Dream Of Execution

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0I saw in a dream…

That was me standing there in front of the firing squad,
my hands tied behind me, an unlit cigarette dangling from my lips,
reliving the story of a life which truly I did not know I had lived.
Was I the General who lead the people’s revolt on this island
so small it does not appear on a map of the world?
Pondering the possible reasons for being here in this dream
hoping only that whatever my crime, I lived up to my expectations.
I could feel the light breeze cooling the sweat beneath my silk shirt,
still heavy with the perfume of the woman who betrayed me that night.
They could not miss me, I thought, from only twenty feet away
and yet the wall behind me was riddled with holes from stray bullets.
Maybe guilt or a grain of sand blurred the sight of some executioners.
I watch the men get “ready” and shoulder their rifles to take “aim.”
I take one last drag of the still unlit cigarette and prepare myself to die.

Suddenly, I awake from this dream when I hear the word “fire.”

Three O’clock In The Morning

FCF38573-2929-4C13-B491-12CD9E788FD0I like my coffee black,
my whiskey on the rocks,
my wine chilled in a flat bottom glass—
the way they serve it in Italy.
I like my woman in ecstasy,
moaning my name out loud.
My eggs, scrambled,
moist but not runny.
I like my sheets and towels
made of cotton, sun dried on a line.
I like walking barefoot in the ocean,
the waves lapping at my thighs.
My music, mostly bluesy and hot—
sometimes soft and mellow.
I like the darkness of the new moon,
stars shooting across the black face of god.
I like life coming at me full tilt,
with no time to plan or ponder.
When I wake at three o’clock in the morning,
I like to write poetry—
Just as I am doing right now.

Reading Poetry At Three O’clock In The Morning

I often read poetry when I wake up during the night at a time when most are sound asleep. It is quiet now with only the hum of the refrigerator to keep me company and the occasional cat fight outside on the rooftops. I rub coconut oil into my tattoo (my first) hoping to prevent it from scabbing and to keep it moist, but the inevitable, whatever that is, will still happen. It always does. There will be a shedding of the outer layer and a regeneration of new skin. That is the way life goes on. “Their loss is no disaster.”

I am not happy with Apple’s new operating system. It makes a few improvement and comes with more problems than before but I will adapt. I always do. We always do. It is our nature. Why do they have the need to change things every year? They call it improvement. I call it “disaster.” The old operating system worked well. They perfected it over the course of the last year with nine or ten updates and improvements. They finally get it to work they way they intended it to work from the beginning. Then they make a new model. Why change what has been perfected? Or nearly! It is like my father having to buy a new car every two or three years when the old one ran perfectly well. People always wanted to buy my father’s used cars because he took care of them more than he took care of us. His car was his status symbol in the community. His family was the albatross around his neck. We never really got to know each other. In the same way my daughter will never get to know me nor I her. We, my father and I, were not designed to be family men, I suppose. We are both rolling stones. “Wherever he lay his hat was his home.”

I miss you. Feelings cannot be conveyed over the phone even with your image on my computer screen. Our words are heard but not really understood. There is so much space for misunderstanding when we are separated by so great a distance and time. I do something or recommend a possible solution I think will help you because I hear panic and stress in your voice when you call but my solution causes you additional problems which was never my intent. I hear the ire in your email the next day. What do they say? The road to hell is paved with good intentions? I still do not fully understand what that means but perhaps it is appropriate. I do not know. Is it?

Have you had the opportunity to read the essay I sent you by Roger Angell, This Old Man? You did not say anything about it during our last call. It is about growing old. The changes, the losses. The inability to do the things we once did. Our dependencies on others and how they see us. When we talk on the phone, there is interference beyond our control. Your sister is there, or you don’t want your guests to hear you, or the internet connection is not good. I feel left out of your life even though you try to keep me abreast of the things you do each day. It is difficult to feel you as a part of my life when you are only an image on the computer screen, and we are only communicating with words. Words sometimes are not enough. I always think of something I wanted to ask or share with you after we hang up. It is not as easy as going into the next room and asking you in person.

