The vanishing day sleeps gently on my mist covered eyes,
as the strolling fog wanders through the pubs
bringing salty air and gray gossip--
"Young Johnnie's gone to Belfast
with talk of peace in the land."
"Nuala O'Leary's husband died
a fortnight ago--so young,
and with the gift of gab, too."
Old men gnawed away by life cradle the warm Guinness,
their faces white as an ice-bound winter.
Young girls drink their dreams
as fiddle music spills out like pious beliefs
nourishing their altar rail souls.
Outside, into Kinsale's damp night,
sea-swept clouds move over the inky ledges of this mystical land.
Villages drift past like ships on the endless coastline,
and sail cloths wail mournfully over the weed-covered reefs.
A dark beauty is flung before my eyes.
For I love this land that slips through the mist,
the scent of its winds, its hills of green thickets,
the croaking of wild geese.
If only I could stay in this place
where heaven slides down to the sea,
I could spin out poems, threading the sky like meteors,
unfolding its beauty--
even where its violet veins are hidden from light.
I finally saw...
seasons in the leaves
beauty in the songbird
fertility in the soil
imagination in the clouds
mystery in the stars
peace in the night
power in the sea
comfort in the wine
promise in the sunset
need in your eyes
I finally saw colors
Clock watcher, clock watcher shame on you!
Do you really have nothing else to do?
There's all the world beyond this clock,
yet you're constantly watching it go tick-tock.
To the other employees is it really fair,
that you're never truly completely there.
Their noses to the grindstone as you try,
to do everything right with just one eye.
Cause the other is constantly watching the span,
between you and your getting off work plan.
You're the expert at assessing the precise duration,
to the moment you leave your own work station.
If only someday you would divert your eyes,
you'd notice you work with some really great guys.
Who want to get home just as much as you,
but focus on their work til the day is through.
We went to Ohio, avoiding the cops
Stopping at filthy restroom stops
We got to Ohio and got out of the car
We were going to Laconi's diner and bar
All the family ordered pizza and food
We conversed and we were in a good mood
Norma, dad, mom and I split a pizza four ways
My dad and uncle argued over who pays
My dad took Carly's last piece of pizza off her plate
Without her permission, and then he ate
She came back and said, "Where'd my slice go?"
Dad acted like he didn't know.
My mom scolded him, he looked embarrassed,
But the humor was meant to be cherished.
The next day we went to the Golden Goose
For pancakes, bacon and eggs and orange juice
We were talking about Mark Sanford, the political one
And Uncle Pete thought we were discussing Sanford and Son
It shows how people on TV get confused
And how Mark Sanford has been accused
Then later a different location
Melinda talks about a birthday celebration
The Cleveland Indians coach shows up
And sits next to her with a plate and a cup
To have a birthday party with her
She didn't think it likely to occur.
He says he'll make her Texas sheet cake,
On her next birthday, that's what he'll make.
So she's feeling grateful to be a guest,
And so her next birthday is going to be the best.
The next night, I see a Cleveland Indians game
With my aunt, her friend, and a grandson who came
They really beat the Oakland A's,
It really was a chance to amaze.
I ate peanuts, and a hot dog, too,
And my stomach just grew and grew.
The next day, the fourth, we went to a parade,
We were in the sun, my mom was in the shade.
My cousin's kid Annie was on the float
They were representing the town called Stow
They threw candy to the children and snow cones too
I wanted one, they were red, white, and blue.
Then to Melinda's for a barbecue,
Burgers and dogs, and salads, too.
A lot of people, family and friends
Tons of food till the night ends
Danielle had her 9th birthday cake
Baby Erin called it "catsup" by mistake.
The next day we drove to Michigan where
My Uncle Jack and Renee live there.
We go there and go swimming in the pool
And my uncle gets in the water it's really cool
Then we have barbecue ribs, chicken, and food
Other people eat it's totally good.
