Poem: Unholy Ropes

stove_resize

Unholy Ropes

The ropes are rolled loosely in the corner.
Binding things, shrugged off late in life, often
replaced by more in some terrible cycle
of bondage.

Most were not your own. You surrendered to them
one by one, too often for the best of intentions,
not even aware of the sacrifice until
your eyes grew dim from lack of air,

your heart bound by unholy ropes
as the best of you slowly withered away.

But you did not die.
You teetered on the precipice of heaven and hell
like a drunken acrobat, dancing precipitously
as the crowd watched, unsure of what they were seeing.

You found your way
to solid ground and your roots dug down,
hungry, ravenous for the faith so lost in the morass
of failure, exhaustion, and malleability.

You found your way, and one by one,
thread by thread, cut yourself free, growing stronger
with each thin string sliced away, faster and faster,
until, beserker-like you could cut through the thickest bonds

like butter.
You became something you never sought
but always believed you were.
Strong.

The ropes are rolled loosely in the corner.
You keep them there, frayed and sliced,
reminders of how easily we become captives,
and the hard work of breaking free.

About this poem

I keep a lot of momentoes around my house and particularly around my desk. Not all of them are of good times. There’s a reason for that.

The picture was taken in Mystic Village, CT.

Tom

Poem: Where Broken Things Lie

30_resize

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: Suddenly, Immortal

2_resize.JPG

Suddenly, Immortal

The bricks tumble down the creek bed,
remnants of floods and storms,
all that is left of a bridge well built
and constructed to last.

But abuse and time and neglect
will destroy the strongest of structures,
and all that remains is the rubble.
Nothing worth saving stands.

Except you.

For the rubble had no meaning or value.
Not any longer. It is history,
and whatever you build will be something else,
more than a restoration,

it is your opportunity to become better, stronger,
and as tempting as it is to walk away
and leave the damage for archaeologists
and historians who have their own agenda,

you choose to build again,

to pile the broken bits and pieces
and like a sculptor create anew,
something worth marveling at,
where the flaws of the shattered foundations

startle those who saw the results of the flood.
No one else will know the miracle,
except those that saw you shattered.
No one else will know that the masterpiece that stands before them

is more of a miracle than they imagine.

They don’t need to know. You know
and that is enough. You know
that you are a creature built less of bricks, foundation and history
than persistence and tears,

that it is your imagination and foolishness
that rebuilds the most broken of things,
and will again, for once you have risen again, you know
that you can rise again, you become, suddenly,

immortal.

About this poem

I think often it is the survivors that appreciate life most. Not the bitter ones, but the other kind, the ones that found joy and love and their own personal power again. The ones whose voices rise about the chorus in thanksgiving.

The picture is of the remains of a culvert that broke down as a result of overuse (Big heavy machines that the bridge was not made to handle) and floods. A bad combination whether we are talking bridges or life.

Tom

Poem: Strangely Muted

14_resize

Strangely Muted

The flowers on the table are backlit by the sun
casting a strange tint to the colors,
bright, not quite real,
too like your life, all colors,
but strangely muted by the dark parts.

About this poem

Even in the best of time, there are dark parts. Even in the dark, there is color. Somehow by the grace of God, we survive both.

Tom

Poem: Where the Magic Begins

faiting couch

Where the Magic Begins

You have been destroyed
too many times to count.
Rendered unrecognizable
by lies and your own failures,
by the slow ravages of blindness,
largely unrecognizable
by any who stopped to look at the wreckage.

Fortunately, most do not.

They see what was, what they expect to see,
what was there before the bombs fell,
amazed less at the destruction that dismays you
than at your survival,
and love you craters, blood and all,
which of course
is where the magic begins.

About this poem. 

Generally, when I say “you” in a poem, I mean me. But you knew that.

The ravaged fainting couch is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Really.

Tom

Poem: The Heart Sings of Snow

death on the doorstep 2

The Heart Sings of Snow

The snow has begun again.
The weather has turned cold,
the kind of cold that slithers into your bones
and leaves you paralyzed.

You remember other winters.
Just as bitter. Just as cold.
But always, when they leave
you somehow think it is forever

and like a child, you frolic in the spring
as if it will last forever,
free and joyous and full of song.

But of course. It aways returns
with it’s raw beauty and killing cold,
and each one gets harder,

harder because age has thinned your skin
and all that is left to warm you
is a battered old heart, scarred and weary,

waiting for the warmth of April one last time
so it may live, and die,
young.

About this poem. 

It’s a love poem. I know it doesn’t read like one, but it is.

It’s a survival poem too. Sometimes the two are the same.

Tom

Poem: This is How it’s Made

sewing

This is How It’s Made

This is how it’s made,
in loving neglect,
a heavy smattering of
fiery abuse, of anger
too often triggered,
too rarely controlled,
of intimacy betrayed
and used like a knife
to wound,
not enough to kill,
but just enough to leave you
drained of blood,
drained of passion,
kept in your place
and leave you isolated
from those saddened and afraid
of the bloody truth.

This is how it’s made,
not in a firework filled flash,
but leeched out
drop by drop,
an anemia of love,
caused by fear, or need
or some other mystery you cannot grasp
as you slowly become invisible,
even to yourself.

This is how it’s made,
the chiseling away of the very passion
that once excited,
but somehow became dangerous
enough that you could no longer be allowed
to live,

But life is a persistent beast,
most dangerous at it’s end,
as it hangs on knowing that last spark
is flickering,
This is where the battle begins in earnest,
just at the moment they believe
victory is theirs,
you rise, determined not
to disappear.
rise with nothing left to lose
except the last scrap of your essence,
and fight or flee or both,
with strength you never expected,
unwilling, no, unable
to succumb any longer
to the draining death decades in the making.

This is how it’s made.

About this poem

Things are never as simple, or surprising, as they seem. There is a hidden history.

My son, who recently moved up with me, loves the show “How It’s Made”. So do I for that matter.

From those two things, this poem.

Tom