of Seville. I walk with one white moth balanced on my index finger like an unset jewel. My feathered shoes crush hollow-stemmed flowers. Black curls swoon on my chest. Night falls to her knees to count her earthen beads while willows weep. Ah, finally. Poor girl—have you waited at this half-open door all night for me and this Annunciation—you, poor girl who He has favored, yes you pretty Mary poorly dressed? Watch as I slowly ascend this simple ladder back to heaven while stars bloom. Listen—something grows inside of you—a blemished morning rose with three deep wounds in his little chest. His song will pierce your heart everlastingly.
Inspired by "St Gabriel (Sevilla)"
by Federico Garcia Lorca
Outdoor treks comfort
Weary isolating souls
All races, genders, faiths
Those healthy or not so
And wealthy or not so
Find solace in sky and earth
Clean waters are beacons
For all nature's creatures,
Large and small who dwell
And share our sick planet
Depending like us on bounty
Of sun kissed foods and
Drinkable fluids essential
For all world's varied humans
Nature's healing is beckoning.
Great America was a local theme park,
people would hang out till it was dark.
Located in Gurnee, a big tourist trap,
the only thing putting Gurnee on the map.
As a melancholy child my parents tried
to take us there, in the car I was inside.
But I opened the car door, and out I went,
racing home to isolate and vent.
I went with my friend Eric in sixth grade,
but still felt depressed, maybe afraid.
So insecure as an adolescent,
that a roller coaster was not effervescent.
In my late twenties, I worked with teens,
we went to Great America, what a scene.
They wanted to rush from ride to ride,
I wanted to go home or hide.
We had rotten cheese hot dogs for seven dollars,
the stinky bathrooms would make you holler.
Riding the roller coasters made me feel old,
I had lost my youthful stance of being bold.
Then I went with my friend and his future wife,
we were not having the time of our life.
A company picnic awaited us there,
bees were flying everywhere in the air.
They refused to eat the Kentucky Fried Chicken,
I ate some, not being panic-stricken.
All the bees there were being so rude,
but I still was going to get to have free food.
We ended up going home early,
my friend and his fiancée felt surly.
Theme parks no longer an appeal,
old age taking from youth to steal.
So am I happy, or am I depressed?
Was I a spoiled brat, I've now confessed?
Happiness is not based on reminiscence,
It is based on God's omnipresence.
In childhood, I failed to take advantage
of opportunities that came in avalanches.
Being a poet and artist the ultimate joy,
every day things I don't always enjoy.
So let me allow myself to be amused,
my happiness can also be my muse.
The Lord your God is a consuming fire, Deuteronomy 4.24.
I must admit
after days of pumice gray
to see the December sky
ablaze in the east
comes as no surprise
not like the words
of Gabriel to Mary:
Greetings, you are highly
favored! The Lord is with you.
Not like the night sky
opening to amazed shepherds
at work on the Judean hillside.
Not like the star
that hung over Bethlehem,
causing the Magi to weep.
All that the Lord requires of me
is to think of the power
behind it all
with a burning heart
that will not rest until
the whole world
is ablaze with God's love.
What is it about us that gives us such pleasure
in the act of invasion
that allows us to sit at someone's piano
and bang out a tune
that permits us to fling their bright colored clothing
and cooking pots
out broken windows
driving our tanks in triumphant glory
through rubble-strewn streets
spraying graffiti, declaring our conquest
unfurling flags and setting off bombs
claiming this space
as if no human beings
had ever slept under tiled crimson roofs?
The world is passing through me
far too fast. I try to tie
a thread of things
to wind it back.
My father's hat, a tweed
with "Brooks Brothers" sewn in,
or his old tennis trophy.
The other day, I found
my handwritten notes
of medications from
my mother's cancer.
And an old piano-practice ledger,
a box of thank-you notes
from college-bound students
whose faces I recall but
whose names have flown
like the music from my fingers.
As kids, we used to tie
a spool of thread
to a dragonfly's tail
and watch it fly,
then reel it back in,
forever ours, wings undamaged,
thin and gleaming green or deeper
blue in our hands,
eyes bulging wide,
having seen the sky.
