The black mud that caked between his toes and had partly dried down the backs of his heels and ankles felt oddly comforting as he paused for a moment and rested in the warm drying sun. Repeatedly flicking his disposable lighter, ridding the dampness from the flint, he was hoping his last few cigarettes were not soaked and disintegrating.
It had been years since he had seen the water this far beyond the tree line. In the 100 yard trudge from the house to the higher ground of the tool shed, the mud from what used to be his newly plowed garden had sucked his tennis shoes from his feet. Wading barefoot in the thigh high water, thoughts of what unknown things may be below the surface loomed in his mind with each careful step. As Gerald rested on the high ground, he watched as two rabbits paddled from the water to safety within his easy reach. Unconcerned with his presence, they shook, licked and scratched the water from their fur. At this moment they were all fellow survivors. “I’ll find those shoes after the river goes down” he thought as he took a deep drag from his last cigarette.
Posted: March 25, 2015 in poetry
Tags: poem, poet, poetry, seasons
Bottled and racked, neglected in earthen cellar
The elderberry of summer
without thought of greatness
is devoured in its sugars and yeast…waiting.
Waiting for spring
through winter, snow bound and cold
then without the least pretense
It is taken from the dark
the cork removed without ceremony
Bread broken and cheese prepared
and the essence slowly poured
poured into porcelain cups
Held not by broken handle but
grasped by full palm
passes under the nose one sweet moment
and is slowly tipped, emptied and swallowed
Thoughts of last summer are released
scents and scenes of July explode,
as they are recalled and
radiate from the back of the skull
Memories of the hard labor of no finer fruit wine.
Posted: March 21, 2015 in death, Life
Tags: death, life, mortality
I died on October 21, 1967, it was a Saturday. A beautiful sunny fall Saturday, a perfect day for hunting. The last thing that I remember of that life was the feeling of the compressed air that passed my right temple as it exited the 410 shot gun’s barrel just ahead of the lead beads that inflicted my fatal head wound. I don’t remember the impact, only the feeling of breeze against my ear. But I know that my young life was extinguished. I’m guessing and I’m hoping that my death certificate recorded that my cause of death was by hunting accident. I can only imagine that a few days later there was a funeral, my family cried, my classmates tried to attach themselves to the tragedy and I was buried. In that other time and place, I probably have a tombstone at the city cemetery beside my grandparents and mother and father. And that was the end of it, my first life.
But to only me, on that day, the lead shot missed hitting my head. The gun did fire and I can still hear the blast and feel the force of hot gas as it passed my ear. But as I crossed the fence and the gun’s hammer caught on the barbed wire, my friend grabbed the gun stock just as it fired. That small touch changed the trajectory just enough that the beaded shots traveled harmlessly past. After recovering from the subsequent cold sweat and discussing how lucky I was, although shaken, I continued on with my morning of hunting with my future brother-in-law. And we both went on to raise our families.
October 21, 1967, my first life or death fork in the road.
Such is the life of John.
Posted: March 20, 2015 in politics, science
It seems when a poet needs material to write about and nothing deep can be found, he turns to the Universe for inspiration, The Universe is a wonderful subject to pontificate about because few are capable of understanding its vastness. And those that do have an understanding of the mysteries are usually unable to express it.
That was the benefit of our Manned Lunar Project of the 60’s and 70’s. Finally Man was able to view the world from a distance. Although they were 230,000 miles from home and traveling into the emptiness of space , they all looked homeward and marveled at the sight of the Earth so far away. And when they did that, they were all struck by a deep revelation and gained an understanding of our planet that few have experienced.
Having ignorant men on the U.S. Congressional Science subcommittees is not anything new. Science is still suffering in their hands. Even when the achievements of NASA were at their peak over 40 years ago, the frustrations with the Senators and Congressmen by the astronauts, who had experienced seeing the fragile earth from their unique perspective, were being expressed. Few could describe it poetically.
This quote from Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell expresses these frustrations perfectly.
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, “Look at that, you son of a bitch.”
Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut, People magazine, 8 April 1974
Picture Credit: NASA Johnson Space Center, Schmitt_(NASA-JSC)
Posted: March 15, 2015 in free verse, love, poetry
Tags: change, poetry, poets
Pulling the words from the Universe and the titles from our old poets
Reminding us of an invisible presence of compassion
that you told us was filling the vacuum of the vast yet to be understood black emptiness
and mentioned your God.
You marveled at the night sky stars and planets that you slept under and wondered about
while you drove your wandering road trips
Drinking and screwing and sharing what you and others loved.
