Both prettied-up, time spent together of sidewalk cafe
warm September day, where curb-side trees offered cooling shade
son's friend and I whiled in visit, sipping our frappe
their youth caused me to notice her, lady's health soon would fade.
Meanwhile other cafe patrons sparred their day relaxed
high-hung geraniums dangled on lamp-posts, un-cutback
rushing bustle of street's traffic, close-elsewhere hurried by
old lady sat with a flower in her hair - caught the eye.
Observing their mutual rapport ocassioned there
casual demeanor told, were a kindly pair
though mother's mind still keen, daughter's eye kept care
dribbles or crumbs quickly daubed or flicked with her kerchief
woman's back a perfect fit, curved bench offered its relief.
September 12, 1999
Thence knelt on both knees, bringing both face to face
kind features cast of eyes and mouth, mien and grace
personified mother's care - for girl's crying fit.
As took back dampened kerchief, then so like a mother
re-dried eyes and wetted cheeks - love gave to another.
Before she unknelt, two arms extend with their loving's reach
clasping dried-eyed girl to her bosom, touched instead of speech
replacing hanky as she stood, then tersely told - was the end of it!
October 1, 1999
Cat still curled at her side made no move to leave
like its mistress, slumbered midst those dreams felines weave
both to dream olden themes once again - Time must thieve.
When clock chimed out ten, lady partially woke
rubbed weary eyes, doffed her glasses then tiredly spoke
pet squirmed and stretched, at last widely yawned
mistress took time to caress - cat fawned.
After rising, placed her book on desk nearby
shooing cat outdoors to fare its night thereby
doors locked, both faucets checked - at last the light
upping steps to retire - bed down her night.
December 24, 1999
Cup clutched in both hands, right mid-finger through its ear
absorbing both coffee's heat and light of sunlight's glare
further warmed both hands and coffee, musings brought clear
an aging man, told by meager crop of whitened hair.
Sitting there in mute silence, between sips of coffee’s brew
as patrons came and went, bid his nod to several few
brooding thoughts from years past, for what they gave
mulling former friends - late brought down to grave.
Waitress thrice came by, each time would refill
knew when empty cup came to its standstill
each time, eyes gave waitress his smile - but not his lips
spoke no words, just a gentle nod for her frequent trips.
Once found in motion, made way to counter - there to pause
fumbled coins in pocket, counting them out with care
said bye to Elsie then left, drawn by some future cause
night's spent recalling memories - his life had given heir.
January 14, 2000
With rapid stride, out-run that vision
briefly caught by ears as well as eye
to stay or leave, was her decision
yet could she depart - not knowing why?
A quandary instantly created there
gave birth to events she could never share
when un-guessed happenstance - caught her stare.
A split-second’s worth of time told so much
simply to gently shut that door, of such
she should have done, would have if been a man
yet as a women - different feelings ran.
From afar, one could see that door left unclosed
her view held captive by what therein disclosed
porch now vacant, that she had left - not proposed.
January 23, 2000
Through drifts of snow for ten miles beneath late December’s moon
already late at night, train had long-left - for arrived at noon
no one there welcomed him, took many hours to find a driver
til Father Clem being Irish - thought to offer a fiver.
Finally one found willing to make cold trip, told he could stay
the rectory overnight, if weather suited - return next day
that’s how it all began, his stayage to out-last for three-score years
such once heard in a cafe, the sadness in their words reached my ears.
Buried him but two weeks back, seemed no other news rife
everyone grieved by his death, like heart torn out of life
a town saddened by their loss of one each knew, soul-stirred
but an hour, I ate then drove on - mused what over-heard.
Still abides among memory’s strands, sometimes comes out to play
just a sliver cafe-caught, some town - up Neepawa way.
January 28, 2000
Her daily joy from what mail brought by
did not glance it first, held tightly clutched in her hand
pleasured on porch in Summer, first readings try
used knife husband used - to open or cut its band.
Quite neat about it all, wastebasket near
in silence read, smiled or shed a tear
after, would nod til slept a-chair
dreams mail brought - but her affair.
February 8, 2000
Much time taken to reach that mailbox each day
its placement rather flat, daily plods his way
beleagured steps crippled, arthritis must pay
seen as passing by - goings out and back each day.
