Poem: Dancing on Boats

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Dancing on Boats

You were never the best of dancers,
a little ungainly,
full of rhythm,
lacking in style,
but never quite bad enough to draw attention to yourself,
you danced in anonymity
even in crowds.

More often, you dance in defiance
of the demons who plague you,
each move an “in your face” declaration
that their opinions do matter less than the urging
of your bones, muscles, and soul,
made for joy, even at times, a joy you do not feel,

until you dance,
until your body reminds your spirit
what it was made for,
joy, courage, the foolishness to believe
you can dance on boats
and remain dry.

About this poem

A recent day-long seminar I went to had this memorable phrase in it: “Action trumps Anxiety”. It’ s pretty good advice for us folks fighting depression too.

I have a long history of jumping into things I am notably not qualified for, and somehow managing to do quite well. I call this, in my own mind “dancing on boats”. I find it more exhilarating than frightening, which is probably a character flaw or a lack of good sense. But it works for me.

The picture was taken in Venice.

Tom

Poem: Wildly Alive

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Wildly Alive

Inside the attic are the remains of victory.
Trophies and reminders of battles won.
They are in tatters. Rot has set in.
For victories are as fleeting as defeat.

And so you sharpen your sword.
You burnish your shield.
You nurse your wounds and say your prayers.

You breathe deeply and re-enter the fray,
read to bleed another day,
wildly alive at the uncertainty ahead.

About this poem

Nothing worth having simply lasts. Not love. Not faith. Not relationships. not success. We maintain it, work at it, nourish it, fight for it.

Or else.

That’s scary to me. Some days I wonder if I am up to the task. Somedays I am sure I am.

The picture was taken in my church’s attic.

Tom

Poem: Toast

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Toast

May this be the year
you find grace, peace, love
beyond your imagining,

the year passion runs riot
and you rediscover fire.

May this be the year of abundance,
not perhaps more,
simply enough.

May you find the pieces of the puzzle
that do not complete you,
but launch you wildly into the night,
where you reclaim the song of youth,
where you again, dance unafraid on the precipice,
unafraid, like a child.

May the nights bring you tenderness,
God’s caresses in the night,
May the ghosts become your friends,
and your friends, your muse.

May you learn to fly,
leaving those still earthbound astonished
envious, and prone to experiment with their own wings
like baby birds, ravenous for the sky.

About this poem. 

Happy New Year my friends and readers. This is my wish for myself, and my wish for you. A year that is not just better, but glorious, stunning, breathtaking in it’s joy.

Tom

Poem: Railing at the gods

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Railing at the gods

Rant.
Scream.
Throw your head back and rail
at the gods.

Be the madman.
Lose it.
Completely.

Become
unrecognizable
in your anger,
in your grief.

Let the tears fall
and fall again,
and yet again.

Drown yourself in them.
Let the grief win for once.
Forget being string,
or the image of strength.

Be the hurt.
Be the pain.
For there is no healing

until these things are purged
and allowed their brief victory,
allowed to believe
you have been conquered,.

Like the bully they are,
they will leave you alone
when there is no sport in tormenting you,
and so,

when they see you broken,
they will relax,
not knowing your surrender
is not surrender at all,
but merely a pause
before the battle turns.

About this poem. 

Try it. It works. And God doesn’t mind. He can take it. He is way more tolerant than we are.

The picture was taken in Richmond, Virginia.

Tom

Poem: Again, said the fool.

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Again, said the fool 

Each time you beat me,
each time you curse my name
and toss my battered heart to the ground
and leave me for dead.

Each time you are sure I will never survive.
I do.

Not that I am strong.
No, never that lie,
for I am not strong.

I can show you the scars,
show you how easily I break and how often.
Look closely, and you will see the ravines
where my tears flow.
There is no hiding them any more.

I am too broken.

But I do not die.
Oh no.
I insist (insist!) on standing again and again,
foolish, determined, shaky and relentless,
I rise and spread my wings,

never trusting them,
but trusting the winds that lift me higher
than you can reach.

About this poem. 

I may feel beat up. In fact this past year I have often felt beat up. But I am stupid. I always believe God wants better for me (and all of us). And what God wants, God gets.

The picture was taken on the Chesapeake Bay, in Maryland.

Tom

Poem: The Art of Surviving.

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The Art of Surviving

The leaf hangs on,
one of the last
still on the trees as you walk the quarry,

still bright,
full of fire and life
in it’s last days,

a survivor
of storms and seasons,
it knows

that surviving is more than lasting,
it is carrying your color with you
all the way to the end.

It is an art,
half toughness, half creativity,
and always, full of magic.

About this poem

I woke up feeling old this morning. Tired. Depressed. Then my anger kicked in. “I will not give in to a dead life.” I said. “I will not.”.  I got up. I played Dire Straits as I fixed breakfast. I danced as I cooked bacon. And sat down and wrote this poem, in a much better place.

Off to work for a living.

Tom

PS – the picture was taken in the quarry across the street, on Sunday afternoon.

Poem: The Beauty of Bad Art

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The Beauty of Bad Art

They tell me
someday it will all make sense,
that the odd angles,
the twists and turns will emerge
swanlike
into an artful life,
a fascinating story,
but for now,
it is merely an awkward oddity
of sacred and profane,
a film noir kind of life,
far too strange for truth.

And yet, it is.
The sun shines brightly
on each mismatch
of mixed emotions and contradiction,
a life of bad art, failed experiments
and hearts touched less
by brilliance than the courage
to try. .

About this poem

One of my favorite books is “The Four Agreements” by Miguel Ruiz. And my favorite agreement is to always do your best – and whatever that is, is enough.

People watch us. And most admire, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly, even our spectacular failures. Because we had the courage to take a chance.

The photograph is of the art museum in Roanoke Virginia. I happen to love it, but there are many there who think it’s a blight on the 19th century landscape of the city.

And somehow, from those three things. This poem.

Tom