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

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

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

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)

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

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

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.

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