What Shores Us Up

What shores us up isn’t always pretty
Like the mass of broken and jagged concrete,
the rusted orange and brown iron reinforcing rods,
and the bunches of faded red paving bricks
that struggle daily to keep the lake at bay
Securing the land on which we live

We need infrastructure in life to stay strong:
retaining walls, friends, values, kitchen sinks,
police departments, militaries, yoga studios,
meditation cushions, and roads and highways
Yes, even sewers to carry away the waste in our lives–
the parts of us we shed to stay alive

Without these things, we’d surely fall apart
and wash away like the yellow and brown leaves
the creek dumps into the lake on this November day
Like a mother’s love that helps us trust
Even a father’s presence that gives us courage
So we may someday shore up our friends

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No Reasons

Some people say there is a reason for everything in life
God’s will, cause-effect relationships, higher purpose, their will
I’ve said the same thing on many occasions
But at this moment, as I gaze out over the city and lake
I don’t believe there is a reason for anything
No Divine purpose or plan we’re a part of
No higher good to be served by suffering
No reason to deny our joy

As I gaze out over the city and lake
I marvel at life’s beauty, its splendor
But I see no higher purpose to be served
by Cleveland, Lake Erie, not even my gazing

I see no reason for any footnotes, endnotes,
or cited references of any sort
for what moves in and out of my field of vision
My forever limited view of the world

Some people say there is a reason for everything in life
As I gaze out over the city and lake
without purpose or expectation
I see no reason for anything in the world
except my own hopeless clinging to life
through all my useless reasons, causal explanations
And most all, my wanting for there to be more than there is

The Small Dark Cabin in the Woods

The small dark cabin in the woods is lost
in the daylight hours
when the sun tangos with orange marmalade leaves
barely hanging on, and soon
to be violently swept away
by the biting November winds
begging them to dance the final dance

Just past six pm
as the sky moves from gray to black
uneven puffs of sooty black smoke drift, then bellow
from the faded red brick chimney
that will soon disappear into the night
Well before the barn owl calls out, and
not long before the waxing crescent moon
casts faint shadows on the front steps
of the small dark cabin
where the white-bearded old man counts his days
hoping he will outlive the November winds, and
see again the soft morning light

To Mary on the First Day of the Rest of Her Life

Some days seem dark and bleak
Words of hope hard to speak
It feels like no one cares or knows
Appreciation lost, never shows

At these times, we oft forget
Hope’s not lost, no not yet
Good times, bad times, parts of life
Live in love, not in strife

We have but so many years
Live them well, both tears and cheers
All just lines in dusty history books
Babbling sounds, far off brooks

Stay in the flow, easy come, easy go
Put up your sail, winds of change blow
Some place new calls your heart
There you’ll find your life restart

First Take on Bratenahl

A cloistered place by the lake
Where old things still predominant
Surprisingly over new things
Yet new life abounds
Both imagined and real

A museum of sorts
Where old names reign higher than new names
Where quiet faces stand longer
In the mirror of time
Reflecting a familiar playful benevolence

A place where ultimately
The water washes away everything
Including the deepest things harbored inside us
Even our conditioned moorings
Holding onto us, as we hold onto them

Bratenahl, its own place
Yet a part of something larger
Something deeper
Something indelibly Cleveland
Yet one step removed

People in the World

Have you noticed
there are some people
who invariably live
to steal your joy?

How they siphon off your freedom
Your innate endowments
Those things defining who you are
and nobody else could possibly be

Have you noticed
there are some people
who believe their life
is infinitely more important than yours?

I’ve noticed there are
two types of people in the world:
Those living to serve something higher, and
those living at others’ expense