Poetry

Here is a sampling of some of my poetry published early on.

From Grandpa

Cigar smoke
wraps
rings around Grandpa’s words
“Pooh Bear listens
and he understands before you tell him.”
You see
Pooh Bear got his heart
from Grandpa
Pooh waited
silently
on the green sheets of the bed.
The room was sterile gray
stuffed with hospital air
the dull, monotonous beep
of the heart monitor
(Grandma told me what it was)
and the long constant breathing
of Grandpa
We watched for him to wake up;
Pooh wore his usual confident look
and I knew he was thinking the same thing I was
“Pooh, remember all those scary storms?”
Yes,
Pooh remembered nights
when I tucked him in close
while thunder clapped to a frightening beat
outside the bedroom window.
Just then the heart monitor
made a noise
then it resumed…
beep           beep                beep               beep
“Remember when I cried because a my brussel sprouts
but I still didn’t make the clean plate club?”
Pooh smiled his unchanging smile.
He remembered.
Amy doesn’t like Brussels sprouts.
“But Amy,”
Grandpa whispered suddenly,
“I always let you back in my club
if you ate everything the next day.”
(He remembered, too.)
Grandpa’s old eyes were closed
as he watched me smile
and he squeezed my hand
before I tucked Pooh
into antiseptic sheets next to him
and Grandma came
and let me out of the room.
“Pooh, watch him tonight.
Keep them safe.”
I prayed as I laid in bed
“Please, Pooh, keep him safe.”
Pooh was still guarding him
when I got there the next day.
The sun was shining;
Grandpa was awake,
and the smile marks on his face were deep with warmth.
“Amy, Damey, Pudnin’ Pie,
kissed the boys
and made them cry,”
he kidded.
I giggled.
“Pooh watched you, Grandpa, he said he would.”
Grandpa nodded but he looked sad.
“Pooh will always watch you, too, Amy.
I want you to take him home
and love him like I always have.”
He smiled a weak smile
and a tear ran down his cheek.
Pooh waited.
“Through everything you do, Amy,
I’ll be with you.”
Just then
the monotone voice of the heart monitor
let out one solid long cry.
Nurses ran in,
then Dr. Kennan.
I was shoved out,
Pooh ear wedged tightly
against my heart
we waited in the hallway
while he worked in his room
and I cried myself to sleep.
I woke up in mom’s arms.
She was crying.
I looked at Pooh.
He knew.
I dragged him into
Grandpa’s room.
The heart monitor stood silent
and Grandpa was gone.
I crawled onto the empty bed and buried my head in his pillow.
“Pooh?
Pooh, will ya listen for a while?
Grandpa said you’d listen.
Grandpa said you’d always be there.
Pooh, Grandpa said you know everything.
He’s gone, Pooh, Grandpa’s gone.
All I have left is you, Pooh.
Mom said he’d never leave but he’s gone.
Pooh?
Pooh, are ya listening?”
“Amy?”
“Pooh?”

“Amy, Grandpa’s not gone.”
“What?”

“Grandpa’s here.”
“Where, Pooh?”
“Here in your heart and…”
“And, here… in mine.”
You see,
Pooh Bear got his heart
from Grandpa
and I think I did, too.

 

Cold

Cold.
Tall, dark, withdrawn and cold.
How could a man, a remarkable man, be so cold?
A mystery, some called him,
with dark corners
and hidden thoughts
He would stand in the park like a wall,
straight stiff steady.
Once, while we were playing,
one of the boys picked up a stone and hurled it at the man.
But he didn’t even flinch.
He just sat there with the same blank stare.
Looking into a place we couldn’t see.
The kids went on chasing and tackling each other,
but I watched him from behind a big oak tree.
I watched the tear fall from his cold, cold eyes,
and run down his carved stone cheek.
As he cried I remember thinking
beneath that solid rock exterior was a heart.
A cold,
broken
heart.

Don’t Run

In the corner
Green eyes study
Pastel painted faces
And bobbed hair
She reaches for
Ripped handles
And torn canvas
Sorting through
Keys, pens, and pencils
She finds her mirror.
She glares at the chubbypale,
Frecklesplashed image,
And it stares back.
Teary eyes
Under smeared mascara
Glance back at the
barbie-doll-beauties,
Then she’s gone
Where does she run when she’s hurtin’?

