Ever Changing

Each year, when nature wakes from winter’s trance
Earth glories with the sprightly dance of spring,
Transforming hill and dale with fresh romance.

Rich, teasing blooms and blossoms gently swing
In prelude to the heat of summer days
While Robin red-breast cocks her head to sing

A lilting tune. Soon gardens bathed with rays
Of golden light will teem with bounteous fruit;
But slacken soon to autumn’s gentler ways.

Amid this crimson blaze soft gales salute;
Surrender to the drear tempestuous cruel
As winter spreads her sleep and all grows mute.

        How sweet this transformation to a fool;
        The ever-changing seasons bring renewal!

Cornucopia

My cornucopia is filled
      On this Thanksgiving Day;
And my heart too, with reverence stilled
      When to the Lord I pray–

For fortunes more than I can list
      That bless my life each day;
Like waking up to morning mist
      And sunlight’s golden ray–

I’ve ears to hear the warbler’s song,
      The buzzing of the bees;
And children as they walk along
      Beneath the stately trees–

A nose to smell fresh baking bread,
      The perfume of a rose;
Sweet scents that chase away my dread
      And fill me with repose–

Clear eyes to see the mountainside,
      A lazy babbling brook;
The grandeur that God does provide,
      Wherever I may look–

A tongue to taste the berry tart,
      The sweetness of a pear;
Good food that memories impart
      Of cherished times so rare–

Soft hands to feel the gentle skin
      Of she who I revere;
So that I can caress her chin
      Or wipe away a tear–

A solid roof to keep me safe
      From winter’s howling storm;
Dry logs laid in the fireplace
      To keep me snug and warm–

A bookcase filled with volumes thick
      To keep me occupied;
Yea, thinner tomes that do the trick
      When time makes me decide–

A wife who loves me as I am
      Despite the things I lack;
Who holds me gentle as a lamb;
      She never would attack–

The gift of Faith in Jesus Christ
      My Savior and my King,
Who suffered until it sufficed;
      To Him, I’ll praises sing–

So many things to bless my life
      That I can justly say;
My cornucopia is rife
      On this Thanksgiving Day–

I Love to Walk in Softly Falling Snow (Villanelle)

I love to walk in softly falling snow,
And watch the earth fill up with downy flake;
It lifts my soul and sets my heart aglow!

And even though the burning embers glow,
I don my coat and hat and take a break;
I love to walk in softly falling snow.

The peace that in the silent night does grow,
Restores my heart and drives away the ache;
It lifts my soul and sets my heart aglow!

It matters not whereto my path may go,
Near homes, in woods, or down along the lake;
I love to walk in softly falling snow.

There’s much that I am willing to forego,
To take in nature’s beauty and partake;
It lifts my soul and sets my heart aglow!

And when I walk with you, you need to know;
I’m never more alive or wide awake!
I love to walk in softly falling snow,
It lifts my soul and sets my heart aglow!

Of Things that Disappear in Gentle Breeze

Of things that disappear in gentle breeze;
That ripple only once through stately trees:

        A word of kindness that I do not share,
        A gentle touch not felt to show I care;
        A moment’s meditation never found,
        A chance to meet someone on common ground;
        A fresh-cut trail I do not choose to take
        A chance to say “I’m sorry, my mistake

Each opportunity I fail to seize
I rue their disappearance in the breeze!

Before the Sands Decay

It’s morning and the sandy grains
      Flow through the hourglass;
But I am focused on my trains
      And rolling in the grass–

At noontime, a persistent pour
      Drops steadily away;
But I am focused on the chore
      Of earning every day–

As evening sets, cascading sands
      Seem quicker so to fall;
But still, I focus on demands
      Before my strength does pall–

As nighttime falls, the sands of time
      Are nearly gone away;
Oh, that my life could be sublime
      Before the sands decay–

A Triangle of Pie (Sestina)

Each night at six we’d gather for a meal
Around the round kitchen table, and dad
Always said “If we’re lucky, we’ll have pie
For dessert.” After we prayed, giving thanks, mom
Would start to dish the meatloaf and we’d eye
The hot dinner rolls as they came our way.

