Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Please hang with me

With winter there's a greyness that seems to settle into my psyche and all creativity is gone, at least temporarily. I don't have a lot to say to you, I don't have much in the way of poetry to show you, and I apologize for this blog which has nothing to reveal to you. I've thought about dropping the blog, except I know from experience that my muse will return and I can again open myself up. Please hang with me. Thanks, friends.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Cold Chasm

He used to devour them, wives that is -
sweet, delicate things who gave him
their hearts, three in all over the dark years,
destined sooner or later to look deep
into his vacant eyes and know the desolation
those eyes offered, to comprehend
the cold chasm of pain to which their
innocence and credulity had brought them.

Today two of the former wives stand
an appropriate distance from his grave
and the restless band of participants,
immediate family to be sure, those
who tried but could find nothing else
to do on this blustery day. The ex-wives
each scoop a handful of damp earth
and with spiteful satisfaction throw it
into the gaping mouth of his grave.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Love of bayous

There is no other night like a bayou night,
the air pregnant with expectancy and
mystery, mingling scents of wisteria, trumpet
honeysuckle and gumbo mud like some
Dark Ages alchemist seeking an elusive
golden fragrance. It's a night dark despite
the nearly full moon, a night in which
fireflies pulsate like so many flickering
neon bulbs and the cacophony of insects
is propelled toward an unattainable crescendo.

Mammoth cypress trees line the bayous,
letting fall Spanish moss as strands of ghostly
gray-green hair, and the oppression of dark
is waiting just beyond the searching lantern.
At times the wind moans like a sated lover,
at other times it howls wildly, but it's always
present and always vocal to those who
would listen. There could be fear in such nights,
or there can be a love of the mysteries inherent
with the bayous - I choose the love of the bayous.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Errant son

I feel guilty each time
my shadow darkens her stone.
Ever the errant son, my visits
to her grave come once a year -
Memorial Day, penitentially, flowers
in hand. However, the preacher
said her soul is no longer there,
so I've adopted that excuse.
Mom, I know you're not supposed
to be there, but if you are,
forgive me, again. Your son.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Most excellent chord

It's probably always been there, this
transcendent connection, a strand
to the ethereal, a most excellent
poetic chord smothered by youth
and denied each time it rears its
beautiful head, left to writhe, waiting
the day when age and character
finally fashion the person into a poet.
What use has youth for deeper emotion
other than lust? What use the forming
of feelings into higher expressions,
so often ridiculed by the young?
Comes the day, however, when beauty
and sensitivity prevail and poetry flips
on the switch to enlightenment.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bits of Me

It's turned cooler this close to October
and all of the hummingbirds, the Rufous,
the tiny Calliope, even the Black-chinned ones
have chartered flights for warmer climes,
southern getaways as it were - all the way
to Mexico. It's probably my advancing age,
but I sense (or wish) they've gathered up bits
of me like they do nesting material and taken wing,
retracing the route back to where their
hearts began. I envision them musically, like
thousands of precious notes strung out for mile
on end, playing on the breeze as flutes and piccolos
strains of Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty Waltz".
Or could it be a vague wanderlust resurfacing,
the drifter's instinct I apparently inherited from
my father who once hopped trains, a tendency
I abandoned while still a young man after having
been battered around and wounded emotionally
in my carousing and left totally disheartened.
Whatever the source of the longing I'm feeling now,
it's strange how I miss the continual visits by those
diminutive birds as close and very dear friends,
suddenly having disappeared without word.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

on mating for life

A mourning dove dead in the grass,

its tawny wings clasped rigid, prayer-like

and I realize with surprise the sadness I feel.

Its once darting, discerning eyes are being

swarmed by ants, eyes now shriveled and

as sightless as gauzy windows no longer

capable of seeing the world. I've heard

doves mate for life. Perhaps that's where the

greater part of this sadness lies. I wonder -

am I to be this dove, or is it to be my wife,

the first to die and leave a mourning mate?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweet Journey

She stares into her canvas, drawing
to her brush a blood-red droplet
of paint for another flower, her hands

delicate, as diaphanous as the wings
of a white butterfly, with blue veins
running lace-like a precious pattern

from her thin fingers to her heart.
She knew she was terminal, but
death was uncharacteristically

slow in fulfilling itself, as she sought
week by week to finish her painting,
not a masterpiece, she would say, but

a sweet journey of the heart, as if
retracing a memory-strewn passage
back to her beginning. She paused

at times in her wanderings along the
sunlit, fragrant path of that canvas, too ill
to crawl from her bed, or encountering

the world from a hospital window,
the shadows of her death intensifying.
The last time she painted with me

she seemed to be telling me her death
was near, and thanked God for the years
allotted her. She died several days later,

her canvas, her life, largely incomplete
but her true journey now underway.