He bends over
Crinkle-creased paper
With nervous torn edges…
Dear unconcerned,
Shadows lurk
In the dark corners
Of his unlit room,
His tears,
Smearing ink,
Run into pools,
He grabs a bottle.
Safety-seal split by
Nail-bitten fingers
Sominex poured into
Unsteady hands –
He looks back at the note…
Where does he run when he’s hurtin’?

Crying eyes
Don’t stop pain,
But listening ears ease
Cut-deep comments,
And friendly hugs heal
Friendless hearts.
You don’t have to run when you’re hurtin’.

Walk through
Troubles
Don’t
Hide…

I’ll help fight
Your battles
I won’t leave your side.
You
Can
Trust
Me…
You don’t have to run when you’re hurtin’.

Drunk

He walks with
jazz in his feet
tough leather jacket
scum mouth
empty heart
and a
brown bag of courage
Enough proof

With Younger Eyes

With younger eyes we dreamt
Of princes and princesses, kings and queens,
And falling in love…
…our beautiful smiles were always
Pageant perfect and wonderful,
Glittered and famous
With crowns of sparkling diamonds…
… a Voyager was a Viking with a horned hat
And a fuzzy beard and a ship with a dragon on the front,
And everyone knew Superman could fly
Around the world
A hundred times
Without stopping…

…there was Kool-Aid and Band-Aids and
Girls didn’t get alone with boys
Because kissy-mushy stuff was icky
And only mommies and daddies did it…

…”Crack” was something that broke Mom’s back
If we stepped on it, unless we crossed our fingers…

…so simple, so innocent, so perfect,
to see this world
Our world
With younger eyes.

Older Weekends

Friday,
3:10,
I leave
High School in my locker
dab Obsession behind each ear

We pass
hustlers on Rush,
lights scream
waking the night.
We wade through
pools of people
on flashing floors
sipping Chablis
breathless

Saturday,
afternoon,
we take
Oak Street’s autumn brilliance;
hand in hand through
Orangegold rain.
Vie de France croissants
and a carafe of white wine
stretch out on plaid wool
watching old blue turn warm with sunset
and diamonds begin their dance
through the black onyx night

Sunday,
Cordovan, crimson, and copper
splash by;
we play
tease tag
in sun-dried leaves
‘betcha can’t catch me

Already caught,
captivated,
crazy in love.

Heart-hugging closeness,
you whisper Phil Collin’s words
“The things you do to me-
You’re everything I ever
dreamed you would be.”

Monday,
7:55-late
Echoing footsteps rush me through
Fifteen/nine/thirty-one
Locker opens again…
“Young lady, do you have a pass?”

Old Love

Old love is
leafless, lifeless branches
and
cloudy gray shadows-
windlessly still
and quietly haunting –
fading as flowers
unshaded from
starless skies.

Lonesome, hidden, and cold,
old love decays behind rusted iron gates –
whimpers when remembered
weeps when revisited,

So uncomfortably
full of yesterdays
and
pained, cracked headstones
bearing obscure
names and dates
and
empty, wasted epitaphs

Rolling Meadows High School Class of 1987

A sunrise
melting into us
painting a new beginning
on the front of our special place
not just a building
but a foundation
from where we begin polishing the gold

Polished
like flutes and trumpets
that weave through October streets
purple and gold
like mustang pride
that weaves braided headbands
with music and memories and cheers

Prided
Like spirits sailing
In senior tees
taffeta, togas, and tuxes
from wild and crazy
to soft and sincere
with kings, queens, tears,
spider mums, and long stem roses

Popular
like Levi’s jean jackets
shared,
worn,
true-blue,
and faithful
like arm-in-arm friends with laughter filled pockets

Processed
Like term papers on the Apple2E
accounting through zoology
grounded
squared
rated
paired
averaged
dated
proofread and translated

Proud
like puzzle pieces lifting all the right places,
Falcons mesh their gold with ours
nourishing the school with mixtures of
talents
filling cases with trophies
and bleachers with pride

Progress
like climbing
a flattened wall of bleachers
sometimes seem so
stationary…
pushing
lifting
stronger
prouder
faster
with a new View

Performing
like casino pink dancing skin
under hot stage lights
polishing the pages of the ’87 Yearling,
or kick lines of halftime pom-poms
that accent purple, gold, and white victories

Powerful
like mustangs in full stride!
pulled to the top
with strengthened dreams

Primed
like never before
as black and purple fireworks
exploding
filling the sky
together
with the glistening splash

polishing the gold