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The Lovers’ Tree

1

I strolled beyond the garden’s gate, and took the path into the wood, and stopped beneath the aged oak, where once, as children, we had stood. And carved our names into its bark, within a heart for avll to see, and pledged our love, upon that mark, would last for all eternity. But wounded trees in time will heal, and cover things we’ve left behind, like memories which seem unreal, and seldom ever come to mind. And even scars in trees will fade, though deep within the living wood, are still the words that day we made, when ‘neath that aged oak we stood. And so it is, with you and me, now that we’ve lived our lives apart, like names still deep within that tree, your love is still within my heart.


A Journey to Lhasa

2

I journeyed on to Lhasa, Kathmandu I left that day, I went to see the Dahli Lama, and to hear what he would say.

“Whether we know love or hate, or our pride is hidden by our shame, or whether we defeat our foes, or battle them in vain.”

He settled back and rested, his hands were folded in his lap, then he raised them, as to say a prayer, and made one resounding clap.

I told him my soul was troubled, his deep wisdom I had thought, could offer me the remedy, to the affliction that I brought.

“Whether our means are humble, or our fortune is truly vast, the only way to inner peace, is to allow the past to pass.”

From Lhasa I had started back, with just the lesson he had taught, and felt the lightness in my step, having left the burdens that I brought.

He lit a stick of incense, he closed his eyes behind the smoke, and with a peace-filled smile, he looked at me, and then he spoke.

“Each day will slightly change us, each tomorrow we wake anew, what we hold within from yesterday, is who we turn into.”

And into my ears poured reason, a simple logic I’ve never known, with a lyric that was poetry, that came from him alone.

“Who we are is what we take, from all the days we walk the Earth, and to know which things to leave behind, is the knowledge for which you search.”

He said, “our souls are able, to feel peace or feel unrest, and each of us must make a choice, and in the choosing lies the test.”

“And this I cannot give you, I cannot teach what I don’t know, we each must learn this for ourselves, and find the way to let things go.”


The Old Harbor Light

3

Above the splintered boulders, that had toppled long ago, set back a modest distance on a ledge; high above the fractured shoreline, of weathered rocks below, safely settled ‘bout a stone’s throw from the edge. Where, in the ceaseless uplift, of the ocean’s salty breath, hang Herring Gulls and Kittiwakes and Terns; atop the wind-worn palisade, anchored in a flinty cleft, a hundred years its “Lewis” lamp had brightly burned. On a spit of coastline, the local sailors named “Land’s End”, it was for them a welcome sight to see; when through the stormy moonless nights, they sailed ‘round the bend, and there the faithful light would always be.

Like a dancer with a candle, making endless pirouettes, it slowly turned throughout the North Atlantic night; reassuring countless captains, they needn’t any longer fret, .now abandoned stands the aged harbor light. Like a relic on a pedestal, Like old books upon a shelf, Like a toy no longer played with by a child; a reminder of another time, a picture of the past, unlit, we’ll leave it standing there awhile.


…And This Too Shall Pass

4

Whatever is, Is never forever, It’s the nature of nature to change; It does not matter what shape matter is in, It’s destined to be rearranged. Nothing that is, Is as it was, And nothing that was can remain; The way that things are, Is now how they are, Tomorrow they won’t be the same. However impassioned, Youth’s passions be, Time makes all passion wane; It’s important to know, So you can foresee, That all things eventually change. Both love and hate, both sadness and joy, like mountains and seas, disappear; and in their place,

will be something else, of this, I assure you, my dear.


The Animal Rebellion

5

A vote was being taken, “They use our homes like sewers,” throughout the jungles and the woods, bubbled a school of little fish, the time had come for things to change. “They shoot at us for sport,” this, all the creatures understood. bellowed an antelope named ‘Mitch’.

When the votes had all been counted, without a single vote of, “Nay”, the motion had been carried, that Mankind must go away.

Among the planet’s living things, Humankind was thought of as a blight. and they all had waited patiently, for men to see the light.

Some birds began to whistle, some beasts began to roar, the crocs and ‘gators, rhythmically, began to snap their jaws.

Dogs were barking everywhere, while cats just clapped their paws. the din was almost deafening, from the animals’ applause.

