pays well
But too bad they can’t fix the OTHER type of ASSHOLE
Like Joe Camel, (PAUSE) who flicked his cigarette butt out his pickup truck window
That NEARLY hit the hood of my new Lexus (PAUSE)
(DISGUSTED & SHAKE HEAD) Why don’t smokers put their stink sticks out in their car ash trays?
Every car comes equipped with one (PAUSE)

At times like that
I try to remind myself of what my guru, Swami Kund-a-gaspar said
“EVERYTHING in life is an opportunity to learn and grow (PAUSE)
Even the pigeon crapping on your head is a teacher
The pigeon teaches us to accept what the moment presents”
(EMPHATICALLY) “But pigeon crap?” I asked Swami
(LOW VOICE) His reply: “Yes. We must learn to deal with the SHIT in life
To detach from what we hold onto and mistake for the TRUE way” (PAUSE)
And so, I didn’t lay on the horn, and give Joe Camel the FINGER (PAUSE)
But deep down I prayed a pigeon would drop a BIG one on his noggin

(SHIFT & EMPHATICALLY) This economy STINKS (PAUSE)
(POINT FINGER) I blame that BOW-LEGGED, WAR-MONGERING George Bush (PAUSE)
And yes, Enron, AIG, and the rest of those corporate thieves (PAUSE)
OK (PAUSE), so we ALL share in the blame for our economic mess (PAUSE)
It’s the worst it’s been since the Great Depression
Which I missed, but certainly Dad experienced
He even had to drop-out of high school his junior year (CONTINUE)
To work at Gus McCann’s filling station in Benwood, West Virginia
Dad says it was the best thing he ever did
Ole Gus taught him to play the guitar—
Something that brought true happiness to my father (PAUSE)

(LOWER VOICE & SERIOUS) Dad died last October at 86, nearly a year ago
(NOD HEAD) He kept his sense of humor to the end
During one of my last visits with him, Dad said:
(GRAVE VOICE) “Boy (PAUSE) this economy is bad
I better get the HELL out of here
Before they raise the price of funerals
And up the admission fee to get into Heaven” (PAUSE)
(SMILE) He made it through, before both hiked their prices (PAUSE)

(SHIFT & EMPHATICALLY) I want to do something DIFFERENT with my life
HONESTLY, I am TIRED of working (PAUSE)
That is doing things for MONEY (PAUSE)
DON’T get me wrong, I LOVE money
But REALLY, work ISN’T all it’s cracked up to be (PAUSE)
Mostly I’m tired of the PIGEONS
You know, those people who are forever CRAPPING on you
Because they pay YOU to do something
That frankly THEY should do themselves (PAUSE)

(SHIFT) The older I get
The more KARL MARX’S words ring true to my ears (PAUSE)
(EMPHATICALLY) NO, I’m NOT talking about one of Groucho Marx’s brothers (PAUSE)
I mean the big-bearded, 19th century political economist and philosopher (PAUSE)
Who said (PAUSE): “Work enslaves the spirit and beguiles all goodness in life” (PAUSE)
I guess that’s why I like art—
It frees the spirit, UNSHACKLING us from our own MADNESS (PAUSE)
That’s also why I HATE it when someone says:
(RAISE BROWS) “Your poem or photograph is a TRUE WORK of art”
Art, to me, is the ANTITHESIS of work (PAUSE)

(SHIFT & SMILE) I’m glad I got all this off my chest
I feel MUCH better
MAYBE I’ll even go back to work
And put up with those pigeons (PAUSE)
MAYBE I’ll listen to my doctor this year
And cut back on the mashed potatoes and ice cream (PAUSE)
MAYBE I’ll grow what REMAINS of my hair long
Take up the guitar
Buy a farm and raise pigeons
Register as a Defense contractor (PAUSE)
(LOWER VOICE & SLOWLY) And SELL my pigeons to the Pentagon (SMILE)

As We Grow Older



As We Grow Older, originally uploaded by © Don Iannone Photography.

This photo is best seen in large size view to see its details. A new poem:

As We Grow Older
By Don Iannone

Summer flowers
Slipping away
Like the sun at dusk
The youthful spring, no more
In the old man’s steps

Dog-eared cone flowers
Droopy pink petals
Spiny orange tops
As best they can
Holding on for dear life

Our lives at times
Weak-kneed, fragile, out of kilter
Like some faint bad dream
Weighing upon us
Lingering well past morning coffee

Sometimes we wonder
Especially when afraid
Is it something we’ve done
That’s driven our lives away
Or maybe just time to say goodbye

Gazing Inside

Look deep inside
That place only you really know
That somewhere, always home
Never too far away
In reach when you need it
There in a glance

No need to linger
Longer than a moment
You already live there
It’s your place to be who you are
Everyone else, just a guest
At your invitation

See that stargazer lily over there
Its stamen jutting outward
It’s an invitation to you
Step inside, yourself
Smile
Give yourself a hug

Truth Dangling in Early Morning Sunlight

The morning sunlight reveals
What the night’s darkness stole away from us
Those things haunting us well past 3 AM
Well past the time for usual self-inflicted salvations
Things we promise to do should we live
To see daybreak in our now slumbering garden

Cast your eyes upon something of beauty
Like those dangling pink flowers where morning dew drops cling
Like each breath we take holds on
Till the next can take its place
Leaving nothing in between
No room for the darkness to reenter

Admire the pink flowers, if you will
But they can’t save us
Nor can the garden itself
Soon to be choked to death by weeds
Then covered by snow
Freezing shut the ice blue lips of hope

Look more closely at the dew drops
Each a tear reflecting back to us
Parts of ourselves lost, broken, forgotten
One by one suck them into your mouth
In small measure, let them quench the thirst
That has become your life

