Was just a year ago, probably this same week
unknowing but three-weeks to live, now growing weak
like today, mid-February with a bit of May
temperatures mild, snow gone - balmy sort of day.

My wife's condition reached a point, unable to get out
weather’s mood recalling past years, bird’s Spring migration
when idea dawned, by taking our jeep I could get her about
drive edge of woods and fence-rows - sit there on location.

This idea appealed to her when I made suggestion
since nice day, make a trial-run - Yes to my question
so readied her for our trip, helping get aboard car’s seat
well-tucked in, binoculars around her neck - it was neat!

Still remember our going through north-field’s gate
wore all that happy wear of going on a date
unaware her life's tenure - was growing late.

We drove in low-low, four-wheel drive locked in
slower than walking, watching those birds in early Spring
agreed would suit, as she graced me with her grin
eyes lit up by such hopes - such pleasure would bring!

Was but a short trip, lasting thirty-minutes at most
well remember her happy face, how strong she beamed
yet was to be our last date, so special I now boast
she died three weeks after - despite migrations dreamed.
February 9, 1999

Window frames shaped of Old Gothic styles
leaded glass pieced together like tiles
arched at top, curved down til squared at bottom
panes amber-tinged - like yellowed glow of Autumn.

Simple cell held but low bed, desk, a single chair
lavatories communal, rooms felt stark and spare
rug mat beside bed, brief comfort given for
ease sharp-pang, when morning feet first touched cold floor.

Near window by, prie-dieu placed to kneel in prayer
a crucifix, yet no mirror to show one fair
scheduled tasks required of both old and young
chapeled at proscribed times - daily hymn-prayers sung.

How all began, of no interest for her to share it seems
wore out her decreasing days meditating on Godly themes
spoke but of the present, her life lived beyond - Death would fulfill
prayerful reflections planned her days - dwelt alone within her cell.

Of her age could only guess, certainly nearing eighty
voice just a whisper, a silent shadow - named Sister Katie
gentle soft-spoken, aging eyes combined enlarged her smile
took place some years ago - when spoke with her for a while.

Just west-side of chapel, presume there lies buried
unknowing when she deceased nor if ever retired
taught by her in grade school, years after I married
thought of her but seldom of - til lately inquired.

Knowing where she now abides, are secrets no one knows
purpose of religious life, one's Faith forever grows
enfolds her Spirit with others, like-found at their last
for one cannot nor need know - how one’s die may be cast.

Thus I recall Sister Katie, with her eye-held smile
wore her declining years with an inner holy style
life’s chosen work, keep that outside world held without
attesting varied ways lived by those, whose faith - held devote.
February 11, 1999

Golden voiced he was, old Michael McGwyer
lately moved in - chosen here to retire.

Keen bearing with well-mannered foils
life-long labored, spent of varied toils
now with hair of sparse remaining gray
wore time with talk - most charmingly gay.

Soon found contained a voice gifted to inspire
when suddenly heard him sing in churchen choir
small group of local tongues, now numbering seven
with him in attendance - wrought my heart to heaven.

Wasn't long before he took solid-lead to sing
voice gentle-loud, tint of tremolo to its ring
thereafter often given a solo part
loft notes held with perfect pitch - could melt one's heart.

But could not be conjured, cornered, coerced into doing a wedding
though on rare occasions, just might dirge-sing for a funeral
when hinted he would sing, knew by happy words fastly spreading
even strangers found in those pews - to hear that voice so visceral.

Oh how he would hold pausing notes, lifting hearts far beyond
captured holy taste of the Eternal, last note held long
voice could vie with Jericho's trumpets, til rend one simpatico
especially a pro with last ending coda - sung magnifico.

As sat there with eyes held closed, soul-thralled entranced
at times, wondered of that gifted voice God-given him
who would gift singing-Mike, to hold all enhanced
as gave tribute at his funeral - with their final hymn?
March 26, 1999

CIRCA 1620  AD
Placed of a morning when sun held low of sky
one standing there, viewing with his naked eye
yes there were two objects - hazily seen.

Distance unknown, both colored a bluish sheen
floating or unmoving upon the ocean
all silent, no movement - he had no notion.

Long stood to quiz, unlike any thing ever seen before
sun brightened, rising higher with morning's growth of dawn
until convinced, were slowly drifting closer to shore
noted their position then left, tell - before might be gone.

What would those eyes have gleaned inwardly within his mind
saw a vision untold nor ever heard among his kind
did he take time to view and measure, so might full-know what might mean
or like a child, quickly run to his tribe - tell what he'd seen?

Unknowing what were, did he long pause and wonder
review what life had taught him, learned from tribal's lore
surmised of this world yet not understood - like thunder
or did he craft surreal thoughts with aspects - Spirits bore?

Or not conclude in any wise, only by awe empassioned
unguessed what foreshadowed, their culture soon completely re-fashioned
could not have foreseen vast changes, armies would patrol
two centuries hence - entire New World must control.

Discovery then recovery, exploration then exploitation
Christianize then tyrannize, appropriation then mutilation
for discovery too oft turns to conquest, and always slavery
seeking powers instead of knowledge - by fame of war's bravery.

Starts out as right but often ends up wrong
man's want of full-freedom, his constant song
whatever obtained, tightly held as their proud selfish possession
instead of being shared among others - without harsh oppression.
April 27, 1999

Come drift with me midst quiet fields, wild yet ungrazed
as Autumn numbs all to silence, skies above bluish hazed
should some breeze abide, softly felt warm and pleasant
roamed without fret nor care - like some gypsy peasant.

Unerrand-bent, without need secure some end obtained
stride on solid land with sun above, nothing heard profaned
brightful flora proudly trembles, should brief airs make choice
Nature mutely hushed - creatures unheard to move nor voice.

Pendant leaves and tall-stemmed grass, unself-stirred complacent
as gentle winds caressed boughs with soft air's enlacement
even sun's burning shine felt meekly warm with timid glow
playful shadows dry Autumn cast - their contrasts weakly show.

All felt Eden-like, as if here could on-walk forever
unknowing whence need go, nor chart some final endeavor
plodding with endless steps, Time held dead - Space felt forever be
like an eternal journey taken, each moment sensed - full and free.

Euphoric elysian landscape unchanging, simply abides
knowing to be a Spirit for the now, what secretly confides
though each footed step yields the same, yet seen as fully new
rich beauty of parklands, just beyond - appears another view.

Thus a Sunday walk entertained in my early youth
a memory held surreal, as if then felt pure Truth
why decades later, just now this night should come to mind
unbid, uncalled, Spirit-sent that I might see - yet blind.

At times, soft whisperings from life's past echoes within
casting former shadows, not to darken but merely thin
unremembered events once done, now found returned
latter years one recalls - from what late-life discerned.

Former episodes of one's youth old age reviews, now reappraised
as once more, drift midst those quiet fields still wild - yet once grazed.
June 27, 1999

Felt as if air turned to water, one could hardly breathe
hot then hotter, as might melt by mid-Summer's searing heat
forming wheat shocks, built-up from each gathered sheave
thoughts filled with fancied visions - those cool and sweet.

Like life itself, man's labors eventually find their hoped-for end
when last sheaf stacked in place, bounced homeward on wagon's bed
dazed, half asleep, entranced - still dreaming for what would soon attend
only thought each could think upon - all other visions fled.

When slid-fell from wagon, found depths of spring-house gloom
along its stone wall, dusty jugs held their year-long space
no one spoke, eyes flowered fresh thoughts that soon would bloom
old Charlie muttered, uncorked one jug - each watched his face.

Carefully placed five glasses along cool trough's moistened ledge
he nearly knelt with deep reverence, thence began to gently pour
slowly, lest waste even a drop - as if a honored pledge
each pair of eyes glazed with life's only hope - for what lay in store.

Air felt stale-wet, coolish damp in contrast to our stinking sweat
humidity must have gone off the gauge, could barely breathe and yet
mutely saw Heaven await our thirsts, since parched far beyond the dry
old Charlie held that jug steady, Time seemed endless - not one thought why.

Remember that glass, hearing jug's gurgled glugs as it flowed
eyes transfixed, to know when soft-brown aged-cider first emerged
its peculiar odor whetted by dry thirsts, our labors now owed
as my glass began to fill, both eyes and others - there converged.

Sultry air quickly drenched itself upon both jug and glass
as each one watched those gathered droplets, slowly running down its side
watching those tiny bubbles rise until released their gas
yet we bided our time, to firstly sip - before fully tried.

Like a sacred ritual earned by rights, Charlie filled up each glass
as if personally gifted to those with out-held firm grasping hand
poured in total silence of mute darkened gloom, done with such class
all waited til Charlie high-held his glass in thanks - he was grand!

At first took but a sip, to savor its full taste and ageing's strength
another to cleanse mouth and cool one's teeth, eyes closed in sheer joy
longest glass of hard-cider ever drank, held unmeasured in length
recalled sense of what Heaven might be like, such I thought - when a boy.
Everyone there, Levi, Ambrose, Finney and old Charlie - long-since died
I alone remain with what few years left to live, until Death betide
still know that holiness once felt, as if glass gifted Life itself
a story might later tell - for that glass still sits upon my shelf.

Seldom that day would grace my mind, as after-years sped on
but found re-birthed when happened on a poem penned by Robinson
one Edwin Arlington, entitled: Isaac and Archibald
instantly lifted back to that former time - here now recalled.

Almost as if Charlie and those others thought I ought read it through
a chanced purchase discovered, its reading soon shared with my dad
knew he would find its merit, wheat-cutting days his childhood knew
now he's passed on, I alone knowing those happy times once had.

Of characters Robinson wrote, I too knew such men when young and free
like Charlie and those others - For they were old, and they were good to me.
July 21, 1999

What long-thoughts tumbled within aging man's mind to play
stared unblinking in that silence above loud roar of water
its eternal pour falling midst foam and misty spray
standing there as one quite alone - without wife, son or daughter.

Tracing flush of years his life had floated on so steady
past driftings salvaged or recent currents lately sailed
swept along by busied duties, perhaps caught in some eddy
later swirled free, rafting rapids - that nearly failed.

Constant stream of tourists ignored his unmoving stance
shuffled around him as unseen, so gain another view
seemed I alone noticed, others gave him but a glance
lost midst past memories, remembering events - life once grew.

Then some Oriental tourists, were five men - all single
asked my wife, would take their picture by those Falls?
After, I took one of her with them - showing races can mingle
yet knew her hair of brunette, like their's - their secret cause.

Been to these Falls several times in the past, but this our first
my wife and I finally made together - was to be our last
as here writen, I could have been that man this poem versed.

Standing there quite alone without wife, Niagara rushing past
pondering on those varied episodes life so freely cast
staring unblinking in mute silence above roar of falling water
to wonder of all life gave, why were never blessed with a daughter?
October 12, 1999

Long lived here about, known to everyone
til age gathered near, wore him down til done
seldom seen or thought of, knew him alive
hanging on, wearing Time just to survive
yet still we trust - the Spirit never dies.

His time of life-quittance unheard, unread by me
almost a year later told, Death had set him free
at un-noticed moments, my thoughts found turned to him
few occasions still recalled, even those growing dim
yet still we trust - the Spirit never dies.

Such wears human lives, they come thence go
for a time are known, perhaps loved so
when Death attends, Time continues on
til later found forgot - finally gone
yet still we trust - the Spirit never dies.