(Published in "Whiskey Island"")
I stood by my kitchen window,
Heart heavy with despair.
The blows that life had dealt me
Were more than I could bear.
My unseeing eyes gazed outward
While inward thoughts ran wild,
Chasing elusive answers,
My soul, by doubt, beguiled.
My mind came into focus
As a movement caught my eye,
Outside among the flowers
Was a colorful butterfly.
It was a vision of beauty,
Dancing in the breeze,
Darting among the flowers,
It fluttered by with ease.
Entranced by this tiny miracle,
Suddenly I knew!
No matter what was going on,
I would make it through!
Tall, plain with cropped hair,
in and out of eyeshot, she cradles
a box camera, savoring
Chicago's street theatre.
On a gritty sidewalk, sitting alone,
worn laborer with dusty hands
eats a sandwich from its torn wrapper.
A carefree boy rolls a car tire
without a wobble.
Plump woman, hair in curlers, walks
with poise among passing strangers.
Smug and nifty, another woman,
azure eyes, color of her necklace,
flaunts her orange hat, matching coat.
A man buries his face in his knees
with his arm over his cap,
cocooned from hunger
and perhaps, shame.
Ready for a fun outing,
six kids laugh, crammed into
a station wagon with Grandma.
On the bus, old husband and wife
in their orbit, doze to the wheels' hum,
her head on his shoulder,
face hidden under his wide brim hat.
With a cast of the 1950s and 60s,
the artist tells strangers' stories,
dawn until dusk, through her keen lens,
when not sustaining herself as a hurried nanny.
She captures ordinary ironies
idling by, lost to others in their daily blur.
Juniper trees scatter around the abandoned shack.
Heaved my weary body, bone by bone, to the front stoop.
Never the marryin' kind; now felt terrible homesick
for a hot meal. Hurried over rattling floorboards to huddle
by a cold stove. In this backwater place, a crock held down
the ragged oilcloth. Case there wuz' ghosts, I shook salt
on the shaky table.
Curious of this unnoticed dump; wished I'd see a neighbor's
light. Thunder ripped, rattled my frame. Rain! A catastrophe
for this leaky roof. Tried the pump; need to clean stains
off faded shirt armpits and jeans. Miles from the railroad,
caged in this kitchen; vowing to leave soon.
Words from poets: Lee Crawley Kirk; Charles Keppel; Inez Hunt;
William Stafford; Ted Kooser; Billy Collins; Ellen Summerfield;
Mary Oliver; Wilma Elizabeth McDaniel; Lonnie Hull DuPont.
when he came home for Christmas, the one that made you cry in honor of its hand-knit elegance, colors calling out your eyes by candle light, still kept in your cedar chest for all these years: Did he tell you where it came from, the woman who made it exactly right for an eight-year old, how he set aside part of his pay each week all autumn, just to please his daughter? I doubt he spoke the truth, never told you of the girl your age, her crying as he pulled her from her mother's embrace, led her to the cage, took her only keepsake and hope to give to you.
Buddha-ish—he seems all smiles
from his bald pate to the shaved bowl
of his chin. Is that a bow before
he lifts my bag into the trunk
and smooths the limo door shut
behind me, cocoons me in the innards
with the purple fiber-optics shedding
light on cut-crystal glasses.
How long have you been working
for H&M? I always ask. He had come
from the Philippines on a green card
with six children, all born before his wife
came to America to work as a doctor.
He stayed home to father and farm.
One year she flew home on New Year's Eve.
You must come. This is our chance.
Green cards for all of us. Opportunity.
Years of waiting. She'd been persuasive
though he'd wanted to stay where
each morning before first light
he would sidle up to his water buffalo,
the silhouette of the mountain in front
of them. He wheels my bags to the door,
and we linger on my porch while
he paints the fields at sun-up, each stage
of crop-raising from seeding to maturity
a new ribbon of color—emerald green
to umber. His eyes glisten.
On leaving, he bows, murmuring—
such hope in that light.
Cleanse and stroll all you want.
Crack this November's afternoon.
Open it up
with your fiery voice.
It doesn't matter: take maladies,
bad dreams, bad luck
and all this floating madness away.
