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December 2017

 

So I was reading some old facebook posts of friends and one line in a post caught my eye. My friend had written in early November about a trip to Old Man's Cave in Ohio - a popular place to visit. He wrote that he was thinking of going back "when fall is frozen over." So, I wrote the following poem.

 

When fall is frozen over  (2017)

 

When fall is frozen over and

The moon is slivered shut

When the tree is trimmed and ready

To gather presents underfoot

It's then I like to sit with you

In silence by the hearth

And reminisce about old friends

From whom we are apart

No visit from St. Nicholas

Or carol sung on high

Can warm my heart as surely as

Your words from time gone by

"It always snows for Christmas"

Still I laugh and don't believe, but

Fall is frozen over and

The moon is slivered shut

 

In October, I went to the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County for some wine tasting. I was camping at Hendy Woods State Park. I texted Nancy, my partner on this VisionsVoice experiment, about a particular winery that I was planning to visit - Phillips Hill. I said, "I'm going there tomorrow, just down the road." Nancy texted back that there must be a poem in there somewhere. So, I had to write the following poem for her.


Goodness Knows

 

At the end of my yesterdays

I'll bid you adieu 

But today, I pray 

To keep Heaven at bay
 

I'm going there tomorrow

Just down the road

From where we've come

To goodness knows

 

I sang and played in the bell choir at First Community Church in Marble Cliff, Ohio as a young boy (Jr. High School). I also sang in the choir at Trinity Lutheran Church in Upper Arlington, Ohio (in High School), where my grandmother was a long time member.
 

My high school choir teacher, Mr. Weaver, was also the choir director at the Lutheran Church. I sang only to sing. I liked to sing, and I still do.


One of the lines in one of the songs we sang was:   "Make a joyful noise unto God all the world."  That, I believe to be from psalm 66 KJV, where it may also be ... unto God, all the earth, or ... unto God, all ye lands.  Maybe I'm remembering the song wrong, but I swear it was sung ... unto God, all the world. Anyway, here's my poem about me, the Choir boy.


Choir boy

 

I sang only to sing,

Every chance I could get,

In two different churches;

Two different beliefs. Yet,

Both making the same

Joyful noise unto God

All the world.

 

A choir boy, they'd tease.

And I couldn't argue that.

So, I took it as a compliment,

And I made the joyful noise,

And I took a different way,

And it helps me still today, in

All the world.

 


And here is my poem for the caregivers in the world. 

 

You got in my way (A caregiver's respite)

Your memories have long since gone away
Still, I wait for you to say
Through shadows of years and mists of tears
Let me laughen-up your day

That's what you'd always smile and say
Since so many years ago I lay
Upon this sand, my life all planned
When you got in my way

I'll not rest while your away
In hope that you'll return one day
Won't let this heart break apart
I pray you've only lost your way

But there's nothing more that I can say
As I walk the sand alone today
I cling to
sweetest memories
When you got in my way

 

 

There is a road in Hocking County Ohio, near the city of Union Furnace, named Goat Run Honey Fork Road. My grandfather was born in 1900 in a house in Union Furnace that can be seen from the main crossroad in town.

In 2000, I visited the man who lived in the house. I just pulled into the driveway and he was sitting in his porch swing. His son came over from the trailer next door and we all talked about the house and living there.

The old man said he bought the house in 1938, I believe. He said the people he bought it from had lived there for years, but he did not know if it was them who bought it from my grandfather's family.

I showed them the picture of my grandfather standing in front of the house at eight years old, all dressed up with his family. The house looked almost the same.

The son took me into the house and I remember it was dark and old. The wood floor was thin slats, almost black, and seemed to be warped throughout the house. Everything looked like it had not been updated in a hundred years.

Out back, I remember how green it was. This is Ohio and there is plenty of rain to keep it green. The dark woods ran up the hill on the other side of the broken-down stone wall and wood fence.
Back out front, I said goodbye to the old man, his son and daughter-in-law.

They said to come back anytime. Here's my poem about the experience.

 

Goat Run Honey Fork Road

I got lost on Goat Run Honey Fork Road.
Who has stopped in Union Furnace in summer
Finds routine that denies complexity.
My stopping interrupted the simplicity.

