Poetry

Regardless

Mary Oliver, a wonderful poet, talked about our one wild and precious life

            And yet, the longer I live, regardless how lonely I may feel,

I’m reminded my life is not mine alone, but shared

            With all those around me, before and after me,

I’m connected and dependent, whether I want to be or not.

            Without others, not just human, I would soon die alone.

Feeling lonely and being alone are two very different things;

            Regardless of what I think or how I feel.

This life is not mine, but ours;

            Best to spend it then and do what I can.

For I am never physically alone;

            Rather completing a link I don’t always see.

Like one more grain of sand that makes up

            A beach on a body of water,

On a planet amidst others, and others, and others;

            So many others that it sometimes doesn’t matter

Regardless of whatever I am thinking or feeling right now.

The First Noble Truth of May

The younger we are the more anticipation;

               The desire to celebrate the new.

The older we are the greater the hesitation

               To suffer what we’ve already learned is true.

There is pain in every day

               And joy if we can recognize it;

Wherever you find the joy

               There is pain at the base of it.

“No mud, no lotus” it is said;

               “No garbage, no flowers,” – oh, happy May.

However you want to say it:

               Suffering is the one sure way.

We cannot avoid the pain

               It’s the price for being alive.

Oh, there may be a silver lining

               But pain is the main drive.

From birth pangs to growing pains

               To sickness and death;

Might as well get used to it,               

There’s pain in every breath.

Waiting for the Meds to Kick in!

Living in nature is such a wondrous life

            And yet, when you’re allergic to so many things

Your eyes and nose drip and your throat is raspy

            You need some medication while you listen to nature sing

Are the tradeoffs worth it; meds for natural views,

            Natural sounds and natural ways?

So far they are, but like life itself

            I foresee a day when the meds may wear me down

But in the meantime it’s so inspirational

            Just to look around

Thank you Mother Earth, Thank you Mother Nature,            

Everything feels better when the meds finally kick in.

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Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

Life’s been hard for a while now

               Pandemic, aging and other duress

Her husband no longer cares for her

               And her adult son cannot handle the stress

Too tough, too messy, too hard, too old

               No one wants her help or care

Husband and son want out “Right Now!”

               They both want her out of their hair

And so, she cries, she worries, she frowns

               And then gives them what they want

She finds another place to live

               Her own cross-town apartment

This wasn’t how she hoped life would go

               This double-threat dose of strife

But she practices smiling inside and out

               She continues on with her life

Maybe things will change in time

               But Right Now she needs to breathe

She dons her smiling mask until

               Her smile is something she can bequeath

To someone, anyone, if not the ones

               She originally intended this love

For all life must continue on

               Until sunshine returns above

Until someone returns her love.

Less Than 250 Miles Away

Another mass shooting, this time near the airport

            That makes 130 dead so far this year.

TGIF means something different today:

            For the newly dead and the others in their life.

And today’s headlines remind us

            What we consider newsworthy.

How we sensationalize our despair.

            Tell people how to go out with a bang.

Life is such a crap shoot

            So much anger, so much grief

We’re born and we die

            Some by design, some by misfortune

What the hell, what the …..

            How can we respond to this?

I’m just trying to be a decent human being:

Oh, don’t want to forget: have a great weekend, now.

And So We Remain*

When I was much younger, it seemed to me, that adults were so confused.

Working so hard, gnashing of teeth, so much done in vain;

Attempting to ascend to the next class,

Acquire whatever products signified gain:

Status, cars, clothing, housing

All the paraphernalia of success so that,

Ultimately they could relax with,

The right group in the right place

Enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Of course, the right group was different than the one they were in;

The right place was much nicer, sunnier, more resort-like;

The right life so much different than what they had.

Yet with every new item, new toy, new thing,

They were so quickly left in the dust by someone else doing them one better.

“Keeping up with the Joneses”; such a fool’s errand; no satisfaction lasting very long.

But what about the beauties of life:

The rising and setting sun,

the position of the moon

the stars in the night sky

or the waves on a lake?

All available for free; available like the air that we breathe.

I’m much older now and sadly little seems to have changed.

*”And so we remain in this muddle all the days of our lives.” The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation, Mirabai Starr (Hampton Roads: 2013), p.143.

What Is Truth?

Your truth, my truth, does anyone own the truth?

               Your god, my god, how many gods do we need?

To care for those who need care;

               To heal those who are sick;

To feed those who are hungry;

               How many gods do we need?

I know the thunder and lightning are scary

               I know I didn’t make myself

I know somedays its wet and cold

               And other days hot and dry

But I also know that when we are kind,

               When we look out for each other,

Our lives are easier and happier

               Our smiles tell me what is true

So spin some stories, if you like,

               About the hunter in the sky,

The big and little dipper,

               Sending comfort to all that cry.

But let’s not argue over gods

               Let’s not fight over truth

Instead let’s share blankets               

And sandwiches.

