Poetry Speaks

Poetry

speaks in tongues

that shine within

the darkening days

dismantling our walls

built upon sands

that shimmer and shake

exposing dragons

in nightmares

revealing scales

thick with grief

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Suddenly

In a flash,

without fanfare

it crept upon me

tentacles grasping

into the depths

living today

part a lost past

part a living now

reaching out

caught

in webs I created

from seeds sown

along the rocky pathway.

The Outpost

Perimeter lights strain to peer through fog

as night falls,

without a sound.

I look out from my guard post

M-16 held in my hands, its plastic grip cold, unfeeling.

I take one clip, twenty rounds neatly stacked

slam it into its place with a loud click

I think,

can I kill?

Shed the life blood of another?

To pull, no,

squeeze the trigger?

I never envisaged as a kid,

playing soldier in the backyard

shooting at my imagined enemy,

here no bands played

no John Wayne heroics,

no flags fluttering in the breeze,

only the sound of the mini guns and rockets

crashing upon the shore below.

I get the call,

load one round,

HE,

M-79

the words seem distant, coldblooded.

I grab the weapon

an ugly thing,

stout.

With a flick of my thumb,

I unlatch it

it opens wide

as I slip in one round,

oblong shaped,

not even a handful

it slides into place

like a lover at night,

a sharp upward movement

and all’s ready

looking out on the dark perimeter

slowly take a deep breath

exhale

then squeeze,

there is the sharp kick

thump, then wait

wait, wait, wait

Reflections on Mary Oliver

Today is a sad day, Mary Oliver has died. I only recently discovered her poetry in the past couple of years, I admired the way she could evoke a feeling in the way she used words. For her poetry was in everything, even in the smallest of creatures she could see a poem. I am not even a blip on the screen of poetry writing compared to Mary Oliver, my poems struggle to break free from the confines of my heart and to see the light of day. I try, I really try, to write something, anything that tells the truth of what I see and feel. Mary’s poetry, did just that, when I read one of her poems I cannot help but get a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat. Maybe because whatever I write cannot hold a candle up to what she has said and done. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to her, after all, she was a poet long before I even knew what poetry was all about, but when you’ve sat at the feet of greatness and tried with everything you had to learn and absorb, you soon discover that isn’t enough. To write a poem is to enter into the world at a slant, to see in even the smallest grain of sand on a wide beach, a poem. That single blade of grass, that defies the concrete and darkness imposed upon it, breaks forth through even the tiniest crack to stretch itself out to the sun. No matter what happens, no matter how often it is cut back, poisoned, or pulled, it still somehow, defies all of those efforts and breaks through the layers of earth and concrete, as if to say to the world, “Here I am, here I will show the world that life is the final answer, not death”. That is the poets world, their vocation, to show the world that whatever darkness there is that seeks to bury the poetry, it still springs anew in the hearts of those who are broken. Our world, our society, our families, we need the poets, all of the poets, even those of us who struggle with our own poetry. Mary Oliver gave me hope, even in my darkest of days when I couldn’t even find that crack in the pavement, her words were my light and my life. Like her, I don’t simply want to end up just having visited this world, I want to end up having lived and experienced this world. I want to have seen the great oak as it bends in the summer breeze, and watch the flight of geese in perfect order, fly to the horizon, to know that even I, a small grain of sand on a long stretch of beach, am able to find the words to write and the poem to sing

As Fall Ends

Fall leans into winter

a reminder that we

need to lie fallow

to rest and prepare

our hearts and souls

for the coming of a child

who brings peace

into our conflicted world

time of sabbath

embracing the silence

as nature renews

frost coating empty fields

denuded trees stretch limbs

into cold gray skies

a scent of snow

on the breeze

mixes with wood fire

from darkened homes

as people give thanks

resting in that peace

of knowing God’s presence

in the deep silence

that calls us to be still.

The Wait

Now we wait

in the midst of the noise

we wait

the anticipation grows

the need for light intensifies

our hearts are not filled

with the goods being hawked

so we get more

thinking to fill the emptiness

that will never be filled

so the soul waits

knowing what we do not

knowing that the true light

is so near, yet, so far

it knows our needs

even as we run

from the love reaching out

touching us deeply

and in the silent watches

we stand still

hearing the whispers of life

of peace on earth for all

Random Thoughts

I haven’t been doing much writing lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking but that’s nothing more than just internalizing all of my thoughts and not giving them space to breath. Today, as I was out cycling, I began thinking, once again internalizing, about what it is that is keeping me from actually writing. I think it’s because I have yet to come to terms with being retired. I just don’t feel retired, I don’t yet have any grasp on the intricacies of retirement. I have been actively engaged, either as a student or a worker, for the better part of my life and now here I sit trying to sort out what this all means. So much has happened in the last few months, leaving Trinity, then selling our home in Melrose, moving to Delaware and finding a new home here in Smyrna, which I still haven’t gotten used to, yet. Now, the season of Advent is almost upon us and I have nothing to prepare for, no services, no annual Christmas fair, no visits to be made, no Christmas pageant to prepare, I just sit here while “Church” happens. To be honest, I miss Trinity, I miss the people, the activities the whole community and yet, I needed to leave, it was time. It doesn’t mean I have to like leaving, but it does mean that I now need to refocus my energies. The good news is that in a couple of weeks I will be taking a retreat up at Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York. This retreat is actually a poets retreat, a time to get away and in the silence and solitude of the monastery to help me to get some perspective, not only my poetry but all of my writing efforts. Stories are everywhere and I do have stories to tell, I have poetry to write and so much stuff rolling around in my head that if I don’t write it will burst out anyway. One thing I need to do is get back into the GrubStreet mode, write everyday, don’t worry about being perfect, just write. That poem lurking back there among other thoughts that litter my mind, go ahead and write that also, stop worrying, no one is perfect. Take that chance, write that story, set down those internal thoughts on paper or in this case, the iPad, and allow it the space to grow in the light instead of festering in the backwash of the mind. Maybe, if I write down these thoughts, it I take some time to explore them as they take shape on the pages, then I might just discover something about myself that has lain in the dark for so long.