child

Poem – A Childhood in Retrospect

Shifting through photos
I feel no connection, no recognition
to the person with time and years
ahead of them, looking to the future.

Pausing at one in particular in the midst of summer,
oak leaves burning with white light,
the sun slowly fading into the horizon
behind the hill at the street’s end.

What was etched into the mind
when the image became a permanent
moment tossed into a shoe box?
What was the last thought defining that moment?

Years will pass and that young face
will undergo an outward expression
of the strife, agony, depression, and final transformation
built upon the experiences, cast from the struggle.

In time what we are in this life
circles back to the foundation,
the hands pushing up from the earth,
the roots feeding a child’s growth and imagination.

Poem – A Reflection in Time

The child stares into the mirror of the adult
he is to become and both wonder why.

the adult sees a child running through
sand ahead of the waves and the look
of amazement when birds take flight

the child sees an adult lost
black eyes cold and the look
of bewilderment when he realizes
the path from here,

the only way forward,
the choices that lie ahead.

how do I get through the mirror?

the child sees a stray dog
and runs, chasing it into the water.

the adult sees a stray man
and plans to run, escape this life.

events begin to play upon the mirror
and the adult can only watch and remember.

thinking back to the one moment
the planted seed took root
the forked road vanished beneath black dirt.

only the shadow is visible in the mirror.

an outstretched hand reaches for
the other as lights fade away
and the mirror shatters.
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Poem – War Child (Re-post)

Standing among the ruins.
The child looks to the west, as the sun sets upon the land
And smoke billows from the ruins.
Many thoughts collide and fill the child’s mind.
Thoughts no child should carry.

Standing alone, afraid to look.
Afraid to ask anything.
Tired arms hold all that is left of this life.
The life sniffs the air and hides beneath their paws.
Knowing what has happened, howling at the blood red, war torn sky.

A tear falls from both of their eyes.

And then nothing is left.

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Photo from Depression Time

Poem – Silent Music of Creation

When the nearest stars are observed
and the furthest ancient light is discovered
we see what became the past far removed
from the beginning.

If we remove ourselves from physical bonds
and trivial thoughts, what used to be feeling
transforms into knowing that what is felt and tasted
is no different than the first particle sent into the void.

If we allow the light and dark matter
to return back to us, to remind us
of our own beginning we see and
hear the music of energy and motion.

If we extend our imagination
and slow the waves of energy
we see infinite colors and
and the building blocks

of a concept still mystifying
the child standing in awe in the empty fields.

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Thoughts on the Empty Field

I have written a bit about the concept of an empty field and what this means spiritually, mentally, and physically to myself as a wandering soul, a student of this life struggling to relate and come to terms with previous lives.  The empty field is the essence of the mind and energy transferred to a physical state, represented by a field, landscape, or a similar feature of nature.  This field is like a chessboard, and there are pieces representing parts of the person such as memories, roadblocks, behaviors, and habits that prevent a more peaceful and happier existence.  We do not have to struggle and suffer. We can choose and recast ourself and re-enter the world.


Romanticism of the Empty Field

(1)

From two perspectives –
the field gives, and
the field takes.

I see mountains and other
landscapes miles away, yet
here they have no influence.

Yet I cannot help wonder
what was here before me?
Before emptiness?
Does this field hold the
mountains higher, or offer
clear water to the gods?

On this particular day
cloudless and bright
there was no wind,
there was no sound.

I stopped on a single boulder
with eyes closed and filled the
emptiness with childhood memories –
moments we bring into the present
and view with a diffused and
soft light – the romanticism
of our past.

What happens to the real
memories, the emotions – where
are these upon the empty field?

Have I already incorporated
what I needed, taken the experience
and lessons, and discarded what
does not work, what only
weighs me down?

(2)

When I stand before the
entrance to the valley
and the immense gates
ask questions of me

how do I answer truthfully
when I left part of me
scattered and broken
fractured and fragmented
across millions of miles
of empty field?

Does the gate see the
same light or hear
the same vibrations as I?

(3)

I step down from the boulder
and vow to recast the person
I am into the person I should be
and begin to reassemble the being
from the pieces.

Poem – War Child

Standing among the ruins.
He looks out over to the west, as the sun sets upon the land
And the smoke billows from the ruins.
Many thoughts at once run through his mind and collide.

He stands alone, afraid to look.
Afraid to ask.
In his arms, he holds all that is left of his life.
The life sniffs the air and hides his eyes under his paws.
He knows what has happened as he howls at the blood red, war torn sky.

A tear falls from both of their eyes.

polish_kid_in_the_ruins_of_warsaw_september_19391

 

Photo from Depression Time

Poem – Untitled #2

(1)

When evening light
scatters across the horizon

hidden behind the treeline
moving to the wind and

free of clouds, the orange
disk fills my eyes with

a field neither land nor sea
but made of light and our

feet walk gently upon this,
though I do not see you

my hand holds something
and from that I know you are here.

(2)

Back, years before this final moment,
I swam alone in an ocean of black water

with waves constantly throwing my
body between waves.

I caught glimpses of you in the
distance but I did not know how

far and I did not think I was ready
so I let you go, freed of the bonds,

and in my thinking gave you a
better life beyond here.

