The Fisherman’s Ball

By the wharf in the evening, a clutter of cats
is attentively focused (without any spats)
on the incoming fishermen bringing their catch.

And for all of those felines who patiently wait
there are generous portions. Who’s first at the gate
is the one who acquires the best of the bait.

Not a one will go hungry, there’s plenty for all
so no fussing or fighting or caterwaul call
will be heard on this night of the fishermen’s ball.

And on many an evening this clutter of cats
will be happily hunting a rabble of rats.

The Cocktail Party

The sunset accents marble columns
on the portico of an opulent mansion.
In black tie and tails, William, cornered
by a fellow investor, half listens as his eyes scan
the elegant new auto, apparently abandoned
by its driver who sped to a stop an hour ago,
raced into the house and still has not returned.

Business is such a dreadful bore these days
and is hardly the topic of conversation
he cares to pursue at the moment,
Especially with Niles who could bore a bore.

The sun’s rays up-light wispy clouds
and cast a warm amber glow
to that in-between time just after dusk.
In the fading light, the auto shines a rich blue-black
and the sound of the idling motor is
like the soft purr of a panther
or Sara when she’s ready.

He excuses himself and hurries into the house.
Niles follows  behind him, like a damn puppy.
Sara is making her usual entrance,
down the grand but somewhat pretentious staircase
that she insisted upon ‘saving’ when they had the house renovated,
even though they rarely use it since the lift was installed.

Her black silk dress, covered in beaded fringe,
is the perfect foil for her stylishly boyish figure.
Her short black bob partially obscures one lushly lashed doe eye,
exaggerating her perpetually flirtatious countenance.

She  seems to float past him without so much as a nod;
takes the hand of a tall stranger who pauses
to help with her wrap, then whisks her out the door
to drive away in the mystery car.

Wishing You

I listened for your footsteps in the quiet
darkness. When the clock struck twelve, your kiss
had caught me unawares. It was a riot
spinning with you into that abyss
of fragrances from blossom-laden trees
in bloom before their time. A frosty moon
beguiled us as we snuggled, warm, at ease,
beside the fire. You strummed a haunting tune.I blinked and in that instant you were gone
like smoke that coils into the winter sky
and lingers, til the amber light of dawn
reveals the truth, adrift upon a lie–
that wishing you alive in dreams would bring
you back to kiss my lips and welcome Spring.

 

Susan Eckenrode

Maggie’s Magic

Every day in the summer season she would come
to her special spot at twilight
and lean across the vine covered rail
of the old stone bridge to wait.

It was a magic time she said
and if you wanted to see them
you must be patient and persistent.

When the sun’s light is the right shade of gold,
its rays peek through the moss draperies
of the tall live oaks.
Like spotlights they pinpoint the lily pad paths
meandering across dark mauve mirrors
that reflect lush verdure and aubergine sky.

She would wait there, wide-eyed and certain
and they’d appear as if for her alone.
Dressed in cloud-white petal tutus scores of flower fairies,
each on her own lily pad stage,
each perfuming the humid air
with a soft sweet scent, danced into the dark.

She doesn’t come here anymore,
not since she married and moved far away.
But sometimes, when the light is right
I see the faint outline of a little girl
leaning over the railing and gazing
at the lily pads in bloom, waiting for the ballet to begin.

Waiting for the 472

Every evening, same time, same place, ole Jake sits—
hands thrust deep into tattered pockets,
chair tilted back against the station wall,
feet in worn-out boots,
pushing on the porch posts for balance.

“I reckon he’s a fixin’ to wind up on his tukus”
Zeke sputters mid-spit.

“Uh yup” says Jeb “or dead from a dadgum broke neck.”

“Oh mind yer bees-wax, y’ole coots.” quips Jake.

Every day, same time, same place these same three await
patiently (more or less) the arrival of the 472,
which is always on time (give or take an hour or so)
Either side of it— they’re there.

