Category Archives: poetry

Farewell and thank you, Dr. Bill – William Carroll, Ph.D., 1936-2010

THIRD & FOURTH STANZAS*

III
We would be one in sharing joy and sorrow,
Sharing those morsels that make living sweet;
Sharing our woes bitter and hard to swallow
With those in power and those out on the street.
We would be one as we greet each tomorrow
Knowing in life, that joys and sorrows meet.

IV
We sing the song all Nature sings inside us,
A song of universal harmony.
We lift our voices in the cause of freedom
And peace and love for all humanity;
With faith and hope and charity to guide us,
We seek the truth, that truth that makes us free.

2003

* Intended as third and fourth stanzas for a Presbyterian hymn by Samuel Anthony Wright entitled “We Would Be One,” based on the “Finlandia” melody by Jean Sibelius. Dedicated to Carl Hansen, Member, Senior Choir, Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Unitarian Universalist (Carl and Choral Director Dolph Hailstork had complained that the piece was too short as written in our hymnal.)


A POSSIBLE EPITAPH?

I lived my life, I had some fun;
I loved my wife, loved everyone
With deep heartfelt compassion.

I tried to dance, I sang my song;
And if perchance I did some wrong,
‘Twas not for form or fashion.

The wrongs I did were just the things
That being human sometimes brings;
I meant no serious harm.

I lasted long enough to be
A senior beneficiary;
And then I bought the farm.

May 2002

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Mendel Denise Service: Requiem for a Stranger

How is Mrs. Futrel?
I ask.
I forget we die here.
I don’t want to.
I don’t want to die here.

She died Monday, Sunday or Tuesday no one
Really knows.
This is the response
I get to my query.

The sadness falls on me.
Another stranger has died.

Three years we shared the same community.
We were separated by her fervent belief in God and Jesus
And my mission to be free of all traditional truth

I recall a stately, classy lady.

In the last two or three images she is not
Tall as she was in the beginning years.
She is no longer managing the senior dinner fundraisers.

I feel a pain in my side.
It is persistent.

I make an appointment with my doctor for the next day.
I am surrounded by the dying, the sick the infirm.

I sense the tomb of forgotten lives and people, in a
140 unit building for seniors and the disabled.
Encasing me in paranoia.

Sometimes being around so much death, dying and
Illness is too much.

I know the pain in my side and
Five straight days of vomiting
Is probably nothing.

It might be reaction to my diabetes medication
Or to the meds I take for high blood pressure.

I might have the flu or the virus
that is going around.
But as I lie in my bed,
My side aching, I am nervous.

I worry because so many of the fellow riders on
Handi Ride are going to or from dialysis.
They talk about cancer,
Losing a leg to gangrene because a doctor
Ignored them for a year and treated a foot injury
With ‘it will get better’ and it didn’t.
She said she passed out and woke up in a hospital
with her leg missing.

Sometimes I get depressed,
Then possibly overly cautious.
The doctor will probably tell me it is nothing,
But news of another death worries me.

I wonder if I will leave this
place walking out
Into a dream
or in one of the black bags
I saw so frequently the
First year I arrived.

I give this tribute to the
Stranger with the feisty spirit
And strong beliefs in her God,
To the life now a memory
To myself.

Dear stranger,
hope you are in the place you fought to get to
The place you believed existed.

I pause.

Why is your death so significant to me?
I did not know you.  We barely spoke.
I resented how you imposed your religious
beliefs on my life.
I resented how little breathing was
Possible when you and others made
Sure that every event was prayed over,
Every event was a form of your prayer.
Every event in this building was
Somehow made religious.

I did not resent you having a
Belief or a truth that carried you
But hated feeling invisible.

Perhaps, part of my true reason
For my feelings is
I sorrow most not
The fear of death
But my fear of living

Now, I want not to be so
Buried in what I perceive as safe
So that I allow my voice to be
Silenced, my existence to be hidden.
My passions dulled my life force numbed.
That path of surviving is no longer an option.
I want more.