I Wonder

You must have wondered, more than once
Where the time has gone, and
Why things have changed
So suddenly, like the harvest wind
Why life, like sand in an hourglass
Slips quietly away, while you sleep
Or stand naked in your cold morning shower

Sometimes I look in the mirror
Late at night, when no one’s watching
And I catch a awkward glimpse of myself
Remembering way too much
Like the chewing gum I stuck under my desk
In third grade, when I once wondered
Why is love so difficult
And will there be a time
When the fighting stops
At home inside me, where I always live
And where I find myself just sitting
Waiting for another night to pass

Dedicated to Wink

Thelma

Ninety-three
Once, so full of life
Now, breath by breath
Making room for another life

Still proud
Not in a vain way
But to have lived through so much
To have carried her cross the distance

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want
Little she wanted in life
Nothing to want in death
Except to go home

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
No more evil to fear
No more valleys to walk
No death to await

All goodbyes have been said
Her angel has come
Sweet sunlight falls across Thelma’s face
A new star will light the Heavens tonight

Note: Thelma was a hospice patient. I sat vigil with her last week. She died on July 1st. I read the 23rd Psalm to her before she died, not knowing it was her favorite scripture, which her great-granddaughter told me afterward.

Heaven

As a child, the better of two places
You might go when you die
A place with pearly gates
Where God and Jesus live

A place you imagined
When times were tough
A place giving you hope
For a better tomorrow

A place Grandma talked about often
Praying we may all go there someday
A rendezvous for family and friends
Like some magical tree house in the woods

And now, a frame of mind
Not a place anymore
But a way of being in any moment
Allowing life to pass through us

Nothing special
Or different than anything else
No need to be anything or anyone anymore
Just being for the sake of being

Like art, beauty for its own sake
Like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder
Like creation, unstoppable
Like now, Heaven

Gray Rainy Days

Gray rainy days
Why we need inner sunshine
Why we need inner focus
Bringing light to the world

We fret too much, this and that
Making unnecessary choices
After all, we’re here
It’s always now, never sooner or later

Bright pink azalea blossoms in sunlight
They’re possible any day
Come rain or shine
Always inside us, waiting

Outside my window—
A determined blue jay
Squawking about this and that
I laugh; that’s me

The rain subsides
Giving way to stillness
Even that nature provides
It’s ours, if we stop our squawking

Then there are the clouds
Hiding the sun
So nature’s tears can soak deep
Into the thirsty earth

Gray rainy days
Reminding us, listen, hear
The rain singing on the roof
Reminding us, bring our light to the world

A Special Place Inside Me

there is this place inside me
i find myself there quite unexpectedly
without ever trying

a happy place
warm with early morning sunshine
just the hint of a breeze
turning grandma’s petunias side to side
on her green and yellow front porch

this place is grandma’s living room
i’m always a little boy
playing on the floor
next to the screen door
maybe this place is a wormhole—
an invisible tube—
connecting me to who i am

often when i hear the engine
of a small plane flying overhead
the low-vibration sound waves carry me to this place
this special place of comfort inside—
a place my grandma created just for me

this is a place of peace
where the better part of me steps forward
leaving the other parts behind
it’s always a gentle landing
like a cloud drifting across a perfectly blue sky
on a warm summer day

i always feel just a bit sad
when it’s time to leave
eventually we must all go

Red Tulips

they knew me
turned their heads
looked my way
made me turn mine
there we stood—
face to face

i loved them
first moment i saw them
bright red dresses
decked out to the nines
voluptuous vixens
dancing in the wind

a bit of déjà vu
soulful remembering
strangely familiar—
the smell of fresh baked bread
the sweet scent of lilacs
a springtime long ago

they invited me to dance
sing out with them
red tulips touch us deeply
especially on a warm spring day
when the sun holds death at bay
and each moment is an eternity

Memories on Mother’s Day

she’s gone, my mom
her memories linger
like her sweet motherly scent
the enticing aroma of her cooking

mothers are magical
no way to be without one
how they love us, even when we’re bad
especially when we’re good

she died way too young
only 59 in 1986
wish we had more time
so many foregone memories

we reminisce more
the older we get
the more of life behind us
than ahead

boys and girls need their moms
to grow, become men and women
men and women need their moms
to remember the eternal child within them

Be Like the Flower

No greater honor—
Be like the flower
Face the sun
Let its warmth fill you
Overturning whatever steals your joy

Be like the flower
Proud, but ever humble
Never too straight
Always able to bend
Flowing with the wind

Be like the flower
Use the day to grow
Give back to the Earth
Use the night to rest
Rejuvenate from a hard day’s work

Be like the flower
Always ready to live
And when the time comes
Be ready to die
Making room for another

Click here to see the picture going with this poem.

Spring Beauty in Focus

Springtime
New beauty born
New beauty in our lives
Sharper focus on life’s becoming

Sometimes we try too hard
To be what we’re not
Possess what’s not ours
Fight who we are

Red tulips in a garden
No bucking the tide
Or clinging to anything
They simply are

We give the tulips our attention
They smile, their redness grows even brighter
We look beyond them
Life’s eternal fountain appears

We look inside ourselves
There our beauty lies
Eternal spring within our hearts
Our beauty comes into focus

Click here to see the photo that goes with this poem.

Secrets Locked Away Forever

So much inside us
Locked away
Inaccessible until
We discover the combination
Releasing deep secrets buried in the soul

These secrets
No mystery to the deepest part of us—
That part belonging to something larger
Yet out of sight they remain
Until the rusted lock and chain are taken away

Never easy
Dealing with the hidden
Even terribly lost parts of ourselves
But once in
So much more becomes known

Once we find our way
Even the deepest secrets—
Those buried in the cave of our heart
Become known
Releasing our grip on what binds us to eternity

Click here to see the picture that goes with this poem.