As the aging engine squawks and squeals
up to the station platform,
the three stand and stare,
a look of child-like expectation spans three gnarly faces–
squinting into the sun with twisted toothless grins.

The passengers disembark and after cheery greetings
and much milling about amongst the travelers,
their friends and kin, the platform is emptied.

The silence is so lonely then.

They shake their heads and try to hide
their utter disappointment– one more time.

Someday she will come;
someday they will be the lucky ones,
lavished with warm hugs
and smiles and kisses.

Someday when the 472 pulls up to the station,
they’ll have a turn– at last.

Kaleidoscopes (acrostic)

Kaleidoscopic colors greet the dawn
Above the dark horizon’s somber glow.
Lavender and roses splay the sky,
Enticing me from bed to see their show.
I watch the rising sun send golden rays
Dancing on the dew across the lawn.
Orange swirls and scarlet ribbons vie,
Stretching for attention with displays
Cascading like a fountain to the ground.
Opalescent fingers spread and spray
Purple lit with amber all around.
Enveloped by this color wheel, I stay
Surrendered till its brilliance slips away.

Spring’s Stage

She flirts, embracing eager cherry trees,
and prompts the peak of blossom laden boughs
to form their fluffy, fragrant canopies,
erasing scowls from winter-weary brows.
Invigorating breezes whistle tunes
that send pink petals dancing through the air
to drift afloat like bits of burst balloons
that fall and leave their fragments everywhere.
Among the bright, new green of grassy blades,
their fleeting beauty browns upon her stage.
Those splendid moments fly; each petal fades.
While leafy branches bob, she turns the page.

She worked behind the scenes ’til frost was gone
and April graced her stage with budding song.

For the Love of Spring

The grass is growing greener as I speak
and twisted gray-green twigs explode in bursts
of saffron colored flowers that compete
with each anticipated round of firsts.

Life-giving light stays longer everyday
as fragrant apple-blossom scented air
comes waltzing into rooms as if to say
that Spring is spreading flowers everywhere.

The robins re-appear to fashion nests;
rich soil, now moist and warm, awaits the plow.
As baby rabbits peek from mother’s breast,
soft southern breezes smooth my furrowed brow.

With frigid fits of wintry weather gone,
the stage is set for Spring, so bring it on.

Twilight on the Mountain

With sundown’s dying embers, scarlet skies
ignite while silver moonbeams peek through clouds
to brush Grandfather Mountain’s furrowed brow.
Enthralled by wonders changed before my eyes,
I marvel as a creeping fog enshrouds
the view beyond the condo decking’s bow.

A billion years of days and nights, the rays
from sun and moon illuminate the stone
that rests a mile above an ancient sea.
Beyond all reckoned time, Grandfather’s gaze
looks skyward from a mighty mountain throne
as, blushed by twilight’s glow, he beckons me.

Today, while distant clouds release their rain,
I climb to greet him face to face again.

In My Garden

In my garden every spring,
tucked between two weeping willows,
waits a comfy hammock swing.
There, with poetry and pillows
(and my muse if she’s inclined),
taking leave, I beg your pardon,
while I peacefully unwind
in my garden.

Manic Musings

Twirling thoughts that won’t be caught
whirl and dance inside my brain.
Swirling verses never wrought
curl into a strange refrain.

Seams I’ve ripped and then resewn,
schemes of things I’ve yet to do,
dreams of all the loves I’ve known
stream their rhymes the whole night through.

A Little Kindness

“Take a little kindness, pass it on.”
she smiled and paid my ticket. My surprise
was evident. I nodded; she was gone.
I’d been a cynic for so long my eyes
were always on the lookout for the hook
or sucker punch. Too often, I’d been tricked
with cunning lies behind a kindly look.

From nowhere then, a lightbulb moment clicked.

How wonderful if everyone we met
sincerely shared such kindness from the heart
and we, in turn, would do the same, I bet
the spreading joy that all of us impart
would change the Karmic flow through all of space.
and maybe even save the human race.

