That first romantic kiss.
Nights in the wilderness
sitting by a warm campfire.
A mother’s smile, a daughter’s laugh,
the soft whispering voice of a lover.
Our child’s birth, your son’s success.
The smell of a grandmother’s hug.
That first buzz, never found again.
The gift of a young pet. The sadness
and loneliness of a beloved’s death.
Muffled lonely sounds
on cold snowy nights. My first bike.
A thing well done. Disappointment
overcome and rewarded. A road
less travelled. A baby’s accidental
soft touch. Moments in a lifetime.
Look both ways,
to the future for the young,
to the past for the old.
Mind the gaps but live in today with hope and happiness.
in the smiles of others,
in visions of those we love,
people we care about,
that is where truest,
most honest, happiness thrives.
To see such dancing zest is to feel
the same in my bones, heart, and mind;
while tears of delight run down
my cheeks. When babies laugh.
Hope laden felicity. Even
an old man simply must smile.
To sing and dance
with those we love most,
to see and hear them rise
in rebirth to life’s glorious days,
to overcome fears and sadness
that come with what we call
our human condition.
How strange, that we may
give or receive no greater gift,
no higher prize,
no nourishing of the spirit,
no deeper love than to allow
others to be and to see us
high on being alive.
Even more, to here and now
let love swirl among us all. Hallelujah!
Look both ways for the joy of love.
Mind the gaps, but live and let live.
This final prompt challenged me to write a poem in the form of a series of directions describing how a person should get to a particular place. Sarcastic humor has my heart.
You may need to buy a ticket,
live a normal life, and do
human things, but they say
there is a way to Hell.
Who alive knows for sure? (Many)
To ensure arrival, you’ll have to die.
Before that, good intentions should
provide a smooth ride. You’ll wanna
mean well, tell the truth about what you think,
eat lobster and for God’s sake,
want what the Jones’s have,
or you’ll want one of the Jones’s,
or dislike the Jones’s as in no love.
Lie about the Jones’s.
Make a self-portrait.
Say “God damnit” or “Jesus Christ.”
Ya might say God’s name to no purpose (in vain)
Laugh at a George Carlin’s joke, or forget
the day it is when it’s Saturday or Sunday.
Work weekends, since Sabbat is negotiable.
Argue with Mom or Dad.
If ya marry the wrong person, get a divorce,
have an affair, kill them, then you should
find things warming up. Or just
be who or what you were born to be.
Having sex with anyone, especially
if ya likes it; or, if you’re shy,
having sex alone has been known
to get ya where you want to go.
If not, maybe just think about having sex,
or eat bacon (see the relationship there?)
Belong to some other religion.
Piss off the Pope if you can.
In the south, dance with a person
of the opposite sex, or better
dance with the same sex, except for girls,
unless you think of sex with her.
Drink booze or coffee if ya live
near a Salt Lake. Try pot. Try gambling.
Keep all your money (trash tithe)
Finally, you must certainly die,
but fear not, they tell me this is easy.
Look both ways for sarcastic humor.
Mind the gaps unless there are too many.
If so, look for the god of the gaps.
Above all, have fun and enjoy life,
especially if you’re Hell bound anyway.
This prompt is called “in the window.” I was to imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. I was to write what I saw and what was going on.
Through distant darkness
neither walking nor running, I was
moving as if a floating camera
toward some spot of light
in a black universe, like one
dot of star, then to a portal,
which I determined to be a window.
A woman was there
on the other side,
in her world of light
from which she looked out.
Her almond eyes stared
and seemed to see into a past,
perhaps mine. Could she see
through me, as if not seeing me,
toward a distant, common hill
in the dark? One she knew well?
She seemed to look but not to see,
her blank blue eyes were calm
Her hair was streaked with gray
atop her oval head, and softly it dropped
on both sides to a mild but wildly
smooth, unyoung neck. Neither naked
nor covered, her body was as a
faint veil with arms that
I could not see,
with hands she never looked to.