(For Dorothy - missing you)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Hummingbird

Praying on still more
of the sugar and water challis,
the homemade nectar,

it kneels briefly at the shiny,
blood-red throne
swaying just shy of heaven,

a hooded monk on the wing,
it genuflects several times
while vocalizing its disdain,

sips nervously of my offering
and then scuds away without
so much as a blessing, save

for the assurance of its
repeated appearances.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Canker

The parallel between
spring and winter,
the fateful juxtaposition
that reverberates with
"life - death", "born - buried"
is barely noticeable
to the young except
for a kind of private itch
somewhere in the psyche,
and develops to a nagging
public canker the more
advanced in age we become.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Moon, My Shadow and Me

The moon catches me off-guard at times,
like when I walk out on newly-fallen snow
with that bright ball at my back. The moon can cast
a startling shadow, disparate in its movements,
unconnected to me, heeding its own will as if it
hosts dark thoughts and memories it won't share.
It can try to outpace me, and given the chance it
curves over mounds of snow, disappearing
and reappearing, elongating, foreshortening.
It's as if it wants me to give chase, or at least
try, so we can partake of folly together. Only
when my shadow is on a building, a wall,
perpendicular, erect, will it reconnect and become
a part of me once again, part of those things
of which I dream, my hopes, successes, failures,
sharing this journey which has become my life
and regardless of its resolve, that of my shadow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Light Less Bright

I wonder if her death has been duly noted,
whether the trees in the forests became hushed
and the wind paused for a few respectful minutes,
and the rivers that run wild, grew briefly tamed;
whether anyone noticed light was somehow less bright,
and a star that was out there, flashed and disappeared?
In her honor, did the fragrance of wild flowers flood
the woods and did even the tiniest of creatures pause
in their wanderings, not comprehending the why,
only aware that something good that was there, is gone?

(In honor of Dorothy, 47, my painting partner,
who died Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010,
of liver disease - she is with God)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Natural high

Three dogs asleep at my feet,
a fresh jar of sun tea brewing,
a wonderfully cool summer day,
hummingbirds visiting the feeder,
squirrels running through the trees,
white butterflies gyrating in the yard,
the sprinklers tapping their tunes,
my sweet wife humming as well,
God just happens to be on my side,
feeling good, what more to life
could I, should I, ask? Nothing!
Be content, you fool, be content
with this very natural high.

When Love Left

I don't know when love left.
Now, in the tangle of stale time and
the necessity to keep it a secret
from myself, I don't even know
when the craving
for her, her body,
her mind, her love in return, all
decided to vacate my heart,
apparently deciding
the effort wasn't worth it.

I thought it could never happen,
thinking that this thing,
this thing which
was never labeled and never really
protected, this thing I will call
love, would be a permanent fixture
in my life, and that
like two monogamous creatures
destined to live and die together,
we'd endure forever.

So sad that I couldn't even count
on the love of my life
to be just that.

(Of another life and a sadder time)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Strange Domain


How I love the steady rain,
or perhaps more to the point,
why do I love the steady rain?

Since childhood I've loved solitude,
not loneliness, you see, but a quiet solitude,
a peaceful place where thoughts collect

without fear of being disclosed to others.
Why? Well, I can't actually tell you, except
that it seems I've sought the real "me",

to know more of what's in this mind,
in some fashion much of my life, and
failing, it would seem, for as long, thus

I love the encompassing feeling of rain,
the blue shadows at dusk, an empty park,
the lamentable call of mourning doves,

seclusion in a stand of autumn aspens,
or laying beneath a shedding fall oak,
an overcast but benign winter sky,

a field of snow unbroken by man,
the soft fall of large snowflakes.
Yes, within such tranquility it becomes

easy to explore the strange domain
contained within this head of mine, perhaps
I'd even let a few chance thoughts escape.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Stretch of History

Second installment on The Oregon Trail poems:

The bone-white wagon tongue,
its carriage long ago disintegrated
and fallen into splintery planks,
laps thirstily at the dry sod along the
edge of the trail, finding only
parched earth and no water, burrs
and beetles instead of hydration.
The dry stalks of Indian grass,
burned rust red in the summer sun,
clink and snap against each other
as if an ordained primordial rhythm,
mimicking the clicking of ‘hoppers
as they pass from stalk to stalk
and me, on another visit to this trail.
More prairie than desert, but still
more a place to leave behind, only
insects, lizards, hawks and the curious
chickadees seem to make it home,
this dusty stretch of history.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Verse for Jan

Twilight has edged its way in,
the sun being tamed by the advancing night,
while among the darkening cottonwood
the chorus of songbirds grows muted,
relaxed and that intimate,
beloved magic enters our
golden domain again.
The air grows headier
with what I call your essence -
the scent of every blossom
that ever was, ever could be, seems
to be a part of you.

I could say romance permeates the air
but over the precious years with you
I've learned that being close to you
doesn't always have to be sexual.
Rather, it seems the measurable times,
the cherished moments are those when
we are alone together and each can embrace
the other's smile, keenly aware of what
the other is thinking, feeling
and dreaming without it being
put to words. Indeed, the best times
are simply those when we
can quietly look into
each other's eyes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The man he was

This man is lost to the intervening years,
thank God, and the new man has emerged.

