Friday, December 12, 2014

Wait


Seniors are sharing their own poetry in class today.  Since they had to write one, they challenged me to have a poem for today.  Here is mine.

Watch the clock go bye
I can’t wait till the day
But tomorrow always stays
And the clock eats up every opportunity
Laughing as the hands
Shove seconds after seconds of your life
Into its face
But still you sit
Watching the clock go bye
Saying
I can’t wait till the day
As if there are special minutes that make the difference
But the clock knows that time
Taste the same
Until it sours into regret
Poisoning the present
And the future
But the clock doesn’t mine
It will continue to eat away
Everyday
No matter what you might do

So watch the clock go bye
The hands move
From days
To hours
To minutes
To seconds
As you wait for the day
Wait for the day
Wait
Wait
Wait
Wait



Wait

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Demons (Lord of the Flies)

I've got the sun in my eyes…
My stomach filled
I can laugh with the best of them
Some would call this paradise

But it's my mind..
that runs with trouble
My ears are filled with demons
They gnash and scratch my eardrums
  darkening my thoughts
  blurring my sight

I hear them whispering
 like flies around a pigs head
 tearing down everything I worked so hard for
 I smell smoke in the air

I drag myself through the hours of the day
 the rhythm of life has an easy beat to follow
 even with the constant buzz of doubt
   swarming my head

That only clears when I have reached the top of the mountain
to see the truth
  to see the dark blue ocean
  and the flashes of people
   living to the beat of this life
I can think
I can feel
I understand the battle

The demons have nothing to say from this vantage point

But the silence is so hard to hold on to
as I walk the pig run
 down and down and down
 into the echo of their song

And the demons again invade my mind.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Present

They say this life is a present…
But I can't find it.
I'm scrounging under the tree like a four-year-old.
Trying to find which box is mine.
Where is my name?
None of the tags reveal the present to be mine.
I see all the colored boxes.
I even shake a few.
So many beautiful bows
 and colorful paper.
I would be happy even with a small box.
For some reason, Santa has forgot about me this year.
My stocking is empty.
There's not even coal.

The fireplace sits cold and dark.
the cookies are gone from the plate.
I know that Santa has forgotten me this year. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Standing on the Horizon


I’m standing on the horizon

Minutes from the dawn

Blackness covers me

Back to front

Stars still shine against the night

Of my soul

But you can’t find your footing

From a

Twinkle, Twinkle, little star

So I stand here

On that line

That division between earth and heaven

Bracing myself

For the slow fade

From night to day

Black to rose to blue

For the blindness I will encounter

Looking into the sun

But I have set my feet on the horizon

Because I have stumbled to long

In the darkness

Cracked my shin

Broken toes

It is time to find my direction

With the sun

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

There are days

There are days
  that simply fall into night
   eyes closed
    tired from doing nothing

Weeks pass into years
  that create in us memory loss
   until we wonder
    where did the time go

Sons and daughters
  that become Women and Men
  never coming back
   to ring the bell of the door
    they left


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The City Stretchs


The city stretches
 Under a grey morning

Streetlights shimmer in the cool mist
Hinting toward a violent winter

Hushed voices mingle between
Sips of coffee and final morning yawns

Intensity rumbles like traffic
As a day's work begins

The city stretches
 Under a grey morning

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another Morning

It is 6:38 in the morning
The middle of the week
We use the elevator for two floors
 because our young daughters like to push the buttons
The morning room is filling up with kids
Parents pass each other with simple nods of the head
  Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it is off to work we go
We give hugs and kisses
Set our five-year-old by the window
 we will wave goodbye to her in the parking lot
A normal weekday routine
   we head out the door

She stood there grabbing his hand
  pulling him up and back to the morning room
He has to tip-toe to keep up
   he has a mischievous grin on his face
She mumbles something about staying in the room
Her coat is a doll red from the weather of years
  Her frown reveals the weight of those storms

We have crossed paths during these mornings
She never smiles
  but today she glares at me as we pass
  I feel her snap judgment as I recognize my own

I turn for a second
 with a thousand darts ready to fire
Sarcastic apologies run through my head
 Sorry, we, my wife and I, do this together
 Sorry, my daughters smile at 6:30 in the morning
 Sorry, but we also have rough mornings
I turn away
 trying to buffer her gaze with my thoughts
 to shield my day from her judgment

