Poems Chapter 3

Two Worlds

We discuss in even tones

systems capability, financial spreadsheets,

the bottom line, employee satisfaction surveys,

collaborative decision making—

above all, transformational leadership,


while I dream of the forest,

the fairies dancing in the grass,

the opaque spirits hovering above the trees

and all that lies hidden scutters

in the underbrush of life.

When I am not looking

the pre-historic snake

eats the mouse whole that

carelessly scuttles in his path.


Driving Home

Snow-capped mountain peaks

rise up from the waters.

Gold plumes stream through each wave

as the sun sets behind cedars.


Waves reach out onto the boardwalk

to slap the feet of evening walkers

who giggle as they dance

to avoid the playful sound.


This little dance before dark,

a living postcard greeting me

on my way home to rest

with my love.


The 50hr workweek

 Lord, have mercy on us caught

In this 50 hr. workweek

Cut in half to where we once were

And had no trouble living with

As we knew life to be –we had time enough

For so much more.

I do not romance life before Ford

Came along with his Model A and Edison’s light bulb

Made it so we could work around the clock.

And Steve Jobs and Bill Gates made rustic life

Slick and hip with its 50 hr work week 50 geeks a year.

But, AHH, the Pastoral life- where has it gone?

The life of the contemplative, surrounded not by machines

But by streams and hills and neighbors who know you

And your kids -25 hrs of work flashed by and left room

For contemplation and artistry –for making a living

An art form itself – a life monastic, shared with others

To lighten the load and bring leisure to the level of the sacred.

A life of pauses and deep cleansing breaths and opened eyes and hearts.

A life of observing and hearing everything- of waiting expectantly

For the next big surprise that is a gift to the one living in leisure

but mundane and an interruption

In the 50 hr workweek, who

Wears this world as a heavy yoke.

The untrained observer, burdened down by hours of work

Misses the miraculous flash before their eyes

But the wide-eyed curiosity seeker wears life like a loose garment

And is free to roam about the world

When given back his life.


Morning Memories

Sitting on a black cast-iron bench,

swirling floral designs shining in the sun,

he gazes across the pond

at a blue Heron silently stalking its prey.

He settles in for a little chat

with himself.


The smooth water coaxes

out the fixed ache inside,

laying it out in the afternoon sun,

a lifetime of regrets exposed

in one panoramic view.


An act of heroism—

to sit still on the edge

of this pond, and not get up

and run in terror.


In Memorium

A certain celebrity died last week.

It was sad for a day,

as news played clips of his life,

A brief clip of the funeral,

and the news moved on.


A certain old man died last week.

It was sad for his wife for a while.

Two paragraphs in the local obit

no one but family read.

A good and decent man it said.


Forgotten before the casket is closed.

A few linger over finger sandwiches to chat

but mostly worry about who’s next,

nodding their heads together

agreeing he was indeed a good man.


Above it all the Angels clap

as we each are ushered in

to give an account

not of our opinions we held

but in what we planted.



A golden-haired boy flies

through the wooded park,

grabs a stick on the run,

with which to fight off

aliens and dragons—

unable to stop

to wait for me.


While he makes the woods safe

for the rest of us,

I find a seat

on a damp, wooden bench

careful not to sit on pine needles.


Alone with You

Stepping out onto the parquet floor

The silver haired couple caress,

Facing each other with bright smiles.

Wrinkled eyes shimmer with love,

Holding hands lightly –they drift apart

Stepping sideways, turning away

Moving to opposite ends

They sway alone to the music

Raptured momentarily, they approach

Again with an embrace stronger

Than before-close enough to feel

Their breath, hearts beating to the music

They spin away again

The far corners to dance

Their own dance alone.


Saturday Morning

It’s what it must feel like to fly

Over houses and trees at will—

A solitary boy on a bike in a small town

This Saturday morning with the day

Stretching out like the road.

Nothing ahead, nothing behind, just a boy

And the warm breeze coaxing him

Onward down the empty city streets.

He peddles down through the woods

To the city park next to the river.

He is miles from home, yet feels at home

Running into his buddies they form a circle

Of bikes, like wagons circled and tell tales

As the shadows grow longer.

He is breathing in freedom – a freedom that

Will soon be gone with the coming years

Of more school and jobs and duties

Growing up In a land of adults.



Breathe it in now—maybe it will return.



He asked me if I wanted to ride along—

A three-hour drive at night

to see a customer.


The purple veins in his hand pulse,

clasping the steering wheel

of his Buick Electra 225

on the icy country road.


