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Don Bouchard Sep 7
Cataclysm of cataclysms,
The End of ends,
The death of Death,
To hell with Hell.

The Devil and his minions,
The Dead outside the Fold,
Subsumed in Fire,
Truth consuming liars.

Outside the flames,
The Great Relief,
Absence of Pain,
Forgotten Grief.

Cosmos free of all that's fey,
Night consumed by glorious day.
Revelation Chapter 20
Aug 26 · 420
Dealings with the Devil
Don Bouchard Aug 26
The Holy Spirit took Him to the wind and sand,
Left Him alone in dry air
To meet the Devil.
Forty days He fasted,
Must have prayed,
Alone.

The Devil knew just where to find Him,
Rolled up in a whirlwind,
Did he?
Or slithered he up,
Wind in his face,
The Serpent, from behind?

The conversation followed,
Enough to raise my hair,
"I've been given total dominion
Of earth and sky down here.
The glory is all mine."

"Unlimited my power
Within the earthly plane,
And all of it you'll have,
If you but praise my name."

The Devil said his piece,
Then waited,
Plotting Jesus' pain
For invading his dominion
For bringing Glory down.
He proffered ease of life
And Earth's opinion,
The greatest things he owned
To tempt the Chosen One:
A monstrous devil's game...
Risk every earthly thing
For the Knee of the Almighty.

Jesus spoke:
"Satan, get behind.
Worship only God, your Lord,
Serve no one but Him."

So Satan took the two of them
To the top of the temple spire,
"Fall free from here,
Let angels catch;
Subsume human desire!"

Jesus answered quickly,
"You shall not tempt your Lord."

And so the Devil left Him,
The Tempter's power, blown.

And so began
The Savior's journey
Toward a humble Cross,
The Gateway to our Home.
Luke 4:1-14
Don Bouchard Aug 5
For a year or possibly more,
Decompression begins:
Purging electricity, electronics.
Fall away, Internet, Oh!
No more cellular,
**** the television set,
Except, perhaps, a radio,
Lest I totally forget....

Hello, paper,
Hello, books,
Come off the shelves;
Lose those ***** looks,
Warm again before my eyes,
Feel the press of my writing stick.

Thoreau, the fakir,
Left the social order
Just a year,
Though just how far
He really went
Remains foggily unclear,
And the fact that he returned
Suggests that Nature
Left him feeling burned.

So, like a diver,
Rising from the deep,
I'd take a while to meditate,
To let the busyness-es go
And put electric dreams to sleep.
I was asked what I'd do if I were to find myself a year in solitude. Aside from the needfulness or learning and re-learning survival methods, this is what I came up with....
Aug 5 · 223
Better Read than Dead
Don Bouchard Aug 5
Hello Poetry!
I have decided to keep
My poems here.
Rather a few be read
Than keep the lot
Penned up waiting in a sales ring
With no buyers,
Starvation coming....
At least we're reading each others' poems.... Better read than dead....
Jul 10 · 302
Ageism
Don Bouchard Jul 10
Children, fresh as bib lettuce,
Green and tender,
Stand before me in my rocking chair,
Pearled new teeth,
Wisping hair, golden, brown,
Embarking up a stair way
That I am going down.

"Papa, can we go out to play?"
I look out the window
To see the kind of day
Before I say,
"Would you like to take a walk?"
Jul 10 · 389
Norwegian Pride
Don Bouchard Jul 10
As she emerged from years of abuse,
Became aware of the ******* he'd placed,
She knew it was time to go,
Filed the papers,
Moved in with a friend,
Tried to see another end.

Love does not die easily;
Her heart yearned
Some better way,
But ends must come
When there's nothing left to say.

She left everything to him;
He'd forced his will in choosing every piece:
Furniture, fixings, knife and fork,
Appliances, decor, automobiles....
She wanted none of it anymore.

Love does find a way
To die, though the dying may be slow.

"It's good we didn't have any children,"
His mother said. "We didn't muddy up
Our pure Norwegian blood line."

Love finds a way to die.
Don Bouchard Jul 1
We trudge the fetid jungle,
Thinking our green way
Must be an overgrown trail.

Dampness pervades our clothing,
Soddens our shoes,
Drips from leafy branches,
Fails to cool us in the tropic heat.

We ascend gingerly,
Hoping for cooler air,
Realizing the immensity of time,
Of memory moving on ahead.

Shrieking birds unseen
Foretell dooms imagined:
Snake and lizard fangs,
Feral creatures' claws and teeth,
Unseen traps waiting to inflict
Sudden deaths or slow.

Silence arrests us,
As we stumble to a cliff,
Gasping for air,
Longing for coolness,
Stopped in our breath as we see....

Climbing the ranges ahead of us,
Above, and arching up and down,
The great dragon's crenelated back
Undulating over the mountain ridges,
Disappearing into the past.
My recollection of seeing the Great Wall of China just outside of Beijing
Jun 13 · 590
Trampling Bull
Don Bouchard Jun 13
This, the generation
Of the Trampling Bull,
The trodding of the Crop,
The headlong raging run,
With never any stop.

