Loganberry Jam.

IMG_20141023_183457_009

Logan 8/97 on the lid
In my mother’s distinctive hand.
I hesitate –
It’s the last one.

On my pantry shelf for fifteen years
Because every time I picked it up, I put it back:
It’s the very last one.

My childhood
My memories
My mother –
Preserved.

Today, Logan 8/97 is ripe for picking.

With a little pop,
The lid comes off,
Revealing brownberry jam:
The essence of a summer so long past.

Here’s to you, Momma:
Here’s to the countless berries
Picked,
Washed,
Mashed,
Sugared,
Thickened,
Jarred,
Sealed,
And shared.
Here’s to berry-stained fingers
And wooden spoons
And paraffin in a little pan.

Here’s to sweet, sweet memories airtight in half-pint jars.

Here’s to Logan 8/97
The very last one.

 

RLP 10/2014

Glazed Over.

Crazing, they call it,
This fine lacework of surface flaws,
Brittle, tenuous,
Smooth to the touch.

These spider web cracks betray the fault.
Passing eyes may not notice
The mark of unbearable stress,
But it’s there.
It’s always there.

Walk a little faster,
Keep your eyes fixed on what’s ahead,
And hope that your forward momentum
Is enough.

Because when it isn’t
And your pace slows
And your heart quickens
And your smile fades
And your breath catches
And the fissures widen
And the dam breaks

That’s when it shows.

That’s when they notice.

9-30-14 RLP

 

 

photo credit Tim Regan

Nightmares.

How do you describe a nightmare?

Unimaginable terror?

Inconsolable sorrow?

Devastating loss?

Paralyzing indecision?

Unquenchable thirst?

Unavoidable doom?

Irreparable damage?

Shocking revelations?

Shameful regret?

Irreversible harm?

Prolonged suffering?

Gripping fear?

Unconscionable evil?

Endless longing?

Infinite emptiness?

 

All of the above.

 

– RLP 9-6-14

 

 

photo credit r.nial.bradshaw

What I Meant (This Time).

Traveled hard.

No, not on roads:

On shrugged promises
Worn ragged with worry.

On disquieting dreams
Whose occupants have long faded.

On bitter regret
Too painful to forgive.

 

Perhaps hopeless,
But not without hope.
– RLP 7-27-14

 

 photo credit andronicusmax

A Remembrance or Two.

photo credit: The National Guard

 

I remember April 19, 1995.  I remember where I was when I heard that the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, had been bombed, resulting in the deaths of 168 innocent people and injuries to nearly 700 more.  I was stunned.  Finding out that it was a domestic terrorist act was even more of a shock.

I remember so many thoughts and emotions during those initial days; one morning about a week later, words came and I wrote them down.  I never gave it a title, just the date:

4/28/95.

From the soil of hate and vengeance
sprang an evil unforgiving,
Which sowed acts of pure maleficence
And death among the living.

It was in the hearts of cowards
that this wicked plan was hatched;
The result of their conspiracy
was tragedy, unmatched.

Broken lives and broken bodies,
broken spirits there abound
And for those who lost their loved ones,
broken hearts are all they’ve found.

In the midst of this disaster
stand the hearts and hands that mend:
Easing pain, allaying suffering,
bringing comfort and a friend.

It is through the tears of empathy
that we see beyond despair
And stand resolute and strengthened
by the faith that bonds us there.

If we think there’s more to living
than this brief time here on Earth –
If we look on death as not as much an end
as a rebirth,

Then the hope that’s deep within us
gives us peace and springs anew –
And we’re blessed with understanding
what it is we’re here to do.

Fast forward six years, to the horror of four coordinated attacks on September 11, 2001, claiming 2,977 victims and injuring several thousands more  Everyone knows what happened that day and how our country changed as a result of it. 

photo credit: PeterJBellis

Again, I was stirred by words that came to mind, and I revisited the 1995 piece. 

9-11-2001

From the soil of hate and vengeance spawned an evil unforgiving
Deep within the hearts of cowards it was hatched,
Manifest in purest malice, sowing death among the living –
A conspiracy of tragedy unmatched.

Broken hearts and broken bodies, broken spirits, broken lives
Heroes fallen, image burned into our minds –
Though grief and sorrow haunt us, human dignity survives,
What was rubble now becomes the act that binds.

In the middle of disaster, dust and ashes, twisted steel
We have empathy to see beyond despair,
Forgetting for a moment how detached we used to feel —
Standing strengthened by the faith that joins us there.

If we know there’s more to living than this brief time here on Earth
Then within us hope and peace will spring anew
If we look on death as not as much an end as a rebirth –
Then we’ll understand what we are here to do.

I remember trying to explain to my young sons about what happened; of course, there was no way to explain ‘why.’  I’m sure most, if not all, parents found it difficult.  You want to comfort your children and make them know they’re safe.  You want to keep the bogeyman and nightmares away — but sometimes, you can’t.

