Did you ever look at empty space and imagine
The brilliance that structured its existence.
Did you ever call your best friend by the same
Rotten name he just called you.
Did you ever fear for your being, knowing your
Ultimate end could be in a minute, in a snap.
Did you ever watch a kid circle under a lazy
Fly ball and glove-block its earthbound path.
Did you ever love a puppy so much you couldn’t
Sleep without checking him eleventy-four times at night.
Did you ever plow the earth and smell God’s gift to man,
And talk the next crop up and growing.
Did you ever race your friends and run until your lungs screamed,
Falling down laughing at victory or defeat.
Did you ever watch a spider slowly spin a perfect web
With his patience uninterrupted by your insistence of contrariety.
Did you ever call the night-wind to hush
To stillness and lay sandy-eyed waiting.
Did you ever accept or reject the norms
Crammed at you or ignore their existence.
Did you ever battle yourself with ideas and judgments
That no man can answer and still seek your solutions.
Did you ever simply say hello to a perfect stranger
And realize that you are the strange one.
Did you ever sit in the grass yard of the post office
And watch the smothered stares of strangers.
Did you ever stop to realize that success to one is failure
To another and your words rattle empty to set minds.
Did you ever wish for a chance you’ll never have,
Realizing you would have succeeded fully.
Did you ever feel the grip loosen in spite of all your
Efforts and wonder about tomorrow.
Did you ever thank God for your ability to question,
To learn, to be human.
Did you ever watch an infant think, the wheels turn
And the language of thought distorted.
Did you ever try to express your opinion
To one who will not listen.
Did you ever listen when wise men talked
Yet incorporated their wisdom only in painful acceptance.
Did you ever wonder what your Mom and Dad were like
At age twelve.
Did you ever wonder what you were like at age twelve.
Did you ever wish for others to be happy, really happy,
But they never are no matter what you do.
Did you ever wish for peace but realize
That tranquility is fleeting and temporary.
Let’s get a burger
For a time I’ve wondered how
A boy as young as I
Could understand and even now
The question still is why
The rope hung from the beam so high
Impossible to master
But every kid would give a try
Just waiting for disaster.
So my time came and struggling hard
I tugged and strained and failed
Then quickly I set up my guard
For the teacher’s shaming tale.
He was fat and smelled a bit
And loved to let us know
About our failure as we’d sit
And listen to him blow
Soon it was my time to hear
About my effort bad
His rant and rave increased my fear
It seemed like he was mad
Climbing higher, I worked each day
And extra time was spent
I told him I was on my way
My message to him sent
And then he spoke that crazy phrase
“You can put lipstick on a pig”
And with a deadly, hateful gaze
He said “But it’s still a pig”
I was stunned, and lacking words
I turned and walked away
The words he spoke, that I had heard
Meant nothing on that day.
When I got home I asked my Dad
What the pig phrase means
“Appearance will not change” he said
“The way true nature’s seen.”
In other words, the looks may change
But rarely do you see
Nature move to change it’s range
Converting what will be.
The gym man was telling me
My efforts had no worth
I could not change nor better be
No way in Heaven or Earth
As time went by I gained in strength
And soon I was on top
It mattered not the rope’s full length
‘Cause up the rope I’d hop
Of course I was much older then
And never got to tell
The gym boss what I thought of him
That day when he would yell
But life goes on and soon forgotten
My adventures in the gym
And healed was my memory rotten
Of my rope climb and of him.
Many years later on semester break
My college senior year
At a bar I stopped to take
Time-out and drink a beer
The pub was empty except for one
Sitting alone in the dark
Into the gym boss I had run
So on the barstool I’d park.
I spoke and said “How are you friend?"
He did not recognize me
I said, “Tell me how you’ve been"
He squinted hard to see
Soon we were in a full-on chat
He talked of how his life
Had turned and pinned him to the mat
He’s lost his job and wife.
But he was going to turn around
His life and all his loss
Cleaning up his act he’d found
The problems and the costs.
I told him that I wished him well
Those changes would be tough
I said that I once heard a tale
How change was really rough
But trying and effort is a must
Your change will be so big
I said be sure you’re not just
Putting lipstick on a pig.
The one tree in our yard
That took my time when playing so hard
Grew large and sprawling everywhere
I lived up there without a care.
The fort we built could not be lost
Defend it strong at any cost
And when the sun in late day failed
We’d set out ready to blaze the trail.
The enemy lost the eighty-fourth battle
As cowboys then, we’d herd the cattle.
Back in corrals of empty space
Then head out for that special place.
High on limbs much larger than mine
For miles we’d watch and spend our time
Cutting our names in the limbs so hard
Up in the one tree in our yard.
Keeping memories alive thru the years
Abashed at why I was lost
Taking for granted, compounded by fears
Emptiness adds to the cost
All of that time, was centered on me
Selfish and headstrong, I could not be told
Though poverty stricken I struggled to be
Entwined, but challenged to be so bold.
Peaceful and Easy the Feelings of day
Each memory was a dear one
Righteous but foolish in every way
Assured by that Sweet City Woman.
Shall I never travel that way
Or navigate that distance
Really, it’s easy for me to say
Remembering in this instance
You were my Sweet City Woman
Go to sleep now. . . .
And when you awake you will find
A new world, with new desires
New feelings, new beliefs and new joys.
You will experience a sense of total satisfaction,
Acceptance, and sureness of yourself.
No more pain and need and disappointment,
Only gentle bliss.
But that makes me less.
That steals away my humanity, my comparisons,
My decisions; even my mistakes.
You don’t have the right to deny me my suffering.
Who makes these decisions anyway?
Let me up -- I must go,
**** these straps and your stone-faced grin!
Let me up -- My tears spew with hatred,
Rage seething as my blood and snot and weeping mix.
Go to sleep now. . . .
I never thought the pain could make me feel this way
Getting over you will take some time I hear them say
I thought that I’d forget you, control my life and make
The memory of your sweet love, a harmless heartache
I was not brand new to love, I’d had a round or two
But no one ever made me feel the way you always do
It’s not a harmless heartache when it burns you deep inside
This heart feels every memory and knows the tears I’ve cried
If I could bring her back again I’d never let her go
I’d treat her like a queen now that I know the things I know
You’re playing with the hottest fire, you think your heart won’t break
Then you’ll see you can’t escape the harmless heartache
Just a harmless heartache, I’m feeling here tonight
You’d still be here with me, and we’d hold each other tight
But you say I’ll be better off, and so just for my sake
You left me here alone to bear my harmless heartache