Summer is nice here. So is spring (when we have one). And many think our autumns are the best. But winter still defines us, which may be why area poets seem more than usually engaged: the nostalgia of the season competes with the challenges of cold, dark days.
This collection includes memories of Thanksgiving, the truths and trials of snow and ice, music, travel, shopping, thingamajigs and — as always — love. Happy holidays!
Doug Wilhide is the poet laureate of Linden Hills and poetry editor of the Southwest Journal
Welcome to Winter
Alas, the temps are falling… and
Oops! ‘Guess I just did too!
A patch of ice hid beneath my foot… and
Whoa! Into the air I flew!
Now, I sit here toasty and elevate my cast
A roaring fire and treats galore…
Hurray! Winter’s here, at last!
It was only yesterday
I raked the spirals
of rich descent,
colors of bruised plums,
bricks and amber.
a world delicate as white tea,
rooftops thick with cold,
the bent Mugo pine,
and snow angels
flat on their backs,
searching the night sky
as they disappear under drifts
and fly up again to heaven.
A Bengali Soldier in a German POW on Armistice Day
How am I gonna go home now?
Now they are done with their war
And are having their peace
I’d leave the leather boots
The wool uniform
And the potatoes
Rice is what I want
And the sun
Uncle Ray rose up from his chair —
Like the kraken coming up for air
Like a white whale chasing a sea captain
Like the blues pursuing a dude with depression
Like the Seventh Seal arriving early
Like the long-rumored Seventh Manatee
Like Proud Poseidon, Shaker Of Ships
Like any small apocalypse
Like Mount Doom in a story about Hobbits
Like any guest with eccentric habits –
And with superb sly skill, or luck, or grace,
Farted directly in my face.
It had been a boring November.
This is the part of Thanksgiving that I remember.
Let’s mourn for the status seekers
in their useless, fruitless task
of being ever better than
their imagined past.
Let’s wish them insightfulness
which might bring them peace of mind
and possibly encourage them
to instead be simply kind.
For status is a fool’s task
more easily lost than gained
while kindness is a treasure
worth much more than temporal fame.
All purpose one size fits all
Universal use do-dads
Gimcrack from the cyber mall
Gadgets, widgets, and wackpots
Chingaderas and gizmos
Thing-a-ma-jigs with what-nots
Dingus and Dickelfixits
Doohickeys, do-jiggies and
Diddley squats and gewgaws
With limited guarantees
Then some more jigamaree
Like that seen on your TVs
Life Is Simple, Isn’t It?
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Believe in yourself.
Earn money. Pay money.
Find companions. Love them differently.
Have sex. Or not.
Laugh. Groan. Cry.
Be as happy as you can.
(repeat often, as needed)
Die sometime later.
Prayer to Winter
James P. Lenfestey
Do not abandon us!
We who fear your fury
love your coverlet of snow.
We who cower at the bus stop
love the ice beneath our skates.
We who daily deplore your omnipotence
weep at your unseasonal melting.
We will push our skis uphill for you,
chain our tires, jump our batteries,
scarf and beard our cheeks,
bury the curves of our bodies
And we will shovel
until the rhythm of the shoveling
exalts us in your presence.
Until the stroke of our blade
And the smoke of our breath
blows honest and pure, until
the Niagara of our nose is frozen,
our muscles sinewy and warm,
and we burst through the door
with an explosion of stomping
and clapping, throwing open
ourselves, yelling, “I’m
home!” I’m home!”
Do not abandon us,
as we have abandoned you.
The Prettiest Spot
Carolyn Light Bell
The prettiest spot in the whole house
was perched high on the organ bench,
pounding out heavy hymns,
rattling the French doors,
trembling the shining windows.
It was a concert Hammond,
huge and powerful.
I made music, loud and crashing,
and sometimes harmonic.
Outside, a crimson sun set over Lake Harriet.
I stretched my toes to accentuate
A with an A chord;
C with a C chord.
