Erie Street Cemetery

Erie Street Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio
Note: Click picture to enlarge it.

Old, faded, worn
In so many ways, forgotten
But so alive with spring
A reminder, life after death

One of Cleveland’s first real cemeteries
For so long
overtaken by the growing city
Now engulfed by the dying city

One hundred and fifty years ago
green fields, wildflowers all about
Now boarded up buildings
and pot-holed streets on its perimeter

Pink magnolias, flowering white dogwoods in full bloom
Even the dead weep at their sight
The elms, nearly gone, but stately oaks and sycamores stand tall
in the sweet mid-afternoon breeze

Death seems so temporary on such a spring day
Like the thin disappearing clouds
streaming across the bright blue sky
Like the faded names on the grave stones

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Climbing the Chagrin River by Mary Oliver

We enter
the green river,
heron harbor,
mud-basin lined
with snagheaps, where turtles
sun themselves–we push
through the falling
silky weight
striped warm and cold
bounding down
through the black flanks
of wet rocks–we wade
under hemlock
and white pine–climb
stone steps into
the timeless castles
of emerald eddies,
swirls, channels
cold as ice tumbling
out of a white flow–
sheer sheets
flying off rocks,
frivolous and lustrous,
skirting the secret pools–
cradles
full of the yellow hair
of last year’s leaves
where grizzled fish
hang halfway down,
like tarnished swords,
while around them
fingerlings sparkle
and descend,
nails of light
in the loose
racing waters.

Note: This poem is about the Chagrin River,
a wild and scenic river in the Cleveland area.
A beautiful river, a beautiful poem.

Cleveland’s Parade of Color

Sun-drenched crowd.
50,000 plus.
Lining the Circle
Eye-popping vibrant color.
Jubilant music ignites dance.
Echous oohs and ahs erupt, watching
bright costumes, giant puppets,
stilt-dancers, strings of iridescent balloons,
painted masks and colorful floats
streaming past us.

Cleveland’s University Circle…
overflowing breathtaking color:
rosso, viola, blu, verde, lilla, and more,
All parade the Circle.
Clevelanders showing their true colors, against
the backdrop of the city’s stunning
art and natural history museums and orchestra hall.

Not a more perfect day possible—
here or anywhere.
Once again,
why focus so much
on what’s wrong with our city,
when so much more is right.

Click here to hear me read this poem.

And a few pictures to tell the story our eyes saw…

Lost in the Moment on Erie’s Shore

Like a thirsty dog,
the lake lapped the shore,
leaving driftwood and other minute possessions
for treasure hunters, young and old,
in search of clues,
shedding light on the miracle
we call life.

Sun fell through outstretched trees,
lining Erie’s coast,
adding to the mystique,
luring us to the magical water’s edge.

Just beyond the worn stone breakwall,
silver-white lake gulls bobbed the waves,
occasionally swishing their longish bills
in the steel-gray water.

A pious-looking fisherman,
with a scruffy graying red beard
and large rough hands,
dumped his leftover minnows in the water,
creating a commotion among the gulls,
who quickly traded their peace for a savory meal.

As we rounded the top of the last hill,
looking out over the sparkling lake waters,
we eyed a large freighter in the distance
and heard its bellowous horn.
Only then did we realize,
we had been helplessly lost in the moment
on Erie’s beautiful shore.

Click here to hear me read this poem.