We Need . . .

We need weekly to take the bread and wine, commune with nature, and seek blessings divine.
We need people who care, old folks and children, and those men and women willing to dare.
We need snow flakes in winter, buds in the spring, falling leaves come autumn, birds on the wing.
We need reading stories before bed, carols sung in frosty air, and parents ever after happily wed.
We need seniors who skip, children wise beyond their years, and wage counsel and good fellowship.

The Piano Man


Playing a jazz solo at the grand piano behind the ferns,
He sang a sorrowful melody of his worldly concerns.
As a lantern lights the beech, or a shoe shiner cleans boots,
This player could never be in cahoots with the men in suits.
His tune took away care as laughter lightened the air,
Filling the jars with dollars and making thoughts clear.

(This is a poem that is suppose to use five of eight listed words. I included all of them—in boldface—in this short verse)

Dear John,

Ever self-important, you’ll certainly recognize yourself if called upon,
You’re now officially put on notice, so perhaps the light begins to dawn.
Conspicuously conceited, stuck up, so very vain, and also ever laden
With Freudian attention-seeking tendencies–you’re always misbehaving.
I heard you berate a much put-upon teller at the bank the other day,
In tones devoid of care or even a molecule or smidgeon of fair play.
Superciliously asking in superior tones, “Do you know who I am?”
As if at that exact moment, she tearfully really couldn’t care,
Wondering if she was your usual, tension-relieving, sacrificial lamb.
She looked down and didn’t answer you; she didn’t even dare.

You undertip servers, talk down to others, and always cut in line,
Eschew any small talk, and in high dudgeon, rudeness define.
“Now, Madame,” injured, he now responds in a pique of spite.
“How can you say so? It’s just not right! This smear will not work.
I’ve never cheated on my taxes, nor womanhood besmirched.
I support politically correct causes, tithe ten percent at the church,
Watch my weight, eat a vegetarian lunch, and regularly run laps,
So take care to mind your business, or do you own manners lapse.”

Solitude’s Two Faces


Nurturing, affirming, comforting—solitude
Quiets fears and calms the troubled spirit.
Distracting thoughts need not intrude.
Being left alone, one need not fear it:

Disquieting, ever-encroaching—solitude
Destroys the mind and weakens the spirit.
Obsessive-fearful thoughts it now broods.
Friendship is one way to steer clear it:

Are you lonely, with troubles laden?
Compulsively jaded, needless fretting,
Depressed youth, elder, or maiden,
Who could use personality resetting,
Feeling always too much put upon?
Take this friendly tip and join a group,
With some others occasionally troop.
Burdens solved are burned shared
If one connects with those who care.

Death Stares Me in the Face

Dad struggles: his chest rising and falling, inhaling and exhaling,
Fighting since 4 p.m. yesterday, almost rhythmically flailing,
18 hours off the respirator, he has fought, struggled, and heaved.
They said he would quickly pass painlessly; they can’t be believed.
Pain unrelieved by a morphine drip, Mother’s eyes speak to me.
They said that hospice patients toward the end feel little pain,
That even with heroic measures, she will have nothing to gain.
They can’t be believed, or else fear’s stench they misconceive.
Looking death in the face, everyone blinks, yet wants to believe.

An English Instructor’s Confession

Doubt the amount of debt to past poetic lives I owe, doubt a preening, narcistic ego,
Doubt that I may be a self-conscious liar, exaggerating stories that never did transpire,
Doubt that I may long for fame, craving the recognition a great novelist or poet gains.
Doubt that I have the intellectual skills, the depth of passion, or the imagery that thrills.
But never doubt whatever transpires, I can teach rhet.-comp. students all skills required.
Never doubt the hours spent marking pronoun disagreement and student discontent,
For I will not exaggerate, nightly I’m always home grading stacks of papers by 7:30 or 8.

Ode to Breakfast

It’s almost dawn with bills paid, assignments answered, and six poems just accrued.
So I’m feeling rather peckish for some tasty, yet admittedly caloric, sustaining food.
Just right now, I’m feeling famished, longing for a kolache or perhaps a little Danish.
Waffles, some scrambled eggs, a bit of ham; oh, that I might top a croissant with jam!
But rummaging through the refrigerator, a healthy meal I might justifiably forsake
Since I now see a leftover pepperoni pizza, a bag of taco chips, and chocolate cake.
I’m a gourmand I must confess, for I’ve been known to gorge myself on less than best.
But should I load my plate with what I please if I can into my pair of jeans barely squeeze?

My Mother’s Clothes: An Elegy

My mother’s clothes sit in her closet five years after her death
Except for an occasional borrowing to fulfill a timely, special need.
I yet cannot bear to give away that special presence she has left,
Although a fur coat hangs tucked away (looking slightly bereft).
So each evening, I frugally put on night gowns that she once wore,
Wrapping myself in soft, cotton comfort, now extensively darned.
Never mind that I look like an older Orphan Annie slightly forlorn.
No need to spend on robes and dainty nighties no one else ever sees:
I wear Mom’s old socks on winter nights and into her shoes squeeze.
Of course, it’s more than selfish to keep what the needy can use.
But for now, l have tangible reminders of her from which to choose.

A Revised Doxology

Praise now for Heaven’s almighty, ever-present, omnipotent, three-in-one host—
For Christ’s sacrificial cleansing power from sin, the Holy Spirit’s steadfast support,
And the everlasting “I am’s” (dare one attempt to repeat the name aloud) boast—
Known each Sunday, or Shabbat, singularly or as a cast of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
For Elohim (that’s plural, by the way) acts singularly for what’s best for human kind.
Not what each petitioner prays for, but always keeping his or her greater good in mind.
So from God may all blessings flow, eventually from above, but now on Earth below.

Scheduling Thoughts

Hectic semi-retirement–striding still to win the race;
Cramming schedules and projects into every busy day,
No chance to sit, rock, or dream, whiling time away.
Not teaching during the summer, I set a steady pace.
I’ve 12 poems to write, bills to pay, course work to finish,
As of yet, “dumb things I have to do” have yet to diminish.
The grass needs cutting; the flower beds drastic weeding;
Have I schedule a monthly hair cut? My tea’s now brewing.
My i-phone timer is set, five minutes to contemplate
A poem about random thoughts that just won’t wait.

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