First Love’s Gentle Breeze

FIRST  LOVE’S  GENTLE  BREEZE

Forty years have passed
since that summer of their youth –
The moonlit walks, the silly smiles,
holding hands, stealing kisses,
riding in the back of the old pickup truck.
A time that was purely magical
to the young girl’s heart,
Awoken for the first time
by a hint of love in the air.
Front porch romance
on starry summer nights.
A birthday concert and a cupcake
that meant more to the girl
than he could ever know.
Playing softball 
until it was so dark,
headlights were sometimes necessary
to finish a close game.
The streak had to end,
as did the magic for him.
But the girl knew love for the first time
and held back a small piece of her heart.
Though she watched him through the years
she moved on…
But never forgot those days –
first love’s gentle breeze,
that swept away the past
and made everything ok,
if for just a little while.

/                                       – JT,
/                                         June 25,  2017

“Requiem” Revised

Here’s a “Requiem” that applies to those who have lived a pretty full life.  I made the changes to the first few lines and the penultimate line in recent days.  

The original creation was inspired by former students I knew who died young in a dreadful single-car accident.  The eventual poem appears in both the collections “My Best to You” and “Providence.”

The version below concluded my earthly father’s obituary in both The Daily Record of Wooster and the Ashland Times-Gazette.  He passed away on May 21, 2017 at the age of 90.

 

REQUIEM

Most good things
/ this life had willed
Have been finally
/ now fulfilled…
Yet as we fumble
/ for words to say,
Death never takes
/ it all away.                                                                                                                              

Some plans our God
/ does not reveal;
The faithful trust
/ He must conceal
Love mere man
/ here cannot know…
By grace this day
/ that love will show.

 

My Best to You

My Best to You

I’m 62 years old.  Here are 62 of my most accomplished poems – my best to you.

They are presented in chronological order, so the first ones here probably aren’t as good as the latter.  The parentheses give the date on which the poem was conceived and originally written; an asterisk (*) indicates the poem was revised at a later date – often many years later.

Here’s hoping you enjoy them.  Remember that poetry is meant to be read out loud.  Failing that, several readings will allow you a deeper appreciation of the rhyme and meter, both of which are more prevalent in the more recent creations toward the end of this post.

The shorter poems in the later years were intentionally so written as a requirement for publication.

.              “And before dying I want to share these poems of my soul…
.               My poems are soft green,
.               My poems are also flaming crimson,
.               My poems are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forest.”
.                                                                         – from “Guantanamera” by the Sandpipers (1966)

 Index
All I Desire…………………………………………………12

Bagatelle…………………………………………………..21
Bit Part……………………………………………………..11
The Blessing………………………………………………26
Castles in the Sand………………………………………14
Come What May………………………………………….51
Counsel for a Friend……………………………………..24
Credit the Airwaves………………………………………38
Dark December Night…………………………………….4
Days of Blue……………………………………………….20
Defender of the Flame………………………………….23
Everywhere Around……………………………………..47
Evolution……………………………………………………40
Fateful Transition (Musings on a Pop Classic)……….29
Footbridge…………………………………………………….2
Full Throttle……………………………………………….45
Hit Me………………………………………………………..50
I’d Be Rich………………………………………………….55
Imperative………………………………………………….25
Insecurity…………………………………………………..48
In the Meadow……………………………………………61
The Jogger………………………………………………….28
Long Odds………………………………………………….37
Losers……………………………………………………….39
Love at First Sight…………………………………………52
Love’s Fortune…………………………………………….18
Middle-Class Blues………………………………………10
Misperception…………………………………………….8
Mixer’s Mistake………………………………………….19
My Only Rose………………………………………………26
Night-Rise…………………………………………………..46
No Chance…………………………………………………13
One Wish (40-10 = 20+10)……………………………..31
Out There………………………………………………….57
Pardon Me………………………………………………….58
Passions of Old…………………………………………..60
Patience…………………………………………………….33
Poet’s Drought…………………………………………….62
Prayer for a Special Love………………………………….1
Queens of the Flashing Lights…………………………16
Reprieve………………………………………………….27
Requiem………………………………………………….54
A Rose for Sharon………………………………………..5
Seek to Give……………………………………………….9
See Me Monday…………………………………………..56
A Shoulder to Cry On……………………………………22
Sparks…………………………………………………….49
Teachers………………………………………………….34
Teenage Eyes……………………………………………..15
This Night………………………………………………….35
To Stop Believing………………………………………….17
To the Aged  (Hear! Hear!)…………………………….59
Traces……………………………………………………….30
Ultrapoem………………………………………………….32
The Up Side of Down……………………………………..6
Virtue 1:  Faith……………………………………………..41
Virtue 20:  Love……………………………………………44
Virtue 2:  Prudence………………………………………42
Virtue 17:  Responsibility………………………………43
Was It the Smoke?……………………………………….3
Willows Weep………………………………………………7
You………………………………………………………….53


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1
PRAYER FOR A SPECIAL LOVE

May her heart know of the special love
/   that sends me to my knees today:

Now may the sun shine on her
/   long after it sets on the rest of the world.
May the cold north wind miss her house
/   as it blusters by,
May the thundering storm only tap gently
/   at her window pane.
May the roaring sea be as serene
/   as the calm of a country pond.
May her wildest dream of a thousand miles
/   be only a step away,
May the best of her yesterdays
/   fill all her tomorrows with joy,

And may her heart always know of a special love
/   that brings me to my knees this way.

(July 13, 1975 *)

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2
FOOTBRIDGE

Flowing through the valley of my latest dream,
Our love was the footbridge on a mountain stream.
Though days became cool as shadows grew long,
Our love, like the footbridge, was steadfast and strong.

Even as the days grew dark, our hearts were warm,
Until the autumn wind brought a raging storm.
Rain fell like bullets from the black skies above,
Enraging the once-gentle stream of our love.

We knew that our footbridge might not survive
As we watched the banks swell with the swirling tide.
And when it creaked and cracked and finally gave,
Love went with the footbridge to a watery grave.

(July 4, 1976)

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3
WAS IT THE SMOKE?

Looking back on our love’s flickering flame,
We can’t believe the fire once burned so high;
We can’t believe we sat and watched it die.
Now we’re sniffing the smoke and wondering why.

After the sun had set on our day of love,
Our words merely floated upon the air;
Our hearts tried to speak and we weren’t even there,
We waved goodbye to our dream and didn’t even care.

After the chilling night had set in around us,
“I’m sorry” was simply the wrong thing to say.
Our brilliance had faded to a dull shade of gray,
So we waited for the darkness to take us away.

After the night had passed, it brought the dawn,
And once more the sun shone down upon the land.
And though our love had died we couldn’t understand
Why we longed for the touch of each other’s hand.

Looking back on our love’s flickering flame,
We can’t believe the fire once burned so high.
Now we’re sniffing the smoke and wondering why.
Was it the smoke that made you sit down and cry,
And is the smoke to blame for the tear in my eye?

(September 1-2, 1976)

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 4

DARK DECEMBER NIGHT

Waking up in the middle
/    of a cold and dark December night,
I reach out and turn on a light.
Sitting up in bed,
I could swear I heard her calling my name,
But this isn’t the time for a silly game,
So I guess it must have been
/    the wind whistling outside my window.
But in wiping the sleep from my eyes,
I could see the glow of her golden hair;
I could swear I saw her standing there!
No, it can only be the lateness
/    of the hour playing tricks on me.
Reaching for another cover,
The night seems to be getting a little colder.
Oh, I thought I felt her hand upon my shoulder!
The warmth of her gentle touch is with me now,
But it’s just my imagination once again.
Will these desperate illusions never end?
Will I always hear the sound of her voice?
Will I always feel the touch of her hand?
Will her memory ever let me go free,
Or will she always stay with me,
Even in the middle
/    of a cold and dark December night?
Without answers
I reach out and turn off the light.

(September 9-10, 1976)

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5
A ROSE FOR SHARON

Sharon had seen better days.
To her a rose had always been the symbol of love.
She used to say,
/     “Give me some flowers to put in my hair;
/       Pick me a rose to show that you care.”
But now her best days had come and gone.
By her twenty-first year she was very old;
She called her life,
/     “The start of a story that would not be told.”
Still, Sharon was the sparkle in a young man’s eye:
/     “She outshines the stars that shine in the sky.”
But despite all his prayers he found no way to save her,
Though while she lived,
If it was roses she wanted,
It was roses he gave her.
They used to say,
/     “We don’t really care where life’s river flows,
/       For we have each other and we have the rose.”
They tried to run from their fate,
But soon that look of despair appeared on their faces.
They should have known,
Fate has a way of winning its races.
So she said to him,
/     “Please give me a rose like those times before.”
Through her trembling hand its petals fell to the floor.
For one last time they shared the pain.
She crawled in his arms and they both started to cry
When she said,
/     “Please take this rose and don’t let it die.”
His heart saw the gardens that would never be
When Sharon said,
/     “Please take this rose and keep it for me.”

(May 19-22, 1977)

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6
THE UP SIDE OF DOWN

Like a ghetto child
Trying to make good on the bad side of town,
I’m trying to believe in the up side of down.

When one path is blocked, I’ll try another way;
I’ll find the cloud’s silver lining on a rainy day.
The oak fights the storm and in the process grows strong;
A fire’s warmth feels better when the winter night is long.
Among mountain crags the prettiest flowers often bloom;
I can feel close to God in the solace of my room.
Rough diamonds are cut and polished to form the precious stone;
Nature’s grandeur can seem greater when I’m standing all alone.
I’d never feel comfort if I’d never known the pain;
I’d never see a rainbow if I’d never known the rain.

So like a ghetto child
Who makes a good life on the bad side of town,
I’m finding I believe in the up side of down.

(June 22, 28-30, 1977)

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7
WILLOWS WEEP

As the horizon agrees
/   to be the sun’s pillow,
A solitary man sits
/   beneath a witnessing willow
By a placid lake
/   that reflects my mood of blue
These misty eyes can’t help
/   picturing you
And how our leap of faith
/   fell inches short…
Where it takes ten for love,
/   we counted nine.
Oh, I tried to be yours
/   and you tried to be mine,
But to err by degree
/   was still wrong direction
When the quest for a mate
/   was the pursuit of perfection…
In the deep purple dusk
/   it’s this past I see,
And it seems the willows weep
/   for you and me.

(July 21, 1977 *)

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8
MISPERCEPTION

I picked up a burning match,
But it felt like a rampaging brush fire
Blazing in my hand.
You must have thought me a fool;
Still I thank you for trying to understand.
Though I have no room for regrets,
My mind knows the misperception killed a dream,
And my heart never forgets.
Today most of the smoke has cleared,
And I’ve become just another guy
Who could not begin to fathom your flame.
Still I’m grateful to you for showing me
How playing with fire can be a dangerous game.

