O’Neill

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Solitude

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There is an old trunk room

on the playwright’s estate

where I’m typing these lines

just for you

I’ve wandered the grounds

ambled through the old barn

read my fill in the library, quietly

crammed ceiling to floor

with dusty old tomes

dying to speak

I’ve prayed at a tombstone

beneath an old walnut tree

marking the spot on a hill

where he buried his heart

along with his dog

a very long time ago

I’ve watched a lone hawk

circling slow overhead

a gracefully hypnotic skydance

while lizards sunbathe

and rattlesnakes laze

and the touch of the poet remains

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Avians of Mourning

The Irish writer, Samuel Beckett, said “All poetry is prayer,” and for me that rings very true. After my father passed away in 2015, I began writing poems inspired by our relationship, which resulted in the publication of my poetry chapbook, Avians of Mourning. For me, it is a prayer that honors the past. The writer Amy Ludwig VanDerwater (author of Every Day Birds and Poems Are Teachers) said this book, “holds a daughter’s love in careful hands.” And Paul Corman-Roberts (author of We Shoot Typewriters) said it “is one of the most beautifully thought out and complete elegies I have ever read.” Avians of Mourning will be released September 4th, but is available until July 10th for pre-order. Pre-order sales help determine the size of the pressrun. If you’re interested in a copy, Click here to pre-order.

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The Second Coming

It was the ‘70s

Professor Dumbleton stood

at the front of the classroom

reciting a poem from memory

 

His back to us

chalk dust flying

with passionate intensity

as he spiraled the widening gyre

across the board

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

And here we are again

 

In the midst of a pandemic

One man stands at the podium, unmasked

 

In the midst of peaceful protests

One man brandishes a bible, unrepentant

 

In the midst of endless suffering

One man sends a tweet, unhinged

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold

 

The time has come

Our time has come

 

We are coming together to hold

each other

together

 

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Let There Be

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Nature Doesn’t Seem to Know or Care

The azaleas are in riotous bloom

a profusion of pinks and reds

their wind-driven petals scattered

across the walkway

to our front door

a floral carpet no one will cross

 

Out back the roses are showing off

their first shy buds opening

yellow and peach and red

oblivious to the fact

that there will be

no garden party here this spring

 

Meanwhile, two neighborhood cats

are perched upon the fence

facing each other

tails swishing slowly

shaking loose the wisteria blossoms

onto the playground behind our house

the stage is set for a catfight

that the schoolchildren will not hear

 

Between the press conferences

and the daily news

silently we wait

while the rain falls

the flowers bloom

and the people hide inside

 

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Silent Night, Holy Night

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Sleeping (the family)                                                                      José Clemente Orozco, 1930

“Painting…it persuades the heart.” (Orozco)

My eye is drawn first to the blue,

most radiant hue

robing this woman, a mother,

in warmth, the color of Mary

she is turned toward the father, his face bathed in heavenly light

asleep on the earthen floor of this makeshift shelter

 

Soft folds of blanket envelope them

where they lie together

two exhausted parents

too exhausted to hear the song of their daughter

wide awake now,

lullabying a song she learned from them

as they moved from field to field

carrying pots of clay, red as the earth

 

How did she come to be,

this beautiful child, the color of the earth they work,

the earth they love?

What joy, what migrant passion called her forth

to walk beside them in the light and sing a night song

unafraid

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Catching Air

her partner is a circus performer

a fact that mesmerized my grandsons

listening in the living room

wishing for a trapeze to appear

above the fireplace

 

he regaled them with stories of diving without a net

and balancing babies in his open palm

 

they want to fly, my grandsons

 

It’s time that flies, I tell them

but they don’t believe

that once I as young as they are now

How I stood tall, balanced in the hands of my father

as he lay stretched out on the living room floor

raising me slowly above his head

so I’d feel like I could fly

 

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Christmas Carol

It’s just a day

Christmas day

But I feel its magical pull all year

Counting down days in summer

Marking the years off, one by one

 

Christmas past, a tiny organ playing carols

Bouffant Barbie and Chatty Cathy ‘neath the tree

45s playing oh your red scarf matches your eyes

and first there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is

itchy turtlenecks and slipper socks

 

Christmas present, a house filled with laughter

Babies and boys ‘round the tree

Mariah singing upstairs and football on tv

Baby dolls and stuffed dogs and shiny new trucks

Tickets to the future amid cashmere dreams

 

Christmas future, unwritten, still

built on hope and love and possibility

in rooms filled with people

we’ve yet to meet

in places we’ve yet to be

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View from the 25th floor

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Alone, in an unknown city

Walking aimlessly

Alone, down empty streets

Beckoned inside a church with an open door

Following the scent of roses to the altar

Roses, in various stages of bloom

Placed at the feet of

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Shimmering there, in radiant light

 

What is prayer?

Why was I there?

 

The quiet peace of a mid-day church

The radiant light, the quiet peace of kneeling alone

Amid the roses

 

Later that night, alone in my room

Staring down at the lights below

Reflecting on lives lived

behind shimmering glass

ordinary things done in the night

all those saints and sinners alike

sending up fervent prayers in the dark

 

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