Then we light a bonfire and put firecrackers in it
They explode with vengeance for maybe a minute
Then the night is complete with fireworks exploding
We have ice cream with raspberries we don't need goading.
And today I'm here, back on the North Shore,
I love vacations, I wish I could have more.
But I'm lucky I had this one and so
I'll continue to be happy wherever I go!
Our Father who art in Heaven
What a ride, what a ride!
Generations ago, just yesterday it seems
I entered the race running.
Fast, like the wind that slips through the trees.
Hallowed be Thy name
God oh God, oh Jesus!
Today I lay here like a cold still Winter's Night
My mind fixed on what will be.
Midnight where is the warmth of thy sun?
Thy kingdom come
Get my clothes and get me dressed!
Please pack my bags.
Oh yes, do tell me,
Where are we going today?
Thy will be done
Oh Jesus, I feel you near.
It's a feeling I've known all along
That's been with me always
Like a favorite song.
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Birth to painful birth
I am come and gone.
Miss me not I am simply transformed.
In this mystery life abounds.
I put my hand in tar today
and wiped it on my sleeve
I walked through wet cement and knew
my trail would never leave
I laugh I sing I tease my heart
with words I'll never write
but innocence is something more
than knowing wrong from right
the most important thing I do
is treating people kind
the more I live the more I bend
and sense the wisdom of the wind
You dream of camping on Christmas eve
And gaze into the campfire's make believe
There's no clouds on this December night
As the campfire's embers burn so bright
Your imagination peers into Divine Grace
You'll receive inspiration in a forest place
The smoke is rising as before you there
Revealing the image of our Lady's stare
She'll be completely enclosed in the smoke
Smell the sweet aroma of burning oak
Then she said in a voice so very, very dear
"The days of Christmas are counted clear
Look up into the light of Christmas nows
See my son Jesus in between your brows"
All the Forest Creatures were all silent
As they listen to the Virgin Mary's accent
Even though as the twilight fades above
The Forest was alive with Christmas love
Would you also take a moment and listen to
The Queen's Christmas by her and me two
by Rick Sadler
and the Virgin Mary
my morning sickness
is a morning dream
of reaching for the girl
that keeps falling
off my edge
dive-bomb the present
blooming up the gut
to break open
old scars in the heart
the dream fades
when day hits its fist
pulling fresh thin skin
over broken bone
I walk the park
in mindful stride
a stress-heavy head
chiseled clean by calm
I turn the corner
and sink into a stop
there, a man sits in the grass
holding his baby in laughter
and now, my morning sickness
concerns an unknown child--
a child that would look so much
like her and me
The red-rimmed eye of the frog
does not catch mine as I watch
the edge of the pond,
hoping. The birdless birdhouse
on its lonely pole waits for
bluebirds, gets wrens.
I pray for hummingbirds to hover
at the syrup-filled cylinder,
offering their green-feathered breasts,
their ruby-throated bliss, for sugar.
They never appear. They know
that getting too close
is what makes suffering.
I contemplate the sky, emulate
the lidless stare of the frog,
claim my lily pad today,
my sun-warmed rock tomorrow.
I keep my songs to myself,
alone in meadow and wood,
seeking herb, wildflower and berry
for sustenance, not company.
I avoid the eye of the fox. I maintain
a safe distance, cultivate solitude,
let my ego sleep in the shade
of the catalpa, its big-hearted leaves
tracing the lines of my face.
(First published in Ariel)
My heart is heavy, as I watch news footage of you
gliding across the stage and gyrating your pelvis,
At this moment in time this is bigger than the Duke,
man, this is bigger than Elvis!
Though you made your living with words, today there
are no words to express the way the world feels,
Right now there is no need to go into your discography
because it encompasses valleys and hills.