(September 1-3, 1977)

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9
SEEK TO GIVE

Asking, “What can that person do for me?
If I am a twig, will there soon be a tree?”
In each new relationship I had to know,
“In how many ways can he help me grow?”

God said, “Poor questions!  That’s no way to live!
You shouldn’t seek to gain, rather seek to give.
So pass out kindness, then see it through,
And in time good things will come back to you.”

Serving others is now the answer for me.
If I am a twig, there will soon be a tree.
For I grow in relationships bright and new
By asking, “What, my friend, can I do for you?”

(March 14, 1978)

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10
MIDDLE-CLASS BLUES

Teach math to high school kids,
Let dismissal bells be your friend.
Mow the lawn and trim the hedges
And watch them grow out again.
Do a little painting on the side,
Join a bowling league on Thursday night.
Grade papers, plan lessons,
Replace a burned out kitchen light.
Slander a kid in the teachers’ lounge,
Scrape money together to pay for a car.
Pretend your students aren’t sick of books
When you know they really are.

(June 10-11, 1978)

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11
BIT PART

Perhaps in fantasy worlds
May the men
/   encounter girls
With such enticing
/   multiple charms –
Ideal dawns will catch me
/   asleep in your arms

For never in this life
Shall I be like
/  the window shopper
Who often looks
/   but seldom buys –
I’ll fan the fire reflected
/   by your smouldering eyes

Yet within my deepening soul
I know passion plays
/   a minor role
In the bigger drama
/   of dreams come true –
It merely skims the surface
/   of my love for you

(June 17, 19-21, 1978 *)

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12
ALL I DESIRE

Some men chase dreams of the world –
To date a movie star, to own a racing car,
Money in the bank, a high social rank.
Now to each his own, I always say.
But I have no interest in the games they play.

Loving nights to spend alone with you –
Those moonlight walks, quiet midnight talks
By a gentle fire…That’s all I desire.
They can have the joy their world brings
For in you I have found the important things.

(August 20, 1978)

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13
NO CHANCE

So again you’ve lost at love –
What a sorry state!
And every clock ticks on,
/   your hour is late.
Always anted the kitty,
Played your hunches heartfelt –
Just to fold the big hands
/   when the cards were dealt!

Yet it’s worse not to try –
What a terrible fate!
To never sit at the table,
/   to place your wagers too late.
For often you’d wonder
What joys might’ve been;
When you don’t play the game,
/   you’ve no chance to win.

(September 11 & 16, 1978 *)

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14
CASTLES IN THE SAND

Pass the tanning lotion down this way –
It’s another bright and sunny summer day!
A bikini-clad dream within my reach,
Tossing a Frisbee on a crowded beach.
Radios and snacks and volleyball,
Our laughter tells us we’ve got it all!
Riding the waves, going hand in hand,
Building a castle in the soft, wet sand…

Alone in December, the very same place –
A cold mist seems to freeze on my face.
Old footprints dissolve as I walk around,
The lonely cry of a gull is the only sound.
Some things are forever, like waves to the shore,
But changes must come, so we dream no more.
The beach is deserted, a desolate land,
And there are no castles in the cold, wet sand.

(November 24-26, 29, 1978)

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15
TEENAGE EYES

Whispered secrets and laughter and heartfelt dreams,
Each decision is vital to her future schemes!
All the who’s and where’s and when’s and why’s,
Looking at the world through teenage eyes.

Without a hassle she wants to run free and wild,
But under a grown-up shell there’s a sensitive child.
For if she flunks a big test or a boyfriend lies,
Warm tears will be falling from teenage eyes.

Yet her youth finds a message in the music she plays:
To live life to the fullest these golden days!
For a girl gets older and though she tries,
She’ll never see again through teenage eyes.

(January 17, 1979)

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16
QUEENS OF THE FLASHING LIGHTS

Mixing her lines of smooth, sweet talk
With a cute little wiggle in a cute little walk,
She knows all the sexy new moves,
And each week this painted lady proves
She’s the passionate queen of the flashing lights –
Disco’s gift to the world of Saturday Nights.

She’s enough of a woman, yet she gives it more –
Her young body moves swiftly across the floor.

And back at the table one can surely bet
On a glass of beer and a cigarette.
Add a low-cut dress and she’s got it made –
For these are the tools of this popular trade.
While the fever burns hot into warm summer nights,
Some girls thrive as queens of the flashing lights.

(May 28, 1979)

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17
TO STOP BELIEVING

On those very rare occasions
When from the clouded, distant past
There comes a romantic notion or a foolish thought,
I fight them off, stubbornly refusing to be caught
In the half-woven webs of yesteryear.
And so time forces on; life has exalted me –
In fact some say I’m a winner, though they do not see
The murky voids that often well up in my solemn soul.
Not do they perceive the flow of retrospective tears
Across the memories, the miles and the years –
All of which will soon lay to rest my sentimental tendency
To believe in the possible survival
Of that which never existed.

(October 14 & 21, 1979)

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18
LOVE’S FORTUNE

Lowly beginnings; perchance –
/     Two good friends.
Sole determinant:  destiny –
/     How stories end.
Passion plays, scheming –
/     On the shelf.
True love’s fortune
/     always tells itself.

(June 4, 1980)

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19
MIXER’S MISTAKE

Though she was stylish, elegant and sophisticated –
And I had often perceived such things to be overrated,
I quickly accepted the challenge with open arms.
But soon her class nonpareil and her boundless charms
Mercifully proved to be more than I could handle.
For I was a backyard cookout; she was a French souffle’.
It was blue jeans and sneakers versus silk and sachet.
We agreed only on the ending – a clean, easy break…
Mixing root beer with champagne was indeed a mistake!

(June 8, 1980)

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20
DAYS OF BLUE

From health of mind and body
/     to summertime days of blue –
Of countless blessings that are mine,
/     I deserve so very few.
For food on every table,
/     for dreams that may come true –
Thanks for being by my side
/     in all I strive to do.
From personal goals for love and work
/     to a life of service for You –
Thanks for placing within my heart
/     those year-round days of blue.

(June 20, 1980)

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21
BAGATELLE

Too long ago for too short a while
You let the face of us become a smile.
Of course we’re just the subject of poems hereafter,
For all smiles pale in the face of laughter.

And even when the laughter rings loudly no more,
You’d  rather subsist on echoes than reach for the door.
Some say there’s no reason to live a mistake;
You say there are rules you must not break.

So give laughter your best; let the past be blurred –
But know the truth lies within this title word.
Look it up, my friend, for it fits so well –
The smile, to you, was a bagatelle.

(July 11, 1980)

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22
A SHOULDER TO CRY ON

What was
Never knew
What could be,
Sometimes what was
Is
What is
To me.
But what was
To you
Is
A bygone,
So what was
Was
A shoulder to cry on
When what is
Wasn’t.

Now what is
Is
To be
You trust,
What is
Laid
What was
In the dust.
Though you
Chose
Your what is
To rely on,
Let what was
Be
A shoulder to cry on
When what is
Isn’t.

(July 13, 1980)

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23
DEFENDER OF THE FLAME     

Intrigue is reflections
/   that other fires lack;
This flame wavers and falters
/   but always comes back,
Providing soft shadows
/   that bounce and prance –
Across time and space
/   they flicker and dance.
My life moves like a breeze
/   that rekindles the fire;
Any threat of extinction
/   seems to lift it higher.
It burns through the storms
/   and glows through the night,
And though now of no value
/   as heat or light,
Its defender knows
/   that no one can name
A great fire not born
/   of a tiny flame.

(August 6, 16-17, 1980 *)

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24
COUNSEL FOR A FRIEND

Bittersweet remembrance, the returning ghost…
How sad that your past can hurt you most
Not when cherished or despised as yesterday’s way,
But when allowed to live as part of today.
Never should what-was put shackles on tomorrow;
A martyr loses all if he drowns in his sorrow.
Handling your past is something you must do –
Start by refusing to let it handle you!

(February 21-22, 1981)

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25
IMPERATIVE

Pursue a wild dream,
/   yours and mine –
Playfully tamper
/   with the hands of time.
Diminish the doubts,
/   delete the fears –
Believe love can add
/   and subtract the years!

When tomorrow’s horizon is hazy,
Remember not all beginnings have ends.
Trust in something that’s crazy;
Believe age is a rule that bends.

Have faith in miracles;
/   it’s never too late.
Challenge convention;
/   join forces with fate.
Turn back the clock
/   or fast-forward the days;
Live boldly our dream
/   in those timeless ways.

(June 20, 1981 *)

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26
MY ONLY ROSE

If God plants the seed,
/    each man reaps what He sows.
In the garden of life
/    true love is a rose…
And I dream of sharing a kiss
/    in the moon’s cool light,
Of being close to your heart
/    through a starry night.
But I’m keeping it secret,
/    though my senses are reeling –
How I hate the frustration
/    of hiding the feeling!
I’d rather shout it out loud
/    till the whole world knows –
In His garden of life
/    you’re my only rose!

(August 8, 1981)

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27
REPRIEVE

O Truth,
Grant me a favor.
Let me be so bold!
Ease your grip,
Lessen your hold,
Permit me to dream.

O God,
Pervade my soul.
Bring me strength enough
To play life’s game
When the game plays rough!
Answer my prayer.

O Death,
Grant me a stay!
But as long as I live,
Will me to take
Less than I give.
Permit me reprieve.

(May 1, 1983)

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28
THE JOGGER

Desperado sees not what’s wrong,
/    what’s right –
One well-thrown stone
/    blacks lone street light.
He’s shadow-lurking to await
/    unsuspecting passerby…

The slum-jogging would-be victim
/    utters words of prayer
For God’s unfortunate low-lives
/    who are dying there,
Oblivious to the encounter that looms
/    around the corner.

Intercession, petition…
aspiring criminal could hear it!
Was he reluctant to challenge
/    some Unknown Spirit,
Or were hibernating morals
/    stirred and awakened?

A credo so hostile, so callous,
/    so poised to attack –
But came that moment of truth,
/    he’d shrunken back
From God’s unwitting witness
/    who jogged more than the miles.

(October 2-4, 1984)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

29
FATEFUL TRANSITION  (MUSINGS ON A POP CLASSIC)

Do you suppose Mr. Simon
/   would understand?
Through dark, weary years
/   I held onto her hand,
Laying me down
/   as her mind-easing
/      bridge of song.
But no dream sporting offspring
/   could shine to my soul;
As evenings-falling-hard
/   exacted their toll,
The undried tears
/   of a silver girl
/      sailed on by…
Now I blame disdain for life
/   minus son or daughter
For causing the bridge
/   to become the troubled water.

(June 9-12, 1987 *)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

30
TRACES

Within stark shadows
/   relentlessly cast
/       by the supreme reality
/           of our situation,
We cherish traces of light
/   somehow sustained
/       in the fleeting reflections
/           of our fantasy.

