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FRONT PORCH: EMPTY NEST

The winds have calmed.
The rains have ceased
and now there’s peace.
Two vacant chairs reside
and inside the rooms seem vacuous.

You’ve done your very best
to build this cozy nest and now,
you have earned a needed rest
to reap the fruits of loves labors.

Just you and mother hen,
and a chick who will return
now and again. The walls that bind
confine in the vibrant hues

you choose. Peaches and cream,
lemon yellow and mellow shades
of beige and blue. When through,
there will be little left to do.

The street is rambunctious
with silence. Across the way
the creatures in the field play
and skitter; quite lively critters.

And the birds clutching their branch
sing a sweet sparrow sonata.
Just two facing the world.
They’ve surrendered their nest,
the best is yet to come.

(C) Walter J. Wojtanik, 2015

HOME AGAIN

Belmont Avenue

26 Belmont

“May I help you?”
I don’t recognize the stranger addressing me
From the porch
Where I used to color with my cousins
Swing in my pajamas
Play with paper dolls.

I respond with an apology
For walking into the backyard
Where I used to play tag with my cousins
Catch summernight fireflies
Lay in the grass, spotting castles
In the clouds.

I tell her this is my
Used to be
My home.

“Would you like to come in?”
My heart pounds.  I decline,
Then quickly change my mind.
Yes.  Yes, please.

As I walk in, I’m overcome with emotion.
Much is the same.
Some is different.
Everything seems smaller –
Everything but the love.
The love looms large,
Reaching through the decades
To embrace,
Remind,
Confirm.

© copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

SHIFTING SANDS

Little one, your journey
has taken a turn and you
yearn for your course to
remain unchanged. But
by some deranged act of nature,
your stature has been diminished.
You’re finished with holding on
and your tragic song is a cry.
You’re losing your grip and any
slip of the tongue sends you
reeling and feeling less than
zero. And it appears I am no
longer your hero. I have few
answers that make sense to you.
Your sink hole is drawing you down
in a profound shift in your footing.
Usually the hard and strong one,
you’ve done little to show your flair.
You sit and stare blankly; angry
at your world and your mother and me.
All you see is a destructive path,
a road less traveled well. Tell me
what you need! Mr. Fix-it can’t
do his job if you don’t tell me
where it hurts. Stop your brashness
and please don’t trash the life you love.
Don’t panic and flail in the shifting sand.

Walt

LAUGHING GERTY

Gerty

You were so damn obnoxious,
in your cage and uproarious.
You in your glorious, hideous
dress and babushka tied tightly,
you were rightly annoying.
I never knew what was so darn funny!
“Laff In The Dark” was your home,
and someone thought it would be
downright hilarious to plant you
near the entrance. You scared
the hell out of me. The parents
would drag us past the “Magic Carpet”
and games of chance just to glance
at your lacquered face, a trace of malice,
you were no Alice in Wonderland.
But, I would stand at a distance
and curse you. And that purse you held
never even matched your shoes!
Still, all these years later I have the blues.
My Crystal Beach is gone and it hasn’t
been funny for years. It brings me close to tears.
And forgive this confessional gaffe: I miss your “Laff”.

Walt

 

NOTE: The babushka was replaced by the hat, but she remains ingrained in memory!

Them Hills, They Are A’Changin’ (Limerick)

This is how it looked our entire stay!

On our front porch – one of my favorite spots.

 

There once was a couple named “Good,”

Who hiked every cliff, ‘cause they could.

But now their bones creek

And their muscles are weak

So they’re just hangin’ out in the ‘hood.

 

Marie Elena (with last line from hubby Keith 🙂 )

 

Photos by Keith R. Good

BE: WALTER LIVINGSTON SEAGULL – An Epiphany

The lesson becomes this. You learn by living. And you hope you’re allowed to apply all of these lessons before your living ends.

The nest is vacated as of late, not quite empty but that’s just semantics. The girls have ostensibly evacuated, leaving Janice (my wife) and me to “fend for ourselves”. We do OK. I cook. She cleans. I repair and remodel. She washes and gardens. I nocturnally smash my head into furniture; she resumes a battle against her dreadful afflictions. But, we do OK.

The battles used to be shared. We were mutual combatants in a strained union, dancing precariously on the precipice of a bottomless free-fall. Somehow, the feet always seemed to avoid that finality. You come to be a student of your own mistakes, taking what you can salvage and leaving the unnecessary flotsam for the plankton. The fates have been tickled and in the thick of it, remains our sanity. So we chose to dance; to cling to a life for the prescribed better or worse and try to nurse this wounded beast back to health (or some semblance thereof!)

We had gotten into the habit of letting life slip by. But, our new discoveries dictate that if you do that long enough, you died without living (learning the lessons). That needed to be remedied. After all, I repair and remodel, so fixing covers it.

“Let’s take a drive” I suggested, not expecting the response I received.

“You know, I’d like that.” She said with as much joy as I’ve heard from Janice in a long while.

So, I packed a picnic basket and took the long drive along the Lake Erie shore. We shared a place, a beach from our respective youths that was as far removed in years as the difference in our ages. Not an outrageous endeavor by any means, but something we just didn’t do anymore since the girls were younger. I believe I needed this as much as she did. Janice had earned this, as she did every prize her heart held dear. It was something I had owed to her that in some small way covered an installment of an overdue bill.