What I saw in you was someone who
Did not quiver, quake or doubt her life
By hiding what was right for her.
You knew your values.
You honored them.
You lived an honored life.

I, too, can do that.
I, too can live
Before dying

Blessings
Dear stranger
Peace.

© 2010 Mendel Denise Service. All Rights Reserved. www.createwithus.com

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Aaron Hegele: The Marsh

The marsh sighted from the
Ship’s hangar bay is an unlikely
Landmark. We seem so close
We could grasp what is there.
I wish I could mark this passage
For a long time in my mind.
Soundless and rich as her voice
My memory echoes. As rich
As her voice is the sight.

Here there is a promise of a
Particular feeling.

Waterway and calm ocean
Intertwine.
Her body and mine were once
One in my dreams.
Her life and mine were bound
Together and still are, until we,
Our dreams gone different
Directions, slowly lose sight
Of one another.

Sky blue and waterway azure
A spongy land alternately or
Partially covered with water.

My mind rushes ahead to liberty,
When we’re back in port,
When I can feel the wind in
My hair as I ride in my car.

I ride on the highway,
And the right rock song is
Playing on my stereo.

So the words, music and the
Night air remind me not
Of the promise of tonight’s
New adventure, or of the marsh,
But of her.

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lib rosenzweig: 6,000,000? What is it? Remembrance!

Who can say and feel and see?
What is 6 million?
Who can fathom it?

What is 1 million?
It’s 10 x 100,000.

What is 100,000?
It’s 10 x 10,000.

What is 10,000?
It’s 10 x 1,000.

And so it goes…
1,000 made up of
10 x 100
and
10 x 10
and
10 x 1 … one, ah

It’s one, living and breathing
laughing and weeping
longing and yearning
hurting and helping
individual – one breathing,
in the end, it’s One
created in God’s image
in His image He created it, One!

Can you fathom it?
Now you know what 6,000,000 are made of:
It’s one, 6 million times – it was.
Now can you see?
Now you know?
Now you know!
One living, breathing – not any more.

Holocaust Remembrance, April 30, 1987

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Nathan M. Richardson – Poet, Author, Publisher

Make Merry

“Better your anger and fears
flow like ink from a pen onto the page,
or paint onto a canvas,
than blood on the sidewalk.
Better your blows strike the faces of drums
or cords of melody,
than the backs and faces of
women and children!”

Nathan M. Richardson

This little aphorism was born from the many poetry readings and workshops Nathan teaches independently and through Young Audiences of Virginia. It is the message he brings to youth, that their creative gifts can be used counteract the challenges of life. It is also currently under review by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence for use as a promotional supporting that cause! Find out more at www.scpublishing.com.
nathan@scpublishing.com

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Mac McKinney: Post-Katrina Blues

Beauvoir

Biloxi was under the sea for quite a while:

Did fish swim through
Jefferson Davis’s cobwebs?

Beauvoir, glowing icon of Southern history,
symbol of past and future glory,
got hammered that August day, 2005.

Her wings got clipped, this
house of the Confederacy,
wooden siding, structure ripped away,
old mansion windows shattered.

The white apparition above Highway 90
groaned and screamed for hours,
Katrina more cruel than the Yankees.

Mac McKinney

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Shonda Buchanan, Poet

This poem, and much of the poetry I write that deals with family, illustrates to me how the lack of knowing our Indian heritage and legacy led to family dysfunction, and in many cases, abuse. I traced my heritage to the Coharie Tribe of Sampson County, North Carolina and Eastern Band Cherokee in Halifax, North Carolina. On my father’s side, I have Choctaw. My family poetry is a way for me to reconnect with the past and move towards a better future.

