Archive | Poetry

Will I Require An Alibi?

In The Mirror Is The Answer. . . .

THE TEACHER SPEAKS. . . .It is useless to say that we can be non judgmental when we make judgments of necessity all day long.  What we must not judge are the places an Other comes from when we look upon cultural ways. 

When we understand the cultures of other people, we then begin to understand ourselves.  But we know too, just as the decisions concerning our personal behavior are a matter of conscious choice when we reach the age of discernment, then we know too, to hide behind cultural practices is begging the question.

When we decide how it is we are going to approach the questions of life, we then begin to know where it is we are coming from.  If we sidestep ‘just this one time’ we are already setting the basis for future behavior.

Matters of character are personal decisions.  They are not based on anything except as we view ourselves.  And character is the basis for everyone.  And character is formed early, within the safety net of the family.  What is let go ‘just this time’ with no comment, is not to be viewed later with the question ‘how did this happen?’  when confronted with the larger implications. 

This implies that we are going to grow up, that we are going to mature at some point.  What is being said is that the process is never ending, never finished.  For along all junctions we will be pressed with character questions.  We will be expected to make character decisions.  And the final questions will always reside within the individual, ‘what will this say of me?’

 In the process we know that we can fool no one.  Especially the one whom we look at in the bathroom mirror first thing in the day.

 We know, know deep within us that we cannot be a better anything than we can be a person.

Small Bear or Large Cub. . .

We can interchange our adjectives
and the words take on different meanings,
depending on our frame of reference.

We may find that bigotry is the same as
prejudiced preferences and my color
may be other than what you are.

It is quite right for where you are, if that is
all right with you.  But I ask will you clean house
and set straight your attitudes

so you can say gay with no malice?

 

art by Claudia Hallissey

 

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Love Awaits . . .with a putting place. . .

October 27, 2022. . .(I posted this essay more than 5 years ago and my thoughts today have only deepened.  The wish I hold still is that there would have been someone early on that I could have voiced my thoughts with no fear.  In my terminus I fulfil the old maxim that the end of our lives are only more of what we were in the beginning.   This does not apply across the board, because our histories differ. 

It brings to mind from the Dead Sea Scrolls the Nazarene upbraiding the disciples for asking where they go when they die.  You never asked from where you come he angrily shouted.  

From when I was  a girl, memory  has chased me without a putting place in today’s world.  It always has been my inner focus and readies me now for an embrace.  Love awaits.)

Previous Post. . . .In the many studies on love and goodness, what appears to be evident is that when one is aware of good and when one comes to the time to do good,  the choices are few to do other than good.  When you become better and better,  your options cease. 

Heaven goes one better.  When approaching sainthood,  the options are not there anymore.  And even if sainthood is not on our conscious agenda,  I clue you that it is somewhere in us.  These they refer as those who have made the light a beacon force in their lives.  And who in their secret thoughts would deny this,  that they would be less than a beacon of light?

When the mind is one with the god mind,  only for that which gives life  (and who would deny otherwise,  no matter the personal consequences?)  humanity’s progression is the only path to take.

Here Is Where We Live. . .

There was a time
when thoughts and desires
were simple and
fleshed out a life.
When rain on the windows
promised a day with a good book.

Commitments came with age
and options few.
A book became a luxury
with sleep non existent and
a nap became the respite.

Fewer options were the result
of choices,  and commitments
took precedent because
other lives were at stake.

Big lessons to teach and
necessary ones,  if the evolution
of humanity was to continue.
A trip to the moon and a jaunt to Mars
will be the children’s dream
but here on Earth is where
we cook the oatmeal

to feed the children’s dreams.

 

Painting by
Claudia Hallissey

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Freedom’s Work. . .

Freedom Is Not Free. . .

Time nears for elections and we wonder  how can our aged bodies contribute to this magnificent  country  we live in so that our democracy does not die.  We  plead with the heavens.  And thoughts are given to match what can be done.  The healing begins and life  takes off with wings and we do more than we thought possible.

July 18, 1987 journal entry I scribed. . .

Life does present many problems now that must be confronted philosophically simply because one’s reputation is on the line.  You are doing a superb piece of reading enmeshed in the spiritual and moral qualities given by an unbiased person as the times had.  You have terms such as conscientious objector, moral judgment, secular world, triumphant and church militant.  All these and you cannot stop to sleep without scribing.  I must tell them you say.  I must tell them.