The walls reflect nothing,
allow nothing, just the dusty
depression of a room within
a house within a faltering marriage,
barren of love or hope of continuing.
Only a break in the blinds allows
a razor's shard of light through
to the suffocating heaviness of the
dark room, slanting across the floor
to the feet of the man in his chair,
the man he is, a diminished shell
now, devoid of dreams and plans,
of sexuality and a passion to live,
longing for the man he was and
the life he failed to appreciate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

first blush of dawn

In the bleakness
of predawn the fear
is there, as it always is
when I struggle to awaken.
But I know the fear
will begin to dissipate,
the pulsing heart will
diminish before I get
both feet on the cold floor.
Morning coffee
and a pinkish gold
breaking through the
shuttered window and
I know I live, that fear
is temporary and strength
increases with each
moment, and I'm aware
that I didn't really lose
her love despite
the dream and I know
love will endure, and I didn't
die. All things flourish
with the first blush of dawn.
I only wish the dreams
to disappear, for good.

indefinable surge

A fiber, a strand
of something bright, clear
and sweet rushes
through me each time
you touch me, each time
I dare to think that you
might love me as I love you -
the most wonderful
yet indefinable surge
which enlivens each cell
of this aging body.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Cell by cell

How unfair this aging process,
this melting down of tissue and
disintegration of bone and sinew,
this deterioration, cell by cell,
and the muddling of the intellect.

A goodbye

This will be the last verse concerning my brother - naturally he's been on my mind and I know you realize that. But a final goodbye is in order. Thanks.

We said goodbye to you, brother,
and no one heard our hearts breaking.
All that could be heard was the capricious
wind snaking its way through the
bulrushes along the river and up through
the spray of flowers on your headstone.

What could not be heard was the
catch in our breath as we tried futilely
not to weep in front of each other -
a foolish attempt, for what comes from
the heart at a time like this needs to be
felt and expressed, for it is true and good.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The way it should go

How appropriate, dare I say
"appropriate" without diminishing
a life, his life, that this is
the way it should go with
the pot of flowers I kept trying
to resuscitate - the brilliant
vermilion blossoms, struggling
against poor earth and little
water, kept trying to show
forth their infinite beauty.
How appropriate is it this day
the flowers finally gave up
and died, their struggle futile,
that my brother too should die.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

haiku musings

girl in shorts
the whistle of a dove
taking flight

--

river's mouth
an osprey disappears
into mist

--

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One with my father

I don't know - maybe it's all the emotion with the death of my brother, and his beautiful military funeral with a nine-gun salute and the folding of the flag which was presented to my neice, but it was difficult to remain sober and not cry - I failed the attempt. We all did. The military part of the funeral was definitely the most emotional. My brother was a Navy veteran. Maybe it's the cold realization that he really is gone, that my mother is gone, that my father has long been dead.

My brother had several heirlooms belonging to my father, including a pocketwatch that I had coveted for years, and a mustache cup. These two items I knew of, as well as a 1888 edition of "The Bible Gallery" illustrated by Gustave Dore' that I remember drawing in when I was about four or five years of age. Gorgeous thing with a blue velvet cover.

My neice said she had my father's pocketwatch, which she was going to bring to me at the funeral, but didn't know anything about the mustache cup or the illustrated bible. I had figured these things were long gone. But following the funeral, my neice came up to me with the pocketwatch, as well as the illustrated Bible which she had found going through my brother's things, as well as my father's straight razor.

I've always been an emotional sort, but I could not believe these riches, my father's belongings - of which I had none prior to today - were now in my hands and belonged to me. The emotionalism of these things was profound for me. And an old photo of my father, which I never seen, lay in my hands - I'm going to share it with you because he looked exactly like me at his age. People had told me I look like him, but I didn't really know because I was three when he died of tuberculosis. I know now, however, and I felt so overwhelmed it's hard to describe my emotions. Wonderful, to say the least. I suddenly felt I was a part of my father, I was now one with my father, which I had never felt before. It's a glorious feeling.

Here's my father, obviously a real farm boy:


Saturday, June 26, 2010

For folks who know

Just before waking this morning
I was dreaming I could still walk with
a cane - I found myself walking in this
very shallow stream, wading nicely
as it were, with just the cane - lift one
leg and then the other, no longer tripping
and falling. No need for the walker,
no need for the wheelchair, just the
single cane and I was free again. Mom, who
died about six years ago, was in my dream
and I was showing her and my wife how
I could suddenly wade in the stream
with just the cane. It felt so good. Then
I awoke and after taking a few minutes
to clear my head, struggled to my feet and
with the aid of the walker, dragging the
bad leg along, I made my way into the
kitchen and brewed some really strong
coffee. If I was going to have to be awake
I may as well be damned wide awake.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Perception of Life

Today has been a strange day, overcast, the air heavy with unexpected humidity (unexpected for Idaho) and the fragrance of neighborhood flowers fairly lingered with the lack of wind - I think my brother's death has made my perception of life around me much sharper. I'm glad to be alive and feeling things - I'm thankful I have a wonderful wife I love and who loves me - a far cry from several years ago when I was deep into my various chemical addictions and cared for nothing but that chemical escape. The bottle, the pill, the snort - whatever. I believe in God, and I've come to realize that God gave me this life, this opportunity to sense all the beauty around me that He created. I don't want to waste anymore years. I guess that's poetry material.

