Poetry: In the Stacks

Circa 1890

Some things I’ve always known,
like where the Library was,
especially the one with a funny name,
the Osterhout Free Library,
in my hometown, which to me
was and is The Library.

Looking like the Presbyterian church
it first was in 1849,
with (now gone) ivy covered walls,
hinting of mysteries, adventures,
and the wisdom within;
a mile to walk was nothing
for a keen young lad to go
for a book or two.

Through church doors that open
into the vast, once Calvinistic,
nave with colorless unstained leaded glass,
now with desks and shelves filled
with books and things,
one finds it all.
Hush! Whisper please.
People are reading.

Off to the left dim dark stacks
beckoned like a secret
church transept and silent choir loft.

The true spirits of the library’s haunted
dark and dingy, yet welcoming,
old book-scented stacks, silent
dust and maybe mischief,
with muffled giggles of children
or lovers, each playing with
resident hushing ghosts.

Long ago—a place of prayer,
now a sanctuary
of human wisdom and happiness.

***

Comb the dark stacks of old libraries looking both ways for dusty old history.
Mind the gaps and giggles of the ghosts.


Note: Because this was my first community library during my formative years, it was what I expected all others to look like. Not a bad standard.

Click the image to link to library information.

 

Poetry: Fear and Dread


Fear and dread
have settled like two large stones
into the pit of my stomach,
depression diving sudden and deep
into my gut.

My mind is occupied
with thoughts of impossible
lifesaving attempts.
I’m unable to focus.

Tears press against my eyes
wanting to be released,
my composure is thread bare.
I want to live without
such deep desperation or
just to fucking die.

I feel such a sadness
like I’ve never known,
like others have suffered,
some in shock, some like me
a slowly turning poisoned
pair of pits, burning
stones within my body,

Making me the saddest
of men, of fathers or mothers,
some sons or daughters
feeling helpless and worthless
unable to save the things we love
the most. Such agony
is the human condition.

***

Look both ways on good days and bad.
Mind the gaps of the bad on good days,
and good on the bad.

Poetry: Twilighting Verse

Day was turning to dusk,
soon to be twilight,
and a lovely sight, one my
muse would give me clues
to a perfect poem, this
sight to be the meter
of my metaphor
for the twilight of humanity,
but it was not to be.

Going to the pool
to swim my hour, to do
aerobic huffing and
puffing, to get my
workout, after a day
putzing while working
around the house,
the garage mostly.

Sometimes, even as poets,
the best we can do is to say,
“Yes, I was there, I saw that,
and it was beautiful.”

Then I jumped
into the pool and swam.
‘twas a clear dark night
when I got out.

Apparently, my muse
can’t swim and retired
early that evening,

Leaving me even
as twilight comes and goes,
to be a verseless but happy
semi-healthy poet.

Swim both ways to lap away the twilight looks.
Mind the gaps as we seek piquing peeks.

Poetry: Risk & Danger = Life

The mature doctor who would begin residency
for Psychiatry in the morning
after 25 years as a surgeon,
a guy I liked but only saw
one time, turned to look at me
as he was walking out the door,
after I told him about me owning
a motorcycle and he said,
“Well, don’t ride it.”

Too dangerous? This,
after we had discussed
my heart disease with six stents,
and a severely wonky-donkey
heart valve, my high-grade,
lingering dangerous
sarcoma cancer, and my head
to toe clogged arteries holding
three more stents—strokesville?

oh,
and my good old age,
bad high blood pressure,
and the pending possibility of
dangerous surgery and
risky hospital stay.

Risk and danger have been
my companions
since childhood (we have
an understanding). A
motorcycle accident might kill me
faster than a mistake
by a doctor—a surgeon,
maybe.

He was giving up surgery
to be a shrink, so he “could
help people.”

Kind a makes ya wonder,
don’t it?

Look at risk and danger both ways,
but gamble not with the welfare of others.
How well we walk through the fire depends on the width of the gaps.


“Too often the people complain that they have done nothing with their lives and then they wait for somebody to tell them that this isn’t so.” ― Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

Poetry Report: November Poems + Ann’s

I’ve written that the best thing about August is September. Not this year. September brought several personally stressful events into my normally complacent private world. October was a month for healing and action. Gradually, recovery unfolded as those things apparently changed to my favor thanks to the efforts of a few loving people.

I did not win the lottery, but I began to relax. November was the best of the three months—not exactly perfect, but the worries from two months earlier seemed controlled. I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving Day is the traditional time our immediate family gathers. It is our time. Indeed, we had a house full, but I put in my notice for next year. We’re too old for that shit. It was fun and we are all grateful for how things have turned out so far. But there are people out there trying to make a living fixin’ turkey, giblet gravy, cranberry whatever, and all that stuff. I should help.

This poem was written about me writing a poem each day by a friend from my writers’ group. After Ann, who I like to call Barbara Ann (not her real name – long story: Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann and the Beach Boys), read it during one of our poetry sessions. I requested, and she gave me, permission to post it here.

