Early Morning

I awake, as I usually do at the nagging of my bladder, at around four in the morning. Only this time, the harsh cutting stench of skunk fills the air. For a moment, in my cloudy confusion, I wonder if the creature had broken into the house. Shaking off that nonsense, I just groan inside. I do my usual windmill move to throw myself from my back to one foot landing on the floor next to my side of the bed. Landing successfully, I stagger out of the room and down the hallway, left hand feeling the wall along the way so as not to slam into a door jamb or worse, hurl down the stairway opening that gaped ahead on my left. The smell in the hallway is a little less intense as my brain quickly computes that the rodent's vile emission must have occurred a little while ago. Into the dark bathroom, I take care of the real reason for my nocturnal journey, trying my best not to let my brain start processing a million thoughts and sequences. I desperately hope for another two hours' sleep. I stagger back down the dark hall, find my side of the bed, and gently ease in to avoid disturbing my sleeping bride of three decades.


Before a Trip to the Gardens

It's a grey December, mildly cold morning.

Not carrying its weight for cold or snow,

just dragging us down with colorless drab.

Jesus said he'd rather hot or cold, but would spew out lukewarm.

I, too, would rather one or the other.

But this is only weather, not spiritual health,

and so we'll carry on with our plans

to visit a long ago man-made paradise

that bursts this time of year with electric lights

that somehow adorn the trees more so than they adorn themselves in Spring.

I can only imagine what the bath of colors--sprayed over every tree in the vast

acreage of this estate--will look like later this afternoon

as the gray sky turns away from the sun

and gives way to white darkness

and the paradise with electric bags of dye

drip over everything with glowing color.


Over the Midwest

The jet soars silently
In the droning sheen of white  noise.
Looking down, I wonder why I'm so at ease
With nothing but aluminum sheets holding me in the air at thirty thousand feet.
I see the checkerboard fields below,
Roads slicing through.
And I wonder what life could possibly be like in such maddening solitude.
My urban pulse demands contact with people just to move me on in a day
And I think it's probably a crutch to hide my need for purpose.
Off to the starboard, I see a town slide by.
More streets, houses and buildings pierce the flatness of the plains.
I wonder who goes there, and when, and why.
Looking out across the blue horizon, sky stretches less far than I can see.
Because I see beyond it, to the fading of the surface into white.
Snapping me out of the reverie, the cart comes bumping down the aisle.
And soon an attendant will put on politeness for my drink of tea
As I try to return to my wondering of infinity.


The Day Before The Day Before

We're in a holding pattern as the arc of the

grandest of holidays reaches towards the pinnacle of Christmas morning.

Today is not the exciting Eve.

It's the day before the day before.

Like the squawk of a guitar on stage before the show begins

The crowd stirs with anticipation.

But not yet. The lights have not dimmed. The gray sky and brown landscape need this excitement.

The traffic buzzing by on the street more intense than usual.

The smell of yeast in the kitchen--for what? It's not tomorrow yet.

The warmth of this house, not my office building, here in the midst of the workweek,

work long forgotten and freeing our conversation to roam to any topic we want.

Touching my black robe after the normal workday should have begun.

Drinking an extra cup of black tea.

Feeling a little nervous about not working. But shifting into the holiday frame of mind.

The Day Before the Day Before.


Solitude Before Work

I sit here in my study

Gathering thoughts like blueberries on a field of bushes in July

I tell myself there are many there

But they don't volunteer for the picking.

I arouse myself from complacency like the sweaty, tired field laborer

who has to pick another pail full to meet a quota.

But once I start, it's not labor at all.

Even now, the resistance falls away and the berries fall into my hand freely.

And so I can recall the percussive clunk-clunk of those berries pinging into the empty tin pail

and the symphony of blueberry pail percussion across the field of content, quiet pickers

who have no quota, just the joy of harvest.

Their smooth, dull blue skin invites the bite.

For blueberry pies, and ice cream with berries, or whipped cream on top, or just plain nuggets of rich, blue, juicy morsels releasing their riches in your mouth.

The symphony is getting quieter. The pails are fuller and the berries don't ping.

Another cluster in my hand.

I think we're done. Let's catch the tractor cart back.