(June 7, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

31
ONE WISH  (40-10 + 20+10)

A genie sprang from a bottle,
Offering fame and fortune and fun.
“Three wishes will I for you fulfill.”
But I told him I needed just one:

A decade of age fell from my soul;
I was back in my thirtieth year!
When my ingenue caught the ten,
I said, “Thanks, we’ll take it from here!”

(June 9 & 11, 1989 *)

 

32
ULTRAPOEM

Though Webster tries,
He must realize
That you’re the definition of beauty.
Or if it truly lies
In the beholder’s eyes,
Then the Universe gazes upon you.

(June 16, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

33
PATIENCE

Most of us dreamers sell out,
But I’ve never been like the rest.
To persevere is to pass
Each faith-shaking test.

Timing is the master
/    of every fate…
While some jump too soon
And others move too late,
I know those who want the best
/    must wait.

Life’s adventures all teach
How patience fosters success.
So I’ve set my sights on a star,
And I’ll never settle for less.

(June 26-27, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

34
TEACHERS

In recesses of our minds
/   bittersweet successes are stored –
We live a profession known
/   to be its own reward,
And no other aspect of teaching
/   can rightly mean so much
As knowing you make a difference
/   in the lives you touch.

(July 8, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

35
THIS NIGHT

Special moments won’t listen
/   to rhyme or reason;
The seeds of love may be sown
/   in any season…
So improvise a pillow
/   in yon patch of clover,
Lay your open
/   ere this night be over.
Harvest wonders under stars
/   and an August moon…
Yes, damn the dawn’s plan
/   to intrude so soon!
Supersede in one eve
/   the seeds planted before,
And share the secrets meant
/   to be secrets no more!

(July 9-10, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

36
THE BLESSING

He could mark his tally
/   before the game had begun;
He knew the score
/   before the race was run.
So he saw each date
/   even as he dressed –
With no guesswork to do,
/   our boy’d been blessed!

But where was rapture,
/   and where was bliss?
Where was the thrill
/   in love’s first kiss?
Where were sweaty palms
/   on the steering wheel?
Where was the dream
/   that fights to be real?

One tips off romance
/   with “Be still, my heart.”
He couldn’t finish
/   what he didn’t start.
So he never reached
/   “For better, for worse.”
Just what is a blessing,
/   and what is a curse?

(July 24-27, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

37
LONG ODDS

For her priceless affections
/   countless suitors will vie.
Faced with lottery odds,
/   a slim chance have I.
My heart quiets my head –
/   I’m compelled to try.

Too often I’m haunted
/   by what could have been,
So despite long odds
/   this gambler wants in!
A grand prize is at stake –
/   someone’s destined to win.

That’s the way a game’s played
/   in the quest for a mate,
So my chances no more
/   shall these words debate.
And if “someone” ‘s another
/   I’ll not rail at fate.

(July 31 & August 1-2, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

38
CREDIT THE AIRWAVES

Inspiration was the tuning
/   of a radio dial.
The Seventies’ records reared
/   my writing style.
In that maze of lyrics
/   the melodies were lost –
Oh, I could’ve been studying
/   Tennyson of Frost,
But I preferred pop lessons
/   from a vinyl stack,
So I had tutors like Lennon
/   and Fleetwood Mac.

(August 10-11, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

39
LOSERS

Keenly aware
Of our sad misplays
And all the chances blown…

Richly blessed
With much to offer –
Still we stand alone.

Seemingly damned
By this sorry state,
We stubbornly muddle through,

Meekly hoping
That quirks of fate
Reward the faithful few.

(August 14, 1989)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

40
EVOLUTION

O Ultimate Voice…
Ever tune my receiver
/   to heed what you say;
Work the pliable me
/   like a fine lump of clay.
O Quintessential Potter…
Might I always acquiesce
/   to your gracious demands;
May you constantly mold me
/   in your masterful hands.

(May 26-27, 1990)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

41
VIRTUE 1:  FAITH

A good man’s
/    Good Book
Collects no dust
/    upon its shelf –
There’s this need to believe
/    in something
That’s much bigger
/    than oneself.

It’s blazing trails
/    beyond the bend,
Once-fallow furrows
/    growing green…
Paul in Hebrews
/    called it
The evidence
/    of things unseen.

It’s a link
/    to peace eternal,
To what’s right
/    our trust is wired…
Brotherhood
/    and a God who’s good –
No support
/    from reason required.

(June 24-25, 1994)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

42
VIRTUE 2:  PRUDENCE

Know when to pick a side
/   and when to straddle the fence.
Show your practical wisdom
/   and use your common sense.
Weigh the valid views
/   of all the diverse factions.
Always prejudge the likely
/   results of your actions.

Know when to become a friend
/   and when to remain a stranger.
Be circumspect where there’s risk,
/   on the alert where there’s danger.
Distinguish life’s true loves
/   from its infatuations.
Choose a workable plan
/   in pressure situations.

Know when to stand up strong
/   and when to take a seat.
May your conduct be self-disciplined,
/   may your decisions be discreet.
Tossing caution to the wind?
/   Your soul would think it treason!
So carefully manage your affairs
/   and govern yourself through reason.

(June 27-28, 1994)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

43
VIRTUE 17:  RESPONSIBILITY

Those teens who so long
/   to be declared
/        autonomous –
Do they know
/   ‘mature’ and ‘responsible’
/        are practically synonymous?
No human beings
/   can be considered
/        fully grown
Till they earn chances
/   to make choices
/        on their own.
All young people
/   give adulthood
/        its first real fling
When loved ones
/   can trust them
/        to do the right thing.

(August 16, 1994)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

44
VIRTUE 20:  LOVE

An ideal acquired
/   through living,
Born more of will
/   than of whim…
It’s accepting God’s grace
/   toward us
While sharing
/   our reverence
/       for Him.

But more it’s a
/   genuine aura,
A gentle
/   and generous kind…
By what is given
/   of oneself
The capacity
/   for love
/       is defined.

Christ would say
/   it’s the ultimate virtue;
This writer has saved it
/   for last…
An eternal
/   and worthy legacy
When our days
/   on this planet
/       have passed.

(August 23-24, 1994)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

45
FULL THROTTLE

The alluring purr of the motor…
Still a foot’s firm on the brake.
We’ve been coping quite well
/   with some cosmic mistake.

But, oh, those utopian roads
Where what-if’s come to pass –
We’d kick open the throttle
/   on a full tank of gas!

(March 15, 1997)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V^V^V

46
NIGHT-RISE

As a subtle curtain descends
/    upon another day,
A weary sun finds a pillow
/    on some distant hill…
A warm enchantment settles in
/    with the evening chill.
As starry beacons preside
/    in abundant glory,
As the bustling city defers
/    and slows its pace…
A once-veiled night steps out
/    and shows its face.

(April 25, 1998)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

47
EVERYWHERE AROUND

What nuances might explain
/   where you are today?
How can someone who’s still here
/   be so far away?
Why does my future unfold
/   when to the past I’m bound?
How can someone who’s long gone
/   be everywhere around?

(August 5-6, 1998)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

48
INSECURITY

When you make me feel needed,
I can sleep throughout the night.
If you’d just say you love me,
I would surely be all right.
If I knew I’d won your favor
With my sad-romantic ways,
I could look back in reminiscence
Or ahead to better days.
Should I endure these tough times
To find something to enjoy…
There might someday be a man
Where there’s now a little boy.

(February 13-14, 1999)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

49
SPARKS

Can’t rightly expect it
/   to burn the same –
I must settle for
/   a lingering ember.
My challenge will be
/   to rekindle the flame
In the ashes
/   of fires remembered.

(May 31, 1999)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

 

50
HIT ME

Life’s a blackjack game,
And the stakes are plenty.
She’s redoubling her bets –
And she won’t stand on twenty!
I step away from the table;
There’s to be no saving face…
As “love bears all things,”
May her card be an ace!

(September 12-13, 1998)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

51
COME WHAT MAY

Thank You for this morning
And its opportunity to pray,
Forgive the many sins
I commit along the way.
Be present in my life
Through this and every day,
Prepare me for my future –
Come what may.

(September 19, 1999)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

52
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

What I believe about romance
/  may need some correction…
Spotted her from my seat
/  in the nosebleed section,
Sneaked down to steal a glance
/  in her direction,
Used a faithful friend
/  as line-of-sight protection…
I should ditch this plan
/  for escaping detection;
My future appears
/  in a vision of perfection!

(October 24-25 & 31, 1999)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

53
YOU

No topic has been so sublime…
Yes, I write of you often,
But not this time!
As another day dawns
To ask what’s in store,
I scratch the same old itch;
I’ve been here before.
Yet to be stuck in this rut,
To have sought something new…
Is to hope these lines
Find their way back to you!

(March 5 & 11, 2000)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

54
REQUIEM                               

Most good things
/   this life had willed
Have sadly gone
/   unfulfilled…
But as we fumble for
/   the words to say,
Death never takes
/  it all away.
Some plans our God
/   does not reveal;
The faithful trust
/   He must conceal
Love mere man
/   here cannot know…
By grace one day
/   that love will show.

(September 22-25, 2001)
(This poem was an adaptation of “Sad December” lyrics.)                                                                                                               

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

55
I’D BE RICH

You can call my bluff –
Don’t let me walk alone.
Who could have enough
To make it on his own?
Nothing pays love’s price.
(A point the rich concede!)
If you’d roll love’s dice,
We’d win just what we need.

Golden dreams refined –
We’d own the lion’s share.
How is wealth defined?
How could it all compare?
Heaven shows its face
Each time a knot is tied.
Who could earn that grace?
It’s you here by my side!

(2001-2002)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

56
SEE ME MONDAY

Hurry up, weekend –
/  You have to get here soon.
I cannot settle
/  for Friday noon.
Sick and tired
/  of workaday stuff,
I’m watching the clock –
/  It ain’t fast enough!
Come quitting time,
/  I won’t be found.
They’ll look for my car;
/  I’m not around.
Good riddance, office –
/  I’m homeward bound!

(July 19-20, 2002)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

57
OUT THERE

We’ve probably passed
/   on a busy street;
I know you’re out there,
/   but where do we meet?
Do I belly up
/   to a fancy bar,
Spend money and time
/   where the women are?
Do you show your rhythm
/   on a lighted floor,
Get stuck at some party
/   with a hopeless bore?
The whole singles scene
/   is so deflating,
Almost desperate enough
/   for computer dating!
The phone never rings;
/   I’m tired of waiting…
If I knew where to look,
/   you’d be swept off your feet;
I know you’re out there,
/   but how do we meet?

