Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Turning in the fire,
My mind is a glowing iron

The world smells like new leather,
And it’s waiting for me to burn into it.

Copyright 2004 by Deborah Markham.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.
Deborah Markham is the founder, host & online moderator for GhentPoetryCafe


Monday, June 21, 2004

Pavarotti in China, 1987

Chinese children study excellence
And often the violin
Rather than disrespect.

The people's communities
Seem ones of constant and smiling endeavor,
As young and old swing by on bicycles
There is no Ford, Chevvy or Buick, and never a limousine.
We see the people flock, so many, to the Great Hall of the People
To hear Pavarotti
Bring his great love to China.

Rodolpho sings love and dolor to Mimi,
And Pagliacci weeps his rage,
The sound a great groundswell of power, of profundity and truth
That engulfs us and the place we are in,
Here where all things end, and then again begin,
So that we hope to find places large enough within ourselves
To store it, to keep so much beauty and joy alive
      For our own hard times later on, when we may need such love.

But for now, ten thousand Chinese faces rise
And break into joyful, reverberating grins,
         And as one they
Communicate their deafening love of beauty.

The fountains of Bernini
      Gush pure and robust and honest
         Today in the broad and busy streets of Beijing.
         Luciano Pavarotti sang here today.
         The people have heard him sing.

Copyright 2004 by Diana Strelow.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

To Gordon

What difference does it make how Gordon died
or who he was? It’s all the difference in
the world to me. I called him shipmate and
a friend. We were two aviators in
a class in Monterey. I’ve learned that Life
is not so cruel as those who once were friends.
My friend, how many times have you and I
conversed one-sided, drinking late into
the night? While one discoursed profound,
the other slept until the drink caught up
and turned the situation ‘round. How oft
did we replay this cycle through a night?
How many times would you prod me awake
in class and I’d blurt out, “I AM awake!”?
How many times did we work out our rage
and our frustration playing racketball
until our shirts our shorts our shoes were soaked
in sweat and neither one of us could breathe?

You played a trick that turned into a long
revolving joke. You’d planted in my bed
a bra I intercepted when a Wife
returned with me from Christmas break; I found
the bra before my bride had such a chance
to find this sign of infidelity.
We sneaked the bra into the glove box in
your Vette. You found it, nonetheless, before
a date one evening might discover this
suggestion of your aspirations, clear
revealed. So thus began the saga of
the wayward bra appearing at odd times
and places unpredictable for years.

My wife and I pulled off a stunt on you -
we sneaked a kitten in a basket once
into your car; and we got back a cat
when you got orders to the Philippines.

It hurt to watch your luster fade while you
worked there between the joy of flight and crush
of drudgery for seaweed eaters lost
in purgatories of their own washed up
careers. When you reluctantly let go
a life we both had loved in Naval Air,
I shared with you a sadness born of change.
One weekend out of San Diego I
dropped in on you, and we dined out ‘til late.
Next morning at the Club, while we drank beer
for breakfast, Alameda lost a jet
too heavy off the runway to sustain
sufficient lift and left a broken “Whale”
beneath salt water on the rocks in San
Francisco Bay. The A3D consumed
its crew and fiercely burned until it sank.
The plane confirmed the name the pilots all
had given: All 3 Dead because there were
no rocket seats, no way to bail out
but down – no exit at low altitude.
We heard the engines’ take-off roar, the thud -
more shudder felt than noise heard - the Crash
Crew sirens’ wail. I felt a sadness then,
the shadow of a prophesy that this
event portended. This black pall of smoke
that hovered over Alameda rode
me back to San Diego. Gordon, I
was unaware how like that hapless Whale
you were. Your wounded wings and fuselage
on rocks in water without depth enough
to swim back out to sea and yet too deep
to walk back to the shore, you drowned while I,
with all my Search and Rescue training, could
not save you. No one builds a helo that
can pluck a damaged soul from broken dreams.

The Navy done, you went abroad to fly
big jets for foreign airlines, hoping for
an opportunity to come back home
and fly domestic in the U.S.A.
As you pursued a new direction, I
continued mine; and we lost touch.
With no address, there were no letters, cards,
no news of new adventures, loneliness,
of triumphs or of failures or fears.
I hoped one day to recognize your voice,
“This is your Captain speaking, ...” overhead
my seat on board a flight somewhere, and we
would send a brown-bagged bra up to the front,
instruct the flight attendant, “Tell him
‘This token’s from a shipmate in his past.’ ”

Some ten years hence, again in Monterey,
I sought and found a link that might
connect us one more time. I called and spoke
to one who would protect and isolate
a fragile friend. We did, however, talk;
and you told me that you had ARC
and did not want your friends to know. I told
you then that it was more important
now than ever that we visit you.
I only knew we had to see you soon
before this illness dashed you on its rocks.
My family and I drove up to see
how you were getting on and let you know
we cared. We shared some memories and laughed;
and when we left, we hugged. You told me that
my children’s hugs turned you into a long
lost uncle reunited now, at peace.

That afternoon with you became for us
a highlight of that year in Monterey.

A few months afterwards, a letter I
had sent returned with sanguine hand-stamped cold
inscription “Addressee unknown”. I knew
your fight was done and told the envelope
that it was wrong - you simply did not live
there anymore – the tide had set you free.

Copyright 2004 by Pete Freas.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Accept Me As You Find Me

Accept me as you find me –
Do not try to make me over.
Don't try to create or destroy anything about me.
I have lived with me longer that I have with you.
I am satisfied with me.

I can change –
But it must be because I want to change.
I have no problem with me now,
And I have no problem with you maintaining
Yourself as you are.

You can create an awareness –
And, you can create an atmosphere
In which I may develop and become
Better able to meet your needs;
To be better able to understand my shortcomings,
And to better utilize gifts I may possess.

You cannot carry my load.
But, you can share your knowledge
And your understanding in areas where I might not be capable, in roles where I may not be so readily equipped;
And you can challenge me to go far beyond my means.

It is important that you not try
To make me anything but what I am,
What I want to be, or what I am capable of becoming.
Before you, I was me.
Please let me stay, as I want to be.

Copyright 1980-2003 by Charles B. Whitehurst, Sr..
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.