But where do I begin, should I start with your amazing
solo career or should I start with the Jackson 5,
When you were just a cute little boy,
On stage you were talented and outgoing,
Yet off stage you were introspective and coy,
In the 70's, you put the world into a trance
with your 'fro and bell bottomed jeans as you did the robot,
Michael, you had everyone at your feet because when
you danced and sang you gave all that you got!
Nat King Cole was a merry ole soul as he sat perched
up against mama's old wooden phonograph next to Billie Holliday,
Roberta Flack and the Jackson's Destiny album,
Lord, have mercy you all grew up to be mature, sexy and
Ooh, wee, or should I say 'hee hee hee' about that
That reached every country, mansion, island, barrio,
prison, hut, suburb and ghetto!
I am old school and I remember coming home from school
putting on your albums,
These were the days before CD's, MP3 players, and
Goodness gracious, listening to your music was heaven
sent directly from God.
You were a great admirer of the legendary James
It warmed my heart to see you at an award show holding
You ruled the 80's with a glittering iron glove,
Moon walking into the hearts of millions
Moving as gracefully and as freely as a dove.
Newborns coming into the world already know your
Ailing grandparents in their last days know the same.
You are Gary's finest but the world dubbed you the
Michael, your legacy is HIStory, DESTINY, OFF THE
BAD and most definitely a THRILLER.
You are the King of Pop the 'Man In The Mirror'! You
'rocked our world' for over 40 years.
You gave us such memorable songs as Who's Lovin You,
Gotta Be There, Heart Break Hotel, Butterflies, PYT, Billie Jean,
Earth Song, Can You Feel It, Working Day And Night, The Girl
Is Mine, Say, Say, Say, and We 'Remember The Time' you told
us that 'We Are The World' and to 'Ease on Down The Road.'
You sold out football field stadiums and integrated
MTV music videos.
Back in the day we wore your buttons and donned white
socks and penny loafers,
Now here we stand today in shock and sadness but we
know your pain is over.
Michael, we miss you and though you said 'Heaven Can
Wait', 'You Are Not
Alone', and "Human Nature" is the reason 'I Just
Can't Stop Loving You.'
You were a great humanitarian a sensitive human
Who came to earth and completed your journey now you
can have eternal rest,
The world loves you 'Gloved One' but the Lord truly
We 'Never Can Say Goodbye' to you 'Lovely One.'
WE LOVE YOU, MJ.
Five million poems will be written today
about our first time afternoon trysts
and the day that Kennedy was shot
and the next day that Kennedy was shot
and the mule that pulled Martin Luther King to his funeral
and everything else that happened in 1968
and the war that smothered our souls
and the moon landing
and the first transistor radio
and when the TV came home
and when it changed colors
and when our sideburns approached our mustaches
and when we had our first period
and the night Chet Huntley signed off for the last time
and about love and loss
and joy and hope
and what we lost in 1981
and all will be about Walter Cronkite
and being the way it was
Her small apartment was alive
with visitors, family mostly,
from sister to sister-in-law, cousins
to only son,
all coming to chat and seek news
of her failing lungs pulling
on tank-filled oxygen while
the television shrieks The Price Is Right.
No one knows how much longer
her son will be the parent
or how much lemonade guests might drink
as the memories unfold,
like the last rose of summer,
deeply rooted in bitter sweetness
and recollected with an urgency
only those who wait can know.
And what is left when all else fades
and drops, petal by petal, is the
burning love that connects all
who enter through the front door.
(Appeared in Caduceus)
I felt it with him
the breeze against his face
the tang of danger
in case he lost his grip
on his buddy's shoulders
the one who
shoved the pedals
for both of them
I was in my car
with the windows closed
and a trunkload of groceries
The boy saw me
he raised a triumphant arm
Across the world
another boy straps
too heavy a burden
against his blazing chest
Years ago son Dan, a mechanical
engineer, advised his Dad about
the supurb mechanics of the vehicle.
Paul acquired our sporty bronze Jag
from the Turkish embassy in Chicago,
driven a mere four thousand miles
before driving home his bargain.