(August 5, 2002)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

58
PARDON ME

My conscience is far from clear…
Have I locked up my soul in jail?
Though standing trial remains my fear,
His grace will post my bail.
If there are no sins He can’t forgive,
Will mercy over justice prevail?
It’s a godly life I seek to live…
Why do I so frequently fail?

(August 14-15, 2002)                

^V^V ^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

59
TO THE AGED  (HEAR!  HEAR!)

The future never was
/   ours to see;
Propose no toast
/   to what will be.
Some are content
/   to have come so far;
Underachievers drink
/   to what they are.
Only with lenses thick
/   and hair gone thin
Dare we raise a glass
/   to what we’ve been.

(August 12-13, 2003)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V

60
PASSIONS OF OLD

Only I could want
/   what we could be;
Tomorrow’s a vision
/   we shall not see.
Oh, we sometimes gaze
/   upon our star,
But valentines and such
/   just go so far
Toward dulling the truth
/  of what we are.
Yet be they crystal clear
/   or blessed blur,
Those passions of old
/   do here now stir
In brilliant remembrance
/   of what we were!

(February 1, 2004)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V ^V^V^V^V

61
IN THE MEADOW

I admire the grace of a deer
/   as he sees me and flees.
Give me the steady drone
/   of those busy bees.
(Though tell them to keep
/   their distance, please!)
I love the way a wind will tease
/   the silver leaves
In nearby stand of mighty trees;
I envy the eagle who soars
/   on that same summer breeze.

(May 9, 2004)

^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V^V

62
POET’S DROUGHT

Lyrical topics galore
/  I’ve yet to find…
No flashy couplets
/  have sprung to mind.
Given one small idea,
/  I’d get carried away!
Still here I sit
/  in utter dismay,
Refusing to believe
/  I have nothing to say.
So I pick up a pen
/  lest my plight become worse.
Call it a dry spell, a slump,
/  or maybe a curse…
It’s been far too long
/  since I’ve written a verse.

(June 15-16, 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Index (of what follows below)

I   N   D   E   X    (  O F    W H A T    F O L L O W S    B E L O W  )

Abnegation………………………………………….19
All I Desire………………………………………….153
Allies of the Now………………………………….15
Analogy Graces My Getaway…………………….53
Anjanette………………………………………….29
Angelic Embrace………………………………….105
Bagatelle………………………………………….131
Beauty Unseen……………………………………120
Bit Part…………………………………………….151
The Blessing………………………………………..138
Canonized!  …………………………………………28
Capitulation Poem……………………………….145
Capricious Kiss…………………………………….150
Captive of Her Smile…………………………….106
Castles in the Sand………………………………125
Cloudy……………………………………………….43
Cold Goodbyes…………………………………….142
Color Love Blue……………………………………104
Come What May…………………………………….89
Counsel for a Friend……………………………….65
Credit the Airwaves………………………………..67
Dark December Night……………………………..52
Days of Blue………………………………………..86
Defender of the Flame…………………………… 38
A Desperate Love………………………………….49
Dispassion…………………………………………58
Dream Breaker……………………………………..96
The Dreamer’s Guide……………………………….78
Everywhere Around…………………………………45
Evolution……………………………………………..88
Fateful Transition (Musings on a Pop Classic)…..128
First Anniversary……………………………………162
Flagged………………………………………………..14
Flowers and Weeds………………………………..113
Footbridge…………………………………………..56
For Two at One Time………………………………156
For Want of a Summer Day………………………124

Friend………………………………………………..74
Friendship Cliche’ …………………………………70
Full Throttle………………………………………..163
Glory on a Page…………………………………..122
Glory to the King…………………………………..91
Goodbye Angel……………………………………137
Gratitude……………………………………………..87
He Is the Lord……………………………………….81
His First-Born Son………………………………..154
Hit Me……………………………………………..136
Hitting the Wall…………………………………..77
Hold It, My Friend!  ……………………………..140
How Dark Is the Night……………………………55
Hyperbole…………………………………………30
I’d Be Rich………………………………………..164
I’d Be Rich (Reprise)…………………………….165
If It’s Love…………………………,,…………….117
I’ll Own the Store…………………………………. 80
Imperative………………………………………….102
Imprints……………………………………………..146
Insecurity……………………………………………31
In the Warmth of a Tear………………………….132
In the Meadow…………………………………….119
The Jogger…………………………………………..4
The Joy I Feel……………………………………..161
Just a Dreamer…………………………………….144
Knockout……………………………………………32
Let God Be the Doctor…………………………….83
Let My Heart………………………………………111
Life’s Bedroom Cold and Dark…………………….12
Limited Apology……………………………………..40
Long Odds…………………………………………..26
Looking at Love Tonight…………………………….47
Losers………………………………………………134
Love at First Sight……………………………………37
Love in a Box………………………………………….34
Love’s Fortune………………………………………107
Marriage:  Prayer for a Friend…………………….159
Mental Highway……………………………………….9
Middle-Class Blues………………………………….72
A Million to One……………………………………130
Misconception………………………………………109
Misperception………………………………………..50
Mixer’s Mistake…………………………………….. 54
A Mother First………………………………………..33
Much More…………………………………………….46
A Mutual Feeling……………………………………..148
My Only Rose…………………………………………94
My Ultimate………………………………………….101
Never With Me………………………………………149
Night-Rise……………………………………………..123
No Chance……………………………………………..20
No Christmas Song……………………………………60
No True Escape……………………………………….21
O Mighty Fire…………………………………………..3
One Wish (40-10 = 20+10)……………………………27
Out There………………………………………………41
p…………………………………………………………10
Pardon Me……………………………………………..92
Passion and Pride…………………………………….108
Passions of Old……………………………………….61
Patience………………………………………………..22
Perfect Love……………………………………………35
Phantom in Disguise (What Used to Be)……………121
Picture a Candle……………………………………….114
Poet’s Drought…………………………………………..23
Practical Pre$ent$………………………………………69
Prayer…………………………………………………… 82
Prayer for a Special Love…………………………….160
A Pretty Face……………………………………………99
Prisoner………………………………………………….147
Providence………………………………………………93
Queens of the Flashing Lights………………………..72
Red Fiero…………………………………………………..75
Reprieve………………………………………………….18

Requiem………………………………………………….90
The Return of Night……………………………………115
A Rose for Sharon………………………………………129
Sad December……………………………………………..63
Scrimmage………………………………………………135
Seek to Give………………………………………………85
See Me Monday…………………………………………76
Shipwreck……………………………………………….126
A Shoulder to Cry On………………………………….133
Springtime Dream………………………………………112
Songwriter………………………………………………..64
Sparks…………………………………………………….97
Stargazing………………………………………………118
Starship Venus……………………………………………103
Storybook Life………………………………………………16
Stoke the Fire……………………………………………….24
Subtle Miracles………………………………………………7
Super Star……………………………………………………42
Sweeter to Sing…………………………………………….84
Sweet Respite………………………………………………98
Take a Chance……………………………………………..36
Teachers…………………………………………………..68
Teenage Eyes………………………………………………2
Telephone…………………………………………………62
Terminal Rhyme……………………………………………51
These Two……………………………………………………71
This Night……………………………………………………39
Though I……………………………………………………….6
Though the Years Be a Tunnel………………………….141
Time and Me………………………………………………143
Time May Authenticate My Dreams………………….158
Tooth Decay…………………………………………………95
Too Much for Me………………………………………….79
To Stop Believing…………………………………………139
To the Aged (Hear! Hear!)………………………………66
To Wait for Her…………………………………………….25
Traces…………………………………………………………13
Trivial Romance……………………………………………59
Turning Back………………………………………………..57
Two…………………………………………………………….17
Ultrapoem…………………………………………………100
The Up Side of Down………………………………….116
Valentine Yesterday……………………………………155
Valerie’s Light……………………………………………..44
Venus and Verse…………………………………………..1
Virtue 7:  Charity……………………………………….173
Virtue 11:  Chastity…………………………………….177
Virtue 12:  Chivalry……………………………………..178
Virtue 18:  Citizenship………………………………….184
Virtue 9:  Compassion…………………………………175
Virtue 1:  Faith………………………………………….167
Virtue 10:  Forgiveness………………………………..176
Virtue 4:  Fortitude……………………………………..170
Virtue 14:  Honesty……………………………………..180
Virtue 6:  Hope……………………………………………172
Virtue 8:  Humility……………………………………….174
Virtue 3:  Justice…………………………………………..169
Virtue 20:  Love……………………………………………186
Virtue 16:  Loyalty…………………………………………182
Virtue 15:  Patience……………………………………….181
Virtue 2:  Prudence……………………………………….168
Virtue 13:  Respect………………………………………..179
Virtue 17:  Responsibility……………………………….183
Virtue 19:  Serenity………………………………………..185
Virtue 5:  Temperance……………………………………171
Was He Wrong?  …………………………………………..157
Was It the Smoke?   ……………………………………….48
What Pen Is Lifted?  ……………………………………….110
Willows Weep…………………………………………….127
With Kid Gloves…………………………………………….5
You………………………………………………………….166
Your Crazy Love……………………………………………152

Ten (10) Internet Collections

Ten (10) Internet Collections, by Rich Schulz…See posts that follow.
The title of each collection is loosely descriptive of its theme.

The Years Go By                                24 poems           1-24
Love in a Box                                     17                      25-41
Dark December Night                      20                      42-61
Friends                                               19                      62-80
Providence                                         15      159 (Re-posted here), 81-88, 167 (Re-posted here), 89-93
Love’s Fortune                                   16                    94-109
For Want of a Summer Day              16                  110-125
Dreams Die in the Warmth of a Tear    24             126-149
My Love for You                                 17                  150-166
The Virtue Series                               20                   167-186

Total                                                  186 poems         1-186   

The Years Go By

THE YEARS GO BY     
THE YEARS GO BY
THE YEARS GO BY
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1      VENUS AND VERSE

Can flying mile markers
/   count couplets?
Sure, if one shifts his mind
/   to the proper mode,
Odes have been written
/   on the road.

Can conception come
/   in the wee hours?
Well, see them dancing
/   in dimly-lit den…
That mistress paper,
/   alone with her pen!

Do sweet lines glide
/   off swings or slides?
New lyrics love a late stroll
/   through the park,
Where a final touch whispers
/   itself to the dark.

Can his-and-her hearts
/   mix with a Muse?
Embraceable dreams drift in
/   when spirits merge,
Fating Venus and verse
/   to ever converge!
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2      TEENAGE EYES                                                                                         *****

Whispered secrets and laughter and heartfelt dreams,
Each decision is vital to her future schemes!
All the who’s and where’s and when’s and why’s,
Looking at the world through teenage eyes.

Without a hassle she wants to run free and wild,
But under a grown-up shell there’s a sensitive child.
For if she flunks a big test of a boyfriend lies,
Warm tears will be falling from teenage eyes.

