’twas 1978, early morn on the eve of all Eves, snow came crashing in waves of big fat flakes that blasted our dingy urban world in a blanket of white wintry innocence. As I recall decades later, with nostalgic-tinted glasses, the mundane neighborhood landscape seemed to turn magical as I looked out the fogged-up windows and saw this dream scene. …
I wake up optimistic with high hopes in my heart that today will be the day that happiness, peace and love will flow our way. I day dream that by the time my head hits pillow this night and sleep slips slyly across my soul, that a smile will slide upon my lips and I will remember why I thought it was worth waking up today. It hasn’t happened yet.
I pray. I plead with God to wash upon us a wave of peace and love and understanding. I beg that He bless us one and all… all people of all colors and creeds in all places and nations, the young and old, the sick and the healthy, the poor and the wealthy, the sad and the happy, the sleeping and the awake, the warring and the peaceful, the quick and the dead. I feel my spiel is sincerely real and that if all this making good intentions and giving heartfelt prayers and creating my manifestations, if all this stuff really works, it’ll come true. But, it hasn’t happened yet.
I sit in predawn parking lot at work and write out my untarnished thoughts of the day to come. I intend to write a poem that speaks of the peaceful and easy feelings that I seek in this world of ours. I strive to find the right words and meanings that will teach and learn me the propitiousness of love. Oh, how we homo-sapiens love us some good love! But that divine inspiration that used to sit so closely to me just isn’t hanging around these days. No matter how hard I beg, she alludes me. I open my notebook to let her write her song but she doesn’t. She drops the pen and says she’ll come back again. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Too many days I wake up to hear the headline news that makes me shake my head in disbelief that we humans can be so inhumane to one another. Another white cop shoots another black man for reasons I’ll never understand. The loudmouth bullshit-inaire and the fortunate daughter cHillary throwing barbed sound bites at each other, leaving me isolated in the growing middle. Another catastrophic storm/fire/quake bubbling from something we may or may have not done. Extinguishing creatures whose fate should have never been left in our fucked up hands. My faith in my fellow man is dwindling down the more my optimistic smile turns to pessimistic frown. I pray someone, anyone (not it!) save us from ourselves! I hear my inner scream and say “OK, OK I’ll do my part” hoping a whole lot more like me are trying too and that our collective push will move this fucking needle back to good. But no matter how hard I try and as much as I wish it would, it hasn’t happened yet.
Usually, right about now when I get into these funky punky poetic moods I’ll turn it around at the end with an AHA moment so that all this “woe is me and we and he and she” that I just spewed upon your senses, is all OK. A nicely wrapped insight with a bow of hope to top this poetic puke. I’m even trying to find one now, as I tip tap these final words onto this page knowing damn straight that I got to get this write right. But, alas, this poem has ended, and it hasn’t happened yet.
Keep writing, hoping, loving, helping. Just cuz it hasn’t, doesn’t mean it won’t. Yes! (Read another of our Chief Editor’s mad missives on his page; a departure from the norm – check it out.)- mh clay
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. And also make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position.”
Jet airliners get in line. Biding their time to ride the blue sky. All these souls crammed into all these vessels, nestled closely together, a hive of hundreds of humans. Our destinations sit softly in our hive hearts and minds. Business folk silently sit and rub shoulders with chatting children, excited vacationers and commuting workers all herded together in this pill shaped vessel with birds wings. As the engines start to scream and this machine takes flight, we hold on with all our might and pray to the God of our choice that this inhuman act of flying the friendly skies is a safe one.
“Flight attendants, prepare for take-off please.”
(Watching the ground sink slowly beneath my wing side seat, I seek to find a familiar rooftop or road to remind me I am leaving my hometown for the umpteenth time now. I can feel the strings of attachment once again snapping and my heart strings tearing away as I say a silent farewell to my hometown family and friends. Thanks for the many colorful and meaningful meetings and greetings, till we meet again I will keep you safe in my heart-shaped box of memories.)