Now seems but yesterday, could bet on his shuffling shift of feet
then new folks moved in, young and healthy - for them a simple feat
as daily ambled out and back to gather in their mail
an unthought chore they easily did - swiftly without fail.
But for him had been a journey, a struggled bit of toil
hip, knees and ankles, toes disjointed - like out of oil
silently, though felt you might hear of joint's creaking clank
if did not know, might presume one who daily drank.
One unknown to me, but eye-caught his walk - driving by
went on four years, then like I said - new folks caught my eye
a stray flash-back noticed many years ago when going past
one of life's varied conditions - human diversity had cast.
March 4, 2000
Sunday after Sunday heard, at least by me - enriched my prayers
if for unknown reasons did not sing, instantly knew who not there
wore Sundays for three years, then heard she moved on to otherwheres
never knew her name nor face, but beauty of her voice - one most rare.
March 4, 2000
Perhaps first noticed when walking past
briefly reflected, store window glassed
suddenly stopped, like one froze in mid-stride
innate need to know - done of woman’s pride.
March 8, 2000
Then storms a hundred miles away
rains sent downstream with growing foray
flooding awash with wild display.
Bottle ignorant soon would hurl
finally freed of endless swirl
as crested those falls, its final end comes to pass
smashed upon rocks far below - bottle turned to glass.
March 19, 2000
Ironing clothes, now but just her own to do
family flock fled, new fabrics leave but few.
Unlike many, found this chore an undreaded task
heat of iron, that smell of freshness - both warmly cast
still humming those simple tunes, names one need not ask
but an hour at most - her singing heard to last.
March 22, 2000
Where land rose rather quickly, growing steep
saddled between two hill's enfolding sweep
early Spring trilliums up, dogwoods budding soon
briefly noticed - pressed to reach hill's top by noon.
As clambered over larger rocks strewn near its crest
mind traced back to lands leveled flat, wide prairies blest
endless horizon in all directions, like flat Russian steppes
ones easily crossed, yet here - labored with struggled steps.
When reached hill's crowning crest, high above vallied coomb
viewed far below, quaint farm-fields of English loam
fertile land fed its people, labored beneath sky’s blue dome
wherever traveled by, always a place - someone calls home.
March 22, 2000
But should hawk be seen soaring, circling up the sky
quietly adrift, further widening - gliding high
know life not yet dead, but very soon might become
should Chance portend, with hawk about - but Death therefrom!
Beware if seen, when single hawk found circling very high
an omen of impending doom, portends from out the sky
and if not this time then later, now but its warning
quietly foretells a time - gray shrouds of mourning.
If amidst some trauma found, one must deal with
should pause within its throes, then chance to look up high
be not surprised, if thereof sense that ancient myth
ever circling closer - hovering down the sky.
A sudden quiet shattered with loud whistled squawk
thereafter silent waft of soaring bird, the hawk
call it eagle, falcon, kite, whatever - Death abides
innate fate of every life - raw Nature provides.
Always knows whether you do or not - be sure of this
when events wear life most extreme, they will never miss
so be alert, on guard, with one eye held to scan those skies
perhaps may see single hawk, searching with sharp hungry eyes
should observe one gliding, attend - for a hawk never lies.
March 25, 2000
When twin oak-doors shut up at Sunday noon
hush within, may echo some sacred tune
til even that lost midst mute quiet's pall
yet some Presence still remained - felt Its thrall.
Last evening, geese finally upped and left - heading South
gone, that daily gaggle loudly jabbered from each mouth
off and on their way, yet left wisps of fuzzies de-feathered
now idle at pond’s edge, lying loose, drifting - untethered.
Dog house beside old barn, shouts without its bark
still seen, for pass it daily - so sadly stark
that burst of energy once held within
late-killed by car, silent - what once had been.
Four hours after all began, then so suddenly ceased
hundreds wasting each other like crazy rabid beasts
soon scrape of shovels heard, delving soil for each plot
deathly quiet, no one speaks, yet had been loyal - but for what?
Those who made it through unscathed, now alone - each silently sat
drinking in that stillish silence of what war is - and all that.
As reddish sun dipped beneath Western sky, wanning dimly
still he stood there by fresh grave, saddened face held grimly
unhears without, but within a deeper stillness outwept his tears
a love long-dwelt, now yields but worn silence - of one's widowed years.
