Poem: Writing in the Morning

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Writing in The Morning. 

I am not sure it is the best thing,
to write in the morning,
when the demons are still hovering,
waiting for one last chance to draw blood.

It makes for good drama, no doubt,
writing in the midst of battle, beserker like,
most days the hero of your own story, but
likely it is bad history, for

more often than not your days are benign, quiet things,
the sort of things you do when the battle is won
and you feel safe again, unworried and confident,
at least for the hours the sun shines.

But in the morning, your thin, wiry arms
remind you of your father, and how he passed on
his collection of darkness,
how many battles he never fought, but simply drank away,

liquid oblivion.
Which of us, you wonder, carry less scars? But then,
that may not be the right question.
Which of us, you wonder, have caused fewer scars?

The jury is out on that one.
There’s another twenty years or so left to fight,
morning after morning, another twenty years or so
to wake with your sword and hack away

at the night vines that crawl and twine themselves
inside your head, night after night.
This then is why I believe in God, for I weaken
with wear and tear and age,

and still somehow,
fight.

About this poem

I write my poetry mostly in the morning. I wonder sometimes if that is wise. It expunges my demons quite effectively, but probably leaves the impression that my life is a battle.

Mostly, it is not. Mostly, it is wonderful. Once I cut away the vines of night.

Tom

Poem: This is What Drought Does

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This is What Drought Does

This is what drought does.
Across the way, throughout the quarry,
autumn color has come in July,
a dearth of water taking its toll, a slow kill,
a premature death of leaves meant to be
in the full green of summer.

This is what drought does.
Kills faster than starvation,
faster than time and God’s plan,
weakens each limb to the bone
and leaves a shell, an easy victim
for winter to pick off.

This is what drought does.
It makes corpses of the strong,
and leaves the survivors gasping, stumbling,
not yet dead,
but failing, languishing,
robbed of fullness,
made artificially weak,
and left to fail in a splash of color
barely noticed.

This is what drought does.

About this poem. 

It has been painfully dry here in Southwestern Vermont. In the quarry across the street from my house, a few trees have already begun turning from green to bright yellow. In July.

A poem about drought. A poem about people starved of love and grace. Because I never seem to be able to write of one thing at a time.

Tom

Poem: Strange Light

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Strange Light

The morning light is odd this day.
For a brief few moments, the world looks like a postcard
from the fifties, distorted colors and strange shadows.

It is not, you understand, a beautiful thing.
There are lies in the light,
and nothing seems quite real.

Technicolor gone bad
and you pray as the sun rises,
that true colors will return

and the light you know will prove more real
than this strange light of new mournings.

About this poem

I am a creature of grace. I believe all people matter. I believe in the power of kindness. I believe 1st Corinthian 13 love is the greatest power there is. And today’s politics make a mockery of much that I believe.

And still, I believe.

Tom

PS: The picture was taken in Rupert, Vermont.

 

Poem: The Return of What Was

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The Return of What Was

1.

There is little new in the curve of the wall and walk.
Little new in the sand or sea.

Except perhaps the simplicity.

And that too, is not new.
it is an ancient gift

that we too often trade for sparkle and showtime.

2.

And so you slow down,
and discover what you had lost

was there all the time.

waiting
for you to come to your senses,

something that never happens in an instant.

3.

And so you listen to the sea,
the ocean five hours from where you are planted.

It’s there. Buried in your heart.

Waiting for someone to clean out the clutter
and burn the trash and bridges, making room

to grow anew into what you were.

About this poem

When I once became completely undone, the first step was tearing away the flotsam, and refinding who I was. It was a harder journey than most are willing to take, but…

Only then could I move forward.

The picture was taken at Hampton Beach, NH.

Tom

Thoughts: Uphill Both Ways

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I can remember the joke about how old people would tell you that they walked three miles to school, uphill both ways. We all laughed because it was so impossible and we knew we were being had.

I woke up laughing this morning. Curled up with the woman I love, something struck us both as funny and we laughed our way out of bed and into our morning. It’s one of the joys of our relationship: We laugh a lot.

It’s a good way to wake up, laughing, and not like my norm at all. We got ourselves together and off she went to work. I left a few minutes behind her to write at my favorite diner for a bit before my first client.

And there I was again, pushing myself uphill, a wave of senseless depression settling on me like fog at night.

Fortunately, it was not bad, and I am well trained in beating that bad boy back. I’m fine now and there are the prospects of a productive morning ahead of me. It’s amazing what two cups of coffee, some readings from the Psalms, and meditation can do. A makeover for the spirit.

But the thing is, as I pushed back that lying piece of garbage that is my depression, how like that statement about walking uphill both ways to school depression is. There’s no coasting with depression. There’s only uphill.

I like stairs. I like two-story houses and often, when I have to go to a second or third floor of a building, I will scurry up the stairs instead of taking an elevator. It’s an easy way to keep in shape for an old guy like me. Lots of stairs though? Like the Washington Monument stairs? It eventually crushes you.

Unless you do it every day. Then you grow strong. And that is one of the positives of walking uphill every day. I’m stronger for it. Not by choice maybe, but by circumstance. If fighting depression built muscles, I’d look like a young Swartzneiger.

I’ve said it before. People who battle depression and other mental illnesses are my heroes. They are not weak, they are strong because they have to be. Most of them never complain. They fight their battles (too) alone, in a society that puts them down for it.

But they are fighters. Ali has nothing on them. Hitting a person is easy. Hitting bad voodoo chemistry and elusive lying demons in your head is hard. But it can be done. With help. You who are living it with help know what I mean. Those of you battling it alone, it’s time to get help. It’s work. Stairs going up both ways. And you getting strong in the process.

Dance like a butterfly. Sting like a bee. You can be like Ali.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

PS: The picture was taken at the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts.

 

Poem: Architecture

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Architecture

The space is open. Light fills the air.
Straight lines lead the eye,
a simplicity so perfect it brings tears to your eyes.

It is, you tell yourself, a matter of architecture,
design and the will
to remake the madness.

About this poem

I am always seeking simplicity, and when I find it, something moves in me.

The picture was taken at the West Wing of the National Galleries.

Tom

Poem: Forever

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Forever

Late at night, you hear the trains,
faraway whistles and rumbles,
the fact that you can hear them,
a sign that the weather is changing.

The tree peepers have grown silent in anticipation
and the woman you love nestles close.
Now and again. heat lightning silently flashes
and you see the silk of her shoulder.

It is a new journey you are making.
and you think of the trains so distant,
traveling in the night
their destiny decided by steel tracks.

Your destiny is bound to something stronger,
a thing of choice, unexpected love grasped in the moment
and molded into a forever you never imagined, and now,
cannot imagine being without.