Monthly Archives: September 2010

Barbara

The
Party
Wore on
Until dark
When slightly tipsy
Revelers began to search for
Unsuspecting victims to be thrown into the pool.
She felt a wild surge of hope, but
They saw the collar
At her neck
And left
Her
Dry.

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Oh hold your children close to you tonight

(A villanelle)

So much happens just beyond our sight
In rooms where sorrow’s stain is bleached away
Oh hold your children close to you tonight

This plain-dressed couple with their faces tight
An aching loss for which they did not pray
So much happens just beyond our sight

We catch them in the elevator light
Their weeping willow curve that seems to say
Oh hold your children close to you tonight

I cannot tell them how we had to fight
For she can barely keep her tears at bay
So much happens just beyond our sight

And suddenly I want to curse this night
When God threw dice and our son got to stay
Oh hold your children close to you tonight

A perfect birth perhaps is no one’s right
But some receive an awful price to pay
So much happens just beyond our sight
Oh hold your children close to you tonight

Behind the (Magic) 8-Ball

At 3am or thereabouts
Alarm bells ring
Throughout the ship
In panic, I shake my only
Trusted counselor, and ask:

O wise advisor – is everything OK?
-Don’t count on it
So this is not a false alarm?
-My reply is no
Will our passengers be alright?
-My sources say no
And the fate of the ship?
-Outlook not so good
My book tour?
-Very doubtful

Greatly sobered, I press on:
Great one, should we start evacuation?
-Reply hazy, try again
Launch the escape pods?
-Ask again later
But why? Isn’t there a great threat?
-Better not tell you now
What? Don’t you know?
-Cannot predict now
I’m freaking out, and you’re having a
Crisis of confidence? Get a grip, Nostradamus!
-Concentrate and ask again

Sorry!
So this is really big?
-As I see it, yes
Will there be pain and loss?
-It is certain
And the ship – will it be destroyed?
-It is decidedly so
In a huge ball of flame that can be seen
From Earth?
-Most likely
That’s embarrassing
-Outlook good
And they’ll blame me?
-Signs point to yes
Just because I fell asleep at the switch?
-Without a doubt
And this is the price of service?
-Yes
The lonely height of leadership?
-Yes – definitely
I’m not going to get that promotion, am I?
-You may rely on it.

Where we would make the choice to stay

(A rondeau)

Where we would make the choice to stay
The way we were our wedding day
We could be twenty for eternity
While frozen stiff below what people see
Held hostage to the petty things they say

It would be easier to go that way
To let harsh expectations hold their sway
And build a gilded cage for you and me
Where we would make the choice to stay

Instead we dare to show our feet are clay
And live our life in shades of grey
For there is greater sanctity
In being who we’re meant to be
Than hiding in a well-meant passion play
Where we would make the choice to stay

The leaving and the letting go

(A kyrielle)

I had not planned that Friday night
To socialize after the show
But one chance question shone a light
On leaving and the letting go.

What do you want? He softly said
As if he really cared to know.
I answered cradling my head,
The leaving and the letting go.

Then I will pray for you right now
He said, To have the grace to grow
In trusting in this deep desire
For leaving and the letting go.

A silence fell around us, drenched
In grief, the ugly undertow
Of all the years of fists tight clenched
At leaving and the letting go.

An hour passed, the wave was done
And I was ready now to throw
My lot with every wayward son
In leaving and the letting go.

Some choices need the steady love
Of those who know us best, and so
Our friends become the midwives of
Our leaving and the letting go.

Birthday

Each beginning is important
A gesture or a seed
An omen, if you will,
A time capsule
To which we come again
When years have passed
And having seen its contents
Say, “Of course!”

Today I sit
In slanting light
And cast my mind to things
That happened in this very place
A baker’s dozen years ago.
Your sunny birth –
Frail and then athletic –
With just a few close friends
To join us at the water’s edge
Unworried about skipping church
Lying instead and listening
To football on the radio
While someone fetched us
Chinese food.

I see these things again today
And say, “Of course,
My English-weather son,
This is who you’ve always been
Since your exulting mother
Cried with joy and
Placed you on her chest.
Now my cheeks, too, are streaked
The way they were that day
Because your beginning was important
And I love who you’ve become.

Mass hilarity

A sandal flipped down
From above at Jesus’ words
Of caution about

Mammon, as if the
Girl in the low balcony
Was cut to the quick

And had decided
Then and there to give up
Half her possessions.

Swiftly, the grey haired
Usher retrieved the errant
Footwear from the aisle

Then with a sly grin
And a softball pitcher’s art
Lobbed his prize aloft

To land again with
Its astonished owner – a
Prodigal returned.

The priest, unwitting,
Labored with his homily
On simple living

But at the back, we
Turned our minds instead to the
Sandal and the girl

And the hundredfold
Pressed down and running over
That God loves to give.

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