A child cries out. A mother soothes and shushes him saying it’ll be alright now. Ears popping as the ground keeps dropping, the details of the housetops and street scenes of morning traffic slip away into a miniature model of sorts. The rivers and lakes and forests and farmlands become nothing more than the patchwork of an earthly quilt as we, on AA Flight 123, become a mere shadow on the ground. We, bound for Big D, are nothing more than a li’l bird flying away, way up in the sky.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign, and you may now move around the cabin. However we always recommend to keep your seat belt fastened while you’re seated.”
(I wave goodbye to what I’ve known. I bid adieu to the few down there who will always have a piece of my heart. I silently promise this Midwest heartland that I’ll be back. I pray that I will be blessed to do so once again, sooner than later.)
We, the passengers of flight 123, settle into our rented seats. Some sit back with eyes closed, trying to catch a few winks. Others open up newspapers, magazines, books, laptops, iDevices, and try to forget that we are soaring tens of thousands of feet above our Mother, hurtling thru space at several hundred miles per hour. For this brief 1 hour and 54 minutes of flight time we are a vagabond family of sorts. Should this be our final flight, these souls will be the last ones we will know. We pray that this fact won’t be so.
(As the engines hum settles down and this artificial bird levels out, I do my best to sit back, relax, and remind myself to forget the feeling of nostalgia that’s already threatening to settle in. I close my eyes and await a fitful sleep to wash over me)
“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened…”
(The wheels touch down in my home-away-from-hometown. And as this flying pill taxis its way towards the gate, I feel that all too familiar numbness once again descend upon me.)
So hard to have heart when you’ve left it behind. Take home with you. – mh clay
Father’s hand-me-down coat
sits heavily upon slouching shoulders.
Weights in its’ tatters.
Slows the maneuvers of
the son’s wayward feet.
Weaving down midnight’s pathways…
He, burdened with what
was never asked for.
This coat, he inherited.
After too many years,
the son’s tailor hands
and artisan’s care altered
the too long sleeves,
darned the moth eaten pockets,
sewed the weather beaten collar,
reinforced the cuffs with
leather and wool.
He keeps out the cold now,
shivers no more.
Yet suffers in summer heat
in beads of sweat and tears.
But still, he wears
father’s hand-me-down coat.
With the humbled pride
of a rehab’d hobo
who has finally accepted his lot,
he is his father’s son.
And now, with care,
father’s coat hangs right there,
biding its’ time
to be handed down again.
The magic, mythical family mantle, passed from pater to progeny – perpetually. (read another one of our Founder & Chief Editor’s mad missives on his page; a real squirrel hunt – check it out!) – mh clay
I floated under a tree
Delivered on the wings
Of a hot summer breeze
I feel almost Zen-like
Except, you see, this tree
Isn’t cozied up next
To a bubbling brook
In some lil nook
Of an Enchanted forest
It’s planted in Big D
In the seedy part of town
Where folks don’t come ’round
Unless to find a deal
On some crack or
Yet I still find peace
In this urban scene
Sitting in a patch
Of sacred shadow
Cast by the very tree
I sit under
The far off laughter
Of corporate drones
In loud proud tones
Doesn’t take me away
From this serene scene
Or this lunchtime dream
The police sirens screaming
Their way to a crime scene
Echoes bouncing off buildings
Attempting to distract me
From the day dreams
I am escaping in
Even the squirrel swirling
His way up the tree
Is entertaining to me
Perched on a branch
Dropping seed shells
Right beside me
It seems to me
We both like this seat
Squinting with the squirrels into satisfaction of seat. – mh clay
(illustrations by Eddie Medina)
A bubblegum song plays
On an oldies station
Carries him back
To more innocent days
Games of tag, (you’re it)
Trying to steal kisses
From the raven haired girl
Who had popsicle
And a voice that
Tasted like ice cream
To his still wet behind the ear drums
He walked her home
And waited for the golden moment
To sneak a kiss
And taste her popsicle lips
Before the dinner bell rang
And sent him on his way
Bring back those golden oldies. We miss that kiss, so sweet to repeat (Read another mad love poem, a sad love poem, on Johnny’s page – check it out.) – mh clay
The mellow yellow fellow hangs around all by his lonesome. He can’t seem to find his other half to call his own.