Who and what must you tell?  You do not fool yourself.  It has all been said before.  And unless you put  yourself in the front of the line, you will only impress who comes to your door. If becoming public, you might be noted in posterity.  But not without a taint of malice, a taint of mental ill health.  She was crazy they will say.  Smart, capable, a worker of good things and talented but a bit crazy.  Dependable too and a good writer.  A little doty, odd.   A good poet who walked among the great teachers but strange.  She talked to  the heavens and thought they answered her.

And others will say, the work is inspired.  But NO ONE WILL DARE SAY  and question, how inspired, what inspired, Who inspired and from Where?  What is this inspiration? 

Last   night as you heard the man talking about Muriza, the Hungarian shepherd’s poem, you ached with knowledge of   where they came from.  When I disappear the shepherd said to his sheep, tell them I married the moon, that I went to the place where the apple trees  bear pears and fleas  wear boots 99 tons each on feet.

It Grows Dark, Love. . . .

You say. . . So much to be said.
To take a hammer to a word and splinter it,
what’s to be gained?

I say. . . Where is the meaning if you don’t?

You say. . . .Let everyone take what is theirs and build on it.
That is the way of the world and
the way illusions are granted a solid state.
And darling woman, it is all right.

I say. . . They say that life is too hard just to be illusions.
The people will say of me that she was off the wall!

You say. . . .There will be those who say
you have a fine imagination.
And others will say you took an impossible life
and created a philosophy to sustain it.
Does not everyone?

I say. . . Not every child is shown tender mercies.
And without them, there is a long sleep when transiting.
Remedial help is needed.

You say. . . . You shored up when fault
was found within your system.
You continue to love, and lady, continue.

And I ask. . . Where will you be?

You say. . . Until the day you can no longer do it,
walk to the fields and lie down and say no more. . .

I will pick you up and we will again
set fire to hearts which do not flicker yet and
create that world where love abounds.
And commitments and priorities take proper place.
Time is limited and it grows dark. 

We work, we work and with love, lady, with love. . . .

poem written Jan 28,  2018

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Why the words. . .

I wrote in September ’87 journal that  I glanced at Ernie and Frank’s (I think) cartoon on my desk.  Descartes says, I think therefore I am.  And the gent disappears after being told this and the logical thought is, if I don’t think, I am not.  And like tea, I steep, how can one live without thought? 

I recall  once a  brief  silence in my head like an empty wine cask.  Do people live like this was my question.  What do they fill the silences with and I don’t think I want to know.

Coming to mind immediately when writing this was the reason the kitchen fan was not working. ) ( My head works like this.  Because when the new addition was insulated, they inadvertently covered the vent.)And when I read this I thought of my sister’s complaint that it takes a whole page for me to say walk to the corner. (4 words)

I say but what I wish to share is what I see when I walk to the corner.  You understand I thought everyone was like me or I was like everyone else. When my world crashed, Dr. Cassidy, my first psychiatrist, was so wise to ask me what I saw when I walked down Michigan avenue.  And when I closed my eyes and told him, he whistled through his teeth and said you understand that others do not see this.  And when I said nothing, in dismay he said, my God, you don’t. 

How you see is how you talk. And when you listen you will hear what you need to hear and  how to respond.  Some will hear the antiquated language and some the vernacular of the times.  And the wise will take to heart to talk or be still.

Coming to mind will be memories entwined which will take courage to unwind.  I had received a photo of my sister holding her new great granddaughter and I told her that in her 80’s she was as pretty as she was as a girl.  There was a long silence on the phone.  But you were the smart one she said.  I began to shake and knew to hang up the phone and say nothing.

What I heard was familiar and it was not love.     

If We Sing To the Children  . . .

 I wear these memories
as a cloak to ward off the chill.
Emotions forgotten, but like new now
ripping along my arms,
settling bumps in straight rows
to my heart.

Kindred hearts, matching
my own heartbeat,
with eyes like mine and

reflecting our souls.
Music in voices saying,
‘and when I look at weeds beside the road. . . .
but you know,  you know. . . .’
And I do, I do and we look with eyes
that see and ears that hear the song
of the bird before his sounds
have escaped his throat. . . .
and the music rumbles in our blood,
coursing through our hearts
and gives life only
to those who are ready to listen.