THE TEAR

The tear of a brother
who is slipping into, out of
confusion, oblivion,
dementia.

A tear of recognition,
of reassurance.
How to weigh
this tear?
How do I
preserve it?
What value
this tear?

Priceless.

Death of my brother

My brother died yesterday (June 24th) after a struggle with lung cancer and dementia at a veterans home in Boise, Idaho - he once again developed pneumonia, several days before his death, and he lacked the strength to overcome it. I feel so strange today, so sad that I've tried writing three verses about him and each time it seemed I was more the focus instead of Bingie - my brother. Each time I posted a verse to my blog I went back in and deleted it. Everything I write seems to fall far short of what I want to say. I wrote a haibun several months ago after his first bout with pneumonia and I'd like to reinsert it in my blog today. Forgive me if you've already been acquainted with it:


Bing is my older brother. Visiting him at the veterans home, he appears a shadow of the man he once was and seems far older. Doctors say he has dementia, and now they've found lung cancer. Having just survived pneumonia, his normally bright blue eyes are gray and distant, confused. He doesn't seem to blink. He watches other aging veterans move about the visitors area and doesn't speak unless asked a question, then replies with few words.

seasoned aspen
buffeted by a bitter wind
shuffle of old men

Bingie has always stuck up for me. Always. He has been a caring older brother and as children would allow me to tag along, pedaling me around on his rickety bike. Now I lament that there is nothing I can do for him. I was afraid he didn't recognize me until as I was about to leave. A single tear has appeared in the corner of his eye and is making its way down that pale, wrinkled face.

a leaf flutters
in an abandoned web
. . . these gray clouds

Monday, June 21, 2010

a few haiku

ancient pine
the sun climbs
limb by limb

--

daybreak
a canyon wren singing
just above silence

--

dead crow
the sheen of the sky
on its wings

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dream hawk

Gliding just above the aspen thickets, nearly scraping
the huge lava escarpments, I ride this exquisite dream hawk
for all it's worth. Then dipping and hovering as the
kestrel, I am soaring with the updraft to where the air
thins, I'm faint, and the world below is somehow irrelevant.
I can even see my bed below where I lay dreaming.

Strange how I got up here in the first place: propelling
myself upward by kicking my legs and suddenly I'm about
ten feet off the ground, feeling curiously free, and then
no longer needing to kick but instead glide, soar, hover. I like
my height about tree-level and prefer gliding. Normally,
I tend to get queasy and fear falling at the upper heights.
But this time, in this dream, I am brave, choosing to challenge the
clouds and with no fear whatsoever I "loose the surly bonds".

cumulus
a hawk spirals down
the updraft

To Laugh

We'd laugh at life
if it weren't so serious
we'd laugh at death
if we weren't afraid
we'd laugh at pain
if it didn't hurt so much
we'd laugh at circumstances
but we'd get nowhere
I suppose, truth be known,
we'd laugh at everything
if only we hadn't
forgotten how

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Of Reversing Time

Oh, the sadness in your beloved eyes, that
woeful turn from bright blue to grey, and
the callous years etched across your face,
god, but that I could reverse the slow,
methodical spin of earth and cruel time,
take us both back to when our love
for each other burned, raged, and there was
no purpose in this world but our purpose.

--

Monday, June 14, 2010

spring sounds

from the depths
of the mountain laurel
spring sounds

--

spring colors
a swatted fly
on the window

--

a fallen leaf
in the stream's swirl
. . . awaiting prognosis

--

late spring
butterflies replace
falling maple pods

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Dream

I would hope to die, soon,
should I grow too old to dream,
to believe in something,
anything, to feel the red-hot surge
of ambition and love's pulsing

--

Honeysuckle days

At times, certainly not often enough, on a
balmy evening when the early summer breeze
weaves itself ever so softly among the honeysuckle
vines and back to me, and the world becomes hushed
and golden with the sun sitting suspended just
above the horizon, I catch a glimpse of the magic
of my childhood. A warm and sweet time, lush with
the burgeoning innocence of youth, it was a time
when everything had its brilliant color and those
colors were honest and full of depth, even
within the shadows of the increasing dusk.

The world held no fear for me then, no doubts, no
discouragement, and no inkling of the sadness
I would cause and encounter in later life, and thus
I looked to the future as if it were guaranteed to be as
gorgeous and fragrant as that honeysuckle. However,
the world, from the many thousands of days
since I first marveled in it as an child, has grown
colorless, stringent, fearful - or is it the melancholy
I seem to have been born with that's destroyed that
childhood joy and sense of real beauty - a question
I ponder frequently and one for which I have no
answer. Unadulterated joy no longer comes
and I doubt I would recognize it should it ever
intrude again on this aging and corrupt being.