He watches the world from his porch swing
At the four-way crossing that is the town.
I show him the yellowed photograph, faded hard
Of my grandfather, eight-years-old, in this yard.

The house is unchanged, save for the trees.
Even the porch sets the same after one hundred years.
The walls need painting, and wood floors, waxed in grime,
Make a slanting walk falling me back in time.

Out back is lush green with woods encroaching
As to attack and devour the man-made glade.
I search the defending rock wall for a stone;
A remembrance of this time alone.

I leave him to resume his porch swing duties,
And thanking me for interrupting his day.
He says come again when I'm down this way.
If I can find Goat Run Honey Fork Road, I may.

 

My wife has flying dreams. I hardly ever dream. I cannot remember when I last dreamed. And I know I have never flown in my dreams.

But she and many other women I've talked to say the flying dreams are the best.

What does it mean? Here's my Poem about dreaming to fly.

 

She flies

She flies in her dreams. What does it mean?
Is it a glimpse of what's to be?
Or longing to be free?
Free from life's travails in the hours before dawn.
She flies in her dreams and wakes with a yawn.

He never dreams. What does it mean?
Is he blind to what will be?
Or, perhaps he's already free.
Free from life's travails in the hours before dawn.
He never dreams and wakes up withdrawn.

 

Below was the first poem I ever wrote. I wrote it in my head as I was driving down Highway 4 from near Sandusky, Ohio to Bucyrus on our way back to Columbus from Cedar Point (the best rollercoasters in the world).

The drive was peaceful and sunny and my son and nephew were sleeping in the car while I drove. Here's my first poem (2005)

 

Love undone

South to Bucyrus he saw the sign.
'One half mile - Sorrowful Mother Shrine'
He didn't stop, preferring to imagine
What his sorrowful mother shrine might be.

Whose mother knows not the sorrow
Of disappointment and love undone;
Of nights awake, waiting alone
Beside an uncaring, unringing phone?

A lone stalk of corn standing tall, unbended
Is his sorrowful mother shrine imagined.
Passing field after cornfield, uncountable stalks
Surround graves at Evangelical Pietist Church.

Without sorrow can our joy be as full?
Will mother stand as tall and unbending?
He imagines so - then stops along the road to eat
Where the corn is ripe and the melon sweet.

 

My grandmother always had a porch swing on her back porch. It was all metal with big arms that hid the swinging mechanism. Sometimes there were colorful cushions on it; sometimes not. There were small drain holes in the seat and back that I remember as rows and columns of diamond shaped or square shaped.Grandpa had to oil it or it squeaked. We loved sitting in that swing.

One of the last times I sat in a swing on the back porch with my grandma was after my grandpa died. It was dark and I was visiting her on a trip back to Ohio by myself, I think. It must have been not long after I got out of the Air Force.

She looked up at the stars and asked me if I thought there was anybody out there. I said I did not know. She said there must be because this can't be all there is. There must be other planets like ours and other life.

Grandma was a thinker. Here's my poem about the porch swing.

 

Porch swing

The squeak and then squeaking of unoiled squeaks
Reminds me of porch swing days of my youth.
I miss worn faded swing cushions on muggy buggy days,
Ice cream leaking on toes and swinging away.

Couldn't hide from the world; I'd spend most the day
Swinging lone watching cloud actors in a sky play.
On the porch again, grandma to wipe up the leaks
Between squeak and then squeaking of unoiled squeaks.

 

In Grandview Woods (now Wyman Woods) there were a couple of great sledding hills. We used to fly down them in the winter on our sleds.

In the summer, the boy scouts would lay cardboard down the hill and we would use another piece of cardboard to slide on down the hill. That was fun too. It did ruin the grass for a while though.

Love lost

The hill where we shared a sled so long ago is
Dusty and bare with just a vain comb-over of grass
Here and there pretending to be lawn.

You held me tight through the finish line, though
There was no racing but my heart.
The flecks of snow on your cheeks sparkled
As bright as the smile in your eyes.

What can I say to an angel?
How do I thank the sunshine?

My heart in my throat left a bittersweet love
That I've not tasted since that cold December morning
Looking into the eyes of an angel.

This hill is my refuge from what might have been.
As the moon rises into the throat of the night,
And stars sparkle on the cheeks of the heavens,
I smile and promise I'll one day visit your grave.

