Gaps and false starts,
They tell you it is never too late
but time lays waste to the body
and heaven burdens
the spirit of man
with a choice.
But men have their own minds,
follow their own hearts.
Sometimes good comes out of it,
but mostly nothing remains
save the charred and smoking corpses
of love, hope, and plans.
With shades of orange and pink, the rising sun smoothed the jagged edges of the snowcapped moutains, rendering them deceitfully gentle for a time.
Topping his final rise, the bedraggled soldier Olnan saw the shrine in front of him, not too far away now. Taking time to rest, breathing deep of the fresh, chilled air, he took a moment to admire its beauty.
As he admired it, a memory came unbidden, but not unwelcome.
His father was holding his hand. He seemed happy enough, but his breathing was labored at this high altitude.
“Are you well, father?”
He smiled at the note of adult concern in his son’s voice. “Yes, Olnan. I’m fine. We’re here now. All is well.”
“Do you want me to go in with you?” He was curious to see the inside of an actual shrine.
“Of course I do. It’s time for you to learn the rituals I perform that honor the ancestors.”
“Like …. ” Olnan took a moment to figure it out. “… your grandfather?”
His father laughed with pride. “Yes, Olnan! Well done! Yes, like my grandfather, but also those who came before him. We owe them a great debt we can’t repay. They went through many things to settle us here, and faced hard times.”
Olnan beamed at the praise.
His father lapsed into silence, but didn’t move. Olnan knew when that happened that he was supposed to wait; Father was remembering something unpleasant. When he spoke again, his voice was husky with emotion.
“But they didn’t give up.” He looked down at Olnan. “Let’s go, son.”
Still holding Olnan’s hand, they entered the shrine.
Olnan felt warmed by the memory, and sadness at the empty space beside him now hit him unexpectedly hard. He took another moment to gather himself.
And now, my father has become an ancestor, and I’m not yet a father myself.
He took the offering pack that held the ritual’s needs off his back and held it instead.
It seemed even now that he could see his father there at the door, motioning for him to come inside.
Taking a deep breath, he walked toward the shrine, smiling through his tears.
One day, my children…
“What do you see in me?”
You really care.
“Not just my eyes and my figure and hair?”
All of those things are as fleeting as snow.
“So what do you see in me?”
I think you know.
I see the way that you watch
when you think
I am not looking and having a drink.
I see the way that you smile at my faults,
but not at my failings; my wounds get no salt.
I see the way you receive me at night.
Even in anger, you make it alright.
I see the way that you smile at the sun,
holding my hand as we laugh, walk, and run.
I see the way that you cry in the rain,
holding me tight as you’re sharing your pain.
I see the life in you thriving inside,
happy to have him along for the ride.
I see the way that
your heart beats for me.
What do I see in you?
All there could be.
The timelessness of mutual expressions
meet on a city street.
Music inspired the dance inspired the music…
turning in a soulful waltz,
into the soul
and make children called
She dances across the notes,
He floats when she leaps,
and the electric connection
has its way with them both,
until it is sated,
and they part,
as the reverb of melody,
of improvised, wind -borne brass,
and the whispering tap-click- scrape
of slippered steps
fade in echoes,
across the waking avenues
they both call
These long, slow, lovely sunsets
are bittersweet to see.
They mark the passing of time,
the ending of things once held dear,
the deceptively rapid maturing
as the present day
is stamped by the last rays
into the book of the past.
I watch, and grieve, and rejoice,
and wonder how many more
But I will also
I’ve been blessed to see,
knowing that at least
the long, slow, lovely sunsets
will never outshine
the love we leave behind,
when our own light,
in another place,
to rise anew,
and start again.
gather, build up, swell, and rise
to spill from the mind,
flow through the fingers,
and spill out of pens, pencils, and keyboards
caught up in currents
free falling in a
joyous cascade of
wild and swift as
horses thundering past.
smooth and silent
as owl wings
the cold midnight air,
just the right one,
plump with meaning,
keen bright eyes
channeled like water,
fleeting as an eddy,
powerful as tides,
flowing, rushed, and moving
rippling, dappled, and calm
for seeds of fading hope,
and fragile sprouts of love,
in random rows
of longing need,
are poured down
from the poet’s well,
and for a moment
thirst no more,
a little stronger.
The heart of the city
is made of steel.
Its soul is made of stone.
It gives no mercy, and has no pity.
It eats the unprotected innocent and spits out
runaways, junkies, whores, and thieves.
It gleams like a glass eye, but like a glass eye,
doesn’t see the harm it causes.
Some write upon its heart to make their presence known,
their absence felt.
The city makes it a crime, and begins its slow erosion
of the anguish of your screaming soul.
It will not remember your name.
It will not care.
It may pay you in cash,
or redeem you in blood.
The choice is yours,
but not really.
*Photo by Loes ten Den at Unsplash