Yet her youth finds a message in the music she plays:
To live life to the fullest these golden days!
For a girl gets older and though she tries,
She’ll never see again through teenage eyes.
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3     O MIGHTY FIRE

O Mighty Fire!
How your flames light my mind,
How your heat warms my soul.
O Mighty Fire!
Your sparks are a glimmer of hope in the hollow darkness,
And your smoke makes me a little high.
O Mighty Fire!
Today you are strong; you burn bright.
But will you still be with me tomorrow?
O Mighty fire!
Soon your flames will dwindle and you’ll begin to die,
And then only ashes will remain.
Only ashes – O mighty fire!

(May 25-26, 1974)
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4     THE JOGGER                                                                                              *****

Desperado sees not what’s wrong,
/   what’s right –
One well-thrown stone
/   blacks lone street light.
He’s shadow-lurking to await
/   unsuspecting passerby…

The slum-jogging would-be victim
/   utters words of prayer
For God’s unfortunate low-lives
/   who are dying there,
Oblivious to the encounter that looms
/   around the corner.

Intercession, petition…
/   aspiring criminal could hear it!
Was he reluctant to challenge
/   some Unknown Spirit,
Or were hibernating morals
/   stirred and awakened?

A credo so hostile, so callous,
/   so poised to attack  –
But came that moment of truth,
/   he’d shrunken back
From God’s unwitting witness
/   who jogged more than the miles.
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5     WITH KID GLOVES

Treat me roughly?
Well, don’t you dare!
‘Tis no trite warning –
Let the user beware!
You’ve seen how I protest –
Now handle with care!
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6      THOUGH I

Though I begin,
The first step
Is not the longest.
If I endure,
It’s not because
I’m the strongest.
Though I seek,
My dreams can run
While I must walk.
Though I speak,
It’s never me
Who seems to talk.

Though I touch,
My feelings lack
True sensation.
When I write,
My words are
Without inspiration.
Though I joke,
What laughter there is
Quickly subsides.
Though I think,
Life’s an issue
Someone else decides.

Though I respond,
I answer questions
No people ask.
Should I try,
My effort seems
Foreign to the task.
Though I pray,
There remains a void
Within my heart.
Though I finish,
I stand too close
To the start.

 

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7     SUBTLE MIRACLES

Life deals a hand
/   that must be played –
A young child learns
/   how to be afraid.
Fear’s often a trust
/   that’s been betrayed.

So a frightened child
/   advances the years
While we all hope 
/   those falling tears
Can work again 
/   their subtle miracle.

The last crayon becomes
/   the first eye shadow,
Then Barbie and Ken
/   learn how to drive!
Adolescence ends innocence,
/   a few memories survive.

We find through the years
/   that those childhood fears
Have somehow been allayed.
Alas, life deals from a deck
/   of trusts betrayed –
Here comes another hand
/   that must be played!

So a frightened teen
/   advances the years
While we all hope
/   those falling tears…
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8      PHANTASM

Typical schoolgirl crush –
/  Picnic in the park?
/  Day at the beach?
No, empty fantasy:
Object of desire
/  out of reach.

The years…

Enter high-flying decade –
/  With suitors to hold,
/  With ambitions to chase.
Fulfillment found:
The key is keeping
/  her twenties pace.

               …go by.

Then atypic reappearance –
/  Hello, object of desire,
/  Hello, dreams of youth!
Her fantasy lives:
De’ja’ vu loves
/  a latent truth!
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9     MENTAL HIGHWAY

Get me back on a road –
/   secondary or main.
How I wish this idea
/   would wax or wane!
Idle moments like these
/  often drive me insane
‘Cause neutral is agony
/  for my active brain.
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10      p

aprils past
/  are so many misty paths
/     that cross then meander off
/         into so many proverbial settings
yet one path would i tread again
/  for showers of time never cloud
/     The remembrance
/         of sunshine
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11     BAD MOVE

Some strategic board position,
/  once timely, had gradually gone,
So the master’s intent was clear:
/  We must sacrifice that pawn

Whose loyalty gained no favor,
/  whose service we underrate.
Now making the move with vision
/  of another grand checkmate!

Oh, may their knights be ready,
/  and may a castle guard their king…
It’s time to brace for the onslaught
/  that one bad move can bring.
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12      LIFE’S BEDROOM COLD AND DARK

So you crawl into bed
And pull the covers over your head.
Then you listen as the wind
/     drives the rain against your window
And howls through the empty corridors of your soul.

You feel the night’s cold air,
But inside you really don’t care
‘Cause the coldness of the night                                                                                                                    /    can’t match the coldness of your heart
Or the frozen tombs in your mind.

You sit and stare at an ugly wall
Or stumble through an unlit hall.
But you don’t feel the hurt of falling
/     ’cause there’s another pain in your life,
A life of darkness like the darkest night.

(November 21, 1974)
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13      TRACES                                                                                                  *****

Within stark shadows
/  relentlessly cast
/     by the supreme reality
/        of our situation,
We cherish traces of light
/   somehow sustained
/      in the fleeting reflections
/         of our fantasy.
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14      FLAGGED

Let me put pen to paper
/   with utmost precision…
Ma’am, I understand and respect
/   your considered decision.
But I’m drawn to your innocence;
/   for that I’ll not be ashamed –
There’s no wild feeling in me
/   that needs to be tamed!
I’m no smooth opportunist
/  out for all he can get –
How ironic it’s my bankbook
/  that makes me a threat!
Why must the fame and success
/   of fine people like me
Raise red flags in your vision
/   of what the future could be?
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15     ALLIES OF THE NOW

Battle stations!  It’s the only way!
/   Get set, all you forces of today –
/       To fight off an army of memories.
/             It’s war!  Crush the sorrow!
/             Be ready, promise of tomorrow –
/       To hold back the broken dreams.
/   Surrender, my enemy!  Death to you, my past!
My Allies of the Now have set me free at last.
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16      STORYBOOK LIFE

You can tap out life’s rhythms
And put your tune to its rhymes –
You’re already living
/   in storybook times…
So don’t tie yourselves down 
By turning back to square one;
Read on and rejoice
/   in new chapters begun!
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17      TWO

Though you’re moving with ease
/   through the natural progression,
The conception in your head’s
/   a surefire regression!
As you deftly maneuver
/   through life’s little turns,
It’s a near perfect course
/   free of major concerns.
So why rock this boat
/   and churn the water to rough?
Why risk all that’s so good
/   when two souls are enough?
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18      REPRIEVE                                                                                *****

 

O Truth,
Grant me a favor.
Let me be so bold!
Ease your grip, 
Lessen your hold,
Permit me to dream.

O God,
Pervade my soul.
Bring me strength enough
To play life’s game
When the game plays rough!
Answer my prayer.

O Death,
Grant me a stay!
But as long as I live,
Will me to take 
Less than I give.
Permit me reprieve.
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19      ABNEGATION

With Wild West in the barroom
/   it’s best to lay low;
If a temptress wants to dance,
/   one can just say no.
Oftentimes a man’s virtue
/   is conceived in vice
As his character is steeled
/   in his sacrifice.
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20     NO CHANCE                                                                                             *****

So again you’ve lost at love –
What a sorry state!
And every clock ticks on;
/    your hour is late.
Always anted the kitty,
Played your hunches heartfelt –
Just to fold the big hands
/    when the cards were dealt!

Yet it’s worse not to try –
What a terrible fate!
To never sit at the table, 
/    to place your wagers too late.
For often you’d wonder
What joys might have been;
When you don’t play the game,
/    you’ve no chance to win.
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21      NO TRUE ESCAPE

Disappointments haunt me;
Into every waking moment they creep.
To achieve reprieve I sleep:
From consciousness failures fade
As I toss life’s onus aside;
Dreamland becomes a place to hide.

Yet even my nights are plagued
By the specter of my daily hell:
I authorize the sounding of a little bell,
So there is no true escape…
An alarm intrudes on dream mentality;
I awake to face the cold reality.
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22       PATIENCE                                                                                                 *****

Most of us dreamers sell out,
But I’ve never been like the rest.
To persevere is to pass 
Each faith-shaking test.

Timing is the master
/     of every fate…
While some jump too soon
And others move too late,
I know those who want the best
/     must wait.

Life’s adventures all teach
How patience fosters success.
So I’ve set my sights on a star,
And I’ll never settle for less.
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23    POET’S DROUGHT                                                                                      *****

Lyrical topics galore
/   I’ve yet to find…
No flashy couplets
/   have sprung to mind.
Given one small idea,
/   I’d get carried away!
Still here I sit
/   in utter dismay,
Refusing to believe
/   I have nothing to say.
So I pick up a pen
/   lest my plight become worse.
Call it a dry spell, a slump
/   or maybe a curse…
It’s been far too long
/   since I’ve written a verse.
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24     STOKE THE FIRE

That vast potential
/  may go to waste.
Big dreams don’t lead;
/  they must be chased.
The challenge makes
/  one feel alive,
But a failure sadly
/  lacks the drive…
Since motivation
/  is all he requires,
Maybe this poem
/  will stir those fires!

 

 

 

Love in a Box

____________________
|                             |
|       LOVE             |
|          IN               |
|           A                |
|        BOX              |
|                             |
|__________________ |
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25     TO WAIT FOR HER

Hypnotized by recall
/    of one moment’s emotions,
Mesmerized with delight
/    by outrageous notions…
Yet he’s aware some feelings
/    are better left undefined,
And even poetic rebels
/    must draw the line.

But he’s willing to wait for her.

So a lonely man wishes
/    upon his star,
So the martyr nobly
/    loves from afar…
Sadly ceding now’s chance
/    to string his pearl,
He knows the woman needs time
/    to shed the girl.

But he’s destined to wait for her.
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26     LONG ODDS                                                                                             *****

For her priceless affections
/   countless suitors will vie;
Faced with lottery odds,
/   a slim chance have I.
My heart quiets my head –
/   I’m compelled to try.

Too often I’m haunted
/   by what could have been,
So despite the long odds
/   this gambler wants in!
A grand prize is at stake;
/   someone’s destined to win.

That’s the way the game’s played
/   in the quest for a mate,
So my chances no more
/  shall these words debate.
And if someone‘s another,
/   I’ll not rail at fate.
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27      ONE WISH  (40-10 = 20+10)                                                         *****

A genie sprang from a bottle,
Offering fame and fortune and fun:
“Three wishes will I for you fulfill.”
But I told him I needed just one.

A decade of age fell from my soul;
I was back in my thirtieth year!
When my ingenue caught the ten,
I said, “Thanks. We’ll take it from here!”
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28      CANONIZED!