“Clearly,” said the monkey, “Most clearly,” said the ant, “Yes, clearly,” said the tiny bird Atop the elephant.

People thought the food chain, had them as the highest link, now the animals decided, that concept to re-think.

“They’ve chased us from the forests, they’ve chased off the plains, they either want to cook us, or keep us in reins and chains.”

“We’ll eat them all for breakfast, or maybe save a bunch for lunch,” said the lions and the tigers, “perhaps we’ll even have a brunch!”

“They beat us,” whined the horses, “They eat us,” moaned the cows, “They mistreat us,” screeched a chorus, comprised of mostly fowl.

“We’ll force them from their cities, and drive them to the shore, and once they wade into the sea, the sharks will eat some more.”


Infatuation

6

Where is that hewn and polished stone, cut-in by tool with hammer thrown, that bears the declaration of the deepest, most enduring love? Does it exist? If not, then why? For even someone such as I, so bewitched by beauty’s charm, could chisel there a lover’s psalm. An ode to make the poets blush, extolling there a lover’s crush, carved upon a massive block, of everlasting granite rock. And so, it seems, I’m smitten much, and more than merely greatly touched, a captivated captive, I, was captured by flirtatious eyes. Thus, imprisoned in this velvet cell, and there confined, would gladly dwell, if I could while away my days, by returning your entrancing gaze.


It’s Really Just an Illusion

7

Oh, how very out of place, to think we’re mostly empty space, twix particles who’s tiny sum, is held together by the quantum hum. Therefore, solid is but just a phase, like liquid, gas and plasma, and without the interlacing force, would just vanish to miasma. And all we touch, and all we see, is really just illusion, a framework of some little specks, from some old source of fusion. As Einstein wisely pointed out, in his Special Relativity, the fact that it all hangs together, is but a matter of proclivity. After all, its only Hydrogen, added one on one, lots of protons and electrons, fused in an ancient sun.

And even that’s just energy, bundled very tight. ...waiting to unwind itself, in a brilliant flash of light.


The Legacy of Cain

8

With truncheon bruised he first the brow, of brother born in common blood; thus Cain to Man had there endowed, the sapling from which all war would bud.

The malignant yield of diseas’d fruit, still burgeons to this very day, and which we know, without dispute, will sustain an endless fray.

From bitter fruit, the stone he planted, when history had barely dawned, sown with wicked curses chanted, so not a tree, but forest spawned.

We dare not look, for fear we’ll see, the new harvest work already done, that will rob this generation, of its beloved sons.

A stand of timber, grim and bent, that covered all the lands of men, and blocked the blessings, Heaven sent, to leave the earth a rotting fen. Where children’s blood stains red the bog, that feeds the wretched weald, their unlived lives in epilogue, from the fruit this orchard yields. While millennia have come and gone, since Able by his brother’s hand, became the first for whom we mourned, thus ‘seeding’ slaughter’s nascent plans.


The Keys to My Memories

9

Ten-thousand days, I know I’ve lived; ten-thousand days, and more; and every day, from wake to rest, more memories have I stored. All in separate places ...in imaginary drawers ...in imaginary store rooms ...behind imaginary doors. Important things, dramatic things, things from ordinary days; amusing things, traumatic things, some things... I dare not say.

for me to think of, when I may. Yet, it seems, that but a handful, from all those turnings of the Earth, left memories I can recall, since the hour of my birth.. The rest, (just for safe-keeping) in “mental” vaults I let them be, then closed, and padlocked, every door ...and, gave someone else the key! Some kin, (some kindred spirits) many foes, far fewer friends, no longer here, with me, to share it ...that key, I only meant to lend.

Remembrances of simple things, of things I half ignored; But, without their very presence, not meaning not to think of them, while those, too, my mind would hoard. the million things I’ve locked away, without the keys that they were given, Every single waking moment, behind locked doors it all must stay. from every single wakeful day, was carefully impounded,

So carefully remembered, it all feels so hopelessly forgot, I never thought those keys important, as I gave away the lot. Without those keys, from all those people, who helped those memories be made, so many days, that feel lost to me ...are forever locked away.


