Knowing When to Stop

featured in the poetry forum May 31, 2014  :: 0 comments

In traffic it’s simple enough; the signs are there – an abrupt
one word command that doesn’t suggest alternatives, no
please or thank you. Even the color sets off alarms in us,

fire truck red, blood red, a blazing primal shade highlighting
the command to stop, cease progress and notice the others
around us, the other drivers’ need to stop and go in polite order,

or the pedestrians who persist in walking about, who think
nothing of crossing, stepping bravely out into the crosswalk
believing in the power of that one word and our instinctive
reaction to it. We stop, it’s that simple, something outside
of us commands it and we stop; it’s parental, it’s big brother,

and in traffic it mostly works, keeps us inline, waiting our turn,
makes us think of others and consequences, of how one thing
leads on to another, how an important part of going is stopping.

And then, if we stop even briefly, a heartbeat, an aside perhaps,
we have the moment, a necessary and calm moment withheld
from all this, and when our turn comes we continue on, like always.

editors note:

That’s it! We need those little moments to find center, achieve balance. No! Stop! – mh

Second Amendment

featured in the poetry forum March 5, 2014  :: 0 comments

We live in such a dangerous world, a place
where survival of the fittest wags the dog,
where wolves howl just outside the door,
circle, close in, where plotters plot, gunners
gun, bombers bomb, where addicts are
desperately seeking a fix, and fixers can’t fix
a thing. Read the papers, watch the news un-
fold across the various screens that filter it all,
advise us, warn us, threaten; drive down Main
Street at rush hour and feel the hostile nature
of us all, gestures, horns and screeching brakes,
the things we can almost hear them yelling as
as we pass, locked in, a pistol in the glove box,
always ready to protect what is ours from
anyone who crosses us, cuts us off, flips us
the bird; this is as it should be, treacherous,
hazardous, precarious, perilous, watch the sun
rising up and falling, beating down on us all day,
watch the crows attack the birdfeeder, push
and shove their way in, watch the neighbor’s
pit bull pee on your irises, watch your neighbor’s
leaves blow on your newly raked lawn, watch
them closing in, then go get the shotgun they
didn’t get, load up, stand by the front door and
wait for someone to knock and then let them know
just how dangerous this part of the world can be.

editors note:

We want the freedom to defend ourselves; while someone else wants to tell us what to defend against. – mh

Poem Written by Hand

featured in the poetry forum January 7, 2014  :: 0 comments

I compose now, when I compose,
at a keyboard, but I remember this –
pen in hand, writing the cursive loops
and lines the nuns taught me, fought
me to use so many years ago.

One end points upward, outward at
some point just beside infinity, while
the other unwinds its blue line down
the empty page.

It’s a pen after all, not a brush, nor a
hammer, nor a gun, for that matter,
and so in its own way it’s harmless,
makes nothing happen, but this, this
temporary smudge, this, this poem
I’m writing by hand.

How many years was this the all of it,
the way it went, but handwriting seems
so private now, impermanence waiting
to dissolve or transform into type on
the screen, or on the print-out page.

It’s an age since I tried to capture
the features of a poem like this,
the strum and straddle, the plum and
paddle of it, and its punctuated pride.

I haven’t drifted down the river of
a page, like this, like this in years –
my line in the water, the sun beating
down, and those mystery fish moving,
waiting just below the surface,
the surface of my words.

editors note:

So many ways to ride the river. Use a paddle, an outboard or your best breast stroke; just ride. – mh


featured in the poetry forum October 20, 2013  :: 0 comments

I have laid siege to this lot, seems like my whole life,
perhaps longer; in this forever war, forever have I waged
the good fight against nature, against the inevitable,
Sisyphus pushing a Toro, mowing the green down as it
grows up behind me, its counter attack, its ironic violence
against this aggressor. I feel it in my back, in my right knee
I hear it stretch and grow bolder. I hear it these nights
Plotting, planning its recovery, certain of its final victory.
But, I arm myself, buy fuel, sharpen my blade, check the oil,
work out designs, choreograph the battle, line on line,
precisely measure pace and timing, step boldly out, again.

editors note:

For the scions of suburban mythology, this side o’ the fence should be shortly shorn, shiny and green, green, green. – mh


featured in the poetry forum August 11, 2013  :: 0 comments

Streets like this should have
High curbs and storm drains

And some cars pulled over
And parked, with streetlights

Properly placed at intervals,
Just far enough apart for you

To aim for at night, small arrivals
Pacing, spacing your walk home.

There should be elm trees lining
The way, substantial things,

Something your ancestors might
Have planted, with deep roots

Reaching into the place they made.
There should be rain still dripping

From the trees after a storm, and
You should be walking home down

This street. Then all you would hear
Are familiar sounds you love –

The slight rain, a little breeze, and
The quiet sound of your footsteps.

editors note:

Hopscotch light puddles to the sound of welcome. Yes! Every street like this! – mh