It is urgent.
The cultivator passed by this morning
gathering corn and whatever life
it encountered at the across street patch.
I guess it will take them to the silo,
to then sell the load on a market
that could plunge or rise
depending on who pushes the key... always.
But, at least you revel and cry aloud
the existential truth of this moment:
a complaint for what's to come.
"What will be the outcome?" as some said on TV,
while moving everything: like pulling ears
of school-children' no wanting to get along
with each other'.
"Pay attention," you would add,
and ring irreverent bells, if you will,
to wake up sleeping souls
and open the blind eyes
of those ignoring the light, on fear.
And, yes you are.
You are the picture of what it could be
or what a challenge
or a change need to be too.
So... Good luck, storm. Good luck.
I will close the windows —for now—,
and reflect on the way
you delivered this afternoon
And what it means to be right
in the middle of a storm
That could stay, destroy many
and divide more, for better or worse.
Nobody knows, yet?
Or wait for results?
Oh...Good luck storm.
Petite and dainty snowflake, in the air,
Now, coasting, falling, you're so small and rare.
So tiny, wee, and drifting in the air,
Enchanting all, so gently, with no care.
Quite graceful is your flowing, movements, all,
The sky and clouds commence your welcome fall.
So lovely and unique - in awe, are you,
For your design and shape, pure white - your hue!
Petite and dainty snowflake, in the air,
You do bring joy to all - beyond compare.
You make young hearts - all jump with joy and glee,
And bring great sights, for all, to come and see.
As you do flow and dance, and swirl and turn,
We all observe your dance, and we do learn.
Your purity, so white, is shown by you,
As you fall forth, from the sky, all view.
Petite and dainty snowflake, in the air,
You're filling space that once did seem, so bare.
You are a symbol of a precious time,
When every heart has love, and filled with rhyme.
The winter fun and holidays, amidst,
When all do give and send to friends, from list.
When Church bells ring, "Tis Holidays, Come Pray",
And folks are filled with kindly thoughts, each day.
Petite and dainty snowflake, in the air,
Please pardon, if we, at you, like to stare.
In admiration, we do like to look,
For we do see the finest art, from book.
You fall so gently, and with dignity,
So quietly, you drift and sway, so free.
For you and others just like you - snowkind,
Do spread a blanket, white, which all can find.
Petite and dainty snowflake, in the air,
From all of nature, you're so very fair.
Why must it be that you're so delicate?
Why must you melt, become so desolate?
For only Mother Nature - does - this dare.
Of melting you, a snowflake, very fair.
Petite and dainty snowflake in the air,
We wait to watch you dance, you are so rare.
My little arc
was circumscribed by your larger one.
My timid footsteps
followed your shooting star.
I kept my eye on you
and everything else was easy.
as the Coronavirus
puts its finishing touches
on my life,
I wouldn't have had it
any other way.
At a Chamber Music Concert
(Unity Temple, Oak Park, IL)
He blows breath through a wooden pipe;
my heart leaps.
Closing my eyes, I feel the music.
The flute calls to me
from somewhere in the past.
From some dusty photograph
resting on an old mantle.
It calls from Home,
a place I left years ago,
but now seems moments away.
The warmth of a distant hearth
grips my heart with a longing.
A time when all was well,
hearty wheat and barley,
supper prompt at six,
fluffy down-filled pillows
to rest upon at night,
white linen dressing gowns,
Pa playing fiddle.
We listened in our beds,
smiled, snuffed out the candle.
Then that distant flute captured my heart.
The recurrent dream enters in,
I welcome it with lavender and ginger...
A mysterious man stands in the distance,
wind blowing his brown hair.
His soft shirt billowing
as the black tree branches wave,
sending back the wind.
Barefoot, in my white dressing gown,
I float to him on musical waves.
He whispers through his flute,
breathing his spirit toward me,
transforming my nightcap
into a wreath of wild heather.
He kisses my lips with lotus —
I forget all inhibitions.
His hand beneath my back,
he carries me away from Home
into a realm of Angels.
Deliciously tucked beneath his warm body
a surge of passion explodes.
I can no longer return
to stark white dressing gowns
for mine has become golden.