Her skin was pale but smooth,
with pleasant facial wisdom lines.
Her eyes seemed neither pleased
nor sad as she stared, deadpan
into the darkness,
as if I was not there, or perhaps,
she didn’t care; with
eyes that seemed to say something
of a storied past looking into
a dark, peaceful future.
Her nose was powder plain
above a mouth that neither
smiled nor frowned, as if she
thought I could not see her
from my darkness through
the window of her light.
I sensed a beautiful love that was
pure and honest, like a mother
for a child; but also, I thought
I could see a longing or an expecting
in her now-graying, moist eyes.
Eyes without tears or regret.
Then I saw that the window was
a mirror of reality. The woman was
my reflection, able to see
only into my past,
the image of the real me.
Or was it she that I needed to see?
A lighter, brighter, more loving
reflection of myself. The side I’ve never met.
See both ways when looking through windows or into mirrors,
especially as metaphors of life. Mind the gaps, the cracks, the wrinkles, and the patina of age.
Everything means something.
It took me all day (admittedly, I was busy) to find my response to the 2021, NaPoWriMo 27th prompt, which was to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
It was dinner time before I chose the contrived word, lilo. It’s supposed to mean “a friendship that can be dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since last seeing each other.”
I was friends with Jimmy as far back as I can recall.
Like forever. He was a grade ahead of me,
but only seven months older. Jack was younger.
Jack and I became friends in high school,
Class of ’64. Jimmy might have been ’64 too,
but I don’t recall cuz jumbled memory. It’s fishy.
I was the one who moved away,
yet so did they, eventually. But I went first.
That bond when you grow up together,
close in every way. Boys become men.
That’s sad. I knew their foibles and flaws,
and I suppose they knew mine. Jack did for sure.
Jimmy was a hyperbolist. He wanted to impress me.
To prove himself. Why? I feel guilty.
Why did he always feel like that? I loved Jim for him.
I knew when he lied, exaggerated, or fibbed up a storm.
I didn’t care, but it was pointless.
Fifty years later, face to face, Jack and I realized
we were alike in many ways, not all, but for years
neither would broach one thing cuz we both thought wrong.
The irony was we lost something there.
We each assumed, and we were wrong
about our best friends. I feel sorry about that.
When I last saw Jimmy, we met and talked.
Jimmy told me of all his achievements.
When and how life had cheated him: The Navy.
We hugged meeting and parting, as old men
who’d not seen each other since being children
will do. I knew then, Jim as was not well.
Jimmy died. Then Jack. We can’t lilo.
All I can do is to write about them and me.
Maybe that’s something. But good god we were
friends who did a lot of childish,
stupid, teenage shit together. I wish we’d
all been more honest as men. Like boys.
Look both ways in old friendships
unaffected by time or tribulation.
Mind the gaps.
Drink to the reunion. Nothing is for always.
For NaPo day 26, I was to write a parody. I was to find a poem or song and write an altered version of it. A parody is also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on something, or a caricature. It is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satiric or ironic imitation.
I decided to work on the song(s) “Old Hippie” by the Bellamy Brothers, a classic paean to male boomers that many of us related to. David Bellamy wrote three of these: one at 35, one at 45, and one at 55. Mine goes to 75 (the age of the other brother) and is more about me.
He turns seventy-five on a Tuesday
sometime late this next July.
Can’t believe his friends’ all dead,
but down the same old road he’ll still try
to understand and to keep his level head.
But now he craves those crazy days
with his shoulders back,
his chin held proud and high.
He still looks at life and wonders why.
He stopped with church and never prays
but he never wonders when he’ll die.
He still loves old soft county rock,
his poems come from just such songs.
His only friends are now computer faces,
and medicine pros working to help him get along,
with medical-grade stainless steel heart parts.
But he’ll run no more endurance races,
Just the tips and bits on legs that hate him.
