Category Archives: Poetry

Grains of Golden Amber – Poem 4 of 30 for National Poetry Month

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She’s from the Baltic seaside
Where the green waves
Come from the west, from Sweden

The waves roll in, white-capped
Taller than everyone there
And crash onto the smooth, flat beach

On the wet sand, if you look,
She says you’ll find grains
Of golden amber

She lives here now
Flew here years ago
In search of something

She tells me
She found it
When she found me

Here near the Great Lakefront
Where the gray waves
Come from the east, from Michigan

The swells move in, gray
Taller than no one (usually)
And whoosh onto the pebbly, rough beach

Just under the wet sand, don’t look
You’ll find particles, I say,
Of black coal ash

But on sunny, calm days the Great Lake
Is turquoise-blue and jade-green
And beautiful enough

To remind her
Of Palanga and Sventoji
And her visits with her mom and sisters

Beautiful enough to get her through
The next couple years
Until she takes me with her

Back to the seaside
To be with everyone she loves
At the same time

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Sanctuary – Poem 3 of 30 for National Poetry Month

Light_-_Stage_Lights

The lighting’s kept down, here
Except over the stage
Where black cans beam down
Bright red, blue, and green

On a man with a hollow guitar
In a long, leather jacket
Under a leather, western hat
His face too, like leather

A face clean, but with lines
And the beginning of a gray beard
Dark eyes, understanding
And at ease

It’s sanctuary here
From everyone he knows

He presses the strings to the frets
And strums
Sings out his day
His month, his year

Sings about Man
The machine, the slave
Thrown into life
To work for food

Sings about Man
The being, the soul
Who needs to do something
And to tell someone about it

When he’s sung out
He steps off stage
And walks out the door
Onto an empty street

Where lamps beam down
Orange cones of light
That he walks through, alone
To his car at a curb

He drives away, alone
Into the dark
To tomorrow’s problems
To tomorrow’s songs

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A Sign That It’s Warm Enough – Poem 2 of 30 for National Poetry Month

The Robin

Evening drive home
Tollway, then divided highway
Then neighborhood street

The goal is to do it
Without stopping
Anything, not to stop

This evening I made good time
Less traffic
Since tomorrow is Good Friday

At my street
I pressed the opener
Then turned into the driveway

To roll
Straight up
Into the garage

But I stopped
About fifteen feet short
Not to crash into…

The robins
Three of them close together
In low-altitude battle

Flitting
Rising and falling
Then landing and scurrying

A sign that it’s warm
Enough to open the windows
For a while

To lie in bed and listen
To the frogs’ continuous croaking
More like creaking

Like the sound of a finger
Across the thin upturned teeth
Of a black, plastic comb

The frogs’ creaking
Carried my wife to dreaming
While I stayed awake

Listening past the frogs
To the far-off engine whine
Of a motorcycle

The sound on a highway
A rider leaning forward
Accelerating into the night

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Lenses – Poem 1 of 30 for National Poetry Month

eyeglasses

I see better
When I look through lenses made
For me

Way ahead, that street sign’s
White letters have edges
Straight and curved against the green aluminum

At home
The book’s black-ink letters
Rise from the cream-colored page

When it’s this clear
It goes straight into my mind
It goes right into place

Good for what I’m about to see
Now, to get something for
Everything else

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Living Honestly

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I drive away from the corporate tower
Brake, gas, brake–then all gas
Staying back from the speeders in front
Moving aside from the ones catching up
Another hour of life at seventy M P H

Radio says we’re sending troops
Thousands of miles away
To kill bad guys
And nothing about the good ones
To be killed living honestly

I swear for the last few miles
Even with the windows up
I can smell the trees
And the tall grass
Like I live in the country

At the kitchen table
My wife touches my hand
And we say a short prayer
The muted TV shows a hole in a school
With a caption about moderate rebels

The sun sets
Yet the evening stays warm enough
For a t-shirt and shorts
I sit on the deck looking west
Imagining time has stopped

But the Earth rolls me back
Under a deepening dusk
Under the same, first pinpoints of light
That awed children
Nine hours before

In my yard the nighthawk that swoops
Is just a bird
Chasing insects I can’t see
And the crickets with their trill
Try hard to make up
For the White Nights gone away

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August

August

The air arrives at the lake shore
From hours of traveling
Over the vast, bright blue
And a million white glints