The rest of the kids race to the mini van
I kiss my wife goodbye
We both wave to our daughter in the second story window
  and I walk toward my car
And there she is
 walking from the doors
 a hard set pace
 child free
 but with the same deep wrinkled frown
Our eyes meet again
  there is no nod

And as I reach for a dart
  I am suddenly filled with regret
I have never seen her smile
Today she walks to a car
  but I know we have passed her in the morning
  as she and her child walk
    even in the rain

I am not sorry for my family
or for the work I’ve done to reach this place
I am sorry I forgot the struggle
 I am sorry for the untold tragedies
 for the lost joy of children
Sorry for the storms that seem to rage
  no matter the season
  and last so long
  there is no rainbow at the end
And I am sorry I jumped to a snap judgment

By chance our cars face each other
 I nod a good morning

She does not nod back



 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Another Round

   The bell sounds again
I lift myself off the wooden stool
   My legs
     concrete blocks shuffling to the center
          of the ring

Another round

I lift my hands
   tied into old gloves
   the stuffing beat down
      blood seeping from my knuckles
   darkening the worn leather

I am tired
  My opponent
           Pops his neck
           Shuffles his feet
He looks as fresh as a new day

I know I will have to dodge and weave
   and pray I land a lucky punch
I breathe deeply
Close my eyes for a second

 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Home


I come home just minutes before dinner
You are snug in mom’s left arm,
   safe
   secure
and eyes filled with wonder
It takes a second for my face to register
   behind your blue eyes
A smile signals you recognize me
Your eyes squint
   and your smile falls wide
With your right hand grasping mom’s necklace
You reach for me with your left
Your grasp is strong
    pulling my shirt to you
You bob your head down
    as if you are diving into the love we have for you
The timer goes off for the oven
Your head snaps up
I lift you up into the air
   asking if you are ready to eat
You giggle as I raspberry your tummy
Your brothers and sisters rush into the dinning room
It is time for the dinner

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Knot


            “Dad? Would you comb out my hair?” His daughter was drying her hair with a bath towel. She was dressed in simple blue pajamas, but her feet were covered in neon striped slipper socks.  At 10 years old, she was still comfortable being different.  He said a small prayer that she would be strong enough to stay that way in the years to come.
            “Sure,” he replied as he set down his Sports Illustrated. He went to the master bath to grab a comb and detangle spray. When he came back his daughter was sitting at the kitchen island.
            “I turned on the radio, is that OK?”
            “That’s fine,” he said.
            She sat back against the chair. He started to run the comb through her hair, fascinated at how the water would collect on the bridge of the comb.  The teeth of the comb making solid lines in her light brown hair.  They sat there quietly.  Not needing to fill the air with useless chatter.
            He moved the comb to capture the hair on right side of her head. He moved the comb above her ear, then down to her neck. The comb snag, bringing her head back quickly.
            “Sorry.”
            “No problem, Dad.”
            He gritted his teeth as the comb caught another knot.
            “Sorry.”
            She laughed a little, “No problem.”
He continued, falling into a rhythm of clean runs with an occasional knot that he would work through by placing his hand on her skull above the knot to minimize the pull on the roots of the hair. Just like his wife had taught him.
            After a few songs he thought he was done, but he didn’t quite want the moment to end, so he ran the comb through her hair a few more times. He moved the comb to catch a few stray hairs by her left ear. As he ran the comb down toward her neck he caught a small knot. His daughter’s head snapped back.
            “Sorry,” he said softly.
            She didn’t answer. He thought he heard a small sob.
            “Sorry, little one. Didn’t mean to hurt you.”
            She raised her hand to say OK.  He felt something change in the room.  He didn’t know what it was, or what to say.  He paused for a few seconds fighting the temptation to see if she was crying.  Instead he went back to combing her hair.  It was drying out and he knew he would have to stop soon or her hair would become frizzed from static electricity.
            He felt he should say something, “I’ll work on getting the knots better.”
            He defiantly her sob this time. “I miss her, dad.”
            He had to set his jaw quickly to fight the pain in his chest as the cracks in his heart opened. Images and sounds flashed in his mind. The red and blue lights. The blue civic bent at an incredible angle. The delivery truck sitting on the curb as if it was waiting for the drive thru of Burger King to move.  Every time his wife, her mother’s face tried to surface the pain in his heart would grey it out.
            “I miss her, too,” he said through his emotions.
            He placed his hand on her head to minimize the pain and started to workout the knot.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

One More

His hands shook.

