Poetry: Wistful Notes


I was there when it emerged
on our record player
Mom named, Victrola.

Faced battles with
courage, pup-love,
school basement dances
chaperoned by nuns, invaded
by my future.

I miss names like Judy and Denise,
Eleanor Rigby,
Barbara Ann, and Peggy Sue.
And Mary Ann, Marianne, oh, Mary Anne.

Smoke rolled
under sleeves in white tees,
cool as John T’s Greased
pompadour hair.

Tight pants, juke boxes,
hangouts, and rumbles.
Woodies that would pop-up
to say hello and embarrass.

Old-fashioned rock,
older now than ragtime then.
Oh, god. I remember.
That first album cover, long hair
would get me suspended.

The Beatles, the Stones, Dave’s 5, and
Monkeys Saturday mornings.

Magical times.
But the music owned me.

Spoke to my soul,
hot cars, fender skirts, moon hubs,
glass packs.
Hello Vietnam.

Slipped a hand under
smooth 70s soulful jazz.
Loved that shit.
Still do today.
I want it back.


Look both ways for them good ol’ days.
Mind the gaps between the notes.
That’s where the music plays.

Sammi’s Weekender: obdurate


Dying to Self

The obdurate lad labeled shallow,
his brooding nature, vengeful plotting,
lacked love, friendship, deep perspective.

The cold-hearted brutish Devil Dog
sought glory in death, salvation through agony,
shadows to kill without meaning or purpose.

Death and destruction his insensate shield,
as he was, he couldn’t survive
in this world at peace with love.

Curses of sympathy and empathy
mysteriously hatched humanity into his soul.
The old poet sleeps feeling thoughts of emotion.


Look both ways for the glory of Beowulf.
Mind the gaps in hidden emotions,
lest the beast of Cain’s progeny kill the stoic.

Poetry: Everything Changes

I wrote two poems for Sammi’s weekender. I posted the first one Saturday. This is the second.


Everything Changes

Into a kaleidoscope
of passion we creep,
from stumbling blocks
to steppingstones,
we eventually leap
mortared passages,
segues of
unplanned journeys,
everything changes.


Look both ways to see all parts of life.
Mind the gaps where trouble may lurk.

 

Memorial Day Post: Red Poppies

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to honor those who died in battles of all past wars in service to America. A Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) tradition is the buying and wearing of a red poppy.

The VFW organization has had the Buddy Poppy as its official flower for almost 100 years. Profits from artificial poppy sales have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers, and orphans over the years. The poppy itself survives as a perpetual tribute to those who gave their lives for America’s freedom. That tradition is based on a poem.

This poem was written by Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery. It expresses McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields in western Belgium and northern France, with a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses.

The poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was reportedly first printed in the British magazine, Punch, in December 1915.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Colonel John McCrae


Look both ways for the reason why, in war some must die.
Mind the gaps and wonder,
“And how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?”
(“Blowin’ In the Wind” by Bob Dylan)

Sammi’s Weekender #156: home


It’s more than just a place
more than just some people,
more than loving others,
or being loved by them.

It’s more than all my memories,
more than sights or sounds,
more than tastes or smells,
more than what I’ve found.

Is home more than where my heart is?
Or where I hang my hat?
Is that where home is really at?

Is it true, as they say,
it’s not where I should stay,
never shall I pass that way again?

Maybe so, maybe not,
maybe home’s a feeling,
I felt somehow once before,
something just like that.

Like when I thought I knew the score.
Home, the best place
I’ve ever been before.


Look both ways if home is where ya stays.
Mind the gaps in floors for traps, never can we go back.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 30)

Day 30 prompt: write a poem about something that returns.


No Returns

Metamorphosis allows change.
That second is gone, now that one,
unidirectional time is master
to the second law of thermodynamics.

We see light from stars
dead millions or billions of years,
no star, but what it made, its art
lives on and returns not to its source.

I can return to loves and thoughts.
I find old places there,
remembering, like ifs,
whens and thens.
We can never go back
to the time when entropy began.

Desire to control order creates want
as new appears, nothing comes back.
As replacements appear, they seem
to be returns from when. Chaotic decline
becomes change by hopeful judgment.

A baby cries as a mother sighs
while an old man dies, a widow
wonders why a universe goes by
forever without order or reason.


Look both ways with logic and reason.
The universe makes the rules.
Mind the gaps of chaos to separate truth from wishes hoped for.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 28)

Day 28 prompt: describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem.


Noreen got Married

Circa 1899, a row of ten two-story homes were built. On the second floor of the third house down from Madison Street, toward Washington, we had four bedrooms, and one bathroom like the other nine, faux-fronted; leaky, flat, black-tar roofed, wood construction row, or block homes, in local vernacular. Now townhomes go up for sale.

Mom & Dad had a front bedroom. Danny was ten and had the other. Down the hall Shirley, about 14, had a room to the right, next to the one small bathroom. The largest room was Noreen’s, who was twenty. I cribbed in my parent’s room.

The house to the left had 11 (9 kids, mostly girls). To the right, a multi-generational family group of about eight, depending on who died or committed suicide. We were a lucky few.

I got Danny’s room when Noreen married and moved three blocks away, and Danny moved to hers. I recall feeling special. My own room, one size up from the bathroom, but mine. And a bed. No crib.

My room had a window but no closet. A chest for things and a small brown metal cabinet. I recall the room larger than it is. I don’t recall the wallpaper. Dad used a steamer to remove it. He painted over bare plaster and lath walls with textured green or blue paint that scratched if you rubbed against it.

Each second-floor room had one lightbulb hanging down in the center with a pull-chain. The only wall switches were push-buttons in the hall stairway, dining room, and going down into the cold, wet, filthy cellar. Electricity was an afterthought.

Rooms had capped, stubbed, pipes sticking out of a wall from when gas was used for lighting. Stubs were convenient to hang things but were live gas lines.

Wood plank floors were covered with linoleum in designs and colors I forget, but all showed traces of wear and the plank flooring beneath. Each ended about a foot from walls.

My room was directly over our living room, or parlor as they liked to call it. It had a vent for heat from a nineteenth century, coal-fired furnace in the dirt-floored cellar.

An old, unused chimney stuck out from my west wall. That prevented my bed from being against the wall, thus leaving a gap on one side, a place to hide magazines and things I did not want Mom to see. They were not nudes or porn, but risqué enough for me as I recall. I never told the priest in confession about the hiding place or what I stashed there.

The street was close below my window and Packy’s saloon was only two houses up, making noise a constant when my window was open, only a bit less loud when not. After we got TV, I’d fall asleep listening to the music of Perry Mason or whatever they watched.

When Danny finally left for the Marines, I moved to the back bedroom – a rite of passage. It had a door to the outside used to sneak out at night until I got caught. But my first bedroom has many stories, some remembered, most forgotten, many denied. It was a big deal in my life, until it wasn’t.


Look both ways in houses with more past than future.
Mind the gaps for cold drafts and loose boards.