Doing Something for Me

I’m a poet and writer, and too often I have to fight for the time to do what’s important to me, to my identity, to my happiness. When I carve out time for the half marathon, I’m doing something that says my work is important. Marathoners, our work is important, the poems that fly and those that stumble. We learn when we stumble.

I’m looking forward to twelve hours of reading and writing poetry on September 2, 2023.

Good Medicine

We met at the gym
and found what we’d been missing,
friends our age.

We worked out together,
shared recipes,
went out to dinner.

No one lost weight,
but we all felt better.
Friends do that for you.

The pool closed,
and I found a new gym
and a new set of friends

until 2021 happened.

The girls from the old gym
got new knees,
and we learned new skills.

Vaccinated and boosted
we meet now to weave baskets
and talk gardening.

New friends and I
have returned to the gym.
We’re all wiser now

that absence really does
make the heart grow fonder

but gathering
makes the heart lighter.

The Sound of Happiness

The sound bubbles up out of his chest
as he watches Sally, our Pyrenees,
run the perimeter of the place.

She’s on duty, only stopping to sniff,
until she makes it back to her starting place
at our feet. She drops, rolls onto her back,
and waits for a belly rub.

She likes his sound, that happy sound,
as much as I do.

Home cooked food and a dog
who takes her job seriously.
The former makes him smile,
the latter bubbles up out of him
until we all feel the joy.

My Patient Cat: A Fantasy

My patient cat waits for me
to finish reading. She knows
I’ll feed her.

She gets up from my keyboard
when I need to work. Waits
for my lap until I’ve finished
eating, writing, chopping vegetables.
Obeys when I tell her to stay off the counter.

If her bowl is empty at night, she waits
until I wake up in the morning
She would never wake me by licking my forehead
until she has my attention.

If she needs a drink from the filter tap,
she stands by until the sink is empty
before she jumps in.

What a well-behaved cat Sissy is.
Oh hell, who am I kidding?

Cold Lonesome

House, alone on a snow-swept plain.
No foundation. You know the wind chills the floor.
No neighbors. I hope there are books,
authors, and characters with whom to converse,
and Ideas to mull.
No garden. Could a vegan live here?

Surely, there’s a dog.
I bet the night skies are gorgeous,
the views spectacular,
and there’s a fire in the stove that, like a lover,
wraps you in warmth.

Untitled Gigan

Who am I when I’m at home alone?
Quieter, perhaps, unless I sing,

find rhythms on my drums, take a break at my piano.
I don’t talk as much. The dogs don’t respond.
I write things down instead.

I’ll read my poems and essays to you, when you’re home,
because you’re thoughtful, honest without being harsh.

You tell it like it is. Excuse the cliche,
but it works here. Describes your no nonsense way

but not why I’m someone different when you’re here.
Who am I when I’m at home with you?

I read my poems and essays to you,
the work I make when I’m alone, work
that’s born in silence. When you’re here

you fill the silent spaces where I can think things through
and I have to say the thoughts out loud to shape them.

Seventh Hour Slump

A photo of Dale’s pond.
He always wanted one.
I talked him in to getting it dug.
Then the drought set in.

This year, finally, it rained.
Twenty inches in one month.
I photographed the full pond,
sent the photo to my son,
told him we’d stock it with fingerlings
next spring.

There’s no poem here.

What about love,
a couple sitting together
in a lovely place?
This photo would never be us.
I can’t sit still long enough,
but we are comfortable together.

We bicker. We laugh more.
I like to read.
You watch television.
We agree on politics
but not on the best way to travel.
I like hikes, museums, local fare.
You like driving and driving and driving,
stopping only for coffee, to pee,
to photograph.

You’re an artist.
I’m a writer.

Two prompts.
Nothing to write about,
but somehow, I have written another poem
about you.

Dropped Off

She doesn’t get a birthday party.
No one’s sure of the year, much less the day.
What she gets are regular meals,
treats, heart worm meds,
belly rubs, and an occasional bath.

A year and a half in, she’s still nervous
at dinner time, sits at my feet as I measure kibble,
break an egg, spoon out canned meat.

Nike’s been here long enough not to worry.
She’s never missed a meal. Big sister knows
there are two bowls of food, enough
for them both. Maybe someday,
Sally will quit worrying, too.

She seems to know we won’t hurt her,
even when we drag her to the vet.
She doesn’t like shots, but they’re over fast,
not like the pain of a bullet wound, two of them,
courtesy her former owner,

wounds that have healed on the outside,
but still cause her to limp.
Sally’s past stays with her, but her present
is pleasant. She can go out and come back in,
even when she’s been in the creek.

She has her own bed. She belongs.
We love her.
She loves us back.

A Place of One’s Own

Anne walks on the warm pavement,
wishing for cooler weather,
glad to be out of the weeds by the tracks
where she hangs out in an old shed by day.

She steps up on the sidewalk,
checks to see if the bank’s front entry
is empty. Yes. She sighs, relieved.
This is her space, in front of wide oak doors,

if she gets here first.
She likes this part of town,
clean, patrolled, as safe
as she can expect. Sometimes

a boy she went to school with
fifteen years ago is the night guard.
He’s not ashamed to say hello
and offer her a sandwich and a bottle of water.

There’s a 24-hour station nearby
if she needs to use the restroom
or escape unwanted advances. She slides
the strap from her shoulder,

opens the satchel, and spreads a towel
on the fairly clean concrete.
She takes out a hardback copy
of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

and settles in for the evening.
She doesn’t sleep. She doesn’t dare,
but the book keeps her company,
and she always knows where her towel is.

Her knife, too. If she needs it.

Lloyd Edge, in France

It’s an endless cycle,
an attempt at peace,
the next war.

This one
is supposed to stop the cycle.
I only want to survive it,
get back to Oklahoma.

My buddy and I hide in the hay,
listen to the French farmer talking to the German soldiers.
I wish I could understand.
Is he saying no one’s here.
He wouldn’t be lying. I’m a no one,
an eighteen-year-old orphan
who knows horses and hard work.

We stay hidden until the farmer comes,
says it’s safe to leave.
His wife feeds us before we go,
shares their scanty stores.

We live another day.
And the war goes on.

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