VelmaJean

i remember nights when
you pushed my skin
into a blue corner
fanning the Michigan moon
into a white fire

my youth in your fingers
like candle wax

the clock forging ahead
there wasn’t much time

you worked quietly
diligently against the famous
bruises you grew deft at hiding
from your own sisters, unaware
that they were hiding theirs
from you
gifts of hard love, no
gifts from hell

but still, i grew to something

it was that flame you pushed
into me, smoothed it down
seeded it in my navel for later

knowing that i was young
you were older. wiser.
married a third time
seven children from virginhood
one father from innocence
one mother from forgiveness

i remember nights
when you rubbed my back, singing
swing low
sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home
sweet low, sweet chariot

you spilled vicks over my
chest, my mosquito bumps
dime-thin back
humming long into
the dusk
forcing the bronchitis
that almost killed me twice
into a soft wheeze

i lived
bred off plantation prayer
menthol

later, forgetful
i never knew your stiff back
held me
at the kitchen sink
your fingers soapy with dishwater and tears

all the knowing of a woman
in that water as you sniffed, moved
away

i thought you were making it all
look harder then it really was

men, love, holding things
raising us
i said nothing

but i was a child
it was alright
i grew into something

theses memories come
i am folding them away
for my daughter
into her like all good
mother spiders do
while they wash dishes
spin white flames
watch, hum

family reunion, fourth of july in kalamazoo, 1999

i.
tina laughs, hands on belly
crow-black and hard

like her husband didn’t just paint his toenails
red ‘on a dare’ and leave her for another man

rochelle sits cross-legged on ground rocking
back and forth into a sulfur breeze
wrapped in a thin blanket
and her backwoods dreams of peace
bound in a ceremony of missing sons
already begun

firecrackers scatter dust
at her feet, grinning, she tell bobbie ann
‘shut the hell up, trick’
as whistlers pierce air, sing last breath song
pulsing siren goodbyes, finally jumping curb
extinguishing in street

breeze kicks up

children race around us like black dandelions
willowy fingers douse alleyway with inch-worm secrets
hide-go-seek screams reach out
reminding us of other willows and dandelions
in posthumous fields

bobbie ann’s smile spreads wide across her face
like the sahara, she folds all forty-one
years of her life / her famous left hook
her two women into a round planet on her chest
letting no one in
chain smoking the night away

ball up her fist, shake it, tell rochelle
‘das ya mama, ugly’

cigarette smoke settles on my locks like a caul

everything i know about love i learned from them and
mama
seen twisted wrists / noses clotted with blood
their laughter burning a hole in god’s palm

seen tender dark corners their hearts20have held up
like last stands / in waist deep snowdrifts
like the color of rain depended on it/ yes, seen war

ii.
bobbie’s son, david, eats up our small town
in desperate lurch at freedom before
he marries nashville preacher daughter

at twenty-two swaying like ypsilanti timber
above us, determined to remain uncut, all his clippings
his two a.m. love-making with men he has forgotten
the names will be swept neatly under a rock

my youngest brother
popeye’s toffee-hued skin has sprouted a garden of tattoos
as if the paper he usta draw on wasn’t enough

i spin when i try to read their indigo treaties
binding his flesh all at once agreements he made with
manhood before i could save him / agreements broken

under night’s charade of falling i see his eyes winking
in and out of view/ stars behind clouds

he sells weed to pay bills and buy special size shirts
to drape his salty mammoth body
he has been hurt by women
clenching and unclenching
his hannibal fists marching against the air
his brow carved into a totem
i know life isn’t kissing him back

at three hundred pounds a piece
he and my nephew jason
are the proverbial town giants
with hands that could swat us down
like african flies but these two, they hug us instead
in the end, no matter
how much the women yell

iii.
this july fourth night / we shift positions
chill kisses ankles, we move to warmth
congregate on yvonne’s
yellow porch on south side

produce pomegranate stories from
folds of our clothing and breathe

my daughter’s nine-year old legs
float across hazy lawn in game of tag

she, cousins, neighbors’ kids all chant
what children chant when they are
young lions
and it is summer and an undulation of fireflies
have risen for them
in the crushed sapphire
blue dusk

i always / forget how beautiful
kalamazoo is

again, tina’s crow laughter
piles out of her mouth like mama’s
in the darkness/ thinking she has slipped
in among us, unnoticed
i search for the one who pushed
us into this world, wondering if
she knew it would be like this
black indians in a zoo/ no heritage/ no men

we women / howling

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