Wrestling With Poetry


Wrestling With Poetry

I struggled to take the pen from the poem. I knew she had some things to say
But I did too
So we went back and forth, battle of the wills
I tried to explain
In my calmest voice, that it was imperative that I get this on paper
I did not shout, no bold was used, only italics
Calmly I told her, you know the drill
If I do not get these words about the metaphor of the garden and my aging
Or the simile about raising my chickens and parenting, well it will all go up in a metaphorical puff of smoke

The poem made her point, no rhyming or argumentative couplets were pulled from her back pocket
She simply stated that her verse was siting on the tip of her tongue
And no doubt it would be lost, buried in the graveyard of unprinted poems if she were not allowed to proceed
With the impending poem that was percolating on her parched lips
(I will admit she was a bit dramatic, but she remained a lady, throughout the discourse)

I considered pulling rank
But it was unclear to me
Who in fact was higher up the food chain

I pondered pulling the plug, which would have been cruel and would have involved
Electrical cords
(The one with the hands has the advantage in a duel such as this)

And then I thought about raising the white flag
Playing the martyr and playing dead

Wrestling with poetry is not for the faint of heart
And I have been down this road before

The problem with bullying your muse
Is well
You both end up bruised and bloodied
And poems with black eyes do not wear the badge of battle well

And no poems see the light of day
Which sort of defeats the point of wrestling with poetry in the first place

But for the record, since I have the fingers on the keyboard
My poem about the garden would have been perfectly delicious

And hers about wrestling with poetry
Well I let her win
This time

When Love Rides In Like The Calvary


When Love Rides In Like The Calvary

Saturday afternoon in the Sixties there were still
The Lone Ranger re-runs running across the boob tube
Mother’s term of endearment stuck

And cowboy shows that show a world far away from the South in
1960 something

It doesn’t take long

For an image to sear
Burn like a hot-iron brand on a cow’s hide

Marked by the rancher, for life

This image of a calvacade of salvation coming right at you
Through the cross-hairs, intending to rescue you by overtaking you
Knocking you right out the saddle
Ambushing your soul
Coming out from behind the hedge of cacti
Guns ablazin’
Both barrells loaded oh,
Yeah and locked

The men in white win you over by a show of force

The names have been changed, and more, to protect the guilty

Those who surprised you with love

Who was that masked man? You ask, knowing full well they were women

And they loved you so very well

High, ho Silver

Golden, these girls.

Branding you with a mark of love for life. This is the body of Christ.

Take, eat, remember.


A Matter Of Life And Death


A Matter of Life And Death

Everything pointed to life
(Doesn’t it always, at death)
As I watered the wall-to-wall carpet
I don’t know the color, but it soaked up my grief
Strange, the mind can find solace in stained glass and wood and the smell of Methodism
Trace the patterns and grooves to avoid the casket in front of the grieving widow
The windows bled pink in the April sunlight
Hat tip to last Sunday
He died on Easter, oh Jack

And afterwards there is so much life
Every bite of food explodes in your dry mouth,
Starving for more from the sweet Earth
Family feels warmer, blood pumping fast in a panic, white-knuckling life
Praying you’re not next, not just yet
And you could swear you heard him whisper from the grave
Odd how the breezes blow by your cheek like any other Tuesday’s breeze
But it is Thursday and you don’t know how many Thursdays are left
But you count it a matter of life at all costs
To gobble up the Wednesdays too
All of it like he did

But of all the tributes
And all the testifying
The greatest part about this man who loved Jesus
Because he did

The mold was broken after him
And the mold was broken after you and me
And that is a matter of life and death

This, loving people, as they are
Who they are
Mold breakers everyone
In grief life is clearer

My eyes took a poll of the room
They loved him
Well, oh so very well
His daughter held his hand in death
(I vow to hold hands more Mondays and Saturdays in my life)
And he wasn’t like you or like me
He was just Jack

Go live life now
I heard him “loud” whisper from his new life,  as I left a trail of regret in my wake
And please remember to laugh at all my jokes, through that precious impish grin

My heart took a poll at the graveside

Do You Know This Goodbye?


Do You Know This Goodbye

My goodbyes are spinning round
Like our tuxedo wearing cat
Donning daily her puffed paws, slippering her in silence
White like the Southern cash-cow, cotton
Out of boredom, half-wittedness, and ingenuity
She chases her tail
Becomes a blue streak
Changed in the circling
What was the clear delineation of black and white
Marked by etched lines that move neither by force or fate
Is no more
When weary she will stop the cycle of circling back around

That G in goodbye, guttural in grief

Have you heard these goodbyes
The ones that echo, boomeranging back
Like the white-socked bermuda-wearing tourist throwing his voice down the depths of
The Canyon, grand gesture for show
Easily amused at hearing himself come back
Repeating every vowel and consonant
The “H” is still silent in herb
Hard to believe
“H” does not return, now audible, changed by the journey down to the depths
Just back
Landing on your ear canal on the return trip
Instead of lingering along the lines of your chapped dry lips, broken

I know these goodbyes
But I cannot speak of them again
Instead I will learn to sign
Read braille
Code them into Morse
Change the flag’s position on the pole, half-mast says
You’re gone
Anything but speak them from the depths of grief

Please just say hello
When it is time for you to go

Or close the door without a word
Silence holds your memory well

Who put the good in goodbye
One who never knew