Dear Dad,

Do you remember when I was five or six
And you’d come home from such long trips
And I’d follow you up to watch you unpack
So glad to have my Daddy back
(Always hoping for some souvenir of some sort
Even if it was just snacks from the airport)
And you’d tell me all about where you’d been
And folks from the plane you’d likely not see again
(Of course, I could tell they all liked you
Since you are so honest and friendly and true)?

Do you remember when I’d come steal your lap
And not just when I needed a nap;
College football games on the television?
If you were watching, there was no decision –
I’d sit down, watch, listen and learn
No matter what age or worldly concern,
It was with you whom I wanted to spend
What time we found, every night and weekend
You’re still the greatest man I know
So, on your birthday, I have to show

The world and you, Dad – James Monroe –
That no matter where I or you may go,
No matter how high or how terribly low,
For you, I’d make chocolate-chip cookie dough,
Bake dozens for you, every week-or-so;
Read the works of David Thoreau;
Learn to capture life like you do in photos;
Bless the world with as much love as you bestow….
And more, Dad. Because everything I hold dear
Exists since you’ve countered, in so many ways, what I fear.

You give me and so many such hope
Such that, even through struggles with the breadth of this scope,
I know you’ll be there.
I can put off despair.
For me, it’s the small things that matter more than all other.
I learned that from you, Dad, and from your love of my mother,
From your love of us all:
That no matter how great the feeling, or small,
I can live. I can love. I can be.
Thank you for all that you’ve loved in me.

Your daughter,
Meri

A Carving of A Chinese Fisherman

Once upon a time, I smiled so broad, so regularly
My eyes big and bright and blue; I was only three
A tow-haired child who taught herself to read,
Who remembered everything; and now, with eyes of blue-grey-green
At forty-five, I’m honey-blonde; I hide and rarely beam
Lips curled more often distantly, in nostalgia and memory –

Old fisherman, carved so long ago, is it the fish that keep you smiling?

Today, the house I love is quiet, still and cold
No grandmother in the kitchen, as in days-of-old
No grandfather smoking cigarettes – so bad, we’d all been told
No ump-teen children visiting neighbors, all so bold;
To this land of salty air, I return, to heal from months of mold
To the land of my birth with skies of blue, beauties dreamt of, long-extolled
In northland years, while (unbeknownst) my heart, my mind were controlled
And I stayed away, a make-believe-love having sold me a bill of gold

Old fisherman, carved so long ago, is it the fish that keep you smiling?

Quiet. All is quiet, now; and still – except deep in my heart
Where songs still reach and rivet me; whence springs any of my art
Except flowing through my mind, where memories burst and smart
And yet, it is here, where I was born, I’ve hope of a fresh start
Here, where perhaps I may live, despite having to live apart
Dare I take it piece-by-piece? Choose love a la carte?

Old fisherman, carved so long ago, is it the fish that keep you smiling?

Recipe for Heartbreak (Perfected Through Time)

The days of youth run rampant and warm
Through the life of a woman like me –
Full of blue skies and dingy-grey seas
Warm sands stolen by waves from my feet

Give me a night of surprise, of pleasant wonder
Give me days full of anxiety
And remind me, always, to never give up
That, one day, Mr. Right will come to find me

Give me man after man, broken and worn
By scarred and broken women
Let me give them love and understanding
Compassion, truth — and then….

Kiss me until my mind goes numb
Caress me until I find the peace I need
Hold me close; make me feel safe
Give me an uncommon sense of security

Let me fall in wonder at how well we bond
Let me almost fall in love
Let me share with you my darkest fears
Let me close — and be sure to shove

Me quickly away, just as soon as you feel
A single pulse of your heart beating strong
Just as soon as you feel some fear
You might win me, please be sure I’m well and gone

Because: Gods help us if you might stay
Hell and angels will damn us forever
Should we enjoy more than a single day
Should we dare to stay together

And be sure to remind me that you’re looking for love
Since I’m sure not to know what that means
Since a long-term relationship could never begin
With such a plethora of near-perfect things

Be sure to set aside all of our common interests
Be sure to deny our attraction
And, above all, deny sex and lust
Since it’s sure to be the worst kind of distraction

Go far, far, far away
Make sure that we’re not friends, even
Because, F.F.S., how could love ever come
From a friendship one might believe in?

Giving

~ From afar,
The world watches

As you smile
As your energy provokes

One
After
Another
Gift,

One
After
Another
Friend

~ Is it you
Who carries The Message
or
The Message
That carries you?

~ Friends twining together
From across a city
From across a state
From across a nation

As you become
The Voice of Reason
of Friendship
of Love
of Food Lovers
of Workers Who Love Food

~ And I watch,
And every time I listen,
I wonder:

How
Did you
Get through
The Grief

To love
To bind
To give?

~ Is he in every one of us
Whom you’ve helped,
Whose lives you’ve saved
After he could not be?

~ I will tell you this:

You’ve saved my life
So many times
With just your ability

To smile
To live
To love
Again

And, somehow,
You
Still
Give

~ I cannot help but wonder
At your capacity

When The Truth
Of Love
Can be Tasted
In the result of a well-crafted dish

When I think of
How many dishes
You have salted
With the love
You have
Given

Despite
Grief

 

**An homage to Jen Heidenger of Giving Kitchen

Doubts Borne of the Men I’ve Loved Before

You know you’re beautiful, like no one else,
I’ve seen the way you hold yourself:
That shameless poise as you just pass through
Holding my heart like I belonged to you

What is it you do not see
To make you find it easy to discard me?
What is it you love so much more
That you’d walk out and shut the door?

