reference is made to jeremiah 18:2-4
concerning the potter’s wheel

reference to hands is concerning…

piano keys and hands

 

jeremiah

jeremiah’s hands were once trained to grace the ivory keys
now he waited, shaking and wasted
he’d worked the fields in salinas
…strawberries and wine grapes had drawn him there
and steinbeck kept him wondering for awhile

these hands had worked the potter’s wheel
answering the call as his namesake had done
but the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands
and he learned about friction and torqueing
so his pot, like his life, trembled badly off center
collapsing in his own weary hands

to steady his hands, he painted
seascapes and beautiful women in wind-blown skirts
bright pastels, acrylics and oil
he owned only one canvas, painted over a hundred times
until his paint tubes were as dried as his handsfinally, as a mechanic, his nails were chipped
his skin broken, chapped, dry and bleeding
until cracked fingertips no longer felt pain
no longer held steinbeck’s ‘east of eden’
no longer touched his broken piano or held strawberries to his lips

the music died at the absence of his hands
strangled and now quiet
he looked at his hands and wondered
what could have been had he never wrung these hands
when desperation and desolation became his keyboard
when isolation defined his journey

these hands were lonely and quiet
comforted only by one another

listen to the quiet

Carlsbad California (2017)…or any ocean waves you may have known in your travels…These waves, parts of them, may have met…or will meet with your waves some day…that’s just the waves are.

(Please Turn Speakers On)


listen to the quiet

words were unnecessary
as waves spoke loudly enough
with an occasional splash over
positioned boulders

we wanted to blend with the sea
but sounds of the quiet
went the way of retreating water
and incoming billows of fog

gulls flew overhead
surfing on swirling breezes
slicing through an impending storm
like a white treble clef
on a sky filled with musical interpretation
of a song not yet sung

listening to the quiet
and the silence of our own words
our eyes told the story
that we had finally learned in
our older years

about
gulls and storms and ocean waves
splashed over situated boulders
and the voice the sea has gained
for those who listen

words were not necessary
as your eyes reminded me
that a song not yet sung…
is a song in waiting
a melody of yesterday’s quiet
folding over the silence of tomorrow

maggie

music:  sounds of silence

maggie

 

maggie
 
she lived in the shadows
fingers interlocked, head bowed
once she had called that prayer
now she called it desperation
 
food was no longer her first want
those other crazy drives
sleep
sex
were past tense in her life
 
when approached, she spoke of planets
and walking on clouds
and asked to touch the policeman’s badge
until they left her alone
 
she wasn’t crazy
but they never let her touch their weapons
only laughed
at ‘maggie’, that’s what they called her
 
seattle was once her city
now bakersfield on her way to tucumcari
and memphis
where the highways splattered like a squashed spider
 
nashville had once been her goal
thirty years ago, when a song and a guitar
bought a pretty girl a beer
and that had been the problem
 
now it would be south to jackson
or north to st. louis
perhaps southeast to birmingham
all the city signs said ‘welcome’
 
sleep was her achievement now
yet her eyes were as ready as her mind
and she still had a song in her heart
she supposed that songs too, need a place to die

hands

music:  love story

hands

after all these years
her hands were still beautiful
working in her garden
washing dishes
picking up after the children…and him

her hands felt as they did
so many years ago

he laid his hand on the weathered picnic table
and felt hers on top,
touching with the same tenderness he remembered
that first night

his heart raced as it always did
when she touched him
and her whispered words in his ear
reminded him of why he had asked her to marry him

so many years had passed
and they sat at the grey-brown picnic table
as they had done so many times before
in awe of hands

their ability to connect, to join
their capacity to support, to pull, to push
and as her hand lifted from his
he knew they would now walk away
joining hand-in hand

and…no words were needed

sentry

 

 

protected door

each day he sat on the wooden step
like a sentry
posted to stop unauthorized strangers
a protector of a home he once knew

folks in town called him crazy
others called him delusional
and after all these years no one remembered
his real name

 the paint held up, he mused
she wanted a red door
three-quarters of a century ago
so red it was and is

 he wondered if his tears watered the plants
weeds really, scraggly and unruly
much like the man he had become
after so many years of manning his post

 she loved this home
especially the door
he loved her…enough to protect it
he did

 

 

 

 