Snow Shooing

In winter when the trees stand stark and bare,
the view behind our house goes on for miles.
I breathe the icy cold that grips the air
and struggle through the snow that drifts in piles
across the road, the walk and up each stair.
We watch it fall and can’t contain our smiles
until we have to shovel it somewhere.
“Let’s go!” we simultaneously declare.

The moment that we leave it all behind,
a rolling snow-filled valley fills my mind.
I’ll hold it in my stores of memories
while basking in a sweet, warm Southern breeze.

Sparkles

You see reflective light on rippling waters;
for me, it’s fairies trailing silver dust
across the topaz bay. These eager daughters
maintain traditions mother sprites entrust.
Each afternoon they leave their forest glen
and play on golden shores awash in light
that warms their sun-kissed cheeks. Two fishermen
admit they’ve seen these pixies flit in fright
whenever any mortal ventures near
the secret stash, where fairy dust is kept
in vials of sun-dried droplets of each tear
collected every time an angel wept.
But who believes what fishermen might say
about those sparkles sprinkled on the bay.

Assimilation

Take the baby from her mother,
take her sister and her brother;
give them homes that you deem better,
she’s a heathen, you can’t let her

raise her children in conditions
you deplore. Erase traditions,
change their names and style of dressing,
making sure they feel each blessing

of the “Truth” your culture teaches,
though your arrogance impeaches
every segment of their history,
keeping ancestry a mystery.

Take the babies from their mothers
take their sisters and their brothers
Raise them well to suit your vision
and fulfill your righteous mission.

Gentle Spirit

You hop onto my window sill each night
and even let me hold you in my hands,
as if your very essence understands
I’ll keep you warm and safe til morning’s light
comes peeking through the curtains. What a sight
to see you peck your elegant commands
for breakfast; I’m prepared for such demands.
Your cheerful chirps say everything’s all right.

This morning as I watch you fly away,
a feeling stirs within me and I know
you won’t be coming back this way again.
I’m grateful for the time you chose to stay
to ease my dying. Everywhere you go
you’ll help another life release its pain.

From Now Until Then

You kiss her silky crown and gaze in awe
at tiny fingers curled around your thumb,
then wrap her in a soft angora shawl
and soothe her with the lullaby you hum.
Now, fresh and fully fed, she falls asleep
where, snuggled in your arms against your breast,
a semblance of a smile begins to creep
across those lips that angels must have blessed.

What mystery makes that newborn baby smell
connect– an unseen cord? There is no way
to sever it or break its lifelong spell.
It lingers through the years until a day
when, savoring the scent, you rock awhile
and see your baby’s baby smile that smile.

Grandma’s Ring

I’ve kept her garden just the way she wanted
and every day I find her in her chair
retracing winding paths, her tired eyes haunted
by grief and memories. I see her glare
and wince at rheumatoid arthritic hands
as, musingly, she twists her wedding ring;
then smiles as diamonds, sparkling from the band,
reflect the dying light… “This coming spring,
it’s sixty years since Joe and I were wed.
My skin was petal soft and white back when
he placed this on my finger; now he’s dead
and love will never hold these hands again.

While diamonds, like our love, will always shine,
my hands grow gnarled holding hands with time.”

Now

Now, while I can still remember
us, our home and how we were,
how we met and loved together
fifty years; how yet you stir
waves of passion any youngster
half our age would envy. Now,
while you’re lying close beside me
reminiscing, this I vow:

As dementia washes over
memories and leaves me caught
in its long relentless battle
for one thread of conscious thought,
know my beating heart remembers
everything my mind forgot.

Love Endures

The saddest part is feeling left behind
to face the lonely years when loved ones leave
this life to journey on while you must grieve.
Yet, love endures when souls are intertwined.
With hopeful heart be open to the call
of memories tucked inside an empty space
until you are together in that place
the other side of this side of it all.

Alone? I don’t believe you’ll ever be,
for those you love become a part of you
and you of them. I’m sure this much is true–
that here is not the end; just wait and see
where those who love will gather and delight
in knowing death is not an endless night.