Even with eight mouths to feed, mom had a way
Of doing things so that every meal
Seemed like a feast. She really had an eye
For making food that would satisfy dad.
And when she had enough time to bake, mom
Would surprise us with a warm, yummy pie.

We really didn’t care what kind of pie
She made–they were all good. It was the way
The crust came out so flaky, a trick mom
Learned from grandma at a young age. No meal
Was ever complete until I saw dad
Wipe his mouth and dab a tear from his eye.

Now, there was nothing that could tear up his eye
Quicker than a slice of lemon meringue pie
Made from scratch! It was always so tart that dad
Would pucker his lips and smack them this way
And that; then lean back content. We knew the meal
Was done when he leaned over and kissed mom ?

On the cheek! There were those times when mom
Would make a cake for dessert, but we’d eye
It skeptically and wonder how the meal
Would ever measure up without some pie.
We learned over the years there was no way
That a piece of cake would ever satisfy dad.

Sundays were the best meal of the week! Dad
Always made sure we were there to help mom
So everything could be done just her way!
Wed enjoy ‘tender meat sliced from the eye
Of round roast and a cool slice of lemon pie
For dessert. We would finish up the meal

And then dad, with a twinkle in his eye
Would smile at mom and say; “A triangle of pie
Is the best way to round out a square meal!”

The Patchwork Quilt

They gather after chores are done
      Around the quilting frames,
And stitch right through the setting sun,
      Warmed by the fiery flames–

With nimble limbs, the ladies sew
      Around each scrap of cloth;
A quilt exquisite for the beau
      Of she who’s in betroth–

The patchwork top with colors bright
      Combine to wedding rings;
That’ll serve for years to bring delight
      Through winters, falls, and springs–

But they’re not focused on the rings,
      Instead they laugh and cry
‘Bout Bessie’s gout, Fran’s banjo strings,
      Aunt Mary’s evil eye–

The hours fade and days elapse
      Before the stitching’s through;
They’re quilting more than bits of scrap
      They’re binding lives anew–

Fishing with Dad

When dad would wade into the shallow river,
With skill he’d gently cast his bamboo pole;
I’d watch the hand-tied fly just flit and quiver
Above the surface of the fishing hole–

Some days we’d leave before the crack of dawn
And row across a glassy mountain lake;
For hours, we would sit there in the sun
And wait in patience for the pole to shake–

But as I sat amid the river rock
Or in the rowboat baiting up a hook,
I wished that I was biking ’round the block
Or lying in the shade reading a book–

I realize now, after years of wishing,
It never really was about the fishing!

To an Adopted Son

I was not there to see your birth
The day you came to live on earth,
      I did not hold the little one–
      That would become my son.

I did not teach you how to talk
Nor was I there for your first walk;
      I wasn’t there to see you run–
      And yet, you are my son.

I wasn’t there to wipe the tear
And chase away some childhood fear,
      These recollections, I have none–
      And still, you are my son.

It matters not from whence you came
It matters not who chose your name,
      So many things that I’ve not done–
      But joy, you are my son!

Today I help you with your math
And guide you down the learning path,
      I watch the games you should have won–
      Because you are my son!

And when the day is tough on you
And everything has gone askew,
      I try to cheer you when you’re sad–
      because you call me dad!

The Prayer at Valley Forge

Young Isaac Potts rode down one summer day
With Reverend Snowden on his dapple gray;
Near where the Revolution Army lay
During the winter of that dreadful war.
And said to him,

“Now let me, I implore,
Explain to you with simple southern lore
How I came to understand at Valley Forge
The character of that great general, George
Washington. I, a Quaker and a Tory,
Felt that war against Great Britain’s glory–
Whose fleets and armies covered land and sea–
Could only end in abject misery.

“I supervised the grinding of the grain
At this most stressful time of the campaign;
The soldiers, cold and hungry, ill equipped,
Were all but ready to give up the ship!
And yet this one good man who at the helm,
Knew freedom from the king’s oppressive realm
Was the one and only way to guarantee
The rights of man, the cause of liberty!

“There, in those woods I heard a plaintive sound,
As of a man in prayer–’twas quite profound;–
So to a sapling here I tied my horse
And went in quietude to find the source.