Having pulled the stakes,
Dragging tethers;
Pawing unchecked,
Throwing clods above his withers;

Fence posts falling,
The corners cave.

Town boys chase him
With sticks,
Unable to check or to drive
His rampant run,
O'er suffering fields.

Where are the men
Who'll come to force him,
Bellowing,
Back into civility?

Where are the men?
Make of it what you will. I woke at 2:00 with this vivid dream....
May 1 · 453
Rain today,
Don Bouchard May 1
A good day
For worm travel...
And bird feasting.

I am dressed gray,
Walking in clouds.

Vapors cool
Fog my vision,
Slow my journey
Through moods of contemplation.

Yet, there's Life here,
If I can slow
My splashing rush
To let the dampness sprout.
Rain, blue-moods, fatigue
Apr 3 · 217
I met a girl
Don Bouchard Apr 3
I met a girl named Winter,
Skin as white as snow,
Heart as sharp as splinters
Iced and cold.

I met a girl named Autumn
Suffering on the brink;
Dying embers made her glum,
and made my passion sink.

Summer was a girl I met
Just a little after spring
And though we danced,
Twas just a little fling.

When e'er I think of Spring,
Her fitful temper flares....
She promised everything,
Then flitted off somewhere....

"I'm done with seasons,"
Then I said, "Elsewhere will I look."
And so I sought a little song
And found one in a book.

Her looks so fair; her words so sweet -
Our voices found full harmony;
My happiness has been complete;
My heart has found its Melody.
Apr 1 · 630
Shelling
Don Bouchard Apr 1
Rolling power:
      Churning waves
      Grinding shells,
      Prolific evidence of life & death
      Rising from salt depths,
Epic revelations from below.

Evidence of end games:
     Shells, drilled, scarred, scored
     By beaks of tendrilled monsters;
     Occupants devoured,
****** through ravaged carapaces.

Fecund progeny:
    Tiny messages, these shells...
    Evidencing life,
    Echoing death,
Generations grinding down and down.

My tanned bare feet,
    Track tide-lined shells,
     Seek forensic evidence and beauty,
     Follow ribbons of shells
Cast empty from the pounding sea.
Grim thoughts of a new sheller....
Mar 25 · 413
35
Don Bouchard Mar 25
35
I remember 35
Like it was 25 years ago.

I had hair then.
Was in my eighth year of teaching.
Had four children at home,
A dog.
A cat.

Unbounded energy,
Exuberance,
Passion,
Conviction

Stress fed my bones,
Canceled my fears,
"Work harder
Before the night falls!"

Night is falling.
Sixty is nearly here.
I am nearly gone,
And yet you linger,
A soul standing in periphery.

35.
What is the point of living
If the past cannot be left,
And the present stand still
To let us dress each other's wounds,
Forgive our others' sins,
Let us, limping as we are,
Move toward the center,
Again to begin?
Seven years upon us....
Feb 28 · 253
Tucker, Sheared
Don Bouchard Feb 28
The groomed dog lies
Clean upon my sofa,
Resting,
His reward.

Resisted he
The urge to flee
Or bite the handler
While the groomer
Plied over the sopping ****,
Clipped the carpet-ripping nails,
Coiffed and primped him
Head to tail.

Waking,
He nuzzles me
With a brown-eyed stare,
Sidling close to my old brown chair.

This canine friend,
Just a dog in mien,
Communicates his needs,
Comforts me in loneliness,
Amuses me with dog-face grin,
Reads and responds
To the state that I'm in.
Dogs, if not human, are in many ways better than humans.
Feb 25 · 269
Posthaste
Don Bouchard Feb 25
Received a letter via
Our snow-covered mail box
Just a hundred steps from my front door.

Rather than the quick work of electrons,
My mother's friend
Had carefully penned
Her thoughts.

Two tight pages
In black ink:
Questions about life,
The kids and grand kids,
Whether we were getting rest,
And how was the snow?

Paper and ink
Envelope tucked,
Cancelled stamp,
Delivered after a thousand mile ride,
Lies on my desk,
Proof of my mother's love.

Mainly, she was concerned
That we were finding time to live,

And were we still thinking about her?
Write your Mother.
Don Bouchard Feb 13
It's June, 1967.
Nature, still lying through
Parsley green teeth,
Breathes the last of spring,
Hints early summer warmth,
Pre-July's cicada whine,
August's heat and wind.

Crops, still tender green
Quiver beneath a humid sky,
Under a glowing sun.

Bicycles amuse our early lust
To soar untraveled ground,
Entering lazy summer's ennui,
We scan a hawk riding drafts
On the edge of our hill.

Dust, drifting up the graveled road,
Five miles below us,
Piques our interest,
Causes the dog to raise his head.
He ***** an ear
Toward a sound we cannot hear.

We hear gravel slapping rocker panels
Before the traveler's roof rises into view,
Catch our breath as the engine slows,
Start running for the house.

A stranger's arrived,
A traveling salesman,
Better than an aunt
Only stopping in for tea
And woman talk.

Dad keeps his welding helmet down,
Repairing broken things.
The hired man inhales his cigarette,
Acts disinterested.

