Girl, didn't you hear Monique say take that bonnet
Off before you leave the house
And while you're at it remove that pajama top
And put on a blouse.
Yeah, you guessed it right this is a
Sonnet About That Bonnet.
You arrive at your children's school
With that bed piece on
Looking like a straight up fool
Arriving at places of business
And got the folk over at Guinness
Wondering how long you gone
Keep it on...
And don't you dare blame it on the pandemic
Because this is habitual and systemic
First you told us that you were trying to
Preserve your hairstyle
But heck you are already at work
So you can place that excuse in the cylindrical File.
Then the survey said you are wearing it
Because you haven't had a chance to
Comb your tresses.
But that one registers even lower on the board
Because it messes
With the psyche
Because now you're all decked
Out in Nike
From chest to toe
But forgive me, again this is a
Sonnet about that Bonnet
Not your supporting wardrobe
I started talking about that thing that you wear
Outside A few inches above your earlobe.
I'll end this diatribe by saying they say use your
head for more than a hat rack
I say enter the outside world without
Your head knap sack.
The Sun hung heavy over
A Gardener under the solar,
Wore a blue Camo floppy hat
As wearing blue Jeans that,
Matched by a blue sleeve shirt
While working to turn the dirt,
Its ok to talk over the plants
A kind of magic that enchants,
The life giving water that's sprayed
Through the Water Hose had made
A miniature Rainbow in the air
Around the Water Spigot there,
The green thumb of the gardener
Grows food for the wanderer,
The Garden Tiller makes a sound
Brings back the past is all around
To have food on a Winter's day
In the Basement come what may.
Dedicate to home:
America, we give our honor and respect - to You!
This country of "Old Glory", always red and white and blue!
Upon the date, July the Fourth, this very special date,
America was born and blessed by High Above - t'was fate!
Folks celebrate You and Your "freedoms", all, - beloved land,
Our God led "founding fathers" to You - by His Loving Hand!
Your multi-cultured population - now abides, right here,
Through years of growing, we've experienced - both tears and cheers.
Our forefathers did find You, nearly empty, and quite hard,
There were no regulations, rules, religions - to regard.
Your empty soil, so alone, was waiting - seeds - to love,
And early settlers - found their way - were led by - Hand of God!
God's Presence, felt so deep, in use of farmer's tools, each hoe,
Soon, villages developed by hard work - began to grow.
The settlers built their churches, schools, and nourished children's view,
America, this land was gifted, given, earned - by You!
The stronger You did grow, the louder was Your welcomed voice.
The "Freedoms" live and thrive, acceptance of all others, choice.
Your "Voice", so loud to those - in need - the poor, rejected, lame,
And folks in need of "freedom", wanting better - packed and came!
America, You welcomed all, and gave to each - a place,
A land - to live, to pray, to work, to play, and to - save face.
Your arms embraced Your children, friends, and neighbors, with great glee,
Your reputation - earned You - as the greatest land - to be!
For You were founded - on belief of - Free To Live And Pray!
May all Your - Freedoms be forever - to enjoy and stay!
America - we give our honor and respect - to You,
Our country of "Old Glory" - always Red and White and Blue!
The weather is starting to cool down,
I am walking all over town.
And everywhere I go I see,
people out there who know me.
Today I walked by the pie place,
and I turned around and saw Billy's face.
He was sitting outside with his son,
eating pie under the sun.
I told him I saw him at Starbuck's that week,
and I waved at him from across the street.
He didn't see me, but I already knew,
I'd stop, but I had other things to do.
Then I turned the corner, seeing Megan,
she was carrying bags, arms dragging.
The day before I saw her at the library,
with a heavy book bag to carry.
Then I went to the bank to check my cash,
a banker approached me in a flash.
"I saw you Sunday in Winnetka, walking,"
"I was going to Peet's coffee," I said, talking.
Then I left the bank, and ran into Dan,
he was in his car, acting like the man.
He lives in my building, and offered a ride.
So I opened the car door, got inside.
We were driving, when not a second later,
the phone rang, and it was a hater.
Dan said, "Are you just waking up, now?"
He said, "I need some motivation, send chow.
