Friday’s Quick Pick: Poem/Tulip Times

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(For my two sisters, here and gone)

It’s April so the flowers are talking to me
about the perfection of love and laughter, and
how what appears empty is in fact brimming,
the overripe clouds split by soft tearing
so that radiance gilds every upturned face.

Tulips bob in breezes, daffodils are soon passe.
Rows and rows are united in bright tonal harmony;
earthy secrets arise in potent, pure scents.
Country explodes after winter’s mad rains;
every color competes, unique, extreme in beauty.

I am thinking they are here for me today though
they bravely bloom for even those who care little.
I cup a cherry red tulip, recall a spring we three
strolled through acres ablaze, our talk like soft skeins
knitting family stories and us together with fine stitches.

Who can know that such a wealth of happiness
cannot be hoarded, only found in small gifted moments?
We had planned on more visits, farther travels
and vast outpourings of words, an abundance of flowers.
But if time has unraveled, leaving two of us behind,
our shared sister heart will not. It is made human but holy.

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Friday’s Quick Pick: Poem/My Dog at the Park

The usual motley group was there
as I passed muddy grass slopes where
everyone brings their canine companions,
then circles up to watch them romp and court.
The humans laugh and grouse, call out
to pets as if gifted or very bad children.
I paused with hands on hips, smiling.
Recalled four-leggeds Twiggy, Max and Buddy,
how they disrupted work and time with

ideas of pleasure like zigzag tag,
charging after bees or cats, howling
off-key with our music and oh, endless
petting, scratching of strange places. There
was our bribing for obedience with smelly
treats fed by hand (as if they were royalty),
palms tickled, scoured by long drippy tongues.
Our children commandeered them as beasts
to pull heavy objects, as alarms and look-outs
during high-jinks, or wept-upon confidantes
but never once did said dogs bite rudely
in reasonable protest. They adored their kids.

I vacated those memories, moved on until
there was my dream dog upon a hill–
so luxuriant a coat, that dignified stance,
such fierce beauty of the husky
desired all my life–which finally turned,
watched me gazing back, noting a minor
magnetic pull of my deep admiration.
Rather, there were squirrels, ducks, robins,
rousing scents on a breeze, a master at rest.
My longed-for sidekick observed and waited
unperturbed, best behaved, already well loved.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Death of a Spiritual Warrior

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(In Memoriam, for Vincent)

Old Ghost Man is gone,
he’s changed his name again,
left wisdom’s better parts
to seekers, strays and nomads,
those who embrace the good path
and those who care little
how life is dreaming come awake.

He drummed it up, offered a glance
of ironic cheer, a madcap holiness
brewed from trouble, trickster spirits,
eagle feathers, cries of wildness
human or not from streets that kill
when there ought to be redemption.

Take my salvation, it’s for real free
he said,
always enough to go around.
Yes, even you white woman,

you make stones turn again,
you know what I mean, aye?

The stones named:
men, women burned down to ashes,
shattered with grief, souls stitched
with bitter roots, scoured by drugs.
But welcomed with dance and story,
given respect, they just wore down hate.
Then they rooted out places my hardness
had cracked, my tenderness hid. We traded
thundering silences, lightning’s song,
tears for small joys.

Old Ghost Man, he nodded my way,
raised his hand in greeting when some
turned backs, were stubborn doubters.
See, just walk strong and soft,
he whispered, or chanted my name
without fear, cynn-theea-a-a, 
like a swirl of painterly desert winds,
a slow ride on river’s serpent back.

Ghost Man is gone, gone, gone
he’s changed his name again
is heard in echoes, love circling ’round
he’s slipped out, moved to a better house.
Old friend, I see you now beyond
that rain shadow mountain,
untethered,
laughing and winking,
aloft.

Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Invisible

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I live around here, too, unknown to you,
beneath my own flag of greens and blues,
amid dirt, broken glass, rock and trees,
watched over by wild animals, madmen
and the odd angel or two.
My world view is from a sidewalk,
behind a fence, through rain or spider’s webs.

The lives of many peoples like me
hide in musty corners, mingle by rivers,
traverse the paths that you avoid,
and our blood has colored much of
what was ruined, traded or stolen.
We may fight but soon give it all up.
We have so little to bargain with.

You don’t see us, don’t hear me.
I am an invisible, a tattered one
most often omitted in roll call,
overlooked in life’s endless lines,
or one who wandered too far from the crowd.
My bed is terra firma or a slice of space
between fifty others. Like a shadow
erased by cover of night,
I come forward with light’s breaking,
am weightless, transient as cottonwood fluff.

You think you know me and I, you.
We cross paths, share time, but fail
to recognize humanity in one another.
I may ask you for a dollar or small mercies;
you mostly turn aside. Fate is cast that easily.
But if you could look, take a chance even once

we might lock hands, see they’re both
etched with hopes, hurts and affections.
We could try to salvage one another
a little before it is too late–
brother and sister, it’s later every day.
We might set free one dazed and dingy dove,
then open the way to life’s simplest gifts
each ordinary person is meant
to embrace, to give and be given.

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Friday’s Passing Fancies/Poem: Taste for Autumn

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Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

When she settled on the swing
a barreling wind lifted
the edges of her breath
and green gingham dress,
rocked her as if her mother
came to push and catch
so she did not dive
right into autumn’s magic
on each staggering rise and fall.

That sweet fire of swinging faded,
became winter’s crystalline water
but the swing did not forget,
nor the leaves that danced
and gathered at her feet,
tree gifts rusty, tarnished bronze

until like her mother
they left her with a taste
for all dying beauty-
dry sponge of moss
and fermenting apple,
broken leaves, prophetic rain
and love that bargains-
its frailty
its weight.