My memories linger on the past....

Salesmen brought the latest farming gadgets:
Additives for fuel and oil,
Battery life extenders,
Grain elevators and fencing tools,
Produce and livestock products,
Lightning rods and roofing,
Chrome-edged cultivator shovels,
Insurance for everything:
Fire, water, wind, hail.

Pitches came without exception:

"Top o' the morning! Looks like you're busy.
Don't want to take your time."

"Looks like you could use some welding rod,
And I have something new for you to try."

"Have you used chromium additive in you livestock salt?
Guaranteed to put on weight and protect from bovine
Tuberculosis!"

"Say, have you heard about the effectiveness of a new
Insecticide called DDT? I've got a sample gallon here
For you to try. Works better than Malathion!"

Dad, eventually intrigued, began the slow dance
Of dickering, haggling over this thing or that.
Most salesmen, closing in for a ****,
Hadn't grappled with my father.

At noon, deals still in the air,
My mother called the men,
And we all trudged in to wash,
Waiting in line at the tub,
Scrubbing with powdered Tide
To remove the grime and grease,
Drying on the darkening towel,
Finding a seat at the table.

The salesmen expected the meal
As though it were their right,
A standing invitation:
Stop in at noon,
Make your pitch,
Sit at table,
Close the deal after.

We boys sat and listened
To man talk.
Eyes wide, we marveled
At gadgets,
Wondered at Dad's parleying,
Winced at the deals he drove,
Commiserated with squirming salesmen
Surely made destitute by Dad's hard bargaining.

In retrospect,
I know the game was played
On two sides,
That the battery additives
Bought for five dollars a packet,
Even with the two Dad finagled free,
Cost about five dollars for everything,
Returned forty-five and change
To the smirking, full-bellied salesman
Who left a cloud of dust on his way
To supper a few miles down the road.
We don't see traveling salesmen anymore at the ranches in Montana. I guess internet sales did them in.
Dec 2018 · 187
Sturm und Drang
Don Bouchard Dec 2018
I came exhausted
Out of the blistering gray,
Lungs choking dust,
Tongue parched,
Body swollen with heat.

Your cool gardens saved me.
Basked I in the tender greens of spring;
Nurtured, I lingered in the shade all summer;
Warmed, I stayed near your embers in autumn.
I would not leave the blazing logs in winter.

Dry and desperate my early plight.
Parched and stumbling,
Clogged by dust,
I found your water;
Drank and bathed,
Found solace in body and mind,
Found time to rest, to heal.

I wonder at the restlessness
Howling outside your gates.
SturmundDrang, Struggle, Angst, Sin, Salvation, Pain, Peace, Lost, Found
Dec 2018 · 102
Three Canyons
Don Bouchard Dec 2018
Bryce impressed me with its "hoodoos,"
And we stood on a trail in the heated air,
Wondering how far
To venture into the depths below.

Zion's slotted canyon walls towered over us,
Cooled us in their shade,
Marveled us with seeping rocks,
Clinging lichens, plants in flower,
Tendrils hanging on the wet stone.
We left before a storm.

"Grand" is too quiet, too sparse, too short.
I stood on the precipice,
Miles and miles and miles in view,
Reds and tans and whites,
Clouds hanging virga.
My tears signaled gasping awe.
Dec 2018 · 270
Standing Alone
Don Bouchard Dec 2018
A woman dressed in black,
Shadow-hidden,
Deep woods at her back....

I caught her image
In the yellow headlights
Just for an instant.

My wheels rolled by
While my imagination
Slid to a stop with her.

Why was she there
On a lonely road
In freezing rain and cold?

A mile up the road I slowed,
Turned around to answer
Nagging questions.

At the point where she had stood
Remained a half burned stump
Five feet tall, a broken scar face-high.

I smiled at my imagination...
Nearly stumbled on a shoe:
Black, high heel sunk to the hilt.
Nov 2018 · 303
Doldrums
Don Bouchard Nov 2018
A thousand miles west of me
She lies in a nursing home bed,
Oxygen and medications
Prolonging the end of a well-lived life.

This night, the weariness settles around me,
A grim comfort promising sleep,
If only I may close my eyes in surrender....
As if my staying awake somehow sustains her.

Eldest of her sons,
Sometimes wise,
Sometimes wiseacre,
Sometimes a visioning prophet,
Sometimes a fumbler in the dark,
I am empty of words tonight.

What wisdom have I now
When wisdom's called for?
Decisions to be made, and naught to say:
I'd give my kingdom for the wisest way.

Oh, I have prayed,
Have pleaded with the skies....
I suffer in the silent darkness.
Knowing Mother's youth and strength are spent;
Time's inexorable turning pulls her in,
Body nearly gone, reason razor thin
Tell me her fight's a battle Time will win.

But now, while the hovering remains,
The wretched anguish overhangs my soul,
And memories of Mother, young and strong,
Tireless and loving, industrious, filled with song,
Make poignant my pre-mourning hours.
The endless days of waiting. At 91, she won't be 31 again....
Oct 2018 · 1.8k
Casting your nets
Don Bouchard Oct 2018
Same old drudgery,
Papers fresh for grading;
Topics, seldom new,
If honestly presented,
At least encourage worth
In form, in format, in tradition.