It swirls the sand
And the hair of a boy
Stooped for a smooth stone
Blue-gray like his sweater

The air flows over
The dirty-white boulders
Where an orange and black butterfly
Flaps, then glides, into the breeze

The air moves through the grass
And the parallel tracks from the mower
Releasing an aroma that’s sweet
Like tobacco from a pipe

It sweeps the cuttings
From an open picnic table
And clears the painted-green top
For my notebook

Like the air knows I’m looking
For an outdoor-desk
And this, with a seat on either side
A choice of what to face:

Dogwood and green leaves
Where a bird
Greenish-yellow and black-masked
Flutters to steal dark berries…

Or the waves, and a single sail
Gray in a shadow
And at the tiller, a red speck
A man steering away

Or, my realization
That for the lake, and the sky, and the trees, and the birds
This weekday is no different
Than those when I was a child

But for me to see it the same
I first need the air
To rush through my mind
And to take with it—what’s there

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Winter Poem

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The window pane lets through
A chill
And the scraping, thundering
Of the plow

Outside, the evening’s darkness
Is brightened from above
By the orange glow
Of one, sky-sized cloud

Which gathers the light
Of all the city’s street lamps
And sends it, collected
Onto the new layer of white

An amber light flashes
Atop the truck
Whose headlight beams
Light the back of the yellow metal plow

A scene like this
Triggered excitement, when I was a boy
For school to be put off
For more time with siblings and friends

I’m not in school anymore
I’m my parents’ age
And the fun
Is gone

In the morning, I force myself through
The frigid drifts of the yard
And put out seed
For the birds from the north

Black and white juncos
Smaller chickadees and purple finches
Blue jays, and red and brown cardinals
Flutter and feed

And before I go in
I drive a mile to the lake
To see how it’s doing
As ice

And to see again
There is so much more
Than just me
Than just the day-to-day

Back home my thoughts stay snowed in
I’m seeing everything the wintery-same
Gray sky and gray-brown trees
Gray-brown fenceway for the gray-brown squirrels

My desk is the same
And so are my bookshelves
The same books
In the same order

The window pane lets in
The buzzing, whining drone
Of the neighbor’s blower
All drives and walks now clear

Except mine

I don’t want to pull on boots
Nor put on a down jacket
I don’t want to tangle on a scarf
Nor fumble with gloves

I turn from the window
And slide out a book
Sit, and start to read
Page one, page two, page three

And my mind leaves the story
My breathing slows
I let my eyes close
Let hibernation take me

I don’t need
The weather forecast
The words snow and cold
Are clichés

I’d like a forecast
For inside me
For what’s on the way
Within me

Tomorrow the vortex will slow
The wind of worry will no longer gust
And there’s a good chance
For an accumulation of my thoughts

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Cloud Ride

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When you tell your friend
Look at that cloud!
She probably won’t see it
Like you do

She won’t see its golden left
Catching the November sunset
Or its bluish right
Looking for the moon-rise

She won’t see its grey underside
Getting larger as it gradually comes down
Onto you, like a saucer in a sci-fi movie
The kind they stopped making

It’s the disordered dishes
And the unopened mail
The jumbled bed cover
And the bag that needs to go out

You say, Look again!
And she says,
In a few minutes
After I do these things

But you know clouds
Always moving, always changing
And before she’s done
This one has landed and taken off

And you’re up in the dark blue
Being carried southwest
Higher and higher
To the brilliant evening star

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A Star

Stars
It was a star
One of thousands
And he picked it
Lined it up
and traveled to it
Not knowing
If he would get there
And how his life
Would change

It’s
Amazement!

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In the Small Garden of Fruit Trees

Butterfly

Here–there is some peace by the sea, and in the small garden of fruit trees.  Where in late August I sit and watch the butterflies work within the leaves and branches, around the attached apples.  It’s work for the butterflies.  But their fluttering and swirling looks like dancing.  One settles on an apple, then lifts, and flies directly to me.  It lands on my white shirt, its red-tipped, black wings opening and closing.  One day I watched for hours.  They don’t go to the sea, and they don’t go to the village.  In the evening they find someplace here to sleep.  I know this because the next morning I see them again, circling in the new sun, while the visitors still sleep or have just gotten up, to nibble on last night’s bread and cold meats, heat up water for tea, and prepare pastries for breakfast.

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