My chickens don’t like deep snow. Their feathers Are ruffled. They need to be smooth as nudists And able to stay calm in all weathers. They need to say “Aum” like good Buddhists But won’t listen to me. Chickens won’t parrot. I lecture, “say ‘Aum'”, but they just cluck. At least parrots can copy. Neither carrot Nor stick works on chickens. They stay stuck Just like the World stays stuck. Peace is a jewel But the World prefers feathers be ruffled. It can’t stop. Warfare is habitual And peace is a voice that gets muffled By deep snow. Then Silence speaks out what I mean: “Stop this ruffling of feathers, and preen.”
We have had a doozy of a double-barreled snowstorm, 18 inches to clean up on Monday morning, and 14 more to clean up Tuesday morning. No drifts, as the snow was oddly windless. I wrote this sipping coffee in the dark before dawn, before heading out on the second morning.
With night’s snow fell a silence. It was deep As the snow was deep; grew deeper as snow Grew deeper. The world did not go to sleep But was wary, waiting. I do not know What it awaited. Anticipation, Like a small boy restless in a cold bed, Impatient for Christmas, breathed steam that hung In the dark stillness. No blue, green or red Christmas lights blinked. The power was out. No furnace rumbled and no fridge hummed. No sledding-hill’s child freed a far-off shout. What broke silence was me. My fingers drummed As I awaited the soft light of dawn And the Power we need to turn back on.
Sometimes my focus is too much upon the oncoming, and I miss what I am surrounded by. I am like the driver of a car, wisely focusing on the road ahead but a bit oblivious of the view beside me. This is all well and good until you become oblivious of the person beside you.
I recently heard a story about an old man and old woman driving together in one of those old pick-up trucks with bench front seats. They sat so far apart that the old lady’s forehead was actually resting against the coolness of the passenger side window. In front of them was a battered pick-up truck of the same year and make, but in it was a young couple obviously very much in love; the young lady’s head was resting on the young man’s shoulder. They were driving so slowly the older couple’s truck caught up, and as they did the old lady looked forward and then she sat up, turned to her husband, and reproachfully said, “We used to drive like that. What happened to us?” The old man glanced at her with a wry smile and said, “I haven’t moved.”
As Thanksgiving approached this year I looked forward to two things that to a degree were in conflict; a reunion of family, including new babies and new partners, and the first big snowstorm of the year, which was a glorified warm front but promised to dump a foot of snow all at once.
As the storm approached there were certain things I needed to attend to, such as making sure my snow-blower was running correctly after sitting idle all summer, and getting salt and a snow shovel out of storage and putting them on the porch. I noted the snow-blower’s carburetor was a bit fouled, and a sheer-pin on one blade needed replacing, and this necessitated a drive to a hardware store in the next town for a gasoline additive and a sheer-pin. This resulted in a, shall we say, “discussion” with my wife, because it seemed I might miss an hour of our reunion. What was more important, a sheer-pin or our own children? In the end things worked out, for I slipped away from our reunion and was back an hour later in such a manner that the chattering group hardly noticed I was gone, but beforehand it seemed worse than it was. I was not at all looking forward with relish, and anticipated trouble.
It was at this point, when my brains were working themselves into a tizzy, that I decided I needed to stop and smell the roses, though there were no roses to sniff. I was too focused on the oncoming snow and oncoming reunion, and was missing what was in the present tense. And what was that? It was not snow or a reunion. It was the last brown day before the landscape vanished under a blanket of white, perhaps for months; perhaps until April.
It didn’t take any extra time. I just took the time, as I walked from one chore to the next, to scuff through the leaves, and enjoy the rustling.
With holidays I nearly missed the last, Brown day. It wasn’t on my Christmas list: “The last, brown day.” Snow will make it be the past; The white comes fast; the landscape’s kissed By wool on trees and roads, but if a drift Must block my path I wish a pile of leaves To rustle through. The way sounds shift From crisp to sift, from leaves to snow, just grieves My heart, for I know snow is here to stay, And therefore isn’t like the last, brown day. Seize the moment, before it slips away. Seize upon the last, brown day; in a kicking way Rustle through leaves. Make life be play. Rejoice all through the last, brown day.
Cranberries cooking in a cozy kitchen; Voices carrying on conversations In every corner; the scent of pies, then The scent of turkey; toddling grandsons; And my grandfather…wait…he is long gone And this scene is painted Rembrandt orange On sunrise cumulus; Arizona dawn Campground; alone; without a door hinge To squeak or girl to love; I only own a hurt…wait…that too is long gone; I am now The grandfather back east. Arizona Faded, as I too fade. I’m glad times allow Returns to cozy kitchens, but this too Will pass, until I finally wake with You.
Long I’ve yearned for fame: To be interviewed On TV pontificating for long Hours about short poems. Instead life has booed Rather than cheered. I’m always singing my song Alone in the shower. Then I wondered What fan I face when I sit facing a page Of pure white. By mistake I then blundered Into depth over my head, and, like a sage, Walked into a painting facing just who Painted it. Creation filled up with hints of whom the Lonely Author might be. It’s true Creation is merely the fingerprints Of the Creator. Therefore it’s a shame To miss His glance for a passing sketch, called fame.
Talk about “triggers”: Gray, bleak November, And again I’m eleven with parents parted, But must fake thanks. How I remember The hurt, fifty years later. Downhearted To this day in some strange way; it seems spring Can never come. How dare my parents do it? They could renounce love, but I couldn’t bring Myself to side with a side of their split For I sided with Love. Yet that Thanksgiving Came, despite divorce, and mocked all held dear. Fat turkey is not what makes life worth living. Gray, leafless boughs trigger, year after year, A sense that Thanksgiving can’t be the same Until the two sides quit their unloving game.
And the same holds true for politicians. A bond of Love must connect opponents Or Democracy dies. Love tempers men’s Savage inclination to turn mere rants Into murders. Love is the hope of sweet spring In bleak November. Love is never first To draw the sword, though Love can surely sting Those men first drawing blades. Love quenches thirst For peace, but not falsely with soothing lies, For Love is one with Truth. But power-crazed Men can’t comprehend marriage. Cyclops eyes See one way alone. They can’t stand amazed Sharing views with those with whom they’re living, And chose to be blind to the Cause of Thanksgiving.
When I was young we had school shootings every day.
We called her “Miss Gestapo”, and spread cruel Rumors about corpses in her closet. She surveyed us with wintry eyes, no fool And no friend. She would cram Math; somehow get Through thick skulls the import of zero. I had To get through forty minutes, but the crawl Of time stood still. Just then Fred, who was mad, Shot me with a spitball. She wheeled; glared; though all Eyes were innocent. (Shooting puffs a sound Distinctive). She turned back to the blackboard As I chewed some paper. Fred turned around And grinned. I loaded. Class gasped. My aim was towards Not Fred. What possessed me I’ll never know As I raised my shooter towards Miss Gestapo.
P.S. (This point may seem somewhat moot: To cause commotion, you need not shoot.)