It can no longer hold me
as he beckons ever closer,
leading us into a passionate dance.
We close our eyes, joining in unison,
a celebration of music, body and soul...
I open my eyes,
he is here —
playing just for me.
He calls, I come on Angel wings.
I try to grasp handfuls of sound,
see it dance off the end of the flute,
hear its splendor,
feel it move within me.
I understand now,
It is a quiet stream, flowing.
It is a vehicle for love
to sing its song to another.
I miss Chino Valley,
its roar of silence.
Wind that whispers across my face
and bright stars hanging so close
I can almost pull them
from the sky.
I miss the spider webs
with iridescent threads,
their tack stitches looped
along horse fence, and distant
that echo the beat of Chino.
It's been too long since I've seen
tumbleweeds rolling across roads;
rotating their barbed fingers
beyond the leather-skinned cows
bellowing through fields of
tobosa, black grama, and green sprangletop.
I miss Chino Valley,
its smell of ponderosa and juniper,
sharing underground cottages
with Gopher and Prairie dog,
the Ravens anticipating
carrion along graveled roads,
and the neighbors who just want
to be left alone.
My dogs miss running and barking
at anything that moves, snapping at flies
in the air, and waiting
for the next remarkable sound
as if it were the finest of gifts.
Most of all I miss the rainbows
and my special mountain, its silhouette
like two breasts waiting
for a caring hand.
Trillions of tree leaves,
and sheaves of grass,
live on sunlight,
water, and air
Not only live, but
produce sugars that
feed the planet and
human hungers, too
Out in space, next to
the deep oceans' blue,
chlorophyll green is earth's
most copious color seen
Galaxy-wide, in outer space,
there's only this one
habitable place, our own
food-filled earthly home
She knows how to smile with her eyes.
Down a one-way aisle to
meagerly stocked shelves of toilet paper
or over a produce display of local peaches,
she makes eye contact with
and grocery clerks. Her smiles beam
above mask and muffled voice.
For some, it's a political statement
to wear—or not wear—a mask.
For her it is a way to show gratitude
to essential workers and kind concern
for the well-being of all those nearby
and the family she returns to.
During these soul-shaking days
of worldwide pandemic, it's also a way
she unleashes her joyful creativity.
Pose by pose, modeling her wardrobe
of masks with laughable props,
personas like Nurse Deb and
Camouflage Deb, HollygoDebly and
Green-thumb Deb emerge smiling
in photographs that always welcome you
to safely smile back.
(From The First Six Months,
Poems During a Pandemic)
the old reality show playboy
who has been playing money, women, power...
with sleight of hand all his life
is now standing in front of a church
to play religion
not because he believes in God
but because he knows
there is a flock of shuttered eyes
waiting to take a picture
of the Bible clutched upside-down in his hands
hoping to use it
as the quick ticket
A letter came in the mail today,
its appearance should not have
been a shock, but still I held
the unassuming envelope in
my hand, deciding whether or not
to open it. Of course I did.
It seems there
has been a security breach.
Personal information involved may have
included "your name, social security number,
and medical health information."
I'm not sure if I should be angry about the breach,
or just a little bit surprised
that this particular information
was still available to anyone at all.
Maybe this is a proper
end to a tumultuous year, to get mail
addressed to you after all these years,
on the same day I bought new
Christmas decorations for your grave.
I kept the letter.
Are soft from floating in amniotic fluid
His breath mists his bright incubator
His heart beats a small rapids hard
He waits to fret my guitar
Whose mine of music I had abandoned
He works that lode to gold
He grows more into my shoes
His heart beats deeper, longer
His lungs hungrily suck more air
He creates a taller apex in his life
From which he judges everything
His hands have tenderly sheltered
I, asleep in my grave, or near it
Know I surely live
Am confident of my bones singing
My clear plastic bowls
serves as my bird feeder.
I don't hear the distant
of tiny sparrow feet,
the wing dances, fluttering, of a hungry
morning's lack of big band sounds.
I walk tentatively to my patio window,
spy the balcony with my detective's eyes.
I witness three newly hatched
toddler sparrows, curved nails, mounted
deep, in their mother's dead, decaying back.
