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Ding dong, Ding dong
The bells ring at midnight
I smile as i rise
For nights my time to roam
I walk these lonely streets
Covered by darkness
I lay in the grass
And listen to the waters flow
As fireflies fly around my head
Lighting up the grim night sky
I let natures soothing song
Sway me to sleep
My Grandmother’s Hands
I looked down today and saw my grandmother’s hands;
Big, blue veins bulging like a network of highways and byways snaking through cities.
I remember these hands with the gnarled knuckles
making her fingers look like twisted trunks of ancient trees
adorned with shiny silver rings topped with colorful gems.
I can still hear the jingly sound they made, always tapping the old kitchen table,
clapping together in delight, or fingering her dangling gold necklace chain
anchored with the Nantucket basket charm.
Smelling of lavender shell-shaped soap and baby powder,
those 80-year-old age-spotted hands told stories of Swedish immigrants and distant relatives.
They flew kites and built sand castles,
sewed cotton summer pajamas and patched together quilts.
They constructed exquisite sea glass lamps,
and weaved wreaths of heather collected from salty marshlands of the Cape.
They were warm and held long embraces.
These 44-year old hands are still gathering stories to tell.
Veins have started to pop, marking the age rings on the trunk.
Will these hands be remembered?
Hands flecked with white sun spots,
with a permanent crack in the right index fingernail.
The same finger whose faint scar could share the tale of a solo-ride to the ER one college night.
The modest diamond on the ring finger sings the bluesy melody of the 50-year-old marriage it represents;
the left of 17 wedded years, a ballad in the making.
Maybe these hands will be remembered by the smaller ones they clasp today,
fingers intertwined, not cusped.
Or even smaller ones of the next generation.
They are still morphing into the bulging, twisting trunks they will become.
Those giants will not be glamorous, adorned with shiny rings;
but they will tell secrets and stories and hold onto a history
that will be carried forward in the hearts of a few who know each bump and crease.
Water can taste like wine
Saffron can smell like oranges
And thorns can feel soft
In a fantastic poem.
Trees sing their own songs
During the enchanting spring
During the melancholic autumn.
There is music in the dancing river
There is rapture in the shimmering woods.
When I said all these things
They didn’t believe me
Perhaps, they didn’t know
That such things can be
Felt, seen and heard
Only through a poet’s heart.
Grains of Sand
I am imagining the hourglass, with the steady downward stream of sand
The top is mom’s beautiful face but within is her brain
It began with the daily tasks, the confusion, the crying
Her new baby grandson was always the child some parent left on the church steps
The sand was steadily leaving the glass globe on the top
Oh, for the gift of time, to be able to hit pause
Next came the neighbors that visited but never had names
The inability to use a stove and finally even the electric tea pot
“What month is it, what day, is it nighttime now?”
The same questions repeated, hundreds of times a day
“You are so nice to help me, what was your name again?”
I say my name and a flicker passes over her face before the vacant gaze returns
“Mamma, mamma, where are you, I need you”
Spoken by my mom in a little girl’s voice
The daughter becomes the mamma, it’s okay
I can be whomever my mother needs, but would love to be me
Falling and Forgiveness
I carve a steep and perilous road with my addiction.
That old silver-tongued enemy slips in and the pattern
of my life–the one where I am endlessly falling–
insinuates itself so subtly I don’t realize I am repeating
the same old habits for the same old senseless reasons. Grace
is a friend whose name I have forgotten; I sense no redemption.
The demons are gratified that I have lost all hope of redemption
and, rather than feeding my soul, I feed my addiction.
I convince myself that I neither want nor need grace.
“I’m fine!” I shout at friends and family who notice a pattern
of self-neglect in my life. I ask myself why I am repeating
those old temptations. A hand reaches out, but I am falling
too fast and I don’t take hold. Besides, I like free falling.
Spiraling downward, I feel weightless and free. Redemption
is only for those who strike bottom. I see no harm in repeating
something that makes me feel so good. Is it really addiction
if I freely choose it? This is my path and my comforting pattern.
When I was young, my mother gathered us before Our Lady of Grace.
Kneeling beside her, I knew she prayed fervently for grace,
grace that would bind us together and keep us from falling
into that cauldron of self-pity and loss. She said, “You need to pattern
yourself after the saints–sinners who tried–and ask God’s redemption.”
“Repent,” she said through tears that stung my eyes… but addiction
is deaf, and blind, and cold-hearted. So I knelt there repeating
the prayers but lacking faith. Even now, I find myself repeating
prayers to please her, clinging tenuously to the hope that grace
will be enough to crush the serpent’s head of addiction.
