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Benicia Readings

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Possible Benicia Readings

Spending about half of my time in Benicia with my Lady,
I have been involved with a first and second Tuesday Poetry

reading group.  The following poems were the first ad-hoc
group of poems I shared with them.  There was no rhyme
nor reason for the selection, but it seemed to go well:

 

     Possible Benicia Readings

 

1          At the Table

2          A Personal Valentine

3          Cold, In Denver

3          Encounter at Starbucks

5          Feeling Sad

6          The Interview

7          Wish You Were Here

8          Iwo

10        Words to End the World By         

13        Summer Play

14        Summer Storms

15        Quick Little Sparrow

16        Love Sonnet

17        Burning Butterflies

18        In-Pleasing

19        An Occasional Occasion

20        Sage Woman Goddess

 

11-02-07

 

     At the Table

 

“How’ve you been,” I heard him ask.

“Not too bad,” the other replied –

“Went through a divorce, kind’a bummed me out,

made me a pauper in my own time.

she got the house, half my income,

all the furniture, the best car,

kept all our friends…even my parents

took her side.  All of that

wasn’t so bad, but I really resent

her keeping the dog.  Man’s best friend,

my ass….”

 

      A PERSONAL VALENTINE

 

Bold sunlight splits the Winter; warmth

reserved for Springtime shares my day.

As noontime comes, I sit and sing

old songs recalled.  Though moments stay,

the hours run and night comes soon

to call.  Within my cloth cocoon,

I hurry not, nor rise, nor fall,

but set myself a simple  task.

Bereft of answers, I but ask

to be relieved of duty cares

no matter what tomorrow brings;

to savor what this moment shares

of life attuned to simpler things.

 

11-14-07

 

         Cold, In Denver

 

The air outside is cold today –

The weather changed from days more warm

In which we walked hand in hand

As lovers do…or married people

Intent on keeping the other near,

Out of habit.  I miss the former,

Admit to the latter, afraid to let

Her go to find myself alone.

Her world imposed upon my own

Seems now more real, more a part

Of what I am than times before

Where I had lived a life without her.

Without her, would I still be me,

Or would I simply cease to be…?

 

Jan. 17, 2007

 

      Encounter at Starbucks

 

He was an elderly, Asian gentleman

dressed in twilled-tan slacks, light brown jacket,

and plaid English-Country-Squire hat

having coffee, possibly tea, with a lady

quite a bit younger than he, but attentive – a daughter

perhaps?  His hair was white, collar length,

wispy, like that of ancient Chinese officials

caught posed forever on silk in traditional paintings

a thousand years old with peasants stooped in their fields

or imperial sages bent to their tasks. 

He seemed displaced somehow, seated there

surrounded by a restless crowd quaffing

coffeed drinks.  He was aloof, uncommon,

dignified, self-controlled, his pace reserved,

less hectic than the active morning crowd

shuttling from door to counter to table

and chair, sitting, drinking, talking, rising,

seeking the door again, and gone.  He was

content to sit, a boulder in the stream

of life flowing by around about him.

As he stood, gathering things to go,

I wondered how much time that there was left

for either one to remain athwart life’s stream? 

I suspect his time will be more graceful,

less turbulent, more at ease than mine

…unless, of course, I too could be as he,

patiently humble, growing comfortably old.

 

15, 2007

 

 

       Feeling Sad

 

After all this time –

After all the ups and downs –

After thinking I had found

My footing at last,

Suddenly, I am melancholy.

 

I don’t know why.

I only know it happens

From time to time…

A little like stubbing a toe

When running barefoot in summer

Across a watered lawn

Skipping over concrete walks.

 

It’s a sharp, intense,

Momentary pang

That makes me stop

And hop around one-footed,

Holding on to the hurt,

Striving for balance.

 

Soon, it will be gone,

Swallowed up, replaced

By more mundane concerns

That crowd the pain aside

So that I breath a sigh of relief,

Knowing I’ve got a month or more

Before I trip and fall

into sadness again.

 

9-04-06

Labor Day

 

       The Interview

 

“Take a seat,” she said.

Standing, I looked around

for a chair, or couch, or stool

that I might perch upon.

Spying one, I sat –

self-consciously, crossing my legs

right over left.  “I see

you’ve had some experience,”

she began, appraising me –

her eyes hooded, squinting

to focus on my face

…or my outfit

…or the wall past my shoulder.

I wonder what she’s looking for?

Me, or some other picture

of what she expects me to be?

I don’t suppose it matters much.

She will see it, or she won’t.

I will match it, or not.

Perhaps even I don’t know myself,

myself.

 

July 18, 2006

Don Peery

(While on a Hawaiian cruise)

 

 Wish You Were Here

 

Formal night tonight, almost –

it is Hawaii after all. 

So, slacks and hula shirts

and sandals with sox –

some men in suits and ties

and women in nice dresses

with earrings, pearls, and  high heels

or fancy, built up flip-flops

with straps between the toes. 

