Enjoy your preparations for Chanukah and Christmas.
"Tell me a story that will live in my heart forever."
I hope you enjoy and appreciate the poems posted here.
(click – hear the voice behind the words)
She worried this year about Thanksgiving.
Typically a feast beyond which
any reasonable human being ought to indulge,
dishes both traditional – and contemporary overkill –
by 4:30 PM no one except teenage boys
could look at any more food —
Preparing it after all these years became a chore
so much so that at some point in headier days
she started to purchase a turkey and all the fixing dishes
from a graduate of the New York Culinary Institute
who catered these events –
So when that day with family gathered round,
grandma and grandpa,
the kids were anxious to leave
to see a movie, or some of them
intending to head to a bar in the City —
he made them all pack up, turkey and stuffing included,
and they traveled over strident protest,
and resounding refrains of “I hate you” from all corners
through the tunnel, together into the City
where they trolled the canyons until they saw a food bank line –
then exited with the trimmings
and spent the afternoon and evening – together –
A poem in appreciation of those who serve us in difficult times and situations.
(click: hear the voice behind the words)
I Learned to Kill for You
I had prepared for this,
sharpened my shooting eye,
learned to clean, assemble and disassemble,
mastered the correct hold
to choke the air intake of the enemy, to bring death.
Honed my physique,
fine tuned my body to pain,
practiced war games on the video screens,
bonded with these comrades
with whom I would shortly alight.
Now as we step onto the battle field
I am taken aback by the immediacy
of the enemy’s onslaught.
I had worried about how it would feel
the first time –
But found there was no time to feel – or think.
Instinct and reflex governed.
I simply killed for you.
This poem is included in my book,
“I Have His Letters Still”, Poetry of Everyday Life.
(click – hear the voice behind the words)
When I was young, the farm fields
of rural Hunterdon County New Jersey
spawned flocks of Pheasants –
Ring-Necked, brilliant colors of the rainbow.
At age 10,
I’d walked the fields with my father’s short haired pointer
nose to ground, followed their scent,
his rigid stance marked the grassy patches
where nature bred the birds to rest,
lie low, concealed,
camouflaged by fall browned grasses.
At age 14, Thanksgiving afternoon,
my responsibilities as defensive end completed,
I walked those fields with my own dog,
an English Spaniel,
to flush out a fresh one to supplement the turkey.
Marinated in a tomato sauce, seasoned by red wine
I dip the Italian bread, hot from the oven,
in the juices of my plate.
I lost this in my college years.
Brief Thanksgiving vacations
left little time for dogs and guns.
As an educated man,
perhaps I lost the sporting urge as well.
When settled eight years later,
the cut throat pressures of the business world
left me longing for the land again.
I called my father about Thanksgiving morning.
Asked him if he wanted some company going out.
I learned then
what twelve years had wrought.
“I will be picking up the birds about 5 o’clock
Wednesday evening if you want to help.”
No more wild hens to produce
the ring necked cocks so ardently sought.
Not one to be found in this now, semi-rural area.
Paradoxically, it was not new homes,
but unlikely culprits – corn and soybeans.
The hay fields vanished with the milking cows.
Fixed rows of food staples
replaced the grassy scenes
where hens and their broods
formerly moved with stealth and ease
foraged and found abundant insects.
Now pesticides applied
between precise rows of crops
keep both insects and nuisances grass at bay.
Food and shelter gone
the hens and their chicks homeless, needy,
now orphans in a habitat only slightly changed
to the naked eye.
This Thanksgiving Day the hound would be catching
birds in his mouth, from whom the instinct to be flushed
had been bred, or who were too indolent
to want to escape.
I walk the fields preoccupied –
an unrealistic hope –
that I could find one I could respect.
One which like the birds of old
would run as fast as other birds could fly
take a sporting chance at escape –
challenge me, my reactions,
my 35 year old aim.
Now no longer gamebird,
colorful penned up long-tailed beauty
visited by school children in yellow buses
carving pumpkins on the picnic tables –
it is no wonder this walk no longer holds allure.
Even the dogs have lost interest.