Not many to be sure, not many,
but if we sing to the children
perhaps,  just perhaps,
the earth’s cacophony
will one day be in harmony.

It is our heritage;
from where it is we come.
From the farm country I was given
a substance that does not spoil,
that does not turn sour
even in the residue of life.
It is not dregs that I drink.
It is the cream rising to the top of the milk.

I needed to see a skyline
with no obstruction and with no words
you laid your hearts on me.

photo by Kathy Qualiana

 

 

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Within Memory Recalled. . .

 

Home of One’s Soul

The Teachers Speak. . . Every so often, out of one’s domain, there is an isolation that swamps one. It is difficult to shake, and yet there it is, evidence that this is not home. There is a portion or many portions appealing to one, yet basically, the at home feeling begins to leave.   This is when one digs in and brings to light all those things that brighten the soul. Dig into your handiwork, give yourself some leeway but stay with the program, stay with the route. You will find that the isolation will fade somewhat and again you will regain your sense of belonging. But do not distress yourself about it.   It is a pure longing for the home of one’s soul. It will come about in its own good time and the journey will have been worth the while. And what is gained along the way will add simply more weight to the gems in your pockets.

(Again for me this is an example of all time is simultaneous. The above journal entry is from November of ’94 and the poem following was written on the eve of my birthday,  May 24, 2015,  so it was really yesterday that the teachers spoke to me, all time being simultaneous. Yet linear time is crucial to allow growth to take place.)

Within Memory. . . 

You will again yearn
for a patch of green earth
to lie down on,
to smell the pine forest alive
in its secrets.  Or hidden beneath
the crisp cover of fresh snow.
They will not have left your memory.

Somewhere also within memory,
is a place yearning for you.
It is deep in time that is
as remote as a country village.

And yet there too, you will find refreshment.
You will find eyes that light and
follow you when you enter their doors.
There will be those whose lives
you have searched for remnants
of who you are.

You will find them waiting silently
for your voice to beckon them
from where you have been hiding
for almost a century;
bent on finding the reason to live.

So come now, when you hear
your name called and let us know
you are willing to be with those
whose love for you is weighed
in centuries.  Nowhere near the place
you now hold as being close to heaven
and yet, yet, close enough that you
will lose your hold on the place
destined to be another memory.

You will take love for god’s sake
and hold it high as a solemn token
of the herald’s torch reminding all
that the way is always safe

until the games are over.

September 1, 2022—for those who prefer the heaven once taught for comfort, today I tell of a life lived with open head and memory.  Not easy in the midst of regular folk.  But as I was told, everlasting life is everlasting life.  Do you prefer life everlasting to annihilation?  And heaven can only send out what they get in, what have you learned to gift those you love ?  I have loves awaiting almost a century for my return. 

I hope I have shared my talents wisely.  With much love. . . veronica

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the morning sun on time. . begin again. . .

The lines from  Tom Atkins Quarry House website from the Poem Making Rope stopped my heart the moment I read the lines  . . . . . history . . . .
that does not die because a few care enough to remember
and live the old ways, sure as faith, and twice as strong
as a soul that has done the work, day after slow day,
of restoration, a painful maintenance to save
what matters more than perfection.

At what point is it that one breaks with what goes for the norm where we are and with no conscious thought begins anew?  It seems subliminal but what it is animating who we are says the profound, enough already!

And we then are of One Mind and begin.  We don’t know for what, but begin we do. 

And history does not die and we begin to learn and remember.  We choose what is real and  works and the value system attached  has significance. 

It is not easy ever and for some it is gut wrenching.  The painful work of disentangling the memories attached to those we wish to cherish, takes an enormous amount of courage.  It has stopped many an able bodied man. 

Is it worth the struggle?  All the time?  When I see adult bodies running rough shod over children’s hearts, I remember my Mentor’s words. . (you) Suffer the children to come unto me, for  such is the kingdom. . . and I want to shout at the big bodies in didies, Grow up!  Already is past the time for long pants.  Already,  I see the children showing more maturity than the ones who borned them.

And heaven can only send out what comes in.  No better.  So when I wrote pour me a cup of solace. . . I was ready to throw in the towel.  It was time to pull in the sidewalk and close the shutters.  There were no woods to shelter me this time.  But with a new morning  sun on time, we begin again.  And again.  Hope springs eternal and life prevails.