(3)

I awoke the next day caught again
between relief and panic.

(4)

Each year I think about you
and what might have been

what could have been
what my life would look like.

(5)

Each year pain and acceptance
filled my vision until I decided to let you go.

Guilt hung around for a while longer
until it too decided to let go.

(6)

18-years have passed and I see your
face in my dreams, in the setting sun

and the rising moon, in the still water
of the river flowing out to the sea.

The Well is Barren

I have had a few days off of work. Before this, I came up with a great plan in my head of the projects I would work on, new words I would write, manuscripts I would submit. Days have passed and projects have collected more dust and words have vanished. I have gotten good at procrastinating, but the question is why. More questions upon questions, and answers are nowhere to be found. Perhaps it is just this life, that my well has dried up.

I turn to the words and images of great artists, I turn to music, looking for that spark, that one moment that has the energy to turn the spigot.

I turn into myself and see fear is replacing water. Fear of failure? Fear of what others might think of a particular piece? No, it is fear that the life and purpose I envisioned for myself, will never come to fruition. Fear that I will never be able to fully express the images and thoughts running through my mind.


I see a little boy running through
a fenced yard, circling the rusty
red swing-set, being chased
by a golden retriever, named Lady.

There is laughter, and barking, and
a summer breeze rustling the tall
oak and elm in this northeast neighborhood
across from the church.

I see the boys face smiling
the light across his face
the dog nipping at his heels
and the black clouds building.

When the sky darkens and
the sun sets, when the lights
dim, and the doors close,
the nightmares return.

The feeling that you don’t fit
anywhere, that there is no place for you,
the nagging question of purpose
of preparing not for the journey but finding a path.

I see the little boy follow routine
be strong on the outside, yet
the emotions build within and
he does not know himself.

A glimmer of hope offered
by the written word and soon
page after page becomes the image
of the mind and the anger.

Given a voice paths
began to reveal them-self.

Where did this purpose and
strength escape to?

Something changed in the
intervening years.

Something was lost. The compass
the little boy held dear to his
heart, gone.

Adrift in that unnamed sea
following unscalable cliffs
the boy now a man
searches for the path.

Poem – Crowd gathers in a cold city, in February

A slow sunrise
behind rooftops and elm.

Winters breath across
a frozen lake.

Flock of birds heading east
near silence their cry.

Airplanes shadow across
the stone bridge.

A crowd gathers in line
for coffee and doughnuts.

A child passes on a
rusted red bicycle.

A few people turn
and watch him

ascend the hill
and disappear over the top.

Summer on 41st

Stretching eager fingers, ready to continue on a new piece with the working title of “A Season in Hell”.  Not very original, however, a tribute to one of my favorite writers Arthur Rimbaud.  I look over the empty streets from my office.  The unimpeded sun heats black tar and the day has the hazy look that leaves no question, it is summer.  And from that vision, childhood memories emerge, of time bookended by school, and the absolute freedom beneath tree canopies.

The following poem is from where I grew up.


Across the Lutheran church, where first grade
was once held, replaced by the ringing Sunday
bells, the yellow cracker box with brown trimmed
windows, sat quietly.

Red swing set, white plastic seats,
in the middle of a small city lot
surrounded by a chain link fence,
endless summer days for a 10-year old.

Morning dew on the tip of bending grass
from yesterdays rain, the sun
peaking through at the end of main street.

Underneath spring planted pine trees
robins waddle through the manicured Kentucky Bluegrass,
quick pecks at the emerging worms.

The back corner of the yard nestled near the garage,
became a miniature cemetery over time.

The backdoor led into a breezeway,
with floor to ceiling windows, the warm wind
brought in the scent of lilacs, and the sun
as the morning burns away, giving to the afternoon.

Finally when chores were done,
(or good enough to a 10-year old)
time to race on two wheels and dust the competition.

The race is mine, just a shadow, the elusive shadow
elongating as the sun scans the sky.

I pedal faster, trying to gain an edge, the finish
line at the top the church courtyard stairs.

All of this I remember…
from the passenger seat across the street.
The white paint dirty, worn, peeling
but still holding the memories.

The swing set is gone, presumably into
rust, back into the earth. The plastic seats
off in a landfill, years ago discarded.

The concrete walled alleyway
overrun with blooming lilacs. The
cobwebs of low hanging electrical cables
leading to from the transformers, that
attract lighting each summer.

Many imagined getaways and bike races
took place, leading up a steep hill
to the other side, and back to the finish line.

Against a backdrop of older oak and elm
my fears did not follow me into adulthood,
the steep drop, not as intimidating, not as fast.

Across the alley, the willow tree is gone,
replaced by Washington apples, fodder
for the spring and summer robins
returning each year.

I wonder if the 64 mustang still inhabits
the third garage stall. A someday project
that time seemed to answer, time here at
the yellow clapboard home, has slipped.

And the church bell still rings, a trickle of
people emerging from the main doors,
faces and smiles and laughter not familiar,
but if I close my eyes, the yellow house
swirling in lilacs comes back
and the summer on 41st.


Photo by Patricia Youker