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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

This guy has been kicking around for a few months just looking for an excuse to see the light of day.

Rainy Winter Day

Words won’t come in winter,
when gray lies heavy over the snowless land.
Words won’t come from the muddy pools
set to rippling by big rain drops,
nor from the roads, slick and shiny
in the beams of car headlights.
Nevertheless, with strain they are pulled out
to bud like spring blossoms,
bathed in a false scent of May grass.
They are unnatural,
in this unlikely January thaw,
hanging limply from chapped lips.
Instead of opening, the words retreat,
becoming April’s,
until they are choked and fall to the ground,
unborn in the new cold of the same winter.
One must have a mind of granite
to draw the words out of the rocks
and the frosted blades of grass and
the parking lot asphalt cracks,
to divine their absence as something good,
in itself, beautiful.

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For Liliana, For a Time to Come

Liliana watches the face on the screen.
She listens to the gruff voice of a man
she does not know and shrugs.

Liliana, older now, watches the face more carefully.
She has come to know the lines drawn around his smile.
His voice, coming to her across the years,
sounds into the unexplored depths of her memory,
its Jersey croon stirring a part of her brain
that refuses to wake, stunted as it was in its infancy.
She knows only this version now:
signals of data, preserved for her and millions of others,
reproduced through electric pulses,
an echo without origin.
She is sad, but she cannot place it.

In each scene, live bits of him,
traces of his character displayed in actor-hyperbole:
a fist to break an enemy’s nose,
a hand to caress a lover,
and every shade in between.
With what she knows and what she observes,
Liliana cobbles together an image of her father,
tries to look beyond the veil of art to see something true.

Liliana tires of the endless questions,
hates faking the gravity of her emotions.
Her love for her father’s work is not a private thing.
She humors the admirers and the family friends and the reporters,
all praising some hidden ideal which she can’t understand.
She just wants to know her dad.
Instead, she has had to settle for the vicarious parenting of Tony Soprano,
watch with jealousy as his fake children endure his fake moods,
while she can’t remember the feel of his kiss on her cheek,
can only imagine how his eyes filled with tears the first time he saw her.
Liliana is bitter of his legacy.

Yet she loves him, somehow.
Perhaps she too acts it out,
willing the primal blood-bond to reach back
and recreate the eight months she had with him,
leaving an impression that calms her like a father’s love,
assuring in its ubiquity.
Liliana has peace when the screen blinks off
and the fantasies stop attempting to fill his void.
Because when she smiles,
she knows it is his smile.

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Last Supper

My dad died a year ago today. I wrote this poem about a moment during his last days that has stuck with me over the past year.

Last Supper

You said you looked forward to a new body,
one incorruptible and free of disease,
light without the weight of waiting.
Much of your world was sleep by then
and the dreams you had were evident in your eyes;
but this declaration came from a clear mind,
even though the words you said later
showed you were slipping away.
You said you looked forward to death
and I marveled.

Out of a plastic bag came a broken body,
from a plastic bottle a thimble-full of blood;
plastic tubing had sent chemicals into your body,
causing numbness in your fingers,
but you did not note the similarity.
Your bed was matted in the same way that Grandpa’s was;
a sick body is a heavy one.
You sat on that bed and listened to words you’d heard
spoken many times from a pulpit.
I held the bread and the cup and knew
that I was being given a gift,
far more than a collection of images to scrawl down a year later,
but a moment to hide in my heart forever.
In remembering, we were hoping for a miracle,
but, remembering now, I realize that miracle was given long ago:
a figure on a cross and an empty tomb.

Death did come for you soon after,
not in triumph, but only as a guide.
When I got that call, my last words to you echoed in my head,
saturating me like wine soaking into a loaf of bread,
life blood beating in my ears.
“I love you.”
Deposited in the air, whispered daily in every breath,
back to me, again and again and again:
“love—love—love.”

I dream of you sometimes.
They are visions that you fit into so easily;
there’s no shock, no fear.
They are premonitions of a kind that I cannot shake,
like the hue of that last supper with you added
to the tapestry of unresolving colors that springs up
each time I take the bread and cup
and hear His words whispered in my ears:
“I love you.”

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A Thought

It has been a disturbingly long time since I have posted anything and I am, frankly, ashamed. I simply have not done much writing over the past 10 months. I won’t lie, it is hard to find motivation in the evening to sit at a computer and write after sitting at a computer and writing all day. Moreover, my home computer is something of a train wreck that is borderline unusable. But, excuses aside, I have been lazy and I want to get unlazy. I have a small backlog of half-written poems that I’d like to polish up and put out there for consumption, so I’ll leave you with this short piece I wrote some time ago. And as for doing more writing, I’ll let my rallying cry be that of Pat Solitano, Jr.:  “Excelcior!”

