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Hidden

5 Jan

Ready or not, the seeker says.
    There’s only so many holes to go down
in this house, but they run to them again
when the count begins.

Who crawls from the laundry heap
or out beneath the bed is musty, dust
and silliness, contented to be found,
or else lodging complaint
if the count was too quick.

They pull my hand, demand, Count loud!
You’re it!  Oak floors bounce and shake,
then all sounds whisper into secrets. 

I raise my voice to reckon time
before ready or not and here I come.
I go slow, but you’d never guess
the way they’ve flown, like ghosts,
behind doors and into backs of closets.

Then I search the rooms of our home;
I seek their faces,
and the light that would be
found in darkened places.

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Supply Yard Etiquette

16 Feb

Behind chain link, a shag dog waits
for the motor groan, the speech of brakes,
the slam-the-truck-door plumber, and the odors:
cheap cigar, pipe cement, fast food leftovers. 

Beer can hands unlock the gate,
deposit breakfast in a pan by salvaged sinks
rusting, roosting angled on their drains.
The dog slobbers, the man spits,

the sinks lean, warily,
away.

Love In A Whirlwind

11 Dec

I am memory’s author.
A story’s birth decorates my desk.
By pluck and plot and twist,
you ponder my works.
I write them.

These pages are dim alleys,
snow bright streets,
working hands, homeless feet,
ocean canyons, and a finger
pressed against your skin.

I write a whirlwind,
a burning coal in a child’s hand.
I write your name, your lips,
your chin.  Memory kindles,
a story is born again.

Trail Run

1 Dec

Gray squirrels rustling dry leaves
Skirt runners’ feet on the course;

A tolerant turtle parks and waits. 
But pale blue petals dappling dirt

Lie, and I trample the butterflies.
A crowd of survivor wings rises,

Blinking—the enduring blue
Eyelashes a buttress for my knees.

Meditation On Shadow

20 Jul

Lifted shades—shoulder blades
angled to the window;

Pen jots—mortal thoughts
cast immortal shadows;

Salt shaker, pepper mill
huddled on the table;

I, the paragon of Cain,
extol the offering of Abel.

Rising

22 Feb

She rubs mist from her drab face,
yawns as the granite moon descends,

ripples and shivers while embers,
buried by night, are stoked and blown. 

    From ash a yellow lobe will rise,
will hold itself, poised, in her reflection.
 
She joins leaf and limb, heralds again
the return of daylight and birdsong,

flaunts her glints and ruffles, beckons
one who, too long, has been gone. 

Saturday Coffee

25 Jul

I press the chop-saw through a two-by-four
and Van Gogh glares dust down around him.
Above his clay-brown hair, the rim has a big chip.

His expression says, I never asked for this
as if he guessed that fate would glaze him.
I make another cut: yellow dust settles

on the last of the cold black in my mug.  I pause,
arrested by his sober gaze…then check my mark
and raise the piney dust again.

VanGoghSelfPortrait1889-90OrsayAA web

Trampolines In Summer by Nathan Eells

24 Jun

I am bouncing.
Me and my brother,
we are bouncing
kangaroos in Australia,
our big feet pounding,
pounding the ground
as we race across the plain.

I am bouncing.
Me and my brother,
we are bouncing
high into the air.
Astronauts in space
zooming past bright green trees,
suspended high above the ground.
Then we plummet to earth
like rocks dropped off a bridge.

I am bouncing.
Me and my brother
we are bouncing
rubber balls
on a sidewalk.
Down we go—
we hit the pavement
without a sound,
like feet on the trampoline.

O Christ, Our King, Creator, Lord by Gregory The Great

11 Apr

O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord,
Savior of all who trust Thy Word,
To them who seek Thee ever near,
Now to our praises bend Thine ear.

In Thy dear cross a grace is found,
It flows from every streaming wound,
Whose power our inbred sin controls,
Breaks the firm bond, and frees our souls.

Thou didst create the stars of night,
Yet Thou hast veiled in flesh Thy light,
Hast deigned a mortal form to wear,
A mortal’s painful lot to bear.

When Thou didst hang upon the tree,
The quaking earth acknowledged Thee,
When Thou didst there yield up Thy breath
The world grew dark as shades of death.

Now in the Father’s glory high
Great Conqueror, never more to die,
Us by Thy mighty power defend,
And reign through ages without end.

Gregory The Great, d. 604

250px-Gregorythegreat

You Can’t Punch The Clock

9 Apr

You can’t punch the clock—
clicking keys for poetry
throws time to the floor.

Instead, punch the dashboard
for this chance car radio
news alliteration,

sources in Sadr
city say certain sectors
of the city seem. . .

Happenstance hardly
hurries handy helps or hints.
Haiku hesitates.

Top 10 Poetry Finalist In Asheville’s Mountain Xpress Poetry Show

31 Mar

Mountain_Xpress_Poetry_Prize_Finalists_Announced

The Poem, Sleep And Dreams

Outside by Caleb Eells, age eight (and Dad)

12 Jan

Miserable, miserable sad cats,
uncomfortable and depressed,
their ears are damp and folded flat;
their tails are limp and wet.

