Poem: A Fullness Forgotten

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A Fullness Forgotten

You wake up to her perfume on your pillow.
You fix her coffee in the morning.
Where once there was silence in the morning, you talk.
Birds sing outside, mad and happy with the sunrise.

There is less fear in the air. More joy.
The house itself is less pristine, more perfect.
There are strange things in the icebox,
and stranger things still in your heart,

a fullness forgotten, a joy worth the wait,
worth even the pain that came before,
worth the lessons learned and the scars
that cut across your soul and your brow.

You breathe in the perfume.
You pick a single dark hair, wild and long, from the pillow.
You have always believed in life after death,
but you never expected it until the last breath passed your lips,

Certainly not now, in this place of old bones and abandonment.
And yet here you are with your beautiful broken angel,
who has breathed new life into your dry bones,
and taught you to sing anew with the early morning birds

Poem: News of My Impending Death

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News of My Impending Death

You replace the bricks
almost as fast as they come undone,
a life of restoration never quite as efficient
as the crumbling.

About this poem

Strains of Frank Sinatra and “That’s Life” (one of my favorite songs) playing on the radio.

Last night I read Yeats. “Things fall apart”  from “The Second Coming” is one of my favorite lines of poetry ever.

An autobiographical poem. Almost. Sometimes. Depending on my mood.

Tom

 

 

Poem: Why I Took the Picture

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Why I Took the Picture

I do not know why I like this picture.
It is simple. A rowboat on the canals of Amsterdam.
It is small. Not a noble thing, prosaic even,
on of hundreds along the brick-lined canals.
Its paint is faded and peeling.
There will be no great journeys in this boat,
just simple comings and goings,
a trip to the store perhaps, or to a job downstream.

As I snapped the photograph,
no one else gave the small craft a second glance.
It was one of hundreds, perhaps more they pass every day.
In a city traversed by bridges and boats
it is part of the background, no more,
and yet something made me stop and look at this one boat
more than the dozens tied up next to it,
made me raise my camera, frame a shot and capture it
to remember.

I have learned not to question the things I love,
their beauty, their draw;
not to question their song that draws me
like a child or a lover.
There is magic in that kind of love,
unexamined, unquestioned and I will not sully it
with too much self-examination.
Save that for the hard work of repairing the world’s damage.

I prefer to be a child. To believe in magic where there is beauty,
to believe in a God who wants my delight and yours
and litters our world with unexpected beauty,
to accept my proclivity to see beauty in the worn and broken,
in the small, to allow myself the luxury of delight
where others pass by.

And so I snapped the picture.
I stood a while and watched the wavelets of the canal
dance with the light,
bringing the moment with me, and with it, the small smile
of remembering.

Poem: Outdated

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Outdated

Courage is not your strong point.
You plod.
You struggle.
You apply the veneer with the best of them.

You fight fear,
armed with little more than a smile
and an outdated faith,
fully out of fashion, and yet
surprisingly effective.

About this poem. 

This began as an essay. Then became a long rambling poem, a Miltonesque monolog on faith. Then I began to whittle and whittle, to chip away and clip off a word here, a line there.

This is all that was left.

That’s the way life works, I think. Whittle away the crap and eventually, you get to the good stuff. The reminder, the lesson, is probably better than the poem.

Tom

Poem: What I Know

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What I Know

This is what I know.
That I can break.
That I am not as strong as I would like to believe
and confronted with enough anger, enough abandonment,
enough lies and theivery of the things I love,
and I will collapse like brick in a fire.

This is what I know.
That I can rise.
That the reclamation always takes longer than the destruction,
but in the end, the broken parts, once repaired
are stronger than the seams untested by fire.

This is what I know.
The broken parts hurt.
The pain changes with time, but never evaporates.
The broken parts show their scars.
It is inevitable and honest to wear those scars,
not proudly, but without shame,
content to be
what I am.

This is what I know.
Lessons of a broken life.
There are things in life far beyond me.
God. Love. Children. The minds of cats.
That a glaring lack of perfection
is better for love than all the facades in the universe.
That worthiness is mine to decide, and no one else’s.
That God whispers.
That haters are already half dead.
That love heals. Always.
That none of this is hard,
but all is choice.

This is what I know.

Poem: Strange Zen

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Strange Zen

The sun bears hot on the back of your neck
and your naked toes burrow into the sand
seeking cooler places, closer to the water level inches below.

In the distance, water tides upward, consuming shoreline,
tossing rocks and shells and stray driftwood landward.

There is no storm this day. The air is still
and you can predict just how far the water will rise
before ebbing deep back into the ocean.

You know
you are safe.

You know you are safe so your mind can wander,
savoring shadows and sun, basking in memories
of love and spirit and soft flesh in the night,
wallowing in recollections gentle and harsh,
your failings, your fallings, and the times you have soared
like some vast bird of prey, wafting high on the wind.

The tide rises slowly. You barely notice.
Your geography matters less than your safety,
less than your freedom from fear
that allows you to probe each scar without pain,
without worry that you will tear them open and bleed.

It is a strange zen, this safe place.
A new thing. Magic, you think.
or perhaps biblical grace come to life.
Either way,
you have struggled to trust it, to meet its magic
with something more than hope,
to believe it.
Trust it.
Live in it, a bird freed from its cage
singing, but always looking back
to its wirey prison.