Awake at Night

Did sleep find you later tonight
With me no longer in your bed?
Or was the space I left restful
With no arm beneath your head?

Did not seeing my face make it
Easier to turn off the light?
Or were my fingers through your hair
Putting you to sleep at night?

I close my eyes, but sleep won’t come
When I can’t hold your sleepful form.
The night brings me cold wakefulness
Without you to keep me warm.


A Woman Gave Me Poetry

A woman gave me poetry
Although she was not mine to love,
As if the stars aligned above
Too early in their courses.

And though she claimed she loved me not,
I tarried ’til I thought she would;
At last, she gave to me this good:
The chance to write our story.

Each day, as I take up the pen,
I hold her gently in my grasp
For fear the ink has dried at last,
And I must write our ending.

And now I worry if she leaves,
She’ll take the pen away from me;
And with her as my enemy,
I’d never write again.

With You

Where was I before the summer came–
Before the arch-muse was reborn,
Phoenix-like from the low-burnt embers?

Where, wandering, would life have led?
The question may remain unanswered,
For I need no response when I am with you.

Your presence is rebuttal enough
To satisfy any doubt or disbelief
The world might throw in my path.

With you there is comfort in pain,
And there is joy, eternally springing;
I can be all things with you.

I want to dance and weep with you–
To laugh and love this lively life–
To sit in quiet and rest in your touch.


Even Me

I have it all and it’s not enough;
It never has been, nor will be,
But I keep expecting the goal line
To shift backward in my favor.

So then I fill my life to the brim
With life and noise–the excitement
Of friends and lovers, gods and idols–
Anything to add more meaning.

But when the gods turn their attention,
And idols resume their eternal silence,
There is only the merciless void:
My self-made, self-containing pit.

It’s a boredom and then it’s a race
Of the mind against its better demons;
But the winner doesn’t matter to me,
For the grand prize is only a deferment.

And although we all may try to hide,
You will always see it in their eyes;
Anyone can feel empty inside–
Even me.

Were I Edward VIII

Why do I ask the questions to which
Even I refuse to seek the answers?
Why frighten myself with impossible
Dilemmas and inopportunities?

So I distract myself with banality–
Mindless images and stories of others
Through whose vicarious imaginings
I will escape into muddled narcosis.

There, safe from the consequential,
I cocoon my heart with easy issues:
Inherently solvable, inviolably painless;
The irenic deaths are easier to live with.

What Holds the Year, Pt. II

What does the year hold for you?
Ends and beginnings coming together,
Announced and otherwise, I expect:
Newness and sameness, as it is with you.

I do not know what it holds for me,
But saying goodbye is a funny way to start;
I am returning to the place I now live,
But leaving the place I want to call home.

My muse will stay here, living and doing,
While I take a hiatus from life for a while.
The year will pass in a set amount of time,
But when time stops, does the heart stop, too?

Savior of the World

The final note hangs–
For a moment–in the air,
And for just one minute,
The world pauses to listen.

It is a mournful symphony
That purchases our attention
And causes us to reflect
On self-same sadder times

When hearts were wrung
By unrequiting hands–
Or when sweated blood
Pooled at grounded knees.

But grief is the birth of joy,
And suffering is the origin
Of consciousness beyond
These self-serving hearts.

Like the new and renewing
Image of the dying sun,
Hanging on the horizon
For all the world to see,

Those invisible qualities
Were made visible to us–
All those who have the heart
With which to see them.

All such works are derived
By and from the First Creator:
The origin of all grief turned
To joy, and therefore, beauty.

Then beauty cannot but help
To draw us nearer Him;
And thus will beauty
Save the world.

Burning Bright

I am both book and reader with her–
A self-professed censer with soothing words.
And though she acts the scholar, still she is
A Montagian fireman in her own right.

While her books stay shut on the shelf,
She lays me open in her lap
And takes a match to my first page;
Cover to cover, she burns through me.

When she reads my soul in the firelight,
My spine tingles beneath the licking flame.
Then she warms her spirit as the flames rise
In the bonfire of my vanities.

In the morning, like Caesar after Alexandria,
Her fingers, smoldering with embers,
Will leaf through charred chapters,
Sifting ink and word from the ashes.

Still Life

Surely, this is God’s country,
Where sunsets are tableau’d
By humble pastoral scenery,
Farmhouses set against the forest.

Fields sprawl between treelines,
Captured by mortised fences
And dotted with the usual fauna,
Standing peaceably and proud.

The Virginia sky painted pink and red,
The trees serves as the transition
For moving pictures–frame by frame–
Still lives, flashing by on the road.

Oh, Bother

“What a bother, what a bother!” I said.
“Oh, what a bother indeed,” said Pooh
With his forepaw in a pot of hunny.
“What to do, oh, what indeed to do?”

“Nothing is an option,” a voice reminds.
Eeyore, the ever-dysthymic donkey,
Shines a ray of darkness into life
That I could see myself enjoying daily.

“Or feel free to bounce–just bounce
Away from all your troubles and cares,”
The gregarious tiger recommends
While headed toward cliffside unawares.

A timid voice squeaked in the night:
“If you shut your eyes, you’ll shut it out.”
And closing his own, he successfully forgot
All his worries and fears running about.

“Think it over, think it under, I claim.
No rabbit is a fortress, they say,
But through worry and over-anguish
You might all your problems allay.”

“Why think about it at all?” asks the bear.
“There is ever so much honey to eat.”
Taking paw from pot to mouth, he asks,
“Who even knew life could be this sweet?”

Oftentimes, when it rains, it will pour,
And you’ve got to take your heffa-lumps;
Still, all of Mr. Robins’ childhood neuroses
Could not bring him out of the dumps.