Poem: Inappropriately Optimistic

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Inappropriately Optimistic

You can’t fool me. I am old enough to know
that seasons come and go.
I have survived them all, the glorious and gory.
my blood and tears have fed the earth,
and I have danced on the graves of ancestors and betrayers.
I have watched my nearly dead body from above
and I have wallowed in warm sand with sun on my skin.

I have survived them all,
and so this little pittance you throw at me,
a spot of bad weather in the long list of years,
this raunchy dangerous time, will pass.
I know this now. It is the benefit of grey hair
and wrinkled skin, of having lived in deep graves
and climbed out more than once.

So snow away.
Cover the remains of green grass.
Strip my trees of leaves and blow cold from the mountain.
It will pass.
So pardon me if I don’t wring my hands.
If I have the gall to laugh at the latest disaster,
inappropriately optimistic.
You can’t fool me.

About this poem. 

When you become a pastor in the Methodist Church, you have to go through a barrage of psychological tests. I came out fine except what they called an “inappropriate optimism.” A dangerous thing, they told me, making me subject to disappointment and damage.

Oh well. I’m sixty-three. I have people to love and people who love me. The rest will pass. In fact, a lot of it already has.

Tom

Poem: Hopelessly

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Hopelessly

I am old and out of fashion,
hopelessly male.
I have learned discretion,
the ability to close my mouth,
capturing the improper
before it spills out all incorrect
and out of time.

But still,
I am old and out of fashion,
with all its good and bad,
full of manners and
the belief that some things are best left unsaid,
that it is worth the pain of silence
to keep a relationship without bullet holes and blood.
I open doors for the women I precede,
whether they want me to or not.
I use, too often it seems, multisyllabic words,
the right fork, and the right wine glass,
Speak sometimes too directly and others,
too obliquely.

But still,
I am old and out of fashion,
and so I will tell you, perhaps too often,
how I love the way you look,
sparkling green eyes and satin skin,
the tilt of your head and the hint of cleavage,
the promise in your walk.
I smile when you enter the room,
and it is not just because you are good company,
(though you are that and more,
conversing like a courtesan.)
but because me and my wrinkles
appreciate beauty still, and particularly,
the blush on your cheeks when I do.

About this poem.

I could have played on the hopelessly in love thing, but it is in the poet’s manual that we can’t use cliches, even when they are correct. Nearly two years into our marriage, I never expected this kind of love. And yet, here I am. I don’t think I will ever lose the gratitude and wonderment.

And yes, that is the woman I love.

Tom

Poem: Traveling Sins

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Traveling Sins

Yours are not the only ones.
The small rosewood rooms are like coffins,
full of confessions, banal and badass,
a spilling place of truths
going back generations.

You can feel them when you enter,
a ghostly awareness that your sins
have far less power than you give them.
Yours are no worse than the others,
no less forgivable

The polished rosewood somehow does not make those sins more palatable
They are, no matter the scenery, artless.
wild things, better perhaps to release them outside
where there are horizons and skies for them to fly to,
never to haunt again, dissipated smoke,
and nothing more.

About this poem

We are often bad at forgiving, particularly forgiving ourselves. And so we carry a burden that punishes no one, except, of course, ourselves.

The picture was taken in Rome.

Tom

Poem: Delightfully Lost

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Delightfully Lost

This is where you learn,

Not where you are,
Not where you are destined,
but on the road in between,
in the wrong turns and wrecks,
in the detours.

whoever told you the journey was a straight line
and predicted the hours, to the minute,
lied.

This is where you learn,
not where you are,
but where the landscapes seem strange
and you find yourself lost.
Where the weather flashes with storms
and there is no place to rest, where
you are forced to go forward,
for there is no other place to go.

This is where stories are bred.
The ones that define you.
Sagas of survival and renewal,
your own Oddessy,

and whether you are fleeing from
or careening towards,
this is the way. Never where you are.
Never where you are destined,
but in the movement.
Here, but only for the moment,
waiting with expectation
for the next wrong turn,
delightfully lost once again.

About this poem

I have found some of the best things in my life, and the most interesting things in myself, when I was lost.

Tom

Poem: Where Broken Things Lie

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Where Broken Things Lie

In the attic, there is light.
Not much, granted,
just a flare here and there from the small windows
that punctuate the walls at each end,
spotlights driven by sun and time,
each hour a new exposure,

for this is the place where broken things lie,
the things we save,
knowing few of them will ever emerge
from this dark prison.

Former treasures no longer valued enough to use.
Broken things burdened with memories, a vague value.
History you would rather forget, but can’t quite.
They all cling to you with silent chains, these relics
of who you once were.

They will gather dust here.
They will rust and rot.
But they will not die.
Be sure of that.
The sun will rotate with the hours,
and each piece of you will have its moment on the stage,
reminding you
nothing ever dies
no matter how deep you bury it.

About this poem

More about memories, trauma and dreams than things.

The picture was taken at the Shaker Villiage in Hancock, Mass.

Tom

Poem: Better Things

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Better Things

There are places to go,
and the weatherman lied;
places to go,
but not quite yet.
Life is better served

returning to the bed,
crawling under the quilt
and laying next to your warmth.

We can look out the window together
and talk skin to skin,
soul to soul
as only those without time can.

There are places to go,
and you can hear others making the journey,
their tires squirreling in the snow.
They can hurry. We have better things to do

and the wisdom to know
the wisdom of occasionally going

nowhere.

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About this poem. 

The weatherman DID lie. A trickle of predicted snow turned into two days of the stuff. But we did head out to our places to go, instead of lingering at home and looking out windows together with a cup of coffee in our hands.

But the lingering would have been better.

Tom

PS: The pictures are from my driveway this morning.

Poem: Without Trappings

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Without Trappings

You fix breakfast in your cast iron pan.
You sip your coffee.
The cat swirls around your feet.

Victory, it seems, is yours for the day.
You have clambered out of the bed.
There are things to do and with a battle cry,

“It’s showtime!”, your feet hit the cold red floor,
a stumbling warrior, not ready,
but determined, And that is enough for the day.

It is an odd kind of war you fight.
Battles easily won with the simplest of weapons,
but the victory never quite complete.

Still, you will wage it, gladly.
There is beauty to be claimed,
and you are determined to have it,

that and all you want is just on the other side
of the battlefield.
What is a bit of blood in comparison?

You can keep your secrets,
your complications,
your frenzied plans and counter plans, your sureness

that you are overwhelmed
without your array of weapons.
I will keep my simple mantras.

Songs of God and doing, belief
that simplicity works.
Love works.

And neither need trappings.

About this poem. 

People make things too complicated. Even the battles we fight are simpler than we make them. The things we want are so close, just on the other side of the complications, we create.

I believe this with all my soul.

Tom