One Poem A Day?
By Ann Bordelon

“A poem a day?” That’s quite a task!
I say that’s wa-a-a-a-ay too much to ask.
One a week might be realistic,
But one a day is too optimistic.
They don’t have to rhyme, you say,
But still, one every single day?
There aren’t that many words in my brain,
I’ll run out in a month, what a strain.
Please tell me that this is a sort of a joke
And the reality is that you misspoke.
Instead of “one poem a day” you meant,
“One poem a week is what we should invent.”

Thanks, Ann. Wonderful poem. I’m honored.

I don’t know if I could cut back to less than one poem a day, much less to one a week. On this coming New Year’s Eve, I will complete my mission of composing at least one poem each day during 2019. After that, who knows?

The titles/topics of the daily poems I wrote during November were:

  1. Dying Dignity
  2. Ineffable
  3. First Reading
  4. Finding Treasure
  5. Poets are Dying
  6. Editing
  7. Don’t Bite Me
  8. Natural Brutality
  9. Liminal
  10. Some Cussing Required
  11. Precious and Rare Days
  12. To PC or not to PC, a Question
  13. Thoughts
  14. Imagined Solutions
  15. Muse Berries
  16. Draconian
  17. Up Your Rolex
  18. My Colorado Morning
  19. Extraordinary Knowing
  20. Lie to Me
  21. Dear Deer
  22. The Gap is Gray
  23. I Hear You Died
  24. The Final Week
  25. My Twilight Swim
  26. Ignorance is not Bliss
  27. Expectations
  28. Cowboys 2.0
  29. Body Gremlins
  30. Morphology

As we enter the last month of the year, I look both ways—to future months
as I wonder what’s next with a curious fantasy about the advent
of a new time and age. I think about past months
with more satisfaction than I’m entitled.
I shall mind the gaps in my life, one day at a time.

Sammi’s Weekender – ‘morphology’ in 37

So I titled this Morphology. Click for her blog page, rules, etc.

 


Morphology

We are corrupted sons and daughters,
DNA mutated zygotes of morphological mystery,
victims of copy and editing errors
peppered by pinpoint mutation mistakes
riddled with repeated chromosome
rearrangement. We are human GMOs
hopelessly mutating and morphing,
naturally.


Look both ways, inside and out, for wonders and miseries of life.
Mind the evolutionary gaps in dividing cells.

Essay: Why Mind the Gap?

Who said, “We’ll leave the light on for you?” Most adult Americans probably know who (Tom Bodett) and why (Motel 6 ad). It’s a famous advertising end tag.

I don’t advertise, sell, or profit from either of my blog sites. But I do use the static intro taglines feature of WordPress themes for both blogs. You can’t see the intro tagline on Our Literary Journey because this page is a clean and sanitized theme. While the menu icon brings up more info, it does not display the tag line (Driveling twaddle by an old flapdoodle). Maybe I should create something less self-effacing.

However, the intro tagline is front and center on the Dispassionate Doubt theme. I do not use an end tag there; usually it’s just a relevant meme or quotation.

On September 4, 2016, a few months after I started Our Literary Journey, I began using the Look both ways end tagline. I change it slightly each time to relate to the post. Seven weeks later, on October 21st, I added a second end tag, Mind the Gap (or gaps), also changeable.

Both end tags are philosophically metaphorical phrases for living life—staying alive and healthy. They suggest considering all sides (pro and con), hearing people out, looking for answers (or for questions), discerning danger, being careful and taking risk, learning and remembering lessons, and trying new and different things. Although, consistency and longevity are credible virtues.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of the word gap (retail clothing notwithstanding) and how we use it. For a three-letter, one-syllable word, it can mean so many different things. To the degree that gap is synonymous with crack, I find much meaning in Cohen’s song verse.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen, lyrics from his song, Anthem

Gap has several definitions. It could be a break in a barrier (such as a wall, hedge, or line of military defense), an assailable position, a mountain pass or ravine, a separation in space or an incomplete or deficient area. A gap can be a break in continuity, a hiatus, lack of balance, or a disparity such as the gap between imports and exports. It could mean a wide difference in character or attitude, such as the generation gap, or a problem caused by some disparity such as a communication or credibility gap.

Mind the gap comes from the warning on the British Underground/subway. So, when I say mind the gap or gaps, it is a cautionary plea to protect oneself. It is also a suggestion to be careful and pay attention to your environment, particularly what you might not see. Yet, it is more than that. There are gaps in our knowledge, gaps in scientific explanations, gaps or figurative holes in our lives, or maybe gaps growing in our relationships. There is even a god of the gaps.

In my opinion, the biggest gap is between human imagination and reality.

This TEDx talk is about minding the gap. It’s what sparked me to write this post.

And yes, look both ways, into your imagination and toward reality.
And mind the gaps, those eternal infernal spaces
where the light gets in and shines upon mystery.