Within each person, a hope instilled by mothers
fondly kept, sometimes denied - at least to others
those who take time to think, feel within - knowing
that ancient yen, deepest yearn - still found growing
and so we trust - the Spirit never dies.
December 14, 1999

Tendered his eyes not at her, but far past - outwardly beyond
their parley worn awhile, really began before day dawned
still she fumed with sharp singeing words, revealing how felt deeply hurt
not a tantrum, yet injured enough to flay her words - sharply curt.

Saw distance between she and he, so voiced out louder to convey
across quiet room, piercing into his heart - as if to repay
he watched hawk still-stop hover, then quickly drop in field’s grass
knowing how mouse must feel, when talons through its hide would pass.

Was wearing out her anger, vaunted feelings began to wane
his thoughts wore of life-quenched death, clearly seen beyond window’s pane
til hawk finally lifted up with prey tightly clenched in talon’s hook
she grew quiet, recovered her poise - by re-adjusting a book!

Was his cue uploft from his chair, then in one swoop held her tight
clasped her steaming face to his own, kissing her - soft moment chose
whispered kindly words, smothered those lingering doubts of their fight
his smiling eyes absolving all, melting cold strains - held each one froze.

She made coffee as he unshelved two cups to set their table by
kettle’s croon turned to whistle, sat there again as two - she and I
recaptured truer moods, marriage-wearage could repair with loving's ply
yet still noticed that hawk again was drifting, searching - across the sky!
December 21, 1999

Of how came about there is little I can tell
accidental intrusion unsought, yet it fell
revealing that fullness pure Nature hides beneath
a sudden invasion - nakedness may bequeath.

Catching sight not of lust, but only what beauty shows
viewed Eden’s pristine innocence every person grows.

That glimpse displayed body’s worth your heart always shown
an un-needed view emplaced, now be ever known
but in such a way as not fantasied - as merely lust.

Merely a blink behind life's veil, witless Time once thrust
upon my eyes, to know Spirit well-tunes with Nature’s frame
thereof unspoken, a brief moment chanced - held without shame.

Quick-left with some witty remark to absolve the unexpected
thus drove it out of mind, hoping our friendship not unrespected
so might wear our future days much like before - view you unsuspected.

A chanced accidental intrusion beauty glimpsed, but not as nay
yet perhaps I should have thanked you - for what else could one say!
December 22, 1999

So picturesque, caught my eye like some stray strand
so statuesque, as might out-last all future years
eyes focused far beyond, book she held in hand
sat there as one twice alone - serene without fears.

At last closed up her book, then slowly rose
reconnecting with the now, putting on her wrap
paid tab, smartly left, last view - door's close
stray strand recalled from long past - a brief-caught hap.
December 29, 1999

Midst darkness of quiet gloom, splayed shafted beams of sun light
lint wafted within its haze,drifting their unknown flight
so picturesque, light dazzled with varied colors caught from stained glass
kaleidoscopic tintings splattered from windows - first had to pass.

Between wall’s spacings, gloom lurked so silent one could brood
air held hints of incense, its odors haunting one’s mood
by strength of thickened walls, outer sounds unheard
contrivances of rituals unseen - yet felt inferred.

Was there half-way from the front, off to one side
close by south wall, in deep shadows she was eyed
quiet as a nun, head bowed in prayer - one silent knelt
a recluse given sanctuary - from what life had dealt.

Was there emplaced when first entered, still pew-held when I left
like a tapestry of the past, woven with Spirit’s weft
sat twenty minutes, no sound nor movement gave notice
like dream-time, sanctity sought in that Land of Lotus.

Signs and symbols, a presence to augment tabernacle’s prize
sliver of the Spirit-world thrust briefly before my eyes
wakened fancied thoughts of childhood, life and after - all in one go
enriched my meditation, grateful for strong belief's inner glow.

Both real and surreal, sacred stillness bestowed upon my soul
I and another church-sequestered, each seeking some eternal goal.

When left, heavy door hard-opened, splattering gloom with light
harshly intruded with all those brassy sounds, as had no right
to shatter my stilled silence, quenched that peace I held within
such rank, brazen stir and clatter - shattered time just spent therein.

An episode long ago, now unknowing of where or when
that clash of gloom, sound, light, world, Spirit - of God and men
burnt their contrasts into memory, still ceding grace to me
a time, two church-held in darkened silence - both I and she.
January 7, 2000

On a cold and frosty morning much before daylight
made way to old barn, there capture wonders of delight
entering, first felt slight warmth those cattle-bred
smelling manure's reek freshly dropped - night feedings fed.

Soft-quiet them with a lowing voiced from my lip
hunkered down nearby til could hear their cuds re-trip
jaws slip-sided motion caused patient chewing's sway
winter fed with last summer's growth of legume hay.

Their warmth and odor made one feel at home, warm and cozy
as if we were kindred creatures at peace, not being nosy
fog spewed from mouths and muzzles, misting coldish air
scene of bovine contentment - but to chew and stare.

Until some cow slowly rises, mutely stands - then splatter
voids what night-long feeding brought, smell doesn’t matter
but a further aura of aroma enchanting barn's solitude
as I snuggled in dry straw, grateful for morning’s interlude.

A setting re-enacted daily, though found less and less
from ancient times world over, when cattle firstly bred
now lost to most, even those who milk with daily stress
a beauty Nature casts, youth-time recalled - cow's morning fed.

There distanced oneself from purpose, view how raw creation lives
hearing sounds uncast by machines, natural sounds but Nature gives
until here and there, may see rapid scurry of a mouse
likewise up, using cattle-barn - as their unrented house.

Seeing such frosty morns as herein described
savoring those natural tastes, barn-stalls imbibed
slakes one's soul, know such simple events told far more
than gathered in fast world’s rush - beyond work and chore.

So hunker down midst contended cows, they will not object
a place where lion lies down with the lamb with self-respect
time taken as if one were in church, paused to reflect
without need to bless oneself - nor bother genuflect.
January 24, 2000

With enough remaining moon to brighten white snow
those acquainted with dark know, casts sufficient glow
so one safely walks through rooms, find what's needed
knowing where all kept - long years dwelling ceded.

On coming back, hear strike of a fumbling match
with palsied hands held close to candle’s wick
for a moment delays, awaiting flames catch
around the room, on his face - dim shadows flick.

Before kneels, framed picture brought til clearly seen of
family showing their happy smiles, felt with his love
with wan quivered lips, prays nightly to his beloved dear
eerie light flickers a holied peace - one can almost hear.

A nightly ritual daily brought, prefaced with that candle
matches brought from shelf beyond, of such yet can handle
fitting cease to end long day, begin one's night - such his wanted way
time taken when long widowed out alone - how one man found to pray.
January 26, 2000

If could just see over wooded crest beyond
would quickly know if a wagon coming on
from there, clear view held more distance than a mile
sat at wood-side's edging - there to dream awhile.

Rich Autumn’s sun bright and clear, viewed all that lay before
wave of prairie grass across flat plains, heights buzzards soar
dream fond future-hopes within, perhaps come true
planned as ready-laid, tis such - her heart would brew.

Air that day mild with a balmy, gentle, dreamy breeze
if could but see beyond wooded crest, dream of what might please
but no, home duties required so much need be done
if not, others would complain - make day a troubled one.

T'was after supper dishes washed and dried, then put away
thence quickly ran to hill's high crest, see what her high-hopes may
eager eyes keeping vigil, rehearsed - first words each would say.

As day downed to late dew, night soaked up light til katydids could hum
still she waited heart hopeful, til finally panicked - for he had not come
later, slowly walked back down, as chill of late evening's air - held her numb.
January 30, 2000

For three whole days and two nights, silently dwelt underground
fellow student and I, slept when needed - warmed by eider-down
cooked our meals on Coleman stove, unscheduled by the clock
when suited or hunger called - table and seats but of rock.

A small stream ran through that cave, fissured-worn for a mile
with two side caverns going nowhere, so could not get lost
our duty, record those banded bats found kept on file
early March beneath Kentucky's warm ground - unfound to frost.

After but a day, lost all track of time - our diurnal rhythm
for other than our lantern, all held absolutely sightless black
no sound but our own, felt if suspended by some schismatic schism
since banding bats our dutie's aim, most time there spent upon our backs.

But to have lived for a time in total darkness without sense of Time
an experience have long treasured, as if had dwelt in some alien clime
like animals, who sense not the flow of duration - of dates and clocks
like ancestors from our distant past - caven men dwelt among those rocks.
February 5, 2000

Will be found by ocean harbors, close and near
beacons nightly circling brightly clear
gleaming every night throughout each year
if weather ill-suits, its light a fuzzy blear.

On remote spits of land, flashing warning shown
where fearful breakers pound, shipping charts make known
built in ancient times, when sailing vessels first put afloat
still continues where shippage found, ports near or far remote.

Lonely occupation to operate a lighthouse nightly
family dwelt within those tall-built towers, often painted whitely
such harkens in most minds, old lighthouse stories taught
classics had often wrote thereof, for what strange tales brought.

Singular duty done in isolation - apart, alone
light cast across ocean waters, nightly warnings outshown
in every season and weather, a silent sentinel always on duty
storied into songs or dittties, standing tall - lighthouse proudly held its beauty!

Such a tale told from long ago, when blinding rain turned to sleet
powerful waves roiled beyond measure, on shore-rocks - dashed and beat
frozen rain coating glass so thickly, outcast light shown bleak
til its meager glow dimmed weakly wan - unseen by that fleet.

Weeks later, their remains found scattered along a northern beach
for invading flotilla unsaw lighthouse warning's reach
wrecked on Calf of Man, til survival unfound
both ship and crew quickly crushed - or after-drowned.

Was how an unwary county shire, escaped wanton waste by war
though light was lit as always, yet foul weather quenched the gleam it bore
those at sea perished, while those on land - unknowingly survived
this story yet told on Isle of Man - historically archived.

Unequal scales, Fate wontonly swung, weighed upon those odds of Chance
suggested by picturesque beauty of a lighthouse - once caught my glance.
February 6, 2000

Each Friday long sat, content to wear her afternoon
forming butter in wooden molds pressed by wooden spoon
its bottom plug reversed, carved an acorn with oaken leaf
pre-measured yields its two-pound cake - a duty not brief.

Perhaps two hours spent alone within cool of spring-house
cloistered duty quiet-held, worn apron protects her blouse
thursday, week’s cream churned to butter, then cooled overnight
friday afternoons spring-house held - wore time out of sight.

Oft hummed tunes from her childhood days, mother taught from her past
recalled memories from distant days, I could but dimly note
born in eighteen-seventy-five, when times were differently cast
sitting on low stool, plunked each cake in spring’s trough - left to float.

Always placed them in cool spring's water, with that acorn turned down
saturday mornings found turned over, at night - frogs played the clown
bobbing flotilla of cow-labored worth’s, daily milking brought by
thence churned into butter, forming one-pound patties - buyers want to buy.

Cooled overnight, wrapped next morning - taken to be sold
found there throughout her marriage, then nearly eighty-one years old
an ancient practice weekly done - butter formed in oaken mold.

One who would tell me tales she heard as a child
some have penned of, like there-said - were told kindly mild
long used to olden rules, patient with newer ways
at odd times still gifts memory - when her Spirit strays.

Perhaps gave early seed, my taste for stray strands of someone’s thoughts
late-life found me writing poetry, from those like her - been taught.
February 25, 2000

Church-bell heard tolling, told someone died
only later learned our sexton lied
stayed too long at Paddys, intent on his ale
found asleep in the belfry - soon put in jail.

