Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self. ~Cyril Connolly
It has been many years since I have sent off a poem, but I have just submitted three poems to Kennesaw State University’s 2008 Poetry of the Golden Generation, a juried competition for southern poets 50 years of age and older. I hope this is an indication that I am paying more attention to the poet part of myself, as I believe it is the closest to my authentic nature, egolessness, the part of me that flows with all that is. Here are the poems:
The dogwood shines in the early light,
practiced from a night of bright moon.
The yellow-breasted chat is back,
repeating its repertoire.
To the east a pale orange glow
lies across the hills like a promise.
While some make last-minute trips for eggs,
you will think of “the old man,” twenty-six,
flying over Poland that Easter, 1944,
the day that twisted his future into a new shape,
that made him the father you knew:
wounded, sober, uncomplaining.
He is falling, unconscious, thousands of feet
to a Danish beach,
ribs and ankle broken, and waking
to the mercy of strangers,
the offer of boxed chocolates
to make up for his missing arm.
Somehow he rises through all that dark
to find the stone rolled away,
an ordinary life awaiting.
Patient and peaceful, he abides
until his soul is freed, a calling shrike,
circling in the blue sky.
White Pine Cabin
The wind is never far away
from this mountain cabin.
A breeze is sometimes just around the bend
even when the pines are stone-still.
In these days, a hammock hung
between before and after,
I sing to the mountain laurel
growing in thickets on the knoll.
I gather pine cones, memories,
resolutions for the life ahead.
I unfold my failures like old clothes,
Hug them to me, then let go,
watch them sail away on the wind.
Spring afternoons at home,
I like to sit in the glider on the deck,
drink a beer under the wide blue sky
and watch the dogwood open,
my heart drunk with love
for the way you can’t wait
to show me the buzzing redbud
shimmering with bees and skippers.
You lead me to the top of the hill.
The black cat slinks nearby,
feigning interest in the moving grass.
Amazed, I suddenly want to contain that tree,
to feel the hum in every blossom
of my being, every pore electric,
to be lifted over the field
by thousands of tiny wings
beating to the rhythm of my heart.