Joe's Poems

I am not a great fan of poetry. Still, there were two times in my life when I was compelled to write them. They were times of high emotion, often painful. In looking back on what I've written, I am struck by my naivete. However, they came from my pen. I have often regretted that nobody saved my grandfather's plays for posterity. This regret is part of my motivation to leave my works in a public record, although the quality of the work, I suspect, is far lower than his. In fact, some of these strike even me as pretty poor. Nonetheless, if you have the stomach....

Found and Lost
Ever Lower
Flights Taken
Life's Swing
Proof by Fire
A Dream Unfulfilled
No Poetry
Old Fear, No Pain. New Pain, New Fear
Shed Wise Tears
More Than You Know

Found and Lost
Treading life's shore
with no hand to hold.
Shrouded in chill mist
without companion.
Falling, failing often
with no arm to aid.
For far too long.
Far too long.

Mist parts briefly.
Touch of a hand extended.
A beautiful, tender heart
floods my soul with warmth.

All too briefly.

The mist returns
frigid with new pain.
Love found and lost.

Stumbling, blundering,
desperately seeking
drive the heart away.
Care seen as judgment.
Concern unacceptance.
Tenderness smothers freedom.
What have I done?

Dread fear, starvation.
Self-certainty lost.
Paralyzed while running.
Chasing the banquet,
I kick it away.

Learn to stroll slowly
with purpose to nowhere.
The mist stays unparted.
Does it only hide her?
Or is love long lost
while a weeping soul
meanders blindly
on the misty shores of life?

April 1996

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Ever Lower
Floating downward,
he gazes on concrete
and recalls the time
he was part of a wing.

Drawing closer
to cold hard stone,
he ponders only,
"Will it hurt in the end?"

Then comes a zephyr,
playful and warm.
She beckons his gaze
away from his plight.

Lofting skyward
on affectionate breath,
heart captivated
by lips' tender touch.

Interest soon wanes.
There's more frolic elsewhere.
Leaving, she thinks,
"Twas a nice diversion."

His eyes fall on concrete,
nearer than before.
Pining, he gazes up,
Embracing a memory.

Or was it a dream?

April 1996

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I can comment on this one, as I wrote it for someone whom I had come to love dearly and who did not feel the same toward me. I used the shearwater metaphor because she was/is fond of birds. I'm not sure if it brought a tear to her eye when I gave it to her or if she got a speck of dust in it. She acted as if it was a speck. I, of course, hoped otherwise.

Flights Taken
Petite Shearwater, dancing on wind,
touching wingtip to ocean crests.
All she wanted was life and love.
Too early, too young, kept from her breast.

At last she hears the words:
"Always, I'll love you."
They still echoed on the wind
while he nested with another.

Petite Shearwater, dancing on wind,
touching wingtip to ocean crests.
Whom do you fault?
Do you weep without tears?

Love lost. Life too?
Seek it where you can.
If not love, then at least life.
Some took from her without request.

Another brings joy, life, and love.
But an angry storm does its damage.
With wounded wing, she pleas.
But she's no longer fun; he flees.

Petite Shearwater, dancing on wind,
touching wingtip to ocean crests.
Wounded, alone, find you a voice?
"Why need them? Only harm will they do."

Comes a shy gentle spirit
bearing feathers of gray.
Her wounds speak to him.
Can he bring a brighter day?

But the shearwater, thrice shy,
casts him away with a shout,
"Man! Liar! Deceit!
Depart! I need you not."

Stung, he falls back.
He cries, "T'was not me.
I love who you are,
not what you offer me."

Not calling, not touching,
he watches her flight.
His words are unspoken:
"I'll be here at night."

Petite Shearwater, dancing on wind,
touching wingtip to ocean crests.
Can your heart open
to love now offered?

She glances behind and sees
a golden gem form in his eye.
It captures the low sun,
and falls to the ocean below.

Petite Shearwater, dancing on wind,
touching wingtip to ocean crests.
It is not for him, don't you know?
His gem falls for another. It is you.

May 1996

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Life's Swing
"Daddy, push me,"
the girl cried on her swing.
But the hand seldom came
in the part of her life that was spring.

The swing rose; it fell,
like life's ups and downs.
Hands came and went.
But too often there were frowns.

In late summer I called,
Can I give you a push?
A friend, not a father, offers.
Or is it later than you would wish?

Please let me offer
that which was denied.
After all these seasons,
Can I dry the tears that you cried?

June 1996

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Proof by Fire
Meandering through my life,
led for years by another,
I met and found a new way.
My heart will know no other.

Have years of deprivation
blinded me to what is real?
Do I know my own heart?
Is it truly love I feel?

Questions I must answer
on my path to a new life.
Can I assure your heart
I won't cut it with a knife?

My soul cries, I am certain!
Your heart has room for doubt.
What words can I tell you?
How loudly need I shout?

My words convey no meaning.
You have heard them all before.
Your tender eyes inform me
there must be something more.

"Actions convey meaning.
Journey the social fire.
If you emerge from the flames,
I'll know you're not a liar."

Foreign hearts I will seek,
as you so softly urge.
Until the fear of others
from your mind I purge.

One question I must ask.
How deeply must I burn,
Shearwater full of doubt,
before your trust I earn?