 

reflection

where are they now
the names i have known though the years
the foot soldiers
the hand maidens
those who lived in fancy houses
those who hid under cardboard
those who rode away in classic cars
those whose cars were simply old
where are they now
the names i have known though the years
old houses falling around them
stately pillars keeping them safe
some in barns built for animals
where are they now

i see crumbling cement porches
and rotted wood that bows to the slightest step
rusted nails and broken glass
and these things, like life,  beg the question
where are they now
the names i have known though the years

where are you now
as you read words that question life
and like clouds that disappear with the slightest breeze
or quiet words whispered for only one
they are now
then gone
with the question
where are they now
the names i have known though the years

trains and bicycles

Many, perhaps most or indeed, all of us, daydream from
time to time.  Some choose to sit in the quiet of morning
while watching the silence of a golden sunrise, others
may choose to sit with a book and devour its contents and
some may choose a park bench as a ‘people watcher’…

The are countless ways to visit the recesses of the mind.
My friend, Daniel, loved classical music, old bicycles and
trains.

Now I wonder…did my friend Daniel ever exist except in my
mind?

Elton John knew Daniel…

“Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh, and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God, it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes.”

by Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin  (1973)

 

And now, Daniel as I was introduced to him:

daniel

daniel listened to bach’s toccata and fugue in d minor
while resting in the shadow of pachelbels canon

music brought tears of empty remembrance
of days at his mother’s worn and beaten piano

daniel, an only child, now seventy-six and quite old…
sat alone but for classical sounds and memories

the constant drone of tinnitus flowed like running water until
with no hope to stop the hindrance, he played it into his song

sleeping with music beneath his head he once dreamed
of steam locomotives, bicycles, and flying machines

but still it was the music of his soul that lived on
in that part of his heart that stored treasures and dreams

with closed eyes daniel could see notes floating like apparitions
streaming with the ease of fat cotton clouds of a summers day

he could feel every piece of broken wood and each chipped key
on that old piano where he learned to dream

songs never came easy, songs never came at all
but daniel heard music in his heart that his fingers never felt

he saw steam locomotives, bicycles, and flying machines
and heard bach’s toccata and pachelbel’s canon in d minor

was it the perceived smell of cornbread from the kitchen
the rhythmic pelting sounds of rain against his windowpane

wherever memories are born and whatever awakens them
tears are okay when played on the concerto of the heart

crossing gates dropped and bells rang out a railroad symphony
as an approaching train’s whistle gave rise to the melody

with closed eyes he heard bach’s toccata and fugue in d minor
while resting in the shadow of pachelbels canon and steam locomotives

daniel had long since learned that the music of tears
is felt only in the silence of the heart

.

.

tolbert

untethered

On a park bench in Oceanside California I observed this man and woman, sitting less than a foot apart, watching ocean waves and seemingly counting approaching pelicans and scattering sandpipers. As I leaned against a rail watching and learning, I knew somewhere along the line that they would not speak nor touch. They sat so closely together I assumed they were there as a couple. Then to my surprise…well, read and see…you decide.

untethered
.
.
his hands
his hands told the story more than his face
always looking to the ground
eyelids covering his sins from earlier days
his hands kept one another company
clasped like eager lovers
yet wrinkled and broken with time
.
her hands
her hands told the story more than her face
lips painted crimson, eyes darker than dawn
regurgitated and void of respectability
her hands sandwiched together in prayer
skin loose from borrowed days
abused by menial labor
yet preserved in the same softness as her soul
.
his tears
his tears were earned in moments of yesterday
when silence was louder than words
and the hush in his mind was as the quiet before the storm
his tears were brushed away by hands
cracked and furrowed like a plowed field
yet they created a stream of their own
a path of least resistance
falling freely in the form of discarded memories and lost hope
.
her tears
tears born in her belly flowed from her heart
her eyes a conduit from which they streamed
brushed away by feeble, shaking hands
chapped and sore from swollen joints
and twisted aching fingers, moist from flowing tears
they poured freely as a graceful river
leaving no lines of demarcation
marinated as rejected remembrances and vanished hope
.
they sat
they sat alone, together
unspeaking, not touching
allowing a gentle breeze to wipe away their tears
he stood and slowly walked away
to the north
and she
unhurriedly promenading
turned to the south
looking over her shoulder
to the north
her tears had dried