Some days, the demons laugh maliciously as I am falling
off the precipice. Their sneering faces tell me that redemption
is not possible for me. I fall face up this time and the sky is a pattern
of gray, streaked with orange, purple, and delicate rose, a pattern
I have never seen before today. Hail Mary’s I am feebly repeating,
counting a rosary on my fingers, waiting for the impact. Redemption–
I wondered if it would hurt. I begged Our Lady of Grace
to cushion me, to wrap me in her mantle of blue as I was falling
swiftly now and needed mercy. She called out, “My son’s addiction
is forgiveness.” Have faith. Your life’s pattern can be one of healing grace,
not one of impulsively repeating. When you decide, you can stop falling.
Always, your redemption has been at hand; you are not fated to addiction.
If you know…
you are loved,
you are my joy,
your pain is my pain,
I have succeeded.
If you believe…
you are capable of great things,
you deserve only the best,
you are a wonder to behold,
my heart is full.
If you feel…
the magnitude of my love,
the depth of my affection,
the breadth of my admiration,
I am overjoyed.
If you attain…
success of the heart,
abundance of the spirit,
and one great love in your lifetime,
I will be grateful.
If you have learned…
family is everything,
love is all you truly need,
home is always home,
I have taught you well.
you own my heart.
May God Bless and Keep you.
May love know your name.
May tiny hands, one day, take hold of your heart;
for only then will you understand the enormity
of my love for you.
A brilliant thing, the lotus flower
Reaching up by day, by hour
To stretch into a stunning bloom
Delicate, but mighty too
The mud – it is the flowers past
Filled with nutrients to last
A place that fuels the fortitude
That lovely blossom will soon exude
So dark and cold within the muck
The seed must feel forever stuck
Then oh! So slowly there’s a shift
Suppressing stillness starts to lift
The journey starts – it comes to see
Unique beauty, possibility
A little light – and then some more
Growing clearer than before
Up and onward to the sun
Certain to finish what has begun
Breaking the surface silently
To fulfill the plans of destiny
The petals open up with grace
One by one in perfect space
The center bathed in sparkling warmth
One of a kind has come forth
Out of the cold, the dank and dark
Driven by it’s inner spark
Necessary- mud and time
To yield a soul that’s so sublime
‘Why do you weep?’
She asked him, breath evanescent.
With shuttered eyes she disintegrated
Into amaranthine memories fluorescent.
He cowered and could only answer this:
That he was immutable, anchored here.
That he parlayed across oceans but slept in a weir.
This impossible man, one half green mist
The other a boulder.
Absorbed by the moss of Dublin
While she eluded his kiss on her shoulder.
He was a cache of fragments with a plastered smile
But through his veins were shards of reverie.
Trickling, wandering, salient protrusions
Piercing him with incessant bravery.
Knowing every nothing but never anything more.
He needed merely to grasp, yet this was foremost:
Wondering only how she asked him
Like an unburdened ghost.
Emotions checked and well disguised
Behind those dark and deep-set eyes
Observations weighed and analyzed
Quiet, proud and dignified
Sometimes distant and aloof
I saw only strength, love and truth
I learned your wait-and-see philosophy,
Was self-restraint, not cowardly
You reserved your judgments until the end,
Knew that patience was the truth’s best friend
You fathered with a trusting hand
Taught me how to be an independent man
With those tools, I traced your steps
Found my true love and was three times blessed
Our times together became regretfully rare
But your love and support were always there,
Fleeting lives that slipped away
A regret that haunts me to this day
When I look at my reflection
In me there’s shades of you
We are different in so many ways
But more alike it’s true
A hopeful heart with skeptic’s eyes
I have miles to go to be as wise
Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out
Rocking back and forth and forth and back.
I sit beside your bed and watch you sleep.
I reach for your hand once strong and warm,
Now gnarled and wizened from years of hard use,
At my gentle touch on your left shoulder,
Your eyes struggle to open-then slowly drift shut,
As if the effort is too much.
As Alzheimer’s steals your essence, bit by bit.
You slowly breathe in and out, in and out
As I rock in time to your slumber.
In shades of gray
Seas are stark;
on summer guests
is a refuge
art and nature.
Their abstract patterns
artists and flowers
Its gift of stillness;
Its gift of rejuvenation.
We get up and
Our day is on its way
Today will be ok
It is always there
We get busy but
Also busy ourselves
It is always there
We get home
And do what has to be done
So far it’s ok
It is always there
I see her eyes and I know
We are not ok
It is always there
at first sight again
a crooked smile
a few tentative steps
a new beginning
a door slams