Their childish beaks bent over elongated,
delicately, into golden chips, and dusted yellow corn.
I still remember
scuffing the toes of my Mary Janes
beneath the porch swing
listening to Mimo,
our name for the graciousness
who rescued our Dad
from his Catholic orphanage infancy.
She lamented the turbulent uproar,
crime, corruption in our country—
certain of impending doom
she hoped not to live to see.
Oh, no no no no no.
Don't leave us, I cried.
She hugged me, assured
better times when I would
come to be her age. But now I am,
lamenting the turbulent uproar,
crime, corruption in our country—
fearful of impending doom.
I still remember.
If I had just enough time as to
Write a haunting rhyme for you,
To surround your mind all day
So the Mystical Rose can say
"I'm sweet as icing on a cake
Like the morning Sun that I make,"
It's my unspoken passion as for
A Seat of Wisdom for ever more,
The Lady of Good Counsel takes
Me inside herself for my peace sakes,
Her Mantel's wings of a Red Bird
Descends from Heaven with a word,
Of peace and change as in the Wind
In a Moon Bow up around the Bend,
The World needs another, Hail Mary
Against the Covid-19 that's very scary,
Most purest Mother now please return
To give us a sign of hope as we earn,
So this is why I love the Holy Queen
Of the Angels that eradicates Covid-19
I tried to hide
my inner thoughts
mask I must
wear each day.
love, and fear
Outside my window, a bird I cannot see
sings a song I don't recognize, awakens
something in me I didn't know was there
when I rose, bleary-eyed, from bed.
Notes poured from the small throat
before morning glories opened their mouths
to croon silent praise, before the hickory
cast its shadow on the green carpet of dewy grass.
I am ready to sing my own song of thanks
for a new day, whatever it may bring.
It's been raining all day
Overnight thunder and lightning
Now tornado warning
But the real storm is not even here
There's nothing but deep breathing
I continue to describe the weather
Gas prices have come full circle
Gone even higher than what it was
Wonder how will it be in the summer
When people love to travel
Oil sharks always take advantage
A light chuckle is all I got
I go on rambling about the price hike
Elderly neighbor got a letter from the city
Eight inches, it says, is the maximum height
Need to mow his yard within a week
Or he'll be fined a hundred dollars
Crazy fee, lawn's only twenty by forty
These silences are scary
Nice kid next door mows it for free
There are more poets than branches in a forest.
And each branch bears enough nuts to topple a tree.
Any tree left standing to ill-fated winds
deserves to be applauded by who's behind.
At night fear not playing checkers with a horror
or pulling the tail of a skunk at dawn.
Wordplay is all it takes unless you believe
Shakespeare lies peeping in the weeds.
No matter if a Sea Elephant bites you in the trunk,
praise the imagination beyond placed words.
Knock on wood if you feel right.
If you don't: Night-night!
I'm not here to make fun of the turn-style.
Who knows where to go if you don't?
Shred yourself if you see the train coming.
Leaving the wood is not for naught.
Another one will come along.
The Pecker will challenge the Nightingale's song.
Forget about the feet of the mouse.
The owl will spot every creep and rustle.
In the middle of that glorious bustle
he'll hoot to the root and grouse.
Who decided that name?
It does not fit you.
How about "Jazzmaster"
or "Scat-Singing Bird"?
Mocking? Let me tell you
We have it down here.
All over the place.
But when I sat down
under your bough
you gave me
a free concert!
In this parking lot at
the oil change place,
key fobs making
beeps and tweets.
Sad imitations of you.
Or did you riff on that?
And make it yours?
But sometimes we humans
can pull it off.
Like "Ode to Joy"
by that Catalonian flash mob.
Played in the square,
The Placa de Sant Roc.
I'm sure you've heard it.
It was free, like yours.
Silver lining ever elusive
we walk nevertheless toward
sunsets, golden. Golden like amber coated
oak leaf buds bursting with life's
Silver lined clouds shimmer beyond reach.
I see them, my companion does not.
In a moment, through the sun's caprice,
he sees them. My eyes reach them, not.
A moment's reality hides, untouchable,
We search sky, horizons kissing our lake,
lake as wide and deep as a sea.