--

Monday, June 7, 2010

father of my invention

-
Forgive the tardiness of posting this piece - I started it around Christmas but just recently finished it. I simply want to share it with you, even though it's seasonally tardy.
_________


He died when I was three
so to say I knew him, I couldn't.
But to say I missed him -
that was simple enough - I
did, immensely, everyday,
but especially
around Christmas.


 At an early age I knew the
emptiness of not having a father
around, doing things
a father would do with his son.
But the pervasive loneliness
was compounded at Christmas,
perhaps because I could sense
enormous sadness in my
mother's demeanor.


Mother did what she could to make
Christmas special for my
brother and me, material
things, but there was
always a sense of deprivation, a
sadness even though
I never knew him. You
can feel deprived of something you are
not familiar with. It's easy. Look about
you at those who did have fathers.
The hollowness was
always there.
Always.
It still is, even at my age.


However, as a child I often dreamed of
him - gave him a face of
kindness, a face I could look
into, recognize up close and at a distance.
He was a father who always came home.
I gave him warm eyes that laughed at the
dollar-sized snowflakes outside,
gave him big hands to form snowballs
for me, and to pull me to my
feet should I
slip, and I gave him a
magnificent heart, a heart large enough to
encompass all that was special to him,
which would include me.


Mom remained a widow,
worked hard, got paid little.
But she made a life for the three of us
and tried her best
to make every Christmas
better than the last.
Regardless, and perhaps
selfishly, just beyond the
tinseled tree, the
crinoline bows and the presents,
I saw his eyes which would look into
mine and I saw a face I could never touch
but that I love to this day.
In addition to all that, I gave him a
love for his family that would have made
every day significant. He would
have made a huge contribution.


Occasionally, when I smell
coal smoke mingling with pine from
trees across the way, and
if the air
is crisp enough, the snowflakes
big enough,
it will seem like Christmas of the past,
and I will remember father, or at least
the father of my invention.

birdsong

birdsong
the volume amplifies
at dusk


--
her morning air
not of haughtiness
but gardenias

--

kitten's carcass
its soft hair melds
into dry bone

--

this dark mountain
a mirror of myself . . .
the brooding

Sunday, June 6, 2010

windswept plains

sky above
these windswept plains
my emptiness
--

lightning strike
enjoying the jolt
of morning coffee

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

scent of lilacs

Spring's blossoms, the beautifully scented blossoms like lilacs, bring me close to what I would consider heaven on earth. The fragrance is beyond description, as you all know, but the poet will always try - what's a poet for if not to share. A couple of lilac haiku:

dawn colors . . .
a chittering of goldfinches
among the lilacs

--

midnight window
sleep deferred
for the scent of lilacs

Monday, May 31, 2010

same wind

-
Down from the icy Sawtooth crags
and through the winter-laden landscape,
the cold wind eventually dips to the
creek we loved so well as children.
Continuing on, it threads through the
hollows above the creek, sculpted even
today by stooped cottonwood trees.

Twisting above granite outcroppings
and lava boulders, the wind courses
the giant arteries of this canyon,
passing among quaking aspen, river willow,
and snarled cottonwood, shorn by now
of every dryly-veined leaf.

At ancient volcanic escarpments the
wind bears south, scraping hard along
canyon walls. Upward it moves, out of
the canyon, slowing and sallying about
the hillocks, the gullies, and the poplars
until it finally comes to stir ever more
gently, warmer even, my dear friend,
around your gray marbled headstone.

Primeval of days, this very same wind
blows for eternity upon eternity, polishing
and purifying even the roughest of
the earth's elements and impediments.
This said, at this hill's crest where you rest,
there is no need of further refinement. Feel
how the northern wind quiets for you,
as if it knows over whose stone it passes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

wheelchair man

-

The following presents not only one man's struggle in old age, but the connectedness of a man and a dog. Normally they share a love of each other, but even as casual adversaries they can share a certain bond, or even destiny:

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping to drag his paralyzed right leg
back onto the footrest. He's grizzled, decrepit,
smells of filth, tobacco stains his unkept beard.
He tries to grin but minus teeth his grin is a slash.
Leaning sideways, he purses his lips, spits tobacco.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, occasionally kicking with his good leg
at a diseased black dog that skulks in shadows
near a meat market. Following, the stray bares its
yellow teeth, nips at the man's hand as he wheels.
A well-placed kick and the dog briefly retreats.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping under an overhanging bush. Pulling
a bottle from his threadbare army coat, he throws back
his contorted face, draws long on the whisky. Tucking the
bottle, he kicks again toward the dog, puts a finger to
his nostrils, blows several wads of mucus, wheels off.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping short of the school where he knows
children may throw rocks at him and call him names -
"gimp", "crip", "asshole". "Bastards"- he always retorts.
Under a leafless tree he spits brown juice, drinks,
pulls the tube from his urine bottle, empties it.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, struggling more than usual to keep himself
going. He's cold, miserable, feels faint, and spits mucus
flecked with blood. The black stray sits on its haunches
nearby, watching the elderly man's distress. The old man
struggles against the brutal wind in making it back home.