The day is cold as it is long
and makes their faces frown;
their bodies huddle in a throng
and snow keeps coming down.

They sit—their thoughts are on the dog
where fire warms his hide;
they think, if he gets up to go,
we’re locking him outside!

SNOWSTORM 2011 214

Dad’s Journal, Saturday January 1st

7 Jan

Arose, made coffee, oatmeal, and a list.
Hugged and kissed spouse, and prayed.
Discussed a canoe, a massage—a birthday.
Chased, regained, attempted to retain
next door neighbor’s pet, crazy.
Climbed up and down attic staircase,
then folded stairs away.

Exercised paintbrush on desktop
and taught third grader a bit
about how to paint.  Made a lap:
dressed toddler in pink boots
and green shirt.  Went out to help
with fifth grade science experiment
before it rained—got damp anyway.

Brushed and rolled here and there.
Watched fifth grader play computer game.
Watched Popeye and the gang.
Cleaned up for dinner.  Sat down
with family and ate.  Beheld faces,
took up the graces, read books…
then wrote, and hit the hay.

Let A Rose

25 Nov

buttons and rose

Let a rose be all things beautiful and true; let the rain be you.
Let a button be forbearance; let your blouse
be faded blue. 
Let a shoelace be repentance;
let me stop and tie my shoe.
Let a rose be all things beautiful and true.

Let a rose be all things beautiful and true; let a sigh be you.
Let a button be forgiveness; let your fingers
push it through. 
Let a shoelace be a promise;
let me double knot my shoe.
Let a rose be all things beautiful and true.

Three words are stuck

14 Nov

when I stand by you in the lot at the end of the night.
Oh, to be the man who need not say it right,

but the creases of my speech are neat.
     Three words could put wrinkles in the sheets,

could put some spice in the cream of wheat—
then the flavor would release;

then you’d taste my feast and want more—
but I fumble my keys; I reach for the car door

and lift.  My heart revs, as if about to race,
but three words are stuck in this parking space.

Self Portait In Pencil by Caleb Eells

Self portrait in pencil by Caleb Eells

Sleep and Dreams

26 Oct

man napping sculpture

No crime, keeping watch for couplets or half-lines
to cut through the alley or gather at the street sign.
They arrive as I usher my daughter to bed,
as I doze by her side.      And no surprise

to see them when I stay up after midnight…
but to find them at the trigger of a drive-by
is a hard rhyme.  I have no wish to testify

when the shooter is close—when he is the son
of a neighbor; when I pass him on the sidewalk
on his way back from the Short Stop—then I think,

No!  I didn’t hear a gunshot; I had a dream
that ended with a pop.  I tell myself
      I never had the gift; I need more sleep.
      No living poet would choose this street.

Clock by Nathan Eells

5 Jun

Clock
sitting on the wall
watching me.
Always talking: tick tock, you say.
Annoying, I say.
A giant watch peering at me.
Arms always moving around and around.
You won’t stop slapping yourself.
You’re always on time,
trapped inside your glass cage.
Always running,
never racing,
Clock

Nathan received the Written In Stone award from Stone Academy for this poem.  Nathan’s teacher submitted it to the Greenville News and it was published by them on Friday, June 4th.  The artwork is a favorite of mine that Nathan drew recently.

The Meaning Of Violence and The Desire For Violence

13 Apr

To read the next two segments (four and five) of my series, The Virtue Of Violence CLICK HERE and scroll down to:  4. The Meaning Of Violence.

It is Jesus’ virtuous, violent death on the cross that enables the meaning of my violence to be changed.  The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ makes it possible for my violence to be used by God for his good and virtuous purposes.

When the brutalized and risen one pursued me, caught me, turned me toward himself and joined me to himself by his Spirit, he began the ongoing process of turning the meaning of violence in my life (among other things).

Shepherds Of The Street

31 Mar

The shepherds of the street who pass our house
each day do not suppose they go their way for me.
By gentle steps, one or two move past our place.

At times, a posse walks up to the store
to meet some friends or buy a pack of smokes

and as they go, they talk to me if I am there
and rise above my fear to catch their eye.
Or I may give a Hey, to my surprise.

I am sure I never have that much to say,
but when we speak—or nod our heads to make a sign,
or pound our fists to greet, or even when,

from in the house, I hear them on their way—
I find their presence to be not unlike a compass.

The shepherds of the street do not suppose
they go for me, but, steady, move their feet
south by southwest or else north by northeast.

Sugarhouse

3 Mar

I helped to build our sugarhouse.
It has a metal roof. Steam escapes
through vent doors on the cupola.

We drill the trees, set the taps,
and hang buckets. When sap runs,
gather it and light the fire.

Slab wood pops and flames roar.
The firebox doors turn orange
and the evaporator boils.

When syrup aprons—when drops cling
and fall together from a dipper—
we draw off into a milk can.