Upon Mount Olympus

10

Upon Mount Olympus, where the Gods often meet, again it was time for their Hundred-year feast, and the topic, as always, was the progress of man, so the Virtues were present;  the Sins, too, were at hand. Faith and Hope, were quietly sitting together, Charity and Chastity, were off discussing the weather. Self-Pity and Lust, were sharing a joke, Avarice and Pride, were having a smoke. Gluttony, already, was at the buffet, Sloth takes his time, but was early that day, Arrogance and Treachery, sat at the bar, Loyalty and Courtesy, lit each other’s cigar.

At the head of the table, Zeus took his chair, Isis and Thor, even Vishnu was there.

Each was amazed, and each of them cried, To hear that among them, one god had died.

Hundreds of deities were milling about, Even the Aztec gods had turned out.

Gods, tho’ nearly immortal, by gods can be harmed, so the death of a god is great cause for alarm.

When Zeus throws a party, no one stays home, There were Norse gods, and Hindus, and Greeks gods (from Rome). The Table’s place settings were beautifully crafted, and the seating positions were carefully drafted. But one chair had stayed empty after everyone sat, so a murmur rose up as to whose chair was ‘that’. Halfway down on the left, Hypocrisy stood, and offered what explanation he could.

“She couldn’t see me,”  Hypocrisy said, “And I wasn’t careful that’s why Justice is dead.”


Hubris

11

Where foolish men have dared to brave, An angry storm while far a cast, Forewarned, their souls still be not saved. Their trove, but so much ballast. Floundered, with your keel laid bare, Oh! How vacant can that sea appear, Your happy journey, overturned, To bob about in deep despair. A simple thing can seem so dear, Like being dry, like breathing air, Tho’ hours back who would have thought, The loss of both could be so near. A heavy price the thing extracts, That foolishness I mean To leave us floating on our backs, No salvation to be seen. If we could, we would bid time reverse, To where that error dwells, That left us thus in brine immersed, Our fate beneath the swells.

But Life, does not its lessons teach, Quite so easily, Your wisdom it must first impeach, Before it let’s you see.


There are Two Words

12

There are two words, when spoken, up in Heaven there rings a bell, then God’s silence remains unbroken, so he can hear you very well. He cannot listen all the time, to everything that’s said, by all the members of mankind, so He has the bell instead. When it rings, he listens quietly, to you and only you, and treats your words with piety, trusting that they’re true. Now, God’s work is far too ample to stop for everyone so he only hears the sample, when the bell is rung. So when you speak the words,  “I promise”, speak them with great care, because everything that you then say, goes directly in God’s ear.


Life is A Bowl

13

Life is a bowl of cherries, I’ve chanced to hear it said, but others hold, that in that bowl, is something else instead. Some would say it’s filled with pebbles, some would say it’s filled with gold, some would say you don’t find out, until you’re very old.

But that was hardly all there was... for crowded all about, was the multitude of memories, I thought I had thrown out. In there, were all the deeds, I wished I could undo, and all the words that I had said, that I had come to rue.

And all the things I should have said, Some would say it’s filled with diamonds, but never found the day, some would say it’s filled with dust, and all the feelings that I thought, some would say you’ll never know, were safely put away. and to know is not a must. So be less concerned of what lies within, Some would say it’s filled with honey, that you’re eager to take out, some would say it’s filled with clay, be more concerned with the many things, some would say you don’t find out, you’ve forgotten all about. until its Judgment Day. A soul is all that’s in that bowl, Not one of them are nearly right, when we all begin, for I’ve looked into that bowl, but from it you can never take, and what I found there, looking back, you can only put things in. was my immortal soul.


What He Cherished Most

14

By barrister, from across the sea, news of my cherished friend, he would no longer visit me, for his life had reached its end.

The shadows washed away by light, the contents of the chest  revealed, I looked upon the oddest sight, one envelope by signet sealed.

And, with that report, was carried in, a heavy thing bequeathed to me, an ancient chest with iron lock, and a heavy iron key.

Into the vacant case I reached, and the paper sheath withdrew, the crimson seal I quickly breached, but what it held I had no clue.

I opened then the oaken box, that held some unknown treasure, with wooden slats and Cooper’s straps, it contained some hidden measure.

There was a small and folded note, written in familiar hand, and there for me to read, he wrote, what I was to understand.

Expecting rubies, jade or gold I thrust the lantern high to see, whatever there I could behold, that was this given legacy.