The man wanted cabbage from Dan, the cook,
but on this favor, he must've been mistook.
Dan had other plans, not feeding this sloth,
we got to the apartment and I was off.
Back to my room, where I was all alone,
I finished reading the book, "Game of Thrones."
It was about as exciting as the series was,
because George Martin does what he does.
What adventure awaits me tomorrow?
how much time do I have left to borrow?
At midnight, it must be August 16th,
my covers on my bed I should be between.
But no, this stream of consciousness my muse,
gives my poetry an idea or two to use.
I'm no spring chicken, nor old rooster,
but I sure could use an energy booster.
So in conclusion, why is summer so joyous?
Are there not as many things to annoy us?
I assure you, the beach will sound appealing,
when January brings that icy cold feeling.
7:55 a.m., a Saturday in March,
I wake to silence.
Is there ever silence?
I hear the clock ticking,
a drop of ice melt on the sill.
I see silence in sunlight,
the stone garden wall,
still bare branches, and
in motionless smoke from
a distant chimney.
There's no rattling wind,
train clatter, snowplow's screech
nor the neighbor-dog's refrain.
No banging, booming, slamming
from the bully-neighbor upstairs,
no dings from my email messages.
I don't even hear the clichéd
"sound of my heartbeat."
What is the sound of "I am"?
Descartes tells us.
This moment, I still hear noise,
thinking about my next moments.
I took sweaters, flannel shirts,
folding tables, and maxi skirts:
a mint green designer jacket, t-shirts galore
pants, and a floor lamp I abhor.
I took doggy gates and posters under glass,
a set of coffee cups and a canvas finished way too fast,
some worn tights, two crew necks and a grey vest
three white shelves, a pair of jeans—my best.
I took two garment rolling racks, a 5-lb dumbbell,
drawing pencils and that unused gift from hell.
A small rug still in good shape
three doggy coats and an old carpenter's tape.
Now that Goodwill has my waste
there are few things left to suit my taste.
Another round, another buying spree,
another trip to Goodwill planned for me.
Saturdays and Sundays
were different before.
They broke the week
after five days,
cracking open a pattern
built rigidly around
weekday work tasks.
Now, not much changes
and calendars matter.
I must evoke from
the trail of days
what I did on each,
to make sure Friday
On pre-pandemic weekends
I woke to freedom and choice:
tacos, ballgames, movies
and friends. But now on
I reach back to my "to do"
list, as guilt draws me
to finish something
I already started.
Most people won't approve,
but do not listen to them.
When you are bored,
kick your feet into air,
as when swimming.
Flit from room to room.
Do not touch walls,
they would make you falter
and perhaps stop altogether.
Enjoy the weightlessness of head and shoulders.
Relish arm strength.
Cling to the hovering of air.
You were created for this.
little shops and eateries
pizza by the slice,
Haight Ashbury T-shirts
roaming far from San Francisco street corners
a Southern Illinois town ripe
with growing anger
little shops of horrors
with broken windows
a movement shot through the heart
in the bodies of four Kent State students
gunned down, their corpses lay
left in warning
the eyes of a distempered, rabid
frothing at the mouth
its paws, a clawed mess of chaotic razors
slitting the throat
of an established Uncle
who just keeps
but it is not his body
it is not youth burned up in friendly fire
pizza's free now
no one wants the shirts anymore
everyone is moving South
Florida is warm enough without the burning streets
the beaches have soft sand
and the movement
has a nice place to drown
its body never to resurface.
drink a beer or two, a glass of wine, ignore all those silly mandates, since who's afraid of death at twenty-one? Then, you take a walk along the lakefront at midnight to stare at the Ferris wheel once aglow with tiny lights; recall those fireworks that flared over the Pier how long ago. Then you smoke another joint because it's legal now and getting high is so much fun, even if you are alone. Still, where is that girl who isn't as naïve as she lets on? Oh, to feel her warm mouth on your lips, on your everywhere. The thought of it makes you blush. You're in love with love, the very idea of it, at least for a little while. There is no rush, is there, when one's alive and twenty-one?
