resized bronze child

Friendly Fire

 

 

He would sit under the kitchen table
About an hour before each mid-week transfer.
Clockwork.
Just sit, wrapped up in himself.
Quietly, not even petulantly.
Resignation in the set of his shoulders,
A look in his eyes
Not of sadness, but worse,
Surrender.

christmas lights

Minor Defects Will Not Affect Wear

How can you care not
For this earthly life?
Even with its vagaries,
Its ragtag beginnings,
Unspeakable endings.

Remember how
The latte at the corner café that late afternoon
Arrived as the autumn light dappled your newspaper just so,
Intertwined hearts atop the foam,
Courtesy of the beaming waitress who announced
She was getting married.

You sometimes reach the bus just in time.
Blood tests come back perfectly normal.
Simple mini lights transform a sad house.
A fresh fall of snow perfects a neglected yard.

Awaken to the astonishing delights of the
Here and now.
The two legged terrier with the tailor-made chassis,
The tired little girl in the shopping cart who smiles back,
A favourite Phil Collins song on the car radio
In the pouring rain.

There are blessings.
They must be heeded.
It doesn’t get better.
It just may be enough.

Jeff-Phillips-Reflection-in-Puddle_840x400

November Came to Me.

 

Without warning

November came to me

In June.

The morning primrose newly budding in their sun warmed beds,

Always a welcome harbinger,

Now meaningless to me from

The dark and deep quiet of my bedroom above.

 

The stars when they appeared seemed meant for others

Capable of joy, even simple recognition,

My November revealing them as distortions,

Pinpoints of lights in the torn fabric of a distant

Foreboding world.

 

November came for the best of me

To extinguish my light,

My peace,

Leaving behind flats of nothingness

Hours, days, never to be accounted for,

Regained,

As I groped blindly through them.

Or slept. Or stared.

 

Laughter seemed inconceivable.

Sadness lay deep in my marrow

When November came to me

In June.

 

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Philips.)

SW06

How Things Happen

 

And you had no idea
They were coming.
The neighbor who turns ugly about your
Dog.
The girl you had your eye on all those months at night school
And you hear she got engaged to the dullard two rows
Over.
The audit the year you got
Sloppy.
The partner you thought had your back
Who contradicts you over a triviality among
Friends.
The doctor’s news when only that day
You’d ran five miles and met your wife for
Cappuccino.
The toddler not perfectly buckled
Up.
The gift of white designer jeans
Confirming he has not the faintest idea who you
Are.
The cop at the door
When things were going so
Well.

sepia photo for Brothers In Arms

Brothers in Arms

 

Writers are the most natural of allies.
We inhabit the same landscape.
The three a.m. grope for the right word.

We try not to wake anyone.
We stare at a comma. Just stare.
We wrestle with line breaks.

We start again.
Our drafts sit in piles.
Semi-colons mystify us all.

We find fascination in minuscule detail.
The girl’s hair down, or should it be a braid.
The navy shoes or the pale blue.

Was it raining or threatening rain.
Did she say the word goodbye or whisper it after.
Was the door left ajar on purpose.

We know there is a perfect title. A perfect modifier.
If only we can find it,
Tease it out gingerly.

Recognition is hard won.
What do poets do, they ask, mystified.
I’d write too if I had the time.

We creep into bed in the wee hours
Still wrestling with the last line.
Wondering if we came even close.

But if we get it right
We dare to join the pantheon of immortals
Before us,
Who persisted in that same dim light for the one word
Just out of reach.

little girl

Forget Everything.

Today’s prompt from my writer’s group “Forget everything” prompted this… assisted – ably – by three cups of coffee.

 

The Deceptively Simple

Forget everything you’ll never know about
Quantum physics
And oil futures.
What constitutes prime.
Leave string theory
For the committed.

Focus on the knowables
One at a time. Small bites.
Start with the deceptively simple.
This:
How to Talk to a Small Child at a Party.

Just like you would anyone else.
No special voices. They hate that.
No crouching down like you’re best friends.
Share casual observations.
Recommend the artichoke dip.

Do it right.
Before long
She’ll end up beside you on the couch
Asking your name
And your opinion of the latest Star Wars.

shopping-cart 840x400

No One Wants to Fail

This new poem is about choosing to not look away, but to notice.

Painful, yes, and there are easier choices. But it seems to me I have never had a choice. Perhaps others feel the same. And out of this decision to simply not look away comes so much, in ways I have no doubt are untold.

 

No One Wants to Fail.

From the cart behind me
I hear the commotion.
The little boy refuses to bend his knees
So his mother can place him
In the child’s seat in front.
He stiffens,
Screams.
Another child tugs at her skirt.
But she has had enough.
The shopping trip is sacrificed.
She yanks them through the exit doors,
Her face set in anger.

The boy will wish he had obeyed.
His sister will see it all unfold.
The mother will wish it was otherwise
But feel powerless to make it so.
Who among us
Wants to fail.