Consider purchasing my book, “I Have Your Letters Still” – Poetry of Everyday Life (140 pages – $11.95) Order on Amazon, http://tinyurl.com/RayBrownAmazon
I remember the yellow mums
that adorned the mothers’ sweaters
in those autumn days of the early 60s
when football games were played in the sunlight
on a Saturday afternoon.
Times were more casual,
although the games just as intense.
Then they were known as
the Delaware Valley Regional High School Terriers.
40 years later, Terriers are not
an aggressive enough mascot —
so now they call themselves “the dogs”.
Then, mums told all there was to say
about a mother’s pride
a sense of loyalty to the hometown
how beauty was displayed in simplicity,
and wearing flowers at a football game
was still touching.
They were all there, in the bleachers,
the day when Rick Long had his concussion.
He got kicked in the head
tackling the fullback
for South Hunterdon Regional High School
on Thanksgiving Day.
The mothers gasped,
as he lay so motionless on the field.
as he walked off in a daze
to wander the sidelines.
The whole group consoled Mrs. Long
the sorority of strong women
there for their children,
not because they particularly liked football.
The next morning, a floral arrangement
arrived at Fran Long’s home
just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
This one had the yellow and blue school colors,
but also had the deep crimson and white
the pinks and oranges,
and the little yellow popcorn mums
to fill in between.
Fran was touched by this all…..
and now – 40 years after Rick’s passing
she tends her bed of mums
on the hillside near her driveway entrance.
She has not been back to a football game since.
Today new lights from the field,
blaze and announce the Friday night games –
she lives close enough to hear the crowd roar
after each good tackle,
as they first cheered, then grew eerily silent
She knows some young high school girls
undoubtedly still wear the mums
since she finds her yellows,
missing from the hillside garden on Saturday mornings,
plucked at the base
by high school boys
who stop quickly after school
and furtively snip a stem or two
on the afternoon before the Friday night game.
When she notices, she is not upset.
She smiles but a wry little smile.
Ricky, she images, would have done the same –
stopped quickly at someone’s Mum garden
clipped a few without asking –
as he was driving past
in his 66 Chevy Impala
on the day before the ’67 Thanksgiving game.
Alone with My Thoughts
I long for an anchor.
A place where I can moor my ship.
Await calmer seas.
There is a choice
between a shining chrome alloy pole
constructed of my own being –
and an older wooden one
worn by the sea salt,
requiring much faith.
But if I could rely on the one of my hands
would I be alone,
searching, to begin with?
(click: hear the voice behind the words)
This is the title poem from my book, “I Have His Letters Still” – Poetry of Everyday Life. To read more excerpt poems, click on the cover below and you will be taken to a digital book. Purchase on Amazon –http://tinyurl.com/RayBrownAmazon or purchase an autographed copy at http://poet-ray-brown.com. Thank you
When I was young
they were kept in a shoebox.
Then, in late middle age,
in an old leather correspondence case,
found at a flea market,
kept in the bottom desk drawer.
Handwritten in flowing cursive script
by original Lewis Waterman pen
point dipped in a well
the fountain of personal essence
the blue flowed with emotion
like the waters of life.
Soul captured not by Lucifer
but by the fiber of the paper
crafted in Egypt along the Nile
history nested so deeply between the reeds
between the threads of papyrus.
The envelope, self-sealed in a meticulous way
with wax, monogrammed
engraved so beautifully on the back.
The Steamboat Savannah stamp
hand canceled – May 24, 1944
a distinctive ink which marked its journey
as would a traveler his journal
from South Carolina to Baptistown, NJ.
I treasure this letter, and its envelope.
When I pick it up and read
I feel him rising
through the warmth of the words,
grasping my hand…
this post saved in the attic of my memories.
While I have other poets today
their presence I see just fleetingly
on the computer screen,
my palm touch against the monitor
only makes work for me
Though a friend taught me about the “Save” button
I feel as if I have saved nothing, and lost much
each time I push/click –
their correspondence lost –
in impersonal set aside.
Why time took this treasured means of human discourse
there is no answer.
Does it have no sense of history –
Upon my death, for what
will they use my leather satchel?
Thankfully — I have his letters still.