The bottle sat next to the glass.  The glass was empty, for now.  His hand print was clear in the dust on the bottle neck.  He sat at the kitchen island, trying to be quiet.  His eyes were closed.  His right hand running through his hair above his ears.

Two months, 14 days.

His chest felt heavy. His breath long and labored.  It was a bad day.  The kind of day where you wake up in a bad mood.  The kids were hyper, loud, and wanting to hang all over him.  He had a fight with his wife about something she had bought.  It felt just like old times, except he was sober and the day had penetrated his head like a nail.  Even now it felt like a spike was running from the top of his head through his neck, causing his shoulders to be tense, and into his heart.  Which felt like it was dripping blood into his stomach making him queasy.  One sip.  The fire would melt the iron spike. Burn close the hole in his heart.  Warm his stomach until he felt the comforting blanket of alcohol wrap around his mood.  Just one, maybe two drinks and he would feel good.

Two months, 14 days. His hands shook, lifting the glass to gaze into its emptiness. He could see the carmel colored liquid flow from side to side. He licked his lips. He reached for the bottle.  It was a bad day.  Just one, maybe two drinks.  It was the first bad day in over a month.

A picture of his little girl, holding out her latest coloring attempt for him to see.  He blinked.  The reply of his son turning to him with a foul ball clutched in his hands, smiling from ear to ear. "I caught it!"

"I know, that is awesome."

"Wow, what a good day."

There had been some good days lately. In fact there had been some good weeks.

Two months, 14 days.  His hand shook as he reached for the bottle.

Today was a bad day. He felt lost. He didn't know how to handle this. How to remove the spike on his own.  He knew he should call his sponsor, but he had always done things himself. His lips thinned out as he confronted the truth of his thought. He had always done things with a drink.


It started his sophomore year. He knew now how much of his life was just another cliche. High school and college were the same story.  Not excatly a bad story, he was in the popular group.  Got A's and B's.  Played sports in high school and went to college on some academic scholarships.  Met his wife at college.  But everything seemed to simply be something you got through until Friday or Saturday night.  He smiled as he added Thursday nights to his memories for college. It was just what everyone did, it was just what everyone lived for.  He let his hand drop.

Two months, 15 days now, he thought as the clock switched to the a.m.

He stared at the bottle.  He had hid it in the garage as a reserve.  His children's faces flashed in his mind again.  His eyes swelled.  The last two weeks especially had shown him how children could break your heart with joy.  His little girl was always waiting for him to come through the door with something in her hands that she had made at daycare.  His son would ask him for help on his homework, or even to play a video game. And his wife seemed to be looking like her college self, again.

Today was a bad day.  Yesterday he reminded himself.  He held his head in his hands, letting them roll to the top of his head.  It felt like life was scotch taped together and he couldn't hold it back from falling into a million pieces. Just one, maybe two or three.  It would put the picture of life back to normal. No tape, no edges. A clear view of what life meant. A drink is all it would take to go back to what everybody did, how everybody lived.  Just getting through the week until Friday or Saturday night.

He grabbed the glass and the bottle. Two months, 15 days he thought to himself.






Thursday, January 30, 2014

#anonymous tweet


I’m watching another anonymous tweet go by

And I start to wonder…

I wonder what would happen
If our love for our fellow man
  was greater than the love we show for a beer can

Would our hallways not echo so loud
 with the footsteps of shame and regret?
Would the laughter we hear
 ring of joy instead

I wonder why they wear their weekends like badges of honor
  What will you do with those tomorrow?
  Hang them on your wall
   next to your family pictures

Years from now share them with your grandkids
  expressing how they built your family name
Or maybe let your 14-year-old daughter wear them
 to walk in your path
    passed out on a Friday night
      another victim whose story last only two minutes on the news
But whose scars will never truly heal

I wonder...

