The Island Dog

He is everyone’s;
Yet he is no one’s.
Vacationers arrive, discover him,
Dote on him for two weeks,
then disappear.

He is their holiday project
A story they’ll tell over dinner at home.
Some allow him in, to sleep at the foot of their beds,
to guard their front door,
Some even toy with the idea of a rescue,
Could we, should we? Shots? Papers?
Questions asked,
with the exuberance of the relaxed and the happy,
but as the time to leave draws near
reality encroaches, the idea stalls.

A new band takes their place,
The island dog waits,
Knowing it will take only one,
One, to give him a name that won’t change,
One, to call it out in the dark
should he wander too far.
One, to call to him
and him alone:
Come home.

Felicity Point, Eleuthera, Bahamas
February 1, 2011

Puppeteer

Above the island
the moon is fully round these nights,
dripping light, succulent,
impossibly perfect.
But it’s not the wolves that howl here;
it’s the waves.
At the curl just offshore comes the low siren of them,
an organic sound building to a wail
as they break free at the shore.

Controlled,
commandeered by the moon
just as the wolves are.
She, all powerful in her sphere,
they, her pawns,
mere tools below
for her bidding.

Too Late Tomorrow

Fates ride on little moments.
Outcomes of entire lives can rest
on the seemingly miniscule.
Fresh from another of her parent’s brawls
The little girl shuffles to school.
She needs a sign today
that the world is a safe place,
something better awaits.

This one afternoon in her life
could turn her around,
steer her through the minefields.
A comforting word,
a warm glance her way,
the right things happening
at just the right time.

You know this little girl: Watch for her:
The window is narrow.
But you are powerful.
She is waiting
for the smallest,
the sweetest of mercies
to be saved.

Backwards

It is not the sunrise
that awakens in us a yearning
for the fresh start,
to take yet another look
at the possibility of things.

These days it is the sunset
that prompts reflecting back
on just how much is left
still to be done
before the light is gone.

Mute

The saddest sound in the world is
silence
where there were once words.
No answer
when I know you’re home.
Me
watching you walk away.

On the radio, Oh, oh, oh,oh…

What a great experience. I was interviewed yesterday on the local radio station about my writing and my upcoming book. It was so relaxed and the interviewer was truly interested in my answers. She made it feel like a conversation we were having in my living room. We talked about the value of poetry in my life and how much it has helped me through my darkest days.

It was not all downbeat though… lots of laughs and lighter moments too. as when I said I couldn’t resist an interview that came with donuts and coffee.

It’s my first marketing foray for my book of poems to be published this fall, entitled “Nothing Gold Can Stay: A Mother and Father Remembered.” I am just over the moon about doing it.

I’ll be selling copies on my website.

Stay tuned.

Second Thoughts

You think you’re writing poetry
and then you read one in a New Yorker,
about elephants,
tied together, heads down,
being traipsed in a line through the Queen’s midtown tunnel after midnight,
on their way to Ringling Brothers downtown,
forever away from their home and the wild,
and you just want to stop writing what,
for all these years,
you’ve been calling poetry.

Because someone asked for a poem for their wedding day…

The Unspoken Vows

For Jim and Becky on their Wedding Day.

You stand before one another today

Expectant, full of love,

And recite the traditional vows so many have before you,

And will after.

The simple, elegant vows of marriage, each word chosen with such care

To convey precise meaning, not one wasted,

Romantic, timeless,

Lovely.

 

But there is much they leave unsaid;

It may be the only limitation of the ceremony.

So much that the two of you will give to one another down through the years

In the name of love,

So much that you vow to each other, unknowingly, today.

 

Shall we speak of them now?

While we may?

Those nights when sleep won’t come and the other offers to make tea,

Dark days that weigh you down and the other gently lifts you up,

When your child needs guidance and the other finds the time,

The times she will see beauty in you when you see none in yourself.

How he’ll want others to see everything that you are, and can be.

 

It’s these unspoken vows that will see you through

day to day, year to year,

Side by side,

And speak volumes in their silence.

Tricia McCallum
April 8, 2010

Entreaties

My gums are bleeding again.

There’s a stack of papers that need attention

But I can’t find my glasses.

My truck is making that funny noise.

 

I sleep too late,

There’s no one here to wake me.

I don’t write,

Seems it’s all been said.

 

Your point’s been made:

I am selfish and fickle,

Say what you like.

Come home.

 

 

The Gift of Donovan

A frigid November day in Barrie, Ontario, 1967,

Wednesday, I remember;

We had just come from Novena Devotions.

Mark led me downtown to the town’s one record store,

“For a surprise,” he said.

 

The proprietor was in on this, I soon realized,

watching him head

to the stacks of wooden slots on the wall

and retrieve a 45 disc in its small paper sleeve.

 

The needle on the vinyl

dispensed a melody through the small shop,

And then Donovan’s innocent accented voice,

Colour sky havana lake

Colour sky rose carmethene

Alizarian crimson…

 

Next, the bewitching refrain,

Lord, kiss me once more

Fill me with song

Allah, kiss me once more

That I may, that I may…

 

Wear my love like heaven…

 

Worlds, colours I had not yet heard of,

at the age of 15.

 

Yet, I sensed the magic of which he sang.

 

I went on to my life, Mark to his.

 

Not long after he died, still a young man,

never giving me the chance to thank him for his gifts that day,

for seeing me in a way I had never seen myself,

as a girl worthy of devotion,

for giving me,

in that dead-end town,

an impossibly beautiful song.