Affinity flares from afar…
But while lacking confirmation,
My near-emotion’s morose.
This dark-spirited martyr
Would prefer to be close

To glow of sainted glory…
Such alliance with radiance
Is one illustrious goal,
But she could cast white light
Through my shadowy soul

Till the exalted exult…
Transfigurations are sacred
Where love’s will must be done.
We by decree of that canon
Shall shine like the sun!
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29      ANJANETTE

So, just what is in a name?
Well, that’s not easy to say,
But I encountered
/   this woman today
Whose very name

At once tempered my spirits
/   yet lifted them higher,
Subtly melted my ice
/   while cooling my fire,
Somehow quenching my thirst
/   without serving me drinks,
And  chaining my heart
/   despite all missing links.

Now, there’s no bigger coward
/   in all of this city –
I barely managed to say
/   that her name’s “very pretty,”
But what’s in this name
/   I’ll not soon forget –
Devil and angel,
/   it was Anjanette!
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30      HYPERBOLE

If you gave me a choice,
I’d want to be with you
Until the sunset of time faded in the west.
If you gave me a chance,
I’d stay with you
Until the ever-spinning world came to rest.
If you really loved me,
Our lives would paint a picture
That radiated joy in its every stroke.
If your heart were a fire,
I’d surrender my soul
That perchance I might whiff its fragrant smoke.
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31      INSECURITY                                                                                          *****

When you make me feel needed,
I can sleep throughout the night.
If you’d just say you love me,
I’d surely be all right.
If I knew I’d won your favor
With my sad-romantic ways,
I could look back in reminiscence
Or ahead to better days.
Should I endure these tough times
To find something to enjoy…
There might someday be a man
Where there’s now a little boy.
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32     KNOCKOUT

His glass seems always
/   filled to the rim;
Every lucky advantage
/   lies with him.
On good days my stop sign
/   becomes a yield.
Just once I’d like
/   to level the field.
With my unshackled hands
/   to defend and attack,
In a fair fight he finishes
/   flat on his back!
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33      A MOTHER FIRST

As young ones’ mother,
/   someone’s wife…
Love’s happiness defines
/   her busy life.
In what’s important
/   she’s so well-versed:
She always puts
/   her family first.

As young son’s friend,
/   daughter’s teacher…
A nurturing heart is her
/   outstanding feature.
In good times ahead
/   or bubbles burst,
She’ll always be
/   a mother first.
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34     LOVE IN A BOX

Will I put my love in a box
/   and store it on some shelf?
You’re hoping I can do something
/   that you couldn’t do yourself.
If we wore each other’s shoes
/   and I asked you for the same,
You’d resent the request forever
/   and on me you’d place the blame
For the failure of our fantasy,
/   for dulling a dream so bright…
But oozing freely into the box,
/   I concede without a fight!
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35      PERFECT LOVE

What you used to believe may need correction –
It might not be so hard to achieve perfection;
Your love gave your life a new sense of direction.
You’re the world’s only hope for a perfect love.

Doubt says a lyrical truth won’t last forever.
Still, each starry night makes you wonder whether
Against all odds, you could grow together
To become fate’s best chance for a perfect love.

When fools say you’re crazy for your silly grinning,
When you know you’re right from the very beginning,
When losing it all somehow feels like winning,
It could be that you’re finding that perfect love.

Your courage took risks that rarely are taken
To build firm foundations not easily shaken.
Cornerstone dreams from which you never awaken
Have capped a flawless quest for a perfect love.

What you used to believe now needs correction.
It’s no longer so hard to achieve perfection.
Your love gives your life a brand new direction –
You’re the world’s one example of a perfect love.

(July 26, 1981)
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36      TAKE A CHANCE


What you used to believe
/   my need some correction;
It’s no longer so hard
/   to achieve perfection.
Love gives your life
/   a new sense of direction…
When you seek romance with me.

Friends call you Cheshire
/   for your silly grinning,
And losing reserve
/   surely feels like winning.
You’ll know it was right
/   from the very beginning…
When you take a chance on me.

(July 26, 1981 and June 27, 2001)
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37      LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT                                                                            *****

What I believe about romance
/   may need some correction…
Spotted her from my seat
/   in the nosebleed section,
Sneaked down to steal a glance 
/   in her direction,
Used a faithful friend
/   as line-of-sight protection…
I should ditch this plan
/   for escaping detection;
My future appears
/   in a vision of perfection!
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38      DEFENDER OF THE FLAME                                                                         *****

Intrigue is reflections
/   that other fires lack;
This flame wavers and falters
/   but always comes back,
Providing soft shadows
/   that bounce and prance –
Across time and space
/   they flicker and dance.
My life moves like a breeze
/   that rekindles the fire;
Any threat of extinction
/   seems to lift it higher.
It burns through the storms
/   and glows through the night,
And though now of no value
/   as heat or light,
Its defender knows
/   that no one can name
A great fire not born
/   of a tiny flame.
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39      THIS NIGHT                                                                                      *****

Special moments won’t listen
/    to rhyme or reason;
The seeds of love may be sown
/    in any season…
So improvise a pillow
/    in yon patch of clover;
Lay your heart open
/    ere this night be over.
Harvest wonders under stars
/   and an August moon…
Yes, damn the dawn’s plan
/   to intrude so soon!
Supersede in one eve
/   the seeds planted before,
And share the secrets meant
/   to be secrets no more!
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40      LIMITED APOLOGY

Now perhaps I should try to word this
In a different, more acceptable way
Because the apology I’m about to offer
Is too much a romantic cliche’.

In my presence you seem uncomfortable –
It’s my fault and I should’ve known better!
God knows I didn’t mean to upset you
With that phone call and that letter.

Lady, I never wanted to hurt you
By letting my dream become too real.
I’m sorry for some things I’ve done
But not sorry for how I feel!
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41      OUT THERE                                                                                     *****

We’ve probably passed
/  on a busy street;
I know you’re out there,
/  but where do we meet?
Do I belly up
/  to a fancy bar,
Spend money and time
/  where the women are?
Do you show your rhythm
/  on a lighted floor,
Get stuck at some party
/  with a hopeless bore?
The whole singles scene
/  is so deflating,
Almost desperate enough
/  for computer dating!
The phone never rings;
/  I’m tired of waiting…
If I knew where to look,
/  you’d be swept off your feet;
I know you’re out there,
/  but how do we meet? 

 

 

 

 

 

Dark December Night

D  A  R  K       D  E  C  E  M  B  E  R       N  I  G  H  T
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42     SUPER STAR

Five long years have gone by
Since the spectacular death of a star in the sky.
‘Twas a phenomenal sight, so precious to me –
That flashing streak of flaming ecstasy…
The short-lived wonder could not wait for dawn;
In a few fleeting moments the sensation was gone.
Still I cherish the mem’ry of that heavenly flight,
For other falling stars were never so bright.
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43     CLOUDY

Cloudy was the sun.
I was there –
Freely floating,
Aimlessly drifting.
Then suddenly
You brought direction!
A rising sun,
A setting sun,
So bright and clear!
A panoramic blue,
Love was near.
Then suddenly
You were gone.
Darkness moved,
A heart grew old.
Dreams were dashed,
All fronts were cold.
Within my mind –
Too far too soon,
Too much too fast.
You couldn’t breathe,
So we couldn’t last.
Never said goodbye,
But turning away,
I looked to the sky…
And cloudy was the sun.
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44     VALERIE’S LIGHT

When I’d come by after working late,
In Valerie’s window I’d find a light.
It was always on and shining bright,
And it meant she’d been waiting there for me.
Things like that made our love seem so right –
Things like the glow of Valerie’s light.

But then one day after working late,
In Valerie’s window I found no light.
Only the stars were shining bright,
And it meant she’d forgotten to turn it on.
But the beginning of the end came that night
When I searched in vain for Valerie’s light.
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45      EVERYWHERE AROUND                                                                           *****

What nuances might explain
/   where you are today?
How can someone who’s still here
/   be so far away?
Why does my future unfold
/   when to the past I’m bound?
How can someone who’s long gone
/   be everywhere around?
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46     MUCH MORE

If only I could care
/   somewhat less than I do –
We both know how much better
/   that would be for you…
Instead we struggle to admit
/   we’re a sweet mistake –
I need to give much more
/   than you’re able to take.
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47     LOOKING AT LOVE TONIGHT

Like fragile china that shatters when it hits the floor,
Our love went to pieces; we were precious no more.
Like an old man who remembers a day of his youth,
I’m looking at love in light of the truth:

Like the man and his friends who nevermore will be boys,
There’s no way we’ll return to our garden of joys.
But like snapshots that bring back days of our past,
My looking at love will make part of us last.

Like cool cellars that harbor the sweet-tasting wine,
Vintage mem’ries of our love will age in my mind.
And like mountain streams that feed on rain from above,
Tonight’s dreams will be filled with yesterday’s love.
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48      WAS IT THE SMOKE?

Looking back on our love’s flickering flame,
We can’t believe the fire once burned so high;
We can’t believe we sat and watched it die.
Now we’re sniffing the smoke and wondering why.

After the sun had set on our day of love,
Our words merely floated on the air;
Our hearts tried to speak and we weren’t even there.
We waved goodbye to our dream and didn’t even care.

After the chilling night had set in around us,
“I’m sorry” was simply the wrong thing to say.
Our brilliance had faded to a dull shade of gray,
So we waited for the darkness to take us away.

After the night had passed, it brought the dawn,
And once more the sun shone down upon the land.
And though love had died, we couldn’t understand
Why we longed for the touch of each other’s hand.

Looking back on our love’s flickering flame,
We can’t believe the fire once burned so high.
Now we’re sniffing the smoke and wondering why.
Was it the smoke that made you sit down and cry,
And is the smoke to blame for the tear in my eye?
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49      A DESPERATE LOVE

Young and carefree, love was an explosive sweet sensation,
But as life aged, it brought feelings of desperation.
Caring too much, possessive, we’d cling to each other,
Both sure we would perish, forlorn, without one another.