The Wheelchair man fails to wheel himself down the
street this cold day. His wheelchair sits to the side of
his shack, empty of the gray man since his death, and rusting
in the early November rain. The old black dog snarls toward
the emptiness of the wheelchair, coughs yellow mucus,
licks his wounds, then crawls beneath the man's porch.

From under the man's porch the elderly black dog
will often wander aimlessly down the street, stopping short
of the school where children will throw rocks at him.
It's bitter cold this day. Under a leafless tree the dog sniffs
the air for the man. Looking about, he growls at nothing,
lays where the old man would stop, scratches flea bites.

border issue

border issue . . .
trumpet honeysuckle
climbs the fence

--

mountain sunrise
no dew on the grass
where a doe slept

--

river bend
. . . a tug and its horn
disappear

Monday, May 24, 2010

sensing the ghosts

-

The Oregon Trail - Sensing the ghosts
of pioneers who traversed the trail
a century and a half ago:


Tall prairie grass, wind-swept and
burnished gold, whispers with the
long-dead voices of all who passed
on this trail in their dream journey
to Oregon, or even California, or who
died, disease-ridden, exhausted, to be
buried just off the rutted trail
under a lonely stretch of sod
or cairned atop a barren lava bed.

Hawks hover, then spiral effortless
high above, as they did so many years
ago, dark against a soft patchwork
quilt of azure blue sky and creeping clouds.
The occasional click of grasshoppers
is barely audible in the billowing, brittle
grass shaken by the interminable wind.
Dry bones of beasts and hapless humans
dot the edges of the trail, mute testimony
to the brutality of the westward rush
and the following of the Oregon Trail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

morning mist

morning mist
lifts from the forest
. . . a haiku rolls in

--

rainy night . . .
a loon on the lake
echoes my mood

--

dawn colors . . .
a chittering of sparrows
from the lilacs

--

parting gesture–
a windblown petal
kisses my cheek

Thursday, May 20, 2010

northbound geese

skimming
the belly of a storm front
. . . northbound geese

--

hunter’s moon . . .
the barn owl’s silhouette
shifts on a limb

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

final shovel

flight of a lark . . .
the final shovel of dirt
on my friend's grave

--

walk in the rain . . .
why is it she's still young
and I'm older?

--

farm auction -
the gravel falls
on his dreams


Saturday, May 15, 2010

going back out

-

Going back out,
that's what he fears most.
To resume his last
miserable drunk,
homeless, loveless, broke.
Scratching up money for a fifth
of whatever he's drinking
- vodka when he's semi-flush,
cheap wine when he's not.
Lacking the guile to beg or steal,
he washes dishes in a dive
for a meal and a bottle,
sweeps out bars for drinks,
knowing he can't hold a job
much longer than a day.
Scavenging cigarette butts
from barroom trash cans.
No place to get out of the cold
except for the missions
and flop houses.
He hates the flop houses
with their toothless managers
spreading their shit-eating grins.
He dreads the city winter
as the cold seeps in and wraps
its tendrils around him,
and he fears seeing one more
sooty gray dawn with grizzled men
like himself mindlessly shuffling,
searching for the next drink.
He fears the back alleys,
fears he's destined
to live in their filth, huddled
in whatever hole or box he can find.
No longer caring for himself,
just craving alcohol.
That insatiable craving.
And it's the grayness he fears,
the empty, pallid expanse
of his remaining years
and losing people who
used to love him.
He's frightened of going out
and not coming back.
And he fears thoughts of suicide.
He has no answers to why he drinks,
why he gives in to the bottle.
His mind cannot or will not grasp
that last thought.

---

the river

-

The Mississippi River laps noisily, sucking debris
back into its current from along the water's edge,
to be deposited 30 yards down river, and with the next
churning passing barge the same debris would be sucked
back in by that hungry, always hungry river.

I skirt the brackish gumbo mud, ducking under
leaning cypress trees as I searched for a fishing hole
that would provide both shade and quieter water.
The Louisiana heat and the smell of that river, of eons
of mud, of live and dead fish, all manner of rot, some
unspeakable, proves somehow intoxicating, alluring.

The cacophony of cicadas and flit of blue damselflies
is interrupted occasionally by the low mournful blare
of a passing tug as their pilots wave happily to me.
I don't know them, they doesn't know me, but they're
also loving the day. Days on the river were to be savored,
along with the slow swell and pull of the wide river
as it ebbs, swirls and sucks its way to the waiting gulf.

As I grow older I am content to sit by the water's edge,
hypnotized, anesthetized by the river's ages-old flow.
My dreams, my life will not go on, but it's comforting
knowing the Mississippi River will continue its drift.

