Friday, June 23, 2017

Hiram and Johnny


Hiram Coon had an “ungovernable” temper.
A farmhand with prison in his past,
And part of his right ear bitten off,
He and his wife ate at the same table
With Mr. and Mrs. Laker and their youngsters.
Though Mrs. Laker thought it a waste
To serve him steak, and cautioned
Hiram Coon not to talk about her ‘round town
If he partook of drink in taverns.

Hiram Coon knew a woman like Mrs. Laker
Was just looking for a quarrel with him.
Hiram Coon knew a woman like Mrs. Laker
Never had the damned Irish taken out of her.
Hiram Coon knew one sure way to fix that.

While they all ate the steak his wife cooked,
Hiram Coon excused himself and went outside.
At the woodpile, he tucked the ax in his waistband.
Returning, Mrs. Coon saw barest bit of ax blade.
Rising, she tried to put herself between them.
Hiram Coon shoved down his wife, determined
As he was, to take the Irish out of Mrs. Laker.

Mr. Laker fumbled past the fallen Mrs. Coon,
The Laker children whimpered in their chairs,
A single candle sputtered on the table.
Mrs. Laker picked up her chair, bumping it
At Hiram Coon as she backed into the pantry.
Hiram Coon swung high above it, hitting Mrs. Laker.

From the back, Mr. Laker came at him kicking.
Hiram Coon fled out the door, and past the barn.
They sent the oldest Laker boy for Dr. Moses
While Mrs. Coon bandaged Mrs. Laker’s head.
Mr. Laker stood at the door with gun in hand
‘Case Hiram Coon was of a mind to do more harm.

Now everyone was talking about Mrs. Laker
In the taverns.  She died some six days later.
The same time Hiram Coon was caught nearby.
No one would testify on his behalf, not even
Mrs. Coon, and the jury found him guilty.
Hence Hiram Coon was sentenced to be hung
His spirit then released from its clay tenement.

JOHNNY, 2009

Johnny is serving thirty-one years
For killing his eight month old son
I think of lying face down in his living room
Only the week before as he tattooed
My daughters’ names around my ankle
And we made small talk about birds

Johnny draws better than anyone I know
Despite his car accident, his brain injury
Sometimes his mother shows me pictures
He has drawn in prison with a 3” pencil
They do not let him have a sharpener
Johnny’s mother was sure she would lose her job
When the story made the newspapers
She had to testify at the trial, her son
The perpetrator, and her grandson the victim.

Sometimes people wonder what kind of person
Could commit such a heinous act? They wonder
What kind of parents could raise such a son?
I knew, and watched them struggle.  Mightily.
The daughter killed by a drunk diver, the son
Who never wanted to be the oldest, and the demons
That he fought, the family that struggled with him.

My daughter wanted to go into law enforcement.
My daughter's world was very black and white.
We talked about Johnny, I wanted her to know
The circumstances that can color a situation,
The shades of gray that follow us all.
Black and white, I want to tell her, is for piano keys.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Let Me Go

Let me go to join a love more perfect that will make me whole again
For I seek that Grace
Let me go to join the winds of change that promise hope
For I know that Vision
Let me go to join in the beauty and majesty of the everlasting
For I am that Wonder
Let me go to join the color and the light and the truth
For I seek that Faith
Let me go to join the serenity of what is and what isn’t
For I know that Peace
Let me go to join my voice with rolling thunders of heaven
For I am ready to be Heard

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Who Do We Become

I did not understand you
Were a living part of me.

Your memory forced
Me to redefine who
I Am.

I struggled for a definition,
Not liking my choices.

Who do we become when
The people we love
Leave us?  How do we

Fill the space where 
They once were? How
Do we stitch together 

The memories we are
Left with, to make
Ourselves whole again?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No Fear

I do not fear death for it is simply the
Comforting dank smell of last year's
Leaves fallen to the forest floor, now
Giving way to new growth, new life.
It is that final rest from weariness,
From pain, and a chance to sleep.

Who Are We?

Who do we become when we lose
the parent who guided us as surely
as a star guides us through darkness?

How do we look in the mirror
and still see ourselves as whole
when we know we no longer are?

What becomes of our future when
our shared past has been broken
and the bridge no longer exists?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Learning to Fly

My wings are hidden.  I have
Not figured out how to fly in
This earth-bound life.  My feet
Ache to leave the ground every
Time the wind blows through my
Hair, my face turned to the sky.

So I dare myself to let go of my
Branch, to free-fall into the
Unknown, to see if my wings
Will carry me into the world.
See if I have the strength to

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Take the time to wander the quiet
Pre-spring, the damp path of fallen
Leaves yielding to new growth
The first greens pushing forth
Tender and lithe enough to make
Way through the matted forest floor

Too early for the robin or the oriole's
Song, it is not truly spring until the
Trill of the red-wing blackbird is
Heard at the edge of the marsh
Along with the spring peeper chorus

Cool breezes from patches of snow
Still hidden by rock outcrops and
Fallen trees remind you that winter
Fights for last handholds as warmth
Gains strength in the March sky

You stop, eyes closed, and breathe
Deeply the musky earth, death and
Rebirth mingled on the forest path
Knowing you, too, are reborn for 
Another season, another year

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Push past the matted brown grass,
Past the thickness that buries you.
Do not be deterred by your newness,
There is strength in your supple green.

Face the new day, new season.
Rejoice in being the first to rise up
To reclaim this land, reclaim yourself,
You, a child of the grasses that whisper

To the rabbits and fox that hide within.
The prairie holds the gentle secrets
Of the thistle, coneflower, and yarrow,
And those who know their names.

Blow with the wind, with purpose,
See where it carries you each new day.
Ride it like the seed of the milkweed,
Aloft and tender, covering new ground.

Alight gently, then move on again,
Borne by the desires of freedom
And the need to root and grow
So you can burst forth yet again.

Friday, April 7, 2017

She Is

She is a crescent moon
Daintily pouring darkness
Into a china teacup rimmed
With gold and painted
With delicate pastel flowers
That she flutters over like
A rare butterfly in an
English country garden
With a path that meanders
Down to a lily-dotted pond
Lit by a crescent moon

Thursday, April 6, 2017


You ask me if I remember but
So many things I do not,
Because I hold recollections
Of other times, other places,
Crowding out here and now.

When I walk the very paths
You do, I feel another time
in those same places, when
You can only see how they
Are now. I am out of place.

Wisps of unnamed people walk
Beside me making it hard for me
To listen to you.  I know corners
Before I turn them and I go silent
Letting these places speak to me.

I try to mesh your here and now
With my places out of time so
You become part of my memories
So I can take you with me, the
Same way you have loved me.