Haibun: Cardinal

The call is clear and pierces the silence and the soul. Loud and distinct, it leaves no doubt about the presence of the caller.  Authority and passion, precision and purity. Bold, bright messenger from the spirit world.  Dwelling in the east, it lives forever in the heart. 

Brilliant flash of red
Calling clear in the morning
Proclaiming the way

Drafting an Ode

Regarding the writing of poetry: It’s only been the last few years that I’ve started to explore forms of any sort.  Like so many folks, I fell into the camp of “forms are restricting,” while – if I’m honest with myself – they intimidated me more than just a little.

Last week I had the chance to participate in a writing party hosted by Leigh Anne Eck of Time to Write.  The event, in keeping with February as a month of love, was an opportunity to experiment with odes.   

To me, an ode has always been a lengthy affair, and John Keats sort of sets the standard.  That said, we were given a simple template: Involve the senses, and end with a question and an answer.  While that’s certainly not the only way to write an ode, it worked for me during that session.

Ode to the Trail – 1

The trail leads ever onward, or so it’s said
I see it before me, disappearing around the bend
So who am I to disagree?
Woodland path, you invite me to walk in your way
Your muted voice, sounding as the wind
to those who don’t know your words, calls to me
In the distance of a few steps, I am enveloped
Your earthen aroma washing over me 
and your rustling leaves quieting the voices within my head
“Are you complete without me?” I ask
“Yes, and may I ask the same of you,” is your reply
No, and again, no

Draft, February 2022

November Poems of Thanks

November is Here

The rush of summer
is fading behind me now 
and I find myself 
feeling thankful for the dark
slow pace of the winter months


Pictures on the fridge
bring the past to life again
though I can’t forget
those for whom I’m most thankful
those whose love goes on and on

An Evening Walk

The sky above me
Holds the waxing quarter moon
With Saturn beside
And I walk in the pale light
On this still November eve

A Morning Walk

The conversation
we heard in the rustling leaves
high above our heads
brought us to a hushed silence
as we walked the mountain path

Untitled, and That’s Okay

Look at the birds of the air . . .

I am not able 
– it turns out –
to influence the machinations 
of this world 
through my state of disquietude 
no matter how strong 
that state might be

So I must relearn to breathe 
to release 
to try to control only 
that which is mine to 
have even the illusion 
of control

I need to accept 
the reality of things
as unreal as I might 
find them

I must disconnect and 
find the virtues of a simplicity 
I’ve not known 
since my earliest years

Anything else is futility

Sanctuary is in the straightforward 

– – – – – 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26, NIV

The Student Information System

School starts in ten days and  
I have a list of names in a spreadsheet
freshly extracted from the student information system

The S. I. S.  

Fourth graders, all
as that’s what I teach 
Fourth graders.  You’ve heard that old line, right? 

“Oh, you’re a teacher.  What do you teach?”  

“Fourth graders.” Awkward pause.

I’ve looked at that spreadsheet and even queried the SIS
that all-knowing database
but found it to be missing some information

The student in the 11th row 
is he excited about coming to school?  

I wonder about the kiddo in row 4
Science is her favorite subject
but how can I help her love the others?

Does Row Number 6 know that Row Number 8 
is worried about making friends
just like he is?

Row 2 can’t wait to tell me about her summer,
her trip, and all the fun she had, yet

There’s no mention that Row 23 
wishes she could forget the last three months

Row 14, I’ll find out on my own
loves reading while snuggled on the couch 
with his new step-mom

But that’s not in the database  

I have birthdays and addresses 
I guess there’s that

Summer Weather

Predicting the weather, especially in the early days of summer in the south, is always the pursuit of a moving target.  Air pressure rises and falls, fronts move, winds shift, and water vapor collects in white masses that turn to gray then turn to black. Temperatures drop ten degrees in a matter of minutes and the trees wave back and forth, welcoming the lashing they are to take.  Nature holds on.

warm turns to cool
clouds roll in from the west
we brace for what’s next

Don’t Read the Comments

I have an opinion, and a way to get it out there
…….I can share it, so I will
What’s an “informed opinion?” I don’t care — this one is mine
…….And that’s what matters
I see that you have an opinion as well, your own point of view
…….Even though it’s flawed
As easily as I can share my opinion, I could do some reading
…….That doesn’t matter
I have no time for nuance, as there are other battles to be fought
…….I have an opinion
You’ll try to scroll on by, but you’ll probably see it, this opinion of mine
…….I can share it, so I will

Tim Gels, Draft

Please note: This is not an autobiographical poem!

Out of State Plates

The driver ahead of me hesitated
physically straddling the line between turning or not
as one does when a decision is uncertain.

It was a small car, road-dirty with out-of-state plates
and a single occupant, a man whose greying hair 
was visible in the early morning light.

As I would too, he pulled through the light in the turn lane
and it was curiosity, I confess, that soon had me alongside him 
for just a moment before pulling ahead.

Perhaps mid-60s, needing a shave but not a haircut.
A look of concentration with his left hand on the wheel
and his right clutching a sheet of paper.

A few moments later I looked for him in the mirror, but he was gone. 
Where was he going, this far from home?  
Where was I going, this close to home?

Shaking the thought, I slowed once more 
dutifully put on my signal 
and made a turn into the rising sun.

Picnic Table

A picnic table sits beneath a spreading white oak tree
just outside the building where I spend many of my days 
extending an unspoken invitation to all who walk past it.

Perched on a slight incline, it is bathed in deep, cool shade, and 
a breeze has, more often than not, accepted the invitation
and it, in turn, entreats passersby to do the same.

Were it not for the heavy chain tethering the table so close 
that the tree itself takes two of the end seats 
that haven on the hill would be perfect.

Enjoy the table, but don’t steal it.  Things are complicated.

Draft, May 2021

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