For My Dad…

In honor of my dad’s birthday today, here is a poem from my first book, The Cardinal Turns the Corner, titled “Dad.” Happy birthday, Dad!

“Dad”

On the mountains at the farthest border of the world,
snow-capped and calling,
I felt my way to the thin line of the edge
and looked down into outer space

where I could see the winds of stars fall asleep
below my scarlet knuckles
as the northern lights, with their tin flame of foil fire,
green and white diamond, filmed the midnight sky.

They told stories like my father,
full of heroes and the beauties they fought for,
as every scene of laughter and of sorrow,
played at once along the measures of their gleaming.

Then I balled a few rags of snow in my grasp
and clenched them hard enough for the cold to slide
into my chest and crack my pounding heart alive
as I rose to my feet and steadied my shaking lungs.

I remember those tales well,
my father sitting by my bedside, holding
oceans and sailing ships with the strength of
his love for me.

And I would follow him anywhere,
through the forestry of childhood,
keeping close to his heels as he
showed me where to go,

well into the iron winters of adulthood
as my stride slowly grew stronger, and
he taught me how to breathe
the mountain air of becoming a father.

For now, as I stand at the peak of this universe,
filled with ice and the sweep of shooting stars,
I turn and see the faces of my own children and my beautiful wife,
looking to me with the smiles of home,

and I know it is time to tell my own stories,
to hold their hands and lead them onward
as they keep close to my heels, and I show them
where to go.

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Poem Audio #1 – “Falling in Love” / “Paper Plates”

black-and-white-image-of-headphonesTo expand on the poetry I have published here over the last year or so, I thought it would be fun to record readings of some of my favorite pieces from The Cardinal Turns the Corner as well as to introduce newer pieces I have written.

In addition to these readings, I’d like to provide some commentary, background, and/or explanatory notes that situate each poem in whatever experience, memory, or mood inspired it. No writer writes in a vacuum; we are always influenced by something (usually a thousand somethings). 🙂 So, here is Poem Audio #1.

The two poems discussed in this recording are “Falling in Love” from TCTTC and a new piece “Paper Plates.” Each poem has been reprinted below the audio file for those who wish to read along. Enjoy!

 


“Falling in Love”

The other night I stood for half an hour

Between the night sky and the butterfly wings of sleep,

Trying to count how many times I’ve fallen in love with you.

 

The streetlights filled our window while you slept,

But all I could do was wander around the room, hands folded,

The wind stirring the leaves on the pavement outside.

 

For years I have looked beneath the rocks in the river,

Inspected the wrists of jazz drummers

And the breath of blue roses for the full moon.

 

I have unlaced the fog in the morning

And swept the brushstrokes of dew on the ground

To find the words for our love,

 

And the candles at every step of our memory,

Lighted by the words we’ve spoken,

They are becoming forest fires.

 

In my hands are a dozen marbles. When I hold them up to you

To show the colors of my love, the sound of their scattering

On the floor tells me to try again.

 

And I try again every time,

Finding you over and over in the corner of my eye,

Smiling like the day we first met.

 

So I stayed awake that night, wondering how

I might manage to hold all this love

When all along it lay quietly in the way our fingers touch when we watch movies,

Your knees bent beneath the blanket,

The hours drifting away like snow.

 

“Paper Plates”

I’m trying to remember how long we’ve eaten on paper plates,

Cheap napkins with printed lilacs,

Both of us bending the tines of plastic forks

As we slowly keep from speaking.

 

When did we become so still, so suddenly motionless,

Twin marble statues stuck beneath the weight of water,

Staring in the distance past each other’s ocean shadow?

 

How did the sunlight in our voices

Fade into the night, our fingers numb

As blackened matches, our gazes turned to separate walls?

 

There must have been a moment when we accidentally said our last words,

When the sugar in our breath slid deep into our memory,

When our kisses somehow grew stale and

Our styrofoam lips first chipped along the edges.

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.