Happened two times before in short range of two years
all knew him harmless sort, but dearly loved his beers
pensioned out after last war, lived cheap and alone
usually a quiet man - his early years unknown.

When hired out, could do a full-day of honest works
different though, all assumed former war explained his quirks
of course everyone called him Mike, for was Irish as hell
liked his drink - usually kept under sober control.

Then two weeks after Mike out of jail, again heard that bell
done ten of the morning, wondered whose death announced by that toll
little knowing was for Mike, found dead in his sleep
funeral held two days after - we buried him deep.

None found to ring parish bell, so until - Father did for a while
everyone could tell, quickly noticed church-bell rang a different style
wife’s on me to be sexton, since just retired - keep my hand in
she’s often right on such ideas, so I did - again let her win!

But whose bell did I first toll for, just four weeks further on
as sadly swung funeral's toll, despite was my wife who’d gone
was twenty years ago, still sexton - each Sunday pull that rope
a holied duty I weekly do - tis she who gives me hope.
February 26, 2000

Lost to the world she was, already placed her bags on the pavement
left-hand held purse out-wide, bottom snug against her lap - quite intent
delving within those strange mysteries a woman’s purse hides - a mess
right hand clawing and digging midst those items - a man dare not guess.

Pawing away, her beady eyes rapt with well-founded hopes, like some hound
to all else unaware, place and time suspended - her key must be found
over and over, seemed she went through all a dozen times or more
never giving up, certain they were there - no mater how long must explore.

Was then I noticed that key on its ring, already encircled her thumb
but since women know best I let it go, watching her there deeply plumb
those endless depths of both purse and hopes, until at last she looked at me
so silently pointed to her left hand - was then she found that missing key.

I could do nothing but laugh, couldn’t stop - then helped load her car
by then she was laughing too, but inly knew - had gone too far.
March 4, 2000

Warm airs of early March blew in from salt sea
morning's sun splayed light across a quiet lea
sat there in silence, one mile from edging coasts
time spent to muse on weird hauntings - from olden ghosts.

As waves came surging in, even here could hear their din.

Placed at wood’s edging, observing that peaceful lea
wasted browns from want of sun, cost of Winter’s fee
tattered remnants of stems rippled by gusting wind
tormenting fragile fragments left - late season thinned.

As waves came roaring on, all morning since early dawn.

Nothing stirred in nearby woods behind nor fields before
twice ravens passed over, as if fled that raging seashore
of course that eternal presence of gulls, kittiwakes and terns
emitting cries so high, so windy, yet these - not my concern.

As waves came lunging high, a angry sea brought by.

Til knew this unrelenting gale would outwear length of day
despite what thought upon, could not outlast its unending stay
thus I closed up the scene by leaving - high winds overran
retraced my coming in, by going back to where first began.

As waves came pounding loud, staunchly sure and primal proud.

Why did those raging waves keep surging in
reminding me of all that once had been
yet gave no word - what future days might win?
Was simply Nature's wear of Time and Space
til Life brought low by Death - yet leaves no trace?
Predicting what human hopes have always yearned, things far more grand
far beyond short-range we sense, somehow now - seemed to understand!
March 7, 2000

When old elm tree finally fell, diseased from fungus rot
tall and thin, its top lodged - neighbored tree's branchings caught
such sloping angle bent a younger oak in its way
in time that youthful tree upgrew - grown kink formed to stay.

Long years whiled on, felled tree rotted back to dust
all trace of its past recycled, like all life must
growing oak with ess-curve, to its bent now full resigned
years later, all who saw that tree - intrigued how designed.
Hand-crafted, tree's arch graced their altar as a baldachin
unique feature enhancing their church now worshiped in
its natural use ready-made, quartered-cut when carefully sawn
visitors to this day, local folks - by its beauty drawn.

Is only we who see design with such artful use
future schemes created from inner dreams, man lets loose
for that arch could have elsewhere stood - for a hangman’s noose.
March 13, 2000

Her small feet bellowed up wafts of dust, as trailed those cows behind
long-rutted paths generations cattle-formed, still followed purblind
with no switch in hand nor need to shout, head no taller than their spine
her inner thoughts tracing future hopes - as daily brought home their kine.

Enough brothers had, were they would tend to feedings and other chores
since early age, her duty each morn and eve - bring their cattle home
 garden worked, chickens fed, pigs swilled - yet mostly labored indoors
but her special joy found midst Nature's beauty - dreams could freely roam.

Dainty feet skipping along, left small tracks in powdered dust
arid days of August-time, showing where each foot been thrust
remnants of her passing from bottom-fields up to barn
dreamed what life may gift, wonders she knits - with imagined yarn.

Like her, I too had brought cattle daily up, morn and eve
remembering fond days of childhood, future years would thieve
had no inkling how, when, why nor whereof would my footings weave
events Life gathered as a crop, soon cut - shocked from bundled sheaves.

Do not recall where saw that fair maid fetching those cattle in
though long ago, still see her brightful face - with dimpled chin.
March 13, 2000

Suppose whistle still blows at four, ending third shift
after, Fred always stopped hill's top - gives Ed a lift
dropped off six miles turn, Cave Road at its curve
where priest (name lost) on icy roads - lost his nerve.

Drunken Willy forced off the road, killed both dead
turn where two white oaks yet stand - there drops off Ed.

Such wore each and every day for thirty years, except were sick
back then no one took vacation from town's mill - manufactured brick
shuts down both Saturday and Sunday, each and every week of the year
almost everyone who worked in town, toiled a five-day week
because of regularity, less stress was felt - same with fear.

Pete refused to take local paper ‘cause twas Democrat
claimed he understood politics, so was the end of that
whistle blows no more, clay-seams ran out - small town now gone flat.
March 15, 2000

Still he spoke of hope, despite they failed to grope
their need to share, despite poverty's greed to cope
retold tales of needful faith, story-fashioned so easily grasp
ever there to attend when calamity struck - or Death’s final gasp.

Longly struggled giving them his love, time, care - a forgiving hand
over many miles, muddy roads across distant parish land
since uneducated, a challenge - their love oft wore to lust
faith held as but a child’s tale - so ate but its dry crust.

Liturgies refashioned in varied ways, to reach their flinty hearts
by sundry attempts, making sense of Faith’s worth - one's belief but starts
homilies laced with humor, to bridge between one's mind and soul
hoped beyond hope, knit these people together - his wanted goal.

Too long dwelt far from mainland, across wide channeled straits
ancestral feuds from their past, still persisted with olden hates
first and foremost, their need to be accepted as better than the rest
was this that drained their hearts of real love - smothered their religious zest.

This narrowed view of life, burnt their wick of care to but a wisp
reason why clannish folks smoldered their faith to an ashen lisp
still he struggled on, weekly mass, nippers baptized - sweetly kissed.
Twenty years Father parished there, til held his Bishop’s ears
what said know not, that church abandoned - no priest for thirty years.
March 23, 2000

His white face resurfaced once more
then under, unseen as before
all this viewed, horrified from shore
as falls continued its pounding's roar.

Torrential current I could not swim
wide searching eyes kept peeled for him
my hopes prayed, but his survival looked slim
eve-fall came, light to see by - growing dim.

For a while unseen, so ran downstream
looking, remembered that frantic scream
re-saw his paniced eye's fearful gleam
now unfound - was all this but a dream?

Another falls far taller, fell just ahead
knew of it, so still looking - raced on instead
longly eyed, nothing - awaiting with growing dread
what lay below those falls, unknew - nor whereof led.

Rushed back to where first realized his plight
thence back to those lower falls - now nearly night
ten minutes listened for any sounds that might
nothing heard, except echoes from falling height.

Thence left to tell all - but was one as never found
no one missed thereabouts nor washed-up on dry ground
only I know not a dream, still wonder - who and why
presumed had drowned - but where do those bones now lie?
March 24, 2000

They chatted on their porch sipping their morning coffee
retired from labor’s demands, lives now lived rather free
viewed early lift of sun, naught to do but merely sit
attired in clothes bought long ago - with their well-worn fit.

As warm winds blew but a gentle breeze - their calm spoke of ease.

When refilled both cups, cloud-banks to the West firstly seen
both together asked if air now cooler, felt more keen
both agreed, but talked of other things memories brought back
all the while gray clouds gathered - densely turning black.

Cooling winds now blew a bit stronger - felt warm no longer.

Was season for migrants to wend their way, South to North
reason emporched after breakfast, each morn brought them forth
daily drift of varied warblers, others passing through
both long avian observers - much between them knew.

Those cooler winds grew bolder - becoming a bit colder.

He left, then came back with two sweaters to ease their chill
eye-held to binocs, those migrants observed seldom still
she added two new species never seen here before
yet complained of the cold - in spite of sweaters both wore.

As air turned sharply raw and mean - til sun could not be seen.
With coffee gone, temperatures experienced falling fast
both gathered up cups and thermos, their warmth gone at last
shortly after, strong rains came to last beyond an hour
a bit later electric failed - had no power.

Yet that rain continued its flail - some turned to hail.

Now noon, rained thinned to drizzle, inside - each read their book
constant flash of lightning's crack felt when thunder loudly shook
til both left books and distant thoughts, stood at window’s dorm
lost within, each watched in silence - awed by endless storm.

Angry winds raged with cyclonic strength - rare how long storm’s length.

Shared a meager lunch of peanut butter, cold coffee
weather weakened, cast-off its former rage - once awfully
talked little, their mood worn itself almost to silence
peaceful sun returned - finally to end day's violence.

Til at last winds finally ceased, both again - felt at peace.
April 6, 2000

The waiting over, now for their run
simple task taken but not for fun
self-challenged, one’s inner Spirit spun
despite the pain, never quit - til done.

Persistently driven yet patiently measured
strenuously striven yet painfully pleasured
not to win the race but gain far-end designed
endurance self-promised, accepted - self-assigned.

A special breed, their inner Spirit chooses
some call it a sport in which no one loses
an endeavor exempli gratia - a paragon
whenever one freely runs an entire Marathon.
April 6, 2000

Beside spreading oak tree, showing hard wear of centuries range
on a grassy knoll high above fields of a lonely grange
a bonnie lassie out-sung her love, standing there quite alone
with mere whisper of balmy breeze - to further softened her tone.

An ancient Celtic air sung with feelings, her love deeply felt
so purely pristine, as if been a holied hymn - I would have knelt.

Just beyond stone-wall edging road I'd been walking by
heard that angelic voice, at first thought flung down the sky
then saw her there, a lassie fondly sang of her love
after that war, traveling there - I long stood hearing of.

Was it sung of one who was to come or by war been slain?
How wanted to know, yet knew my intrusion would be vain
I listened til song ceased, whence she skipped and hopped beyond hill's brink
then knew she sang of one as yet to come - tis such I still think.
April 22, 2000

Sat alone in dim semi-darkness of ancient abbey’s chapel
midday sun pierced stained glass embrasures, caused colored light to dapple
thickened walls of hand-hewn stone, precluded outer-sounds heard within
for of what brought me one pew-held - sacred music would soon begin.

From organ-loft, one playing as if soothed his inward soul
out-tracing ancient hymns I unknew, yet meanings inly stole
led by those mooding memories, life's former echoes once heard
as melodic notes drift midst hollowed structure - inly stirred.

Organ, chapel chambers, merged composer with musician’s feelings
harmonic sounds out-flung tones, to course and curve along high ceilings
spoke of unmeasurables, relished by those humans questing their divine
like myself self-brought to listen - creating what I chose to assign.

