Oranges

I slipped deftly into Botticelli’s Primavera one afternoon,

Begging the pardon of the Three Graces in white

As I wandered toward the orange grove.

 

The little cupid, bow at the ready,

Failed to notice the bent flowers beneath my feet

And my slow reach into the branches

 

Where I carefully felt for a perfect orange,

Tore the globe of skin from its stringy flesh,

And held the dimpled smoothness of the flayed world in my palm –

 

The shred of color,

The fragrance of gravity,

The naked hue of hunger.

 

Then, like my father before me,

I dug my teeth into the tender spot and, somehow,

I have spent the sudden years trying to dig myself back up.

Quick Plug for a Drip

4511374-coffee-cup-wallpapersIf you are a fan of good coffee and good books (who isn’t, really?), let me recommend an excellent new blog titled The Light Roast. It is run by two young ladies who are self-described coffee and literature aficionados, and their chosen subtitle – To Bean, or Not to Bean – speaks for itself. With nods to Orwell, Hawthorne, and Tolkien sprinkled in their site, in addition to reviews of coffeehouses in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles so far, The Light Roast is a must-follow for anyone who loves coffee and wishes to invest in the local shops rather than the proverbial green giant (or siren…).

I recently subscribed and hope you will do the same!

Here are just a few:

Atlanta

New York

L.A.

 

Coloring

When God found me,

Wobbling my patched knees on the cobblestone of old roads,

We took a side street where

He beckoned me beneath the curtain of a tent,

Red and white, the blare of trumpets,

The breathless circus of all his grand design.

 

He showed me an elephant, and I sat down

Criss-cross applesauce

To marvel for half an hour.

 

Then he tipped his hat and pulled out a canvas,

Stretched in white like a swollen sail.

He dropped it in my lap and told me to

Fingerpaint my theology, make it as big as my grandfather’s shoes.

 

So he held my shoulder as I bent over my creation,

Pressed thumbprints and fanning fingertips

Smearing the colors of childhood across my makeshift doctrines,

And I looked up to see him smiling at me,

His eyes as warm as lions.

 

He noticed I’d drawn two bluebirds, gliding in the sunset,

And an old man sitting on a bench –

I said they reminded me of him, for only

A good and loving God could create a bluebird

As well as the old men who noticed them.

 

That night, God and I sat together, coloring,

Weaving our fingers along the grain of each new blankness,

Picture after picture,

Until he finally helped me to my feet and commended me for my coloring,

For to see the glory of God, we all must learn to

Dye.

Ludwig van Beethoven

It was just him and me that evening

In a dimly lit coffeehouse on the south bank of the Thames,

Like we’d somehow met halfway.

 

Though I knew the Atlantic to be wider than his short jaunt from Vienna,

I offered to pay for the drinks

As he was the one who soared valiantly across the stars of two centuries

To meet me, and I simply took an early flight and a cab.

 

When we sat down, I happened to glance over his shoulder and out the window,

Catching the London fog along the length of the still river

As if it had wandered straight from some

Penciled copy of Eliot’s poetry

Or a chapter from that Dickens novel

Sitting softly on the shelf in a used bookstore near Piccadilly.

 

But all I could do was ladle my mug with both hands

Like a beggar warding off frostbite

As I tried to think of what to say, desperately wishing to avoid

The stilted air of an interview

Or the false pretense of coziness, talking about the weather

Or something equally grey and dull.

 

Yet, in the silence,

As the moon held its head above the water of the gentle, pebbled tide,

I looked to his navy coat, his shock of famous hair,

And, finally, to his curled fingers on the table

As they drummed lightly beside his empty cup and the black dregs

Splattered like notes along the bottom.

 

They spoke for themselves

The way they’d spoken all those years ago

In the Moonlight Sonata, the riot of the Fifth Symphony,

The glorious Ode to Joy.

 

And now, strolling down the street into the marble cool hours of night,

I slowly attach these headphones

And choose his Seventh Symphony in A major,

The one he reportedly wrote to convalesce from the storms of illness.

 

And I carry two thoughts, one for each pocket,

The first, how beautiful the winter air,

The second, a quiet wish that I could tell him how good it is to know

He’s still got it.

Passion

Behind my open eyes, I’m taking pictures of the lightning.

You see, I’ve got pitch-perfect timing, the shutter speed

Of eyelashes fluttering, stuttering through a thousand flashes.

 

And all the ribbons of this clacking typewriter in my ribcage

Spin faster than aging, ink hammers exploding,

Pumping blood just like it’s flooding.

 

So I pull back the curtained skyline, tear the North Star from its system

And grip it till it trembles, tremors shimmering like fool’s gold,

The cold charm of blindfolding a supernova in slow motion,

Surging through the paper-thin skin of my grasp into the bloodstream.