We have spent more time apart than together. That is what concerns me with your decision to remain in another country. I support your choices and you, but I am concerned. All at the same time. Maybe it is because I do not have an attachment to place as you do. Wherever I am is beautiful to me. Wherever I lay my hat is home. I do not have the attachment to friends and family you have. Nor do I have attachment to country or state. That is life. This is my life. We are all different. My mother and her sisters all lived and died within a few blocks of where they were born. I will die here, wherever that happens to be. I do not know. Times and places are always changing, not always on a schedule as are Apple updates, but they do change.

These are just some of my thoughts at three in the morning while listening to the silence and reading the poem “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. I look forward to sharing time together whenever we do. Heart to heart. Soul to soul. Skin to skin. No internet or wi-fi required.

I love you.


Listen to Miranda Otto read “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop here.

Listen to the Temptations sing “Papa Was A Rolling Stone here.

Note: It was Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art” which inspired my poem “Moments.” You can read the poem here.

You can read my poem, “Three O’clock In The Morning” here.

Feasting On My Life

Sometimes, I need a little help from my friends…and when I do, I often turn to poetry. Another one of my favorite poets is Derek Walcott. I keep a copy of his poem Love After Love in my rainy day box. I am grateful each morning I awaken to this life but a recent experience reminded my how fortunate I am to be alive.

This poem reflects me to myself as clearly as any mirror I have ever stood before. I am reminded of my beauty as a man who walks gently upon this world. That the wisdom of my heart is pure and true. That my soul heals with the exchange and sharing of words, music, food, and touch. That my spirit is resilient, loving and forgiving, made whole again after being torn apart from itself. That this life I love opens to me at every turn into the fulness of the universe. That I am a man too gentle to live among wolves…who once again feasts, like a hungry fox upon his life.

I Will Write All Day

I will write all day, today, not try to squeeze
creativity between a this or a that,
between nowhere and somewhere to be.
My imagination will stretch with the
bright morning shadows
creeping slowly
across the green shimmering leaves.
I will see a flower and create a dedication,
dive into a juicy, ripe papaya and a sonnet will appear.
A sestina with my morning cup of tea.
A long essay with my afternoon meal.
A haiku will tell of the coconuts’ fall from the sky,
with a drum role to match the syncopated rain.
A love poem will greet the setting sun and
I will meet the weariness of the evening sky
with a bedtime verse, close my eyes and go to sleep.
Tomorrow, I will write all day, again,
of this wondrous, glorious experience, my life.

Desires

At what point
do we no longer
desire
our desires?
Like a dream
forgotten
in an instant.
The details
no longer alive—
Hiding there
in the corners
of the foreboding
dark shadows.
Do we forget,
So that we might
dream again,
of the things
we so desire?

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love

I was saddened to hear of Rod McKuen’s (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) passing a year ago. It was because of his words that I fell in love with poetry. It was because of what his words inspired in me that I am a poet today.

It was New Year’s day when I sat down with a cup of tea and picked up the iPad to see if the planet made it through the celebrations of the new year without a terrorist incident. I am not a big fan of “the best of” essays which seem to overflow at this transitional time from one year to the next. I did however read an article by William McDonald in the New York Times naming some of the people the world lost during 2015. It was through this article that I learned of Rod’s passing.

I became acquainted with Rod McKuen’s poetry from his three record compilation with Anita Kerr and The San Sebastian Strings – The Earth, The Sea, & The Sky. Produced by Warner Bros. Records in 1968. It was almost twenty years later on the first of January, 1986, when my neighbor knocked on the door.

“Hi! Happy New Year,” Katie blurted out. She had just returned from spending Christmas with her parents in Seattle. “I got this great album from my parents. I want you to hear it.”

Katie and I had been neighbors for over a year during which time we would often hang out together as friends. Our musical tastes were very different. She was into Rock and I enjoyed Jazz but we often shared our different tastes regarding music inside my small apartment because she didn’t have a record player.

“Sure, come on in.” I said. As an additional incentive, although none was needed, she pulled out a joint and a bottle of wine.

I knew Rod McKuen was a poet but was not aware he was also a musician and singer. I had low expectations for the entertainment, but it was always great sharing time with Katie. The furnace in the apartment building was broken and Portland was about to experience one of it famous ice storms. So we climbed into my heated water bed, opened the wine, lit the joint, started the record, and listened to some of the most beautiful poetry I ever heard for the remainder of the day.