Sleek, sophisticated and jazzy, this car
gave Paul a new aura of professionalism,
of establishment success that had eluded
the son of a factory man. Miles and years
later, a van bore into him from behind,
loaded with kids arguing with their mother.
It took five months to straighten the Jaguar's
crumpled body. Paul's back will never recover.
On the road again, miles mounted as more
years rolled by. Burled wood dashboard
remained dashing, tan leather seats still
buttery and svelte, scratches kept to
a minimum. The car looked nearly new,
model change delayed by Jaguar for years.
The tall older couple came dressed for
a sophisticated encounter. Her black skirt
ended mid-calf, paired daringly with red
ankle-strap slippers. His slacks draped
elegantly above black-tassled loafers.
Her long dark curls tangled youthfully and
his white locks looked Clintonesque,
giving the chic pair tacit entitlement
to this classy-looking car.
Retired university professors, the well-dressed
couple checked over our Jaguar with many
questions, carefully slipped out of the driveway
on a test run, zipping with pleasure at high
speed when out of sight of the sellers. Dressed
fit to kill, the car and its new drivers made
a good-looking team: sleek, sophisticated, jazzy.
The Jag was a winner.
she steps down from the sky
down from my exhalations
fogging the winter night
she walks on my breathing
to my frozen lips
she doesn't kiss me
I remember her
when I remember to dream
she turns away
her breath fills the sky
the sky turns white with longing
the sky disappears
I am lost
light is everywhere
it's neither sun nor moon
nor glittering ice
she steps down from
the sighing mist
in her eyes
she opens her mouth
climb, she says,
the final step
is your answer
light is everywhere
Ah! she still stands!
The apple tree in the backyard of my old house,
planted right next to the garage.
As a child, I used to climb this tree
like a livid leopard,
trying to reach its luscious apples.
Those were the good old days:
Not caring for anyone but myself.
I lived to have fun,
to be young,
to be innocent.
I'd tie a rope around one of its limbs
and swing like Spiderman--
I'd tie an old, used up towel around my neck,
jump onto the garage from the tree
and fly like Superman--
he's lame also.
But I always took a time out to eat
those tasty apples.
all my good old days have long since abandoned me.
I no longer have fun,
I'm no longer young
and I'm all but innocent.
The tree is now rotted and dead.
It's stripped naked of its bark.
It no longer resembles the colorful tree of old.
It no longer bears the sweet fruit
that used to sustain my little body.
Its decrepit old limbs reach for the sky
as if salvation would come to claim it.
And the rope is all that remains.
This tree was my best friend.
She looks as lonely as I am.
Like a good friend,
I'll keep her company,
and I'll ask the rope to assist me one more time--
like Dr. Kevorkian!--
not Dr. Ruth,
she's the lamest!
King David, of blessed memory, was a great sage and recognized transmigrations. When he saw Uriah the Hittite, he knew that he was the Serpent who had seduced Eve, and when he saw Bathsheba he knew that she was Eve, and he knew that he himself was Adam.
Sefer ha-Peli'ah, (Fourteenth Century)
Only a few of us today have
King David's gift. He said so himself
when I spoke with him the other day.
Currently he is harpist with the Seattle
Symphony. Of all the tasks he ever
undertook--killing lions, killing
giants, ruling the kingdom of Israel--
playing the harp relaxes him most.
In the Twentieth Century David
and Bathsheba were Juan and Eva Peron.
Does Hillary Clinton reincarnate
Eleanor Roosevelt? No way!
Hillary used to be Susan B. Anthony.
There's Abraham Lincoln and
John Wilkes Booth in a ferocious,
no-holds-barred bout of
Can you hear me above all
this racket? A newborn baby screaming rage
and joy. A most peculiar rhythm. It sounds
for all the world as if he's singing,
"Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who claims that I am the one."
without the need to shoot a gun.