Number Young Son, six at the time, was frightened when he’d hear an airplane near our home.  There is a small private airstrip nearby, and we see and hear small planes on a regular basis.  It took a long time to convince him that planes weren’t going to crash into our house.  I remember Number One Son being very angry about it and wanting to hurt the bad men who hurt the people in those airplanes and buildings.

Time has eased the memory, as it is wont to do, but the utter shock of that day still rings in my ears.  Personally, it brings back memories I don’t want to entertain.  I pray we never experience that kind of a day again.

photo credits: The National Guard and PeterJBellis

The Technical Writer

Neck-deep in the workaday words
of engineer argot
and industry,
Practically drowning in practicality,

I feel a flutter
of gypsy-colored heartsong;
Carefree, it does not belong
with crisp and careful language.

I welcome the diversion
of sweet, emotional perfumery;
Then, with a sigh, return
to the task at hand,

One pithy paragraph at a time.

4/30/13

photo credit Bitman

 

Emily, Unleashed (and perhaps rolling in her grave)

Poems of Emily Dickinson - Easton Press Edtion

4/29 Daily Prompt: Unleash Your Inner Dickinson
National Poetry Writing Month is nearly at at end. To celebrate it, try your hand at some verse.
**********************

Waking

Sullen though it and I may be,
The morning has arrived, and I must greet it.

The coffee tastes the same as yesterday,
breaking my fast and turning my feet toward the door,
Grateful to see the sun ascend the heavens once more.

Still, I long for days hence
when the morning will arrive gently, warmly,
And I may greet it with sleepy smile.

4/29/13

photo credit Jemimus

Dave’s Diabolical Den – an Introduction

This is a poem I wrote in honor of my most diabolically masterful massage therapist, Dave.  It is only half in jest.  He said I could post it.  However, DJ has not said I could post the business card.  Actually, I haven’t asked, yet.

Disclaimer: this is not Dave’s card. This is DJ’s card.

Dave’s Diabolical Den

Welcome, all souls, to the Dungeon!
Please abandon your hope at the door!
And surrender yourself in the interest of Health
Maybe once, maybe twice, maybe more.

When you come, you know David will greet you
With a soft-spoken, “Go right on in.”
What you see is a freshly made table
What you don’t see is Dave’s wicked grin.

It’s deceptive, his comforting manner
He’s a calming and spiritual guy.
You’ve now willingly entered the mystical center
Of the spider web, Bold little Fly.

You admire the room’s decoration
And although you might not comprehend,
In no time at all, you will hear the strange call
Of Dave’s Diabolical Den.

For the devil is in all the details
From the music to soft leather mocs
This warmly lit room’s an enveloping womb;
And when you are settled, he knocks.

The warmth of the heat pad relaxes
You hear the most soothing of sounds
He happily hums as he presses his thumbs through your body
Right down to the ground.

You marvel where he finds your muscles –
You don’t really give it much thought.
Then you are reminded – and instantly blinded –
When his elbow discovers that spot.

He twists and he tweaks and he presses
He rubs and he shakes, and he pokes.
He gives one last push to the bones in your tush
While cheerfully telling you jokes.

As soon as it starts, then it’s over.
Once again, you’ve been saved by the bell.
You’re stiff and you’re sore, but you’ll come back for more
To the therapy version of Hell.

“Oh, surely you jest!” you are thinking.
Brave Reader, allow me to speak.
I’d never regale you with falsehoods, or fail you
By lodging my tongue in my cheek.

Dear Client, don’t let me dissuade you
From seeking the care that you need
I’m not here to scare you, or double-dog dare you
Just hear what I say, and pay heed.

I’ve rested my bones on this table
I’ve hollered and groaned with the best
I’ve had pain with no bruises! – The technique he uses
Would put the Marquis to the test.

I admit that it’s quite masochistic
To submit to the pain like I do.
I find it quite freeing to torment my being –
The question is – what about you?

I leave you with one final message:
Forget everything you’ve been taught.
For once you have braved through the torture of Dave
“Relaxation massage” is just rot!

10/2005

photo credit dj

Passages 3/27/02

Indifferent, counting slain illusions
Remember when you played the game?
The years gaze back above the razor
Older, wiser, honor, blame.

Naked truths and fallen heroes
Conscious shift from then to now
Playing from the hand they dealt you
Mindful what your thoughts allow.

At times, the commonplace is foreign
And the foreign, commonplace
Faintly glint the knowing moments
Drawing dark across your face.

Early in the quiet mornings
Doubtful little whispers creep
Though daydreams promise simple pleasures,
Restless minds make fitful sleep.

Paid your dues and paid respect
Tipped your hat and moved along
Perspective changes everything —
Love and war and right and wrong.

Where pale and hollow words fall short,
One silent look the thought conveys
A small but tender reassurance
Affection, borne in little ways.

Fill the void with flights of fancy
Think a lot, but when you’re through
Keep in mind that what you’ve given
In the end, returns to you.

*Wrote this for a friend.  It was subsequently made into a song by another friend, a musician, and published on one of his CDs.