Quite a collage of people –

mostly American,

but enough from other places

to create an interesting polyglot

that surrounds us.

I fancy I enjoy myself

relaxing by the pool

with a book, and a drink,

and an easy sun-soaked day. 

Still, I miss you. 

Wish you were here

…or me there

…or something similar….

 

11/11 2006

 

 Dedicated to

Thurman Fogerty

“Flags of Our Fathers”

    Pages 162, 163

 

                              Iwo

 

They came by convoy seventy miles long,

American warriors, molded by necessity,

Marines packed on ships with weapons in holds,

one hundred thousand personnel ferried

four thousand miles to a lone black dot of sand

surrounded by water.  It was shelled night and day

until they, in the first morning waves, went ashore to fight

and maybe survive.

 

The sand was a churning maelstrom of enemy fire,

flowering artillery shells, blossoms of steel

bursting on flesh, rending arms and legs,

some bodies torn asunder while others floated

face down in the surf like apples bobbing in a tub –

every inch of the beach a target randomly stacked

with wounded and dead – nine thousand marines ashore

by noontime advancing over broken ground

from shell hole to shell hole through grenades and pill box fire

to seize and hold a bare stretch of sand desperately

trying to survive.

 

Thurman, only eighteen, was there on day one

running and cowering, crawling and fighting, sickened

and fearful, a youth becoming too soon a man,

too late for innocence so near to sorrow’s hand,

too far from heaven for his life to end, too close

to death for any hope to exist and so,

with so many about him wounded, dying, or dead

he had no choice but stay, no chance but fight

and hope to survive.

 

The battle lasted all of thirty-five days. 

Seventy thousand marines came to the fight,

twenty-six thousand were wounded or died and remain

under sixty-eight hundred stars and white crosses

along with twenty-one thousand enemy dead,

sleeping forever together where both nations bled.

I remember in the movie, my hero, John Wayne died.

I cried, but I was more innocent then, a child.

I could only pretend I knew how real it was,

but Thurman was there, lived through the worst of it all

learning the real and bitter truth that wars

are fought by living men where too many die

and Hell is a walk through fear to a river of blood

where the bravest heart fills with terror and

the weakest soul finds strength in its core, and when

in the end, and all is said and done, like Thurman,

it’s enough to have lived through it all, to be one

of the ones who survived.

 

Note:  Thurman ‘survived’ for 84 years before he passed away last year (2008).
           He was able to return to Iwo Jima in that year.  Although he wasn’t able
           to afford it himself, he attended due to a contribution of free tickets and
           airfare from a retired General wh couldn’t make the trip.
 

 

10/16/05

 

Given a challenge of 50 words chosen at random,
the following three poems were written.

 

Words to End the World By

 

                  I

 

The world is ending.  I know it’s so,

Chicken Little just went by

(he is my kindred spirit), a panther

in close pursuit…no day dream that,

moribund though I am, I still

pursue a total freedom from treason.

Twenty-seven years have passed

since my enamored machinations

basked in the luminosity

of my sweetheart’s freckled nose

and the downy, bodacious fragrance

of her hair.  I could swagger

then, surreal in the delicious

pleasure of her love.  She was

a virtuoso, a fair-haired

Cassandra with velvety words that would leap

like galloping yaks fleeing a cheetah

silhouette.  She was sensual

in a singular way, like the first

star of evening or the last

buffalo loose on the plains.  She pleased me

in her tranny-ness, her circular ways.

But I couldn’t swing that way, couldn’t

peruse the woven flutter of

her soul, the unearthly angular

sighs spilling out with her silvery

strumming breath…, “No thanks,” I said,

“I think I’ll just be on my way

…to Orlando….” 

 

                  II

 

She gave me fifty words to write with –

a literal cascade flow of mutual

exclusiveness.  How do you pair

‘Tranny’ with ‘love’, ‘enamored’ with ‘moribund’?

I tried, although it made no sense,

my ‘Cassandra’ was no ‘sweetheart’ –

the whole thing was ‘surreal’, a

‘bodacious’, ‘singular’ waste of time –

like policing ‘yak’ turds in Asia,

or ‘buffalo’ chips on the American

plains – something to do, but you still

end up with ‘bodacious’ piles of shit.

 

                  III

 

One word I didn’t know… ‘sweetea’?

Spelled s w e e  t e a.

Contraction for sweet tea?  A way

to say sweater?  A slip of the pen –

or of the mind?  A mistake or a planned

distraction meant to douse my spirit?

What do the dictionaries say?

Hmm, no entry…there’s sweet corn

and then there’s sweeten, no sweetea there.

Oh well – it’s not the first time I’ve

been led astray by the fairer sex….

 

 

     Summer Play     

 

I remember summers fed

by dry July and August heat

scorching stones in dry creek beds,

hanging before our eyes a sheet

of distant shimmering stands of pine

sentineled on the far hill crest.