(After "Romance" by Arthur Rimbaud
First published by Highland Park Poetry, 2021)
This place, this land
ushers Creation Day into my mind . . .
sky of powder blue streaked
with threads of pink cotton candy . . .
sunflowers decked out
in black and yellow robes
clap and sway
in waning evening light.
The Rose of Sharon bush
in the darkening, green night.
All of these
sweep my breath away . . .
could it be that somewhere,
deep in the bowels of time,
there lives a Fountain of Light,
whose silken weavings
in late August evenings
hint at some imperishable bliss?
Over time there were packings
Journeys far and many near
Most were carefully planned
But a few were last minute, hasty.
In discordant times of dreams
To pack and leave to start anew
There were only warning signs
Unproven suspicions simmered.
Yet family ruled to hold the line
And finally a time of peace came
Isolating in a pandemic storm
Packed now for a potential day.
A hospital unplanned visit or stay
This bag remains ready to go
For a final blessed life voyage
A Wanderer's journey to end.
Time is the essence of life
With each minute
That is counted
Precious and priceless
Like the grain of sand
Inside the ceiling of hour glass
With is measured how
Each hour is passing
Through the clock of spending
And so is the days of our lives
Live life to the fullest
with every given opportunity
Embrace with kindness
In the presence moment
That filled with cherished memory
My mind in Autumn makes me want to gaze
upon each leaf and branch of every tree
in vibrant celebration...Autumn's ways
that's anything but mediocrity.
My mind in Autumn wants to grasp the breeze
invisible, a coolness I can feel—
a shivering— a rustling like the trees
embraced by season's call with utmost zeal.
My wish is this...to savor and reflect
what seems to be too wonderful to know
and to appreciate what I expect
will kindle in my thoughts with special glow
to gaze upon at any time or place
and know with certainty my Father's grace.
I read today that mascara and lipstick are warrior paint
wear your combat boots to crush opposition
armor against a hostile world
this makes me nostalgic for strings of beads
free-flowing scarves and unruly hair
multi-hued skirts that dance around ankles
move with the stars, liberate bodies, float in the wind
construct fairy gardens and light fantasies
I long to convert you:
be a warrior for peace.
I am familiar with joy,
know the contours of its face
like a blind lover's fingertips
recall the curve of a smile,
its warmth, the upturn,
the unspoken words beneath.
I need not pretend happiness,
but simply turn my gaze again
to its thousand fingerprints
on my skin, its constant sifting
from the day's drift of chaff.
How ordinary: joy's clockwork
birthday candles blown to wishes.
How natural its touch, holding
my hand in the jostling crowd,
kissing my cheek, whispering,
when I'm too alone.
(From Common Ground)
With cell phone in hand,
she had a plan
for that last day
Away from her deck,
she walked on the sand
to capture the sunset
Earlier in the day,
became easy prey
blocked her view
of something she knew
does not guarantee
Inside this late October 31st night,
this poem turns into a pumpkin.
Animation, something has gone
devilishly wrong with my imagery.
I take the lid off the pumpkin's head
light the pink candles inside.
Demons, cry, crawl, split, fly outsides —
escape, through the pumpkin's eyes.
I'm mixed in fear with this scary, strange creation.
Outside, quietly tapping Hazel the witch,
her broomstick against my window pane rattles.
She says, "nothing seems to rhyme anymore,
nothing seems to make any sense,
but the night is young.
Give me back my magical bag of tricks."
As Robert Frost said:
"But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep."
Laugh me a song!
Joy me forever
in a loose little bundle.
Let me wear my smile
in a poem to the ages.
Let it trickle down my chin
in a lovely little drool,
oozing over all
like the gorgeous grin
that I am.
I roar the fun of life!
We hid in the cellar while
winds howled, screamed. Wall
boards creaked and groaned.
The floor moved above us.
When quiet came, we crept upstairs,
stared out the front door. Destruction
everywhere — sheds and fences
smashed. Our house still stood, minus
front porch, awning and shingles.
We were safe. The farm was a mess.
But there, arcing over the roofless
barn, bright colors stacked, formed
a brilliant rainbow, God's sign of hope.