His teary blue eyes seek to find her but he only finds twisted reflections of ancient memories hiding between the lines of erased sketchbooked dreams.
His canvas is warping. His painted smile is waning. His highlights and hues are dimming. Too many attempts at fruitless quests have got the best of him. The dream is fading like the lines that made him.
The mellow yellow fellow spies an empty canvas set before him. He imagines he sees traces of her in the field of nothingness. Perhaps from this blankness she will be born. Too long he has waited for the creator to put paint to palette. Too long he has hung around awaiting the artist to deliver love’s satisfaction.
But the mellow yellow fellow patiently awaits her creation and prays when she comes it’s not just another drawn out infatuation.
When word from our platoon commander came at 1800 hours saying that orders from Regiment was that we were to be heading out on patrol at 2000 hours, in full battle rattle, none of us were surprised. The Corps didn’t give a squat what day it was. Why would Christmas Eve be any different than Labor Day, Veterans Day, or …
And I hide
And I travel
And I am pleased
And I die
And I create
Johnny O writes to our delight, and we write with him. (Happy Birthday to our Founder and Chief Editor! He’s a double-digitarian today – you guess the digits. ;) ) – mh
I’ve seen the American dream in faded, aged pictures of my immigrant family, who barely escaped Nazi occupied Italy in the bottom of a cargo ship shortly after WWII ended… equipped with not much more than the clothes on their backs, shoes on their feet, and seeds of dreams of golden-paved American streets planted in their hearts.
I’ve seen the American dream in the big-shouldered, blue-collared Chicago streets sewn with train yard threads weaving the cloth of my youth where Midwestern hardened men fought the bitter elements to battle the machinery of box car couplings in sub-zero temps to ensure that they brought the food to the tables of families whose dreams are as basic as having their next meal to eat.
I’ve seen the American dream in the degeneration of my X generation who were raised in a world chockfull of fears that the Commies were near and “the bomb” would knock us clear into oblivion any day while mama and papa were away at work, too busy trying to make those elusive ends meet.
I’ve seen the American dream in barely 18-year-olds who raised their right hands with me to take the oath to defend our great nation and wore our country’s cloth, vowing to battle those hell-bent on taking away the dreams of our fathers.
I’ve seen the American dream twisted in Middle Eastern enemies’ eyes, who despise our freedoms and see our dreams as demonized things that these martyrs have destined themselves to destroy.
I’ve seen the American dream in the Teamstered truck drivers who filled the dock doors with their 18-wheeled machines, trekking our wares over the highways and byways to where they are needed most, to feed this industrialized, capitalized dream.
I’ve seen the American dream in fearless and feared, bearded bikers who fly their freedom flags on their backs and swear to God almighty that whosoever tries to take away their dreams will suffer the slow and painful death of a treasonous expatriate.
I’ve seen the American dream in the helpless homeless men who wander predawn outside my urban doorway, looking for some way to survive just another day without starving and hoping their dream turns to views with brighter hues.
I’ve seen the American dream in the aged lines of our country’s elderly, who see that this land is a far cry from what it was way back then and hoping to forget that it’s just a skeleton of what it once was.
I’ve seen the American dream in the children’s eyes of the next generation, who will be raised on standardized grades, equal praise, fading classes, unemployed masses, man-made disasters…
I see the American dream every time I look in the mirror and it’s clear to me that I am, that you are, that every man, woman and child in this land of the free are the dreamers of the American dream and that the power is in our hands to mold this clay and keep dreaming of better days.
We are immigrants, all! Better we dream together… (This’n came from our Chief Editor in response to a request for poems on the subject of The American Dream. It’s a grand dream we share and you don’t have to be American to share it, either…) – mh