--

gumbo mud and kudzu

-

The old farmer hung back,
as rickety and battered as the
‘50s Allis-Chalmers tractor upon
which he leaned, hunched,
clung, as if the auctioneer's words
might carry him off as well, like
the implements he'd treasured
much of his life, machines upon
which he had toiled and sweated
and which had helped him chisel
out a meager existence in his
40 years on the farm. His wife was
dead now, his children scattered
like the clucking chickens and hissing
ducks, all he had left were memories
and the old homestead, and it was
leaving him bit by bit on the backs
of creaking pickups and low boys
and stuffed into the cavities of shiny
new Cadillacs and Buicks. The cruel
wind had snuck in from the southwest,
stealing a little more soil from the
threadbare farm, swirling and sucking
at tattered curtains still hanging in
the mouths of hazy windows left ajar.
With each piece of his life leaving
down the gravel road, a draining
of life's energies closely followed.
If it could rust like the kudzu-strangled
farm machinery strewn about its yard,
the old farmhouse would certainly
be gumbo mud by now. The decaying
farm equipment, leaving from just
another sad auction, speaks of dreams
lost and lives ended in the quagmire
of delta clay and clutching kudzu.

--

clawing for more

-

I've been trying to poet off and on
now for awhile - but it's hard for a guy
like me, born and raised in small towns.
I've never really learned to swear,
not like a poet anyway. Not like Bukowski.
I mean, what kind of poet would
the world expect me to be? Except that
I'll admit I can drink with the best.
A Huffstickler I'm not, or a Bukowski,
or Etter, or Kerouac - guys who knew the
big towns, the sluts, the dives, the rehabs,
the back alleys, park benches, soup kitchens,
flop houses, drug pushers — Humm, come to
think of it, we got all those here. But not
the all-important big town poet attitude.

I'm just this hick, delusional perhaps,
trying to fill a blossoming hole inside
of me that grumbles and claws for more,
and there's gotta be more to life than this crap.
I used to try and rhyme, like as
in "poor" and "whore", but there's
no rhyme to life, just grab it and clench.
Just life, death, burial and maybe a little
something for the dog afterwards.
The preacher says there's more,
the devil tells me to forget it,
(I'll listen to him occasionally).
So, for me, I'll probe a little deeper and
scrutinize a little harder, perhaps drink a
little heavier, and maybe find a plug
out there that'll fill the hole inside me.
Maybe even put it in words.
Become a poet.

--

amblings, ramblings

The following amblings and ramblings were saved up over the dark, depressing winter, and are spilled out here if for no other reason than to get them out of my mind, and to replaced the mind rot with glorious spring and it's natural salves. Once again I realize I love life.

Warren

nature's rebirthing

-

God, it's so good to be alive!

Jan and I went hunting yard sales this morning (glorious, sun-drenched Saturday morn) and it was like getting a huge vitamin shot, or some kind of natural upper - flowers and fruit trees abloom, the air filled with the intoxicating scents only nature can provide. A deep sapphire sky our open country is famous for, with only a few wisps of cotton clouds - no rain, no snow, no cold - meadowlarks and chickadees providing the background music, and the sun warming our backs as we scourged the yard sales for whatever treasures we might find. After months of semi-depression and lack of creativity, I once again realize I'm alive - and it feels so good!

I hope all of you are experiencing the rebirth that spring seems to always bring - if not, walk out into the sunshine, take a deep breath of spring air, listen to spring's wonderful sounds, and if you're still not rejuvenated, take some Prozac.

Your friend, Warren

-

Friday, May 14, 2010

the grayness

-

This free verse was written while I was in a prolonged state of the doldrums this past autumn and winter, feeling no creativity whatsoever.

It's late autumn but the colors
simply aren't there for me. Leaves, trees,
the sky, my face, my hair, my mood,
everything has become pall and gray.
Everywhere that color should abound
there is only lack of color. This canvas
remains indifferent to me - staring
blankly at me. My brushes sit unused
and rotting in solvent, the colors grimy
and dry on my palette, a spider has pulled
its hairy carcass through black oil and
then white and died gray upon the
edge of my painting table - its web strung
at the bottom of my easel. I feel no more,
paint no more, sell no more and my lover
has left me for a younger artist. Bitch!

"Colorless, odorless" reads this can of
brush solvent - it's what I've become!
I have become nothing, even without odor.
After metaphorically smearing gray paint on
my brow, my nose, my lips, torso and this
useless, pathetic, flaccid penis, I stand
naked before a 3-way, full-length mirror.
I'm completely gray, insensitive, consumed.
I confront the artist I used to be. My image
grows diffuse, without form, then dissipates.

-

wind of change

-

A drink isn't hard to swallow,
but a divorce, a lost child, death, they are.
The wind of change comes up, destroys dreams,
ends marriages, sifts through plans, hopes,
throws out what it wants.

A drink isn't hard to swallow,
but growing old, pains, drying dogs, they are.
The wind of change comes up, rips our garments,
exposes our frailties, our nakedness,
thoughtlessly shreds our defenses.