Giving us long written scrolls reminding us of our short lives
and warning us of our early deaths by the hand of conformity
We say we are walking to your rhythm
but your beat may be one we no longer can completely explain.
Friday, Friday the 13th, some say it is unlucky. Well, how would we know, unless you are lucky the other 6 days of the week? My idea of a lucky day would be waking up in the morning and receiving a call from work saying,
“Don’t bother coming in today E, we are giving you a bonus day off. Just have fun today, see you Monday”.
Now that would be my lucky day. On the days when that doesn’t happen, I guess are my unlucky days. Looking at it that way, Friday the 13th doesn’t scare me so much. We humans are inherently unlucky. We are just experts at turning bad days into good. Or should I say making good from a bad situation. Basically, life’s a rock and if we don’t work our asses off, we will starve. A hell of a situation to find ourselves in just a very few years after we are born. That pretty well sums up what life amounts to. We have two choices,
A. work – die old
B. don’t work – die younger.
We have no, C. none of the above.
Some may say, “But , what about the freeloaders of our society? They don’t work.” Trust me friend, avoiding work is harder to do than working. They ain’t lucky, they’re dying, just like the rest of us.
So when Friday the 13th comes around, I look it square in the face and say “Bring it on Motherfucker…bring it on!”
And now, a link to DSS’s yearly Friday the 13th story.
As the fogs of Spring silently move in and nestle so close to the barren fields,
we stare deeply into them.
Not knowing what is within the first few feet of us is not unsettling,
it is comforting.
Comforting in that nothing else, just feet distant, can see us either.
Within these small bounds we are alone, hidden and unnoticed.
Even our sounds are kept from escaping.
No horns are blown and no bells are rung here.
We have no fear of collision, only fear that the fog will pass too soon
and we’ll once again be visible, watched, expected to perform.
But while the thick fogs remain,
we are forgotten
and we take our much needed rest.
Then like a purring cat, tail swaying, the brume moves on to the bottom glades and turns to mist,
the sun appears and once again the expectations of the day are upon us.
Without you I am lost.
I wait for your word.
I need your look.
When will I have you ?
I need your scent,
your warm, soft feel,
your low breath-filled sounds.
I will have you laid bare
and opened before me.
Your eyes gazing through me,
And our bodies firmly pressed.
Posted: March 4, 2015 in poetry, Seasons
Tags: life, poetry, seasons
All the laboring force speeds to work
Both man and woman with plastic coffee cup in hand
In such a hurry to start the day
Not looking left or right or toward the sun
They come upon a man enjoying the morning
slowly admiring the roadside dogwood’s bloom
They blast their horn and get up real close
As destroyers of joy, without seeing or knowing
But they have important work to do.
How can the sight or smell of a bud or bloom compare?
In the same way that the access to film footage in Vietnam showed America the reality and atrocities of war, access to video on all sorts of devices is showing us the reality and atrocities of life on the streets, schools and playgrounds of America.
Scenes of limp, lifeless bodies dragged into body bags and stacked like cord-wood, made America, core America back home and there, rethink what we were doing in places like the sidewalks of Saigon and those images demanded that our policy hinging on insanity be changed. The memory of those images were so strong that the Bush administration would not allow pictures of bodies, body bags or rows of coffins in military transports to be seen on television during his reign over the Iraq War. He knew it would turn the American enthusiasm for the war as it did in Southeast Asia. Hopefully the scenes we watch today of the homeless and the children of America being killed will temper American enthusiasm for bloodshed here at home and put it under the same reality microscope and we as a civil society will force change again.
On two occasions, we have witnessed an overpowering force of officers justifying using deadly force against an unarmed man. How does a situation get so out of hand that it results to this? In both incidents, simply letting the victim loose would have brought the situation to a different end.
I just have to ask the questions, How much of this crap has been going on that hasn’t been caught on film or video in the past? Have we been living in a society where this happens routinely? Listening to the police, they say law enforcement has to be conducted this way. I’m getting the feeling that they think that “You can’t handle the truth!!!”. Has it come to this?
We are like that you know. We can accept practically anything going on in the world without emotion when we just hear about it on the news or read about it in our favorite news blogs. Or read about it in the newspaper (does anybody still read a newspaper?). But until we actually see it in video or are unfortunate enough to see it with our own eyes we don’t react.
How is it that the police can react so quickly that they can justify killing a man only after a short skuffle but we as citizens can see it happen on video and it takes us so long before we can feel an emotion strong enough to force change?
Or maybe we just like it the way it is.