Shifting colors. Mindful Writing Challenge, January 2014.

Shifting colors.  Mindful Writing Challenge, January 2014.

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Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson!

ed birthday 12092013

1.
The words we read,
the lines we write,
are gaps in time,
that soon take flight –

poetry has that property
transporting us through space –
we write a word and make a rhyme
and aim it to its place –

if accurate, we hit the mark,
we reach the goal we seek –
but if precise, we claim the prize,
and scale the highest peak –

the words and rhymes unwind, divide
with measured purpose, need –
then seek to replicate the thought
and shape the world of deeds –

The message in
the poems we write
is free, yet hidden
in plain sight.

2.
This poem started its life as a sonnet,
but grew into its own raison d’etre –
just like poems used to be my secret place,
but then long walks became my safe harbor –
a refuge from too many random thoughts.

I’d briskly walk down 23rd and cast
a furtive glance at the factory where
I once worked, abandoned when its widgets
ceased to shine; and the place is overcome
by snakes and mice – feeding on each other –
a fortuitous disassociation.

Now I walk a different path: the river
curves with the earth, and bends, and pulsates,
like blood coursing through America’s veins.
I cross the river and see images
of monuments, framed by highways and trees.

It closes with a line from fifty-five:
“Which then of God’s favors will you deny?”

a short poem for a sad moment (previously titled, “Metro Center”)

He always knew
his enemies
would not be able
to destroy him –

nor would
violence or disease
conspire to
take him out –

nor would he be
behind the wheel
when he crossed
the River Jordan –

one night he would
fall asleep, as usual,
and wake up
in Beulahland.

a luta continua…

End of November, Start of December

End of November, Start of December

My wife said I should write a poem

my wife said I should write a poem
with the new pen she gave me
for my birthday and retirement
which fall, officially, on the same date

a sudden, premature birth
induced by prayer and fasting
because the very next day was
the beginning of a new cycle of history

a lady with tired legs
sat down on a bus
and that was all it took
to jumpstart a revolution in thinking

and a deliverance from a dark place
that confined the spirit –
to an unfamiliar but
welcoming new reality, at last.

became, reconfigured:

my wife said I should write a poem
a sudden, premature birth
a lady with tired legs
and a deliverance from a dark place –

with this new pen she gave me
induced by prayer and fasting
sat down on a bus
that confined the spirit –

for my birthday and retirement
because the very next day was
and that was all it took
to an unfamiliar but –

which fall, officially, on the same date
the beginning of a new cycle of history
to jumpstart a revolution in thinking
welcoming new reality, at last.

November 24, 2013

Freedom Day
(channeling Rosa Parks on the 58th anniversary of her arrest)

the space where I used to live
no longer has existence for me –
no meaning, good or ill –
an emptiness that is shrinking

into nothingness in immeasurable
segments: weekly, daily, minute-by-minute.
The physical place it occupies
still stands, and people there still breathe

and live, and work, and plot,
and love – but all of that escapes
the gravity of my present reality;
stands outside the new world I configure

for the future, which beckons me,
and even for the past, which still aches
for vindication. Take two aspirin
for that silly pain. A deep breath. Slowly.

December 1, 2013

Final ModPo Webcast 11/18/2013

Final ModPo Webcast 11/18/2013

Goodbye but not farewell

Goodbye but not farewell.
We will continue our conversations
and social media chats –
with new friends,
with old friends.

And we will continue writing poems:
together in small groups,
and at home, alone,
in the midnight hour that is not
midnight, but that
floats between isha and fajr –
the darkest part of night –
when passions die,
and distractions fall to the side.

The songwriting teacher said all I needed
was a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary –
but it hasn’t proven sufficient –

and there are no final words, anyway,
no bridge, no chorus, no refrain,
just a tight hug, a soft sigh, a tender kiss,
and a throw-away “see-you-tomorrow,”
maybe, if you’re lucky. And all my
countrymen are poets, and sailors.

No, goodbye is not farewell.
There is SloPo on Facebook,
and sudden spoon is resurrecting,
and the Breakfast Club opera is on track,
and KWH is always open,
and there are Sunday get-togethers in DC
whenever you are passing through.

And all our blogs and our websites are up,
and NaPoWriMo comes in April,
and Postcard Poetry Fest comes in August,
and before you know it, ModPo14!

more last words poems here: http://poemsbyray.blogspot.com/

Experimentation in Standard Time

Experiment in Standard Time

Autumn urban afternoons
get shorter and sweeter –

standing in the middle of I street
I await a very specific angle on the bow,
as my ship called Earth comes about:
a unique perspective on how time passes –

in the distance you can see Virginia:
how many beats per measure
are there in Standard time?

the future is reaching back to join us,
to warn us, to help us alter course
to starboard so we can pass port to port –
the present and the future,
like two ships, passing in a storm.

We post to a blog or sing a song:
we write some non-rhyming words
we call poetry –

and time is a social construct
a contractual agreement we accept
from fear of things we don’t know –
dawn to dusk, high noon
to the darkest part of night –

a 24 second shot clock.
We sink a three pointer
that leaves a vacuum in its wake –
the chain nets echo its refrain.

11/05/2013

bonus card!

bonus card!

If deer could speak

yes, we are eating, well, grazing –
it’s Autumn, so we search underneath
fallen leaves for moss and mushrooms –

and you, are you an artist
or a hunter? Humans come in two
types, you know – observers and

destroyers of life in its natural state.
We have watched you come and go,
artists, photographers, painters, poets –

and hunters, for sport and for sustenance,
killers of deer, killers, murderers
of your own kind, your own selves –

yes, we’ve seen humans, in the woods,
kill their own selves. Deer would
never do such a heinous thing –

we are different. But on this Autumn
day, today, we graze for food.
Isn’t it time for your lunch?

September 2, 2013