Poetry: On Being a Veteran

I chose to go into the Air Force,
twice,
and to stay long enough
to eventually be told,
“your service is no longer required.”
So, with that, I promptly retired.

I joined up. Some call it served.
I’ve never been thanked for joining,
only for service,
a word with twenty meanings
as a noun,
five as a verb, and five more
as an adjective, where I fit in;
but not in the three more legal terms
nor most of the twelve listed
as kids definitions.

My service included my promise
to kill millions of them
should they undertake
to kill millions of us, as we
would both destroy more than
half the planet in the process
of a world-wide Armageddon.

My service was learning
how to do that and fully
intending to do exactly that!

It was my sworn duty to protect
and defend the Constitution, and,
as I understand it, still is because
I have not been released from
that oath, and, technically,
I’m still on the payroll.

I struggle even today with
being anti-war, but if
there is one,
I’d rather not miss it.
If a deed needs to be
done to protect and defend,
and if I’m still able, let me
stand in line to join up again,
with others, willing to kill
and maybe to die for
some vague idea which
so few of us seem
to correctly understand.

Don’t thank me
for my service,
or for your freedom,
or for any sacrifice
by my family or me.

Thank the Constitution
for that. Or, better yet,
if you can do for your
country, which is the idea,
join up in a way
that suits your person
and your conscience.

As I watch the guards, I notice they march both ways.
There are no gaps.

Poetry: In This Pen

***

In this pen are words
which form poems
and prose
which makes me feel good
which coaxes me to
pick up this pen
which connects with
the fingers on my hand,
thence my wrist and arm,
which then winds to my
brain and mind,
which connect deep down
within me, and it knows.

Somehow, something goes
clear to my toes.

I don’t love
(or even like)
everyone or everything
and I never will.

Which reminds me,
I love you.
And this pen, too.

***

Look both ways in the moving alley of creative neurosensory discovery.
Mind the gaps. They’re there for you and for us.

Poetry: Sammi’s Weekend Prompt – Liminal


The Pall of Fear

Sometimes, when I lie down and relax
I feel senseless liminal fear stir inside me
until it gathers and settles
at my core. I become desperate to
deny the tension, or I will die.

Depressive mental illness is taking
control of my mind, filling my body
with this awful sadness.
What is left for me to do?


If you don’t look both ways, someone may die. Mind the liminal gaps.

Poetry: On Raising Teens

I recall, eons ago, when I was neither adult nor child,
during a phase of life known as adolescence
or numerically, being a teenager.

I also recall later being
a male adult parent to three, at one point—
all three almost simultaneously fitting
the technical teenager definition.

We all age up, but teeny boppers, as was once
a more affectionate term, stay the same.
Someone is always oddly 13, 15, 17, or some
age of that hormonally unbalanced
and the musically misguided post-pubescence.

I recall that back then, I was often bored unless
in the midst of violent volcanic eruptions,
and even then, given time, I found them dreary.
Almost everything of interest
involved getting into trouble, things which
I confess to doing with reckless abandon.

Now I look around and see grandchildren,
mostly in some phase of teenage-ism,
some exhibiting familiar behavior, some not.
I see parents, once teens themselves, distraught
over viewing in their progeny reflections of
their former life, a past they seldom
confess or want to remember.

I have no solutions and few suggestions for
those raising difficult teen personalities, like me,
like them, maybe like my parents in the
years of the Great Depression or
WWI or II. But I smile slightly
and I sympathize greatly.

Two things in life are not for sissies:
raising teenagers and getting old. That,
having done both, I can swear to. But,
in the long run, they are worth it.

May we all live long, prosper,
and remember. “Tomorrow, and
Tomorrow, and So Forth.”

Look both ways as life transitions. Be mindful of the gaps in denial.

Sammi’s Weekend Prompt

***

A Sip and a Nib

The poet sits and stares,
then doodles and sketches,
wondering where this will lead.

A sip from the cup of wisdom,
a wandering stare looks
through a window, searching
for worldly ineffable words
of brilliant order, expressing
the unspeakable, describing
all indescribable forbidden things.

A pen finds the artist’s hand,
familiar fingers hold its frame
and place the nib upon paper.

It begins: a poet’s search
for perfection and beauty.

***

Look both ways through the window of inspiration.
Mind the gaps for perfect words. 

Poetry Report: October Poems

Even if I was bad at math (I’m not), with 61 days remaining this year, I have written more than 300 poems during 2019, beginning with my commitment on New Year’s Day. Writing at least one poem each day has been more of a learning experience than I expected. Originally, I thought it would be difficult but fun, and it has been, but I wondered if I could manage it every day for a whole year.

An unintentional consequence has been that I read much more poetry and I’ve bought more poetry books this year than ever. I’ve also become comfortable trying to write a poem about anything at any time. Sometimes I have no idea where it will go—I just sit down and write. A poem happens (no claims for first draft quality).

I’ve written around the clock. With my pen or laptop at my fingertips, I have composed poems during the wee hours after midnight, before dawn and at sunrise, before and after breakfast, at mid-morning with coffee, while dropping crumbs of my lunch onto my poesy, before and after dinner and while drinking wine or coffee (sometimes too much).

I’ve written them in the car as Yolonda drove, in coffee shops (alone or with groups), at meetings, on my back porch, in other people’s back or front yards, in my daughter’s kitchen, and in every room of our house except the garage and bathrooms (but I should, right?). Using sights or happenings for prompts, I composed while cooling my heels in waiting or examination rooms, while sitting, standing, or on the lie. I have composed mental poems that are never written down, but they don’t count.

Except when I use prompts, like Sammi’s weekender, at writer’s group meetings, or during NaPoWriMo in April, topics are virtually random thoughts or events. Billy Collins even wrote a poem about people telling him there’s a poem in that. I try to write as soon as a thought occurs to me.

I’ve now happily welcomed poetry as the biggest part of my writing life, with encouragement from friends, family, readers, and other poets/writers.

The titles of the 31 poems I wrote each day during October were:

  1. Hard Times Were Had by Us
  2. Shots and Jabs
  3. Choose Your Role
  4. Old Feelings
  5. I Need an Answer
  6. Haven
  7. We’re Number Two
  8. Old Man in My House
  9. Music in Me
  10. CSL (Clive Staples Lewis)
  11. Projects
  12. Irreplaceable Love
  13. Relief Strategy
  14. Too Much
  15. Fallen Pride
  16. Debatable
  17. Art in Us
  18. Your Own
  19. Where Goes the Candlelight?
  20. Aurora
  21. Oldies
  22. Risk & Danger = Life
  23. My Lucky Tree
  24. I could have been a Poet
  25. Road Trip Pits
  26. Saturday at Dawn
  27. The Sunday Marathon
  28. On Raising Teens
  29. Fortuna Redux
  30. It’s All Just Stuff
  31. Times Around

Trust no one.
Look both ways on one-way streets.
Mind the gaps with a skeptic’s crown.

Poetry: Eight is Number One

October is my favorite month
after September, until
it is November, which then
becomes my favorite month
before December. Then,
January changes everything and
I begin to dread July—

Which is when I start to yearn
for October again and
I look at the calendar and
I’m fixin’ to bitch about
the miserable Texas heat,

When my wife asks me where
I would like to go and
I answer, anywhere with
air conditioning, or where
it is October and she says,
it’s October now and
91 degrees outside.

I decide to go look
at the thermostat and to
think about Thanksgiving,
a good economy, and global
warming. She refuses to
live where it is cold.

Look both ways, but time is unidirectional
and never stops, until it does.
Gaps in time are cosmic to the mind.