Inevitably, we are now only a painful part of the past.
Call it ironic, but a desperate love is not meant to last,
For to growth in life we provided our own obstruction,
And thereby we were planting the first seeds of destruction.
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50     MISPERCEPTION                                                                           *****

I picked up a burning match,
But it felt like a rampaging brush fire
Blazing in my hand.
You must have thought me a fool;
Still I thank you for trying to understand.
Though I have no room for regrets,
My mind knows the misperception killed a dream,
And my heart never forgets.
Today most of the smoke has cleared,
And I’ve become just another guy
Who could not begin to fathom your flame.
Still I’m grateful to you for showing me
How playing with fire can be a dangerous game.
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51    TERMINAL RHYME

A coarseness arose
/  in the once sublime.
So I give you the creeps;
/  you think I’m slime!
I could cop a plea;
/  it was a victimless crime.
Yet I know we’re over –
/  no amends this time…
Just a weird inspiration
/  for this terminal rhyme.
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52    DARK DECEMBER NIGHT                                                                          *****

Waking up in the middle
/     of a cold and dark December night,
I reach out and turn on a light.
Sitting up in bed,
I could swear I heard her calling my name,
But this isn’t the time for a silly game,
So I guess it must have been
/     the wind whistling outside my window.
But in wiping the sleep from my eyes,
I could see the glow of her golden hair;
I could swear I saw her standing there!
No, it can only be the lateness
/     of the hour playing tricks on me.
Reaching for another cover,
The night seems to be getting a little colder.
Oh, I thought I felt her hand upon my shoulder!
The warmth of her gentle touch is with me now,
But it’s just my imagination once again.
Will these desperate illusions never end?
Will I always hear the sound of her voice?
Will I always feel the touch of her hand?
Will her memory ever let me go free,
Or will she always stay with me,
Even in the middle
/     of a cold and dark December night?
Without answers,
I reach out and turn off the light.
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53     ANALOGY GRACES MY GETAWAY

What problems would prosper
/    were I permitted to stay?
Analogy will grease my getaway…

If the endeavor lacks purpose,
/    only a fool will try.
Of limited value is wealth
/    if there’s little to buy.
You wouldn’t train a top team
/    when no opponents will play.
You shouldn’t dream through the night
/    and then lose it by day.
Since the verse won’t be read,
/    must the lines be rhymed?
With the top rung out of each,
/    must a ladder be climbed?
Why memorize the facts
/    when you don’t understand?
What good are four aces
/    when you can’t play the hand?

What futilities would follow
/    were I forced to stay?
Analogy has graced my getaway.
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54     MIXER’S MISTAKE                                                                                       *****

Though she was stylish, elegant and sophisticated –
And I had often perceived such things to be overrated –
I quickly accepted the challenge with open arms.
But soon her class nonpareil and her boundless charms
Mercifully proved to be more than I could handle.
For I was a backyard cookout; she was a French souffle’.
It was blue jeans and sneakers versus silk and sachet.
We agreed only on the ending – a clean, easy break –
Mixing root beer with champagne was indeed a mistake!
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55     HOW DARK IS THE NIGHT

Starless and cloudy, blackness on gray –
Love lights in his sky have been taken away.
And how dark is the night, to be searching in vain,
Desperately trying to somehow regain
That special something he thought he had lost.
But true love was a bridge he had never crossed.
A fool recalls happiness; he dismisses the sad –
Still he cannot regain what he never had.
And how dark is the night, how blinding the day –
When love teases a man before slipping away.
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56      FOOTBRIDGE                                                                                           *****

Flowing through the valley of my latest dream,
Our love was the footbridge on a mountain stream.
Though days became cool as shadows grew long,
Our love, like the footbridge, was steadfast and strong.

Even as the days grew dark, our hearts were warm,
Until the autumn wind brought a raging storm.
Rain fell like bullets from the black skies above,
Enraging the once-gentle stream of our love.

We knew that our footbridge might not survive,
As we watched the banks swell with the swirling tide.
And when it creaked and cracked and finally gave,
Love went with the footbridge to a watery grave.

(July 4, 1976)

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57     TURNING BACK

World-class sprinters
/   crawl to the finish line;
We’ve trampled so many grapes
/   without tasting the wine.
Surrendered all hope of light
/   in the moments before dawn,
Never saw queen potential
/   in the advancing pawn.
Angrily smashing the glass
/   for its hairline crack…
With our destination in sight
/   we’re turning back.
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58     DISPASSION

Love and hate are much the same –
One has to care in either game.
But now indifference is drawing nigh –
What sadder way to say goodbye.
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59      TRIVIAL ROMANCE

A starlet sweetly breathes
/   the scent of a rose,
Playing sensuous music
/   with her soft hellos…
Do I even care?
There’s no wondering, wavering,
/   no wasting my time
In rewriting life’s poem
/   so these days would rhyme.
It’s certain despair!
I won’t even think twice
/  about missing a chance,
For I recall no virtue
/   in trivial romance.
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60     NO CHRISTMAS SONG

Abounding joy at Christmas
/   blessing you and me –
Sing a song, my friends,
/   let’s trim the tree.
Aroma of cookies
/   lingers all day,
Christmas cards and lights,
/   a ride on a sleigh!
Snowmen and carols
/   guide reindeer tonight,
Garlands and tinsel
/   and hearts shining bright.
Mistletoe and stockings
/   by warm, gentle fire –
Sing a song, good people,
/   it’s lifting us higher…

No gifts are bestowed,
/   no cheery words spoken –
Poverty’s a cycle
/   that remains unbroken.
Homeless and hopeless,
/   wretched and wild,
So pitiful the parents
/   no chance the child.
Politico’s promises, promises –
/   broken, my friends.
Without beginnings
/   there can be no ends.
Though Christmas, good people,
/   graces our land,
If some don’t want to sing,
/   we’ll understand.
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61    PASSIONS OF OLD                                                                      *****

Only I could want
/   what we could be;
Tomorrow’s a vision
/   we shall not see.
Oh, we sometimes gaze
/   upon our star,
But valentines and such
/   just go so far
Toward dulling the truth
/   of what we are.
Yet be they crystal clear
/   or blessed blur,
Those passions of old
/   do here now stir
In brilliant remembrance
/   of what we were!  

 

 

 

 

Friends

FRIENDS                         FRIENDS                        FRIENDS
FRIENDS                             FRIENDS                        FRIENDS
FRIENDS                                 FRIENDS                        FRIENDS
FRIENDS                                     FRIENDS                        
FRIENDS
………………………….F    R    I    E    N    D    S……………………….
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62    TELEPHONE

We call each other
Because we can…
What’s going on?
Like, what’s the plan?
With a lot to say
Or maybe not much…
Hey, we’re just trying
To stay in touch.
Best buds for life,
So don’t be a traitor:
Go find your cell
And call me later!
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63     SAD DECEMBER

Time…always heals every wound;
Deepest pain fades away.
These words they say
Don’t ring true –
Not when we’ve lost you.

Friends…reminisce and dry a tear;
Laughter soothes the hurts we hide inside.
Peace must abide.
It’s long overdue,
But, still, we miss you.

All that life willed
Left unfulfilled…
Worlds stood at your door.
What has fate done?
You’d just begun.
How we’d wish you more!

Light…reaches even darkest hearts;
Brighter days lie ahead.
Things they’ve said
Now shine through
Sweet shadows of you.

Death…never takes it all away ;
There’s a plan God does not reveal.
Could it conceal
Love man cannot know?
Please, Lord, make it so!

All this life willed
Left unfulfilled…
Worlds stood at your door.
All you’d have done,
Barely begun –
How we’d wish you more!

We’ll remember
With fond regret
Classmates gone too soon.
Sad December,
We won’t forget
Souls He took so soon.

Friends that He took from us…

(These are actually the lyrics to a song.  Music by my friend Rex Steiner.)
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64     SONGWRITER

From hollow cauldrons
/    of pure nothingness
A melancholy dreamer draws
/    a cup of melody…
/         to baste a void.

In sullen vessels
/    of somber silence
A moody visionary mixes
/    spoonfuls of lyric…
/         to stir the quiet.

When tune blends with words
A sad song
/    nourishes the souls
/         of all who feast on it.
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65     COUNSEL FOR A FRIEND                                                                          *****

Bittersweet remembrance, the returning ghost…
How sad that your past can hurt you most
Not when cherished or despised as yesterday’s way,
But when allowed to live as part of today.
Never should what-was put shackles on tomorrow;
A martyr loses all if he drowns in his sorrow.
Handling your past is something you must do –
Start by refusing to let it handle you!
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66     TO THE AGED  (HEAR!  HEAR!)                                                               *****

The future never was
/   ours to see;
Propose no toast
/   to what will be.
Some are content
/   to have come so far;
Underachievers drink
/   to what they are.
Only with lenses thick
/   and hair gone thin
Dare we raise a glass
/   to what we’ve been.
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67      CREDIT THE AIRWAVES                                                             *****

Inspiration was the tuning
/   of a radio dial.
The Seventies records reared
/   my writing style.
In that maze of lyrics
/   the melodies were lost –
Oh, I could’ve been studying
/   Tennyson or Frost,
But I preferred pop lessons
/   from a vinyl stack,
So I had tutors like Lennon
/   and Fleetwood Mac.
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68     TEACHERS                                                                                       *****

In recesses of our minds
/   bittersweet successes are stored –
We live a profession known
/   to be its own reward,
And no other aspect of teaching
/   can rightly mean so much
As knowing you make a difference
/   in the lives you touch.
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69    PRACTICAL PRE$ENT$

To touch the heart,
To stir the soul…
Gifts poignant and priceless
Had been my goal.
But now what to do?
I’ve nary a clue,
And this panic won’t find
Those presents for you!

No choices were made,
Yet my indecision may please.
There’s a practical solution
For times like these:
Backpedal to cop-outs
At which no fool balks –
When gift ideas run silent,
Money talks!
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70      FRIENDSHIP CLICHE’

I’ll lighten the load,
/   allay your fears.
I’ll ease your mind,
/   dry those tears.
For this and that,
/   through such and such,
Just lean on me –
/   I’ll be your crutch.
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71      THESE TWO

There’s something endearing
/   in how he tortures big sis –
What two-year-old “monster”
/   can smile like this?

With every tummy upset,
/   every bump on the head –
I’m wishing those ills
/   befell their mother instead.

So thankful I’m a parent:
/   Tho short nights are no fun,
I can’t imagine my life
/   without them as Job One.

My first bears my name,
/   but both bare my soul.
They’re my reason for being;
/   These Two make me whole.
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72    MIDDLE-CLASS BLUES                                                                           *****

Teach math to high school kids;
Let dismissal bells be your friend.
Mow the lawn and trim the hedges,
And watch them grow out again.
Do a little painting on the side;
Join a bowling league on Thursday night.
Grade papers, plan lessons,
Replace a burned-out kitchen light.
Slander a kid in the teachers’ lounge;
Scrape money together to pay for a car.
Pretend your students aren’t sick of books
When you know they really are.
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73    QUEENS OF THE FLASHING LIGHTS                                                           *****

Mixing her lines of smooth, sweet talk
With a cute little wiggle in a cute little walk,
She knows all the sexy new moves,
And each week this painted lady proves
She’s the passionate queen of the flashing lights –
Disco’s gift to the World of Saturday Nights.

She’s enough of a woman, yet she gives it more –
Her young body moves swiftly across the floor,

And back at the table one can surely bet
On a glass of beer and a cigarette.
Add a low-cut dress and she’s got it made,
For these are the tools of this popular trade.
While the fever burns hot into warm summer nights
Some girls thrive as queens of the flashing lights.