Feelings and facts wrought from music, like some poetic statement sung of hymn
reinterpreted by those who hear, gathered awareness one’s soul might win
midst those dim shadows with dappled light, a setting felt surreal
housed within that chapel, blending all heard with holy appeal.

Allow one’s Spirit nourishment, hinting hopes of life beyond death
grasping vague clues, whispered from ancient chants with religious depth
for such had brought me hence - an afternoon chapeled in that dark gloom.

Quelled that outer world’s rush, quaint harmonics spun from organ’s loom
found woven into dreams and hopes, one’s Spirit life-long fed
gathered gleams of future light, so know the way when lie dead.

With final flourish, lasting coda upswelled to unwind its spell
til organist ceased his reveries, feet and fingers played so well
shuffled noise, click of lamp’s outance - soft tread of leaving
midst dark chapel’s silence I remained - my faith still believing.

Longly stayed to ponder, reflect what might be called deeper prayer
dim darkness grew denser, while day wore wan with evening’s wear
still held my pew for a time, then rose - left by side-door near
embraced a quiet evenings sky - reddish glow sharply clear.

Cool nights Autumn brought upon us, told Winter soon would come
plodding down footpath through garth, where many lie coldly numb
affirmed worth of olden thoughts, fully confirmed within my soul
sensed worth of living strong, trusting deeper truths - their final goal.

Walked alone, immersed in darkness brought of ancient abbey’s grounds
as that speeding sun fled cross the world, left night's soft sounds
saw afar those circling Dipper stars, early man found could guide one by
years later this afternoon, gained other directions - that told of why!
May 3, 2000

When first began, no one could say
yet all agreed, some far-back day
ship sank off East coast shore
storm-wrecked - survived but four.

Taken in by need someone gave
beyond few facts - one named Dave
went West, left behind his Sally
from her loins - bred this valley.

He never returned nor heard of again
Sally remarried - birthed eight more kin.

Family folklore continues to spread this tale
Sally named first bred son David, since a male
down three centuries name yet given, still causing flack
despite Dave the First who left - without looking back.
May 5, 2000

Returning Spring brought balmy breeze from northern sea
Gulf-Stream waters abetted warmth, brief Irish Spring
high-hill sat to forget or remember, since war set me free
when finally over, neither won nor lost - this my final fling.

Walked all morning, when below saw a pub to lunch thereby
as gazed upon that rural scene, heard voicings winds blew neigh
outside pub in dusty street, like Muster Day - saw a fight
their cronies gathered to urge and abet - what strong words might.

Not a bloody beating, as to maul and crush the other dead
too much recently seen across that Channel, foul war had fed
two held knotted fists, parried each other with jabbing's punch
Irish twang of shouts drifted aloft - forgot about lunch.

Several times each in turn put down, then struggled up again
anger eager to fight, self-pride and Irish honor felt within
while opponent waited, might well be - next to unpin.

Til time wore strengths slower, when shortly after one stayed down
someone brought pail of water, poured long enough to drown
finally moved, others gathered him to his feet - both shook hands
tavern re-entered, drank to peace again among their clans.

A simple clash, seemed a human way to settle their dispute
but fists, with crowd to keep it from becoming a brutal pursuit.

Differences worn to passioned anger, til fight cooled their burning heat
afterwards back to living, squared away - justified in the street
so all might judge, observing un-necessity of it all
wayward warp of sane men’s anger, fires flamed high - then to brawl.

Such a contrast, those four inane years wasted upon harsh turf of war
where inhumanities unknown before, besotted me to the core
somehow survived, but deep within - little then did I know
how long those scars would take to heal - future years would outgrow.

Was fifty years back, other wars been waged since - always will
only later made pub my aim - as ambled down that hill.
May 14, 2000

How long sat there, knew not then nor now remember
a gladsome day, some far past week in September
perfect Autumn mood, sun’s-warmth - cliff-held high cafe
idled time with coffee, cheese and bread - then far away.

War ended, yet chose to travel before heading home
perhaps last chance for such, inly felt some need to roam
for war-years fashioned too many phantoms within
self-seeking my own cure - from what war had done and been.

Far below, viewed ceaseless waves lap narrow strip of coastline sand
gentle ones, barely heard their flush and wash upon that strand
so high, need look below - watched gulls and terns soaring drift
whiled hours a-sit, perked by strong coffee - til almost squiffed.

Green awnings kept brightness of sun’s glare from blinding my eyes
despite such beauty, of what thought upon - inwardly lies
continued alternation of ideas, between here and now - of then and there
sensed surreal sitting here at peace, yet recalled - what war had given heir.

War battles inhumane, life values uprooted, twisted til slain
all that energy, so many buddies wasted - now seemed insane
proud reasons for what and why, vaporized til felt all done in vain
extremes beyond limits one could think - unreal, crazy, arcane.

So what next do, where go, how long stay and why
none of these could answer, knew needing time lost by
as day wore into evening, supper seemed next step
after fed, smoked two cigars into night - then slept.

Was how my journey began, after released from that war
enough back-pay and travel-time, beyond its reek and roar
what thought needed most, time spent midst that calm peace Nature gifts
there refind some certainty - for Nature holds no evil rifts.

Upped the coast by rail heading North, crossed Hadrian’s Wall
came to know what cured - barrenness, open hills, hamlets small
few people met, alone my want - hiked and walked those vacant roads
weathered wet rains, wind, warm sun - savored Nature in many modes.

Nightly slept those open skies, or perhaps found some inn
chatted midst those locals for what stories they might spin
these unknew real war, only placid ways of normal life
tradition's peaceful ways, steady culture - lacking stress of strife.

Sometime later crossed North Channel, spent late Spring in Donegal
midst highland hills, coastal harbors - preferred sounds of waterfall
slowly healing, rid my mind of war's insanity - helped by quick Irish wit
often found within some pub to talk, with a bit of stout - to keep me fit.

Listened to tales of long ago or recent episodes - their magic laughter
such a healing balm found among those casual folks, friendly trust that came after
touched that unique characteristic of the human Spirit - to laugh
mixed truth with lies and exaggerations - pure grain with dustings of chaff.

That Fall, recrossed back to England where borders Wales, there spent more time
barely understood what spoken, walked their lanes and by-ways - perhaps to climb
high-held rocken tors, open spaces, its lonely barrenness - such I needed
as former values slowly returned, dough of war's embattled wastes - re-kneaded.

Until finally I made plans to fly out with a crew, heading back to the states
still harbor scars within, but rid myself of war’s vain inanities and hates.
May 26, 2000

I live much alone in my sequestered island home
unknown as whom, yet not un-greeted as if some gnome
people smile, most un-speak - just nod and pass me by
these island folks humble - neither asking of nor why.

So tend my home and acreage, edging tall sea-coast cliffs
sit at their brink to dream, watching birds or homing skiffs
its endless view enlures my thoughts beyond here and now
high above water’s surge, brace its breeze when moods allow.

Here remain as one lost, dwell my hermitage, wearing out life til gone
shrink and curl up, like some dried leafened bough or ancient fabled faun
with naught left but what wrote, which in turn may be lost - my long years wasted by
found not of worth, hieroglyphics undeciphered - when I beyond the sky.
June 6, 2000

Again with all tendence done, rocked beside his bed
there slept or wore out her night with eternal dread
knowing tonight or later, she would find him dead
ending sixty years of love’s tenure - since they’d wed.

Always waited before going, as she made sure
faucet, stove and lights were firmly shut-off tight
his silent smile watched as took her nightly tour
from the first, both had done - like some special rite.

He always drove unless she went by herself
he always dried unless found left by himself
then only washed, after - left stacked to dry
of such always done - she never asked why.

Five years after, still knelt their former pew
tithed same amount, same-time service went to
only difference thereafter, visit his grave
ritualized through time, same prayers she always gave.

Little things ever done, tokened fidelity’s lasting worth
unspoken customs each one used, marriage long ago gave birth
after death, became cherished times to know their other by
such many do, untold nor others know - such tis love’s tie.
June 6, 2000

For an hour or more sat silent, knitting that afghan
eyes and fingers merged together from whence last began
with proper pull and twirl, crafted to last - never untwine
needles clicking, yarn pulled as needed - required by design.

Barefoot she sat middle of the couch, so elbows free
glasses set far out on end of nose, so better see
time passing by, as inner thoughts gave daily chase
of what wove in her mind - made no show upon that face.

What worlds did she travel there, back and forth among lost years
drifts of former episodes, gladsome times or those fraught with tears
from childhood til beyond the now, of what has yet to come
at disjunctured times, if listened closely - she was heard to hum.

Through long afternoons, shadows slowly shifting across the room
all the while, afghan grew as if formed upon a loom
whereas within her head, thoughts churned much like dream-times of night
remembering or planning, perhaps on idle - come what might.

Now and then, though fingers kept knitting, would glance up clock’s dial
for a mother’s day enslaved, other duties required
then refocused on work at hand, sometimes lips would smile
more work done within the mind - than fingered-eyes conspired.

Several times put all down, tend other needs when came due
whence returned, stretched all out - scanned with her apprising view
refind point of stoppage, settle then continue on
her mind soon off on another track - some elsewhere drawn.

For an hour or more, silently sitting
eyes and fingers verged together knitting
yet within her heart and mind, but thinking
more work done there - than those needles clinking.

Oft seen by me, mother-mine and others too
but especially remembered - when done by you.
June 7, 2000

That hollow clatter at covered bridge caught her ear
its speed told too fast, so would not be stopping here
heard sharp crack of whip urging horse on with its goad
only buggy heard to pass along river road.

A windless day in August heat, springs running low
fields parched dry, joke was - corn would soon self-pop
every effort each day languidly taken slow
why that dash 'cross that bridge seemed odd - horse might drop.

Thought who lived up the road could be sick or with one due
no one seemed to suit her list, in those times neighbors few
twenty minutes later, heard horses passing by
hell-bent for leather - further wondered who and why!

For last three days, not one walked nor rode, bridge heard uncrossed
too long hot and dry, much of corn would be shriveled-lost
since all things fail in dry weather, had made her surmise
perhaps one went crazy with this heat - mind gone edgewise.

Might those horses be a posse on buggy’s trail?
Her nerves jarred when heard a scream beyond spring’s swale
unthinking, dashed outside to see if was nerves - or true
was Meldora crawling through its muck - seemed crazy too!

Calmed Meldora with coffee after had brought her in
and what a tale she told, unbelievable had been
two days after, four children buried in church-garth ground
husband interred beyond its fence - no stone marked its mound.

Such was cause for that clatter at covered bridge she had heard
those that followed, neighbored posse rode fast without a word
later learned caught the husband, but because of guns - taken dead
Meldora recovered - took five years before again would wed.

All occurred in late sixties, a hundred years back
still this tale told, Meldora and husband Jack
oldsters talk much of it, those younger soon found bored.
Strange events back then - those murders at Logan’s Ford.
June 10, 2000

No more are heard those bells from Abbey’s church
to wake or tell Time, now but barn-owl’s perch
for who will buy those vast grounds, buildings too large
should one be found - much the cost would need to charge.

Membership at the Abbey finally wore to but only five
decided would move to another, with community-size
ancient garth would then devolve on tendence by local township
fields bought piecemeal, divided - being sold strip by strip.

The ever demise of things once thought endless, long assured
times now rapidly changing, permanence not long endured
put my place on the market too, elsewhere seek Nature’s calm
more distant from fast urban sprawl - so dwell with quiet’s balm.

