Signs

Tenderly caressing the air,
she speaks unheard words
forged of movement and of soul
to conduct a symphony without sound,
a silent oratorio of pain.
With gently flowing hands, she sings
a noiseless requiem, a dirge for lost babes,
for lost loves, for lost hopes and dreams,
to define our human tragedy
in exquisite, tortured detail for all the world to see.
Delicately touching the spaces between us,
she carves the agony that would be too much if heard,
too much to bear if fully felt by every waking sense,
to show us in our feeble separation
simple signs that we are not alone.

(Inspired by https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0kwF2WXQgs)

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Tomato Art Fest (This piece won the Freeform Fruit & Veggies-Anything Goes category in the 2014 East Nashville Tomato Art Fest Haiku Contest.)

East Nashville’s tomato art
teases the palate with bright tones
and with sweet, acidic notes
crafted on canvas, in metal,
on cloth, and in wood —
crafted by the bushel basket.
The crushed crowd,
a little bruised in their passage,
bow to tomato royalty,
Big Boy and Early Girl,
who pass by be-robed in red.
An eclectic mix of festival-goers,
including a strange Mr. Tomato Head
and a super-hero Tomato Girl
with blood-red cape and bicycle,
combine in a spicy summer salsa.
Juices flow as music is ladled into ears
like warm tomato soup,
comfort food for the soul.
And tomato-ey syllables are
placed with exquisite care
in stacks of seventeen,
containing seeds for thought
to grow into strong, fruitful vines
in mind and heart.
On a warm summer day,
circles of friends gather in peace
under a brilliant blue sky,
turning bright red
as they moistly ripen
in the hot August sun.

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2014 Tomato Haiku (No winners this year in the East Nashville Tomato Art Fest)

Even a dry vine

May yield one last ripened orb

Before the frost comes

——————————————

Toothsome heirloom bites

From an old-time BLT

Says summer’s here y’all

——————————————

Do ripe tomatoes

Miss hands of those passed on

Who planted in spring?

—————————————— 

Tomato gospel –

Blessed the puréed of heart

For they shall see sauce

—————————————— 

A real tomato

She, being puréed of heart,

Eschewed sauciness

  

Damply glistening

Under the bright summer sun

Orb awaits plucking

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Her Eyes

A shade the slightest bit too blue to bear
From depth of every ocean’s deepest place,
Framed jewels of cerulean most rare,
Displayed within the bounds of winsome face,
Hot ice commingled with a frozen spark,
A focused glare as piercing as a dart,
With star-kissed pupils, oh, so deeply dark,
Revealing all that’s good within her heart,
Infinity reflected in a pool,
The color of the sky behind a cloud,
The promise made of every broken rule,
A glance that makes men curse their lots aloud,
A demure gaze cannot for long disguise,
The perfect smile in Randa’s azure eyes.

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A Civil War Was Fought Near Here

A civil war was fought near here
a mere century and a half ago.
Suburbanites now drive past ignored memorials,
and children innocently play on fields
where soldiers met their Maker.
Only a few gnarled trees remain which, in their rings,
remember the cries, the cannons’ roar,
the havoc, and the blood upon the ground
that nourished new spring flowers.

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Zahra’s World

Zahra was lucky.
She’d found a second,
battered jerrycan at the dump,
so, with a broken broomstick
and some salvaged string,
she could rig a fulcrum that
would move her world,
a simple yoke to carry
twice the water the five miles
from the muddy well back
to her home each morning.
A second five gallon can would mean
washing her brother’s face a bit
and cooling her mother’s
fevered brow in the afternoon heat,
as a disease brought home
by her now-dead father
took its final, wasting toll.
Five gallons at eight pounds per gallon,
forty pounds balanced on her head,
had been a burden for Zahra,
but eighty pounds across her
skinny shoulders would be a blessing,
and only five miles there and
five miles back, every morning,
morning after morning after morning.
Zahra smiled at her good fortune….

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A Timepiece for War

[Another of my poems of the American Civil War]

“I’ll carry your love until my dying day”
was the solemn promise I made
when I fitted the tiny, oil portrait
into the hinged cover of my
grandfather’s small pocket watch,
the watch I wind each day as
I remember you.

From railroad station, to train,
from encampment to battlefield,
I’ve carried that watch, and you,
through the heat, through the cold,
through the darkness of war and
the only occasional light that
comes like stolen breath
to a drowning man.

Always, our hearts have been joined
by the love I see in your eyes as you
look out at me in your placid pose,
eyes I gently close each night with
the shutting of my watch lid to the
fading light of a dying campfire
or a guttering candle.

On quiet nights, I sometimes place
my watch beneath my makeshift pillow
and pretend to press my longing ear
against your warm and tender breast
to listen to your sweet heart’s beating,
longing for the days I was with you
and for the nights as well.

Today, my watch’s hands were stilled
about the time they took my arms,
and a rising fever burns hot upon my brow.
I cannot hold the key to wind my timepiece,
but a kindly orderly has propped it open
so I can see your face once more
as the hours slip away and so do I.

I’m coming to you, darling,
coming to you soon.

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