March 30, 2000
Worth of one's self-pain, shrived by warmth of mother’s love
once distant saw, blest my day - from what seen thereof.
April 4, 2000
Ascertain whence go, ahead or back
to think or decide, its brain would lack
longly awaiting there til some yearn gave its lead
then slowly shuffled on - for some dim-felt need.
With its awkward strut, zig-zagged beyond
parting grass stems to some nearby pond
travels self-learned without need for school
as submerged deep - within water’s dank cool.
April 4, 2000
Whence hearth screen put in place, plodded up cold stairs
thence bed the night - but not before lisped his prayers.
April 4, 2000
T'was of it bothered his ill-mood
again tells of a family feud
already knew why been sent
petty meanness - what it meant.
Finally in disgust, threw it upon the fire
burning curled edges vented its raging ire
with that declared he rose, poured coffee out
another note would be sent - had no doubt!
April 8, 2000
Few a-tonic notes held, but then
played several more, so you wondered when
are these the last or but more to come
sometimes waiting - even after done!
She just had to look again, making sure
always happens when a woman’s on tour
while he waited - impatiently fumed
when one's wife's bent on buying - you are doomed.
Finished winding-up old mantel clock
key put back beneath once gifted rock
had failed to run, its winding ought do the trick
but even as he left - unheard its stopping tick.
When shop’s door shut up for the night
failed to close it fully tight
night winds blew ajar, then outright open
next morning entered, looked about - hopin’.
April 15, 2000
Finally smoke showed above, ‘fore heard its wheels creak
puffing fumes soon seen by woods along Tipple Creek
with clicks and clanks, its steely wear on tracks felt there below
til whistle faded, iron-horse magic - heard long ago.
April 22, 2000
I still recalled, before found deceased and widowed out
after church both footed there, weathers foul or fair
at each ancestored tomb, paused with prayers devout
when service over, weekly done by caring pair.
Half-way through service, lighted candle fell from its perch
during pastor’s sermon, seen by everyone in church
with smooth flourish he grabbed holy water, began to pour
quick-doused its flame, continued his sermon much as before.
What was so odd about it all, he made no comment of it
picked up his train of thought, exactly where had suddenly quit.
Puts me in mind years back, when wireless microphones became the rage
our minister wore one, so all he said heard - as if on a stage
as service began, with holy water sprinkler blessed all with it
when suddenly its head went flying off - loudly heard: oh shit!
Father spoke of our need to hear that Word of God
all rapt with ears to hear, ‘cept Ned began to nod
pastor continued at ambo, preached on and on
til sermon stretched rather long - Ned began to yawn.
Finally snores were heard emanating from Ned’s pew
Father paused, about done - so silently withdrew
everyone laughed, especially Father McGinnish
had watched it all, thought it better - quickly finish.
Of course Ned woke up, saw everyone looking at him
Father told all to rise - intoned old One-Hundredth hymn.
After Sunday service, counters ledgered what baskets took in
always several buttons or metallic slugs, some thought a sin
like scripture tells, admonishes our giving be unknowing
so let not your left hand know, what your right hand is doing.
April 29, 2000
Tender touch told of one's love, heartbroken
now beyond reach of ears
precious moment kindly done, unspoken
of such - one seldom hears.
When she slipped a step, he to be kind
quick-grabbed her elbow, since walked behind
she jerked back as if been spider-bitten
glared then kept on - he felt sorely smitten.
That risk of just when or how, if one tries
one seems to know, you see it in their eyes
though rendered with caring love to help - be wise
tendered touch sometimes goes awry - kindness tries.
May 13, 2000
Til found some lilt, an Irish air once heard
then other notes played, some whim briefly stirred
idle fingers drifting midst those ivoried keys
sifting through lost memories - for what now might please.
Each try, caught some song his past once taught
thence led on to other lays newly brought
fingered-keys, supple sounds now stiffly plays
echoed foregotten tunes of former days.
Brief cameos life-gathered, heart-hid and dusty
shaken loose, fumbled fingers try - long gone rusty
another attempt, further meanings - some whisp brought by
chanced upon old piano - crippled fingers briefly try.
