23. Twenty Minute Mark

It all starts

in 20 minutes;

watching the clock

my breath, electric,

waiting for the spark,

the signal.

What will I write?

What will I discover

of myself,






or screaming like a banshee.

I’ll know soon enough,

the clock taps cadence;

I march in step

for 24 miles

the finish draws near;

only one third an hour

to spill the words out,

over the dam

into the flow,

the great river

of thought,




exhaustion tracks beside me,

sprinting ahead at times,

leaving me dusted,


alone with my pillow.

But I’m making a comeback;

Barely time remains,

Sprint for 20 minutes more.

–until next year.



Grocery Day.

And if I can find a quarter,

I can ride the merry-go-round

at the market

when Mommy goes to town.

‘Apollo’ and I

will fly round and round–

and never leave the ground…

So, early, to grandma’s, I run,

To sweep her porch,

Get chores done.

Under the arching elms,

Sun-dappled, dew-laden,

Dandelioned and buttercup-strewn,

Past twining roses,

the breeze splashing about

in the fragrant cloud,

confetti of pink petals

clings to my bare feet.

At the back door,

I can hear through the screen,

friendly chatter,

the milkman delivering

the usual two gallons,

boxed donuts,

cartons of eggs–

‘almost as fresh

as the biddie’s used to bring’–

And brief company

for a lonely old woman,

past raising her own chickens.

“Well, hello there, my friend”.

Though kindergarten stole me away,

my Wednesday-friend is still the same:

“What is behind your ear?”

Mr. Hooper, dark-rimmed glasses

that rest more on his cheeks,

than his nose;

wavy, white hair

curling out from the uniform cap,

reaches close,

retrieves a quarter hiding there,

just where he said,

where I was sure

I had scrubbed good.

He winks at Grandma;

waves goodbye, steps out

to his yellow delivery truck,

that waddles through the holes

in the gravel drive,


as it goes.



Grandma is gone.

So is Mr. Hooper.

I have long-since stopped

hoarding quarters

for the merry-go-round

at the grocery.

Every Wednesday now—

and all the other six days beside—

study and essay,

notation and grade-point.

Quarter point between me

and valedictorian–

and scholarship.

Campus, littered with filtered shadow,

trees sway in golden light,

fringed with fragrant roses;

Pedal-strewn, the sidewalks

call me onward,

Miles to go,

around the academic calendar,

circles unrelenting.

No time for puddle jumping.

One quarter until graduation.

If only a quarter of a grade point

hid behind my ear;

I reach my finger up,

and check,

just to be sure.


Wednesday, again.

Where did all the Wednesdays go?

My editor marks off

the approaching deadline.

Deadlines met, passed, forgotten;

Replaced by the endlessness of task.

The next quarter-installment.

On Thursdays,

and sometimes on Fridays,

when no new deadline exhales

its dragon breath

through the filtered light

of a long and happy marriage,

where I seek quarter, find respite,

I can smell roses,

mostly from memory.

The neighbor’s chickens,

scratch along in my yard,

gift eggs under the roses,

where I’m certain there were none before.

Grandchildren sweep my back step for pocket change.


There are no more milkmen.

Late on Wednesday,

I head to market, alone.

Park under a shady elm.

Over the clamor of folks

hurrying here and there,

I catch a hint of wild roses.

I still need my quarter,

to wrangle a cart,

from its locked corral.

I shop from a list of cans

and cannots,

meant to keep me well,

to extend my life.

With 90 in the rear view,

to what purpose?

Every Wednesday:

vegetables, fresh fruit, prunes, and salmon.

I forego the box of cereal twigs.

I get the regular coffee anyway.

And the muffins.

A carton of eggs–

nowhere near as fresh

as the biddies used to bring.

I head for the car.

There is a puddle;

Sadly, I am too tame,

have forgotten how–

My shoes would get soaked.

I let the coin-laden cart

run wild in the parking lot…

Relinquishing my last quarter.

Sej 2023

Ain’t No Perfect Folks in Church

There I am, each Sunday morning,

underwired and high-healed hurting,

and it doesn’t matter to God a bit, at all.

just don’t flop, just don’t fall,

Don’t be human.

Don’t be small.

Don’t notice the whispers

that don’t whisper at all

about how short I’ll always be.

Never big enough for their decree–

But theirs ain’t the approval

that matters to me.

and for goodness sake,

don’t eat eggs in the morning

‘cause when you kneel for forgiveness,

then without warning,

your ‘silent prayer’ echoes

up to the rafters

And if you can’t laugh now,

they’ll all laugh after.

But God has heard it all.

Seen it too.

When you step from the shower,

He’s there with you.

Standard issue.

Standard parts.

All the same, down to burps and farts.

Don’t be so shocked.

God formed them all.

Views every soul naked—

dirty or clean.

There isn’t a bit

He hasn’t seen.

We fall face down

before God’s glory

so don’t bother repeatin’

my tired old story

that’s worse than yours,

with all my old behavior–

Ain’t none of us perfect;

that’s why there’s a Savior!

21 Keep the Running

Running a marathon,

poems—not miles–

watch out for the potholes,

the detours,

and dogs—yes, dogs too;

vicious little yappers,

ankle nipping

confidence grabbers,

that tell you you’re not gonna make it through–

Listen, this is what you are gonna do:

Grab that pen, and high jump for the sky;

Paper stamped, and flying by,

and when the 24 have turned,

Wear your ‘I did it!’ button

that you’ve earned.

Just. Keep. Running.

15. This Thing I Do

A little line here,

Another line there,

A bit of nap,

A bunch of prayer,

All jumbled ‘round

the ticking clock-bomb,

          to conquer the Poetry Marathon.

18. Still There

Where do they go,

the lines born to parchment

then aborted?

whose fetal metaphors,

each stillborn line,

lost before its time,

unbirthed before

the writer signed

and claimed it for his own?

Under Constraint

It goes without saying

that on Sundays we dress,

paying attention

to what would be best

for focus on God—

not on what others wear;

not their hats,

nor their shoes,

or the style of their hair.

Clothed in the armor of God-

And the garments of praise

perhaps bowing in silence,

or shouting, hands raised.

Not a matter of clothing,

but the best we might bring,

as we gather to bow

before Savior and King.

Yet each saintly lady

who squirms in her pew,

when the speaker speaks long,

as they often do—

Isn’t thinking of kickoff—

as he winds up his speech—

or the roast in the oven

not sand at the beach,

not even how hot

it’s gonna be in the car—

she’s itchin’ for ditchin’ that





19. Erroneous Around

Sitting in the light, of night

Rested like a cat, at that

Penning like Ol’ Poe, you know

And never rhyming better.

Senses quickened, like a chicken

Revveling in the gab, like a hermit crab

Eyesight whole as mole

Because I’m not a quitter.

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