Plagiarism creeps up,
Always shocking,
The unauthorized changing
Of voice, of tone, of diction,
Not unlike the sting of a ruthless needle,
The drip of a hollowed, poisoned fang,
The bite of frost, burning a tender cheek...
Sadly familiar, this strident pang.

All hope is lost.

Anger sets in,
Trust wilts,
Hope fades gray.

In plagiarism, the fool's truth lies;
To belie one's honor is to watch it die.
Proverbs 1:17 Surely in vain the nets are cast under the watching eyes of the birds...
Oct 2018 · 739
Wind Chime Zen
Don Bouchard Oct 2018
Fifteen years
These chimes have hung
Silent or clanging
To tell me the breeze
Is here or gone.

The bell tubes
Ring their mindless cheer.
Peacefully they bring
Me to the calm of emptiness.

The mindful other-where-ness,
I sense a kind of zen
But can't quite ken.

Making peace in the presence
Of a restless uncertainty,
Wind chimes ring.
Don Bouchard Oct 2018
Were I invincible or perfect or omnipotent.

But, I am none of these.

Chill wind, shivering frost, cruel sleet

Drive autumn changes in the breeze.

Tilting Earth announces endings,

Announces beginnings at her antipodes.

Death proves itself beneath the sleeping trees...

Feuille-morte beauty of the fallen leaves.
Shorter days and cooling nights here in Minnesota. Oh, I hate to see old summer go....
Aug 2018 · 4.2k
Deep Summer Now
Don Bouchard Aug 2018
Cicadas whine metallically
In trees along the sweltered streets;
Wasps and hornets arc angrily
Enough to cause me fear.
Late summer’s not my favorite time of year.

Flowers nearly done;
The tulips, irises, and poppies
Long since seeded out;
They’ve had their fun.
Bedraggled day lilies remain,
This is the beginning of the mums.
Bees seek latent nectars
Or tap into their golden stores
To supplement their bumbling runs.

Lawns foist a burnt but stubborn edge
While only thistles still refuse
To bow to August's incessant heat;
Their spikes sprout poisonous defiance.
The dog’s left yellowed pools of dying grass;
I admit the neighbors’ lawns surpass.  
I suppose the time to gather
Drying excrement’s returned, alas....

Keeping up appearances is hard at summer's end.
Ennui of season full and just past ripe  
Leaves tired old men like me
A chiding cause to gripe.
Morning thoughts August 17, 2018
Aug 2018 · 151
Human Nature
Don Bouchard Aug 2018
Cause for despair, this...
Dr. Heidegger's experiment gave new life to old bones.
Elixir re-infusing lust and ******
Once the liquid hit the blood,
All bets on again for nothing good.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's
"Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" https://lincolnprep.wildapricot.org/resources/Reading%20Selections%20for%20Reading%20Competion/Dr.%20Heidegger's%20Experiment.pdf
Aug 2018 · 288
Picking Agates
Don Bouchard Aug 2018
I grew up working the land,
Out under the sun,
In the wind,
Squinting in the semi-arid dust
Of our farm.

My sister lived inside,
Learning to cook,
To clean,
To live the farm wife's life.

We both live now in cities
A thousand miles from that old farm,
Visiting a week or two....
Never long.

Our recollections vary.
I suppose they must.
So when we walk a country road
We see things differently.

She sees flowers and rolling hills,
Grasses bowing gracefully in the breeze,
Dusty agates hiding patterns.

I see dust upon the flowers and grass,
I curse the way days pass
In wind and heat and cold
Turning living creatures old.

Hard the stones,
Sharp the thistles,
Bent the curling flowers,
Wind-rutted the hills
By wind and water powers.

I am tempered in my sister's pondering,
Pause in my cynicism.

She holds an agate to the light,
Turning it angle to angle
Seeing Beauty glow inside.
Sometimes I need to take a breath and remember the open heart I once had. Thanks, Kathy, for your reminder that beauty is everywhere.
Aug 2018 · 3.2k
Coffin Building
Don Bouchard Aug 2018
Dad didn't want a coffin.
"Cremate my last remains,"
And so we did.
Cool and dry,
His ashes, urned,
Lie beneath the sod
And prairie sky
Waiting some clarion call,
Some trill of hope,
Bright, re-constitutional,
Faith-affirming.

Mother's wishes rise before us:
No crematory,
No embalmer.
Just her blanket,
Just a hole
Dug beside our Dad.

The law would let her wish be true,
But her children won't.
We're searching coffin plans.
Reverently grim,
Lovingly deferential,
Dutifully rebellious,
Solemn this journey be.

Pine boards to honor her thrift
But smooth and tight,
Rope handles, fitted lid,
Perhaps a little trim,
Perhaps a sheaf of wheat carved
For the old farmer she was.

We'll bury her,
Wrapped in her blanket,
Tucked securely in pine
Beside my father's ashes.

