Poem: Strange Mirror

4 cropped BW.JPG

Strange Mirror

A single post still stands. raw and worn.
Alone, the last warrior against the weather and tides.

Alone. There is nothing nearby to give context or meaning,
as if it were dropped from the sky, and abandoned.

a signpost or promise or punishment? You cannot know.
It is simply there. Rugged beauty.

You hand slides down the harsh grain, still damp
from dew and the last tide. Somehow

the wood is still firm and strong: locust wood,
dark and twisted, not of this world, yet firmly planted,

strangely easy to ignore, part of the landscape
until you stop to see this odd mirror of your own soul.

Poem: The Things We Throw Away

2.JPG

The Things We Throw Away

Sometimes it is the things we throw away
that are the most beautiful.

About this poem

Are two lines a poem? I hope so.

Tom

PS – In a strange little twist of irony, this started out as a longish poem. I threw away a lot of it. Trust me though, they were not the most beautiful parts.

Poem: Unfinished Things

36.JPG

Unfinished Things

The table is full of unfinished things.
Broken things. Raw things.
Things begun. Things half finished
and things half abandoned.

There are bowls and boxes and tools.
There are new things.
There are things that are here no more.
Some fixed.
Some surrendered.
Some made into things anew.

It is a place of light,
a constant revelation of unfinished business,
of life as it is,
never quite whole,
a work in progress,
life revealed more in the joy or anger
in the fixing.

About this poem

When my kids were small, I had a place in my office we called the “Daddy Fix-it” pile. Broken things, mostly toys would appear there. I would fix them, More would appear. It was a joy, but it was also a constant for many, many years.

Life can be like that for all of us one day – a constant array of things, sometimes us, that needs to be fixed. It can be tiring. It can be rewarding. But it can’t be escaped.

Tom

Poem: Invisible

1.JPG

Invisible

Outside it snows.
There is ice in the mix. You can hear it
clicking on the windows.
On the street in front of the house, nothing moves,
rush hour lost in the pileup of small white flakes.

You work. Pen scribbles on paper.
Keys click on your computer.
Nothing changes, except the scenery, because of mere weather.
There is work to be done. Emotions to claw through.
God’s breath to be let in.
There are lessons to be learned
even in the silence,
perhaps especially in the silence.

A flat space.
Good light.
Time.

These are the things that make up your day.
You need no plaque on the door,
no title, no artificial pretense or announcement
of who or what you are.
You miss the tightrope some days,
the spotlight and drumroll,
the magic tricks that were no magic at all.

But mostly, you are content to be what you are
in all it’s quietness and lack of pretense,
no longer a thing of space and time,
but of thought and spirit, words and light,
rising and falling without the audience,
invisible to the crowd, seen
only by the few whose souls are connected
to mine.

 

About this poem

My life and work is radically different than it was for most of my adult life. Mostly, I like it.

The picture was taken at the Hancock Shaker Village.

Tom

Poem: Gloriously Wrong

ruins 2 BW.JPG

Gloriously Wrong

I know what you see.
I have seen it too.
Ruins. Remnants. Remains
of something once vital, once thriving,
full of purpose, a bastion
of commerce and creativity,
vital and bustling and alive,
boats, fresh from the sea,
seafood still writhing in the nets,
fishermen, hands raw, wool caps on their heads,
busy in the last act of the day, the unloading,
the distribution of the day’s catch
before they find their way home
of the closest pub.

Those who have lived close remember.
They can still smell the raw captives,
the desiel oil from old engines.
They can hear the clank of winches
and the dull thump of boats against the docks

that are no longer here.
None of it remains save these singular posts,
the last soldiers in a war of attrition,
victims of a neglect born of busyness,
too much activity, too much to do to maintain
the silent battle against saltwater and time
until the battle was lost,
the bastion abandoned, left
to become what it is this moment.
a monument to what was, and then,
with enough time and neglect,
a vague signpost to what was.

I know what you see.
I see it too.
I have lived it.
I have been those strong piles, driven deep into the earth.
I have been the platform,
the safe haven to tie up to
in times of storm and tides,
treasured and neglected until board by board
the rot won.
I became no more than this you see in front of you
A few final posts in the earth,
not even enough of me that passersby
could know what was once there.
an eyesore,
blocking the view,
dark and half rotten against the sea,
against the sky.

I have come close to the death,
close as skin to washing away,
to devolve from ruin to mist to a vague
memory, and yet now I stand
on new ground,
rebuilt by grace and stubbornness,
at the hand of others,
cheerleaders and historians,
mystics and priests of the God of Second Chances,
I have been reset, deeper still into the earth,
relying not on new foundations, but deeper still
into the soil that birthed me.
I have been built again, fresh cedar, new nails
of zinc and steel,
each day a battle against tide and storm,
two steps forward,
one back,
repeat,
a battle already lost, slowly won again,
won as slowly as it was lost,
a thing without drama,
a daily reminder that dead rarely means dead.
That there is life after life.
Life after rot. after betrayal, after false Gods and
failing,
each new shoring up of your own raw deal
a reminder when you see others
of what can be there,
not the same historical structures that once lived here,
but something new,
worn still, and yet more vital for the resurrection
that almost came.
too late.

I know what you see.
I have seen it too, and
was gloriously wrong.
The dead are not dead,
no matter how they seem.

About this poem

One of the good things about having been broken and rebuilt? You never see others in the same light.

The photograph was taken at the tip of Cape Cod, near Provincetown.

Tom

Poem: The Lost Art of Bridges

the lost art of bridges.JPG

The Lost Art of Bridges

You wonder sometimes, how long it will take
before neglect and time, weather and abuse
will take down this old bridge.

It was a railroad bridge.
You can still see the marks of where tracks once lay,
the rows of steel long ago stripped away.

If you dig into the dirt that has piled on the roadbed,
you might find a spike or two, black and rusted, still strong,
but with nothing to bind.

Trees grow there now, in a place where trees are not supposed to be.
Their roots probing in the soil, finding each man made weakness
in their search for food and growth.

There is a sign at the edge of the shore. A warning.
“Danger.” “Do not walk here.”
but you have never been good at obeying

and so you cross the threshold and step gingerly
to the center of the bridge. You are surprised
at how solid it still feels. You wonder,

no, you believe it could still hold the iron horse locomotives
that once crossed this river, twice a day,
to and from the paper mills an hour downstream.

But somewhere, sometime, someone determined
the bridge had become fragile, a danger,
a thing not worth saving.

It will fail someday. Not this moment, but certainly
it will fall. Neglected things always do.
But today you are here, your feet firm on the remaining steel and gravel,

shaded by the persistent tree.
The water flows below. mocking your false sense of safety,
Your unsubstantiated belief in the value of the abandoned.

About this poem

The picture was taken at  Eagle Rock, Virginia. I have been carrying it around for years and years and finally this morning, the poem I thought was in it, emerged.

I am patient like that.

Tom