If not, who would teach the children?  

REFRESHMENT

Pour for me a cup of solace
and serve a generous slice of mercy
and perhaps, just perhaps. . .
I will choose to live again.

A meagre portion
of passion dissolved in multitude
can no longer satiate
an appetite grown ravenous.

I learn.  I know.
But when the menu is designed
with child in mind, I bellow, not fair!

I have used the energies
to fulfil the wants
of those who made them their needs,
while my own went hungering.
So now. . . .

Brew a cup of solace
and anoint my head.
Serve mercy to garnish and appease
a heart grown turgid.

Perhaps the convalescence
will heal nerves made raw
by my passion to breath
the sanctimonious air
of sheltered existence.

And perhaps. . . just perhaps
I will forget enough and decide

to choose the green earth again.

 written  January 23, 1987

photo by Jon Katz

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With Gratitude served. . . .

 

 

Come To My Table

Come to my table
and sit awhile
and I will tell you tales
of years gone by,
attended by loves and those
who held magic in their hands.

We have supped
and laughed and cried some,
but mostly told the tales
that love spun out of gold.
It was a rich time;
not the coin of the day
but the values in the hearts
of those who dined.

It was magic
that threaded us together
through the years to find us
all at the same place, entwined.
But the love and the magic

may have been one and the same.

Do you think?

(March 26, 2013written)

Family and family of friends. . . To all who have sat at my table all the years and have made life so rich for me.  I   am blessed beyond words for what you have added to my life.  And this poem is a thank you.  You are the love and the magic and it is one and the same.  Do you now know that?    veronica

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The Deep Within. . . is the connection. . .

I scribed October 10, 1983. . .

We wait for this day.  You hear the arguments in the head and you think all the while the hands do the mind’s bidding.  In this we find a great interest and comfort knowing that it is possible to function in a secular life and continue to grow.  Your questions show the current interest thinking which man should be doing.  You ply the heaven for answers and forgive us for saying there are no answers to the questions.

There is nothing yet written which would answer your why, how and wherefores to satisfy.  Not possible.  There is a keeping on, keeping on and a growth possible not yet tapped.  Questions persist and not always have answers that leave one in comfort and wellbeing.

You have already tapped this reservoir. Which proves that man, as a whole, can do this for himself.  You reach this point where your answers will be forthcoming, as you provide them for yourself.  You cannot find in the heavens, even , the final conquest.  There are worlds upon worlds, but the Rabbi told you that, didn’t he?

You know this in that part of you which has searched the skies for that part of heaven which would give ultimate rest.  You know that, have always know it and now is part of your fabric.

Not comforting, is it?  There is no place, not a one, where everything is brought to completion.  How can there be, when there is no completion?  How can there be when all is in a state of becoming?  It is all becoming; we are all becoming.  Becoming what?  We can only surmise.  No one knows.

This is where the grandfather God is the comfort.  This is where man finds if he gives thought and thinks it through, he gets bogged down.  In despair, throws up his hands with ‘God Knows’! 

He is right if he means ‘unknowing, unfathomable, omniscient, omnipresent, spirit of the Universes, he is in good territory.  If he means a being like himself, in physical form, he spends the night walking around his house looking for a place to lay down his head.

You have the ability to grasp this concept, and with the devices and comforts of living add to its intensity to keep on keeping on, you find within the reason to make perfect.  What you see in your commitments and priorities reasons to help.  Without your help, we all would be floundering.  We look for growth and enhancement of mankind in all areas.

Commitments will set our priorities and unveiled will be to our surprise, substance of who we are and from where we come.

THE LEGACY

We dried the tears with straw flowers
and they scratched your face.

The etchings on the parchment
which was your skin will forever be stayed  
and will be read only by
the keenest eye and the discerning heart.

The indelible ink which wrote
was with pen dipped in love.
Repeated washings rinsed with tears
did not bleach it out.

So take your heart and this one and this
and ask for memories to build
in worlds uncertain, in unions
without ballast,
a treasure chest, a memory bank.

The loves will loose
the memories in future times
and in the moment
release for their own, a strength.

And never know in a history buried
deep beneath their skins,
there was a she-man
of indeterminate strength
who plied her trade
and in the course of time,

endowed her progeny. . . .