Dogs, lost, hundreds, millions, of miles away
Find their way home
This internal navigation.
Lost for years
Yearning for something
That cannot be named.
And, if they return,
If they can return,
It is too late.
There is magic.
Fireflies in the fields
Enormous cloud heads
Lit by lightning
And miniature fireworks
Like sea anemones
Like it was yesterday.
Hollywood's screen directors
have polished their scripts and set the stage
Guns provided by arms dealers are loaded
all waiting for you
to burst the anger and hatred pent up in your heart
and ignite the flames in your eyes
No need to aim
Bullets randomly penetrate innocent bodies
carrying wails of victims' families
and the tearful gaze of the world
all stream toward the loneliest
Hospice nurses tell the story.
The dead have plans to leave you
standing there, nodding
no, it cannot have happened.
You're grabbing caffeine
in the hospital coffee shop after
a week of nights at the bedside,
or you've run home for a shower,
and suddenly, behind your back,
You've waited for this moment,
dreading it and glad, too,
that finally the tubes and clammy sheets
and ragged breaths have risen like smoke
into some presumed heaven,
leaving you with nothing but
a styrofoam cup of hapless surprise
when all the monitors have gone off
or in the rest home, where
the small cold body is found
motionless at the two a.m. check.
The phone call comes during the one
weekend of absence, and now the guilt.
How long had they been plotting this?
Do they know that for them
you have missed sleep and friends
and hummingbirds, entire seasons?
Like Shrodinger's cat, you
have tried to be in two places at once,
your loved one simultaneously
dead and alive, all in our cat boxes
of crazy dead and living particles,
zeroes and ones, decayed and alive.
Observation, though, changes
everything, puts us all back into
a solid state. No flux, no contradictions
after months and years of useless loyalty.
The fragile one lies lifeless,
and you stand there watching,
having missed the drift oceanward, the tide
that sucked him under like a poisoned cat,
and left you on the beach, betrayed.
(Concho River Review)
You walk from
a plane, tall
and trim, right
hand rising. Your
smile lifts myopic
cameras that stare
and wink Thank
you for coming.
We will have
a time with
you. They shutter
This should be
good. It should.
For a moment he remembers
And he puts his arm around you
And the love that you once shared
From the touch it now surrounds you
He remembers a little further
And he takes his arm away
There's an awkward understanding
And you pray it goes away
You decide to start over
He wants to begin again
But you remember what you felt
When you decided to not be friends
He's a lover from your past
And in the past he'll stay
You say it's all behind you
But the past becomes today
important signs that
we are alive.
Take one away, the rest
tumble like dominoes.
Yet having wonderful vital signs
does not make you vital.
They don't necessarily give you
any type of vitality.
It doesn't matter how well you feel,
how healthy you think you are,
how indispensable you believe
yourself to be. Vital signs
can be perfect in a person who
feels nothing but pain. They can
mysteriously disappear in young
and otherwise healthy people.
Here today. Gone tomorrow.
Everyone eventually loses
their vital signs.
The real issue is this:
Are you vital now?
And if you think you're not,
what are you going to do about it?
What a dance we do? A show for you?
We lock beaks. We pretend to argue
All summer long. On the slopes
Of windblown hillsides, we dig
Tunnels. We puff up our plumes,
We put on colors and make one egg.
We live long but take only one mate
traveling to frigid coastlines to create.
Kamakazi dives we do in North Atlantic
To fish. You look on to see our antics.
Unlike yours, our babies grow fast.
When summer ends, duties are done.
We molt, lose colors, are tired at last
Of conferences of birds or human.
When the winter begins, it is time
For social distance, rest, and solitude.
What do Puffins do all winter long?
We float in mid-Atlantic to be renewed.
Since I have become a man
my voice is more easily heard
in a crowd. I am no longer
invisible; no longer moon
seldom seen by day.
Since I have become a man,
my name is Sol.
Others glow in my light.
My name tastes like lemon
fresh from the tree,
golden, tart and pronounced.
My name is also Noche,
Obscuridad. My feelings
must be sought out with candles
lit by the moon I no longer am.
My name tastes like vodka,
no taste, but the power
to invigorate or destroy.