Late afternoon when we arrived, finding an open area with tables and a grill, and an unimpeded view of the slightly choppy surf. She settled into her lawn chair and I performed my function as the hunter/gatherer/fire starter. My wife and I dined, amidst a warm lake breeze, 60’s classic rock on the iPod and a conversation that was twenty-seven years in development. We cleared the table  and headed for the sand.

Down the pathway it became apparent that the guards were no longer on duty for not many people remained on the beach. Also rather obvious was the multitude of seagulls that carpeted the shoreline. It was their meeting place; a sanctuary. We set off to the clearing and left the birds to their Sunday service. Janice spread the blanket; she and I settled onto the sand and watched the waves.

Did you ever listen to the crash of waves? I don’t mean have you ever heard the sound of waves. Did you ever LISTEN? The sound is very different that the perpetual crash against the battered shore. The hiss fades in and out, and at its peak, it is a raucous roar. It is as if the roll of wave feels uncomfortable to insinuate itself on the placidity of a sun-drenched day, but in its own exuberance, it explodes to share its joy.

The sun continues a retreat toward the horizon and the color of the clouds is of a spectrum of new and vibrant hues. I choose to wander with my camera (promising not to shoot photos of my wife in her state). I focused on the gulls and walked a line directly through their assembly. The din was voluminous, and the every which way scattering of birds filled multiple frames. And I caught a solitary bird in flight with the settling sun as its backdrop.

“Nice shot, Jonathan!” I said inwardly suddenly thinking of Jonathan Livingston Seagull from Richard Bach’s novella of the same name.

At this moment life made sense to me. This moment made sense to me.

~*~

If you do not remember or have not heard of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, here is a brief synopsis:

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a seagull learning about life and flight, and self-perfection.

Young Jonathan Livingston is frustrated with the meaningless materialism and conformity as well as the limitations of the seagull life. He is seized with a passion for flight of all kinds, and his soul soars. Eventually, his lack of conformity to the limited seagull life leads him into conflict with his flock, and they turn their backs on him, casting him out of their society and exiling him. Jonathan is not swayed and continues his efforts to reach higher and higher flight goals, finding he is often successful but eventually can not fly any higher.

Jonathan transcends into a new society where all the gulls enjoy flying. He is only capable of this after practicing hard alone for a long while. In this other society, real respect emerges as a contrast of the coercive force that was keeping his former flock together. The learning process takes on almost sacred levels, suggesting that this may be the true relation between humans and God with each believing that humans and God, regardless of the all immense difference, are sharing something of great importance that can bind them together. Jonathan understands that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull.” He realizes he has the freedom to be himself, his true self, here and now and nothing can stand in his way.

The last words of Jonathan’s teacher resonates with him. “Keep working on love.” Jonathan understands that the spirit is earth-bound without the ability to forgive. Jonathan returns to his former flock to share his newly discovered ideals and the recent tremendous experiences. The ability to forgive seems to be a prerequisite to the “passing condition.” The truth lies in this lesson: love, deserved respect, and forgiveness all seem to be equally important to the freedom from the conformity of the rules just because they are commonly accepted.

~*~

Love. Deserved respect. Forgiveness. These make a life well lived. I had lost sight of the importance of the life I had been given. I tried to strive for “poetic perfection”, bucking the system; thinking myself above the “flock”. I went on this journey to find a “higher plane”, without realizing “I had already arrived”. The time wasted trying to honor and glorify my abilities, skewed my sense of priority; it almost destroyed me.

I became what I am, a small grain of sand on a vast lake shore; a speck in the early evening sky. And a song from the soundtrack of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Neil Diamond played in my head. On a search for forgotten lyrics, I was humbled and caught by surprise:

BE

Written by: Neil Diamond

Lost
On a painted sky
Where the clouds are hung
For the poet’s eye
You may find him
If you may find him

There
On a distant shore
By the wings of dreams
Through an open door
You may know him
If you may

Be
As a page that aches for words
Which speak on a theme that’s timeless
And the one God will make for your day
Sing
As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your day

And we dance
To a whispered voice
Overheard by the soul
Undertook by the heart
And you may know it
If you may know it

While the sand
Would become the stone
Which begat the spark
Turned to living bone
Holy, Holy
Sanctus, sanctus

Be
As a page that aches for words
Which speak on a theme that is timeless
And the one God will make for your day
Sing
As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your day

We had a perfect day that God had made for us, my wife and I. We found something we had lost or forgotten a while back: love, respect and forgiveness. And in the tenderness of a mid-summer’s sunset, we made love in a sense – fully clothed, watching the sky transition into new beauty, but totally in the embrace of this moment. The moment I fell in love with my wife all over again!

And the lesson becomes this. You learn by living. And you hope you’re allowed to apply all of these lessons before your living ends. Whatever happens in this life, this moment belongs to us.

© All photographs by Walter J. Wojtanik

RUNNING AWAY

“have a little faith” by Mitch Albom

Adam hid in the Garden of Eden.
Jonah jumped a boat and was swallowed
by a whale. Man likes to run
from God. As soon as I could walk,
I started running. The Big Boss;
the Head Rabbi – if I saw Him coming
down the hallway, I ducked down
a corridor. He was tall and I felt tiny
in His presence. I ran until He couldn’t
see me anymore. We had once been closer,
but I hadn’t really been around Him
in twenty-five years. Man likes to run from God.
But I was headed in the other direction.

Not a cento poem poem culled from Mitch Albom’s “have a little faith”.

Written for WE WRITE POEMS Prompt #109 – Finding Pearls

 

Walt