Friday, May 10, 2019

86th Letter

Yesterday I had the good company
of your book in the eye doctor's waiting-room.
Your poems bring me the Illinois of your youth:
corn and sun, wide blue sky, and tender growth.

Yesterday I saw a woman of seventy
offering to help a woman of twenty-five
(whose fingers had been fumbling at the task)
bind her dark abundant hair in a yellow ribbon.
The two were strangers, newly met
in the underground Harvard Square busway.
The younger woman crouched a bit
and politely suggested, "If you could make a bow?"
and the older woman did so, lovingly.

Yesterday I read of an elderly rabbi
climbing a chair to urge his congregation
to immediate safety and to future courage
as a gunman invaded their synagogue
to carry out his plot of murder.
The rabbi had just been shot himself,
losing a finger in the attack.

Yesterday was an ordinary Monday.
April in New England is a quiet festival,
a gentle riot of blossoms, bright and bold,
that will not make it to the end of May.
I cherish the gentleness of these days,
before the sun becomes a cruel blaze,
before humidity makes me sluggish.

Yesterday I wept for a lost friend,
who died eight months ago at forty-four:
a beautiful woman whose friendship I cherished
succumbing to a fast and vicious cancer.

Yesterday I was angry and hurt.

Yesterday I was grateful.

Monday, April 8, 2019

85th Letter

I wish you'd describe the baristas
(in cyber-mail or hand-penned letter)
of Stone Creek and of Rochambo,
the Wifi'd customers in suit, in sweater,
casual as friends, or stiff as barristers.

I wish you'd give me Wisconsin's
robins, bluejays, birds of fine feather!
I wish you'd sketch in freshest phrases
your spot in the square where sparrows gather
for crumbs and contentious discussions.

I wish you'd send me petals as they emerge:
daffodil, crocus, tulip, hydrangea,
forsythia and leaves on the verge
of their greenest growing.
I wish you'd tell me how your brother's doing!

Let me see the mirror and rail
of your dance class, the swivelly chair
of your office in the twelve-story tower.
Share sandwiches from your lunch hour,
San Pellegrino or ginger ale.

Write to me as the sly stars wink
or when the sun yawns, half awake:
Invite me, please! into your Milwaukee;
let me join you for a cup of coffee
at Rochambo or at Stone Creek.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

84th Letter

Yes I might try to go to sleep before
the sun comes up on the first day since
last September when the timespan of light
will slightly exceed that of the wintry dark

I might tax your indulgence and send you
the first draft of a rickety semi-poem
and ask you what you think of it and trust
that somehow you'll perceive the good in it

I might even relate a stray gratitude
the convo in the Lutheran vestibule
when a bunch of us left the sober meeting
because the speaker got all fundygelical

Please pray for me dear soul but not to Grumpy
Old Whitebeard who really should retire
but to the bright petals of dark sunflowers
and to the apple-blossoms of late April

Sunday, March 17, 2019

83rd Letter

Milwaukee bus-stop,
subzero wind-chill.
Steamy air emanates
from a sidewalk grate.

Two commuters
happily just met
share the square
during their long wait.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

82nd Letter

Winter wind
scrapes the night
as a snowplow
scrapes the driveway
of the funeral home
a few doors down.

I'm awake, of course,
at a handful past three
in the morning.
There needs to be
another word
for this time of day,
don't you agree?

Two gratitudes
stand out from yesterday:
I saw my dear friend
D----, and I did
three loads of laundry.

I didn't do much else!

In yesterday's
gale-force gusts,
I helped D---- light
her cigarette
by cupping my hands
around the tip of it.

And then we both
went back inside,
as it was too brutal
out there in the wind.

And we talked
on the threshold
of her apartment
for about half an hour.
We hugged. We kissed.

This is gospel,
this is communion.

Monday, January 14, 2019

80th Letter

One of those days

when the aging body
grudges to move
from the rumpled bed

and dozing sight
stares blearily
at sharp wires

of white light
slicing through shut
Venetian blinds

79th Letter

So much beauty
in this half-mastered
               So much grace
in the music that eludes.

78th Letter

I write to you
from cloud-heaped New England.
A frail flurry
sways, gray
in a tristful wind.

My mind jumps and fidgets
in ninety-nine directions.
Peace, prattler! 

(Archbishop Ramsey
once told an interviewer:
Today I prayed
for one minute.
But it took me twenty-nine
to get there.)

77th Letter

A photograph:
you, poet-friend,
on an islanded
slab of rock,
silver-blue water
on every side.

Your blond braid,
your back
are turned
against the lens.

Your brother
took the picture
from his kayak.

You are a painter's model
of the nineteenth century:
Ingres, Bouguereau.

You are DalĂ­'s young woman,
shoulders and head framed
by a careful square of sun.

In the full blare of summer,
your quiet grace
lives and whispers
an ineffable secret.

You lean into the rock,
surrounded by the water’s

The soles of your feet
are silent violins.

76th Letter

I am spent
before I wake.
I'm on thin chains.

Where can I go
for solace,
for strength?

Who can sustain
my wavering faith?

The healing cold
of this December night.

at the world's
dark margin.

75th Letter

What can I learn
about the value
of a single word
by being silent,
by cherishing silence?

Friday, October 5, 2018

73rd Letter

The flare and flamboyance
of this New England October
will diminish to a brittle cipher,
will petrify to cold severity,
will harden into doctrine,
bitter, stiff.

A year of losses it has been:
intimate deaths, sundered loves,
faith punchdrunk and tottering.

Who can bear this cacophony---
riot of grief and grudge,
stifled cry of thwarted aspirations,
collapse of dreams held dear?

Winter decrees:
You will know dark days.
You will endure
the mortal agony of cherished hopes.
Amid the wreckage of your consolation,
you will learn to live.

72nd Letter

Foredawn dark.
If I'm hearing crickets,
the rain must've stopped
or tapered
to a whispery drizzle.

Glance out the window.

Sure enough,
just a few mute taps
on the asphalt below.

Peanut-butter sandwiches
at 3 in the morning.
The joys
of apneatic sleep!

Brewing up
a half-pot of coffee
and realizing
I've written this poem