Monday, December 25, 2017

Harvard-Christmas Day

Journal
Dec. 25

Late afternoon, Christmas Day, I trudged through new fallen snow
toward a secret place within the confines of the Harvard campus.
A regal iron lion standing guard demands “what is your business?”
I answer, I’ve come to find meaning in desolation and hear the
whispers from the ghosts of American giants.” He stands aside
allowing me to pass. It is breathlessly beautiful as a peaceful
loneliness prevails. A late December flurry blankets the campus
weighing down ancient trees, living beings bearing witness to the
intellectual and spiritual seeds of the American nation and the values
of its founders. Here, in a private courtyard, the now is as pure as
snow falling on a billion year-old mountain at the end f the world,
one that has never known a human presence. That purity will remain
another 11 days with the exception of an occasional foraging squirrel
and until the students return to campus. The students and faculty
have flown with the geese to warmer climes for the holidays and to
the familiar cheerfulness of home, leaving me alone a million miles
from nowhere in the solitude of my own thoughts.

Everything is quietly muffled gray and white with occasional gusts swirling
snow into corners of windows, decorating wrought iron gates, and
capping Reverend Harvard in a crown of white as he tries to stand in the
way of mendacity, ignorance, and materialism. My only three-dimensional
companion, a foraging squirrel, who like myself is trying to find sustenance
in a place of isolation. In the distance over the yard, I see feathery
temperamental clouds drifting over Greco-Roman temples, smoke bellowing
from chimneys whose furnaces struggle to keep empty Dickens era
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buildings warm and where an occasional, forgotten Christmas light blinks
through a frosty window in hopes of being seen.
As I watch the squirrel carry a nut, I wonder as I always have, how people
find meaning and beauty in lonely, forsaken places. Although how they
find it is not as important as seeing the light myself in people and places
where it’s assumed only darkness exists.

The setting sun darkens the yard, further chilling the air, prompting me to
seek a more hospitable place to continue ruminating—hopefully in a
room cast in rosy firelight whose sparks throw bobbing shadows on a tea
pot and a reading lamp attached to a padded chair facing a large window
that looks-out onto the falling snow.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Place In Summer



Image result for 4th of july lake mohawk 

A Place In Summer

Staring out a sullied summer window
amid the misty morning sun,
neighbors intimately gather
on the way to a lake in summer,
a day and night of  barbeque, beer,
horseshoes, fireworks, and stories—
funny, stirring, semi-apocryphal tales,
getting more confessional as darkness falls,
while I, washed ashore in a tempest
remain exiled, alone in a container,
caught unexpectedly by July 4th’s
bright expectant smile restlessly staring,
isolation’s burden too much to bare,
I venture out searching for a place in summer,
Ned Merrill, The Swimmer, on a bicycle
sojourning northwest from Ann Arbor,
planning to find home by nightfall,
pedaling on the steamy backroads
of Washtenaw and Livingston counties,
wandering through Dexter, Hudson Mills,
Pinkney, Webster, Half-Moon Lake and Hamburg,
passing fading seasonal ice cream shops,
unkempt orchards obscuring mills,
boarded-up, dreaming of Fall,
corn fields, row-upon-row, knee high by July,
cranking crested weather-vanes atop old Dutch barns,
 maple, birch, oak and elm, seasonally adorned,
showing-off summer’s finest green,
firethorn and potentilla scattered among hibiscus
blooming in feckless shades of sapphire and rose,
 odd vehicles, adorned in red, white, and blue
pulling ramshackle floats parading Lady Liberties’,
disputable beauty queens heading for Main Street, America
pleased they’ve finally been recognized
by the ragged small town entourages trailing merrily behind,
males secretly wondering if they’re doing the right thing,
 a proud Grandma beaming  at the world’s most beautiful princess.

When a weary westbound sun set its heart to dusk,
I came upon Whitmore Lake and hurriedly peddled
to quaint cottages hoping to find a place in summer—
sanctuaries handed down generation to generation,
with flowering gardens watched over by timeworn gnomes—
busy-bodies demanding to know your business,
sun-dials, wind-chimes and blazing grills
surrounded by artic colored folk blushing pink,
partaking in the three-month Michigan ritual,
reading Cheever and Twain, waiting for night—
fireworks, more beer, then a midnight slow-dance
near a lake shimmering white under a giant rising moon,
a cherished phonograph spinning,  A Summer Place
crackling softly through lace curtains fluttering,
spellbound lovers swirl, one amongst the stars.

When gentle remnants of light,
consumed by insistent moments of darkness
overtake Main Street, a clear-felled night
exposes a stranger, alone,
among other fragile creatures more sheltered then he—
wanting to belong, pretending delight
amidst America’s greatest summer show,
lost in the exploding rainbow colored mess,
when mercifully, from clearing smoke rising,
an angel, a hospitable summer lake legacy,
gifted, able to feel longing, knowing emptiness—
giving comfort before sending me with on my way
with a beer, slap-on-the-back and a prayer for the road,
on the long journey home.