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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Sitting in the corner of a hilltop park
in Eugene, Oregon I am writing this poem for you.
The sun is setting in my eyes, the wind
is speeding across my face and through
my hair, dogs are barking at a siren
wailing in the distance, signaling that someone
is in trouble.

Sitting diagonally from me is a young woman
by herself, wearing a red shirt and blue shorts.
She is writing a poem for you.
The sun, the wind, the dogs, and the siren
are part of her poem too.
I am not sure if she’s in trouble.

As I write about her
She writes about me.

You might be sitting at a campfire in
The Olympic National Forest
reading this poem about a woman writing
as she watches the sun set over Eugene.
And if it’s cold
You might begin to feel warm
And if you’re alone
You might begin to feel less lonely.

As You read about her
They read about me.

Somewhere, perhaps on a farm in Massachusetts, sits a
person at a desk, in a study, early in the
in the morning reading a poem about a sun
setting, a cool wind blowing, some dogs barking,
a siren wailing and a young man
wearing a white shirt with black shorts
sitting next to his dog, writing.

Everywhere dogs are barking, winds are
blowing, suns are setting, sirens are
wailing; being written into new poems
Reminding us all.

Listen to:  Sea Of Heartbreak (Feat. Bruce Springsteen) by Rosanne Cash

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Excerpt from As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

'O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.

'O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.'

W.H. Auden was one of the first poets I ever “got”.   Lines from his poems run through my mind from time to time.  Lately I have been thinking about what a challenge it can be to love others…Love as a concrete action rather than an abstract feeling.  And I fail, miserably, every day.  I am judgmental, impatient, easily irritated, and intolerant.  And that is with my friends.

These lines came to me mysteriously last night as I was watching Son Volt perform at the WOW Hall.  I closed my eyes as they were performing Strength and Doubt and disappeared for just a moment.  Love Your Crooked Neighbor With Your Crooked Heart drifted through my mind.  It was a moment of unexpected transcendence.

Listen to: Strength and Doubt

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What do you do

When you’re ten
Walking in winter’s first snow
With your best friend
Before school?

What do you do?

When Mr. Brown, the principal,
Whose 1 inch thick, 8 inch long, 3 inch wide paddle
Has perfect swiss-cheese holes, hollers out his office window,
“Hey you, get up here.”

When you finally realize
Mr. Brown isn’t talking to your friend
And his long, crooked finger
Is pointed at you,

What do you do?

As you walk up the steps of the school
Gulping as your hands fall asleep
And the grey metal door slams behind you
Swallowing you up

As you stand in front of a sixty year old man
Wearing a melted milk-chocolate brown
Polyester suit, staring you down
Holding a large paddle,

What do you do?

As this man’s inquisition is sprayed
Around the room, in your face
And with a few tiny bubbles remaining on his lips
He growls, “Go out to the hall and wait for me.”

As the paddle slams into your pre-pubescent bottom
and with each strike
A sting reaches the tips
Of your fingers and your toes,

What do you do?

As you stare at the patterns
Of dust on the floor of the hallway
And open your eyes after each strike to see
A crowd of students gathered around you,

As you stand-up and everyone is just staring
Expecting you to cry, and Melissa Freeman
With her curley blonde hair and mouthful of braces
Asks, “What did you do?”

What do you do?

I remained
silent.

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Looking at Blue Days

The scent of lilacs
outside drifts in
To his grey-grizzled beard

He hits C sharp

The woman,
Almost stepping on his tune,
Howls and lifts her skirt

blue_day_of_yesterday_066-eBlue Day  of Yesteryear by Louis Delsarte

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The Piper’s Collection

Sit back and relax
while I relate to you
an incident.

That night I left my door unlocked I
returned home to find a thief
playing jazz in the spare bedroom,

“Where is my furniture?” I asked.
He stopped his improvisation
which, by the way, was stunning.

He stepped forward, toward me.
“Where is my furniture?”  I repeated.
“Where is all my stuff?”

He walked past me with the saxophone.
(I think it was his because I
didn’t own one.)

He never said a word
just started playing again,
jumped into an old van, and drove away.

I think I was more surprised by
how well a thief could play jazz,
than how well a good musician could steal.

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I have recently begun revising drafts of old poems that I had not taken the time to finish or were not ready for prime time.  I’m not sure this one is ready for prime time but it is considerably better than when I started it.

Four Observations and a Conclusion

The sound of an alto sax
Dispersing simple cacophony
Through a benevolent spring rain
And budding cherry blossoms
Reaches out and asks to be heard
For the first and last time.
Drifting freely, the music has its own reason
For disappearing as deliberately as it appeared.

Precipitation obscuring a view outside a cafe window
And the aroma of coffee offer an invitation
To the chance meeting of an old friend.
And in-between spaces
Of awkward conversation
Is the security that time
Does not always remain vigilant.

An entanglement of arms and legs
Pitched together in perfect timbre
Accentuates the confident movements
Of the long acquainted.
The emancipated giggles and whispers
Speak more clearly and wisely
Than priest, shaman, or sacred text.

Awakening to the gurgling speech
Of a three month old
Can anchor one’s feet
And set what must be the soul
Spiraling outward
Toward distant pale blue hills.
Toward promises
Of insects, rotting logs, damp moss
And the calling of creatures.

Yet, in the midst of delight
Soft, quiet melancholy pervades
Over the heavy sweetness of
Children, smiles, music, and weather.
And the encroaching hush
Reminds me
That we are all indeed
“Becoming shades”:
Images
Flickering and fading against a crumbling wall.

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