Now, for my angel to hear again,
I say the words I could not say then.

I love you

 

I spent many hours exploring Grandview Woods as a kid. Playing army, hide-and-seek, collecting buckeyes just down the hill from the fire station, sledding in the snow and on cardboard boxes.

Here's another poem about the woods.

Grandview Woods

In the middle of our city stand
ten acres of woods, undisturbed but
For the boys who swing on strands
Of vines, or play among the ruts
Of washed out, uprooted trees
That rot where they fall, and provide
Sustenance to the bugs and bees.
And keep the woods as so they should.

Houses that only in winter are seen,
Through leafless Elm and Buckeye,
Shelter us from the city woods'
Darkness under snow-cold skies.
In a clearing a boulder from the ice age
(So they say) has forever stood,
Taunting us to climb atop, fall off
And return again to these Grandview Woods.

 

Gym class in 8th Grade was across the playground in the High School. After Gym class was Mr. Heller's Science class. So, in the name of science, several of us would shower and not dry our hair in the middle of winter. We would run as fast as we could across the playground. As hypothesized, our hair was frozen when we got to the Jr. High School and still frozen, but soon dripping, in Science class. Here's a poem inspired by Ohio winters.

To California

How cold must it have been
To freeze our hair just as fast
As it took us to run from the gym
Across the field to science class?

How young must we have been
To not notice the frozen days,
Remembering not to dry our hair,
To test how long ice hair stays?

Now, when I see tree branches frozen
In an ice storm in January Ohio,
Like my frozen hair from so long ago,
It's time I returned to California, I know.

One afternoon, several years ago, we stopped to walk to an overlook of the Big Sur coastline. We had to walk through a battery of butterflies that surprised us while they feasted on the flowers all along the path. Mostly Monarch butterflies, I remember. And the Monarchs do migrate to the Pacific Grove area near Monterey about an hour north of Big Sur. Here's an old poem about butterflies, or almost butterflies.

 

Surprise Me        (2006)

 

Do caterpillars know

That someday they'll rise

To the heavens above?

Or is it a surprise?

 

Some people know

That someday they'll rise

To the heavens above.

But, I'll be surprised.

 

 

After the Rain?   (August 2013)

 

After the rain, the shining streets present a canvas of light and shadow

Amid the fray, she cannot help but smile at the beauty

The scent of wet pavement, oily streets, brushes her nose

Embracing this familiar measure of the worth of her while

 

Like that day, long ago, when as a child from school

Walking the streets alone - she stopped, startled by the silent scent

Of wet pavement, oily streets, in green light and blue shadow

After the rain - that first glimpse of the worth of her while

 

But dawn must gray the day

And she lingers, not wanting to make her way

Into the city to prove her worth, while

She wonders - Was it only a dream, after the rain?

 

After the Rain - Acrylic on canvas - Nancy Roycroft

 

 

Cascade     (2013)

 

"A vase is not a vase," she said,

"until it is filled with a bouquet."

"And a soul is not a soul," she continued,

"until filled with memories."

 

And so we danced under a cascade of

Blooms that brought a measure of sunshine

To the end of a joyous day together;

Our waltz of lingering melodies.

 

Blossoms may fail the vine,

And light will fade the day,

But abundant joy overflows the soul

That is filled with memories of a mother's love.

 

Cascade - Acrylic on canvas - Nancy Roycroft

 

 

The paintings of Northern California artist and downhill skier Nancy Roycroft are celebrated here. A Vision to make sense of the soul. Here's one of those paintings - 5th decade, rebirth

 

 

5th decade, rebirth - 24x36 Acrylic on canvas - Nancy Roycroft

 

Jerry Grinstead is somewhat of a skier, who tries to keep up with Nancy, and is one heck of a Marshmallow Roaster. The President of the National Marshmallow Roasters Institute, he gives  Voice to Nancy's vision. Here's the poem that goes with the painting above.

 

5th decade, rebirth - What's important to me now (June 2013)

 

What I want,

Worth more than rhyme;

Just a little more of your time

 

What I need,

Worth more than sleep;

Just a little more of your time

 

What I take,

Worth more than gold;

Just a little more of your time