They lift their yellow heads
happy to feel the sun.
Quietly they let their petals
ripple in light or shade.
They never crave (isn't it weird?)
to lob off a hand grenade.
(Published in Hazmat Review, Fall '06)
Four/four time jamming,
Saxophone smoothly blowing,
Steel guitar twanging,
And a gutsy voice singing--
All translating the soul's sound to melodies--
And I'm at Harry's Place
Where time with imagination flies
And bodies move to the rhythm,
Excited by the vibes of the soul made apparent.
One, two, three, four you know
It starts and bounces
Up, down, all around.
One, two, three, four
And there's more
Music plays on,
Electrifying me to move
Limbs grooving for my soul gets a new face
At Harry's Place,
So cool with a new groove and a new a vision.
The singer sings on--
Words of meaning muffled
With base, drum and rhythm
And all this dresses my soul--
A new heart beat, energy and freedom
Invisible wings that carry me away from the fall
Making my worries going, going, gone!
And the beat
My soul moves my feet and I tap four/four
And singers, organ, drum, guitars, and horn
Back up the lead voice.
My soul is re-born,
Dressed with energy and vision,
A new choice.
And in harmony the soul moves my body
And feet to dance--all are synchronized,
To move in concert with my soul
And nobody cares or bothers me at all.
Harry's Place knows no race
But the heart and soul
And all who visit quickly learn to embrace
Music, God's language for us all.
(First published in State Line News)
I want to console you on this rainy day, dear reader,
when your dog wants to take a walk and you don't.
I want to tell you I'm sorry your toast burned
and you dropped that raw egg on your newly waxed floor.
Things are bound to get better---unless you get a late notice
from your credit card company because you forgot
to pay the bill and the added interest is enough
to purchase a shiny new Yamaha motorcycle;
or the boy next door comes begging
for a cookie, steps under your arm as you hold the door
slightly ajar and tracks mud through the living room.
Don't worry. You can rent a steam cleaner
or hire a company to give your carpet royal treatment.
Just don't put it on your credit card and forget to pay again.
But as I said, the day is bound to go better---
unless your brother-in-law arrives with his wife
and six children, surprised you never received his letter
saying they decided to vacation all week at your home,
and you're out of butter, have no fresh meat on hand,
that egg you dropped was your last one,
and it's time for lunch and the children are whining.
But no matter, you can take them to Chili's
or Country Buffet and put it on your credit card.
So, dear reader, take the dog for a soggy walk
despite the pounding rain and he'll eat the burnt toast,
lick the broken egg from the floor---and you can get credit
from your in-laws for having a clean kitchen.
(First published in the Rockford Review, Summer-Fall, 2009)
Long before lights
as the war they love
shifts life away
and limbs asunder
but wailing and weeping
in camouflaged strife
another strange presence
speaking assorted lies
crying at impromptu events
and yet I laugh with tears
Dickinson. Frost. Eliot.
Wonderful vetted poets--
but sameness of names
in every school.
My students are alive--
they need MEANING,
Bless Keats and
for all they wrote--
but now let's dare
to anonymize these
bards around whom
curricula by means
of committee after
after principal as
the decades ditto on.
I'd rather pluck
new writings out of
throw them all
a vibrant pile,
then pull them up
one by three--
poems and stories
written by unknowns
who may inspire
and kindle fire.
I fully CARE,
but I'm captive
in this well-lit,
SOULS come here,
We're to feed them
and poetic forms
vital to know,
we con, because
they'll be on
the final exam.
Teachers, let us
wake very much up!
Dare we transcend
the tried and dead?
Let's each write a sonnet
on why we don't read
sonnets--or an elegy
for the deceased
meanings of passion.
What would Shakespeare
write about our schools?
"Much Ado about Atrophy"?
And Robert Frost?
"The Railroad Not Taken"?
I am nobody
to be writing like this,
nor am I in your syllabus,
but I can still breathe.
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