No more to hear those bells that graced me these last twelve years
such life’s speed these days, til its holy silence - no one hears.
June 15, 2000

Been long past, since yards were lastly trimmed and mown
knee-high length of grass or tall weeds lately grown
long enough their stems flat-laid, like swathed in rows
til matted green found unrippled by windy blows.

House locked-up tight, bird-nests built beneath spouting’s ends
windows obscured with grime, seasonal weather lends
groundhog holes tunneled beneath barn and wagon shed
grain-bin half-held with corn - keeps feral creatures fed.

Idle wind-mill vanes still yields to wonton wind
one building fallen flat, crude smoke-house once been.

Without horse or cattle, swallows long since left
evening shows swifts still return to nest chimney’s bight
nothing night-stolen hereabouts, has naught of theft
old values of respect farm-bred - still held as right.

Old machinery rusts in barn and half-sheds nearby
dad’s deep concern, the spring - year-round water supply.

Forty acred farm once dwelt and tilled by Zartman clan
I with dad, his wanted dream of retirement’s plan
but like many hopes ever dreamt, seldom come true
I hungered a rural move - no sale went through!

When grown to manhood, now wived with four sons to come apace
always managed thereafter - to dwell a country place.
June 17, 2000

When she rose to locked both doors for the night
he banked wood-stove's fire before doused the light
she first in bathroom, while he readied for bed
both snuggled and kissed then slept - years long wed.

She rose, locked both doors, made sure firmly tight
checked wood-stove safe, last turned off the light
slowly tread up those stairs, bathroom then bed
long awake with thoughts of him - since now dead.

For years was she who locked those doors at night
he took care of wood-stove, quenched out the light
same routine both took when going to bed
nightly ritual each kept - til one life fled.

Side by side, lives lived without hate or spite
unvaried duties each shared thought as right
thus end their day - before going to bed.

Her name Iverna, his name Fred
nearly eighty when wife found dead
that year of ten foot snow
I thought you ought to know.
August 5, 2000

There was a day when that wagon arrived
but of what it bore - one recently wived.

Were going west, yet as neared that knoll
shared depths long carried within his soul
knew in heart, that once she had rights to know
all morn his wife wondered - their pace been slow.

That trail not mired muddy for this time of year
he held quiet, at last told wife of his inner fear
since last Fall, decided not wed his former beau
she dwelt close hereby, his need to stop - let her know.

His wife of but two months understood and well agreed
at noon took that mile lane south, explain his misdeed
tied-up at hitch, in the garden saw his former dear
alone and slow he brought himself - til faced her near.

Wife stayed in their wagon, but where could keep clear view
long those two spoke, Zenith’s shadows lengthy drew
without wave or nod came back, unhitched then downed that lane
eyes straight ahead, wife watched the girl - to know her pain.

Not once looked up, kept picking lettuce for noon’s meal
as only women know - surmised how she must feel.

When reached trail, turned left - but four days til reach Blackhawk
between those two no words, when horses rested - no talk
nor she now left, later silently sat above high hill's brink
as evening wore late into night - lonely cried to longly think.

Looking west, saw her once hopes die with that setting sun
to wonder how love could be so painful, finally done
two hearts beat with inner anguish, for tis how love burns
two souls did what was needed, from real life - one learns.
August 6, 2000

As once trod a dusty road in early morn
much before sun gifts its uprise newly born
yet could see whence road traced ahead by star light
July's air felt heavy warm, although was night.

As first glow of pre-dawn appeared, high-up the East
felt cooler air rise, as if valley leavened yeast
on my forward steps, lay dust dampened wet by dew
first notes birds gave began their day, when dawn broke through.

Light came on gradual til my plodding raised dry dust
was then chose sit a-boulder, some glacier once thrust
when reached, rested - watching morning come apace
what spied across that Road - brought quizzings to my face.

Though unseen knew, since I had stopped It must also do
seldom thought of nor noticed, yet knew its presence true
one which ever follows me, or rather - leads me on
first and only time gathered to speak - together drawn.

Learned much of why, where of and whence life drifted me these past years
of where wished had gone or done, some failed because of fears
forgotten facts long faded, re-kindled so I might know
despite evils given or taken - Time allowed me grow.

Hence-years led on, mostly due to those who truly cared
yet greatest gains made by me, times when actually scared
made clear to me at last, only growth gathers best in me
since Spirit bound, understood what told that day - by Destiny.
October 4, 2000

Such wore a string of stagnant days, til hopes grew wan
weathered without people nearing by to visit on
happened quite early, as sun gave fresh birth of dawn
whence from those filmy mists, heard voiced - a lovely song.

Intruded like a dream, then realized was quite real
sweet hauntings softly sung, such as one could inly feel
an ancient tune I unknew, wafted upon pre-dawn’s air
from woods nearby, some lassie chose to sing - with practiced care.

Early fetching their cattle in, milking time had come
wind-drifts brought to catch my ears, mooded my heart til numb
held entranced long as lasted, or so it seemed
lone camped midst Irish dells - as if one had dreamed.

Faded as she downed those slopes, to bring their cattle in
vanished into a silence, only its magic left to spin
t'was quite late when found nearby inn, to finally breakfast by
a singing lassie heard when lone-camped - beneath an Irish sky.
October 6, 2000

Without - bitter cold lay the land, snow falling thick
there sat reading poetic versings, chanced to pick
rocker’s creak almost in sync with pendulum’s tick.

One who kept his pets outside, fend as best they would
left lone by spousal death, buried beyond the wood
healthy old, self composed - wore days like one thought should.

Near that wood stove, Winter's season sat thereby
time spent reading, if need - catch bit of shut-eye
look beyond windows, thoughts brought to wonder why.

Stove-wood porch stacked, easily brought through kitchen door
there dwelt his time most, no need be careful of floor
linoleum long worn through - down to oaken's core.

All else handy-near - sink, stove, fridge, bathroom beyond
should other rooms rot, could manage despite them gone
kitchen became room lived in - only there belonged.

Winds died down, yet gray clouds held themselves heavy-low
told night might bring another snow, to drift and blow
for eighty years lived here - all such had taught him so.

Country bred and birthed, reared and raised - farming all he knew
male kids all married, lived close-near - likewise farmers too
as such, was not a lonely life he led - seldom felt blue.

Lunch already fried, fixed and fed, mail finally read
after, napped a bit rocker-held - good as any bed
perhaps wakened by double strike - sleep-heard in his head.

Clock hands stretched so far, showing already after two
time to set kettle on, heat another coffee’s brew
crossed-reaching to undampen, former draw up the flue.

Heard gentle sounds as first bubbles began to drum
soon fire brought tune to kettle’s croon with bubbled hum
cup already measured coffee, two spoons - then some.

Warmed both hands as held cup within their calloused clutch
sipped with frequent trips, taste savored its acid touch
five cups each day, so kept him regular and such.

Phone never rang, never had - no need to own
boys several times spoke of, yet even now no phone
most friends life-made and kept - now lie beneath their stone.

Afternoons like all others, quiet end of long lane
recalled years back, knew time by whistle of local train
silence sacred, when opportuned - listen of the rain.

By four, read of his favorites including one new
rising to make nature’s call - was it four or two?
Soon be time to fend supper’s feed - something to do.

Above where once hung that clock, now shelved beside window’s form
such been since could remember, perhaps long before was born
things life had long saved, mere extensions - his whole life had worn.

Twice fed fire before and after dinner, now dampened back
burn til time to bed, then must gain two large ash from porch stack
align in the stove, just right for the night - so not burn slack.

Full-wear long Winter’s night, heat an eight hour-stretch - left unfed
slowly changed Autumn's wood growth, into soft gray ash instead
danced flickers upon the ceiling, dreamed of lost days in bed.

All through dark hours of sleeping, local mice held time their day
cleanly cleared up unseen crumbs, his fumbled fingers let stray
kept roach populace well in hand - as scampered with their play.

Unlike many farmers, loved Nature’s wear of time and earth
keen on knowing kinds, where found, life histories, month-times of birth
among all knowledge life gleaned - Faith and Nature held top worth.

During the night, clock tried keep pace with time as best could
two sets of bushings worn through, oiled often - if should
easier, push hands ahead when slow - oft done as stool-stood.

Up the hill, ancient church still struck Time's hours out
four generations Sunday went, all sober stout
never missed, his boys always took him - so left no doubt.

By six, up and about, fry-heat his breakfast - eating slow
checked stove, washed dishes, window stood - surmise how day would go
as morning unthawed itself - snow again began to blow.

Out and back - gum-boots, coat, hat and gloved, chickens fed and watered
had become only daily chore outside, by which was bothered
at times, other outdoor duties attended to - as oughtered.

Calendar told, anniversaried a month - seemed held all his dates
some singular sequence settled, important times that month fetes
both happy ones, those sad - Time dealt out from hands of grace or fates.

Of himself and her - both born same day, month and year
two counties apart, birthed and named - love brought them here
too soon for him, too late for her, died - but buried near.

Of her dying, was same month as born - all timed of Decembers
married two weeks before Christmas, that night still remembers
each day rocker-held, doting on - midst love’s dying embers.
October 11, 2000

Long stood down by lower gate where caught the road, with her deep concern
too oft, too long tarried there as if still awaiting his return
been nearly four years, when her mood was on - there she would often go
biding like one rail-held, hopeful eyes cast East - as if to know.

Should finally come, would first hear as rumbled across that lower bridge
til disappeared behind Melvern Woods, then seen again - as crest high ridge.

Held no fondness for any beau about, kept herself busied home-held
churched, towned, normal in other ways, yet of this - her mind held like one spelled
none now spoke her of it, how must be forgot, let go - as of the past
her hopeless hope accepted, fetish she still indulged - such hopes oft hast.

Four years to the day, events back then retold of how he might arrive
again stood at noon as then had done, expecting - as if still alive
was as she turned to leave, ear-caught wheels sound - seemed echoed from that bridge
waited like some prophet, soon after Melvern Woods - seen crest that ridge.

Sighted wagon slowly pulled along by pair of oxen
covered with worn canvass, weighted down, crated and boxen
knew it but a dream had often dreamt, playing out same old tune again
fancied would be him with some noble tale - explain why how long been!

But as turned out that grateful day, her long awaited dream came real
nearing in heat of August sun, driver’s posture - such she could feel!

Took all afternoon to express, explain, propose - once lost hopes found true
old story grandmother told, for wars often found returned loved ones too
everyone watching, as both drove wagon down family lane, she with pride
midst their unbelieving happy tears, t'was said - even those oxen cried!
October 12, 2000

Of how long hung there, only a poet's lies could tell
house stood on ground where kilned-fired bricks were burned
squared true by polar star, knowing where season’s sunset fell
 high land built, south-faced where twisting river turned.

But I digress for what hung the wall - my wanted aim.

Remains of first-laid logs still exposed in attic's loft
as of cellar dug, now musty dank to make one cough.

Oh, storied tales this house might tell, should have a mind
few folk found who prized of such - have ears with likes of mine.

But I digress for what hung the wall - still my wanted aim.

Far back built in eighteen-twelve, such my grandmother thought
those first came to fare this land, one's bounty-warrant bought
when log cabin finished, hurried before first-winter snows
homestead people, their long-lineaged name mailbox still shows.

But I digress for what hung the wall - now my wanted aim.

Just when clock first hung, this story told, unmakes it known
still done to this day, at each hour would hear its groan
as warning-wheels let loose, readies for its questioned strike
for a hundred years, daily-heard - only if wound up tight.

