Poem: Too Much

stone

Too Much

There is too much to take in.
Too much death.
Too much life.
More love than I know what to do with,
more pain than I can process,
and I am left wordless,
paralyzed,
less broken than simple flotsam
tossed on the waves
waiting for solid ground.

About this poem.

It’s that kind of day, and it’s only 9:AM.

Tom

Poem: False Colors

glass-jars

False Colors

The problem is less your sight
that the glasses you see through,
imperfect things, thick and messy,
full of history and lies and distance,
sometimes murky, sometimes twisted
beyond recognition, fun house mirrors
you somehow believe as true and clear
as you paint your own portraits,
bright and visit, rich with false colors
that in the end, you knew were false,
but are better than the truth
of the mirror.

About this poem

It’s all about the lenses. And we choose the ones we see through.

Tom

 

Poem: Almost Equinox

leaf

Almost Equinox

You are startled to see it, 
a single red leaf, the first of the season, 
a refugee from a tree of green just ahead, 
the sole truth bearer, reminder
that today the seasons change
and the world will become both more beautiful
and more harsh
its youthful exuberance fading with each passing night. 

Soon, there will be frost. 
Lightly at first. Then icy hard
as the weeks and months careen into winter. 
Days will grow shorter. Nights, longer. 

But you are the rebel. Always a bit off season, 
off-kilter, contrary – not enough to be dangerous, 
but just enough to be noticed, 
a thing of color when the world is green, 
and green when the world explodes in red, yellow and death,
a bothersome thing to some,
a strange thing to others,
true more to yourself than calendars or years or station,
you dance in the wind,
and sing in the night like a drunken sailor in church

About this poem

This was going to be a poem about the Fall Equinox, which is today. But as so often happens when I sit down to write things, it came out as something entirely different. 

I sometimes think I don’t write this stuff. I’m just the scribe. 

Tom 

Poem: True Love

squires-house

True Love

Scene: In bed. Preparing to meditate. You take two breaths. Another. One more. You prepare for your favorite meditation, a full body scan. It connects you to yourself and puts you very much in the moment. A healthy practice.

You: Good morning toes. How are you?
Toes: We hurt.
You: What? Toes don’t hurt. You’ve been sleeping all night.
Toes: Hey, you asked.

You (slightly irritated): Ok. Ok. You hurt. Top of my feet, how are you?
Top of feet: Kinda sluggish. Just not feeling it today.
You: But you don’t do anything!
Top of feet: Dude, you asked.
Arches: We hurt too. Just in case you care.
You: Wait your turn, arches
Arches: Sorry Boss, pain doesn’t work that way, you ought to know that by now, being sixty-one and everything.
You: Sheesh. OK, you hurt. I get it. How bad is it?
Arches: More sore than pain. Like you walked me too far.
You: But…
Arches: Come on, you ARE sixty-one after all.
You: Don’t remind me. Calves. how are you?

Calves: Stiff, but that’s OK. Nothing a walk downstairs for coffee won’t fix. But you might want to skip the knees this morning.
Knees: No way I get skipped. Whoever told you your knees are too big and overengineered for a man your size lied. I hurt like hell this morning,
You: But you were fine when I went to bed
Knees: Ha! You were just too pre-occupied to notice. Pay more attention next time.
Thighs: Can I make it three for three? What did you do yesterday, run a marathon?
Arches: He’s just old. Better get used to it thighs.

You (sighing): This is not going the way it should.
Arches: Shouldn’t ask questions you don’t want answers to boss.
You: Hips? Dare I ask?
Hips: I’m fine. Just don’t move and we’ll be good.
You: Oh.
Lungs: Hey Boss, all fine here with me and Ribs
Ribs: Speak for yourself lungs. I feel like I’ve been washed down a river and hit every rock like a pinball machine. What the heck did you do yesterday, after all?
Arches: It’s not what he did yesterday, it’s what he did the past sixty-one years. Really boss, you should have taken better care of yourself.

Brain: You should have picked a different meditation this morning.
You: Shut up brain. You are supposed to be turning off.
Brain: Well with all you guys talking there’s not much chance of that, is there?

Shoulders: Anyone interested in me this morning? Huh? How about it?
You: I am scared to ask.
Shoulders: You should be. Go ahead, shrug a little. You’ll know all you need to know.
You (shrugging): Ow.
Shoulders: Exactly.

(Phone rings. It is the woman you love.)
Woman you love: Good morning! How are you this morning
You (smiling): Fine!

And you suddenly realize you are.
That’s how true love works.

About this poem

This is nearly a verbatim playback of my morning this morning.

Tom

Poem: Art

placement

Art

This is the thing.
I do not know if it is art
or not.
For all art does not live in museums,
but people’s lives,
color and line and placement
singing a song
they never imagined.

About this poem

I have an installation of paintings at one of the local libraries for the month of September, and last Saturday we had the reception. I spent some of the time taking people through the pieces, talking about what was going on in each one and how I got there.  My work is, like the installation above from MoMA, abstract, and the people I walked through things seemed to be happy to get some explanation.

My favorite people,though, are the ones who look at my paintings (or read my poems for that matter) and find their own meanings. At that point my art is no longer mine. It is theirs, or perhaps ours, as they pull something from it that I never even conceived of.

I love that.

Tom

 

Poem: Raw

wasteland

Raw

Years later, you are still raw,
the slightest storm
washing away the veneer of dust
that civilizes you and
exposes the shards of stone beneath,
the rough edges, cut from your mountain
and reduced to rubble,
that wreckage you would rather forget,
rather pretend never happened,
except that the only way to save yourself
is to cry out the story,
each chapter anther rain,
another storm,
another exposure before the healing
you have sought
so long.

About this poem

This is one of those poems I write when there’s nothing haunting my mind to write about. On such days, I pull a photograph from my files, and write to it. Sometimes they end up cutting close to the bone. Sometimes not.

A decade ago this would have been too close for comfort. Today, it is simply a memory poem. Thank goodness.

Tom

Poem: The Unsaved

beachhouse

The Unsaved

The old lifesaving station sits just beyond the tides,
abandoned now,
the wood is stripped of its paint
Boards flap in the wind.

A flag flutters in the wind,
a triangle of faded polyester,
its flapping like an announcement
of a battle lost.

You are no longer in the saving business.
You have left that folly behind,
your soul seared raw like bleached board,
you have learned your lesson,

that in the end,
we save no one beyond ourselves,
that we can be no more than a beacon
above the tide.

About this poem

Some of us have a savior complex.  I used to have a bit of one myself, but I’ve had it beaten out of me, learning that it was all I could handle to save myself. A hard lesson of pride and failure and honesty.

Tom