Poem: A Brief Vacation

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A Brief Vacation

Outside the diner, it is rush hour.
Cars and trucks, mired in the grime of March snows, drive by.
Here inside, forks clink against plates. Conversation reigns.
A spatula clicks against the grill as it makes eggs and hash.

You cup of coffee cools as you disappear.
Eyes closed, you listen to the waves,
water against stone. Rhythmic as breathing.
Your heart slows. Your mind calms.
More real than real, you live in the moment,

not this one, perhaps, with its noise and bluster,
but in the moment nonetheless,
soulful and strengthening.

Shortly you will return to the diner,
to your metal and green vinyl chair.
You will sip your lukewarm coffee.
You will eat your eggs.
A new man, home from vacation,
ready for the day,

Poem: Simple Magic

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Simple Magic

A little less
and a little less.
No need to hurry.
Simply remove one thing
and then another.

Learn
what you need
and what you do not.
The list is shorter than you think.

Give things away.
Release them.
Someone will want them, sure
it is just what they need.

There is magic in it, understanding
how little you need.

There is power in it.
Heaven and happiness grows closer, simpler,
more possible
as the fear of what you might loose grows
less and less
important.

About this poem

When I went through my divorce a dozen years ago, I took very little from our huge old farmhouse in Virginia. My ex kept asking “Don’t you want this (or that)?”  In the moment, I took less because I did not care. I was too broken to care.

But as I healed, I quickly found I liked having less. And life ever since then has been a quest to give things away faster than they seemed to come in. And after more than a decade, I’ve learned what I need and what I want, and I’ve learned I need less than I used to think.

I like simple. It calms me. It leaves room for the new. It leaves room for thought and spirit and creativity to expand and fill the space.

The picture was taken at the Hancock Shaker Village near Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Tom

Poem: Daily It Comes

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Daily It Comes

This is your battle,
fought daily,
to find peace
in a world coming undone
like the second coming,
unwanted truths rising
like the tide.

About this poem

Written after reading one of my favorite poems of all time, The Second Coming, by W. H. Auden.

My life is a constant struggle for peace, something I seem to need more than most people. In the country and time we live in today, there is not much of that to be found.

The picture was taken at Hampton Beach, NH.

And that is where poems come from.

Poem: Still Battles

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Still Battles

Come, sit.
It is a long journey to peace,
and the way is hard.
From time to time,
you need rest.

Rest from the journey
that takes you nowhere,
that changes nothing
except
how you see.

Rest.
The journey inward is arduous.

Unlearning, it seems is harder
than learning,
and there is much of it to be done.
Many tears to shed.
Many lies to untangle.

There are barriers to climb.
There are those who wish you
their particular blindness,
who flood you with their truths,
their lies,
and defy you to tell the difference.
Confusion is their friend.
Confusion is your enemy
and they depend upon it
to keep you in thrall.

But you have made the journey.
you have learned to sit with the pain.
You have learned how often explosions lie.
You have learned to be still
To trust the silence
more than the noise.

It is not an easy thing.
The battle leaves wounds
that heal only partially.
Healing comes slow.
It is never complete, and still,
you journey.
You listen,
You, finally, see
just enough to know
this is not all there is,
that peace is not found in grand resolutions
or the snarl of hate.

It is found in the quiet of the river.
It is found in the crook of your lover’s arms.
It is found in the babble of children,
the purr of a small cat,
in a cup of coffee,
or the perfume of phlox in the evening,
in the patience
to be still.

Do not mistake stillness for ease.
Because the demons are all lies,
does not make them less treacherous.
Because they live within,
they are no less damaging or easier
to kill.
No. The ones that live within are harder still to battle.
Their death comes harder because part of you dies with them,
and at first, you are unsure
what will replace them.

So sit with me.
Breathe in the meadow.
My love will fill you.
And yours will fill me.
And in the quiet, we will find more than peace.
We will find
ourselves.

About this poem.

A poem of the soul, of God’s love, and our love for each other. A poem of my journey, and others. A love poem that goes beyond people around us to ourselves and the truths we believe most.

The picture was taken at The Clark Art Institute.

Tom

Poem: Able, finally

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Able, finally

Quiet
Waves so gentle
you can barely hear them.
The wind, a whisper.

Half a dozen ducks swim silently
past blue water and indigo skies,
a beautiful exorcism,

your demons quiet,
their twisted truths somehow purged,
evaporated,
allowing you to pretend,

at least for this one moment,
that they have died,
finally,
never to return,

If you think,
you know the truth,
that their gnarly teeth and twisted tongues
are eternal,

a mix of chemicals and trauma,
that rises and falls with the moon,

But now, in this moment, they are subdued,
and you are as you were meant to be,
lost in the moment,
able,
finally
to feel in safety.

About this poem

Peace comes hard. Writing about it, for me, is more difficult that writing about struggles.

Strange huh? And a little sad, I think.

Tom

Poem: A Bloody Refusal

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A Bloody Refusal

What if I refused to play?
Refused to hate, refused to conquer,
refused to raise my sword
and leave you as bloody
as you left me,
refused to seeth, insisted
on letting the firestorm pass over me
and bear the burns
instead of fighting back and searing your flesh
as surely as you have marred mine?

What if I prayed for you each day
like a monk’s daily devotions,
if I felt your sadness each time your whip
cut into me and cried less
for myself than your refusal to release yourself
from the agony of your own choices.

What if I refused,
yes, I say it again, refused
to sacrifice my soul on the altar of your hate
and simply bore it without words, without the truth
that would scourge you far worse
than the blood you have let from my tender flesh,
the blood that has run across the floor,
and marred the places I live and love.

Am I then a sacrifice?
A fool?
Is my silence mistaken for weakness?
Does it matter?

Ah that then, is the crux.
Does it matter, this refusal of mine,
this silent madness?
Is it wisdom?
Is it faith?
Is it a lost art? Is it better lost
or should I join the frey
and unleash the truth and anger that bubbles
like poison
just beneath my placid face?

I sigh beneath my scars.
Never sure.
Watching my blood seep into the floorboards
and staining each and every one,
life taking it’s leave with each crack of your whip,
laughing,
not quite mad,
not quite saint, something different,
invisibly human,
body broken,
soul soaring,
I fly,
Broken wings and all.

About this poem

Personal and political. Both. Either.  A poem of faith and wonder. Tainted by Matthew 5:5, a verse I struggle with constantly.

Tom

Poem: Strange Zen

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Strange Zen

Bolts of cloth,
one stacked on the other:
art
without meaning to be,
a picture of peace,
a memory of grandmothers’ feather beds.

You stand,
less looking
than soaking in the strange zen,
their aura, something
perhaps
only you can feel,

and only in this moment.

About this poem

I can’t sew a lick. But I’ve always loved going into fabric stores and seeing the patterns and colors. A poor man’s museum perhaps.

It began when my mother used to take me to Joanne’s Fabrics as a small boy, and it continues to this day. I have a friend, Maria Wulf, who is a fabric artist and when I get to visit her studio I can stand and look at the piles of cloth for what probably seems, to outsiders, a bit too long of a time. This particular stack of cloth was at the Shaker Villiage in Stockbridge, Mass.

Tom