Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shedding the Mask

Before the battle
Donning chain mail and plate
Wrought shield and sword
Gave him comfort secure
Even knowing the enemy
Would claim its portion
In life and limb.
He rode onto the grounds of destiny
With confidence – virile and strong –
Intent on his duty
And the dance of his charge.

But after days of execution
Precise and of chance
Seeing the slain – comrade and foe
A weary portent of final fever
Crept onto the field.
First, more a false thought
Like a glance off the helmet
Or arrows to underbush.
But now, predominating,
Overwhelming his being,
Corrupting his dream.

He wanted to shed the armor
To gain new life
Revive in strength
And mount again his steed
Stripped of all but cinch
Stirrup and grip.
Take flight and annihilate
The heaviness of fate
Of hate and righteous anger
By the lance of light and heart
Is Soul renewed.

The war in the higher world
Is charged with pure intent
By the shock of truth.
No longer the battle commands
Of darkness afar
And deviant deed.
No longer the deceit
of mask and cover.
A new battle rejoined
When was it first?
And when will we march again?

Today, padded and fit
For two more months of winter
And its multiple of worn reality
Of users debt froze fast.
I tire of the mask and cover.
Spring comes as earth turns
Slowly. And lightning strikes
The flyers of false keys slyly kited.
But also it lights
The pine tree of freedom.
Shedding my mask I see.

Really it was just another below-zero winter day that inspired this. It aint Spring yet? No. And other storms do threaten.

Addendum 1/31/09:
If you detect a slight political tinge to this post, you are right. Covering snow drifts with snow seems clean, but the dirt and dog dung is all exposed soon enough. I feel all stimulus plans and bailouts are just a lot of fluffy ferry dust blinding us with false promise and hiding a worse storm ahead. The snow mask isn’t all we must remove. Freedom (economic and otherwise) comes with responsibility—not schemes to pad the pants of the devious and well connected.

I really didn’t intend on getting political and preachy here. If you’d like to have my expanded view see my Share Tree blog and my post on Financial Responsibility.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lonely Hours -- Two Recollections

The fist is mine written April 7, 1998:

I cannot remember it's start this time, but life is good for me. Times were good, and they were hard . . . I don't remember bad. There's a balance in its memory--playtime joy, fantasy adventure, even heartfelt hurt. I now treasure the hard times, for looking back, they're good.

I do recall at three, or four, or five years old, for sure. We walked the field, my sister and I, in sun, and flowers, and wind on wheat. We followed thistle and grasses wove in the fence--the rust-wire fence that led us post-by-post to the pasture furthest south and east from the house. In these two acres with the three oak trees, and bramble near the corner post outside the gate, the hours slipped by as we were blessed with bachelor button and dandelion--over the hill, down from the barn, by the creek.

We didn't hear Mom calling, or know her frantic search--or know why she shed tears upon our gift bouquets.

Nor did I understand my sobs, when later Mom would read the poem she wrote of this account: Lonely Hours. She read it many times to family and friends, and uncles and aunts. And never in that time, and to the age of reason, did I hear the poem without my heart being wrung and wrenched of tears. I'd often leave the room before its final lines. Or Mom would forewarn the reading, so I could retreat outside. But still within my heart, what was the pain I felt? Even in silence the oft repeated rhyme cried loudly for relief.

This morning I glanced at the portraits of my daughters on the wall. I paused and understood, as tears formed in my eyes. There is no shame in crying--for a mother's love. And no misunderstanding can hide a boy's heart from his mother, or his daughters' from their dad.

I wrote that piece after our daughters had left home already. At times someone would ask, Do you miss them? My answer is always: No. I love them. Same with my mother. I don't miss what lives in my heart.

Our girls are now about the age my mom was when she wrote of the above incident. Here is her poem:

Lonely Hours

My feet ache, still my heart is glad.
The small ones left; it made me sad.
I scolded them a while before
And all because they slammed the door.
It woke the baby and made him cry
And, oh, for peace so much longed I.
They asked me, then, what should they do?
I paid no heed. Before I knew
A silence rare fell all around --
Those little ones could not be found.
Perhaps they thought of what to do,
But where were they? If I just knew.
Oh, please, God, help and keep them safe
And I'll be good and never chafe
At little things they often do
And noise they make the whole day through.
I called and called -- no answer came.
I ran and ran 'til I was lame.
Down to the creek -- they were not there.
Where could they be, that tiny pair?
I called some more; the plane o'er head
Drowned out my voice. Oh, were they dead?
Up through the lane, top of the hill --
No children there, it was so still.
Hastening on farther away
Next through the field I made my way.
I called and called and called again --
Only the rustling of growing grain
Blown by the wind was all I heard.
Where was Mary? Where was Gerard?
I fear and hope I sped along,
Shies were clouding, the way was long.
Shading my eyes the better to see
Two objects small beneath a tree.
And there they were quite unconcerned,
Those two dear ones for whom I yearned,
Their tiny hands clenched with flowers
Gathered by them these lonely hours.
Thank God they're safe and I must weep.
Oh, happy heart, but aching feet! . . .

I have to say, I think mom's rendition is the better one. Another one of her poems can be read in my eulogy for her in August of 2006.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Catching glimpses of other characters on our stage, scenarios unfold, sometimes intermesh with a scene or lesson of our own.


Two trains pass not stopping.
Otherwise there’d be doors opening
and passengers exchanging places.
Maybe names, and even
affinities forming.
Long wait at the station
into nowhere on this line.

We pass on the platform everyday.
Don’t look at your face
and you never open my eyes with yours.
What would happen if the train stopped
and we touched each other
on the Express to Central?

I could see forever in your eyes.
Or has the conductor
already signaled ahead?
Sliding doors, passing cars,
and hearts never fully opened.

(first published in 2005)