Singing for our Lives

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Green Eyes

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PRIDE: Past and Present

fist

Past:

DANCING

Oh, the dancing!

That incredible lost world of dancing.

The moving magic freedom

With

The kinetic ghosts of yesterday.

*

Where,

Where have all those yesterdays gone?

The impassioned crowds,

Shirtless

Wet with sweaty frenzied male motion

Tank top tucked

In the ready,

Keys and kerchiefs left and right

Colored for personal delights,

Boots tapping with urgency

And

We

Captured by the beats, syncopation

And

Voices sung in abandon,

 Undulating, rising and falling

 As if keeping beat to the swell of tides,

Everything made beautiful

By

Ecstasy

Capturing our souls by the passion

Of

Dithrambic ancient joys

Deep in the hearts of we

 ‘others,’

As if preparing for the plague to come

Its cortege

Drums beating for the last of we pagan angels,

One summer’s night at the Saint,

The Big Apple’s glorious ecstatic haven.

It has passed.

 Long gone

Many years ago,

 But

In this fade and closing days of stillness

An old man remembers

A DJ creating a Stairway to Heaven.

 

Present:

Birthday

There was no way

To anticipate the swells of the heart

On that day,

On that particular birthday

Where came the swift rise

Of streams

Of rivers

Of surging tides

In tears.

No way to stir the art

Of grief

And

Its passion

Which in the final

Came as a tiny sigh

Of

Emptiness.

Filled only with the notion,

That if one were to ask about it,

I would say

In the spirit of a beautiful requiem:

I’d rather have died in the past.

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Happy Birthday Trace 6/7/1952–7/10/2014

tb

 

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Bed of Roses

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ZIMBABWE

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Memorial Day

A Prose Poem

bill

Captain Bill Browne

 

Apple blossoms

Unfurled

Then

Scattered in the May storms.

No sadness there—

Only poignancy

When the buds first appeared.

That feeling is often now,

Especially in the day-to-day business.

Before,

The transparent leaves permitted light,

Were chartreuse and effervescent,

Now,

They are hard green…opaque.

Spring is mostly gone,

So quickly as always.

Even before memory holds the illusion.

A friend died this spring,

Stepping from his shower as usual.

This last time forever,

Falling unconscious into the void.

We remember his faults as strengths

And

His subtleties as heart.

My mother sleeps most of the day.

Her memories,

The same as dreams

Are forgotten while awake,

Are forgotten while asleep.

I called and said:

“Happy Memorial Day.”

“Cousin Shirley and her grandchildren

Do the stone now.”

She said, “Oh, I was sleeping.”

“Is it that time again?”

“Your dad’s gone out.”

 

“I woke you!”

“Go back to sleep.”

“Have sweet dreams.”

“Give my love to dad!”

 

She won’t know if that was a dream or not.

Love won’t remind her.

My dad has been with the physics of energy

For a few years now.

Passing away silently and softly

Sitting in a chair

Staring at his garden

Through the opened French doors of his room.

He was struggling to know,

The next,

Juggling:

Theoretical and string equations,

The esoteric debris of Tibetan secrets,

The depths of love in music

And always,

The mysteries of poets.

‘Is truth conscious,’ he would muse.

We once read Carl Sagan together

For clues to consciousness

And

The immortal.

But,

Were too chained

To the radical reasoning of

Intellectual gypsies and mystics.

Only he, between us, knows the truth now.

I think of him always when red dragonflies

Dip and rustle surface waters

Of

The deep and murky depths of his Lilly pond.

I’d put wild flowers on his marker,

But,

The priests won’t allow it.

His exclusive rest has restrictions,

Concerning unplanned vulgarity,

Or

Emotional excess of a public kind.

According to the rules,

One must be starched and restrained

In matters of grief.

Anyway,

It was tempting to snitch a perfect poesy

From the high altar

In an act of criminal grief

Unrestrained by decorum.

Religion is rarely right about spiritual matters.

He might have agreed that his blessed sacrament is ‘homeless.’

His real memorials are the lives of his family

And

His sons, who know how fiercely he loved life

And

The gifts of heart he brought to them.

 

He gave me my first taste of vintage Chambertin,

Setting the standard in all future appreciations

Of The exquisite.

Birthday specials were Shrimp Newburg,

Waldorf Salad,

Baby asparagus

And

Devil’s Food cake still hot

With

Sweet butter and whipped cream.

 

Life is very hard,

Those moments were deliciously soft.

They knew then—-those two creators,

And

Cushioned the blow.

 

It shows in that baby picture,

Tow-headed,

Wild eyed on that summer emerald lawn:

Irish, magical fairy boy,

Madly waving his little arms in joy,

Standing by some future insight

In dance’s second position

In white diaper

And

Matching tot shoes

Fastened with a strap

 And

Shining black button.

Dancing, round and round

With a dog named ‘Tusey’.

Laughing with delight.

Joy, a power in my child’s heart.

 

Still subversive,

I recall every now and then,

Particularly when weeding thorny ugly weeds

And

Leaving beautiful Dandelions in peace,

Churning the rich earth

Digging in sweet tomatoes

While

Visioning their winter’s promise of reward

In sauces, stews and pungent sweet delight,

Sun-dried with  balsamic

And

Slathered with olive oil in salads and omelets

Or

Fried with a crispy coating of corn meal.

 

Near his end I would petition

Yes, petition like a frightened child.

Reflexively, embarrassingly petition

Up to…

What?

‘If only?’

‘Would you?’

‘Could you listen just this once?’

‘Are you there God?’

Then

 I would chuckle and fall back in a worldly cynicism.

Because,

Heaven’s an indifferent holy virgin

And

A stick to the donkey.

God’s an acrid smoke best found in

Crematoriums and abandoned ruins,

Answering with cries and pain.

Life passes like the tattered edge of a passing cloud.

Even to ancient sensibilities

Enchanting dappled light

Becomes shadow quickly

And

Is gone

Then light again

Over and over.

True freedom is far more expansive

Than its container.

 

What an adventure!

I  personally hope to go

Digging in the mulch pile

Hoping to find my fate in a future garden

Becoming a future tomato

Sharing the final harvest with my dad.

Now,

That’s a sacred communion!

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