Like a grain of wheat she'll lie
Silent in her final say
Inside our final say
Waiting Resurrection Day.
Life moves forward, a conveyor belt that moves so slow, so fast, as to be indiscernible. The time is upon us.
May 2018 · 148
Ephemerality
Don Bouchard May 2018
Here today and gone tomorrow,
True of love and joy and sorrow.
Frost said gold lasts but a day...
So does work, and so does play.
Here today and gone tomorrow,
True of anger, pain and horror.
Savor golden days whene'er they come;
Remember them when they are gone.
Apr 2018 · 1.2k
I saw you again last night,
Don Bouchard Apr 2018
And the snow was melting from the hills;
Green was glowing down in the north pasture;
Crocuses were bucking a hard west wind;
Calving was swinging on, and spring barns to muck,
And you were yelling about some thing or other,
The way you always do, or the way you always did,
Back in the day when you were here,
And I was just a lazy kid.

Dad, you remain somehow this giant in my mind,
Sleeping or waking,
I see you still,
Hear your voice,
Watch you running
One job to the next,
Passionate about everything,
Restless and without rest,
Some nameless demon chasing you,
Pulling the rest of us in your wake.

So the last three nights I've seen you,
Sat at table across from you
To discuss my leaving the farm:
You concerned I was a fool to go,
And I convinced I could not stay.

I wish I knew the hold you have on me
Six years gone with you away, and me,
Two states removed and a career nearly done,
Still finding myself waking from dreams
That linger vivid on.
Dad, I still miss you. I guess this grieving never ends.
Apr 2018 · 1.6k
Dragons
Don Bouchard Apr 2018
Straying wayward, walking home,
I left the narrow path and wandered off alone
Just past the trees along the edge and up a dusty hill;
I found a cave there hollowed and felt a sudden chill.

Down through the dirt and leaves I crawled into the cave
To see if there were pleasure there to make me crave.
I caught a scent of danger, almost a living thing,
But as I backed up quickly, I touched a leather wing.

Upward rose a serpent head; tiny eyes glowed red
My backing self was scooting now, and I was filled with dread.
"My friend! You've nothing here to fear!"
"I'm just a little dragon, not even fifty years."

Into sunshine came he then, less fearsome in the light
To bring me pause from tumbling off in fright.
An hour later, carried on my back,
I took a baby dragon home, hidden in my pack.

"If you don't mind, I'll need to hide," my new friend said.
"I'll stay here in your closet, and I'll sleep beneath your bed."

Soon our friendship blossomed as secrets often do,
I'd off to school each morning, then run right back at two
To meet my baby dragon and get to know him more,
Still hidden from my family behind my bedroom door.

One day while I was off to school, I heard the siren sound.
Smoke rose above the treeline on my family's side of town.
When I arrived, my home was ash; my fiery friend was gone.
Now I know that little dragons grow to burn us down.
Work in progress.... Meditation on the secret sin of Achan, Joshua Chapter 7
Apr 2018 · 439
April, by any other name
Don Bouchard Apr 2018
Could go by February, or even March,
The way she carries on her wintry game,
Her laundry's cold and wet, stiff in snowy starch.
She promised us firsts, left us with seconds,
Spent herself, it seems, in company of Winter,
Petulant, credit spent, she left her tenants
Freezing blue 'til nearly May.
Robins shiver, lost in snow and sleet
While budgies safe in kitchen cages
Tilt their heads and shift their feet,
Perhaps to wonder what do robins eat.
Desperately slog we the winds of Spring,
Encouraged little when the robins sing.
Springtime in Minnesota 2018. Seventeen inches of snow in two days, and more coming on Wednesday, April 18. Enough already....
Mar 2018 · 244
A floor above
Don Bouchard Mar 2018
My estranged daughter,
I wait news of my mother's
Survival or demise.

Holy water,
A crucifix
Wait nearby,
I know the emptiness of agonized prayer,
Of groaning alone in sanctuary,
Of feeling only limbo,
Only limbo.

It's August.
I shudder
January cold.
Interminable waiting
Mar 2018 · 429
Early Diners
Don Bouchard Mar 2018
I have seen my share of old men
Sitting early in diners:
Widowers, perhaps,
Or never-weds,
Seldom women,
Excepting tired street people,
Tattered bags sprawling
Disheveled out of the wet,
Leaving only when the manager
Steps up with a bottle of soapy water
And a cleaning rag,
The polite symbol of
"It's time to go."

Fast food,
No place to rest,
Up and moving before the family crowd
Can see the riff-raff
Who sat these chairs earlier,
Who hunker now on some lee-side wall
Against the chill spring rain.
Spring, riff-raff, breakfast
Mar 2018 · 97
Brown Study
Don Bouchard Mar 2018
Rowdy girls laughing over dinner,
A thousand miles from home,
Joking about their families,
Their mothers and their dads,
Unwinding after the hard work
Of righting some of Harvey's mess.
Time to celebrate through laughter....

I noticed her brown study stare,
Gazing toward the open court,
And she was tired,
Far from home,
The stress of travel and ***** work behind,
Stress levels coming down,
And she was letting down.
I knew there was more,
And I waved a hand,
And she came back from where she'd been,
Sad smile in her eyes.

