Footsteps to Beyond

I often contemplate the many metaphors for our voyage through this temporal life: ships crossing rough seas; trains chugging up mountains; footsteps in the sand.  What gives momentum to our life’s journey?  What guides our life’s direction?  Where did we begin, and what will our destination be?  What are the roles of God, of pain, of choice?  Whatever your travels, may they be blessed.

FOOTSTEPS TO BEYOND

Wingtips and heels
traversed that chasm
between
the last train car
step
and the train station
platform
just as the forward motion
stopped
and the locomotion
whooshed
its unnecessary steam,
as their movement along
the tracks,
over hills and through forests and farms,
became,
crossing that chasm,
footsteps
to beyond.

Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road, b Roger Baker, is now available in print and for Kindle on Amazon.

Commandments

In our lives, in this world, so much of what we hear screams at us; so much of what we see strains the eye; so much stimulus overwhelms our senses.  So how do we sense the sublime? How do we discern the quintessential?  Beauty and ugliness both surround us.  To see beauty despite what is ugly requires both a choice to see, and a belief that beauty is there to be seen. For a moment, put aside religion, God, spirituality, and morality–and trust that intrinsic beauty and goodness are real.  That is when you will see.  My poem “Commandments” points at the difficulty of having faith in goodness, of sensing the sublime, of believing in beauty, touches on the straining effort faith requires, but affirms the reality and virtue of light, goodness, beauty, and sublimity, and their power to eclipse evil.

COMMANDMENTS

Of you
I require
to hear Wren’s peep
through the hurricane’s howl,
to stare at the sun
yet see Luna fly,
to feel the breeze on your skin
as you’re quartered and drawn.
I demand your peaceability
despite warmongerings and deceits,
against abominations and lying hearts.
Your peaceable walk
I adjure.
Discern the beauty
of the muddy speck,
the song
in the screech and cry.

Fly

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A butterfly, though battered, does not cease to fly.  It pays no mind to the sloughed scales that leave it cracked and drab.  Though not as graceful, perhaps, as in younger days, the butterfly yet lilts from flower to flower, following scents of sweetness.  So must I not give up because I am cracked and broken, weary, and showing my age.  The world is beautiful still, sweet still, ripe and available still, for me, for you.

FLY

Today you limp
on air:
wings faded,
edges serrated,
tails broken off.
Still, flowers
beckon
you to push awkwardly on,
to cling with three barbed feet.
Uncurl your coil
to taste the sweetness
of the flowers
today.

Farmer

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I have often second-guessed my career as a lawyer, wondering if I would have been better suited as an ornithologist, a cosmologist, an English teacher, or a writer.  It doesn’t matter anymore, really: I’ve been a lawyer for 25 years.  And I will be the best municipal lawyer I can be until I retire, and happy to do it.  Throughout my career, I have found opportunities to be both the intellectual and the romantic, the lawyer and the poet, the analyst and the naturalist. In my poem “Farmer” I explore the concept of being who we really are in the midst of circumstances that, we think, may not suit us but in which we find ourselves.  And, maybe we are right where we need to be: learning, stretching, becoming.

FARMER

Now,
looking back thirty years,
I would to have sidestepped
a torturous jurisprudence.
I would, rather, to have studied
the sturdy soil,
the art of growing things.
Still, today,
from my desk,
I till and I plant;
I nurture and hoe out the choking weeds,
looking to the harvest.
Resolutions are my cash crop,
statutes and prosecutions.
Policies and proclamations
yield forthcoming fruits.
The pen is my plough,
reams of paper
my fertile, furrowed fields,
poems my flower garden,
where butterflies condescend
to radiate.

Hold My Hand

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While many toss it aside as a casual gesture, holding hands is actually quite an intimate, meaningful act.  One that I miss.  The touching of the skin covering another divine soul.  Out of respect for this intimacy, I will dispense with the usual vignette and say only that my poem “Hold My Hand” attempts to describe how holding hands can be, how it should be, and how I hope it to be again.

HOLD MY HAND

circle round
each knuckle
steal down the length
of each shivering finger
press my palm
as I move
to wrap
your slender wrist
blanket me
with a free hand
skin-soft
blood-warm
pulses a-patter

Upcoming Review by Rose Gluck

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On her WordPress blog “Words and Pictures” writer and reviewer Rose Gluck announces her forthcoming review of my book Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  I appreciate her selecting my book to review, but also her mission to explore the stories of everyday lives: an important cultural, historical, and literary endeavor.  See her original blog post below, and stay tuned for her review.


Rose Gluck of Words and Pictures: It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here on Words and Pictures. I’ve been pretty busy on several projects but am finally back here on my blog to share stories of everyday lives. I am in the final stretch of my dissertation so I’ve been very focused on that. My work -as you might . . . [click on this link to see the whole post: Been Out of Touch – Upcoming Projects here on Words and Pictures — Words and Pictures]

Between

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I rarely write poems about poetry.  While the challenging art of writing a good poem is as meritorious a subject as a stunning sunset or a broken heart. writing about writing can become trite and shallow if one is not careful.  My nephew Trevor called me tonight and asked me how I began to write poetry.  “I wasn’t content,” I told him, “to say simply, ‘How pretty.’  I wanted to dig deeper, to really get at the essence of beauty and my experience with it.  So I began to study and write poetry.”  Despite frequent arid periods, I have never stopped.  At the risk of writing a trite poem about writing poetry, I did just that in “Between.”  I hope it meets with your approval.

BETWEEN

Poems come from places in between:
between sleep and wakefulness;
between light and darkness;
between divine habitation
and this rough carnal plane;
between intellect and pathos;
belonging at once to neither
and to both: creations
of paradox and reconciliation.