The outlines of trees whizz by

this dark and starlit night,

serving as sentinels along our way.

He knew almost everything,

but only in moments like these

would it escape.


He talked of days long ago

a boy in South Dakota—

how life was simple back then,

he said with a tired sigh.

Sometimes hard, but always surprising.


He mostly hummed, which was

his sign of contentment.

He was glad to be out on the road

at night in his Elektra 225,

with me his only company.


I leaned back, looking out

In the dark winter night

the trees, the stars, his voice—

I have been pulled into

his world, and something changed.


Night Crawlers

By flashlight we squat low

scanning for signs—

A cluster of clover moving

when there is no breeze

or blades of grass parting

as if Moses held up his arms.

I see a form, black and cylinder

and grab the slimy thing gently

pull it up and up and up as it wiggles

around my fingers in the dark night air.

He contorts into knots and if he could

the whole neighborhood would

hear his screams before I drop

him into my bucket.

A few more feet and the grass parts again,

and I kidnap his brother—

and so it goes through the night

digging along in the black damp soil—

all so I can catch a fish in the morning.

I swear, catching these creatures

is better than fishing.



Three men sit on a bench

thigh to thigh, hip to hip

wearing neon-lime vests

with white reflective stripes.

intent on the food in hand—

one an apple

another a ham sandwich

and the third a piece of cake.

In silence they eat and stare

out across the trail onto

the banks of the river

that flows by.

They each squeeze every bit

of pleasure in this moment of rest.

The ham and cheese goes down slow,

the apple juicy and crisp

and the cake brought from home

baked last night by his wife.

It is all enough to sit together

in silence and think thoughts

to one’s self and state of being.

They cannot see one another;

the sadness brought on by a troubled son

or the loneliness of lost love

from years of neglect

Look, of the three one

prays for grace to

become something else.


Three Robins

Three fat robin’s perch

on naked branches

of the plumb tree in winter,

so still and balanced

nothing moves


The cold air does not

bother them

so plump and content

in their stillness–they are

three monks at prayer


unhurried they wait out the season

to the sounds of jet planes overhead.

If I asked them, they would surely say

all is well, and every manner of thing is well.


They know they will be fed and sheltered

the fat grubs of the dirt

wait for them and their nests

lay wedged in some evergreen



Things Are Fine

Things were going along


Pretty wife and happy kids

Job and home OK.


Until the picture frame dropped,

cracked, and broken glass spread

across our smiling faces

scarring us each in our own way

though we could not tell.


Overnight it seemed—

Dad lost hope

and Mom grew hard from terror

and the children stopped laughing

as the world looked on

powerless and confused

as a piece of the whole

floated away.



A circle of ice formed

by a ring of metal

draws us out into

the frigid cold.


We skate for hours

round and round as toes

and fingers turn numb

pushing each other down

on the hard ice and laughing


we look for mom

at her place inside

at the kitchen window

coffee and cigarette in her hand


smiling as if there was nothing else

in the world to do than

watch her children play in winter.

I keep looking to see if she is still there


but she is gone, and sometimes

the cold bites hard and there

is not enough hot chocolate

in the world.



There comes now an opening

into the day when rain

falls gently on the pond

and on the roof the tiny drops

sound like millions of fairies

dancing above my head

each flutter speckled wings

of amber and blue

darting wildly from shingle

to shingle.


Why now they have come

to celebrate when I alone can witness

their delight? If I told you then

you would laugh and frighten them away.

I was told only children

can turn rain to faeries.

Like that, the faeries flee and I am

left with drizzle.



I awake to a choir out my window–

songs stream through the cracked glass

as if searching a tuned ear.

Robins, doves, cardinals,

woodpeckers, wrens, sparrows

bluebirds each with their own voice

and in their turn announce

the king of everything

is on His way.


Slowly rising I look out,

annoyed at the sounds. I crawl

back under the sheets not

yet ready to celebrate.


The song remains in the air

to find other souls eager

to join the choir, and throw

their life down like a cloak

in the Royal Way while

I sleep through the procession

sure to come and wake as it

all passes by.


Playing Safe

The New 1964 Chevy Impala

rolls down the snow packed street

the plows do not care for.

We glance at each other

and grin–

making our move we

crouch behind and grab

the bumper and begin

the slide to school.

Kids on the sidewalk point and laugh

but the driver shakes her head

unaware of her new cargo.


That was the start of grabbing hold

of life and turning it upside down

making something out of nothing.