I knew she' been contemplating life,
Thoughts of her father, gone two years,
Who'd traveled the aisle silently,
Taken before he saw the woman she'd become,
The nurse she'd be, things most parents live to see.

I saw all these things in her far-away gaze,
I empathized and prayed.

May Jesus comfort her;
May He give her life chock-full of joy.
May His Spirit bring her those who see her heart,
And cherish her for who she is.
May the Father reassure her of His love...,
Some day reunite her with the father she still loves.

I know that she was tired; her gaze was fleeting.
I hope she pardons me an open book for reading.
Mar 2018 · 256
These Trees
Don Bouchard Mar 2018
Crouched beneath March winds
Howl the songs of wolves
Against cloud-scudded skies,
Leafless, bending only little,
Insensate, but howling still,
Straining against night winds.

First cold and wind must pass
Before the softness-es of Spring
Coax life from roots below the frost,
Reminding me that nothing's lost.
First the cold and wind before the Spring can come again....
Feb 2018 · 162
Word for Humans....
Don Bouchard Feb 2018
"That" is reserved for the cat,
While you are always a "who."
Grammar, Grammar, Grammar
Feb 2018 · 436
She left him in the fall
Don Bouchard Feb 2018
Cold settled in deep
On him and their son,
A poor fool, lost in his own world,
Scarcely aware his mother was gone.

The boy's father couldn't cope...
Tried, but hope with her had died.
Bankrupt faith, spent in futile prayer
To cure the failing heart,
Restore the lungs...
A silent "NO" hung in the air,
And she was gone.

Her ashes flew home beside him.
He went to pick up his son,
Stopped for three fifths of Scotch...
Proceeded to disappear,
Proceeded to disappear,
Proceeded to disappear.

The house suffered under stench:
Old *****,
Excrement,
*****,
Spilled bottles,
Cans scattered on the floor;
Everywhere a sour putrescence.

His son floated in and out of vision,
Autism and inebriation:
Two forms debilitation,
No hope of equilibration.

Neighbors made some calls...
Social workers came,
Took the son away.

Death seemed a reasonable option.
Leave the mess.
Join his wife.
End this ******* life....

Revolvers favor simplicity:
Load the chambers,
Snap the cylinder in place...
Aim closely to remove his face.

Muzzle up,
Open mouth,
Squeeze the hammer down...
Only a clicking sound.

Unusual, this...
Aim at the ground,
Squeeze off a round...
Ears ringing from the sound.

Raise the muzzle once again,
Bite ******* steel,
Squeeze the trigger down...
Again, a clicking sound.

Aim at the ground,
Blam! Potent round...
Set the revolver down.

"Hello. 911. What is your emergency?"

"Come get my gun;
I'm trying to **** myself."

Police arrive.
He's still alive.
Drunk and numb...
They take his gun.

Six weeks later, still in a haze,
He's told his story.
We are amazed,
But still he's found no calm for grief.

We struggle beside him,
Waiting for some sign,
Some reason why a gun
Should fail to fire...twice.

If you should read these words, my friends,
Please speak a prayer for a lonely man.
Ask for freedom from despair,
For peace and letting go,
For comfort and the hope of friends,
For better ends.
For better ends.
For better ends.
Real time struggles. Pray for J----.
Feb 2018 · 175
Why is it, in the leaving,
Don Bouchard Feb 2018
Some men pine away,
Others pick themselves up, grieving
To shake themselves as if to say,
"That chapter now is ending,
And I must on my way"?

One man mourns her loss as though
The universe is ending;
Drowns himself in alcohol,
Defeated, hopeless, misery unending.

Another plunges into work,
You'd never know an inner ache
Had driven him berserk;
We watch to see a crack or break,
But nothing seems to lurk.

Another builds a monument so fine,
Resurrects her beauty high above
Whatever glory she had once refined...
No ending to his paeans of love.

Other men find loneliness intolerable,
Run off in search of other loves to fill the void,
Besmirch her memories ineffable,
Remarry only to become annoyed.

"Most men must suffer when alone":
A rule to write on stone eternal,
While human love is flesh and bone,
Romantic love transcends supernal.
Thinking and observing....
Jan 2018 · 113
Dance? No....
Don Bouchard Jan 2018
Dance her no dances;
Rhyme her no rhymes,
Sorrow has come to her times,
Sorrow has come to her times.

Play her no plays;
Saw her no saws,
Her world is now pitching in yaws,
Her world is now pitching in yaws.

Cry her no cries,
Dye her no dyes,
Color fades from her eyes,
Color fades from her eyes.

Pray her no prayers,
Put on no loftier airs,
Somber may follow her fears,
Somber may follow her fears.

Silent now, sit by her,
Offer your hand to her,
One day she'll come back from her tears,
One day she'll come back from her tears.
Jan 2018 · 155
Everything Changes
Don Bouchard Jan 2018
The doctor's news falls hard upon him;
The hammer "cancer" deals a deathly blow,
Enough to shatter all philosophy
Stagger him in wheeling woe.

