Category Archives: nostalgia

While

I spent the morning reading my old poems
and realize they feel like memories.
The lonely ones that desire a second (or third)
reading, the triumphant ones
that trumpet their arrival,
the amorous ones –
they pull me into a corner by the collar and linger,
the nonsensical ones that twirl and wheel
about the sacred and profane, the love or disdain.
The obtuse, they wander.
The linear, they gander.
The poems, I gather to mind
and hold to abide in warm embraces.
They all have their places.

A Christmas Card

Paper greetings, printed in opaque black,
swirled with ochre tones – and embossed
with tinsel and glare.

The serenity of straw and stable,
low station and artless beginnings-
in the midst of majestic creations.

Or how the mystery of snowfall
obscures the road ahead, yet in stillness
illustrates continuum beauty where we are led.

The green wreath, the evergreen bough-
decked in ribbon – tinged with gold
and captures glimmer and snow alike, somehow.

See the carolers, their faces
reddened in winter’s callous air –
mouths agape with our imagined joyful song and prayer.

In the bleak midwinter,
Snow lay all around, stars shown bright-
then pealed the bells more loud and clear,
Merry Christmas, Noel, this silent night.

May to December: A Letter Poem

Dear Celia,

The weather has turned again, with its gray entrenchments.

Every day seems slightly more bitter than the next, with little room for sunlight and warm touches. I keep the shutters closed most days just to keep out the appearance of cold. The warm hearth remains at the center of the house, and I do my best to remain within sight of it.

I can’t believe it has been almost a decade since I last saw you. Time passes so fluidly now that I don’t even realize the change from May to December – except for the pause that is Autumn. That is the time of moving through color, going from green to gray. The gray seems to last longer. It is no wonder we decorate our homes with pine and cedar this time of year. It helps maintain the illusion that time has stopped during moments of growth that seem perpetual. Autumn gives us a different clock. One with an altering view each day – a changing red, a subtle orange or yellow.

I grew tomatoes again over the summer, and contrary to last year’s harvest, this one was quite poor. The temperatures seem cool enough, though rain was lacking during the middle of the year. I did my best to keep the plants watered, and they remained green and grew quite large, but just did not yield much fruit. All of the flowers in the garden seemed to do well, though, providing a beautiful flourish of roses, irises, jonquils, daisies, and tulips at different times.

It is funny (peculiar) that I should remember you most at this time of year. I suppose that it is because the transition part of life provides the most vibrant backdrop. I must now close this letter, and I wish you the best for the coming year. It is likely I’ll revisit these memories again in the future. The demands of life require a sanctuary. I find it comforting, like the hearth, and I do my best to remain within sight of it.

All the best,
John

spirals

I followed the twisting branch
of the hazel tree, from the end
contorting me through its bends and corkscrew
wrench. I noticed the blue sky
just beyond and lingered there
for just moments and lost my try.

I traced a tangled shoot
from its tip, well into the
mangled form, and noticed a single
leaf – waiting- and watched
it live, forgetting how I traveled
there and where I was destined.

I chased the crooked lines
that overlapped and twined,
becoming one in the matted vines
where sky and sun are dim
and all is mangled and confined.
My words were caught in creviced splines.

I let the torsions lead me in
and angled, changing me instead
remained on a path of helix.
With new braids and spirals wed,
the path led somewhere new ahead
among the hazel twists and treks.

Preparations

When I prepare the yard for winter,
the time when all is stark and lost,
the dead have wilted, scruff and ragged –
and I remove the chaff and croft.

As I gird the garden, whether
further growth is wont or not,
bedded mounds of soil and leavings
cover greener, fledgling thoughts.

Seeded verse on sorted papers
things that sleep beneath decay
seedlings of the spring and morrow
beauty fit for flow’red cliche’

Here I leave the hopes of summer
warm enchantments, an enclave
hidden from the weather – bitter
though purposed to save.

Passage

October leaves me in thatches,
between the warm beaches
and pale wintered branches.

I remember the autumn,
the slow scale of mornings-
the decorative fallen.

I see her in color,
the amber-crisp sunlight
that touches to cover.

For moments, I tarry-
enveloped and yielding
to her fay and fairy.

I reach for her hand
and she vanishes,
my visions are damned

in the moment between
burgeoning summer
and winter’s pale serene.

Building

Knocking about the blue Mylanta bottles
we built forts and cities
in the shadow of a giant.
A bear of a man
– his friends called him Bully-
loud snores elevated
from his vinyl recliner
distant thunderclouds-
our war sounds a reminder.

Matchbox cars in play,
my brother and me,
with little green army men
their guns raised high above their heads.
We stormed the blue bottle castle as he slept.
The laughter of Korman and Conway
floating through the room.

He took us crawfishing once-
and to pick pecans.
He was Santa one early Christmas morning,
and I knew it.
But, I never knew what he liked to do,
or his favorite color, whether it was blue.
He built things,
but he tore them down too.
He helped Daddy build our carport,
but he was drunk most of the time,
so Dad sent him home.

He was just a big grandfather man
asleep in his vinyl chair again,
like a giant slumbering in his lair
in the mountains high above the cities fair
and fortresses of blue Mylanta.

*********
I wrote this poem in 2006, and just recently found it again. I reworded a few lines to make it less prose-more-poem. Relationships are sometimes complicated. My grandfather passed away many years ago- just a few years after these memories. And I’ve found that I never really knew him. But I think of him often.