A Thought

Have you been living there long,
Right behind my eyes,
clawing to get out?
A swimming image is all,
tapping and waltzing with exuberance
in time to the music in my ears.
You are a thought, simmering and simpering,
waiting, against all odds,
to be called to attention; recalled.
With no conscious effort
you spring up, ready, queued.
I’m taken back, for a moment,
to observe a moment: a fleeting glance of swaying hips,
Dredged through faulty synapses,
to appear an inky and shaded thing.

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So today, on a whim, I set myself a challenge: write five haikus in 15 minutes. Not the most outrageous dare, I know, but it was fun. So, I passed it on to my bud Cory, and he too took up the challenge. Now we’ve both got a new way to break up our bouts of boredom. Throughout the day, I did three sessions of this challenge; in the final session I wrote six. I make no claims that these follow all of the traditional haiku conditions or that they are particularly good, but all of the sessions were completed within the 15 minute time limit. I hope you enjoy these, and if you decide to take on a similar challenge yourself, share what you come up with. Just remember, it’s about integrity.

Session 1

Sing Muse, let me hear
The secret workings of the
Bent, unconscious mind.

The breeze is pleasant.
The sun is hot and rude, but
Together they twine.

Blue-tipped clouds above
Drift in perfect peace and bliss,
While we fools work on.

Dreams beset my brain
In morning waking sleep when
Sunlight should lift lids.

Sweat glistens on skin,
Each breath and step is hard work;
I’m running today.


Session 2

Youth and beauty are
Not overrated by those
Who are beyond them.

My mouth was erased.
Words only seep out through my
Eyes, ears, and nose now.

Music invades minds,
Infects limbs with motion and
Melts faces, sometimes.

Time is short, so short.
Let’s lament it together.
“Where has the time gone?”

Paris is burning!
So says the voice in my head.
Let the ash rain down.


Session 3

The last one, here goes:
To be or not to be? Hey!
That’s cheating, says I.

My tongue is tickled
By a flayed, soggy toothpick.
So the words pour forth.

Stomp your hands, clap feet.
Fiddle’s a-playing tonight;
To the streets we go.

Water bright and clear,
Undisturbed glassy surface.
Jump in boys! Ahoy!

Keys unlock doorways.
But some open your brain-box,
According to Joe.

It is quittin’ time.
Chickens take flight after work.
So farewell, Earth-bound.

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Tribute for Dad

For Dad

When I was child, you would carry me to my bed, asleep and helpless.
And in that embrace, Dad, I knew the unspoken security and love that you provided.
You were my kid-brain’s image of God.

I knew the same comfort when you picked me up after I smashed Mom’s car,
the calm reassurance of your experience and patience: a father’s love for a son.

I knew your humor every time you reached over to me in the car when I was little and tickled me
until I was squirming and practically screaming for you to stop,
only wanting you to attack again so I could hopelessly defend against it.

So many nights I heard the plucked strings of your guitar float into my room;
so many times squinted into the flashing light of your camera as you recorded the beauty of the world,
a responsibility you held sacred.

You were always a wellspring of wisdom to me, a guidepost for right and wrong,
though I’d seldom admit that to you: a son’s love for a father.

It’s hard to write about you in the past tense,
knowing that you won’t be here to get so angry when the Brown’s screw up,
that I can’t call you for advice on even the most basic of adult tasks.
That you’ll never know my wife or my children.

But it is equally joyful to write about your present, your now.
You are with Christ, who you loved and showed how to love;
you’ve been reunited with your own father;
you no longer know the pain of this broken world.
And you’re witnessing mysteries unfold before you that we can only guess at.

The full realization of your absence will dawn slowly
as we learn to see the world without you.
How can I sum up what you mean to me in a few hastily written lines?
I can’t.
I dip into my well of memory to pull out the poignant moments,
but what comes instead is the remembrance of your day-to-day omnipresence in my life.
It is the swirling images of the camera you always had at hand,
a montage of the little things that now creates the pangs of heartache.
God blessed us with your humor, your pragmatism, your unwavering support…

We miss you already, Dad, and we’ll miss you more as time goes on.
But we have the memories of our shared laughter and love
and the knowledge that you are in the presence of the Source of all love and grace.
I like to think that you’re getting to do a bit of flying now,
like the birds and airplanes that you so admired.

Farewell for now, Pop. We’ll see you again.

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