They wear their confessions like shades
  Oh so cool
Never revealing their eyes
Because when you have to see something more than a screen
You have to face who you express to be
  In the eyes of those around you

I wonder what happen to the definitions of
  Friendship
  Honor
  Pride

Because I believe this life is more than a digital tag
I believe in L
ove
  In living up to our greatness

#you can tweet that

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lost Among the Branches


            So this is how it feels, she thinks. Hands submerged in the cooling dishwater searching for silverware.  She had heard about this.  She knew of two marriages in the last three years that had ended in divorces.  The empty nest syndrome she guessed.  With the children gone there was nothing left to bind them.
            Their last child, Paul, was a junior in high school. A year and a half left before he moves out.  She turns the faucet on to rinse the spatulas and pots. She puts the frying pan in the dishwater.
            “That was a good meal, hun,” he says. She leans into him as he kisses her cheek.  He is headed to his chair.  It is Monday night so he will watch AMC or the History Channel.
            She couldn’t deny that life was good.  She was standing in the kitchen she wanted.  They had built this home eight years ago.  Nothing too grand, about 1500 square feet with an open concept for the living room, kitchen, and dinning area.  The basement was finished.  Every once and awhile the end of the month was tight, but nothing like their first couple of years of marriage.  Life was good.
            She started in on the frying pan, scrubbing at the stuck remains of chicken fried steak.  Comfortable was good, but was it love?  Her mind moved to different snap shots of their life.  The time they scrapped together change and had a dinner date off the dollar menu.  Their first kiss, right in the middle of celebrating a touchdown during the homecoming game in college.  She smiles. It was so quick, and he didn’t talk for the rest of the quarter until she grabbed his hand. 
            She holds up the frying pan to see if it was clean, nope a little grease still by the handle.  She frowns as she scrubs remembering the biggest fight they ever had.  Sarah was just over a year old.  He was working almost 70 hours a week.  She was lonely. The apartment complex was filled with college kids.  It was a pivotal moment: money or family.  They actually didn’t talk with each other for three days.
            She rinses the frying pan. Pulls the drain and hits the switch for the garbage disposal. She wonders why the light switch and garbage disposal are always together.  The grinding sound from the sink eases away. She hits the switch off.  She grabs the towel hanging on the oven handle.  She watches him as she dries her hands. A flood of emotion fills her chest.
            On the fourth day he had come home from work with a single flower. A daisy. He said that he would find a better job and that his only goal was to love her.  To provide her the best life possible.  And here we are, she thought.  Wondering at how you can have everything but feel hollow inside.
            “Dad, can you read over this essay for me?” Paul had his computer in his hands.
            “Yes, what is the topic?” he asked as he muted the TV.
            She smiled.  Paul looked up at her and smiled back.  She stood there watching father and son discuss the homework as she dried the dishes.  Fifteen minutes later Paul headed back to his room. 
            She tidied up the counters. Sitting on an idea.  One of those ideas that can easily be dismissed because life would simply go on if she didn’t do it.
            “Dear?” she walks to the living room.
            “Humm?” he replies looking up at her but then quickly back to the TV.  It was Monday night and he was watching the History Channel.  He did this almost every Monday night.
            She falters in her decision.  Life was good. It was predictable and secure. “Do you want to go get some ice cream?”
            He doesn’t respond.  It seems like he doesn’t hear her question. She starts to walk back to the kitchen, blinking to keep a tear from falling.
            He answers quickly as he stands up. “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to try that new blizzard they have advertised. Grab your coat, I’ll get the car warmed up.”

            He holds the door open for her at DQ. As she walks past he quickly kisses her. She smiles up at him.  He shakes his coat pocket; “I thought we would pay with coins for old times sake.” They both laugh.
            Hours later the manager had to ask them to leave because the crew wanted to go home.
           

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fatherhood


  It is 2 a.m.
Our feet hit the floor
We think we just can’t do this anymore
    we try to open our eyes
While a child’s cry
    disturbs the night

What can it be, now?
  Through the years
    we have awoken to
  Monsters under a bed
  Upset tummies and achy heads
  Late night feedings
            And just random eyes at the side of our bed

2 a.m. has seen us
  cleaning carpets
  shining flashlights
            While they watch with frighten eyes
  tiptoeing out of a room
    only to hear our child cry
     as we sigh to return
             to sway them back to sleep
   praying we make it past the threshold
            tiptoeing again

We, as fathers, set the home right
  checked locked doors
  Nightlights switched
  Closet lights off
And we see the clock move to morning
   so we debate
   If we should just brew the coffee
     to start our day

We know moms make the world a better place
  With hugs and kisses
But in the darkest hours
It is in our arms they feel the safest

This poem was inspired by Tim Berndt and I tweeting early this morning as we were dealing with sick kids.