My Dad works very hard.
We all chip in. The best part is
when we take a little taste now and then.

 

sugaringimg006

I grew up in Vermont.  I have many fond memories of time spent with my family making syrup in the sugarhouse we built in our backyard.  Sugaring is hard work, but very rewarding.

This poem is for my dad who worked harder than the rest of us and often stayed up late to finish the boiling by himself.

the sugarhouse

Tapestry

25 Dec

photo by Denton Harryman of GreenvilleDailyPhoto.com

Answered prayer, she says, you are an answer.
Billiard balls dance behind plate glass.
Cue sticks aim, wave, conduct our conversation.
Like over-sized batons they signal us to begin.

Friendly strangers, we lay out the makings
for a tapestry—words, expressions.  We weave
answers and questions.  A weft thread
beneath the warp rises to the pattern.

With longing, each one eyes the other
standing there.  Each looks for a close weave,
for a familiar image to appear amidst the intricacies,
beneath the lighted Corner Pocket sign.

Our eager, wanton prayers fly quickly, brightly,
like a tight rack of balls at the break.
Like many lavish threads, they emerge from below,
pressing against each other to form a whole.

to see more of Denton Harryman’s photography visit http://GreenvilleDailyPhoto.com


Winter Walk

1 Nov

winter-walk-(study)small

The silver paths beneath me rise, they brighten and sustain;
and I, by measured stride, rejoin their whited old refrain.

The snow, like fairest company, this night has come to call
till barren branch and evergreen are heartened by its’ fall.

Till, luminous, the moon reveals the way upon the row
and I, in bright reflection, lose my burdens as I go.

Till boots conceal their little plots of white upon the track
then rise to leave their mark upon the polished silver back.

The silver paths beneath me rise; the night is bright as day;
and I my measured stride release beneath their drift and sway.

Robert Buchanan, Hindenburg Docker

14 Oct

260px-Hindenburg_burning

Robert Buchanan waited on the field,
in wet clothes, to dock the Hindenburg.
No shadow marked its’ place
beneath the heavy morning sky.
The airship came close, then, POOF!—

strange enormous light, a bite, and suffocation.
He wondered, is this the end?
Heat shoved him, outran him, jumped down
on him.  It was the hottest thing
he would ever live to tell.

Rain came twice while he had waited;
twice its’ grace fell on him.
He escaped, but had to run a long way
before he turned
(to see from what he had been saved).

Robert Buchanan was interviewed for the PBS program History Detectives (Season 6, Episode 5).  His testimony of how he avoided severe burns and possible death at the crash of the Hindenburg inspired this poem.

Help My Unbelief by John Newton

25 Aug
Albert Finney as John Newton in Amazing Grace

Albert Finney as John Newton in Amazing Grace

I know the Lord is nigh,
and would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
and frights my soul away.
And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent,
though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
till Jesus makes it soft.
Till Jesus make it soft.

Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

I would but cannot love,
though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have power to move
a soul as base as mine.
A soul so base as mine.

I would but cannot rest,
in God’s most holy will;
I know what He appoints is best,
and murmur at it still.
I murmur at it still.

Pacifier At Night

9 Jun

You wake in the night and sit there.
You can’t make it better
because you know
you’ve lost it.  You need help,

so you weep and wait.  By and by,
hands fumble through sheets
until they locate the hidden
place it came to rest.

Those same hands find you,
find your face, your
lips…okay, there you go.  Now,
lay your sleepy head on the pillow.

Jesus Of The Scars by Edward Shillito

14 Jan

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, the only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars we claim Thy grace.

If when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are; have no fear;
Show us Thy Scars; we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds, only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

Hot Water

27 Dec

Under house. Crawl
Space. Three days.
Water heater. Anger.

Plastic pipe. C-ment.
Sore back. Stiff neck.
Grave glare.

Eight-year-old. Small
Hands. Unafraid.
Chips in. Questions.

Satisfied. Crawls out.
My face. Turnabout.
Wide grin.

My Black Cat by Caleb Eells (age 6)

28 Nov

My cat is black. He likes to
Play with a fish. He’s fast.
He loves to run around the house.
He sleeps with me. I stay awake while
He plays with my feet.
The next night is the same.

Cockroach

24 Nov

There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
How ever did he get there?
There’s a cockroach on your shoulder,
like he came right out of thin air!

There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
Jump around and scream like crazy!
There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
At least he isn’t on the baby!

There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
Brush him off and mash him quick!
There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
I think I’m going to be sick.

There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
He came by to have some supper.
There’s a cockroach on your shoulder!
At least he didn’t bring his brother!

Vengeance

4 Oct

The Hulk, when he’s uptight,
lets his anger open wide.
But, often, he is right
to don his greenish hide.

Batman has a grimace,
a pained and sober frown.
He lives to certain justice
for that crazy-evil clown.

King Kong can be tender.
He’s more than a mere beast.
Of feelings he can render
a bit of love, at least.

Monster, man, or animal,
vengeance will bring forth—
now vehement, now brutal—
their horror and their worth.