In the mirror I see Sol,
my hands outstretched,
offering gifts I never knew
I had—love, laughter and words
plucked from monarch wings,
blue gill scales, alpaca fur -
words which burn my hands
till I let them fly free.
Another day in the mirror I see
Obscuridad, locked behind
an iron grill. In my hands
I find nothing but wounds.
They reach out to take
what no one offers. They bleed
blood already browned.
My fingers grasp for emptiness.
The sky no longer shines through
the tunnel to my soul.
My name, what is my name?
My name is Gentle, Fierce, Arrogant,
Selfless, Confusion. My Name is Mezcla.
Since I have become a man
I cannot find a way to peace,
a way to love someone not bathed
in the glow of my light, a way
to feel whole.
but I will, find a way.
Under the sky, I will weep,
dance, crawl. skip,
sit alone, walk arm in arm.
Like a chameleon, I will change
my skin. I am becoming a man
no longer Mezcla. I purchase
my light and my darkness,
my confusion. I stir them together
with a wooden spoon.
They coagulate. My name
is no longer Sol, no longer Noche
or Obscuridad, no longer Mezcla.
I seek a new name.
I will hold my name in my hands.
(First published in Conclave 2019)
Buy me a drink, she asked.
Sit next to me in this loud place
and calm the screaming of my trepanned heart.
Come dance with me, she said.
Take me in your arms and slowly two-step
around the memories I fear.
Do me a favor, she whispered.
Hazme un favor, querido mio.
Let my hair run softly off your cheek,
warm my hip with the trace of your fingers,
brush my lips as we sweetly dream.
Keep away the ghosts that follow day.
Seen through a looking glass
in light of each new day
people pass in silence
in an unbroken file
going onward always
dull eyes looking ahead
seeking home for rest and
solace within still walls
or looking for love of
a short day or long life
or reaching the rainbow
for gold had at the end,
but reasons matter not
only passing matters
on trails trodden by beast
and prehistoric man
on roadways of dirt trails
by oxen and horses
on highways of hard oil
as machines belch and roll
passing through all eras
of the anthropocene
across land unmoved through
hills formed epochs ago
into the wind blowing
over trails of no end
as blue sky turns to gray
and light recedes to dark
seen the same as before
out through the looking glass
when passing comes to end
yet to begin again.
My kayak slices through the slow backwater rivulet,
leaving swirling sediment. I've been here before.
It's quiet, but not silent--the winding waterway resounds
with chirps, tweets, rat-a-tat-tats, kerplunking turtles,
a flapping blue heron. My soul sings.
Left behind are calendars, lists, electronics, responsibilities.
A fresh summer breeze caresses my face. I'm exhilarated
to be outside, near life-sustaining water! My muscles
relish the light exercise required to meander in my craft.
There's a red fox clambering up the bank, thirst quenched!
The churned-water residue reminds me of my mind:
often restless with news headlines, duties, troubles,
to-do's jostling for attention, elbowing out whispers
of and to my heart. But today my carping cares
have fallen off like cool drops from my paddle
pulling me through backwoods. My soul senses,
You're on a mission. But for what? As I marvel
at creation's masterpieces, I wonder, Do the rest
and peace I feel point to greater Rest and Peace?
If I let my soul sediment settle,
if I seek solitude and silence,
if I cease striving,
if I slow down,
will I enjoy
We ride a vintage train to Nowhere, Kansas
on the day of their Summer Festival.
Sun is a burnished disk, and leaves
lush and green, as lazy hawks
circle fields near the depot.
Women enter first, you can tell
farm ladies by wide hips,
flowered blouses and eyes that gaze
at fields measuring bounty.
Retired teachers with lace collars
and thin fingers, count rows of seats.
Last come the men, string ties.
cowboy boots and thick hands
used to tractors and milk cows,
not train rides and gentility.
Everyone settles into wooden seats
and a journey to Nowhere begins
as the Conductor punches tickets
and says a DVD of the ride
can be purchased at the depot,
2 for the price of 1 today.
Golden Colorado greets with mystery.
Was he, wasn't he, buried here?