"My hunting gear and books and orchard
No longer hold my heart so dear
As they did just a week ago."

"Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may ****;
God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever."
*

Old Luther told us plain and clear
Our anchor rusts if it be here.
On earthly shores, the harlot, Time
Demands we leave our pelf behind.

But still we gather up our things,
Amass our wealth, our riches sing,
Only to leave them, bit by soiled bit...
Wanting everything, but keeping none of it.

Time is a friend who's getting on;
She forgets promises she made in youth,
Gives the hope of summer coming strong,
Steals strength and hope and hair and tooth.
*From Book of Wisdom by John Gill (2009): "When a Christian is suddenly confronted with the sentence of death, he surely begins a proper evaluation of material things: my fishing gear, and books, and orchard are not nearly so valuable as they were a week ago." (p.270)

**Martin Luther, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Dec 2017 · 318
Uneven is the play,
Don Bouchard Dec 2017
I like it not.
Some actors' stumbling lines
Or patient yawns
Leave Shakespeare's thoughts delivered
Barely breathing or still-born
While others' jousting runs the play
Unchecked, unfettered, and yet un-free.

Mercutio's fitful rantings smoulder some,
Then, tired, lose their place,
Extinguished fire that nearly casts
A plague on any houses
Before a lingering death brings
Sweet relief to all the house.

Old Capulet, more bored than angry,
Tirades only tiredly at his daughter,
The last in a line of several disappointments.
We wait his piece to end,
Endure the hanging and begging and starving
In the streets, while Juliet entreats...
Gosh, I could use a bit to eat.....

O God in Heaven!
Give us up a little leaven
From this acting now so leaden.

Sadly, young Mercutio's dead,
And soon, Paris, and young Romeo,
Followed by young Juliet, and then Old Capulet....
The priest's alive, so we can fret
What further mischief he may still beget.
Disappointing performance at the Guthrie in October 2017
Don Bouchard Dec 2017
Beneath this morning's ice.
No evidence remains of froth and fury,
Of autumnal winds;
No sand-whipped waters beat
The chilling shore.

The wind, north and west that carried
Frigid breath down past the borders
Yesterday has died,
Leaving ice and cold to play,
Smoothing out the waters in their way.

Lake-wide, a panel, thin and thickening fast,
Resembling midnight glass, or
Glazing eyes at the moment of death,
Taking on a marbled look by morning,
Mosaic panes rough-textured
Under blowing snow.

The changing of water in its forms
Amazes me. Just yesterday, I thought
To kayak out a ways to battle
The waves, frothing careless and cold and free,
Unheeding the impending hold upon their wanton spree.
Thinking about the freezing of the lake.
Oct 2017 · 323
On our way
Don Bouchard Oct 2017
Through lanes of autumn splendor
We rode, top down, against a blizzard
Gold, and red, and brown,
Leaves diving and cavorting
All our car around.

Western sunlight glimmering,
Causing fire-like glow,
Beauty stunning in our traffic flow,
Forcing glory in our vision
The falling leaves cascading,
Foretelling coming snow.
Took a hundred mile drive with my sweetheart yesterday. Oh what glories awaited us as we drove with the wind and the falling leaves!
Oct 2017 · 480
Ghosts at the Crossings
Don Bouchard Oct 2017
Ahead, steaming with dew at the light,
An auto poised waiting to turn in the night.
As it started to move, I startled to see
A vapor make exit, then hesitate there...
A wisp, very slight, no more than a breath.

I'd have missed it, had not I stared,
Just ahead of me, under my lights,
Wavering yet standing upright.

As the car ahead moved to the right,
This vapor staggered its steam to the left.
Watching, I ****** in my breath.

I hadn't the presence of mind,
Didn't seize on the moment,
Didn't find enough time
To run the thing down
As it glimmered before me
A second...no more,
And then vanished,
Leaving only this thought....
Halloween is before us!
Oct 2017 · 336
Evening on the Edge
Don Bouchard Oct 2017
Frogs croak against the growing dark;
Loons call loneliness into my soul;
Chill invades me in sudden falling dew.
Oct 2017 · 316
Marching to Gehenna
Don Bouchard Oct 2017
Time has rounded in the world of men;
The winds blow hard toward Anarchy,
While raving sailors hoist their leaking sails
To gather, jubilant upon the floods.

The howlers peer into the burning winds
Seeking ****, spreading indignant fire,
Seeding hate and burning with desire,
Drowning protesters of the burning tides,
No chanters chanting peace, nor hoping love,
The baby's in the gutter with the bath;
So it is when mobs exhibit wrath.

Tear the histories from the dusty shelves,
Forget the hymns that honored God,
Brought peace and hope into our lives.
Chaos rules the howling mob.

Riot in the streets; burn the system down,
Send the politicians and their ilk to hell,
No plan to future build, no thought for afterwards;
No vision for the after glow; it's just as well.