 (Poem from Dec 01, 1983
Journal Entry)

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The Dance. . . We as participants. . . .

                         The Dance. . . . 

There is a dance that our feet learn to do when first we stand up.  That dance is learned well, for even when our legs no longer dance, our phantom feet remember the dance.  They itch to dance.  And under penalty of death we think, we stay with it.

If we decide to learn new steps, the old ones often need to be altered.  And if they are, we either think we are not needed for our dance, or we feel our steps are not noticed anymore and are taken for granted.  Either way, we feel sorry for ourselves or worse, give up.

Very few give in and learn new steps, perhaps slower ones.  The new dance though is alien to our self image and we are certain the new steps will be laughed at. Fortunately others do not remember our old steps as we who danced them.  In the  fashion of Fred Astaire, our memory tells us we swept others along with us.

And that is the kicker.

When one is aware that a new step is needed, one is aware also that the dance is soon ending.  How to do it gracefully, with a sweeping dip that barely touches the floor, takes a nimble body and mind.

Most  of us do it with the tentative steps we learned when first we learned to dance. For the vision might still be sweeping, but the body falters.  We soon find the audience’s attention is riveted on younger feet still learning new and beguiling steps.

We shuffle off the floor.  Our dance is over.  And we are never the wiser that the young feet doing the new dance could not dance at all without our learning the old dance first.

artwork by 
Claudia Hallissey

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I Take Your Hand. . .

 

0bservations from an almost 50 year old mother to 3 sons in their late twenties. . . Journaled in June of 1980—— now an aged, almost 91 mother with a very tired head and a compromised immune system sporting a half dozen conditions ready for a nap . . . May, 2022

As a mother, it never occurred to me to ask them if their homework was done.  That was their responsibility.

They never asked if the laundry was done.  That was my responsibility.

Clothes were never a priory with me.  The boys wore long or short sleeve jerseys with khaki pants.  So if they went missing and the police were called, I would not appear dim but could tell them what they wore.  Not the colors,  but the cut of the cloth.

I remember always their joys, their agonies and their laughter and talks.  Memories are the bridge to the futures of progeny.  Best we clean up memories before they begin to leak into futures.

Of recent times  we shy away from pulling up a chair to listen  to a  friend’s or beloveds concerns lest we be practicing medicine without a license.  Mostly it is because we are at a loss because of time or just don’t want the involvement.  And it costs to become emotionally involved with an Other.  Not only does one share the agonies, but one must confront oneself. ( ( true then, sounds  like work?  It is. . ))

There is a superficial comfort to be gained by psychologically labeling a loved one’s problems.  It relieves one of responsibility to help solve the problem.  Or just pretending it does not exist. 

A time before television came into our homes and stole our prime time evenings,  we had  time to sit and chat with a beloved and share ourselves which helped alleviate the explosion of a problem and contained  it within the concerns of two who shared hearts. 

Because the burden was halved it did not erupt and was virtue of love salved with its healing ointment.  A differing perspective was heeded and shown an avenue that shared concerns absolved.  Such was the healing proffered by neighbors and beloveds before the technology invaded lives and took from humans the responsibilities and privileges of being humane.

The pendulum of progress will find its balance but we must seek it.  ((I do not wish to give up my library at hand always with my computer.  Nor do I wish to whiteout the typos my numbing fingers display with earnest and sincere desire for professional work.  Each must draw the lines for ourselves.))  Our respect and love for humanity must be our first concern. 

With rising costs for counseling and medical services,  it behooves all of us to render what we once considered our blessed obligation, to serve one another.  Isolation compounds problems into catastrophes.  We are wise to know which ones we cannot handle.  But drama is what families are about and as life complicates itself and us,  we must again protect prime time for people whose needs are prime.

I Take Your Hand . . . 

Come, I take your hand.
We go to places where
our hearts share dreams.

Sometime back, in histories
having no years,
we trod places where paths
had not been worn.

It was a good time,
seeing how we formed lives
with no lesson plans,
loved with no time
and lived fully aware.

We remember now
when the hands of the clocks
tell us we have only so much time;
only so much to check emails,
to see bank statements,
and to note how many Likes
from those we don’t know.

And only so much time
before the next commercial break
and then we might have time

to love one another?

September 2016

 

 

artwork by 
Claudia Hallissey

 

((comments edited by VRH))

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