old words

August 15, 2014

bits of sun and afternoon

Poems that have tumbled out of a time of chaotic peace and this beautiful summer.

The Hummingbird
The strangled music from speakers
didn’t seem so beautiful
when I heard the rushing brook of wind through leafy rapids.
And glowing screens didn’t quite delight
the way the cheerful susans did,
black-eyed and waltzing.

I had been overrun by a hundred beats of wing
sprouted from an iridescent emerald back,
poking around the bee balm.

I lingered,

hoping the hummingbird might return.
Sinking Sun
She let her hair float round her face
with tickling, cirrus wisps that danced the way
little girls’ locks do underwater as
their liquid smiles of wonder
bubble to the surface in giggled gasps.

Funny how fire made me long for the sea.

A Sunset
Her gaze lingered golden on the treetops,
blowing glittering kisses to
the rivers as they tumbled into restless slumber,

before fluffing her own, stormy pillows and pulling
cumulus covers over her head.

She peeked out once
with a flash of a smile in her coral-colored eyes,
then slipped out of ours into her own, starry dreams.

July 24, 2014

for the love of outdoors

A poem born of the summer. And I did spend time with a honey bee or two, coaxing them out of my bouquet and listening to the tunes they hum. 


The honey bee
and I
exchanged pleasantries
over a bouquet so new
he thought the blooms were still rooted.
I explained his mistake in whispers
and the rearranging of a coneflower
he had taken a liking to.
We talked about blackberries
and then the coolness
so rare in the summer tilt
of the Northern hemisphere.
He and I agreed
that the day’s clouds
would make exceptional
window-dressers since their
imaginations and mutations
were fanciful,
but elegant.

I mentioned I had seen
a butterfly
and he begged a detailed description.
“She landed on a coneflower
just near me, beside the one
I was about to pick.
Iridescent browns, orange stripes,
two blue puddles,
and a small bit missing
on the right wing.”
I never knew why he asked,
for he flew off
and I took the bouquet inside,
glad to have made the time
to exchange pleasantries

with the world on the other side
of doors.

July 7, 2014

Time Travel

I have been writing a great deal lately. Poetry, mostly. Some of it is good. Some of it is terrible. Some of it needs to brew for a while. Anton Chekhov, a successful writer, said these words that comfort my terrible poetry: “Only he is an emancipated thinker who is not afraid to write foolish things.” Hopefully what I have chosen to post is not of that material, however.
Only time will tell.

Time Travel
The far mountain line
peeks between
the balusters
of the heavily green forest
that descends gradually
down the mountain
to a field.
My hands remember
the feeling of this moss,
still clinging to the trunks
in a desperate embrace
that has eased
into habit.
My feet recall
the rooted ways
and small
stony rubble of the
path that curves
at the tree line.
I have loved these woods,
but oh,
the breaking through,
the pushing aside
of haphazardly slapping,
grasping limbs
and that final step
to western sky,
unfiltered sun
that beams in
and edges the trees
that climb the slopes
in a paler,
brighter green,
painting scales on the slopes
with its own trees
so the mountain
can remember it was once
a dragon,
and can swallow the
hollow metal wind machines
that ride its back
attempting to break
the mountain
by ripping out her tree hair
and trying very hard
to be still in
the her exhaling
gasp that ripples
through the field
at my
I watch those oats
in quiet ease
for they know peace,
want to know it

June 13, 2014

photographs and watercraft

This short story was based on a photograph of a man in a boat called Hattie on a lake. I wrote it basically in one sitting (with edits later, though it is pretty intact).

The Rowboat
My Dear Hattie,                 
   You’ll be horrified to know that I’ve gone and named my new rowboat after you. I tried real hard to name her Cordelia or Daphne or something vaguely romantic like that, but your name is written so clearly on every lovely thing I see, that it seemed dishonest to paint any other letters on her.            
   You told me I wasn’t too good at making “romantic gestures” as you called ‘em.  Don’t fear, now, I have given up trying to point out my love for you.            
   I took Hattie out the other day (that’d be the boat, not you or any other Hattie, though I don’t know as I know any other Hattie, and in truth, don’t want to. One woman named Hattie has been about all I can handle.) Anyhow, it was a nice day, though clouds crossed the sky all morning. I was on the lake, thinking about lunch, and the islands—you know, the stone ones topped with mangy pine trees that remind me of my brother?—they seemed a bit like giant hotcakes stacked up through a pool of syrup. Stacked up so tall they were, like the years I have loved you. (Not a romantic gesture, just a fact.)            
   The water, it was strange—very still, but somehow not quite like a mirror. The reflection was too blurry, like the way the world looks through an eyeful of tears. I know you understand, Hattie, because I’ve seen you with an eyeful yourself. You were never afraid of tears the way most folks are. I even remember you saying that blur was good for us, that it helped us see better when sadness passed. I’ve always remembered that. It was the time your friend left to go back eastward without even a goodbye or an address to write to. You sat there, fit to burst and whimpered out those words—bravest words I’ve ever heard, Hattie.            
Sometimes when I am out there on that peaceful lake, I imagine I am in a gondola. You told me about gondolas and Venice once—showed me a picture from a book. So I am in a gondola, gliding through the stone islands and they become buildings, tall and crumbling. And I wonder if in the reflection of me and my boat that I can’t see, you are here, telling me all sorts of interesting things, laughing kindly at my questions. Could there be another world in the reflections where my dreams play out like your Shakespeare’s dramas?           
   I wish the farmer hadn’t built a fence on the other side of the lake. It is blinding white and glares like an ugly skeleton from across the water. He could at least have left it brown.            
   Hattie, this boat has been the best thing for me. You know I love making boxes, chairs, tables, and such, but the sawdust sometimes clogs the thoughts. Out here I can think about you without being too sad, because the lake, well, she understands. She doesn’t laugh at me like your beaus used to, and I don’t have to explain myself. She is a friend like you were. She isn’t afraid of my tears, neither.           
   I cry for you a lot these days—it was always Spring you loved best.            
   I cannot come to you very soon, I am sorry to say. There’s work to be done here, and I cannot be selfish about these things. You taught me that, too, though not with words.            
   I know you don’t want me to say it, but I cannot help myself. I love you, dear Hattie.                                                           
                                                                    Ever Yours,                                                                                                                                                          Hugh

Letter found on the grave of Hattie Bell, 1889-1911


While I was writing, I didn't know that she was dead until just before the end. 

June 8, 2014

cracking open the dusty files

Our hearts are made of porcelain,
      at least the parts that feel.
They’re painted, pretty works of art,
          with cracks that will not heal.

I rarely use consistent rhyme these days, or consistent meter, but this one fell into its own rhythm a couple years ago as the words tumbled to the page. I was thinking about tea cups.

June 6, 2014

a new road

A Road the Woods Hadn't Quite Forgotten.

Avenue of grasses
doubly canaled,
strolling through forested hills.

Long forgotten by farmer, horse, auto—

Soon the woods will quite forget
the road 
ever wandered there.

Will our own steps
be so forgotten
when we
to breathe
the air?

This poem is a humble and very brief penning, for a humble, small beginning. Could it be better? Perhaps. But this is what I scribbled (plus a few minor tweaks) while in the car with my sister as the countryside sped by the well-used passenger window.