Here or Where?
Barking in the distance fades off,
and a new, closer world appears
as focus shifts, from far to near.
The night is long, before the rising
sun shows a new distance,
things have changed during the night.
It is time to look again
away from the present, yet not
to the future, but to a distance
From which one can see both near and far,
one's own world. Then one sees all? Not quite,
Why, looking at the sunrise or the sunset,
you miss the day alone, the night alone.
Through the Middle Age Mirror
He's a strange old man, down at the cafe
kept company by his sack of meager belongings
his wrinkled face showing many years, yet still
wearing a contented smile, as he sits half asleep
over his cup of tea, lifting his head only
for breaks in the music.
His comings and goings are predictable;
blending in with an old downtown that is his home
always willing to stop and talk-
there's plenty of time for it in his slow day
for to find someone with which to chat
means he's reached his destination
in his wanderings to and fro.
When the last restaurant has closed for the night
he will walk to the laundromat
where he earns his simple living
and when his work is done, he will nap
till he can greet the morning
proud to be dependent on nobody
except for friendship, in his lonely life.
Yes, Jesse, I feel for you, and your funny old ways.
He's a funny young man, down at the cafe
kept company by his knapsack, books and papers
his face is intent, but not on the music
it looks, rather, like he's puzzling over a problem
too complex for his few years
sipping on his tea.
I've seen him much around
this town I know so well
always with a searching look on his face
sometimes pausing in the park, or on the street to write
other times hovering restlessly
in and out doors of bars
where he does not drink.
When the last restaurant closes
he will head home for the night
circling slowly through the park
still searching for something
looking just a little sadder
that another day has passed without finding it
looking, I think, just for a friend.
Yes, Brad, I feel for you, and your strange young ways.
27 October 1980
I saw you today
You were working ever so hard
Waiting, for an excuse to be happy.
Your face did not show sadness
yet it was haunted by a shadow
the shadow of concern, that comes to you and me
when we take on more and more
as we try to capture every last bit of life;
when you find yourself stretched
to the limit of what a body can do
and the soul still cries out
"there's more I want to do!"
When your life grows
till you can no longer keep
the farthest threads from breaking
do not despair, but look over your work
and live upon its strong foundations
As for the parts you can but seldom reach
take solace in the knowledge that a road abandoned
will after many a year still be perfect for a quiet walk.
How then, shall you live?
Start out burning bright, and strong
feeding, hungry, upon the tinder of youth
Then, as you grow strong ablaze
add the substance of experience
Later, as life's pieces shift and settle
do not fight to make the flames burn bright
as they did on tender youth,
but know that the hottest fire
burns deep among the coals
and while a fire of twigs burns bright
it will be doused by a sprinkle
but a life banked by well-seasoned thought
will weather the greatest storm
A life lived thus, long and well
will keep the earth fertile
by its ash and coal
long after its last ember
has quietly flickered away.
The Delicate Touch of Winter
I woke this morning to a grey sky
Instead of the rising sun
A sky grey, not from distinct clouds
But from the thin white sheet
That winter pulls over the sky.
Under the blanket I was warm
But a move of the foot
and my toes sent back the message
Echoed by my face, peeking above the covers
Cold, and winter had arrived
I am warm now, as I sip my hot chocolate
and gaze out the window to see
a tree, bare of leaves, in outline
Against a part of the grey turned yellow by the sun
And as the intricate pattern of twigs
Normally hidden by the leaves, becomes visible
I became aware of the subtle
And delicate touch of winter
Poem for the Friends
13 November, 1978
What comes to pass, when all are not equal?
When some can play the wondrous instruments
of wood and silver, brass and gold,
and others learn, or only yearn, to feel the silken notes
of play tunes and pieces, ever old?
Perhaps unseen, the feeling hidden, of care and thought,
of wondrous splendor, or moments tender
made special by the warmth of an audience,
and not by a sequence of movements of pick against string.
Which is emptier, the hearth looking for a fire?
or a fire, lone in the cold, looking for a hearth?
Neither is complete, for both need a friend,
and between friends, all is equal.
A Poem for a Smile
Your smile is contagious
spreading out to tickle something special
inside each of us, reaching the tender spots we hide.
We learn from you
to lead by gentle guidance,
the honesty to laugh at our mistakes,
confidence to speak our minds,
and joy, to fill our hearts with spirit
a spirit to sustain our patience,
when joy and life hide, 'neath cloaks of grey
and limited vision.
It is time for us to go, but do not sorrow
for your lessons well taken today,
will let us greet tomorrow
The Juggler's Lament
17 March, 1992 / 2 April 1996
So what do you do my friend
When you can't keep the balls
in the air any more
and its all you know how to do?
Life looked so bright
when you started my friend
with all balls juggled in the air
and yet you with a hand to spare.
But now they are tumbling
one by one
and no matter how hard you try
Do you give up fall down
head spinning turn around
Or just sit down
and wonder why?
Or do you sit up pick up
wander on find a song
right a wrong
and maybe sing a little lullaby?
Be Within Out Reach
28 April '91, #4
Stand on tip toe and extend
You may fall but you will fall anyway
so what does it matter, unless
you can make contact
like the top leaves of the tree
and start the interplay of signals
that brings the waters of life to nourish
and cool and bask and touch
until the sun goes down.
The Wooden Statue
Early May, 1991
Before the tree can become a statue
there must be the shriek of the saw
or crack of the axe
to bring it down
- and it must give up being a tree
in the forest
Next comes the biting edge of the chisel
sending chips of wood flying everywhere
chips that may take out an eye
if the sculptors are not careful
Then comes the sweat and dust of sanding
smoothing the rough edges,
but making air that one could choke on
Finally comes the stain,
irrevocably altering the very fibers of the wood
All of this is necessary, to create
the work of art. Dangerous work.
The Mountain of Life
17 June, 1979
their roots br
and CARIL eak
PRE OUS up
the soil things take root
and prosper. Surely, the
mountain and grows full
and there LIFE is Peace
My Corner of the Valley
20 October, 1986
My corner of the valley
does not move quickly
True, it sometimes rushes
but does so as a stream
running from one deep pool to another
The sun shines only sometimes
but the clouds bring their own pleasure
filling the meadow with green
and coaxing the flowers to blossom
The rest of the world moves on
but my valley keeps its own pace
slow but steady
rushing off not to everything new
but to the perfection of its essence
its peaceful soul.
Elsewhere chaos reigns Elsewhere all is looking
but here just a pool of calm for something yet unknown
in meadows green but the valley's found itself
and a soft breeze with meadows green and quiet pools
to reflect on sun and clouds
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