Until his mind and back grew tired, thence limply sat
with neither sound nor tune, his happy mood gone flat
finally rose, eyed late clock - fend for supper’s need
one more day lost among those left - Life yet may cede.
June 25, 2000
Re-dealt tomorrow’s deal, past had re-shuffled up
relit pipe single-handed, patted his frolicked pup
being country-dwelt with Nature near, peace inly felt
like many once nightly did - not bed before they knelt.
October 19, 2000
Spoon heaped with coffee placed in clay-cup at hand
kettle’s heated water decantered, then let stand
while waiting to brew and cool, he stood window by
noting weather, then rocker-sat - gave cup's first try.
During long lonesome winter days, when clock belled three
sameless ritual past years evolved, since death of she
sixty-six this year, if lived til December third
coffee gone, refilled kettle - all without a word.
Grief's glimpse of how one old, out-wears wan winter days
widowed yet healthy, until his life - no longer stays.
November 15, 2000
For above, woman lost in thought
midst that debris life had brought
things once did or those she might have done
as shadows lengthened - by setting sun.
Til at last, sound of rocker stilled
thoughts trailed off, drifting into sleep
sound of her rale deeply held
cat slept on - cozied in idled heap.
Shadows casting rays more darkly black
til head reached her breast, as neck went slack
when shelved-clock boomed, counting hours of eight
she slowly roused, soon aware - getting late.
Her quiet arousal caught by sharp ears of cat
likewise uncurled, stretched and yawned - then arched its back
both left together, made measured steps for kitchen
fashion food for them both - cat’s tail a'twitchen.
But oh that difference of what ran within their brains
cat sensed but the present, what its chemistry gains
while she wore evenings through, thinking of the past
brewing an unknown future, of such - cat not hast.
November 20, 2000
Til roof-timbers fell in, walls collapsed
slowly decayed - passing years elapsed.
Only chimney flung its length up the sky
where whistling winds whined sad moans, terse and dry
til one day suddenly toppled, yet left unheard
with that long eerie silence after - as its final word.
December 25, 2000
My breakfast, fried eggs cooked in fat
outside with coffee, porch-side sat
as Mary's song led their cattle back
heard again - whenever winds go slack.
Knew hill below, breakfast laid
morning chores done, beds been made
soon noise of work would begin
each tomorrow - reheard again.
February 14, 2001
Whiled a few words more, idled both between
that usual chatter, told of things routine
glanced her eyes once more as turned to go
knew love lost - what eyes and lips would not show.
February 23, 2001
There dwells alone, few seldom come to visit by
since a stranger, little known - as if one shy
arrived three years ago, moved-in cold March day
appears from what now seen - she is here to stay.
Been three weeks, since took Time's care to visit there
felt some penchant to stop by, brief words might share
perhaps ought make visit of that widow on the hill
kneel beside my wife's grave - for deeply love her still.
February 28, 2001
Then, not now - place alive with hopes and dreams
families bred and reared from life-struggled schemes
memories once cherished, reaped what dwelling gave
now forgotten - lives long silenced by their grave.
Log cabin built years back, Nature chanced to save
dogwood still flowers before their leaves, after final frost
daffodils and lilacs telling, old hopes - are never lost.
April 12, 2001
After rain had ceased to fall
early tree-frogs heard to call
until gutters merely dripped
from blest fonts inside - mice sipped.
After sun rebirthed next dawn
early dew withdrew from lawn
until daylight left no doubt
inside - candle flickered out.
After Sunday spoke God's Word
early worship, faithful heard
again candle relit, all night burned
inside dim lit church - those mice returned.
May 17, 2001
Asked to know - which way to Bedlow
how far - time-taken there to go
lies just below church near by
such I told - yet unasked of why.
Her youthful beauty with eyes aglow
old age still recalls - from long ago.
May 23, 2001
Thence have known, just two miles more what be found
from what there heard, discerned of its distant sound
not panicked prematurely, now presumed otherwise
yet insisted all was lost - hopes held paralyzed.
After never found, unheard of in future years
as if simply vanished, 'tis such - when panic steers.
June 12, 2001
Mere names inscribed, yet brief message hid
only years after, found locket's lid
within, gave date and place - last names too.
When revealed their hidden clue
I knowing then - what soon must do.
June 12, 2001