Have not digressed for what hung the wall - that aim finally gained.
October13, 2000

Such a short man for such a long beard
was years back, when thought perhaps one weird
presumed was minister there assigned
locals unsurprised - long been resigned.

Far west of Kelso, out on short-grass prairie lands
ten miles off saw its spire, told where it stands
at cafe, asked when service starts - before inned the night
bit taken aback by his flowing beard - quite a sight!

When came time to sermonize after Gospel read
stayed not at ambo, but strode long aisle instead
voice loud yet clear, could have broken stained-windows glass
gave delivery with deepened depths - found it first class.

Began with quote from Frost, how men draw lines
keeps others out, like done with fence and signs
God knew better, eternal love for men
He simply drew a circle - brought all in.

Explained, each called to love one another
with such strength as one would love a brother
such love all called to - without hate or lust
much like Christ spoke, needs deep thought - lots of trust.

In some Cultures found, cannot be safely done
for if proudly tried, why wars soon lost or won
harsh words, like one smiten with cold-wetted glove
yet those words still stand - a paradigm of love.

Barriers placed between, instinctively felt mean
natural defense oft applied, keeps slack between
such silently tells - a limit to human love
all this and more - that padre’s sermon given of.

Words my life has struggled with, seeded long ago
chanced ear-caught, mind-fraught, Sunday spoke - Father Trudeau
for tis told, the Spirit blows wherever It wills
thus Trudeau had preached directly - without the frills.

Exemplified after service, all mingled - saw everyone stay
those Ukraines, French priest and I a Yank, found no lines between us lay
asked to lunch with a family only fifteen miles away
one of those rare occasions, when both Word and Love mutually convey.

Such stray strands as this, curry favor of my Faith's trust
Sunday sermons too oft proffer stale crumbs and crust
as if Fate required my attendance there was necessary
chanced found when cafe asked, waitress told - just beyond cemetary.
October 17, 2000

(In reference to 5586)
When stood by shelf, family clock weekly wound up
wife had dusted, suddenly saw long kept cup
once gifted heaven’s nectar to dry parched lips
years later, wrote a poem of those former sips.

Since that day of youth, cup no longer gifts friendship drafts
held within my fading memory, pen now lately crafts
treasured memories, but a reward thoughts gift in old age
fond recollections recorded - on ageing yellowed page.

Kindly men labored with, happy-shared a lot of laughs
hard labored farm work finished, blessed with those cooling drafts
sealed labors well done with master’s approval
life’s wages taken - when Death bought their removal.

Their happy, kindly ways yet linger within my mind
few found who shared life with manly care, yet gently kind
tis such among life's lost clutter - such will seldom find.

How simple life then seemed, better than could have dreamed
my heart salutes them, days we worked - like horses teamed
when toils ended, unhitched - led to water’s trough
friendly folk with simple ways, like - their hats would doff.

Supple strengths strong enough, to gentle Time taken slow
enrichened rough occasions with patience’s practiced show
savored a reward long awaited, spring’s cool brought to full
fellow-gathered, hard worked hungered - then that long cold pull.

 After work done, grouped like brothers - a need that cup once drenched
cool dank air, dark gloom, hot heat, until our hopes - fully quenched.
October 18, 2000

To spare this wanton wench of love!
Good Lord man, what have you come of?
A peer of the Realm - to forestay?
Deny lust’s needed thrust - I say!

Well with such words, dismissed me as shamed
though Captain who led, brave in battle
ignorant where worth of love should be aimed
equating love - like lust with cattle!

Was years war-after, both again chanced to meet
caught his limping gait crossing a London street
now gray and wan, walked as if one inly pained
hailed, coffee-bar talked - what his life had gained.

His right sharp mind yet keen, but Death soon to come
of such would not speak, though heard its muted drum
after, never seen - recalling how wars turn to dove
his words unforgot - Good Lord man, what have you come of?
October 26, 2000

Cold morning's early mist soon began to lift
as pre-dawn’s heat bade upper airs to shift
canoe’s silent glide, steered by mute paddle’s dip
thus began another day’s ventured trip.

Alone yet quiet done, caught loons unaware
shore-line moose watched with their vacant stare
thence submerged their heads beneath water's line
as mist further rose - exposing lakeside pine.

With no wind to lap lake surface loose
heard water drip from each antlered moose
caught those slavered sounds of their loud feeding's munch
early gathered - eating their early morning’s brunch.

Was then full-breasted those open waters wide
near enough to coast, felt effects brought of tide
since water still placid, would cross wide strait
with dips strongly thrust - stroked with quickened rate.
Gained mouth of river’s end, my intended aim
thence paddled upstream - a far different game.

Here about, land once ground flat by hard glacier’s wear
river’s flow un-rapid, since August rains ran spare
low current required careful use of paddle’s ply
as watched two eagles far above - patrol down their sky.

Around third bend lay out-post Cree trappers used
soft-slid onto pebbled sand where brown algae oozed
shore-pulled far up, paddles placed inside canoe
gathered items needed, re-checked - then withdrew.

Post always open, one in charge still abed
long night spent with some squaw-whore, again rebred
found grub to breakfast by, waited for coffee's perk
til caught distant drone of mail-plane - hoped be Kirk.

Perfect landing, taxied in - fast revved up then quit
loudly greeted, each told latest - then ate a bit
fine weather predicted, flight down coast - piece of cake
soon air-borne heading south - less than two hours should take.

Early noon, saw hamlet below where rails westward drew
landed, ate again, hailed farewell - caught west train at two
week later attended funeral, past friendships both conferred
far out on prairie soils, in Abbey grounds - last interred.

Are those idle times, should hear biplane overhead
if Kirk still flies, alive or by now long since dead
remembering past days when flew Canadian's wild
good old Kirk, one who always laughed - but seldom smiled.
October 28, 2000

So long ago, far off, almost lost - now but a dream
what memory reveals, much like some fairy tale
placed far North, with all its child-magic might deem
scant farming with short summers - lots of hay to bale.

One of Norwegian descent, like many there about
Lutheran to his core, gentle, kindly - knew was devout
friendly, let me in - coffeed between to talk thereby
back in days when religious difference - could make one shy.

But not he, with welcomed words told quite otherwise
manners gathered me with comfort, yet not patronize
Nordic accent still evident, words spoken long heired
why made visit now lost - just a happy time we shared.

When recalled, wears ethereal like some faded dream
though long dead, seems but last week talked - might seem
a brief cut of life, with no cause of where later led
tidbit life once tasted, yet grateful - for all he said.
October 31, 2000

Long before Amerindians came, this stream flowed shallow-wide
bison used for millennia, crossing river side to side
frequent travels kept banks from growing back to trees and brush
growth had little chance, hoofen herds trampled with eager rush.
As pioneers journeyed West, perfect place to wagon through
resting their teams mid-stream, cooling hooves - folks thirsty too
eventually many came, trading post soon built close near by
others followed settled there, river always ran - never dry.
In time, bridge strung shore to shore - to some seemed a pity
years passed, old bridge rebuilt, widened - town grown to city.
Finally railroad came through, high trestle built tall beside
channel changed, concrete buttressed both shores - more traffic provide.
River below freeway now unseen, tunneled deep underground
history passing by, til hoofened echoes - a forgotten sound.
November 4, 2000

Behind door cornered by opposing wall
if should late visit by, there one sheds all
stripped naked clean, then re-dons bed-time clothes
done without a sound, after - door would close.

Off she’d scamper, day-clothes clutched in hand
nightly duty done, her bed-time planned
eyes held down for where would up those stairs
as we talked on or listened - from our chairs.

A simple task, delicate yet chastely done unaware
secretly swiftly clad without glimpse of her derriere
brief interlude took me back sixty years, story dad oft told
his child days had done such, but remembered - only its cold.
November 9, 2000

With hot rosin dust to smoke the air
evenings banished by loud laughter's scare
guitar, banjo, fiddles - all in tune
wore cold nights through til late - music hewn.

Ditties swiftly played, with long jokes told between
such merriment and good cheer, for a time convene
vanquished those frustrations, week may have put in play
replenished by music’s strength - friendship's good-will may.

Years long past, weekly done among farm neighbors near
a gathered brotherhood of friends - sometimes with beer
men and wives, parents, scads of children - a dog or two
olden ways of fun homespun, midst former friends - once knew.
November 14, 2000

Early evening gathered cloudy skies, quenching risen moon
midst silent barrenness, hilltop sat - Irish beauty strewn
heard chant of abbeyed monks entone Compline, sung as holied prayer
antiphons voiced in polyphony - drifting upon evening’s air.

Enraptured thereby til darkness felt complete, still their voices sung
its Latin tongue further strengthened from what hill-side echoings rung
an enchanted experience, chanced chantings from chapel below
stirred euphoric visions unseen, heart-felt - in county Sligo.

Ate hard bread and cheese, dried meat - atop rocky Erin hill
long after monks quit their pews, heard their echoings still
as magic of so many feelings, merged with what life had to tell
til clouds drifted off, Irish night again moon-lit - recast its spell.

What hour finally went to sleep unknew, for slept the open sky
awakened by light brought of early sun, as crested eastern rim
again heard monks singing of early dawn, with their voicing’s cry
if Matins or Lauds unknew, on Irish air - heard their ancient hymn.

When such ceased, packed my gear - hiked back to dusty road below
soon discovered hamlet’s inn, breakfasted there - named Just Say So
afterwards wended northwest, til found Donegal’s rocky terrain
but of that Irish Abbey’s chant to hear of - never chanced again.
November 15, 2000

Up with Kirk, found gas running low - looked for some place to drop
keen-eyed to find a lake, land without powered prop
finally propeller quit, thereafter but wind's rushing heard
with calm aplomb glided in, set her down - without a word.

Calculated so correctly, brought close to shoreline’s edge
with rope, pulled craft into cove protected by rocky ledge
unknown to me Kirk had spied a post, why chosen this lake
two hours to get enough gas, we both could carry-take.

Then taxied back to post, fully filled up with fuel
hour later in the sky, Kirk just laughed - a lucky fool.

But a days work for Kirk, flew wild Canadian air
our paths often crossed back when both found working there
then life sent me otherwheres, dry Kansas - soon after beyond
never saw Kirk again or if yet flies - out of Ste. La Mond.
November 15, 2000

His journey should take but three days, trip done - he would be gone
duty, escort an aging man - two daughters doted on.

No hardships met, left in August dry when game profuse
nor danger getting lost, trail known from frequent use
ancient pathway, Amerindian feet worn past centuries through
all saddled-up, though scant provisions - surmised would amply do.

Afternoon third day arrived Shanka Town, boat tied up at river’s moor
helped load few belongings aboard river craft, took but two hours more
but as downed gang-plank, bullet laid him low - settled some olden score.
November 24, 2000

Were only two weeks each year, your face found fully shown
one week late March, other mid-September - sunshine thrown
when old Sol's midway gleam, each equinox would pass
thrown across the room - reflected by mirror’s glass.

Its rounded frame cast circled light to shine upon your face
four or five days, sun-light reached your portrait where hung in place
within fading shadows of day, when clock chimed four or five
you countenance brightly lit, for ten minutes - came alive.