Oh, it was good,
and when I wake with the memory,
I sob for less than a minute,
then stop abruptly,
the way I lifted my hands from the keys.
My sheepdog wakes to the sound,
moves to lie beside my bed.
Those days are spent.
Fewer the days that remain.
My hands still hold power,
but my volume is lower.
Sheet music piles up on the piano.
I shuffle back and forth
through the sheaves of days,
play with more humility —
perhaps more grace—
every chord a vision.
The clock ticking away the seconds
is the only sound in the room.
Stark, pale walls meet
old linoleum floors.
A green potted plant
sits on a white table.
The man says, “there is so much
you can do with this space.”
For a quick moment, she sees
yellow walls, wooden blinds,
colorful beads over the door,
cushions near low tables,
roses, candles, abstract art.
A warm homey feeling invades her soul.
It is the rain pelting the window
that reawakens her to the room
of pale white.
Love Me Some Love
Send me some love for my heart is breaking
Create me some love for my soul is sad
Feed me some love to make me whole
Be me some love for I’ve lost it all
Fire me some love so I can burn again
Carry me some love to take me far
Cry me some love so I can grieve my fate
Fan me some love to cool me down
Dress me some love so I can find the fashion
Google me some love so I can learn the way
Attack me some love to put me away
Grow me some love to expand my heart
Puke me some love because I’ve asked you to
Ghost me some love so I’ll know I’m real
Radio me some love so I can hear the waves
Rock me some love so I can dig the vibes
Dance me some love so I can Bim Bang Bam
And love me some love love me some love and
Just love me some love
The Faintest Ink Is Better than the Best Memory
for Tom Braun
In 25 years
Will I remember the morning
I came down for breakfast
And was greeted with beautiful kisses
Your mouth firm on mine
Your tongue cool and sweet
From the melon you immediately abandoned?
Will I remember that our kisses
Led to embracing
Your body hard on mine
A tangle of arms and feet
Breakfast entirely forgotten?
Will I remember those passion filled lips?
Your heart, pressed against mine
Made me feel utterly complete.
Or will this pale ink
Provide the only memory?
Over Nova Scotia
We just flew past Greenland
where you can see the icebergs —
tiny white dots melting away,
while making their way
to Titanic destinations,
the bigger ones enfolding
you can see from seven miles up.
In a globally warmed world
we have left green lands behind —
Paris, Provence, St.Tropez and summer —
old worlds, old artists, old dreams, old seasons…
we are old people now whose obits may read:
“they enjoyed travel.”
It is a time for remembering
and I think of that old rake, Villon,
and his question: ou sont les neiges dantan?
Ah, François — they flurry and float in our re-collections
like icebergs holding their turquoise gems,
getting more remote by the minute.
Ahead of us lie the snows of another winter —
threat and promise, reality (and then some) —
as we fly so high, so far, so fast
through time, space, memory and longing…
we have left behind the Cote d’Azur
for the ten thousand lakes of home.
Crows in Snow
The crows don’t mind,
over rooftops, looking for a scrap
of flesh or vegetable or grain
while wind-driven flakes
streak the sky
pummel tree branches
carry off houses.
A dozen crows take off,
dark shadows, large black wings,
riveting in the black/white landscape.
They are intent,
oblivious, or perhaps, aware
of the striking picture they make.
Everything, everyone else, still, marooned
in their narrow beds.
The crows roam widely,
have the world to themselves,
plunge and rise, create their own art,
follow the Tao of Crow
black/white; black/white; black/white…
Guidelines For A Winnie The Pooh Christmas
Take some quiet time for yourself
In your own corner or up on the shelf.
Hibernate if you like.
Don’t get killed by a trike.
Breathe in pine smells deeply
When the wind blows steeply.
Piglet can come over
As long as he is sober
Help Eeyore with a rescue –
Or with a cheerful point of view.
Consult with Owl if you are bored.
Remember where dessert is stored.
Spend some money.
Love your honey.