New Plymouth

The dense smoke rose into the air,
and with it went my prayers for my son.
He had left our burgeoning village before dawn,
hunting beaver and fox for their pelts.

I was reluctant to let him go,
but the other men convinced me
that he would be safe, and he promised me
he would not stray beyond the areas mapped.

The woods outside our village seemed dense
to my eyes, and, to my senses, cumbersome
to enter quietly as a savage hunter,
but his youth gives him powers I have not.

So, I hunker by the entrance to our village,
and wait for an answer to my prayer,
the sight of my son again, hale and whole,
and ignore the murmurs of my weak heart.

My good wife brings me clay, and I set
myself to making cement for our well,
and hope, a new prayer, that our Lord sees fit
to keep us bound together in this life.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 45 at The Sunday Whirl.

E. S.

kindness seeps away
over the decades
the memory of younger years
smudgy with layers added
so the truth of kindness
becomes shadowy
next to the truth of profit

what he knows now
one has to pick oneself up
by the bootstraps and work

driven by a restless mind
he sought to ignore
his scorched soul
the scars and sores
invisible to most
the only balance he knew
that of the bank account

and so he found himself
nestled in his lonely bed
visited one night by three ghosts
with bizarre, unearthly powers
he tried to whistle
and wheedle away his fear
but he found he could not

and what he came to know
was a wealth of kindness
few, if any, thought him capable
for now what he set on the balance
was not money

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 44 at The Sunday Whirl.

The Little Magic Shop

I love my customers
I’ve ransacked my backroom
to find the right items
for valued customers

Purchase or trade
I don’t care which
But I never use stickers
for prices
Too tacky

And I keep all purchases
strictly confidential

All sorts of charms
A monocle to see through fog
A handkerchief to control weeping
A mirror for visions
A belt that will guarantee
you a successful interview
A jacket that will make you a blur
at night or in dim light

Our location?
Oh, I’m sorry, dear,
if you don’t already know,
I can’t help you

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 43 at The Sunday Whirl.

Bigger Shoes

This is not a polite poem.
You can stop reading now
if you want.
I’ll never know.

And isn’t that the problem?
The things we don’t do.

I wish I had bigger shoes,
shoes to kick the shit
(I warned you)
out of racism, homophobia, you name it,
man’s inhumanity to man
and woman
and child.

They wouldn’t be comfortable shoes,
but then that’s the point.
The right things aren’t often the easy things,
but, really, how hard is it to be kind?

My bigger shoes would have a tread of compassion
that left a mark of kindness,
kindness that would lead to action,
rather than the non-action of fear.

I’m not trying to be holier than thou.
Trust me – I know I’m not.
I’m just trying to wear bigger shoes.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to the Big Shoes prompt at We Write Poems.

A Poetry Field Trip, from De Anza College

The narrow brown path, like a stream bed
formed by death, black heels crushing
seeds, almost sterile, almost lunar.
The sparse green blades, together
like banks for the stream bed, curving out quietly,
turning from us, holding the dew away.
She and I stood, unspeaking, at the crest,
the view striking us mute, this view
of Silicon Valley from a hill over the trees.
The magic broken by Robert,
who had to talk,
commenting on our silence.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Lying in a Hammock for Tuesday’s Tryout at Margo Roby’s Wordgathering blog.

This poem is based on a real event, a poetry field trip, which my Introduction to Poetry teacher, John Lovas, did with his students. We left the campus, drove to this spot that had this amazing view of the valley, and we read poems to each other out in nature.

I tried to use the senses, to make it descriptive, and to move toward the epiphany… or, rather, the epiphany interrupted, by Robert, a fellow student in the class. He happened to be a good poet himself; he just talked too much.

Doomsday Preparation

when the rebellion is over
and those who would save us
have been exiled by our petulant leaders,
armed with their dubious rationales,

when our culture is in ruins,
the land a scar, the rebels
billows of ash and dust,
the grid gone, the fuses worthless,

I will dart for my underground shelter,
latch the lead-lined doors,
and surround myself with the metallic
staccato of my typewriter

and write a poem before I die

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 42 at The Sunday Whirl.

New Thoughts on Old

I’m somebody’s old man / am I really that old?

I haven’t hit old age / this is just mid-life

I’ve got some gray that makes me look old
but I blame that on the young

I am the oldest son / and the oldest grandson

I haven’t aged / like whiskey or brandy or wine

I’m old enough to know better / but not old enough to be wise

I don’t talk about the good old days
I think the days now are just fine

I might be an older model / than some others you’ve seen
but I’ve managed to keep the mileage pretty low

I’m an old hand at writing
but the writing keeps me young

I wouldn’t say I’m an old soul
but I’ve always acted older than my years

I still like it when old students
come back to say hello

And I am not quite old enough to remember
The Flintstones and their “gay old time” in prime time

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Prompt #41 – Old Relatives at Poetic Bloomings.

“if i wur uh bel”

if i wur uh bel
i woodnt ring

id sit at th end
uv uh trumpet
and curv th notes

sendin them out
for u to hear

spelin dont mater
in jaz
nor gramer neether

it haz to swing
thats al

just maik u
tap yur toes
snap yur fingers

just maik u smile
for Miles and milz

/ / /

This is a poem I wrote yesterday while my students were writing their poems. The prompt from Susan Sibbet of California Poets in the Schools was to use sound. My first thought was to play with homophones, words that are spelled differently but sound the same. I brainstormed a list of those, and somehow that got me thinking about the spelling of words and how they sound, so I tried to spell them as they sound, rather than worrying about spelling.

The other inspiration was “If I Were a Bell” by the Miles Davis Quintet, which I had happened to hear on my iPod yesterday morning on my drive in to work.