He’s an old soldier who wants to be
a hippie getting older every day,
with hair and colors and closet disco music.
An old hippie who knows what life is for,
still wanting to be her man, before
she goes knocking on his door.
He’s an old man who always hated war,
but seemed to know what it was for.
He’s been confused by a government
he both supports and finds disgusting,
and people who tell him to forgive,
while he decides to let them live.
He likes people but not in crowds.
He craves his tribe, but they’ve all died.
Spending quiet time at home alone,
his kids are still his universe,
and Texas is still his home.
He’s a boomer till the day he dies,
he now fears life more than death,
he’s looked at evil in the eye
believes in love and wonders why,
then drums to ten below his breath.
Look both ways and avoid reading the obituaries.
Mind the gaps in everything but believe
you’re this damn old.
With less than a week left, the Global NaPoWriMo, 25th-day prompt was to write a poem for a particular occasion: an occasional poem. Every active poet seems to write these. The latest well known were Amanda Gorman’s readings for Prez Biden’s inauguration, and the 2021, Super Bowl. Another was Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day,” written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Others include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe about the American Civil War; and “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara about the death of Billie Holiday.
Occasional poems (not a form or style, but a topic) are often lyrical due to their origin in performance and music accompaniment. Historically, they have appeared as wedding songs, dirges, elegies, hymns, and odes.
I decided on a happy personal occasion, walking with my daughter, Julie (who I call, Dewey).
A private occasion, at her location, we walked,
she on my right and me to her left, as
carefully we stepped around
ants, mud puddles; cow, and horse shit;
some plants better untouched, and more.
(She ran beside me years ago, on my right then too,
as I neared the end of the San Antonio Marathon
into the Alamo Dome, there for her Dad.)
We talked of important life things,
other people, how whatever-all
came up to be, stream-of-consciousness
chat, and we talked of what is.
We spoke of things we don’t discuss.
I mostly listened and watched for minor
dangers. I looked at her. She felt pain.
Could have been anything, but it was something.
I mixed roles: both father and friend,
old man down the road,
advocate and critic, partner and lawyer.
Life goes on, but not forever.
My own worry and pain of little consequence,
then—right there, right now; on this land, under that hot,
dry Texas sun. In the end, we were both having fun.
It was more than enjoyable, but not for fun;
it was exercise, but not for health; it was just
a father and daughter sharing some time and life,
one with the other. The little things, like
love and freedom, aches and pains. —— And family.
Look both ways when your baby makes you grand,
when you lean on each other,
when you surrender love for love.
Mind the gaps and watch your step.
The eighteenth day NaPo challenge was to write a poem based on the title of a chapter, as a prompt, in Susan G. Wooldridge’s Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words. After reading the “look inside” on Amazon, I bought the book at 4 AM. Then I selected Chapter 51, “Fear of Poetry.”
Fear of Poetry
They say, poems find us.
They say, we cannot teach how to poem
words, to think one, or to write one.
They say, we are not all the same,
but we are all equal, or should be,
simply different I suppose. King
thinks writers (poets) are born.
I fear no rainforest, not electricity,
nor my own subconsciousness;
yet ocean depths, being too high,
or the worst of my fears, being a fool
can imprison me: body, mind, and spirit.
Unlike others, poems came to me ever since
I was forced to memorize “O Captain! My Captain!”
at age 13, long before I understood much of anything.
But I hid my love of it for fear of what
poetry might mean to me. Like repressed memories
or unrequited love, I hid from, ignored what I loved.
Now behind that mental dam of fear is stored
years of unexpressed ME (or is it I?) – poetry.
Only in demonstrative anger
or stoically hidden sorrow did I feel safe.
Since owning that,
since calling myself poet,
then writing and thinking,
I let them out. One poem at a time.
Look both ways to see where it began and where it might end.
Mind the gaps because it’s never to late to be completely you.