(May 28, 1979)
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74    FRIEND

Fresh starts can grow stale;
Your happy trails may end…
Often the burden’s too much
For broken hearts on the mend.
When colors run into black,
What you need is a friend

Who can never do enough;
A helping hand he will lend.
Should life tie those hands,
Golden words he will send…
Your spectrum never goes dark –
It’s always lit by your friend.
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75     RED FIERO

Neatly wrapped in a fancy car,
Even a deadhead seems alive –
A mirrored glance is all you are;
You can only be what yo drive.

As man and machine both unwind,
Key is how it makes you feel –
Cool’s still a state of mind;
Passion thrives behind the wheel.

(July 18, 1989)
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76     SEE ME MONDAY                                                                                *****

Hurry up, weekend –
/   You have to get here soon.
I cannot settle
/  for Friday noon.
Sick and tired
/   of workaday stuff,
I’m watching the clock –
/  It ain’t fast enough!
Come quitting time,
/  I won’t be found.
They’ll look for my car;
/  I’m not around.
Good riddance, office –
/  I’m homeward bound!
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77    HITTING THE WALL

I don’t think for a minute
/   that you’re only bluffing
When you say you don’t want
/   all or nothing.
Though I’m a primary player
/   in life’s latest phase,
Yo’ve planned to move on
/   in those timeless ways,
But I hit the wall so hard
/   as my lap ends
With your crash-helmet words:
/   ‘Can we just be friends?’
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78    THE DREAMER’S GUIDE

If each poem is a tour,
/   is its poet a guide?
I’m now inspired to try,
/   but I cannot decide:
Shall I write tonight
/   my spirits to uplift,
Or shall I create something sweet
/   for Spindrift?
‘Guess I’ll just record my dreams
/   as they come through,
And then hope my readers
/   are dreamers too!

(August 1, 1981)
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79    TOO MUCH FOR ME

My mind caught up in old clouds of gloom,
I peer out through the darkness of an empty room.
Looking back on the image of the love we had,
Wondering how our story could be so sad.

But then you had the class while I had the dreams;
It was your mighty river and my mountain streams.
When you left me behind to head for the sea,
I knew you were simply too much for me.

Yes, you had the money and I had the friends;
To you they were means but to me they were ends.
The world was your prison and I was free,
But you knew you were simply too much for me.

While you were a queen, I was only a man;
I gave you my heart but got only your hand.
When we saw that true love could never be,
We both thought you were simply too much for me.

There was a time when memories could make me cry,
But in the dark of this room my cheeks are dry,
For the answer’s light has come shining through:
In the things that count I was too much for you.

(December 8, 1976)
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80      I’LL OWN THE STORE

People were my means,
To her they were ends.
So I cached the checks
While she counted friends.

Mighty sea-destined rivers,
Her meandering streams.
My style and substance,
Her too-simple dreams.

Craving power and prestige,
I was too smart to start.
This partner loved
To foreclose that heart.

Yet to this day I puzzle –
She claimed less was more.
“In the business of life,”
She’d say, “I’ll own the store.”

(July 21, 1992…Inspired by the poem “Too Much for Me”)

 

Providence

P    R    O    V    I    D    E    N    C    E

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159     MARRIAGE:  PRAYER FOR A FRIEND

We kneel before you, Lord.
And as we do, we can see part of the road ahead.
We can’t see it all, only you know for sure what the future holds,
And perhaps it’s best that way.
We pray for strength in our times of weakness,
We pray for hope in times of despair,
We pray for joy in times of sadness.
We pray that together we might climb the highest mountain,
Run the longest mile, cross the widest desert,
And face every storm with renewed confidence,
Knowing that you will guide us and make us strong.
And Lord, keep us together.
Let the world keep slowly turning,
As the people go ’round and ’round.
But let us stay together, no matter what.
Bring us up when we’re down
And down when we’re up too high.
And help us to know how lucky we are,
For we have each other,
And that alone gives us a jump on the rest of the world.
Be with us, Lord, as we travel the road ahead.
Help us to be able to avoid the holes and the sharp curves along the way.
Help us always to stay on the right road,
And never, ever to turn off.
Give us strength.
Give us love.
Give us life.
Amen.

(March 27, 1975)

 

81     HE IS THE LORD

He takes a gloomy day and makes it bright;
In the midst of darkness he shines the light.
When I am lost, He knows what to say;
He walks by my side to show me the way.

When I am down, He gives me the sky;
He provides the wings on which I fly,
And when I am feeling so sad and blue,
He is always right there to pull me through.

When I need to know that He really cares,
I turn to Him and He hears my prayers.
When my sun of hope is blocked by rain,
He quiets my heart and eases the pain.

These are the things He has done for me;
He shattered my bonds and He set me free.
He gave me strength when I wanted to cry;
He gave me life when I wanted to die.

He is the Lord and He’ll always be true;
He’s done it for me and He’ll do it for you,
So give Him your heart and then you’ll see
How beautiful your world can truly be.

(May 23, 1976)
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82     PRAYER

Lord, help me to know that I always have you.
Whenever I call, you’re always right there.
Help me to know that you make everything
/     work together for my ultimate good.
Help me to know that the grass on my side
/     is as green or greener than the grass across the fence.
Let me be thankful for what I have,
And help me not to long for that which
/     I really don’t need or even want.
Give me the ability to cope when I’m down,
To hang in there when I feel like quitting.
Let me reach down deep within myself
/     to find that extra strength that you have given me.
Help me not to worry about tomorrow,
But let me live today and each day to the fullest,
Reaching out for all the life I can get.
Help me to look to the good and not to the bad.
There’s enough good in the world for me to fin
/     if I take the time to look hard enough.
I’ve looked down into the gutter for too long;
Help me to lift my head so I can see the stars,
So I can see the sun shining brightly,
So I can see that your love for me is all around,
And that you’re always waiting and willing to help me out.
With you on my side
There will never be a mountain too high,
/     or a valley too low, or an ocean too deep.
With you I will never fail.
Lord, help me to know that I always have you.

(September 18, 1976)
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83     LET GOD BE THE DOCTOR

Let God be the doctor of your soul.
You’ve had a disease called worldliness,
And it gave you a taste of Satan’s wrath.
It made you stay from the chosen path,
And it almost ended your life.
But now God can make it right.
You may hurt for a little while,
As God, like a good doctor, sometimes
Has to bring you a bit of pain
In order to make you healthy again.
But He will give healing love to you,
And you’ll come out as good as new.
From your broken past He’ll build a future,
From the broken parts He’ll form a whole;
Let God be the doctor of your soul.

(February 12, 1977)
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84     SWEETER TO SING

From the highest pinnacle of ecstasy
/     to the cruel depths of despair,
Through it all with me, my Lord has been there.
In my eyes He’s become a familiar scene,
From peak to vale, and every place in between.
He makes all of life’s music sweeter to sing;
I pray always to see Him in everything –
Yes, even hardships and sorrows and trials and lies,
For these are His blessings, just sent in disguise.
Harmonious melody they surely will bring;
Through it all with my Lord it is sweeter to sing.

(September 17-18, 1977)
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85     SEEK TO GIVE                                                                               *****

Asking, “What can that person do for me?
If I am a twig, will there soon be a tree?”
In each new relationship I had to know,
“In how many ways can he help me grow?”

God said, “Poor questions!  That’s no way to live!
You shouldn’t seek to gain; rather seek to give.
So pass out kindness, then see it through,
And in time good things will come back to you.”

Serving others is now the answer for me.
If I am a twig, there will soon be a tree.
For I grow in relationships bright and new
By asking, “What, my friend, can I do for you?”

(March 14, 1978)
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86      DAYS OF BLUE                                                                                   *****

From health of mind and body
    to summertime days of blue –
Of countless blessings that are mine
/     I deserve so very few.
For food on every table,
/     for dreams that may come true –
Thanks for being by my side
/     in all I strive to do.
From personal goals for love and work
/     to a life of service for You –
Thanks for placing within my heart
/     those year-round Days of Blue.

(June 20, 1980)
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87     GRATITUDE

Divine mission bestowed
On a fortune son…
Came a cause in which
The one man believed,
Lofty goals were set
And soon achieved,
All blessings requested
Had been achieved.

Omnipotence to whom
So much was owed…
The covenant terms
Were never defined,
Gratitude to the Lord
Had slipped his mind;
Next time there’s a cause
Will God be so kind?

(September 4, 1989)
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88     EVOLUTION                                                                             *****

O Ultimate Voice…
Ever tune my receiver
/    to heed what you say;
Work the pliable me
/    like a fine lump of clay.
O Quintessential Potter…
Might I always acquiesce
/    to your gracious demands;
May you constantly mold me
/    in your masterful hands.

(May 26-27, 1990)
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 166    VIRTUE 1:  FAITH

A good man’s
/   Good Book
Collects no dust
/   upon its shelf –
There’s this need to believe
/   in something
That’s much bigger
/   than oneself.

It’s blazing trails
/   beyond the bend,
Once-fallow furrows
/   growing green…
Paul in Hebrews
/   called it
The evidence
/   of things unseen.

It’s a link
/   to peace eternal,
To what’s right
/   our trust is wired…
Brotherhood
/   and a God who’s good –
No support
/   from reason required.

(June 24-25, 1994)

 

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COME WHAT MAY                                                       *****

Thank You for this morning
And its opportunity to pray;
Forgive the many sins
I commit along the way.
Be present in my life
Through this and every day;
Prepare me for my future –
Come what may.

(September 19, 1999)
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90      REQUIEM                                                                                      *****

Most good things
/   this life had willed
Have sadly gone
/   unfulfilled…
But as we fumble for
/   the words to say,
Death never takes
/   it all away.
Some plans our God
/ does not reveal;
The faithful trust
/   He must conceal
Love mere man
/   here cannot know…
By grace one day
/   that love will show.

(September 22-25, 2001…adapted from “Sad December” lyrics.)
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91     GLORY TO THE KING

Soft, sweet acclaim…
We laud Your holy name.
In song
/   we long
/       to be close to You.
Glory to the King,
Lord of everything,
Hear Your children sing…
With one accord
All hail our precious Lord.
In song
/   we long
/       to be right with You.
Perfect are Your ways,
God of all our days,
Hear these words of praise
Sung for You…
Yes, we do
/   love You.

(2001)
(These are actually the lyrics to a song.  Music by my friend Rex Steiner.)

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92      PARDON ME                                                                                         *****

My conscience is far
/     from clear…
Have I locked up my soul
/     in jail?
Though standing trial
/     remains my fear,
His grace will post
/     my bail.
If there are no sins
/     He can’t forgive,
Will mercy over justice
/     prevail?
It’s a godly life
/     I seek to live…
Why do I so
/     frequently fail?

(August 14-15, 2002)
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93     PROVIDENCE

This fearsome challenge
/    seems too much…
Grant her grace to abide it.
The miracle that is/    Your healing touch…
May an angel provide it.

(August 21, 2004)