A drink isn't hard to swallow.

-

something, something

-

The morning mother died
I was deeply engrossed in something
on the television
and decided not to visit her in the nursing home.
She died alone. The mouth that once
whispered comfort to my child's ear
was now open to the world,
awkwardly caught in a final gasp
for one more precious breath of life.

She so richly deserved my presence,
paid for it in tears over the
years, a visit which was not afforded
because something, something
on the TV kept me from her bedside
that morning.

The news came in a phone call. "Sorry
Mr. so-and-so, but your mother died
a few minutes ago."
I stared deeply, analytically at something, something
on the TV
that morning and wondered if this was really how her life
should have ended, so damned alone, with dead eyes staring
to the side, still hoping to see the son who was
too engrossed to be there.

--

Thursday, May 13, 2010

morning light

morning light
fringes the crimson tulips . . .
the curve of her smile

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

moonrise

-

moonrise
a swooping barn owl
catches the light

--

spring breeze
a holdout autumn leaf
finally lets go



Monday, May 10, 2010

dark mountain

-

Several miles beyond, the dark mountain looms
threateningly - mirroring my mood
as we both brood coldly. Snow clouds hold
grip of its peaks and melt in an icy drizzle to the
ochre and umber, wind-swept valley below.

Inside this dank motel room with its peeling
walls, my addiction is both hidden and enhanced.
The room’s grimy interior is closed to the world
by a threadbare curtain which hangs
askew, sealing me inside my drunken fortress.
I lift bottles to my mouth with abandon,
gratefully lacking the contempt of others.

A tinny television mutters a string of profanities
from a corner, and a faucet drips incessantly into
the filthy sink. It all seems to echo what I
have become. I have become as this dead, dry fly,
scraping back and forth along the window sill,
manipulated by currents of stale air.

fearsome dream

-

Fearsome dream: I'm cocooned below, facing heavenward,

          but my face no longer senses nor melts

the frozen snowflakes that once were my pleasure.

          Now those flakes swirl aimlessly, unfelt in the blue-black,

uncaring night of winter, barely touching my grave,

blown about by the frigid January wind -

          dead to those sensations, I lay hard, cold, rotting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yes, I know it's spring now - just thought you might
like a little color today- check out my haiga features

Friday, April 2, 2010

a few haiku

spring gardener . . .

a mud smear beneath

her mascara smear
 
---
 
first robin

. . . the child beneath

this grizzled beard

abandoned love

How is it that authentic love

can be so readily abandoned,

so thoughtlessly divested, like an

indifferent breath exhaled into

the frigid morning, visible for

but an instance then vanished?

We will surrender our dreams

to the day’s many vexations and

temptations, won’t we? Easily!



Sloughing off once-treasured

affections, we foolishly initiate

the love hunt afresh, disdaining

the strewn wreckage we’ve

fraught in the lives of others.



It seems there should be a most

damnable termination for us at

the end of all this, should we fail the

test of nurturing the true affections

with which we’ve been blessed,

ours and those of cherished others.

--

thriving again

Good grief! I usually get the "blues" during the latter part of winter, but this year was intense and I had absolutely no indication of a muse, no creative juices prompting me to paint, just a general malaise that kept me from opening the computer for a week at a time, and I barely cracked the door to the studio for the past two-three months.

BUT! The juices are beginning to flow again - as they usually do at the hint of spring - and I'm beginning to feel color and see color, so I'm going to get back in front of the easel and see what transpires. As for poetry, give me a week and I'll see what I come up with. Man, if feels good to thrive again.

Thanks, friends!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Forgive my laxness - seems the winter blahs really have gotten to me - no creative juices flowing, no poetry, no paintings, nothing but a grayness. Give me a little while and I'll be okay.

Warren

Monday, February 8, 2010

water's edge

water’s edge
. . . briefly, the tracks
of a sandpiper

--

a snow goose
cups its wings to land—
curve of the shore

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

your scent

Forgive me for neglecting my blog for what, a week? Time races by when you're having fun - can I use that excuse? Anyway, here's a little something that occupied my time - it's about my old high school sweetheart, named Mary Jane:

I came across your fragrance today, your scent, for
the first time in years, and I thought of your pale
skin, your breasts, lips, the yielding of your body.

I always assumed it was lotion you wore, as if the fragrance
and the enchantment were unintentional, not a purposefully
and seductively placed essence, but just your scent,
carried so appropriately upon the spring breeze.

Why don’t I smell it more often? I wish I could. I don’t
even know where it came from this time - some woman
on the street, or wafting hauntingly from a vendor’s
cache of perfumes, or through the doorway of Macy’s?

The memories struck me like a dull arrow straight
into the heart - I turned but you weren’t there, nor did
your scent last for more than a few precious seconds.
It was there and then it was gone, just like you.

I’ve obviously never gotten over you - you continue
to linger in that special niche in my memories, waiting
for the chance to leap sweetly back into my conscious.
--