I made my way between the leafless trees
And found the great commander on his knees;
His fine cocked hat and sword were laid aside
As with the God above he did confide–

“Surrounded here with woods of oak and beech,
With piety, the general did beseech
The God of all herein to interpose
For cause of country against the stronger foes.
He pled the cause of all humanity,
The cause of freedom only God could see;
He laid ‘ye Crisis’ firmly at His feet
And vowed to fight on, never to retreat.

“Now such a prayer I’d never heard before;
Such hope, such faith did from him freely pour–
I left him as I found him, knelt in prayer,
And knew I’d witnessed something truly rare!
For it always seemed impossible to me
That a soldier and a Christian one could be,
But here beneath those dismal winter skies
I saw it with my own two youthful eyes.

I rode on home along that well-worn trail
A convert to a fledgling cause so frail;
But this I knew–America would prevail!”

A Distant Bugler

In peace sons bury their fathers;
but in war, fathers bury their sons.” – Croesus

Here in this quiet stretch of hallowed ground,
The welcome sunrise warms me as I step
Past granite markers. I kneel down around
The fresh-cut stone of one who’s newly slept.

The dates decree a promised life cut short;
A moment past, a casualty of war.
A valiant man who never again would court
His wife, or with his daughter go explore

The mountainside. He’d never teach his son
The joy of casting from the rocky shore;
Nor would he watch him hit his first home run
Or wrestle with him on the kitchen floor.

      A distant bugler pays respect. Stand tall,
      My boy, stand tall–you consecrated all!

Tears (Triolet)

The sun comes up and healing starts
     When sorrows give way to cleansing tears–
Despite unending, painful darts;
The sun comes up and healing starts.
This life will try our fragile hearts,
     And often days will seem like years.
But the sun comes up! –And healing starts
     When sorrows give way to cleansing tears!

A Father’s Plea

Here midst the towering pines and plush green grass
Small granite pillows mark the infant’s bed
To signify a life too briefly led
Here on this fragile earth. I sigh. Alas,
Great tears well in my eyes. A father weeps;
Then calmly kneeling clears away debris.
He dreams of days that never were to be,
And yearns to hold the one that gently sleeps
To rise some future day.
                                                  Yea, though his cheeks
Are bathed in flowing tears while they’re apart;
The Spirit gives him peace, love fills his heart
And soon he finds the comfort that he seeks.

“The day will come when we shall reunite!
Until then, Father, hold him through the night.”

Memorial Day

At dawn, an aging couple walks beneath
The towering pines; for decades they have come
To clean the stone and hang a simple wreath.
A fitting tribute to their first-born son!

A recent widow kneels with tender care
To fill a Mason jar with stalks of iris
Picked from her back yard. She says a prayer,
Then waters them with tears of loneliness.

A veteran of the ‘War to end all Wars’
Bends down to pierce a flag into the ground;
He stands erect and ponders distant shores–
A bugler fills the air with somber sound.

One precious day each year we dying give
To honor those who now forever live.

What More Could Heaven Hold!

That death must come and part us for a season
Will make this life more difficult to bear.
To spend one day alone defies all reason;
But this I know: you’ll not be unaware.

If there be ivories, play a song for me
To fill the void of each new sleepless night;
And should you raise your voice in song, feel free
To fill my days with serenades of light–

Each lonely day adrift on stormy seas
Will bring a longing for your velvet touch;
And each dark night will yearn with silent pleas
To ease the constant, gnawing grief I’ll clutch.

I’ll gaze t’ward heaven, ’tis your face I’ll see;
What more could any heaven hold for me?

Crossing the River

While blossoms swathe the pear and apple tree,
While thorns and ripening berries fill the briar;
Our springtime’s but a distant memory.

While Larkspur, Mountain Groundsel both conspire
With Columbine and Bluebells on the meadow;
You’re still the only flower I desire.

While fluffy clouds move gently, casting shadow
Across the valley–should flash floods descend
And leave you staring vacant out the window;

Remember! (Let this thought your life transcend) —
“Together we have loved, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried
And you have been my one true, loyal friend.

With your first step to ford that river wide,
I will be wading from the other side.”