Top of Piedmont: To Watch, Listen and Ponder — Then Write!

May 2013Monthly Archives


My companion in the room reads books

and watches soap operas.

Surrounded by his cheap novels,

he glances at me over his Walgreen’s reading glasses.

He has no need of biography.


I find the “cheaters” here and there,

in the shop, next to the band saw —

on top of the convertible’s air cleaner

or down by the boat lift.


He rarely speaks, coughs once in awhile,

like the man at the front desk of a motel who wants service.


He was standing by the curb as we rode away in the black limo to the cemetery,

when Joey Roberts died in the fourth grade.

Joey wouldn’t feel the breeze in his hair,

hear the splash of  cottonwood leaves,

or feel the lush cascade of a warm wind on a June day.


I saw him in pictures — in the shadows, of the gaping doors of the C5As

returning from Viet Nam where duty and honor

became the dead bastard children of men with no skin in the game.


Once on a winding country road,

he jerked the steering wheel out of my hand as a pulp truck swung into my lane.

“It’s not time,” he said.


I knew when he came for others —- walking slowly into the center of a room,

felt – not seen.

And as he took a wearied, worn hand — he left us with a shell,

a mystery seen, but not understood.


We go for walks now and then — through the naked birch and aspen,

before spring’s flowering,

or when the clammy earth is cool on a humid morning,

when spruce and pine apportion their scent.

Then he might ask, “Do you think you’re ready?”


I stop, turn to him, smile and say,

“You know damned well the moment is of your choosing.

But I will not wait in the room with the novels and soap operas.

No, I will meet you on the road, on a hill,

on a bike with the wind in my face.

Or on a ski trail with ice crystals suspended in the air ,

by the river — in the woods — deep in the cedars.

And when we meet, you will enshroud me, or I you —

I will have then known the fullness of love’s bequests and sorrows.

I will not be sitting on my ass waiting in a room!




This a winter leftover.


Cold the night.

The slivered crescent moon rises,

ascendant energies in a light-framed sky.

Warm tea eases the restless wanderer back to slumber.


Between dawn and somber night,

crystals climb from the frozen lake,

— and then bind to desolate branches in star light.


And as morning approaches,

the icy filigrees grasp every branch and pine needle,

and bear witness to creation’s dogged ways.


At dawn a white coat clings.

It propels a sluggish soul to trek to the whispering wood,

where the sun scales the arc of day,

and lucid tendrils relax their grip when an errant exhalation passes by.


They spin, they dance,

like the lacewings of summer.



e.e. cummings once wrote about spring as a “mudlucious” time.   Other comments about spring portray it as a time when young men’s fancies turn in an amorous direction; an increase in preening behavior in all species is noted.  While this represents a more congenial environment for all kinds of activities, there are also other signs worth noting.

I know spring is coming because there is more light, even if it is 10 below outside. Waking hours are longer and nights less burdensome.  During daylight the sun casts a welcome glow, not enough to go outside and catch a tan, but the south side of buildings radiate welcome warmth.

Snow when it does come, appears as a heavy wet blanket.  Always the decision then whether it’s worthwhile to shovel it or hope it will just go away.  No matter what you decide, the opposite course of action would have been the wisest.

When the snow disappears, it’s also time to take down Christmas lights.  All the labor that went into the arrangements ends. The last set from the second floor dormer will have to wait until all the snow is off the roof.  Schussing down the shingles to the shrubbery is for another time.

Looking out the window in the morning there is a notable increase in the traffic at the bird feeders.  The cats, grown fat and lazy, don’t stand a chance at grabbing anything.  At least fifty pounds of sunflower hulls will need to be raked up before the grass has even the slightest chance of growing.

Traffic from BSU also picks up.  Bikers, walkers, runners and roller-bladers with their Fort Lauderdale or Mazatlan tans take to the asphalt in increasing numbers.  Accompanying them are the splashier sports coupes with sunroofs open, mega bass rap music blasting and car heaters on high.

The compost pile behind the house brings in a few visitors.  These nighttime bandits, when satiated by the thawing remains of winter, migrate to the bird feeders and gorge themselves on sunflower seeds.  A light in the face from a flashlight does little to scare them off. They’ve been waiting a long time for this.

The final sign that things are changing is removing the 120 pounds of softener salt from the back of the truck, along with the coal shovel.  If done prematurely a price is paid in spinning wheels from a late snowfall.

Love, preening and mud may be poetic harbingers of a change of season.  If any of this fails to make an impression, then the water dripping on your head in the middle of the night from a forgotten ice dam most likely will.

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