Lookout Mountain, affirms his presence,
William F. Cody, Buffalo Bill,
his legend and reality reign.
Colorado to Niagara Falls,
across the Great Plains, over mountains.
We travel oceans with him.
There when his Wild West show impresses Queen Victoria.
His reenacted battles, hunts, Native Americans
resplendent in full regalia, 1880's in the U.S.A.
cowboys, Custer's Last Stand, all please.
Crowds applaud, seek more drama,
How far have we come from those days?
Today, in the so, so, comfort of our 21st Century,
would Mr. Cody, still approve of Wild West displays?
Exotic to many they once were, and now?
Do we question, the existence of Reservations?
How far have we traveled, from Lookout Mountain?
Where are our Native American brethren today?
Regalia, cultures blended, can we,
do we discern, between,
"show" and reality?
The city by the lake persists—August, evening, light.
It was cold in the morning, revisiting memory lanes,
local winds are as brutal as news spelling out the plight,
best to walk than to drive, that's the only intangible ace.
So peculiar autumn begins, here at times and again,
and the world, by and large does exist in a different realm,
if it rains in the prelude, the thunder is only a matter of when...
Should it pass, will the fear dissipate, preaching desperate calm?
Also August, long ago, somewhere over there,
all the actions and deeds seemed a desperate joke,
as when love had completed its run—full moon in a stare,
May, or June doesn't matter, "the end"—on the pavement in chalk.
Notwithstanding prophecies, all of the words are in vain
dreams, grey hair, enduring that loneliness, being in pain...
Glancing through invisible love at times, just might—
rain would make it feasible—August, evening, light
Stoke the ash gently
The ember still burns
Though long buried
It's protected from wind and rain
Breathe a soft whistle
Careful not to drop a tear
Add the kindlings piece by piece
Don't smother it
When you blow
Soft air passes through
It will do it's magic
Awakens the fire it holds
Watch the radiance come alive
Let it feed on your firewood
Let its flame dance free and wild
Into the depths of air and space
Into the depths of madness and calm
Then when all the fuel is consumed
Gather the new ashes
Lead it back to slumber
Cover, protect it
While you collect more firewood
Allow it to rest
That's how you keep the fire alive
A live country rock band
plays familiar covers
that pulsates loudly into
the open air patio.
The crowd responses by
swaying to the beat,
while the talented
female vocalist belts
outs strong poetic lyrics
while dancing in place.
Regulars greet each other
with true friendship
gestures and handshakes.
makes sure the bar
Muscular security make
sure everyone is safe
and old enough to let in.
No trouble at this place.
Behind the scenes,
pickup trucks deliver ice
bags every few hours,
dumpsters fill up with
beer bottles and boxes.
The cash is collected,
delicious food is served.
Crowded, but controlled
The drunks are polite
Just another Saturday night
At the local dive bar.
This lady was devoted to her family and career,
She took the time to help others every single year.
But most of all, she was devoted to Jesus our Maker,
And proved to everyone she was a giver and not a taker.
That is one of the many images of Isabel,
We miss her more than words can ever tell.
Isabel Sandoval knew what things in life are essential.
Whether on the job, or at home, she always had potential.
Isabel enjoyed being involved in good cause organizations,
She made offerings and pledges and huge donations.
Yes, this is another beautiful image of Isabel.
She completed her earthly tasks very well.
Like working on crossword puzzles on line
The answers were sometimes hard to find.
Isabel got by a with a little help from her friends
It was myself or Mark Berls...it just depends.
A genuine heroine and a woman of wonders
Her life's dedications could never be put asunder.
Isabel showed a brilliant smile whenever she spoke
And she had a warm sense of humor when she heard a joke.
In our memory pages these images of Isabel are stored
And preserved because she was a lady we all adored.
Letters to mail
and a twilit beckon
from the dimming sky
my walk to the mailbox
that never seems
to come to me.
At my first turn
the fat, lop-lit moon
"I'm here with you,
never not here.
Turn you to dust
or turn you to ash,
I will be here."
I mailed my letters
and walked for home.
So simply it came to be—
my ageless friend and me
slipping past tree and tree.
From Flies on the Ceiling
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