A friend diagnosed with cancer
describes the reality of how it feels
to be beaten up over and over again
with pain, nausea from treatment
to treatment, then body-slammed
onto the floor, with cancer calling
out the challenge: Now show me
what you’ve got. It is in that moment,
she says, the gauntlet thrown down
and the body a mess of disease
that the choice is made to stagger
up to a standing position, and with
tears, tears of anger for the fact
of the need of this point of decision
and by that act of standing up
new life begins to build. First floor,
second floor, up to the third, where
treatment ends and hair grows back
not straight this time, but curly
and at a great rate.
Fly-specked and dusty and perfectly mine
is this space for poetry out of time
where worry troubles not the moted air.
Once over the threshold nary a care
can raise its fleecy bothersome head
demanding attention I’ve already shed
when doffing my coat and winter hat
and lighting a fire, spit-spat.
Done, I assume the writer’s seat
pick up the pen and relish the heat.
Ink on paper, word on tongue …
a chant that can be daily sung
to invoke the Muse in all its glory
and contribute one note to the human story.
Crisis over she’s back in her life
moving men like pawns in a game.
Lit up like Christmas she opens the door
and a host of solitaries comes alert
rising to the occasion of her
like soldiers when an officer enters the room.
Early in the morning
on the first day of the week
while it was still dark … John 21:1
You describe the state of the Model A
pushed over and down the river bank
to become part of a family’s history.
Brought to its resting place by one
of the brothers who knew
of your interest and restorer’s soul,
he said he’d be glad of it taken away.
You’re making your plans involving
a skidder to pull it up and onto
the flat, where you’ll bring a trailer
to haul it away, as you’ve hauled
a lifetime of ruination for restoration
in studio, in shop; it’s underway
in your mind. It’s underway.
The child touching the mother’s hair
watching the touching I sit behind them
watching the touching, wishing the touching
would never stop.
When did you start to write stories?
the child asks the poet.
Not until I was in my 30’s
but I was writing poems when I was a child
White paper. Black pen.
Ready? Let’s begin.
A fall day. Is that enough to say?
Do I need to list colors? Not Roy G. Biv
but fiery orange and wild pink
sharing branches of the same tree
even the same leaf,
and that’s the beginning.
Ready for a day of walking, looking
in order to really see and faithfully
deliver the Good News that life goes on
in spite of politics, including politics
falling at our feet each day in newspaper,
on television and now on line––
wars and threats and rumors of war
started by irresponsible men. And
women too, who get on the wagon
that climbs not to any star, but rolls
its way to hell on wheels of stone.
That given, remember the colors
of orange and pink that share
the veined space on the same leaf.
A phoebe rides the summer wind
on an outhanging branch of pine
while a fledgling phoebe appears
on the sill, its eye a bead beautiful
its feathered head like my grandson’s
head, freshly out of bed and all uncombed.