“Of all the wealth that I have gained, since in childhood we played, what I valued most, is here contained, and safely held, in here it stayed.”

No precious gem, nor string of pearl, filled the empty wooden hold, only lines of grain and burl, and a musty scent of mold.

“In case I could not tell you, should I quickly go away, you were my favorite friend, and I thought of you this day. I thought of you this day, and I loved you till the end.”


When First I Saw A Ship

15

When first, through mist, I saw a ship, her bowsprit deep in swell was dipped, then rose again by wave gone by, and aimed her prow into the sky. With sails full blown and arched by wind, her list by heavy keel was pinned, while over liquid blue she sped, this Bride of wood to water wed. Half veiled by the ivory spray, her rigging combed by breeze that day, and with her surly groom she danced, to celebrate their grand romance. That such a thing of solid grace, could be crafted by the human race, gives testament to man’s worth, to hold dominion o’er the Earth.


When Will You Finally Come Home To Me

16

Where are you going? Where will you be? When will you finally come home to me?

Passing so quickly, the years lost in a haze of pictures and pieces of thousands of days.

I can still feel the moment Your lungs filled with air; I watched and I whispered that I’d always be there.

Of trophies, and ribbons, and things to be framed. And four legged friends, That together we named.

My arms were your cradle, And there safely you’d rest, as I held you so gently against my proud chest.

And the movies we’ve watched, and the things that we’ve seen. And the travels we took, and the places we’ve been.

Then my arms were your tether; while slowly we’d walk. Tho I did the talking, we had some long talks. Then my arms were your shelter; when life gave you a scare. You knew that I always would be waiting near.

Where are you going? Where will you be? When will you finally Come home to me?


Upon My Neighbor’s Fence

17

Upon my neighbor’s sturdy fence, I surreptitiously sat down, and gazed across a fallow field, which had turned to brown.

But in return, he took my field, and over night it just seemed cleaner, within the month he tended it, the grass there looked much greener.

It was a prideful thing to see, just near a year ago, my neighbor planted only grass, but how that grass did grow.

Upon my neighbor’s sturdy fence, I turned around to see, the greenest grass the eye could know, .and knew the difference had been me.

It grew with such a richness, it was the deepest green I’ve seen, it had abundant thickness, and from weeds it had stayed clean. I envied his endeavor, that made my grass seem pale, and wished that I could buy his field, and place my field for sale. And so, one day, it came to pass, that that very wish he granted, and sold that luscious field to me, the one that he had planted.


Crisscrossing America

18

Early morning in a diner, a roadside stop. The traveler’s hunger Is more than they can feed. Early morning And the open road is not unlike the open sea. Sailing upon the dull black waters Of an asphalt ocean; Their vagabond spirit soars. Then turning into the wind, They ride the cracked and littered waves, and dream of unseen places that lie just beyond the horizon.


Leftovers

19

Leftovers, Words you can no longer use; belonging to faces that no longer change locked in pictures too painful to look at. Once somebody’s somebody, In a frame, in an attic, in a cobwebbed corner of a dusty thought, that dares you to remember those words you can no longer use.


Daddy Get Up

20

Daddy get up, it’s three in the morning, everything’s already packed in the car; there’s no time for sitting and scratching and yawning, we need to get going while the sky’s filled with stars. Daddy get up, I can’t keep on sleeping, and there’s no time to try and catch up on your own; I can’t wait for your clock to start all that beeping, and I’m tired of being awake all alone. Daddy get up, I made you fresh coffee, a steaming hot cup is just waiting for you; I can’t go on tiptoeing through the house softly, its morning and we have something to do. Daddy get up, it isn’t a work day, and it isn’t a day that I must go to school; for a week now of planning it’s all that I could say, so, Daddy get up, for its time to go fishing with you.


I Cannot Be Your Dragonslayer

21

I will not slay dragons for you, (you wouldn’t even let me try), but when your dragons frighten you, I’ll be there to dry your tearful eyes.

So if your dragons come in pairs, you need only say my name, and I’ll draw my sword, as you draw yours, and even up the game.

I will not stand in front of you, holding lanterns against the black, but if you let me stand behind you, I’ll be there to watch your back.

And, if your dragons beat us both, as sometimes dragons do, they’ll find me there, lying by your side, when the battle’s through...

