Traffic lights in the City, a poem

There’s no telling when the Muse will strike. I can be anywhere or with anyone and the lightning strikes. All of a sudden a line comes and it won’t leave me alone. Something must be done or else I won’t be able to live with myself. The fear is always that it will never strike again if I don’t take up the challenge. That’s why it drives some poets to drink. Out of fear.

So I am heading home from work, several months ago. I came to a stop light, and the first line of this one dropped on me from the sky. Within a half hour, I had eight lines and no more. Everyday since I have been studying these eight lines and hoping for more. But there is no more.

Traffic lights in the City
red to green, then back again,
a traffic flow rhythm,

a car horn improvisation
joined by an ensemble of trumpets
with ripples of sound

blasting the nerves of Jericho town
down and into the dust.

Nostalgia

Once upon a time
i was a fairy tale
And once upon a time
I was a wishing well

Once upon a time
I was a wizard and more
And once upon a time
A bard who knew the score

Once upon a time
I was a hero
And once upon a time
I was a zero

Once upon a time
I was an enchanted word
And once upon a time
I was a magic sword

Once upon a time
I was a Holy Grail
And once upon a time
I chased a whale

Once upon a time
I was an emerald town
And once upon a time
Downs were up, upsies down

Once upon a time
Once-upon-a-times have passed
For once-upon-a-times
Never seem to last

Prayers

Often I pray for unprayable things,
a list of gimmees one hundred miles long.

Yet here I sit
seeing with eyes that see,

hearing with ears that hear,
loved by those who love me.

Choices I have made,
and choices have repercussions.

The past is not the future,
nor the the future the past.

Today is
all there is.

The First Day of School

Under the sign of the A-B-Cs
a teacher auditions for a semester run
as actor, director and stage manager,
standing before a new class
ready to loot and pillage his emotions.

A moment, just a moment of stillness,
before a return to a hue and cry
of gossip, comradery, and spit balls
thrown across the room with an accuracy
of a Major League pitcher,
thirty mouths filling the air with chaos.

Suffering from stage fright and first day jitters,
his balloon of molding young minds
crashing to the hardwood floor,
he turns his back to the mongol horde
who has slashed and burned his enthusiasm
into a thousand humpty-dumpty pieces,
folds his arms and faces
the giant musical notation on the blackboard.

And he waits.

A September breeze eases through the open windows.
One by one student voice after student voice
drops off a cliff until silence fills the air.
The teacher unfolds his arms,
turns to his audience,
and the play begins,
neither a comedy nor a tragedy
but a semester of moments
when stars are born
and Shakespeares emerge
and young minds released
to play with unicorns,
follow yellow brick roads,
and grow wings and fly.

This Age of Deliveries

I have been thinking of the word “delivery.”

In this Age of Deliveries
delivery men and women rush about
city street to city street
dropping off essentials
and non-essentials
house to house.

The mail carriers
through snow and rain and heat
deliver our mail: sales pitches, bills
and credit card offers.
And an occasional birthday wish
but never a letter. You see,

we have lost the art of letter writing.
Once upon a time a letter
was a delight to receive
and the mailman was a friend
who delivered that cherished event.
And there are other kinds of deliveries.

A doctor delivers a newborn,
a celebrity delivers a graduation speech,
and a friend of the family delivers a eulogy,
then six more deliver her casket
to a piece of earth where we
deliver our farewells.

I have been thinking of the word “delivery.”