The Bears on the Stairs.

February 26, 2017 § 2 Comments

bear-2

****

There is a place at the top of the stairs,

that’s a favorite haunt of nighttime bears.

They park their butts so fuzzy and wide,

two across and side-by-side.

****

Sis and I sleep unawares,

guarded safe by those bears on the stairs.

Lulled by the music of grunt, rustle, groan,

we sleep secure; we are not alone.

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The restless arrow.

February 18, 2017 § 4 Comments

arrow

If I were to represent our species with a symbol it would be an arrow. The direction of the arrow is unimportant; that changes quickly and often.

The important thing is that an arrow is going somewhere with all possible haste. And so are we.

Our existence is made manifest, validated, and given importance by how quickly we fly toward a destination.

But the goal, once we get there, is not a steady state, not a resting place. The arrow will move on, taking aim at another target, another must-get-to place it will fly right past, hesitating just long enough to check the accomplishment off the list.

Then onward!

arrowsWe aim for “there,” but “there” never becomes “here.”

“There” is a moving target, so we spend our lives in transit.

The sense of arrival is fleeting. Few rest on the laurels of a goal achieved, few rest, period.

 

I figure things out as I write, and looking at that last sentence I see I inadvertently revealed another side of the arrow-flight that is human endeavor.

We equate arrival with rest. And what is rest for?

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When I’m with you.

February 12, 2017 § 6 Comments

img_1203Who am I?

That depends.

My alone-self is relaxed, and as comfortable as a pair of well-worn jeans, entertained by quiet thinking, making a little music, leaving a trail of words across a page.

Who am I in company? That depends on the company.

It’s not that I am a mirror, vacant until you step up, but I respond to you.

Together, we create a dance that is not the freewheeling dance of all-alone. We cue each other. We synchronize.

Depending on you, the shift from the inner me to the public me can be slight or profound, but it always happens.

You do it too. You change for me as we turn toward each other.

No one is unyielding, unresponsive. No one is, under all circumstances, a single, monolithic self. That would be as impractical as wearing one outfit for all occasions.

Now, think of the people you are closest to: parents, children, spouse, best friend, colleague. But don’t think of them with you. Think of you with them.

Who do you become in their company?

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Unlike a brief encounter with a stranger, that one-off in which we hold a door or honk because that idiot hasn’t noticed the green light, our encounters with those we know well come with a history, an unspoken set of rules. Over the years a shared vocabulary has been established.

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Back at you, Dorothy Parker.

February 4, 2017 § 1 Comment

dorothy-parker1-1I had never even heard of a response poem until I went to this year’s great annual gathering of English teachers, the NCTE conference in Atlanta.

It was the final day, participants slumped in their seats and thinking of the trip home, when a high school  poetry troupe burst onto the stage. They were there to talk back to existing poems with poems of their own.

Those conventional, mostly-dead poets wouldn’t know what hit them if they had heard these teens rap back at them with fervor, sass, conviction, and a barrage of words.

We all sat up straight in our seats–this was great!

So what is a response poem? As soon as I got home I asked the great god Google for the details.

And the oracle said, a response poem can answer another poem, or mirror its structure. It can update it. Steal an opening line and go from there—all’s fair as long as the poem responds in some way to the original.

Now that I knew what a response poem was, I had to test drive one. Before taking on something heavy like “Ode on a Grecian Urn”  I pulled up this Dorothy Parker poem: « Read the rest of this entry »

My catalog of you.

January 29, 2017 § 9 Comments

trike1

Claudia, Chris and my mother.

You and I go way back.

Way, way back.

I know you through a trail of moments that shine like a comet’s tail all the way to the horizon.

Vanished moments, vanished days?  None are really gone. They’re all right here in my catalog of you.

Versions you have outgrown or discarded? Got ’em, right here. Preserved as if in amber. The you of right-now is the hardest for me to see because I view you through the lens of all the yous I have known over the years.

I carry with me at all times, the scrapbook of you–I can open to any page.

Old? You’re not old. I’ve known you young and that’s who you are. What wrinkles?

matthews-classIf you are my best and oldest friend I still see you with chapped knees, waiting with me at the school bus stop up north. Remember up north? We’re still from there although it’s been years.

We don’t see each other all that often. Family and work obligations. You know… We are arrested at some point in the past, back when we had time, back when we were close.

That’s who you are to me, and who I am to you, still a couple of kids at the bus stop, or college roommates, or student teachers at the same elementary school. We could pick up that thread easy, if and when we get together.

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Worry…worry…worry…then repeat.

November 26, 2016 § 11 Comments

worry

Worry doesn’t knock. It knows where you hide the key. Stumble out of sleep and, if it hasn’t climbed into bed with you, you will find it in its usual spot at the kitchen table, leaning on its elbows.

Might as well pour it a cup of coffee.

All day long worry steps on your heels, messes with you. It makes sure the car cranks like it isn’t going to start. It does, but not before adrenaline spikes. It sends text messages. It writes newspaper headlines. It keeps you distracted, ensuring that you misplace your glasses.

Worry runs the same movie over and over in a continuous loop behind whatever else is going on. It never serves popcorn.

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It Always Rains On Halloween.

October 28, 2016 § 6 Comments

halloween-silhouette

It always rains on Halloween.

It turns the midget witches mean.

Hulk howls and drips an acid green,

and everyone gets wet between

plastic costume and plastic hat.

Princess hair goes limp and flat.

Water logs the vampire bat.

All stand and drip on front door mat.

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