You know you’re so talented, so self-made,
I’ve seen the wealth and the accolades:
Dropped a trifle in my palm,
Wrote me off without a qualm

What is it makes you not care
Despite all we promised to share?
What is it you want so much less
That you’d shatter my heart and leave it a mess?

You know you’re so very skilled at love,
I remember the things we’d both dream of:
That passionate demand in my ear
Making me wish I could hold you near

What is it makes you disappear,
Pretend we were not and just wander clear?
What is it you get with her
To pretend that you and I never were?

You know your life is so very nice,
Family so lovely as to entice,
Home so calm my own dreams I might sell
If I didn’t know your wishes so well

What is it makes you shield your heart
When we’ve finally managed a belated start?
What is it makes you act this way
Where I’m so damned sure you’ll go away?

You know you’re just so very smart
I gave you my whole life to take apart,
I’d have been with you a million years
But you left me spilling a heart full of tears

What is it you loathed so much
That you tore me apart, gave so rare a touch?
What is it makes you blind to see
That it was your problem more than it was me?

Whispers

Tuck your nose behind my ear
Speak so softly I cannot hear
Lips pressed gently to my skin
Murmur nothing again, again

Slip your fingers up my throat
Utter hushed words so remote
Speak into my eager mind
Words my heart may only find

Whisper luscious words so sweet
About how much you’ve wished to meet
Soft skin brushed across my lips
Plaintive words with fingertips

Speak as though your eyes were blind
Your wish for love, deep to my mind
Trailing touches ‘cross my heart
Murmured words in silent art

Love In Rainbows

Love me in rainbows,
Not just red, blue or green,
Love me with whispers of the Agean Sea

Love me in rainbows,
Not with some smattering,
Love me with fervor of mosquitos’ biting

Love me in rainbows
More than red, blue and white,
Love me and hold me with all of your might

Love me in rainbows,
Love with all of your sight,
Love me with such heat we lift up in flight

Love me in rainbows
Whose ends pile with gold
Love me with such love our love can’t be sold

Love me in rainbows
With colors so bold
Your love and my love can never grow old

Love me in rainbows
‘Til we reach the sun
Love me and love me ’til we become one

Love me in rainbows,
Silken touches you’ve spun
And I’ll love you forever, ’cause I won’t be outdone

Bending Time

What’s left when a kiss is o’er and through,
When limbs once-woven are unfurled?
I can still see the kinks left from me-and-you,
Can still feel the gravity of our world –

And yet, you dare take a simple love,
Compare it to an ill-fated time,
Withdraw from this curious treasure-trove,
Would treat you-and-me like a mere past-time?

Words fail.
Emotions fail.
Love fails.
Time fails.

There is the World,
And then, there is the world:

Control versus freedom
Love… and some unreasoned rhyme.

The sense that makes sense does not make sense to you,
Though I follow your rationale, the logic’s askew —

And I’ll suffer while you do what you do,
And I’ll love even while your love you will eschew,
And I’ll love, remain in love when you bid ‘adieu’…
And I’ll help you to find yourself a wife, anew….

While I hold the days close
When you held me so close

When words won
And hearts won
And love won
And time won

And I won time with one
Whom I always loved.

The Way of Intimacy

Lost in the heart of one-too-few
Or one-too-many, who never knew
The rhythms of a soulful heart,
The need of love that could barely start

Lost in the minds of more-than-one
Who called to mind when love was done,
Who feared love’s loss more than its life
I need love more than to be a wife

Why do I hide when this is not my fear?
Why slink away for another year?
Why withdraw my love because you do?
I am not one to love so few

Fear openness, fear honesty?
How can you consider this to be
The way to true intimacy?
The way to love’s simplicity?

A Sonnet of Me

You asked for me to write a song of me
And, humble, I could never think to be
So bold, so arrogant – if even true;
But this is me, and of me, just for you:

I am a soulful one, depths fathomless
To most, currents lost in my soul’s progress;
And, losing most in wand’ring through my life,
I find myself alone, sometimes in strife.

And so, seeking to find a better way,
Farther from culture’s rules, I oft do stray.
I gain more satisfaction, still, than peers;
Tend to stir, unwittingly, human fears

And find myself at odds with consuetude,
Exam’ning life’s and love’s true magnitude –
My mind and heart swelling with all I’ve found:
That love and life and beauty yet abound

When willing parties but dismiss affray,
When expectations we dispel today,
When we let live and grow our hearts’ true bliss,
When we dispense the fear of two souls’ kiss.

You asked for me to write a song of me;
And song I write, a soulful wish to free
My heart, my mind from cloistered walls of time,
Released into romantic seas, sublime!

I love with all my heart and mind, it’s true;
A paradox of love: Many, and you –
Always my heart and soul munificent,
Though I find yet a mind’s predicament:

For, how is one to prove a love is true
When love is shared by many, not by two?
When love is bound by only truth and trust?
When love is love, and lust is merely lust?

A poet’s words can fail when love is lost;
A lover’s words can fail, if you accost
Her alimony, disrespect her way;
So, put aside all fear, let love allay

An uninhib’ted life; let love be free:
I’ve found this truth to be most sensibly
The depth at which I founded my own life;
The base of me: With love, my soul is rife.