And when you fall - I’ll catch you, (or bind your wounds if I’m too slow), But I cannot clear the path for you, this we both already know. I cannot be your Dragonslayer, for your dragons are your own, And slaying them is something, we must learn to do alone. Yet, my Son, if you let me, I’ll stand proudly by your side, because dragons do not fight fairly, and often trap you where they hide.


I Have No Time Today

22

I had a dozen tasks to do, that ordinary day, when something caught my interest, that seemed to come from far away.

I crossed the farmer’s cornfield, who lived not far from town, and crossed his empty pasture, while rushing to that sound.

A mournful dirge off in the distance, drifted gently on the air, as though the piper, too, lamented, some great sadness he must bear.

Across the narrow wooden bridge, my footfalls pounding like a drum, with the music growing louder, the faster I would run.

My full attention to it turning, I strained my ear to hear it played, and started walking to be near it, my chores I willingly delayed.

I turned the corner onto Main Street, and raced past the quiet homes, I wondered why the shops were shuttered, and why I felt so all alone.

The creaking gate, I closed behind me, I ambled quickly down the road, as each woeful note did find me, my pace hastened as I strode. Until I was all but running, to where I thought that piper be, whose music had been calling out, and beckoning, “come see.”

When suddenly I saw them, In the graveyard on the hill, the crowd stood there softly singing. .I heard my name, and felt a chill. I was standing by the lily pond, beneath a weeping willow tree when then and there I realized,

that the piper played for me. All were gathered ‘round my tombstone, all the townsfolk, that sunny day, they had come to lay my bones to rest, and send me on my way. I thanked them all for coming, then told them, they need not stay, for all my chores were still home waiting, and I had no time to die that day. They appeared not to want to see me, or heed the words that I had said, they seemed as though they were expecting. for me to lie there playing dead. There was no more time for foolishness, a dozen tasks I set aside, and, if I had just stayed home to do them, I would have never known I died.


Something We All Have in Common

23

In the thin starlight, of the dead of night, I did dream a proverbial dream. That Mankind is my Brother, the Earth is my Mother, and things are not what they seem. I came face to face, with the whole human race, and their features passed by in a blur. When I realized how small, was this blue little ball, and how silly hostility was. I saw, without flatter, that it just doesn’t matter, how different we are from the flock, We’re all stranded in space, We’re all held in one place, stuck to this round, floating rock!


Come Along and Dance With Me

24

Come along, and dance with me, and share the taste of reeling free, while spinning in sweet harmony. We’ll hear the colors swoop and swirl and rush about us as we whirl, the music but a distant purl. ‘Til breathless, we can scarcely stand, but recklessly with hand in hand, once more we cross the ballroom grand. Together, in the evening’s clutch, we’ll prove them wrong, who warn us much, that horizons are not there to touch. Come along and dance with me, and share my love of feeling free, as though we’re one, just you and me.


Everything You Need to Know

25

When youth’s blush does fade and weather,  blanched by callous life’s torment; when faces crease like aging leather, or crack like dusty, gray cement. Read carefully the sallow lines, scribed deeply into burdened folds, etched in brows, they’re well defined, the thousand stories yet untold. There’s everything you need to know, of man’s condition on this earth, the lessons of both reap and sow, and how to measure something’s worth. How to love and how to hate, How to strive and how to wait, When to hold your head up high, When to bow your head and cry, What not to do, What not to say, Where to curse, and Where to pray, Why we’re here, and Why we stay.


Graceful Aging

26

There is nothing graceful About aging gracefully. It sounds good Only until you have to do it yourself.

I bend down, and my stomach ripples in an abundant bulge, my knees hurt, my breath stops, my head begins to pound, my face reddens …and I find my toes staring up at me; surprised to see me coming …patiently waiting for me to reach them. “Hello toes, it’s been awhile; give my regards to my shoes.”


Portent Pretense

27

Both Oracles and Prophets seek, to see the world that’s yet to be, and hope but for the faintest peek, into the future’s history. They read the stars, and study charts, and practice arts that are benign, they necromance, by moonlight dance, always searching for a sign. But tea leaves rarely tell the truth, nor do crystal balls or palms, and seers can’t really say their sooth, nor can witches make us charms What is to be, they cannot see, by drinking potions that they brew, for we cannot know, how tomorrow goes, until tomorrow’s through.


