Monday, October 20, 2008

A Collection of Poems
A few years ago, I undertook an experiment- to write a poem every day. I think I will start it up again- but most of these (except the first one, which is more recent) are selected from that experiment.

New Home

"No thanks, I'm just looking."
Such safe words.
I've been looking for so long- years, now.
Suddenly, within a few days,
we've said, "Maybe; Yes..."
We made an offer.
The offer was accepted.
I am scared to death.

Number 44, May 29, 2005

With the breezes, branches whisper
tender words that only trees can understand.
I have no words today.
Only breezes, whispering branches–
thoughts that have not taken shape.
The rains have come,
and seeds are swollen, but not quite ready.
Germination requires warmth and time as well.
Maybe tomorrow the seed will sprout,
the branches will speak, and I will understand.
Or maybe I will begin at last to plow my fallow fields;
First, a night of rest.
Seed will rot if left in the soggy ground too long.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Number 42, Part I

Today, while sitting at my desk
I remembered an old friend
and picked up my dog-eared paperback copy of his work.
It's heavily underlined,
which made it easy for me to find passages that I found significant
in my youth.
My soul grew excited as I read
and was able once again to embrace
these thoughts.
You see, for many years I haven't read his words
having become more thoroughly acquainted with the man
and realizing that the conclusion of his philosophizing apparently brought him
to the opposite side of a wide chasm from myself
and also
learning of his foibles and hypocrisy.
I rejected him and put aside
those underlined words--
Though not entirely.
And now, more aware perhaps
of my own foibles and hypocrisy,
and better able to accept those of others with kindness
I can once again look at his ideas
and finding those with which I yet so heartily agree
My soul does shout
and once again--
find wings.

Part II
"The unexamined life is not worth living." -- Socrates
This morning a red squirrel hunkered
down on the remains of a broken branch
on the oak tree outside of my window.
At first I thought the limb had acquired an odd new shape,
but as I looked more closely, there was movement,
disclosing the presence of the small, ruddy creature.
It occurred to me that every day is full
of little details, like that squirrel,
and it is a good thing
to notice some of them
(not all! that would be insanity--
but some...)
And those that nudge me on to further reflection
will enrich my thought, my days, my life!
And suddenly I knew an answer
for which I have been diligently searching
(sometimes in the wrong direction, down paths that lead
from the answer but are not the answer itself),
and I find the value of my daily writing assignment
is greater than I knew
because as I do this
I am catching some detail, at least one little detail
and looking at it more closely.
Sometimes the smallest part of the picture
brings forth the greatest fruit.

Number 17
Today is all we have, and that gives freedom.
Sometimes when it feels like everything has crumbled all around me,
that every choice I've ever made has been the wrong one
and even things that once gave me satisfaction now have a certain tinge
of tarnish about them,
I feel crushed.
And yet there is a sense in which we all come to each day with nothing
except God's mercies,
which thankfully are new every morning
and so I can go on,
forgetting those things that are past
because they are in the past.
I can start again.
I can try to reach, stretch, build;
and if it all falls down again,
I can get up once more.
I don't have yesterday anymore,
and sometimes I wish I did, but
the gospel is that yesterday
doesn't have me anymore, either.

Number 37-- March 16, 2005

Little boy sits on the edge of his seat
never quite still,
just swinging his feet
and holding an apple, chewing each bite
eyes fixed straight ahead–
But it brings such delight.
Something so appealing
in this profile view:
Little boy,
swinging feet,
and an apple to chew.

Number 36- March 2, 2005

Waiting is not as hard as it used to be.
The old woman shuffling through the grocery store
in front of me, or
looking for a loved one to return.
Christmas, or
waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.
Everything in its time.
The lines on my face and
the ticking of the clock;
The agility of youth
or the carefulness of age.
The distance seems to be nearer now;
the present never lingers,
and waiting isn’t as hard as it used to be.

Number 34-- February 28, 2005

I remember learning to drive.
To say I was not a confident student
would be so far understating the truth--
I was terrified-
terrified of the power and potential to harm
myself or others
through my awkward, incompetent
I don't know where this came from;
You'd think I'd been in a terrible accident,
or witnessed one, in my formative years
but no, I was just
All around me there were people
pushing the lights-
hurrying through intersections as the yellow changed
moving their feet from brake pedal to accelerator
in anticipation of the green-
but I liked those red lights
because for at least a few seconds
all I had to do was hold my foot on the brake.
I did finally learn to drive, but I like to remember
how grateful I was, then
for red lights-
those tiny respites from the pressure to perform-
I need them still.

Number 21
January 31, 2005

I remember my great-grandmother’s hands.
The soft, luminescent skin laid loosely over purple veins
and when I played with the skin,
pinching and pulling,
it would hold the shape–
Gram’s hand with a little square just above the knuckle.
I was very young.
The years lay before me endlessly
and there was time,
always more time.
I noticed, as we all do,
that time began to pass more quickly.
The unending summers of childhood
became barely noted spaces on a busy calendar
and children grew to adulthood
before my eyes.
And it’s not with pessimistic gloom
but some new and different kind of knowledge
that I have realized
I no longer have endless time.
But it took me so many years
to know, to number my days.
I rub my left hand over my right
and gather the skin between my thumb and index finger.
The tuck stays for just a second--

Number 22-- February 3, 2005

The rich, fragrant gentleness
of moss
beneath my feet
or better yet
beneath my body as I pause in my hiking
to recline on a softly cushioned patch of ground
One of God’s gifts
But here it lies hidden,
buried beneath a thick mantle of snow–
Snow, also soft
and on a sunny day,
when the thermometer stretches its way
toward 30, also moist–
but sterile,
covering the moss
like some hospital-applied bandage
I yearn to remove.

Number 23-- February 3, 2005
Moving South?
We talk about it, and dream
of long blossoming spring times
and short winters without snow,
Gardens that keep through the cold
because it doesn’t go so deep.
But for now, we are here.
There are months to sit by the stove
and leaf through the seed catalogs–
weeks and weeks before it’s time
to start the little seedlings under lights.
And the cold air makes us hardy
even though the growing season is so short.

Number 1

In light of recent evidence
which says
that writing will reduce my stress
I have decided to write
a poem every day.
Although I don’t think my stress level
is particularly elevated,
I like writing poems.
Maybe this new demand
will prove stressful,
and so by staying the course
I will both create and reduce stress
in one efficient resolution.