I sit beside ponds rich with water lilies.
Their blooms dance with clouds momentarily
visiting our sliver of earth.
Lake and ponds offer glimpses of silver
Once we look up, realities of the moment
play a drumbeat that drowns out healing
sights and sounds. We march on life's path.
I listen for the chickadee to fly and flit, find
a playful unabashed cloud to dance with.
Majestic great blue heron glides past my gaze.
I follow, we follow, this feathered apparition.
We travel this cloud, encircled in shimmering
When I think of every cruel despot,
recalling their consequential wrongs,
The damage of those consequential wrongs
in quiet place, blessed with peace
Farms and villages, blessed with peace
where innocents faced torture mercilessly
Families, children, killed mercilessly,
the survivors left under a despotic grip
Anguished suffering under despotic grip
turn moments to years—with no end to it.
Years of moments with no end to it.
But prolonged pride makes each soul rot.
Prolonged pride makes souls rot.
I think of every cruel despot.
With the autumn scenery see
Displayed with golden auburn view
Unveiled with its true beauty color
Through the radiant sunlight aglow
That filled with crispy, coolness fresh air
Caressing against through the soft skin touch
With the hearing sound of rustling leaves
dancing from the top of the autumn trees
slipping down to the softness ground floor
Greeting others with grace move
Accompanied by the gentleness delight breeze
Leaving the branch trees going bare
With a memory of a hometown
that I used to be
In the Southern state of Mississippi
Where Grandma used to tell story to me
How my childhood was spending there
Embraced with myriad joy of cherish
Bakery of sweet aroma bread
Homemade delicious meal
And sing of songs together
As inseparable we were
She was my angel guardian to be
With an inspirational filled me
Instilled by her generosity and humbleness
She taught me to be the best that I could be
With the autumn scenery see
It has set a special place in my heart
That holds with its own splendor view
In the eyes of beholder
Like grandma's presence
That always filled me with joy and pride
And for that I truly missed her
hotels with too many vacancies
room service suspended
drinks are outside of the house
people are inside their fever
they weren't warned of last call
and the "do not disturb" signs
were ripped off their doors
by angry maids
who are jobless
in muscle cars
their lives suspended
How long has it been since you have seen the rain?
You are aware that particularly in September
the rain veils neither sorrow, nor the fragrance of the sky.
It does rustle the leaves in the doomed foliage though,
striving so hard not to appear prophetic,
while being an unwitting forerunner of the snow.
That night rain in September
had this certain rhetorically tart clarity,
like the wine, which is not in the bottles, just yet...
Fermentation still being a process,
so most likely they're still Napa grapes in those valleys,
than a favorite drink of the idle.
You are probably hearing through sleep,
such a tender and quivering whisper which is sketching
the autumn so gently inside destinies, horoscopes, notebooks
When you wake in the morning, believe it—
doubts serve no particular purpose...
You'll be much better off trusting the whispers
of that rain in September... By far
 "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" is a song written by
John Fogerty and released as a single in 1971 from the
album Pendulum (1970) by rock group Creedence Clearwater
Long after I have laughed my last,
corn husks will still flap and cackle yearly
in the frosty wind.
Hopeful farmers will plant and reap
and worry through every weather.
Statuesque cows will still moo and moan
their mantras low like tubas in metal sheds
incensed with daily hay.
In select suburbs far from farms,
ladies with airs will continue tinting
and teasing their failing hair
or flashing acquired fashionabilities
into their lighted full-length mirrors—
ladies who will still ache at night
for a gleaming knight
of their well-off wimp.
By then I will have poked
this life's reapings and hopings
up through my cranial chimney
and passed beyond breath.
With no nose to interfere,
coffee may smell richer.
Free of fumbling fingers,
I may play Bach heaven-like
on an unmolecular piano.
Then, by and by and by,
in my next soulbeat,
I could emerge again
from a provided womb,
suck into baby lungs
a deep inspiration,
and cry within my new hell
for a heaven of love and milk.
I'm wondering now if,
rather than burden my brain
with all of this forward thought,
I need to read a good mystery.
From Writing All Over the World's Wall
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