Sunny Side Up

Whirlwind of tail and paws
Golden eyes camouflage hidden treasures of
Seasons past
Days of brilliant sun and silver snow

Life was free to roam
You pleased

Hollowed trees and broken porch steps
Were your umbrella from hailstorms of humanity

Creeks and abandoned birdbaths quenched your thirst
for the good life
of open fields and quail
and blue tailed skinks
While running from loose dogs
and eagle eyed predators

Some people have said your hunger for something wild
Will never be satisfied now
Because someone thought it was more humane to
Rescue you from the unknown dangers
that lurked behind, under, and above
the natural elements

One day you appeared at dusk and again at dawn
on the doorstep of
One who needed to be needed
One who was eager to give you scraps and a
Warm blanket for the winter nights
One who made you feel comfortable
and secure

Christened with a name that echos your
Sunny persona
You spend your weighty days
Slightly rotund
Happy to eat prepackaged meals
Reconciled to the fact you are safe

Watching your other life pass by
from your windowed perch
You are content
Knowing on the inside
You are free
Because long ago
Your spirit captured the sun


Brothers and Sisters

 Brothers and sisters  
(at least in our crowd)
You tell them you love them
You tell them you're proud

Of what they've accomplished
Of what they've achieved
Of all their successes
And how you believed

They had it within them
Each task that they tried
Would turn out stupendous
Would bring family pride
Before we were grown up
That's not how it went
Even Mother would say
We weren't heaven sent

When young we would argue
All things come what may
Whose turn to ride shotgun
What game should we play

We'd fight over candy
Who Grandma loved most
Was Santa a real man
And who burned the toast

Whose turn to wash dishes
Who should put away
Its who set the table
Who chooses today

Name calling was frowned on
We couldn't do that
We'd go to our bedrooms
To settle a spat

Our mouths would get washed out
For saying that word
Unspeakable happened
For flipping the bird

The weekends were for fun
But on Saturday
Our chores had to be done
Before we could play

The families on our block
Seemed much more subdued
But when they spread gossip
A battle ensued

Don't pick on our brothers
Or say things unkind
Our sisters will give you
A piece of their mind

And don't tell our sisters
They're not very smart
Our brothers will fight you
So don't break their heart

{That's the revised, more refined version. Feel free to write your own ending]

Waiting for Autumn

 She chooses to remember that Sun was kind
when he whispered morning melodies
Fed her green smoothies
and avocado toast
Smiled and ­­­­­told her to hang on
a better day was dawning

The ritual continued day and night
Sunshine and young Leaf played games on neighbors' shadows
until Moon chased Sun from the branches
Sun always managed to find a purple mountain to hide behind
While Leaf played hide and seek with Moon
Sun was a patient and gentle suitor
He knew he could court his Precious One again in the morning dew
But now Leaf's skin is cracked and prematurely wrinkled
All because Summer ravaged her imagined rival
After hearing the Four Winds taunt
Leaf's boundless beauty could not be matched nor denied

Summer was relentless this year
With her
Southern whiskey breath
and moldy
pursed lips
Jealousy joined Summer and together
they overpowered the youngling and others like her
Leaf turned to catch a glimpse of an old friend
Who decided long ago to mock Fate
Who drifted down a pitiless path
With no one to comfort him
No one to dry his tears
Helplessly, Leaf bounced down a cracked sidewalk
that scratched and discolored her cheeks
Why did this happen to such an innocent part of creation
Who merely longed to dance and twirl and laugh
with Grandfather Tree
Who closed his eyes for just a moment and lost his hold on her

If she had a little more time, she thought
She could say good-bye to those who loved her for a Season
It's too early
Not even October, she cried
So unfair  

Leaf landed on a stranger's lawn
Her tired fingers released her hold
on the brittle dry grass
She resigned to the idea
that this was her final resting place
Leaf will be content until she sees her Beloved Autumn
Whom she never met but heard stories about
How he cools the brow of Nature's broken ones
with his misty kisses
And takes them to his sanctuary
Specially prepared for those who trust him
There Springs and Waterfalls sing in harmony
Old things are made new
And Love and memories grow new gardens
In due Season


Sky whispers "Go"
And her breath
Sweeps me to an unknown
World of pain
and doubt

I pray
Release me so I may
Soothe the throats that are
Scorched by Sun's careless jokes
and endless Summers

I receive Mist for Mercy

Then I look to River for Refuge
Only to find Confusion
Waiting in the shadows

I seek Forgiveness for
Fogging youths' minds with
noncommitment on their Road to Nirvana

I rain softly on my lover's wounds and sing
praises to God of the Universe
while Earth's scars
Heal once more

I soar on the Wind
back to Sky
Who knows my real name

Where the Broken Heart Heals

Where is the pathway
Where the broken hearted go
Away from this pain

My heart weighs heavy
This morn approached with promise
Then my friend's son died