Thirty years latter on January 01, 2016, his words still have the same effect upon my being, even without Katie, the bottle of wine, or the joint. His words are timeless flowing examples of love. In fact, I learned more about the emotions of love from the poetry of Rod McKuen than I learned from most of my relationships. Rumi is up there too, but Rod was first. So, I offer you, “tickets around the room and back” to some of my favorite lines from this timeless recording. Thank you Rod. You awakened the poetry in me with your words.

If we ourselves to know, we should get to know the sea. (My Friend The Sea)

This is the way it was while I was waiting for your eyes to find me…I cried too sometimes… I loved every face I thought looked pretty and every kindred eye I saw in crowds… I was drifting, before you. (While Drifting)

You see how easily we fit together as if God’s own hands had cradled only us…. I found a twenty dollar bill once. I was rich in those days. For a week I had everything. I wish I had known you then. (Gifts From The Sea)

Save the rain that falls upon the sea tonight. We’ll ride the rain to France and back and see the world through European windows. Wake up, the boat is leaving soon. Hurry or we’ll miss it. Are you warm enough and do you like the rain? (Do You Like The Rain?)

Let’s be different… Never mind the world… Let’s not miss each other… And what was your first name anyway? (The Days of the Dancing)

I am just a man who needs and wants mostly things he’ll never have…looking for that thing that’s hardest to find, himself… Help me… Please. (Pushing The Clouds Away)

How can we be sure of anything? The tide changes… I love the sea but that doesn’t make me any less afraid of it… I love you but, I’m not alway sure of what you are…how you feel. I like to crawl behind your eyes sometimes and see me the way you do… As it is I worry when you laugh too much. (The Ever Constant Sea)

I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back… You see what loving does… It makes you trust in horoscopes and gypsy wine, fortune tellers and even seashells. I still believe in love… It’s hard these days you know and yet it’s still a great adventure… (Gypsy Camp)

We’ll go naked in the afternoon and then you can see I’m only me. Have you expected more all this time?… (Beyond The Bend Ahead)

If it comes, that time of leaving. The tide came in, the tide went out… I love you, believe that, and if I ever been unfaithful, it’s only with my friend, the sea. (The Sea)

The earth is where I came from and that is where I’ll go back… At times I think, not soon enough… (The Tender Earth)

Thinking perhaps of boat rides… If we only had a boat?.. You worry yourself with something that doesn’t even have a name. My name, let’s just say I’ll be good to you… I’ll try anyway. (The Butterfly Is Drunk On Sunshine)

How many color of blue make up the sky… Seven, ten maybe… Funny thing to think about while lying here next to you… But I was wondering about the sky… Blue on blue. (How Many Colors of Blue)

Don’t worry me with your conventions. I’ve spent a long time overcoming my own… Take off your coat, take off your conventions… Don’t knock apples if you never bitten into one… (My Dog Likes Oranges)

If I do anything you didn’t expect… Let me know and I’d be more careful next time. (The Forehead of the Morning)

I talk of dying because then I’ll be sure enough to see your eyes darting in the streets, going from face to face seeking my replacement… Stake me out a patch of sky far from everyone and away from everything… (A Patch of Sky, Away From Everything)

There were so many words I wanted to use last night… Words I’m afraid of, like tomorrow and together… And love. If I say I love you, I want it to mean more than I love peanut butter… I want it to mean I’m letting go… Once you say you love somebody, you can’t take it back… I love you. (Sunday)

Sometimes we want so much, we never stop to think… There must have been some goodness there for you as well… An Earthquake? No, tremor maybe… But there are earthquakes in your arms to come… (Earthquakes)

Buy for me the wind and put it in a jar… So That I might take it out and smell it when I’m in stale rooms or unfriendly places… Gather up some sun for me and save it in a little box so in winter time I’ve but to hold your hand and feel the sun… I given you what I have. All I have… In return, buy for me the wind… (Buy For Me The Wind)

What can I say in summing up, that I am a man waiting… That I am some of the sea, part of the earth, and much of the sky… That I used people and let myself be used because it is a means to touch… I am not alone, even if it’s only my own words which keep me company… (In Summing Up)