The Rogue Confesses

28

I saw a young lady, on the path in a park; she was walking a dog, just before dark.

I asked if he’s friendly, I asked for his name, I asked her if often, to this park she came.

Now this fella’s no slouch, I’m very robust, and in any struggle, my muscles I’d trust.

His upper lip quivered, then was raised in a sneer, showing me briefly, the fangs that were there.

A mongrel, tho’ he, had true bearing indeed, t’was a stately canine, of indeterminate breed.

I asked if he bites, but she chose to abstain, and not give me the knowledge, I sought to obtain.

However, near creatures, with dangerous jaws, who disquietly saunter, on paws with sharp claws...

Being larger than most dogs, or so he appeared, caused me to perspire, in a reflexive fear.

He was large, he was black, with a muscular back, his ears closely cropped, and a tail did he lack.

I dared not reach out, for fear of the worst, and stood making sounds, through lips tightly pursed.

I’d rather not move, I’d rather stand fast, I’d rather just let the brute quickly pass.

Standing quite still, as the duo went by, my lungs suddenly gave up, an appreciative sigh.

But being a rogue, the whole of my days; I could charm a young lady, with my debonair ways.

Sounds universal, to four-legged ears, meant to assuage, their four-legged fears.

Not a bit did his bold, demeanor he alter, nor vary his gait, nor a moment did falter.

Without slowing her stride, from my unwelcome talking, she, and that demon, just kept right on walking.

I stopped and I waited, for them to draw near, the girl and companion, approached without fear.

Certain was I, that this beast would translate, their meaning as being, I was one not to hate.

But rather approached, with a confident aire, his eyes locked upon me, in a vigilant stare.

Though, I cannot recall, even one of her features, ... I’ll never forget, the teeth on that creature.


A Sonnet

29

What from the trough of molten flesh He draught, that so deserves more than the greatest praise,

Though, I cannot recall, even one of her features, ... I’ll never forget, the teeth on that creature.

His upper lip quivered, then was raised in a sneer, showing me briefly, the fangs that were there.

than that creature which The Lord’s favor brought, on one of His creation’s better days.

Being larger than most dogs, or so he appeared, caused me to perspire, in a reflexive fear. Standing quite still, as the duo went by, my lungs suddenly gave up, an appreciative sigh. Without slowing her stride, from my unwelcome talking, she, and that demon, just kept right on walking.

Though God, I think, has sometimes made mistakes, hence scalawags and villains, they abound, malefactors, thieves, wrongdoers, bums and rakes, that creep about the night without a sound. He knew quite well the wicked in men’s minds, their mischief made while good souls are asleep, So made He then a sentry for mankind, To watch the night as tending flocks of sheep.

This being of such faithfulness I speak, Can wag its tail and lick me on my cheek.


God’s Wrath is Undiminished

30

Man’s hand defiles not the place, first blessed by God’s paternal grace, Green Pastures, He had set aside, for Adam and his newborn bride. Not saved from ruin by the Flood, His displeasure let it turn to mud. He showed his back for Eve’s misdeed, and no mercy shown to Adam’s seed. For Cain and Able, and even Seth, long before they drew a breath, from Paradise they were evicted, for their parents’ crime, they were convicted. And, so unforgotten is their misbehavior, to be beguiled by their serpent neighbor, from forbidden fruit, which they did taste, His ire has not waned a trace. For, not only did God’s wrath expel, who did within His garden dwell, but angered so, still keeps from man, where Eden sleeps beneath the sand.


A Young Soldiers Ghost Laments

31

If, from the past, I could have recalled, old lessons all too soon forgotten, perhaps I could’ve then forestalled, this misadventure woefully misbegotten; I might have resisted this errant travel, by remembering how man’s plans unravel. But, with false vanity, and my visage braced, with brash abandon, and so cavalier, into the vicious fray I’ve raced, (for hubris does dispatch all fear); I joined the battle unafraid, though elsewhere, I could have safely stayed. Then, how fruitless was my misplaced ardor, that nothing different would be gained, it makes acceptance that much harder, to know I could have just refrained; while young men perish, for they are much bolder, the politicians just keep getting older.