All chanced by those dimensions of window, mirror - your picture frame
each Spring and Fall, if not cloudy - as if sun knew its intended aim
strange sequence of events juxtaposed, a biannual game
though mirror hung east wall, your beauty graced - by western flame.
November 28, 2000

Original trail traced along valley’s flat, til both sides neared
thence began its climb, coiled around western hill as upward steered
a good mile ran, from river below to sandstone outcrop at top
but half-way along, spring-fed water-trough placed - horses could rest and stop.

I but a chil when dad showed me that spring's trough, of chestnut wood t'was made
now lost among moss and wet, dangling fern-fronds still gave darkened shade
later replaced with trough cement had formed, local farmers once casted
trail first fashioned early eighteen twenties - for two centuries lasted.

Below its outlet, runneled water fueled small forest of horsetail
a plant more ancient than most flora, still grown along that trail
but as neared hill’s top, sharp-left turn required where stone outcrop rose
jutting from hillside, exposed a haven - where wood rat's trail goes.

From sandstone’s top, five white oaks stood - centuried gnarled roots clung the rock
size of boles told were long growing there, before trail found to block
still called Oak Bluff Turn by the locals, left coming up - down turning right
thence just beyond, trail levels out flat - atop hill’s final height.

Drove by not long back, trail once of gravel now paved with guard-rails
viewed spring by Oak Bluff Turn, where yet grows those prehistoric horsetails
even now as back then, little traffic found or heard upon that road
perhaps no more than when horses watered here - resting from their load.

A place of enchantment when a child, from what history dad had told
all those wagons of the past, farmers, horses - long since returned to mold
since farm owned the bluff was on, dad's dad then his - here all birthed and raised
ancestored stories his childhood learned, two centuries farmed - livestock grazed.

The entire world filled with local histories, told or long forgot
across Earth and Time, back from when first people lived in caven grot
lost episodes, unwritten history cannot trace nor reconstruct their past
but like this trail tells, even those now eighty - in their minds may last.

For first found features fraught with wonder, remains within the mind til death
treasured memories from childhood, Natured days retained til final breath
one where a trail climbed that western hill around, as upwardly steered
an olden water trough, where long past, horses tired and thirsty - had veered.
December 7, 2000

That tall one ahead surely her father
was little one who made all the bother
such viewed far behind, as I walked
could hear no words of what they talked.

Day much a balmy one, fresh Spring felt in the air
dusty road traced midst what Nature may freely share
I stumbled slow just as they, for that child small
busy with hungered questions - to one walking tall.

Their slow gait kept arms usually at his side
but wee lassie's arms constantly flung wide
pointing here then there, questioning all seen
he answered patiently - with what might mean.

Later child looked behind, saw me walking too
then pointing backwards, looked up at tall - so he knew
thus looked back, bidding me his gentle wave
my gesture told friendly by what it gave.

By then had reached lane t'would take me otherwhere
as made turn she waved again, so debonair
an Irish memory, oft flits 'cross my mind unaware
dusty road, a father-daughter - in county Kildare.
December 18, 2000

With his final laugh took those steps, the gate, then ambled down our lane
summer bats darting midst orchard trees, where early-dropped apples lain
late evening shadows swiftly closed day down, much like an ending hymn
unknowing, unthinking this remembered view - would be last I saw of him.

A friendship my dad had earned and kept, so thus it was with I
long respected, all liked - such as knew would always stand one by
traced decades through, where country ways were well understood
solid character, four score years dwelt this neighborhood.

Was early morning next, found him dead beside roadside spring
had stooped to slake his thirst, as if baptized with final drink
largest funeral ever, church over-filled gave strength to sing
tis such memories old folks recall - reflections bid one think.

Just one like millions gone before, left behind a trail of friends
til Time made its final call, as to each unknowing when it ends
shared and cared of himself with those about, a man of word and trust
for awhile thought of, til at last be forgot - like unseen dust.
December 19, 2000

From end-point of land, where lapped those waves of endless sea
six ridges rose inland, before seventh highest be
eastward lay gaunt moorlands, where harsh heather grows brittle dry
til leveled-out at edging's coast - all else but sea and sky.

Below first ridge, spreads shallow Gatelow's river bed
gathers all those waters from what six valleys fed
near crumbling Abbey, first built as some castle’s keep
sparse land still pastures ponies, cattle - goats and sheep.

From Shadrow’s bald top, entire isle held in eye
ever at sea-wind's mercy, Winters especially try
isolated, dialect hard to learn lest there born and bred
those past centuries left alone - as if Time itself had fled.

Only town island held, bridged both Gatelow's sides
meager exports, wool and rough-cured cattle hides
lonely moors, treeless except where river runs by
an islet of sere hills - all else but sea and sky.
January 20, 2001

Cold winter night's crusted snow frozen tight
no winds gave blow, clear sky - stars gleaming bright
time just right when Ursa Major found
Dipper’s handle aimed - nearly straight down.

Trudging field up til wood's edging met
snow gave glow enough, found tree-limbs no threat
fence reached, level ground led flat ahead
Shep soon heard to bark - knowing needs fed.

Yelled its name, barking ceased - knew it heard
two minutes, met me without a word
danced tail a-wag with whining sound
after homed - fed self as well as hound.

After fire banked, stood warm window by
as late-night moon peeped at rim of sky
half-day worn with friends, now my dog
prayers, then got in bed - slept like a log.
January 22, 2001

How wore that joy, shown most at brink of eyes
creased its edgings, not as wrinkles - more like sighs
gave no evidence some sadness inly lies
cheeks rose-rounded - told laughter could swiftly rise.

With that as preface, was a mouth spoke her truth
its ready smile showing mere glimpse of tooth
tilt of head revealed a  spirit of happy mirth
need but some awkward occasion - til gift laughter’s birth.

Held between her clutching hands, a volumed book outspread
intent upon story or verse, gleaned within her head
refashioned former thoughts, or new-made learnings instead
as mid-morning sun gave further warmth - to what had read.

Sat alone on that veranda, so catch morning’s sun
grasped all this, as took those steps - saw her the only one
looked up with pleasant smile, though her readings not yet done
we spoke friendly words, acknowledged how the day might run.

Replied with my greeting spoken, how day’s weather warm
might be but a prelude to predicted evening storm.

She made note of Nature’s need of rain, for was arid dry
I then asked of what she read, with such keen-held yearning eye
led me to sit that morning through, friendly chatting there - both close by
was how a run of days began - beneath that late September's sky.
February 3, 2001

T'was a Winter’s noon with clouds of gray
old Doc Burns buggy fast made its way
Mary O’Keef's first nipper to spill
with pipe alit, went down Donnley’s Hill.

T'was one Spring’s eve, full-moon risen high
young McGoon seen footing, fast and spry
visit colleen O’Keef with love’s will
wrapped box in hand, skipped down Donnley’s Hill.

T'was in an Autumn’s dry heat of day
McGoon and boys passed, full load of hay
cut old Maude’s field, had taken ill
box-braked and slid, as downed Donnley’s Hill.

T'was of Winter’s noon, two foot of snow
sad McGoon and eight kids footing slow
bonnie O’Keef crushed from buggy’s spill
horse pulled black hearse, as upped Donnley’s Hill.
February 6, 2001

Good day fair madam I spoke
where both met beneath an oak
but see a tear in your eye
is grave-side near - reason why?

Yes tis so - fortnight since died
only six months, I his bride
now find life unheedful of
so lonesome without his love.

Grief-ful words spoke by one bereft
now singled, early widowed left
I made move to amble on
later looked back - she was gone.

Was long ago, dry August day
when of Irish roads walked my way
healing what war took away
now know - unfelt her dismay!

Often think upon that weepful lass
when life-sands outran her husband's glass
too soon love's loss came to pass
perhaps to her - I’d been crass.

Alone, whole Summer tarried
unknew depths of those married
seen much death to know life's loss
yet in war - tis but a gloss.

For unknew grim clutch of grief
quickly taken, Death its thief
anguished widow met, briefly spoke
stood long ago - beneath that oak.

If could but turn back those years
now knowing grief's waste of tears
would have spent an hour or two
let her speak - til cryings through.

Two-score years now turned to smoke
since we spoke beneath that oak
grave visit she made that day
his ashes - long turned to clay.

Still regret then unknew of grief
despite war, where death felt but brief
shooting others down to save one's own
those quickly killed - but two days had known.

If she still lives some Irish dell
I would wish her bonnie life well
an Irish memory once begot
of her sad grief - have not forgot.

My tender hope - her eyes be dry of tears
to reap life-long joys down passing years
another love found, now repays her loss
though first one lies beneath an Irish cross.
February 9, 2001

Born crippled, left leg short yet could stand
five nubbins as fingers on left hand
short of stature too but not a dwarf
would be barren - some genetic morph.

Raised with batch of siblings country bred
mind most sharp, keen to learn - always read
heart of gold, kind as her mother does
one fast of wit - quick to laugh she was.

Since denied so much by Nature’s cause
crafted with a face to make one pause
large eyes of chestnut brown, rosy cheeks
long hair sable-brown - auburn streaks.

Took care of siblings til all were wed
left with mother by, their father dead
nearly sixty was when widower met
year later married - Nature paid its debt.
February 10, 2001

At cliff’s high brink above those surging seas below
clutched by gnarled roots, stood gaunt tree like some scarecrow
nearly dead, skeletonized - seeded years back
twisted limbs, sea winds bent - for were seldom slack.

Devested bark harsh winds striped, its trunk honed bone-gray
yet on one twig, some inner struggle made display
three leaves danced by winds, speaking last words tree might tell
would die this Autumn - though be years afore it fell.

Other stumps rotted dry, still clung where had firstly grown
this tree their last, outlived its brothers centuries thrown
fearful sea-winds blast, cold Winters or hot August dry
until dies alone, vanquished by weathers witless try.

Standing there, felt one kindred of - this tree and I
life left for each, brief bit of time til both must die
tree because it must, until storm-felled by weather’s pound
I with hopeful trust - til sexton's shovel spades me down.
February 19, 2001

Polling’s Hill, with horse-trough half way up or down
first but a wagon track, wider at its crown
later widened, so passing wagons may
so steep T-models backed up all the way.

Was years ago when grand-dad tilled his ground
horse-trough still used, its spring gurgled year round
even as a child scared when going down
yet today still only way from home to town.

When small, rode hay-wagon down high-held with hay
coming back from McCann’s field, end of day
held tight with fright at front ladder, gripping tight
strange why such should all come back this very night.

Forgotten episodes my childhood saved
Polling’s Hill but a memory - for now is paved.
February 20, 2001

Was in a stirring crowd, big-city brewed
suddenly caught glimpse, one same beauty hewed
briefly crossed my eyes with hints the same
since time and place - knew not one of name.

One brief moment, like an apparition sent
some chanced gifting those teasing gods had lent
though likeness exact, knew could not be true
yet if told 'twas - would have believed it you.

Among varied views vast world might show
from all inner depths, would instantly know
for one long-loved, still etched within my soul
no proof could deny - what cold Death once stole.

Yet for a brief moment in that stirring crowd
my heart quickened, an inner voice speaking loud
all forgot, transported on some elysian cloud
abandon life itself - regain what once vowed.

But was only some chanced likeness, seen in pantomime
city brewed within a stirring crowd - at Christmas-time.
February 21, 2001

Once sat atop mile-stone to rest my knees
implaced along Welsh road of arbored trees
late September air astir with pleasant breeze
since shaded there, partook of hard bread and cheese.

Footing Cambrian Hills above River Wye
high-held enough, could feel soft weight of sky
no urgency urged me to gain some destined place
a stranger no one knew - my passage left no trace.

