Untouched

I stepped outside this morning and was overwhelmed 
by the beauty of the new day

Despite the turmoil of my human heart and mind
the world rolls on and on 

The sun is rising higher above the horizon 
and the shadows are growing shorter  

The trees are showing buds 
in anticipation of leafing in the next few months

The air is crisp and clear
absent the wind and clouds of yesterday

The birds go about their business of singing and surviving
their minds untouched

by those things I allow to touch mine 

Finding Peace


Berry’s “The Peace of Wild Things” drifts in and out of my mind
As I walk the woods of north Alabama on a crisp Sunday afternoon

Like the poet, I, too, experience the grip of despair some days
Despair and fear

Unlike Berry, though, I do not lie by the water of the drake and the heron
Rather, I walk a path among the pines, the oaks, and the hickories

There is a stillness here, known by the face of the limestone above me
A face that has borne witness to millenia upon millenia in silence

In that place, I know peace as the cool wind moves around me
In that place, I know the Grace of Creation, and find my rest

School. December 3, 2020

Today I was struck with a line  
Probably from 
a long-forgotten book or movie
I don’t remember the characters and
I don’t remember the setting

But I remember him or her saying
to him or her
“If you leave, I’m afraid you won’t come back
and if you do
I’m afraid I won’t know you as I once did”

That came to me as I was walking the empty halls at school 

No students
They are believed to be at home
Safe 
It is hoped

No teachers
They are known to be behind their classroom doors
Locked away from the intruder
This is no drill

I am afraid

I am afraid
What I knew won’t come back
and if it does
I won’t know it as I once did

Leaves: A Tritina

This poem was written to fit a form called a tritina. It’s kind of like a sestina, only different. Here’s an overview if you’re interested. Hopefully you will be–give it a try!

Leaves

My boots shuffle slowly through the leaves
The leaves that cover the winding trail
Breaking the forest’s hush, its stillness, its quiet

But that’s why I’m here—for the quiet
So I step more softly now, through the leaves
The leaves that cover the winding trail

Were it not for the trail
My heart would not know quiet
So I’m thankful for those fallen leaves

The leaves that cover the winding trail and the quiet in my heart

Casting a Ballot

It’s late afternoon 
seasonably warm in the middle of October
in the year two thousand twenty 

The line to vote 
stretches from the shade of the north side of the courthouse 
into the sun of the west side in my north Alabama county 

We in line have a casual attitude
almost nervous but not quite
as volunteers walk up and down the file 
entreating us for questions about what is a simple process 

A simple process with an import 
that engenders uncertainty
so clarity is appreciated 

We stand
we shuffle
and we stand 

We can wait. We will wait.

Flashlight

Wondering if I closed the gate earlier this evening
I make my way into the back yard
flashlight in hand, and find it open.

Closing it, reassured the fence will keep the dog in 
and the rest of the world out 
I slowly make my way back to the house.

On a whim, I play my beam along the fence line.  
Two rabbits freeze
unaware their eyes are glowing in the light.

Something else scurries through the chainlink 
just as the darkness of its space is broken
and I hear yet another as it moves through the garden.

Once indoors, assured the walls will keep me in 
and the rest of the world out
I close the door behind me.

Friendship

There is, amongst men today
a commonplace superficiality 
celebrated with getting together for a game
or enjoying a few cold ones before heading home.
And it is good, in a commonplace way.

But friendship, real friendship between men
is a rare occurrence.
A shared set of values
common ground deeper than a few inches of topsoil
and the recognition of a kindred spirit

Finding all of those at once is indeed a rarity
and is of lasting value.

Feathers

A feather drops 
and the loss of lift and maneuverability is immediate
What was possible moments ago 
is no longer 

Coming in sheathed
new feathers are just extra weight until they’re ready 
and flight as it was 
is restored  

Sometimes change is sudden


New flight feathers coming in on a male American Kestrel, Falco sparverius.

When a bird grows new feathers, they have a protective sheath that stays in place until the feather is fully formed.