Now, in epilogue, I will confide, what from scripture we’re reminded all, that pride doth make the poorest guide. and always goes before a fall; expecting to have died a martyr, It seems, I was only cannon fodder.


The Rose to The Thorn

32

Tho’ precious beauty you defend, both cursed and thankless, my steadfast friend, as sentry, whence your duties stem, you could not, for wanton gaze, keep bud from bramble being razed. Less vile than a viper’s tooth, and venomless, a well known truth, thy arched and stoic stance is moot, for beauty is the blossom’s bane, thus thorns cannot the bud sustain.


Tumbleweed

33

At night, I feel the ache from my mistakes, yet bless the fate, that keeps me where I wake, for life is such a tumbleweed at times, I know my errors, were only that - not crimes. I never meant to leave so much undone, yet bless the fact, I’ve had as long a run, for many friends have had far fewer days, to feel the wind, that carries us our ways. And the breeze for me was never so inclined, to ask which way, or even if I mind, that zephyr chose direction on a whim, and tumbled me, whichever way pleased him. With down-cast eyes, I’ll say my life is done, yet smile inside to know I had some fun, even if my course was set by chance,

I found some time to sing, and time to dance.


The Brief History of The Palatine

34

T’was on the Schooner Palatine I first voyaged from my home, and chose the burdens on the brine, as my very own. My passage paid, with labor’s trade, I found myself in harsh employ, to tread her decks in somber staid, and be her cabin boy. In the early morn, of the ides of May, from her moorings she was freed, and through the harbor, made her way, out to the open sea. By the Captain’s order echoed, in the First Mate’s dauntless wail, her blocks and tackle came alive, as the crew set Palatine to sail.

good fortune reigned on Palatine, for she ran with a steady breeze. And to their tasks, the men applied, full capacity and devotion, no finer crew than Palatine’s, e’er set out upon the ocean. In the evening of the fifteenth day, the helmsman turned the wheel to tack, as Palatine came to even keel, her timbers shuddered with a crack! And at her bow, the heavy planks, splintered with the blow, then tortured cries of drowning men, arose from down below.

In fever’d haste, the gang did free, all lines that were belayed, From masts and booms, the billows bent, to drop her sails upon the deck, her progress to allay. her maiden tack was taken, while Captain prayed aloud for us, What lethal thing had crushed her hull, that “we not be forsaken”. (Amen) only God would know, but wounded thus, so mortally, Splayed she then her whole nine yards, to the bottom she would go. as the boatswain piped “Farewell”, and when last I saw New Bedford, From his advantage on the deck, it disappeared beneath a swell. this truth the Captain saw, he commanded us into the sea, As this she sailed, without event, then below deck did withdraw. a fortnight of calm seas,

Those stalwart souls, with iron will, who resolved to stay alive, adrift, they watched as Palatine, sank beneath a moonlit sky. I must concede, that here it is, my story now begins, when life seemed so short, I found support against a gentle fin. There in the dark, I passed away, or passed-out beyond my senses, for how I reached the distant shore, I’ll make no rude pretenses. At the break of that next day, with a joyous cry I found, some kindly spirit pitied me, and helped me to dry ground. Now, Palatine, she rests somewhere, with all her crew but I, what silent savior came to me, I do not know, nor why. But out beyond the breakers, I cast my glance to see, a pod of Dolphins, playfully, rushing back to sea.


Fewer Words Could Have Been Spoken

35

In the very long ago, the worn and tawny long ago, the long ago of simple times .or so we’re often told; there lived a man, of much integrity, authenticity and verity, by Gospel, I say this verily, a lie he never told. At no time did he vitiate, ponder or initiate, nor did he ever generate, untruth for men to bear. But faithfully, abstained from use, words that were not filled with truth, and soon no one would ask for proof, no matter, what opinion they would hear. And trust they did, so very well, that no prevarication would he tell,

nor fell he once, from this good grace, so never would he have to face, the toll a little fiction takes. But friendships, they could not withstand, the hardships that such truth demands; for he would render fact, so readily, and say the things his heart commands. If they’d ask him, “How about my hat?” He just might say, “Your face looks fat.” Or, sometimes, “How about my dress?” He just might opine, “Its a frightful mess.” If they’d ask him, “Did you hear me sing?” He could reply, “It was an awful thing.” Or perhaps they’d ask him, “How’s my hair?” Sometimes he’d state, “It’s quite a scare.” But quipped he thus, so very often, that not a man did come to view his coffin,

no one came to see him off, when last he gave his final cough; for speaking always what he thought, a lonely end is all it wrought.


