AN ODYSSEY WITH A BOOK
I escape to the age of innocence,
To lands where tender is the night
And the sun also rises in a red badge of courage.
I wander through paradise, lost
Far from the madding crowd.
I walk through leaves of grass
In search of history
And, with great expectations,
Travel to lands of war and peace
To learn the ways of mice and men.
I hear the sound and the fury
As I enter places with no exit,
Where angels fear to tread,
And witness the agony and the ecstasy
Of human bondage and divine comedy.
Like a midsummer nightís dream
I cross to islands in the stream
Where jabberwocky is spoken
And hear twice-told tales
Of little men and little women.
I explore the green hills of Africa
Travel for one thousand and one Arabian nights,
Or book a passage to India.
I rest east of Eden, listening to the song of the lark
And the wind in the willows.
I am just this side of paradise,
Kidnapped by the fellowship of the ring
Of words that hold the keys of the kingdom,
For when I take an odyssey with a book,
Mine is a moveable feast.
Sultry, early-afternoon heat presses down,
seeping into every pore.
No sound from insect or bird.
Puffy, gray-edged clouds drift toward each
Coming together, they look like giant
heads of cauliflower
climbing the sky, forming vapor pillars
that cover the sun.
As the heavens darken,
a strange, eerie, greenish-yellow glow
envelopes all, triggering deep, instinctive tensions.
The pungent taste and odor of ozone
permeates the air.
A breeze dries the moisture on one's brow --
the touch of an invisible hand.
In the distance, thunder can be heard--
a crescendoing drum-roll,
coming ever closer.
The breeze becomes a gusting wind,
and the spectacular zig-zag flashes
of discharging electricity
spotlight the coming drama.
A wall of water descends, like the curtain on a stage.
Shortly, the rain stops,
the curtain rises,
and center state we see
a familiar, jovial Gypsy
beckoning us to follow him--
away from the humdrum routine life--
to the make-believe land of summer fun
we call vacations.
This welcome, irresistible Gypsy
DROWNING IN MATH 101
on the board
oceans of numbers
He hugged shallows,
a landlubber before this
Behind him, hands
waved, like sea oats
on the beach.
he felt the sand give,
sucked under and out.
He fought for air,
but the ocean was
too deep, the pull too strong.
There is a meadow in morning sun
where jeweled spider webs are hung,
dazzling trellises of light
that fairies play upon at night.
They climb, they strum where spiders sleep,
knowing the watch spiders keep
is not for fairy feet and wings--
they dream of flies and juicy things.
First light becomes a meadow's blush,
she holds her breath, awaits the brush
of breeze to dry her tangled hair
and comb the spider from his lair.
The meadow is embroidered so
with lacy webs that silver grow
I wish the sun would stop at dawn
and stay and stay with morning on.
RETURN TO THE DANCE
That black cloak you wore
when you chased me
through the dungeon of despair
is one I want to burn.
What you did to me
inexcusable at its worst.
If only I could have caught you
and reduced to ash your curse,
but you were too elusive.
You took full advantage
of my brokenness,
tested my resolve,
and tortured me
with unrelenting torment.
I am in recovery now,
my purpose focused,
able to laugh again.
I am a person once again,
and, in costume,
dance my way
across life's stage.
SNOW MONKEYS IN THE NEWS
Six hundred monkeys from Japan
brought to America years ago
faced eviction from their land,
a ranch near San Antonio.
These primates that were born in snow
but since adapted to rough brush
were forced to move--for taxes owed
were enough to make pink faces blush.
Then came Wayne Newton in a rush
ready to fill the monkeys' purse.
The man who once made women gush
would the monkeys' creditors reimburse.
But life for the monkeys then got worse
for Newton, famed Las Vegas man,
made them out there watch him rehearse,
and the monkeys longed for Texas sand!
The goodbye will not rise to
It is too big and heavy.
So we say maybe
and I catch my breath,
but I know that maybe is just a word
to make a path for goodbye.
wildflowers rim the highway
vehicles head north.
I long for a leisurely
at the Tree of Shoes
pilfering a wink from the goddess of sole love
as we tangle tongues and thongs in limbs.
Drink the morning dew
christened with halcyon beams
filling the chest with peace
like the joy of an apricot shower
sweetening brotherly conversation.
The Lone Star steamer worked on the Mississippi River
ninety-nine years before being dry-docked in LeClair, Iowa, in 1968.
Oh, for the life on a riverboat
A Mississippi paddleboat
Fired up with coal and worry free
The Lone Star steamer, thatís for me.
Iíd bake my biscuits, fry my pies
Toot my whistle, tell some lies
Move some timber, work my tug
Pass through locks without a shrug.
Oh, for the pilot room on top
The private cabin, Iíd seldom stop
Me and the wheel and the birds and fish
The riverboat life, my fondest wish.
There is much to gain yet little comes in.
Food to eat yet hunger remains.
Clothes to wear but nothing fits.
Measure out portions for half thereof.
Seeds are planted, barns are empty
Death and taxes remain sure plight.
Taxes rise, income decreases.
Food has little nutrients in value.
Clothes come and go with time.
Half of what you buy costs more.
We work hard to pay our debts;
Our pockets remain empty.
Death and taxes--cadaver stable.
A lot is gained from God above.
His measure is pressed down.
Eat your fill from His table.
Infuse your soul with His love.
Life is gained forever free
Of the world's taxing ways.
Eden of late
Grows rank with weeds
Of hate and seeds
So hard they will not germinate.
sullenness dries up love's bloom;
The garden built
On vows we took as bride and groom.
My favorite run-down apartment house
filled again this morning
with my favorite renters.
sleek, black, sophisticated world travelers,
express glee to be home again.
They gossip with their sparrow neighbors,
as they go about the work
of making homes habitable once more.
At day's end, their work complete,
they dress for dinner in black silk and tails
to see and to be seen.
They bow to greet me,
their grateful, besotted landlady,
and thank motley canine sentries.
Their renown orchestra
then plays that sweet melody
"Home Again, Home Again."
Their nearby neighbors mutter
beneath bated breath,
"And not a minute too soon!"
Tomorrow they will sweep and soar,
filling the air with joy
throughout high society.
Family pet of seventeen years,
Almost blind in torment, and death near,
His name was Snowball, a small chihuahua.
Its small lifeless frame lay in the yard,
Torn by bobcat or big raccoon teeth and claws,
Blood on white snow on the green grass,
Snowball found by his master, my wife.
The vet with thread sewed all back to white.
A week of years have passed since then,
A dog's life of one hundred nineteen.
Again death grabbing, trying to take our pet,
Like the night falls black every night.
The years are winning, they will be victorious,
Quavering voice crying on the phone,
The voice of the dog's gentle master.
Choking back my tears, I said I will.
To the vet in the truck, I'm so sorry,
Last words quavering from the lady vet,
A folded blanket handed toward me,
Expecting cold, but feeling it warm,
Inside was our warm, small, dead dog.
Choking back the tears with no words,
The warm blanket on the pick up seat,
Driving by its master's work place,
Tears falling inside--mine trying to,
Digging a small grave with blurred vision,
The small blanket warming the cold ground.
School later that same sad day,
Daughter happy she had a great day,
Not knowing . . . my eyes told her,
She knows, somehow she knows,
So sorry her good day turned to bad.
She grew silent with tears blurring her eyes.
Earlier just after the vet--on the front seat,
In the still warm blanket,
Apologizing to a dead dog,
Times making him growl, and bark,
Only then did tears flow like rain,
This family misses you, Snowball. God Bless.
We are all captives
in this world that's wound by clocks
it is time to change