Thence chanced a boy with pony-cart, stopped to speak
of course Welsh tongue far more difficult than Greek
I smiled, making clear unknew tongue he spoke
yet gathered up, climbed in his cart - like one broke.

He oft pointed here then there, with his leathern goad
showing places he liked, as carted down that road
often laughed to himself, like I was not there
til I felt free and content - to simply stare.

When entered a hamlet, I pointed to its ancient inn
gave my thanks then jumped free, he simply nodded with his grin
left without looking back, til made that ride seem
like an interlude outside Time - but a dream.

At inn that evening, while suppered by
planned next day whence would further go and why
since date-certain, knew my journey soon must end
a ventured circumstance - old Welsh roads made lend.

Still haunts my memories
those traveled days, foot-loose free and young
jaunts midst Welsh counties
a foreign time and place, Chance once flung.
February 21, 2001

Was only I who saw vacant stare within her eyes
reached mid-life stage of marriage, no makeup could disguise
sat there in silence, her half-glass of wine yet remained
as if finally found out - love not easily sustained.

At her left, sat he with equally vapid stare
slowly nursing third glass of brew, two empties there
blank visage unaware what his lips could not say
who knows what idle thoughts - his mind relived in play!

She coifed and dressed as should a lady do
he clean yet clothes of the day, disheveled blue
as when both agreed to spend this evening out
he giving in from long persuasion - no doubt!

Across wide world, in any culture met
such scenes may be seen where people idly set
their sitting there, mutely unsaying what either felt
seen without their smiles, surviving - what marriage dealt.
February 23, 2001

So unlike ever seen before, her mood most keen
I there to visit by, but then their tiff was seen
without tears shed, only in anger complained to he
as I quietly looked on close-by - watching their melee.

He out-reached both arms to quell her quick sudden flare
as words continued, he looked at me standing there
red-faced as one embarrassed with a sheepish grin
spoke to her but looked at me - I not taken in.

Felt her anguish, his embarrassment that occasion wrought
despite hurts each one held, such at times tis marriage fraught
life-long struggle, untangle selfish needs from their love
a tet-a-tet between - their tiff exemplified of.
March 4, 2001

Should Autumn winds toss cupped sycamore leaves to float
upon low waters, dry August winds gently smote
thereafter twirled, rafting down-stream past far bend
like elfin ships set sail - winds and current lend.

Should Winter snows bestrew late evening clouds with gray
fields and woodlands whitened, cold March weathers may
thereafter enfold both ground and limbs with snow all night
like elfin flour - powdered beauty strewn but white.

Between those dates long past, one journeyed by canoe
Bear Skull Creek southward til entered Lake Chattue
three weeks hence, breasted waves along Lake Superior
by then grown adept as a seasoned voyageur.

Winter spent at Fort Detroit in idled ease
but with first breath of early Spring's awaited breeze
headed southward afoot til reached his boyhood's home
beyond Marietta, never again would he roam.

Married then labored, aged what hard years could not hide
in eighteen eighty-one, at ninety - finally died.
March 27, 2001 

What fears fueled that terror behind her eyes
til from their wild flames, gained courage of lies
when outspoke what been asked, so hard she tried
yet those lips that trembled told - she had lied.

In her heart were reasons gave cause to lie
yet not for me to understand their why
shook my head, silently told unbelieved
knowing presumptions she held - preconceived.

My smile showed, allowed her fears kept inside
need not tell or share of, nor to me confide
only trust could unlock fears inly held
was then she changed - as tears at eyelids swelled.

Sat silent while she cried, sobbed in her kerchief
til regained composure to both our relief
for a good cry oft weakens fears long held inside
thence she told all first asked - no twist of truth denied.

We talked of her pain, reasons found were not so bad
as left, told me - was kindest talk she ever had.
April 4, 2001

What had given cause for door be loudly slammed
as if flung like an after thought - one be damned
then but silence, like felt in some Egyptian tomb
signaled an omen - sentenced with eternal doom.

Rending quiet shades of night, across that field
three o'clock, upped to see what ice-box might yield
settled for cookies with coffee, then emporched - listened
heard no further sounds - moon on river strangely glistened.

Neighbor I did not know, nor others knew who they were
dwelt across the river, how long had lived there - not sure
only two days later, house and barn burnt to ground
when authorities examined - no bodies found.

Such events close together, gave heir to mystery
locals soon fashioned - an entire life-history.

I not impressed by their well-concocted tale
took place in August dry, know then - all signs fail
sound still haunts me - land never put up for sale.
April 6, 2001

In league with two others, left by canoe
heavy fog lay when quietly withdrew
drifting downstream, they seldom talked
chuckled how long would take - if walked.

Beyond reach of roads, before rails laid
lived off the land, quick meals simply made
two years their duty spent - map lay of land
now returning back East - with maps in hand.

Was in late Fall their journey back, began
surveys now finished, new maps in hand
searching place where Ohio River ends
disembarked - where Mississippi bends.

Railhead reached that far, this they knew
for train ride back East, sold their canoe
brief interlude spent of their youthful days
learned of Nature's lore and wise Indian ways.

Unknowing all three would die two years more
ambushed by Confederates - that Civil War
despite those dangers, two long years surveyed
strange sequence of events - few lives portrayed.
April 14, 2001

(First line from Hardy's - Tess of the D'Ubervilles)
When one-handed clocks sufficiently subdivided the day
travels taken encompassed lengths, whereof eve-time brought to stay
health self-doctored, school-learnings terminated when one turned twelve
God soundly believed in, other truths learned - old folk-lores delve.

When such times came, unexpected chance for one to sail across far sea
because of that occurrence, gave rise of lineage - diverse from family tree
enmixing divergent genes, twinned cultures other than long used to be
in due season, conceived by foreign conceptions - finally birthing me.

When two-handed clocks, sufficiently subdivide a full day
travels taken encompassed lengths, Time itself could not delay
health maltreated by doctors, school learnings til one twenty-two
God few believe in, unequal lies learned - enlightened fools hold true.
May 19, 2001

As stood window by, viewing fields once freshly green
now grown to weeds and woody brush, differently seen
fencing entwined with brambles, top-rung birds oft perched
former years long framed within his mind - memories searched.

For a time sons toiled on, growing crops for cattle fed
til this last attempt failed, was then his sons finally fled
thereafter he retired, now crippled in hands and feet
yet chose to dwell the place - since self-abled to cook and eat.

Porch-sat most warm days, Spring through Fall - whiled there to dream
recalling days, when helped his dad to farm with horse and team
of those changes brought by war-after, most to city fled
though a few still farmed hereabout, most once knew - long been dead.

Eyes center-focused on nesting birds, those he Winter-fed
with no livestock about, former family pets long since dead
noting growth of trees once planted, flowers his wife nursed
gathered by wood fire in Winter's time - read old lines versed.

Most of brood lives close by, were they who kept his heart alive
their comings and goings, in varied ways worked to survive
still owned full acreage, his forefather's bounty-warrants won
six generations since crossed wide sea - unknew why had come.

Now late Spring, phoebes again returned - nesting porch south-side
some thirty years done so, high-held ledge safely would provide
mocking birds nest the spruce, bluebirds in boxes fence posts held
tree swallows nesting near old farm-pond - where green-frogss dwelled.

Yet each morning stood window by, viewed fields - green or brown
now grown to weeds and brush, old fencing long since rotted down
distance between his centuried farm - growing closer to town.

Now matters not, ponders on lost years his ancestors schemed
former times far back, when helped his dad farm with horsen teamed
but most precious, life with wife, was of her - most often dreamed.
May 25, 2001

Down dark shadowed glens, sides hung with dripping fronds
dank damps, misting wets vaporized from vapid ponds
all denied reach of sun, could not burn such fog dry
towering trees, leafened limbs - forbade full light there by.

Though varied depths of color gave bright display
foul fumes, vile vapors smothered bloom's bouquet
unmotioned air, strangled one's attempts to breathe
humidity so intense - air felt to seethe.

Myriads of insects, salamanders slithered by
serpentine reptiles presumed, left one fearful shy
most birds far above, their cacophony unending
no mammals observed, presumed hid - or portending.

Then found cut steps in rock, leading up to high ledge of stone
dripping wet til turned slime, slippery slick - molds had grown
on and on they led, til drier air freshened one's nose
finally found open glade, warmly dry - where sunlight shows.

At last released from bowels of Earth, finally freed from Hell's den
when chopper arrived, left behind fears - of that murky glen.
May 26, 2001

When evening's last glow outwore itself extinguished
by nocturnal's silence, day-sounds relinquished
then entranced a cast, performed in dark shadows of night
than would act beneath the sun, secluded - out of sight.

Thus it was, two found quietly stole upon dark lea
footing as a bonded pair, those asleep would not see
finally reached O'Gaffrey's barn at late hour of three
there pilfered his treasured brew - though under lock and key.

After filled their waxed skins with that best of Irish brew
refilled O'Gaffrey's kegs with water, then withdrew
retracing former steps so recently brought them here
slinking back to whence had come - to drink O'Gaffrey's beer.

Next night in Paddy's pub, at far table - those tricking two
made sure had early come, to hear what O'Gaffrey might do
nursing their local stout much the same as oft before had done
listened to those cursing diatribes - O'Gaffrey's verbiage flung.

Doors at Paddy's not locked up til Abbey's matins sung
whole night given to sworn oaths - each yelled with vented tongue.

Those unsuspected two watched and laughed of O'Gaffrey's plight
but unrevealed by O'Gaffrey in the pub that night
his brother's scenting hounds would arrive by noon next day
hopes held high might nose-scent, whence should find his wanted prey.

T'was two days after, O'Gaffrey well-knew by whom and where
his treasured brew been taken, then swilled with their sneakful dare
thus laid his trap with trusted friends, close-kin of familied clan
next night at Paddy's pub, was there - fist-cuffed fight began.

O'Gaffrey himself alone in street outside Paddy's pub
first one then the other, thrashed them both with tight-fisted drub
a public affray in dusty street of Watersville that day
an olden tale still heard and told - around St Finan's Bay.
May 29, 2001

Beneath those ancient boughs of kirk-garth yews
long growing since brae first browsed by ewes
its copse up-grown so tall, occluded tall churchen spire
perhaps planted by founding clerics and hopeful prior.

Facing northwards, uprose rocky outcrop of a barren tor
windswept fields lying west, still grazed much as long before
easterly by the sea, lay town of Malstern upon its shore
but to the south, an endless waste - dry barrenness of Hackenmoor.

While beneath those ancient boughs, garth-trees extended
by grave freshly dug, obsequies heard commended
stone yet untold of who or when, no name nor date inscribed
silent clues untelling of whomever - buried inside.

By now westing sun cast shadows, warning night soon to come
for day itself was dying, like that one's life taken from
once birthed to dance upon life's stage, midst that brief bright of day
til wear and waste of love and hate - returned one to earthen clay.

Thence beneath those ancient boughs, came one still weeping
night-gathered by his graveside, for her vigil's keeping
for in truth, neither could find sleep to quell their loss by Death
as murmured things yet untold - in silence beneath her breath.

Beneath frozen boughs, winter winds entuned their moan
one interred beneath cold ground, forever unknown
stone emplaced unetched, with neither name nor date
its cause Time retained - as if foredoomed by Fate.

Ageless yews still grow above that brae by Malstern
kirk and garth but remnants, sheep yet browse with no concern
memories of those long past, what said or done - no history tells
yet was a time kirk-garth real - among those Scottish fells.
May 31, 2001