Wishing Well

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I overheard my children speak, of how to make a wish come true, their disagreement reached its peak, when then I told them what I knew. And by the hand I took them both, to where a covered Well long stood, now shrouded by the over growth, of twisted bramble and tangled wood. The thing was sadly left alone, gone was its bucket, crank and rope, and moss had colored green the stone, that once had  held my deepest hope. I told the two to gaze within, and cast their wish into the Well, and here no one shall know they’ve been, and to not a soul their wish to tell. They asked me if the wish I placed, when I was young, so long ago, had been, perhaps, by time erased, or had the years made it so.

And with a gentle nod, and smile, I told them that my wish came true, I paused, and looked a them awhile, then told them...”I had wished for you!”.


Within This Shell‌

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Within this shell, I shall reside, to fill its tangled flesh, until that moment God decides, my soul to unmesh. My spirit freed to again resume, its voyage over time, this life, like those I lived before .just a memory sublime. So, be not too vain, nor should you feign, to cherish all that lives; and of your vessel’s shroud, be not too proud, for that’s hardly all there is. And, worry not, nor be too forlorn, for those departed souls we mourn, they go but to their needed rest, before they are again reborn.


Some Things Will Never Change

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After my storms have raged and gone, And my wild heart hath subsided, My thoughts return to what Mom said, And the words that she had chided. Tho’ admonitions, in scores, she warned For me to use good care, I still sought out those wanton girls, With ribbons in their hair. Girls you could not take to meet Your father or your mother. Girls you could not trust alone With your best friend or your brother Even now, as I face my rest, Tho’ my eyes have grown quite bleary; I manage still to smile and wink, And call the cute ones “Deary!” So, foolish me, if I live to be, Somewhere near one hundred and three, I will never cease to start to flirt, With pretty girls in frilly skirts.


An Old Mariner’s Admonitory

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Sixteen years,       with the Sun in my eyes,       with the stars as a guide       by the helm of a ship       that since has died. Sixteen years,       I commanded her crew,       and every man knew,       I was shepherd and captain       and mastered her true. In the pitch of dark,       by an unseen reef,       like a dagger’s slash,       from a mid-night thief,       she was grounded, then smashed,       on the rocks of Cape Ann,       she was mortally dashed,       then heaved to the land. For the rest of my life,       I have no longer sailed,       I cannot forget,       the men that I failed

                       

or the sound of my ship against stone as it flailed, and laid down in the sea, as the wind by her wailed.

I’m writing this now,       for men that feel free,       to give up their homes,       for a life on the sea,       take heed of my words,       for no more to we       share a love for an ocean,       that would do this to me.


September 11th 2001 (There But For The Grace Of God, Go I)

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Into my vacant sleep did it lumber, an awful thing that disturbed my slumber, a wretched reverie of nightmarish woe, that never before did my spirit know, such a terrible feeling of being so low. Though when I awoke, the dream didn’t wane, again I remembered the loss and the pain, and that dreadful thing which I witnessed unfold, deliberately wrought by hearts that were cold, and should have remained a story untold. But framed by the blue of a late summer sky, came a horrendous shudder, and a deep groaning sigh; then the most fearful sight, with a heart stopping sound, as the gleaming steel twins

fell to the ground, –and where there was life, now death did abound. Then out of the smoke, a great gathering grew, and prayers drifted up for the people they knew; but you cannot unfire the shot from a gun, and once a bell rings it cannot be unrung, and they could not undo what was already done. So the motherless children, and the fatherless ones, and those who lost daughters, and those without sons, and the wives who still cry for husbands they’ve lost, and the husbands who mourn having paid the same cost, with pale, empty faces that nobody knows,

they’re waiting in places where nobody goes, still bearing a burden that none of them chose. We’ve the need to remember, yet we long to forget, so many sad faces stained with regret, and we need to find strength, to share in their sorrow, and we need to share strength, that from us they must borrow –because God shared his grace, and gave us all this tomorrow.


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