July 1996

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A Dream Unfulfilled
Mote flies from its parent.
Drifts solitary on currents.
Sometimes in shadows.
Floating upward.
Wafting downward.
At times a sparkle
in sunbeam's glow.

Others drift alone.
Cast about randomly
on currents of air.
Indistinct stars in the sky

Drifting close to another,
two may join as one.
No longer anonymous,
a spark of life joins them.
As one, they soar higher.
At times dragging down.
Drifting into shadows,
their spark lights their way,
driving away the cold.

Comes a time, the bond withers.
Their spark flickers dimly.
Held by memories now vague,
the parting soon comes.
Once dear companion
escapes to myriad motes
drifting between night and day.
Indistinct star once again.
Coldness revisited.

One time in a million,
perhaps never,
Mote meets another.
Their spark shines
without parallel.
Shared dreams entwine.
Constant cherishing brightens.
Mutual memories sweeten.
Weathering the storms,
their spark shimmers only brighter.

When the light around them fades,
and others settle dimly to the ground, alone,
their light blazes on,
A distinct star in the sky.

August 1996

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No Poetry
I started a poem on cruelty.
But the metaphor eluded me.

Predator and prey dance their dance.
Seeking to satisfy hunger,
is the lion cruel to the gazelle?
Is it heartless to feel joy
in sinking teeth into warm flesh,
and preserving its own life?
No metaphor to find in this strife.

Nature itself kills and maims.
Hurricane, earthquake, volcano, flood.
Have these a consciousness?
Is there joy felt somewhere
at the ending of young lives?
Rock, water, air -- all insensate.
No metaphor to contemplate.

AIDS, ebola, malaria, cancer,
grief producers they all be.
But they do so without hate.
Do so not from fear.
My metaphor lies not here.

Dances designed to bring forth pain,
knives aimed at a loving heart,
the sole domain of woman?
Brutish words and savage deeds
spoken, acted without remorse.
Do only men do these?

Find me the metaphor, please.
As with all else that I fail,
it eludes me despite my urge.
How in life can my poem
ever emerge?

September 1996

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The next one is my only published poem, in a manner of speaking. I entered it into one of those poetry contests that you see advertised in the newspapers every so often. You know the kind: the ones that make money by selling overpriced books of collections to people who fancy themselves poets.

Old Fear, No Pain. New Pain, New Fear
Tender pinpricks touch my flesh.
Not pain, but fear now stirs me.
Seek black widows in the play yard,
my mother's insistent plea.

One leg raises then drops.
Two more soon after follow.
The arachnid crawls my bare flesh.
Once thought danger, now hollow.

I soon learn I was no fool
to hold my arm, risk the pain.
The spider's venom stays inside,
mingling not with blood in my vein.

Such a claim I cannot make
for the tarantulas standing near and apart.
The poison of one has touched my soul,
blackening my once gentle heart.

From hard shelled body fear proceeds
to a woman's once soft touch.
That pinprick now holds my dread.
For her venom hurts so much.

Once feared tarantula,
your friendship I now seek.
You have not bled my soul
nor made my life so bleak.

September 1996

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I wrote the next one to be a song and put it to the music of a very old Brothers Four Christmas melody. It's not a Christmas song. I subsequently performed it twice to women I dated, mostly because I didn't know many other songs as well at the time. In both cases, it led to an unexpected emotional reaction that one could not call pleasant. If I ever had the opportunity (improbable) and dared to perform it for the woman about whom I actually wrote it, I suspect that my life would be in peril. It reminds me of the old Monty Python skit about the deadliest joke ever written, which caused people to die of laughter. I haven't performed this song before an audience since. Well, my cat doesn't count. He's a male, and uncritical.

Shed Wise Tears
Why Father, why?
You hate me so.
What did I ever do?
I can't speak to you.
I haven't the strength.
Flee and strike, that I will do.

Bury your pain.
Hide it again.
Don't let anyone know.
Claim that you're hard.
Slap at the hand
of anyone extended to help.

Cold heart flies free
to the arms of another.
How could he do this to me?
How is she better?
How did I fail?
Can she love better than me?

Bury your pain
Hide it again.
Don't let anyone know.
Claim that you're hard.
Slap at the face
of anyone daring to care.

I will show them.
I'll revel in sin.
I will be far worse than he.
They are all bad.
They'll do it to me.
Taste them, then cast them away.

Bury your pain
Hide it again.
Don't let anyone know.
Claim that you're hard.
Tear out the heart
of anyone falling in love with you.

A choice once offered
to find life again.
Could you swallow your pride?
Be proud yet bitter.
or meeker but wise.
Have you the strength to survive?

Honor your pain
Find life again.
Please let everyone know.
Seek out yourself.
She's all around.
Someone has need of your love.

Someone has need of your love.

December 1996

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The next one is a song too. However, I wrote my own music for this one, which no doubt explains why it is so brief. When being performed, it needs instrumental interludes. After the unpleasant reactions to my first song, I haven't tried to perform this one in front of any women.

More Than You Know
I loved you more than you know.
You ran just as far as you could go.
Now we two will never know
Just how high our love could fly.

I loved you more than you know.
I pushed you as far as you could go.
Now we two will never know
Just how deep our love could grow.


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