“Have you ever thought about what comes next?”
Grandpa asked three months before he found out.
“I think an angel will take me about
the earth before beginning the great trek
to the stars,” he said putting National
Geographic down and sitting up, or
as far up as his bent back allowed before
stopping short. His eyes were as affable
as he always was. “He’ll fly me past Mars.
We’ll skim the deep clouds of Saturn.
Then he’ll race out with me wrapped in his arms
as the stars fade in a swirling pattern.”
He finished. I didn’t know what to say.
I hope that I’ll see what he saw one day.
“Have you ever thought about what comes next?”
It’s 11:27 in my mind
as I grasp for the words
that will let me go to sleep.
I construct houses from the
splinters of my life
piled high on my desk.
Bits come loose over time.
They’re added to the stack –
sharp relics piled out of sight.
The stack grows large with splintered thoughts
till my desk is covered
with the fragments of life.
Fragments saved for a future construction,
founded in old fissures of time
and crafted into something new.
“Behold I will make a new thing
from old memories redeemed,”
or so I said at 5:15.
Sometimes the poignant words, old memories,
or flashes of beauty from a dying sun
remain only splinters on a desk.
Leaving me alone with the words
of 11:27. Scribbled in the dark
with only the semblance of versification.
built into a shack
that let’s in the evening breeze..
I look out from my uneasy rest
at the splinters still on the desk,
caught in the moonlight,
waiting to be made new
if only I had the time.
There is a cold you cannot shake –
caught in the air and imprisoned
in the wood of the bedroom floor.
It spreads across its iron chains
till it freezes your lungs
and your feet lose all their feeling.
There is a cold you cannot shake
even after you come inside
shedding the frozen air like a coat.
It abides in your chest
and freezes your lips when you cough.
We are the frozen people,
caught with a cold that lingers
even in the heat of summer
our toes and tongue ache for the warmth
to move with a freedom long lost.
But there is still warmth in some things –
lingering in a loaf of bread
or over a glass of wine
with conversation at dinner,
but the ice remains to our core.
Warmed for a passing moment,
but aching still for a great thaw,
for the warmth of blankets and stoves,
the thawing of lips and feet –
longing for the coming of a flame.
There’s a sloth up on my head
and I’m not sure how it got there
which is really sort of funny
since I only met it once.
At first I didn’t notice
till I saw my good friend laughing
and I went to check my head to see
if something was messed up.
My hand went up to brush my hair
and that is when I found him –
my constant head companion
since he curled up round my ears.
Sometimes my friends will ask me if
its hard that he’s still with me
since its been at least a month
that he’s been nesting in my head.
But I shake my head quite gently,
so as not to wake my neighbor,
and I tell them that he’s truly been
a blessing to my health.
And when they give me that same look
that you are giving me right now,
I smile and explain to them
how a sloth could help them out.
A sloth provides a warm hat
for those cooler days in Fall.
A sloth will also stay with you
when all your friends might go.
If you are prone to worrying
about how your hair appears,
a sloth can cover up the sins
your hairbrush can’t remove.
But most of all, the reason that
I will not ditch my sloth,
is that he has come to be my friend
and friends don’t pitch friends out.
Would you like to walk the land with me?
I must check the lower fences,
but the sun is setting quickly
between the mountain and the stream.
The sun woke me at its rising
and it walked with me through the day
but before my work has finished
my companion went away.
Now the fireflies are dancing
to the fiddles as we pass,
and the field mouse and his family
are curled warmly in the grass.
But I have this time at twilight
to complete my daily work,
while the wind that brings the nightfall
is still whispering in the trees.
If you’d like you can come with me
and we’ll walk the land together.
I’ll show you where the river bends
and the paths the deer have made.
We can walk along the tree line,
but the light is fading quickly
and the land is only waiting
for my feet to walk its length.
I am going to the fences
without the sun beside me
and with darkness at my neck.
Let us walk the land together.
Words brew and simmer
I offer a steaming mug
It is not enough
Habitation over time breeds comfort.
The steady creep of clutter over years
of occupation, infuses cupboards
and plain wooden drawers with a thin finish
that colors the grain with deep richness.
But it is not the collection of things
that imparts the warmth, which resides despite
the cold that seeps through calked windows at night.
The stuffed animals on the shelf do bring
a warmth to bear, but it is no fitness
inherent to them, but in the undiminished
warmth of childhood memories which ford
the streams of time. It comes in the falling tears
which wash the walls with both joy and hurt.
Over the years a house seeps in the tears
and sweat of life and learns from us how to live.
Did you ever stop and wonder,
what’s entailed in a name?
Why some are filled with curses,
and others filled with fame?
Did you ever pause and ponder
at the greatness in a word,
how the names of those who
do good things are pleasant when they’re heard.
Pray, stop and consider,
the power held in a phrase.
Has no one ever used three words,
which left your heart amazed?
What if each lonely letter
said more about a friend
than every crafted résumé
that he would ever send?
If names could hold such meaning,
I’d relish every sound.
I’d tap at every consonant
until a soul resounds.
“Death falls with pretty colors.
Does that bother you at all?”
His voice was low. I begged his pardon
“Does it ever bother you?”
“Does what” I asked, he kept walking on.
“Does it bother you – the fall?”
We walked in silence, leaves crunched below
till we paused to choose which way to go.
Then his voice broke upon the chilled air
“The leaves are pretty colors.”
Unsure, I turned to the leaves and stared.
Most were burnt and charred from green to gold
A few of them glowed like coals grown old.
“They are at that,” I finally said.
“So beauty holds hands with death.”
Worried, I looked, but he was not sad.
He knelt and held a leaf in his hand.
“The ones on the ground are dead.”
Across the leaf burned a glowing band
that threatened to catch his hand ablaze.
“The rest die with one last breath.”
The leaf fell, I walked on in a daze.
“That’s why the fall bothers me.”
I followed but the words wouldn’t come.
“Not the death, but the beauty
that’s woven into the death.”
My feet were cold and my ears were numb.
“I feel like it’s my duty
to make some sense of it all.
I want to hide in cheap resolution,
but that would just cheapen the beauty,
and death would still live in the leaves.”
It’s just water
flowing down, liquid blue.
It’s only matter –
Oxygen, Hydrogen (two).
It’s just a stream
cutting the land to the sea.
And when you boil it down you get steam.
If it falls from a cloud it’s called rain
(If it’s frozen you should call it snow)
But I shouldn’t have to explain
What we should obviously know.
When it’s cold it becomes crystal clear
that there’s nothing else to it to fear.
But why when you mix it with salt
and its falling in drops from your heart,
does it feel like so much more
than the stuff it was made of before?