A Friend’s Life Matters

He asked me if I thought he’d make it

               Survive his open heart surgery

“Yes, I do” I replied, clear and plain,

               “There’s still a lot for you to do”

He said he wasn’t afraid to die

               And agreed that much remained yet undone

He showed me his office filled with papers

               He talked about the requests for his archives

He recalled his written yet unpublished work

               And his thoughts for more to write

He talked about his second son’s wedding to-come

               He looked forward to a granddaughter’s visit

His beehives needed tending

               He could get back in shape easily

If he could only breathe easier

               It wasn’t asthma after all

But need for an artery bypass or two

               He wasn’t afraid to die

And there was still plenty to do before he died.               

His life still mattered


What A Baby Can Teach Us

Inside, outside, now I lay me down

               Not for long, mind you, nothing lasts very long

But for now, and maybe tomorrow, and maybe another month

               Noticing my breath I am grateful once again

I can notice and appreciate their every little breath

               Regardless of the outcome, or the income, or any welcome at all

To sleep perchance to wake up, what more could I ask

               Merrily, merrily or maybe not so merrily

We row our boats. Oh, what a delight it would be to dream               

Or even just to sleep the whole night through.

NOT NEW, BUT NEW FOR US

I remember before my parents divorced that Dad always had a new car

               He was a fan of the slogan, “New, every two”

But after the divorce I didn’t see him for many years

               And my Mom never had a new car of her own.

When her car broke down or stopped running

When the car repairs were too many or too costly

She would just trade up to the next best thing available

Never new, but better, at least for a while.

Until it too “broke down or died or whatever” she would say,

“Time for another new car.”

No, her cars were never new, but they were new for us.               

Like most marriages, most cars don’t last very long.

One Tree, One Lonely, February Afternoon

In the middle of a field, far apart from the others, that lie in the woods to the West,

Stands a tree, all alone, exposed on every side; a tree looking different from the rest.

How did this tree end up here, all alone, in this place? Does a tree ever have a choice?

Perhaps the seeds of our ancestors blow where they will and all we have is our voice,

To the tell truth as we know it, however small that may be, in whatever field we find ourself.

Sometimes, what stands out, catches our eye, until it ends up on a mantle or a shelf.

Alone and lonely are two separate states but sometimes they’re intertwined,

Like the branches of a tree, one lonely afternoon, in a late February state of mind.

Sunrise before the Sun appears

Slowly, the black sky turns blue and the bare winter trees reveal their emptiness;

               From this direction, I cannot yet see the Sun but know it’s there, somewhere to the East.

I’ve lived for more than sixty years and seen many sunrises in my life;

               Each mark a new beginning: will today bring “fresh Hell” or fresh yeast?

Or am I a co-creator, fashioning my own universe?

               Is the cosmos a blank page inviting each artist to design

Whatever near future they desire, whatever near past they leave behind?

               Do sixty-some years expand or restrict?  Can we resurrect or must we resign?

But now, the blue sky grows brighter and feathery white clouds materialize,

               Orange and yellow highlights announce that the full Sun will soon be here;

And now, my mood grows brighter reflecting the nature I see;               

Here and now is oh so pleasant, no past nor future to fear.

I Need A Change of View

I need a change of view, not just sight but heart too.

               The snow has fully melted and Spring cleaning comes to mind.

So many things to do, so many things to undo.

Mend the fences, pick up branches, groom the trails, what are the chances

               That all of this will be delayed, once I find

More urgent repairs needed once the puddles have receded?

I need a change of view. Looks like Spring will more than do.

A Man Needs An Exit

Six inches of snow on a 300 foot driveway and the only tool I have is a shovel.

The driveway connects to a gravel country road not yet, nor likely never to be, plowed.

My wife says not to worry “It’ll melt in a week and there’s no need to leave the house anyhow.”

I say “More snow on the way; I’d rather shovel twice than have more than 6 inches tomorrow.”

So, I go out, slow but sure, I shovel width and length, I’ll shovel all day if I must.

You see a man needs an exit, another way out, to avoid a slow death inside the house.

Call it cabin fever, call it what you want; a man never wants to feel trapped.

By weather or by woman, it’s important to have an exit, cleared well, in advance.

So when she asks why I shovel when I could just wait, she knows the answer clear as day. 

“Just to do it now, and maybe twice if I have to”, is all I will say.

Mother Nature Doesn’t Care

A second impeachment trial fails to convict

               What appears to be an open and shut case.

How does a criminal go free, time and time again,

               Is there any justice at this time or in this place?

Are our words just delusion, our government just a farce;

               Does not truth mean a thing anymore?

Another snowstorm in full swing and

The forecast says there’s more;

Enough with words and acrimonious display;

               Political theatre won’t get me very far.

Mother Nature doesn’t care about who’s right or who’s wrong.               

It’s time to shovel out the car.