After finishing my “man love” chapbook, I wanted to try something new, so I went through a somewhat random and roundabout process of pondering what I might want to share, reading a mix of philosophically oriented observations and narratives, and listening to a variety of different poetic voices, while also reflecting deeply on my own place in the world. I am, after all, living my “final baker’s dozen,” so I wanted my work to reflect that perspective. 

I eventually settled on writing a group of prose poems that were strongly influenced by a combination of spoken word poems, some memorable micro fiction, a few philosophical maxims, and, of course, the engrained nostalgia that accumulates inescapably through seven decades of life. And the end result, from a theme standpoint, focuses not on the beginning of things but rather on the end of things… like relationships and dreams and hopes and fears and, ultimately, of life itself.

Those who know me know I’m all about the emotional aspects of life, and that my overarching wish for the world is that we all could let go of our fears and mistakes and disappointments and injuries and the many hurts that life asks us to accept, and in their place to accept the embrace of a world that’s filled with peace and love… a wish that our lives could become, literally, lives of love. But even then, for each of us, the day will arrive when that life ends. And as that light which is our life begins its fade, we finally will recognize “The End of Love.”

I’ve included two poems from this second chapbook collection below.

 

The Beauty In Goodbye

Cold sneaks in everywhere when you’re old. It doesn’t so much engulf you… it just settles in.

But it can also shake you awake. Like autumn reminds the leaves they still can sing when so little hope remains after summer’s heat and such scant rain.

The sudden shiver in autumn’s breath wakes them up again. Helps them recall all the hues they started with. All the colors they still carry on the inside when they let their guard down. When they’re finally willing to stop trying so hard to be something more. 

When they see the end approaching and begin to accept themselves as they are. We’re like that, too, you know. Once we stop trying to grow, we start feeling more free to be who we always were meant to be.

I guess that could seem sort of sad… that we wait that long… put off our freedom till the end of our song. But that’s how nature works. It doesn’t show us the last stanza until we’ve finished the first. That’s the gift it holds on to.

The secret it just won’t tell until we’re finally ready to let that cold settle. Not fight it, but rather ignite it with a bursting bundle of dreams it now seems we no longer need. When we’re no longer greedy for life, and life’s no longer greedy for us.

That’s the beauty in goodbye. That’s what freedom really means. When our perfect colors light up every scene, and our breath comes slow and easy. As we settle in with the cool air and begin, ever so softly, to truly sing.

 

With Completely Absent Minded Love

Every Thursday night they sit together in that same worn out pub. At the table in the back beside the portrait of a yellow Labrador retriever. I mean… it’s not a photo. It’s oil on canvas. And it’s beautiful. The way only a dog who loves you can be beautiful… with  unquestioned commitment and lots of accidents. Someone really must have loved that dog. Maybe they remember him… who knows why they sit there. 

Tonight they’re with another couple… friends perhaps. And looking on, one might wonder how such a lithe and animated woman like her could feel so at home with an old drunk like him. But she does. She engages and expresses and laughs and there… she touched him. As she spoke she touched him with completely absent minded love. I can feel the affection all the way over here. She ran her hand across his distended stomach with such tenderness.

It’s as though she traced some journey they have shared. Some vague remembrance that lives on through the greasy food and the seasonal ale. Through the death of her mother, and the loss of their child. It’s as though she’s remembering the way he would pick her up when she had quit. The way he held her each time she fell. It’s like she touched him knowing that should the days ahead turn dark like then, he would be there to pick her up again.