from the archives – January walking blues

The temperature has dropped on this 2nd day of Spring because of yesterday’s snow storm. Tonight’s walk home after class will be a cold one, like on this January night a few years ago…

It’s a cold night in the Bottom:
a deep fog has crept up on us
from the swamp below –
so thick the street lamps
look like little moons in the distance –

And my legs are tired, man,
my knees are aching so bad:
from walking too long –
too far – too late – too often –
trying to meet too many obligations –

But soon I’ll be home –
hot soup simmering on the stove –
a pair of loving arms awaits me:
to hold me and to listen to my story.


from the archives – for #PIDay and for departing scientists

On attending a lecture by a Nobel astrophysicist, Pt. 1

The universe has no beginning nor end,
expanding and unbounded in undefined space
and time.  Every event is an act on a stage,
a plot that continually evolves.
Our paths cross like two distant stars –
each a separate solar system –
but from afar, from Earth, perhaps,
we appear joined, fused, as one.
And sailors use our apparent light
to steer their ships by through the darkened night,
and stargazers reckon the passage of time
by the single light they think that we emit.
Yet all their precise calculations miss
the mark, based on a truth that is false.

On attending a lecture by a Nobel astrophysicist, Pt. 2

In one year, or in a thousand years
our galaxies resume their chosen paths,
and from afar, from Earth perhaps, the truth
will be revealed: we are not one star – but two,
or many, diverse, distinct, passing through
space like ships in the night.  And sailors still
reach their destinations, despite the inexactitude,
still sleep in loving arms’ embrace the long night
through. So what’s the moral of this story,
what’s the sonnet’s point?  We seek defined lives
in indefinite space.  We try to reconcile
our every act, our every word, each thought,
but ere the end all bets are off,
and all is naught but drifting stardust…

On attending a lecture by a Nobel astrophysicist, Pt. 3

At our center
is a dying star –
an empty space –
a black hole –
It once emitted light
to all inside its orbit,
but now it only absorbs,
and robs, and depletes.
And yet it still
has force and grace
to bend us at its will
and hold us all – together.

found poetry – August Wilson

Knowing that August Wilson considered himself a poet long before he became a playwright, I have started looking for poetry hidden in the lines of his plays.  I found this gem in Wilson’s introduction to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, for example:

Chicago in 1927 is a rough city,
a bruising city, a city of millionaire and derelicts,
gangsters and roughhouse dandies,
whores and Irish grandmothers who move
through its streets fingering long black rosaries.

Somewhere a man is wrestling
with the taste of a woman in his cheek.
Somewhere a dog is barking. Somewhere
the moon has fallen through a window
and broken into thirty pieces of silver.
It is hard to define this music.
Suffice it to say that it is a music
that breathes and touches. That connects.
that is in itself a way of being,
separate and distinct from any other
This music is called the blues.

Whether this music came from Alabama
or Mississippi or other parts of the south
doesn’t matter any more. The men and women
who make this music have learned it
from the narrow crooked streets
of the city’s Southside, and the Alabama
or Mississippi roots have been strangled
by the northern manners and customs of free men
of definite and sincere worth, men for whom
this music often lies at the forefront
of their conscience and concerns.

Thus they are laid open to be consumed by it;
its warmth and redress, its braggadocio
and roughly poignant comments, its vision
and prayer, which would instruct and allow them
to reconnect, to reassemble and gird up
for the next battle in which they would be
both victim and the ten thousand slain.

a note of thanks – #ThisIsMyPoetryBlog

#thisismypoetryblog has been an outlet of sorts for me for nearly five years now. Through it I have made new friends and earned a loyal readership. Thank you to everyone who has visited this blog, read my poems, and added notes and comments. Thank you to folks who have become followers and to folks who have re-blogged its contents on other pages. Thank you to those who come occasionally, to “see what Ray is talking about these days.”

My wife has been on me to let her edit a collection that goes back to the poems I wrote in high school and covers everything up to the present. I asked her, “Who would want to read that?” She says “Plenty.” That may be coming up soon.  I have also started piecing together a smaller collection of what I affectionately refer to as vertical stories. That may beat my wife’s edited volume as it already has a title (Storytelling in Stanzas) and provisional table of contents. Watch for both – both will be available for viewing here on the blog.

But primarily, I want to thank the readers and visitors. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Hearing from you and seeing that you have visited makes me so happy!

a dark poem from deep in the archive

just thought I’d write
a line or two
to let you know
I’m feeling blue.

My boat just launched
an atom bomb.
it flew so high,
then kissed the ground.

I wonder how
the people felt
to watch their homes
and children, melt?

from way deep in the archives – My feet spoke to me

One day walking home from work
My feet spoke to me. They said:

“Ray, we don’t want you sticking us in your fancy
brown custom-made dress shoes from Portugal.
They are tight, and our toes can’t move around freely.”

“OK,” I said, “let’s try an older pair tomorrow,
something more worn, more broken in.”

My feet said,

“OK, but if we don’t like it, you won’t like it either.”

I said, “Tomorrow we will wear the ECCO’s,
the Baghdad ECCO’s that are well-worn and broken in.”

The next day my feet apoke to me again.  They said,

“Ray, we don’t like the ECCO’s either. We discussed it
among ourselves and decided we want the brown
leather Saucony’s, you know, the running shoes.”

I said, “but I can’t wear running shoes to work with a suit!”

They said,

“If you don’t, we won’t like it. And you won’t like it either.”

So Sunday night I cleaned up the Sauconys and gave them
a good buffing with cream polish.

Monday morning my feet were smiling!

from the archives: Myers-Briggs

MBTI (part 1)

I really dig the group,
but I need to check out,
every now and then,
to recharge, alone.

The patterns, the connections
are all metaphors –
but the details
also tell a story.

No I don’t want to chat
during the break –
It is August and I’d rather
read poetry in e-mails.

“Facts” are overrated
and logic can be bogus –
it is all about relationships,
empathy, harmony.

The world we know is a mess:
let’s sniff every flower,
taste every entrée –
time ain’t nothing but a number.

MBTI (part 2)

the test results describe
the contrived mask we wear
to survive, to thrive
in a broken world

the real you, the real me,
hides within, underneath
the mask, behind the stage

we choose the ruse we use –
to protect, to preserve
our true identity.