Yeats proclaimed the Second Coming
Must surely be at hand between World Wars,
Yet still the Second Coming holds its fire,
While ranters tear the old ways down,
Dictators ratchet missiles toward the skies,
And great leaders twitter platitudes and lies.
"It's the end of the world as we know it...."
Momma, I don't feel well!"
Oct 2017 · 495
If it rains
Don Bouchard Oct 2017
"If it rains
While the sun shines,
It'll rain again tomorrow,"
Dad said,
Toting a post driver
And a steel post on his strong shoulders,
"Might as well finish this job."

I groaned under his tirelessness,
Grudgingly admired his grit,
Unwillingly followed,
Lugging posts and wire
Down gravel cactus slopes
Into green poison ivy ravines.

June sweat replaced the summer shower,
And black flies plagued us.
I can still hear him sputtering, "Jupiter!"
Can see him under the sun, leather gloves flailing
Clouds of gnats or mosquitoes,
His brown skin glistening.

I would have given nearly anything
To have been away from there,
Roaring down a gravel trail,
Motorcycle spewing clouds,
Carrying me away from chores,
From Dad's incessant stories,
His impromptu songs,
His admonitions about money,
About weather, about cows,
About anything but fun.

"If it rains while the sun shines,"
And all I could do was look for excuses
To be away,
To run away,
To hie myself away....

All those years are gone,
The work in the rain and the sun,
The exhaustion of following a man
Who never seemed to tire,
Wishing I were away.

He's not here or there or anywhere.
His ashes lie a couple of feet down
In a prairie grave marked  by granite,
Set in concrete my brother and I hand mixed
Beneath a hot June sun,
No rain in sight,
Nothing but high clouds and a steady wind,
Ready to ******* back East,
Away from these gravel hills,
And I am reluctant to leave.
Five years have flown....
Sep 2017 · 556
Apple Sorting
Don Bouchard Sep 2017
In final autumn heat,
Two weeks after apple picking,
The bushel baskets sag,
Laden with the summer's pickings.

Growing sadness clings to me.
I sort the dead and dying
From the thinning lot,
Fearing loss of all to rot.

The first to go,
Soft and brown,
Nearly fall apart,
Require gentlest touch;
Dripping cadavers
Leave healthier neighbors
Wet, in danger of early death.
In separating them,
I hold my breath.

On spotted skins I then
Must concentrate;
Look for inner decay:
Sagging indentations,
Fallen stems;
Hollowed caverns
From bird bites and beetles;
The evidence of worms'
Varicose trails, faintly brown,
Just visible beneath the skins,
Revealing company within.

My eye looks inward first, then out.
I know what this malingering's about;
The cankers that I seek may find me out.

Hesitation clouds my separations;
I wonder what a paring knife might do
To save some portion,
To spare the summer work
Of apple trees.

I wonder, does the apple
Dread the knife, considering strife
As much as I, when I confess my sin
And writhe beneath the penance
My sinning puts me in?
We are torn with the realization of grace in the presence of remorse. With Lady Macbeth, we may curse the ****** spots, because we know the need for mercy and of hell to pay. Though a Savior stands waiting to heal and forgive, we writhe in our stubborn remorse.

Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.

Knowing I am forgiven, I should rejoice, and yet I hang my head in sorrow. Mourning with remorse is not sweet sorrow.

The pain of pain is my foolishness in forgetting,
In my stubborn returning to sinning again.
O God, come save me from the chains I'm in!
Don Bouchard Aug 2017
Classes start today; summer's met its end,
The books lie waiting once again upon the shelf
To share the lie that education is the path for everyone
To happiness and wealth.

Those who will and those who won't succeed
File in and settle down, day one,
Segregated, aggregated in their rows of need,
Stamped by labels and by scores.

The gauntlet lies before them:
Papers, deadlines, speeches, tests
To find the laurel winners.
And to **** the needy rest.

"Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed,"
Old Emily once said, and she'd be right to say it once again
About the battlefields in every school I've been.

This fall I'm taking time to hear
My students' goals and dreams,
Their challenges and hopes,
To say "I see you with my eyes."
I hope to see their hopes arise.

The race is to the steady, Aesop said,
The plodders beat the plotters in their way,
If we who have the gate keys in our hands
Encourage strugglers to stay.
Thinking about the great aggregation taking place in every school, the separating of the winners and the losers, about educational justice.
Aug 2017 · 352
When the INFINITE
Don Bouchard Aug 2017
Invades the finite,
When IMMORTAL
Usurps the mortal,
When OMNISCIENCE
Hovers over finite sentience,
The mortal man I am senses
TRANSCENDENCE,
Stirs uneasily,
Shudders uncontrollably, or
Rises, silently in bliss,
Unable even with a literate mind
To ask, "What meaning lies in this?"
No words can express....
Jul 2017 · 164
Jack Sparrow
Don Bouchard Jul 2017
At the Sky Ride on St. Thomas
We sweltered in the heat
Waiting for the cable cars to come
Strangers seeking tourist treats

Up the way, a pirate staggered from the depths,
Dressed and drinking imaginary ***,
Wobbling a bit, the player indiscernible on first glance
From one Jack Sparrow.

I couldn't help but wonder to what depths,
Jack Sparrow's character has invaded Johnny Depp.
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