 

They say it’s not enough to have this engine

Raging in my iron bones,

But I’m so full of green lights, I’ve got Gatsby in my vision,

New York printed in my vein lines,

And I’m showing no signs of stopping,

For like that shining city, you know I will never sleep.

 

‘Cause this bonfire’s been howling, synapses hyper in the sparking,

Sending signals like embers

From my thoughts into the evening,

Till they burn from all this dreaming, decades in the making,

Taking laps around the circuits in my hands

As they seize lightning,

Rope it down and crack it open ’til I find the silver lining,

Write this poem before it blinds me, then rewind to the beginning.

 

Though these words may be my ending,

They may also be my living,

For that’s what passions do, they claim your life,

Like fire you just can’t take them lightly.

So let them course through every brainwave,

Even after my touchscreen flatlines,

‘Cause in ten thousand years, this typist will still be typing,

Writing on the pages of forever, etching metaphors for glory.

 

Till then, my lens is calling to open my eyes a little wider,

To fill my teeth with every whirlwind of dusk

And all this lightning, palms ready for thunder.

Little Icarus

Little Icarus stood by the wood chips.

 

He was twelve when both his wings broke, tangled up,

Trying to tear through the fabric of his polo,

Caught beneath the floorboards of his shoulder blades

As his cheeks flushed with shame.

 

He wore a slipshod buzz cut and chubby jowls that

Framed his braces and the crooked grin they fenced in,

Standing alone as yesterday’s rain lay simmering on the blacktop.

 

A blur of children sprinted past him, laughing,

And he buried his dry tongue beneath the dirt in his throat,

The stiffness of death in the mouth of a boy

Who never knew what to say.

 

Not a word about the jungles he’d seen in gym,

The knotted rope of humiliation and the sting of the lash

As the rich kid rat-tailed his back in the locker room

And all the cool boys snickered behind their elbows,

The cute girls giggling later over sandwiches.

 

But don’t you fear, little man,

For I have brought an army of book nerds,

Dreamers and choir singers,

Carrying their lisps and scars in rucksacks,

Glasses, buck teeth, and southern accents,

The boys who cry at movies and the girls who still have nightmares,

Walking our bikes over to invite you to our treehouse

Where white-out is outlawed

And your freckles are the confetti of God

Like He cut up the birthday cake of the sun just for you.

 

And together there, we’ll patch your feathers

And tell a couple of stories

Before we lean our heads back against the beams of our home,

Look up at the stars through the crack in our creaky roof,

And slowly drift to sleep.

In the Park

Along the snowy patches of field,

Almost blue in their cold whiteness,

I find a wooden bench and sit

To retie my weary shoelaces.

 

As the chilled wind tightens around my ears,

Lifting lightly at strands of my hair,

I notice a single cardinal, warbling and

Shuffling through the twigs and crystal ground.

 

I decide to draw a pen from my coat pocket

And a rolled cylinder of pages

To write of his ragged beauty, the deep red

Of his feathers, the drop of ink around his beak.

 

We keep company between us for a while,

He beneath the veil of a cherry blossom,

I on my wooden bench,

Sharing this large plot of blanketed earth as I

 

Jot down the detail of his eyes,

Aimed steadily toward the thaw of spring

When the warm winds will cry out from hibernation

And awaken us both from sleep.

 

I look up from my paper and nod as

The cardinal turns the corner of our little spot in the park,

Raises his patient eyes into the grey air,

And leaps into the frost, soaring into the future

Of years and years of sunlight

As I stand to walk some more.

Driving

We sped along the highway,

Headlights slicing through the dark.

You placed your hand at your side,

I held the wheel in silence,

Patterns of ice spreading at the edges of the windshield,

The defrost sighing on the dash.

I wanted to look over to you

And love you all over again,

Pull you close on the bridge

And kiss above the water

Far from this hanging night

Hovering over you and I

In our separate cars, driving to different houses.

Thank You

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-4-29-42-pmThank you to everyone who attended the event last night for the official release of The Cardinal Turns the Corner! It was an extraordinary evening, and I could not be more grateful to everyone for their kind words and generous support.

Thank you, also, to all of you who, over the past several months, encouraged and promoted the project, both in person and online, as it came together. I am truly overwhelmed by your graciousness and enthusiasm.

So now, The Cardinal Turns the Corner is officially available for purchase through a number of different outlets. You may purchase a copy online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble or, if you’re local (i.e., Atlanta), you can buy a copy directly from me. All proceeds will continue to go to Curing Kids Cancer.

From now on, links to purchase the book will also be included in the “Purchase My Book” page at the top of this website.

So again, thank you so much! I love you all.