In Shadowed Corners of the House

ShadowsThere in shadowed corners of the house
Wait my little crowd of sorrows.
I see them every day, waiting all alone.
They seldom venture forth
When light of day is strong.
Yet they know a place where they belong.

Sometimes at night they find their voice,
Approach the bed on silent feet.
I ask them what they need—
Offer prayer on their behalf.
If allowed, they’ll hide under old comforter
And wait wrapped down by my feet.

Though I seldom offer tea,
I go easy on their grief—
Listen kindly to their tales,
Speak softly to complaints or wails.
Eventually they always tire,
Return to corners where they sleep.


Counting Those Whose Lips I Kissed or Never Kissed

LipsBelow zero was the bitter air,
Walking down curving road
My feet froze and disappeared,
Frostbitten toes and fingers
Could not find deeper purchase
On short length of pulsing day.

At home, I warmed blue lips
By counting  those whose lips I’ve kissed—
Suddenly old memories
Tumbled out large barns of mind,
Tender lips lying spread upon
Field of sheets like golden bales of hay
Ejected from green combine of my mind.

Not one lip at a time, but two combined
To taste, brought smell of
Fresh cut summer grass—
Young lovely faces there in blissful
Bright sunshine or candlelight or
Backseat of the car at night….
Appearing, disappearing.

I drink wine from old bottles,
Stored for years inside dark places—
Now uncork to clarify, drink in again
Young bodies that were touched yet never mine.

There is also hint of sadness on palate
For endless throng of lips I never kissed.
If it was your mouth that turned away,
If we never shared
More than brush of hand upon a hand—
Finally I forgive you.
Even now the hesitation hides
In shadows of my mind.  I’m at peace
With who you were so many years ago.

As for those I brushed away and never kissed,
Please forgive rejection of your offered gift.
Oh— the lips I never kissed and never
Knew the why.   What need for me to be so shy?
Why not allow warm bread
Be dipped in fragrant oil to taste?
Even now comes back with shame
The girl I pushed away so harsh
She fell down steps and bruised her flesh—
But I was only six.  Too young to know
Hot burning memory of this truth,
Upon cold day in future years would flow
Warm salty tears to offer kiss.
Far too late, I know.
Forgive me now, I pray.

I Could Not Love You Half So Much

 I Could Not Love I could not love you half so much
Loved I not all round Earth today,
The light of glorious Sun
Reflected on high mountain snow.

There is no greater faith in God
Than I have found in quiet wood,
Meandering through on leafy path
Embraced by elm and oak and pine.

Standing on the sandy beach,
I feel adoring Ocean’s reach,
Its deeps—  its awesome storms,
Cleansing tides that wash bare feet.

Please see me not as one unfaithful
If when my heart begins to bleed—
I walk alone, hold close to Earth
And seek in healing my rebirth.

Then with radiant sun still vibrant in the air,
I turn and see you standing there.
Our love makes angels pause to watch
Embrace that makes a tree to blush.

If there be soaring birds above, surely wings
Are tipped with fire as time stands still.
One kiss— my lips are stung as if by bees,
Tasting honey flow upon the sweetest lips.

Some Places Give You Callouses

 Rural townBeing born in rural Missouri
It comes as no surprise you get callouses
Just about everywhere—
Your hands, your ass, your very soul.

It’s always ones inside the heart
That hurt the most—
The angry blood from beatings,
Guilt acquired in church that taught Bible verses
But was fairly challenged when it came to love.

My piano teacher hitting hands when keys were missed—
The ruler blistered into memory,
Tick-tock along with metronome.
Teachers and principles screamed
Words I cannot list because they’re
So fucking filthy they burned ears to deafness.
A head coach firing a starting pistol at me
Point blank as I carried two apple pies to be sold,
Dropped to the floor thinking I’d been killed.

Every year on my birthday,
I would make a secret wish as I blew out
Candles on my cake (at least I got a cake,
Angel-food with white icing made by Aunt Mary Jane)
Silently wishing that when I died
Please God, let me into Heaven.  Please.  Please.
Year after year after year, the same secret wish.
Even at five, I did not wish for red bicycle….
And I was lucky.  Most had it far worse.

Some nights were wild and others dreadful,
But there were also summer fireflies in darkest dark—
Jars and jars of lightening flashes trapped in glass.
Little by little stars burned through clouds,
Leaving quiet sound of God behind.
Slowly a new voice was heard,
Finally recognized as my own,
Kept me company and protected from harm
As I walked beyond stop signs
Placed at intersections of winding roads.

Missouri was a perfect place to grow up—
Giving opportunity to learn awkward art of unlearning,
Teaching importance of forgiveness and patience.
All that takes growing up and patience, patience, patience….
Years allowing wounds to heal, standing at the graves—
Grandparents, parents, cousins, teachers, so many laid to rest….
The tears, the wordless prayers— I miss them all beyond measure.
I forgive you.  I forgive you.  Please forgive me.

But first I needed to escape Missouri—
Leave behind small town where Jews and Catholics,
Blacks and Hispanics were not welcome.
I had to go in order to accept where I’d been.
Now I love my memories of growing up in Missouri,
Honor deep roots in small town and state,
But thank God every day I live in Connecticut.

There are still times when the wind blows strong—
Whole house and heart trembles at the tug,
Deeply felt down in stone foundations.
On such cold nights I hear old voices
Whispering over fields and prairies,
Across wide muddy rivers.

These voices are not voices of strangers
For they come from places
Where I was born and then was lost.
They find me here, living
Not in a crowd of sorrows
But alive in a new clearing.

 I greet them with open doors,
Glimpse them in mirror on the wall,
Commune with them at table
With bread and wine and cheese.
Together we sit and talk of many things
Until light of sunrise enters in.

A World I’ve Never Seen Before

World never seenThis morning, I look out windows
Onto a world I’ve never seen before—
Searching for what is different
And what has died and been born anew.

Warm breath creates fog upon the glass,
Obstructs clarity of the view….
Until I clear away a spot,
Stare out at the world outside.

Only a small fraction of the whole
Can ever be seen, like seeing the ocean
Through rolled up newspaper.
Still, I see and comprehend enough to sing.

Winter’s Deadly Chill

Winter Blast Dedicated to the Memory of Margaret “Bonnie” Brown
Oh, the shiver of a winter shock,
The loss of color from ordinary life,
An endless wait for spring to come again.

I weep today for someone close,
Whose smile, whose warmth
Will never warm my world again.

As suddenly as deep snow can fall,
Her Spirit lost its breath.
Chill of loss and death comes close to heart.

Now in every sunset will I see her.
In every silent walk upon the curving roads,
In Beauty does she live and will forever reign.

The Poet’s Laughing Hat

Fred winter hat 1I wear today no garment of sorrow,
Though thin air be bitter cold,
Exhale breath a cloud that floats
Upon harsh wind of winter bold.

Heart strings are too delicate and fine,
Too thick with gloves can fingers pluck.
Late afternoons see dark shadows linger,
Sweet silence lies upon a silent tongue that sucks.

Yet within storm of ages’ melancholy song,
Hides deeper meaning than the spirit knows,
Swells from sullen sigh to deeper rapture,
Only prelude of what is soon to flow.

Why not live into such depth of Being
That winter chill merely moves to thrill
Pulsing heart and dancing tremor—
Borrows peace from Peace on every hill.

We each know burdens heavy,
Yet also sense the hidden light
Illuminates world entire for greater seeing,
Quick as furry comet’s tail in winter’s night.