The Back Stairs
The steps are worn.
Weathered less by storms than rot and neglect,
pockmarked by two centuries of use.
They are the back steps.
Not for company.
Utilitarian treads with the paint long worn away.
Still, though, They serve their purpose.
A way up from the dank basement
to the light above.
They are for you, your favorite way up.
Out of sight, no pretense in them,
raw and useful. no need for decoration
it what after all is a prosaic task,
leaving the dark,
and claiming the light.
About this poem
Not every step of our journeys needs to be public. At times, the best and most important work is private, raw and more real than we want to admit.
The picture was taken at the Hancock Shaker Villiage.
The good news is that the carpet and padding are coming up pretty easily. I got about a third of it done this morning and should finish that part of it Monday. There’s a big pile of carpet on the ground beneath the open window and that will get tossed in the dumpster Monday as well.
The bad news is what’s underneath. The original floor under the subfloor is half rotted. The subfloor is fine, but… there’s this awful, brittle, ancient linoleum tile held (sort of) on by thick black mastic. Ugh. Oh, and they stapled the padding to the tiles, so a fair number of them popped off when I pulled up the padding.
Too much trouble to pull up the subfloor and put in another so I will be gluing the tiles back down and painting the floor I think. Not pretty, but this is a working studio. All I want is light and space and there’s plenty of both here.
The Beautiful Lie of Keys
So many keys.
Brass and steel.
New and old.
Tiny little keys,
each of them opened something,
and now the things that were once opened
And all that remains,
are the keys.
They are toys now,
beautiful things with no purpose,
only a reminder of things once locked away,
for safety, for secrets, for silence,
once important enough
for locks and of course,
That perhaps is the greatest secret,
that there are no secrets,
only love and work and belief
that keys are pointless things,
wasted time and energy,
a beautiful lie
that we can ever be safe
About this poem.
If I told you all the things that came together to write this poem, it would make your head spin. So just enjoy it and add your own meaning to it all.
The picture was taken at an antique shop in Cambridge, New York. ,
An update on the new studio.
A month or so ago I announced that I was going to be renting new studio space. A friend of mine recently bought an old Presbyterian Church in nearby Middle Granville, and I am renting the back room behind the sanctuary. It will get me about 4 times the space I have now, and great light.
My friend, Jeff Anderson, is turning the downstairs fellowship hall into a shop for making and repairing string instruments. And the sanctuary is intended to become a public space for performances, markets, and who knows what else.
I got the keys to the new space late this week. And this afternoon I took a few hours to clean the space out. There was furniture in there – desks and computer desks. Piles and piles of old mildewed hymnals and other ecclesiastical books (all but one beyond saving). Boxes of ancient Christmas decorations. A collection of fax machines (dead), a computer (Windows 95, version 1), random wires, moldy choir robes (a LOT of them, like a history of choir robe fashion for the last 6 decades.), trash, broken mirrors, frames beyond fixing. things I did not recognize, and a few things I was just plain afraid of. All this I hauled to the dumpster. After all that stuff, I took a hammer to a warped, heavy cabinet and broke it into pieces.
All of it into the dumpster.
Next? Pull up the musty old carpet and see what’s beneath it. And decide whether I am brave enough to pull up the subfloor to get to the original flooring, which looks wonderful, but who knows how rotted it may or may not be!
Life’s an adventure! I will keep you posted.
I am surrounded by dragons,
fierce and strong and often
far more ally than foe.
About this poem.
This one started out very, very long – a veritable history of dragons in Chinese lore and modern mythology. But in the end, all that was important were these three lines.
It has been from the hard stuff in life I’ve become strong and at times, wise. And yet, I hate the hard stuff when I am in it.
So much for wisdom.
Have a wonderful weekend.
It is an easterly wind that blows this morning,
a harbinger of storms from the sea,
slow and inevitable, it comes.
Outside, the flowers bloom defiantly.
It is not their first storm.
It will not be their last.
Each one causes them to dance differently,
to bend and twist and ruffle like laundry on the line,
and return to a semblance of themselves.
A point comes, when they can no longer hang on
as the winds rage.
All of us break, eventually.
But seasons come again,
and with each one, a new fragile beauty,
waiting for it’s moment to dance.
About this poem
Life is a messy thing. At least mine often is. But beauty remains, enough to get lost in it. And that is one of life’s saving graces.
The picture was taken in my backyard. Nothing remarkable in it, except how many storms this particular flower has survived.
Art on the Shore
The pylons stand like ungainly giraffes at low tide,
legs akimbo and uncertain.
It seems impossible that they once held piers,
straight and strong, that they held boats firm
through sea storms and summer squalls.
And yet, here they are,
their truth no less true for the improbability
and damage of neglect.
Too difficult to remove,
too expensive to repair,
they are ruins in the fog with their own broken beauty,
art on the seashore, waiting
to be discovered
About this poem
About old piers. About old people. About broken people.