The only stirring of the air

was caused by our quick passage there,

my friends and I, about our play

of pretense war and mock-pain yells.

Dying a hundred times each day,

we’d argue who shot first and laugh

when someone stumbled, falling flat,

concealing by our glee the pain

of being yet too young to tell

how well we then resembled men.                   

 

 

SUMMER STORMS

 

Last night

I heard from an old friend -

a voice from out of my past

transmitted by wire

and electric pulse

from his mountain nest

to my valley home.

 

A summer storm crashed

behind his words,

echoing from the ridge

to the river and back,

lifting hairs on the nape

of my neck.

 

His poem was power,

speaking to me 

of times past

when we were each

in grievous need

of the other.

 

Remembering,

I laughed for the phone

because I could not bear

that he should see

tears leaking

quiet streams

from my eyes.

 

 

         Quick Little Sparrow

 

Quick little sparrow,

how excited you are

flitting from branch to branch -

now resting your weight,

now taking to wing…

defying the net of my glance.

 

First here and then there

in quick flurried flight

you ride on a ribbon of air

from the top of the tree

to the crown of the bush

to the step of my back porch stair.

 

Never for long

do you rest where you light

in constant pursuit of your song -

caught for an instant,

the blink of an eye

and then, in the next, you are gone.

 

 

                     Love Sonnet

 

The day is spent.  Night sings soft to me.

Another day is fled, forever gone.

No after light remains to tempt the dawn

Aflame upon tomorrow’s surging sea.

My heart is light, my spirit wanders free.

My soul is loosed from promised deeds undone.

Love’s words are molten ingots on my tongue

And eyes that day had closed now plainly see.

Emotions flow like rivers through the mind

As darkened shrouds surround to comfort me

And cares of day that night has left behind

Are but the merest murmur of the sea.

Here within the night time hush I find

How very much your love yet means to me.

 

 

Burning Butterflies

 

I have a picture painted, unconfined,

Of butterflies in burning shades of blue.

They dart about bright rainbowed drops of dew

To flit through dusty windows of the mind.

I’ve always found it odd that all mankind,

Who talk about God’s glory as they do

And pride themselves in seeing all things true,

Should praise the pictures painted by the blind.

And yet the butterflies that they should see,

And green dew dampened blades of grass and such,

Are valued only when they cease to be.

I lie and say it doesn’t matter much,

But I know something innocent and free

Is lost the day it feels the human touch.

 

IN-PLEASING

 

My love’s caress

is like a Summer’s breeze;

         warmly pleasing.

 

Mouthing bits of flesh and hair,

she whispers softly to my ear;

         she speaks my name.

 

On tongues of flame,

she brings her heat to sear my spine,

and beads of sweat to streak my brow,

and lips to taste the salt-sweet taste

         of mine.

 

My heart is filled

the way a draft of garden air

might fill the lungs to bursting

         with a single breath.

 

And in that moment,

so full of natural richness,

she surrounds my senses

until I find no living thing

by which I might compare my love,

         that in her pleasing,

         is pleased to find me near.

 

 

     An Occasional Occasion

 

 

“What’s the occasion,” she asked –

Her smile a ghost on her lips,

Voice caught low in her throat,

The shape of a growl, almost.

 

“Pleasure,” was his terse reply,

His grin an upward curl

Twisting the corners of his mouth,

An ember-like glint in his eye.

 

“So you say…now,” she breathed,

Leaning into him,

Pressing her cloth covered breast

Lightly against his chest.

 

“And why ever not?” he asked,

Reaching, open palmed –

Fingertips tickling nipples

Stiffening at his touch.

 

“Promises, promises,” she sighed,

Arching backwards, her arms

Drawing him forwards, towards her,

Her pelvis a balancing fulcrum

 

Until they fell, together

Across the width of his bed;

He, kissing her lips and her throat

And the bulging flesh of her breast.

 

“Occasionally, occasional sex

Will do quite fine,” she said,

Trying to hold in a sigh.

“Mumph,” was his muffled reply.

 

 

 

Sage Woman Goddess

 

“I am of the Earth,” She said,

“and Wind, and Fire, and Water –

  all these things are me,” She said,

“because I am all things.

 

“When you are filled with joy,” She said,

“I have let you see

  yourself in balance with a world

  where men are meant to suffer.

 

“And when you are sad,” She said,

“I open up your heart

  to feel what you have lost to man

  and to your begging child.

 

“All your cries and tears,” She said,

“are but the coins owed

  the female side of life, the price

  demanded of your passage.

 

“Your smiles I will allow,” She said,

  not for ‘them’ but you

  as you find simple bits of truth

  within a sea of lies.

 

“As you live your lives,” She said,

“expect not ease nor comfort.

  Your passage is intended harsh

  to test and temper your soul.

 

“I will call for you,” she said,

“ when you least expect it

  and you will come to me,” She said,

 “because I am all things.”