Death overtook him
Sorrow pounced on us today
There was no warning

How can he be gone
How does the world keep spinning
Without this boy's smile

Birds hush their singing
Melody melts into dawn
How dare the sun shine

Neighbors come and go
Memories shared with each hug
Roses and lilies

Teacups sit empty
Much like the room where he danced
Only days before

Tables and counters
Burdened with uneaten food
No one is hungry

He would have liked this
Thrown back his head in laughter
A party for him

His mother and dad
The ones who raised him from birth
Struggle to join in

Spirit cover me
Envelope me with your Grace
Give me the right words

There aren't any words
Family and friends offer love
Help is close at hand

Faith has been challenged
Why can't we feel God's comfort
Hope lingers midst fear

Vision turns greyscale
Colors crash into the moon
Igniting shadows

I swallow burnt tears
From the ash heap of lost dreams
Touch becomes muted

Helplessly I watch
My friend reaching for reason
Grasping only clouds

All prayer is vapor
Disappearing with the rain
But there is no rain

Creatures that inhale
Eventually exhale
One final heart beat

We know this is life
But we don't have to like it
While we endure it

We know there is God
We know we'll see him again
We know he is safe

But what about us
And all those who remain lost
Without our loved one

So we must comfort
One another with these words
We will meet again

Mountain of Mourning
We'll never get over it
But we'll get through it

In The Horse’s Shadow

I walk today my head is bowed

My voice is low

My path is darkened with my tears

I stumble so…

I’m in the horse’s shadow

I’ve lost my friend as well as joy

I only sigh

Gone is the sun, the stars stand still.

I wonder why…

I’m in the horse’s shadow

Where are the fields of Kely Green

and Dancing Dawn?

Where is this place of Prancing Hooves

Where she has gone?

Away from horses’ shadows

Her Spirit lives though out of reach

Beyond my touch

I long to see the One I knew

and loved so much…

Alone in horse’s shadow

Her blanket hangs awaiting time

to drape her form

Tho’ snow falls cold and Winter’s come

I know she’s warm…

Not in the horse’s shadow


I face the Wind and feel her breath

She nods and neighs

I close my eyes, I lift my head

I sing her praise

While in the horse’s shadow


Someday I’ll ride upon her back

We’ll soar so high

We’ll split the clouds and laugh out loud

Away we’ll fly…

Above the horse’s shadow!


The Colonel

The Old Soldier decided to look out the window one last time.

Winter birds hushed their chatter when they saw the proud but tired man’s face appear on the other side of the window pane.

Even Snow and Ice silenced all traffic in the streets for the Colonel’s final inspection.

The officer was unable to raise his broken arm in a salute, so he simply nodded his approval.

He pulled the shades and closed the curtains before he bent down to remove his battle worn boots.

He took good care of them all his life and they served him well, much like his soldiers, he thought.

After the boots were put aside, the uniform was carefully removed and hung in the closet.

He put on the new robe given him by his unit for his journey home.

He smiled.

Memories flooded his mind as he glanced around the darkening room.

There were fading outlines of awards, plaques, and trophies he earned for serving his country through the years.

Once again he turned his body in the direction of the door and focused on his next goal.

He rested his bruised and swollen hand on the doorknob, not knowing what awaited him on the other side.

To his surprise, the door opened easily.

The light in the room immediately blinded the soldier.

He knew he was in the presence of greatness and fell to his knees when he heard the voice.

It was his King who called his name and said softly, “Come.”

The words the old timer heard next were what he always dreamed to hear, but didn’t know if he ever would.

                                      Sit next to me

                                      And take your rest

                                      All Heaven knows

                                      You’ve done your best.

                      Enter in, thou good and faithful servant.


Papa Bill and Grandma Gwen

I wrote this after Papa Bill died. He was my second father, but I was as close to him as if he were my biological father. He showed our family what it meant to love unconditionally. And I will always be grateful he came into our lives. He was superstitious about one thing. He would never allow us to say good-bye to him. We had to say “See you later” instead.

It happened in January 2011 during a terrible snow storm that stopped all traffic and flights in and out of Atlanta for several days. My daughter Heather packed her bag and planned to stay with him at the nursing home when she heard the weather reports would prevent anyone from getting to him. She was trained in Hospice care and knew her grandfather wouldn’t live very long and didn’t want him to be alone. My mother was unable to travel at the time due to her illness and needed constant care herself. I chose to stay with Mom.

Miraculously, Papa’s son, my step-brother, was able to catch the last flight coming in from Colorado Springs that day. The roads were impassable and he couldn’t get a taxi to drive the last mile to see his dad, so he walked through the ice and blinding snow.
Even though he didn’t appear to be conscious, Heather told her beloved Papa that his son was on his way and would be there soon.

Shortly after Papa Bill heard his son’s voice, he quietly passed away. He was 92 years old. He earned medals for his exceptional service during WWII and was very proud of being an Army officer most of his life. He had too many achievements for me to list here, but his greatest one was earning the love of everyone who knew him. He is sorely missed.

It’s difficult for me to explain. This is a poem I wrote, but it felt more like a vision of Papa Bill’s final moments that needed to be recorded. I merely happened to be the person with the pen and paper. Vaya con Dios, Papa. I know we will see you later.