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Apr 10 · 313
Happy Face
Juhlhaus Apr 10
Today I saw a happy face
With silent music behind the eyes
And a spring in her step;
Gray earth and skies
And storm forecast, no matter.
Apr 3 · 213
Train Soul
Juhlhaus Apr 3
Fingers on the rails can feel
The pulse of steel and diesel
Engines, the working muscles
And sinews of a continent.
Ten thousand horses throb the air
And bear down on a mile of freight.
It rolls by like thunder
Under a clear blue sky, stirs the soul
With memories of lonely whistles
In the night, a desert wind, mystery lights;
When little fingers at the open window
First felt the pulse of steel and diesel,
A million iron miles ago.
For my father who loved trains from childhood and worked forty years on the railroad. I estimate he traveled more than three million miles by rail during his career.
Mar 21 · 280
Dawn Ghost
Juhlhaus Mar 21
This ground is hard and cold;
Streets are empty,
But not the houses.
There people stir and peer
At me from ***** windows.
A gray ghost, I pass quickly
On long legs and silent paws
To hunt the city's rabbits at dawn.
A tribute to a forlorn coyote seen on the outskirts of Chicago.
Juhlhaus Mar 7
Before my doctor's visit Wednesday after work
I smoked two just to see whether I remembered
The taste of ash, mint and tobacco leaf
The stuff of life and death, the bitter and the sweet
Hurrying across the busy street
I looked up to see Mother Mary there
With dark eyes, olive skin, and wind-tossed hair
She seemed tired and a little sad
But her face was kind and she had God on the line
And ash on her brow, which reminded me of the day
I repented and gave the rest of the cigarettes away
Juhlhaus Mar 5
From where the bridge was, after the first plunge
Soothed the sunburnt skin and the hay-splinters
Loosed the straw stuck in ears
After I left you under the porch light
I stood alone on the other side of the night
Where poplars reached for the moon and stars
And the cows chewed on bits of memory from when
In the cobwebs and calf pens
They were brought to life by your gentle hands

You crossed two worlds to find me in the darkness
But I was not the one you were searching for
You prayed for miracles while
God stood by, arms crossed
Taking in the sunset and the clouds
Like an old tree beside a grave carefully fenced
To keep it disheveled amid tended fields
Thus the cancer had its way and I could not
Fill the void he left in your heart and mine

With no more tears to soften dry leather
I put both on skewers and held them
Over the bridge's burning planks
Too close and they were immolated
Not carefully spun to stay golden and warm inside
So I packed my hollow heart full of nothing
Filled the passenger seat, until
There was only room for me and the steering wheel
And no way to turn
Juhlhaus Feb 28
He was asking for something,
I took out an earbud to hear what.
He was born ten years after me
But looked ten years older.
He told me I'd never been in jail,
Never been homeless.
He asked if I knew
How he knew.
I said, "Good guesses."
He told me I looked different from other people,
Said there was no fear in my eyes.
He was proud of knowing so much about me.
But there was more he did not know,
Such as what makes me different
And why there is no fear in my eyes.
Feb 24 · 528
Squirrels for Soup
Juhlhaus Feb 24
Outside two squirrels foraging
Inside one hundred and one keys tapping
Three buttons clicking and one wheel spinning
Eight hours a day sitting badly
In an ergonomic desk chair
Soft fingers tap on plastic and glass
Weak muscle memory of calluses and splinters
And sunburn blisters from another life
Outside the old prairie wind howls like a phantom
Lost in urban canyons buffets the panes
Drives the torrents of freezing rain
Hard droplets tap on metal and glass
While inside high-rise terrariums we sit
Generating transient value that flits
Up into the clouds till whenever
You tap plastic to trade your invisible worth
For a hot meal in a disposable bowl
Ponder and sip in another life you could be
Spending eight hours a day in the freezing rain
Hunting squirrels for soup
A whimsical corollary to my previous poem, Soup for Squirrels.
Feb 21 · 802
Soup for Squirrels
Juhlhaus Feb 21
I sat outside today eating sushi and miso soup in the sun
Some squirrels came by and stared at me hopefully
I put a bit of miso soup in the lid and set it out for them
But they weren't interested
Then a gust of cold wind blew the lid over and the soup was spilled
One of the squirrels went for the crumbs in an old potato chip bag instead
A somewhat poetic anecdote from my lunch hour.
Feb 16 · 335
Fire Walkers
Juhlhaus Feb 16
With tenacious tread I seek the dawn
Like urban trees drink deep
Of lake water and clear skies, I plant my feet
Only to stumble through
The arid wasteland of my wound.

I walk off the pain
Though each step draws the flames higher
Each breath becomes an act of will
My own heel my pyre.

I set my eye, with rigid strides
Press toward the gold horizon line.
Maybe a fool: I am my own fuel
As forward motion consumes, I'm vaporized
And my sparks skyward fly.

Ashes
To ashes, dust
To dust.

Each searing step I take alone
Then in the coals see marks
Of other feet, upward look and meet
Eyes ember bright, fearless
Fingers tracing filaments against the night.

Fire walkers give off the light
By which we find a way
A note or rhyme, a guiding flame
As forward motion consumes, refines
And our sparks skyward fly.

Ashes
To ashes, dust
To dust
To gold.
Pain is lonely but can connect you with others who have been through it too, and beautiful things may result.
Feb 15 · 874
Our Third Thing
Juhlhaus Feb 15
Alone the third thing can't be known.
Alone, I am a cold dark stone
In a universe yawning lusterless,
Spinning void of aim.

Then light shines
In eyes and skies
Of gray and blue
And I am a new daymoon.

Night leads the day
As day ushers night;
Light follows darkness
As darkness the light.

I follow, you pull;
Take my arm, check my stride.
You and I mark time and tide.

We meet.
We pass.
We kiss.
Eclipse.
Heart quivers and the heavens shift.

"Let us go then, you and I,"
Wend our way across the sky.

The green beckons to
Me and you
Where green meets hues
Of gray and blue.
Infinite line: horizons new.

Misty islands ships drift past,
Clouds cut by spires of stone, steel and glass,
Cities bright in alley pools,
Magic light on windswept moors.

Prairie hills in gentle rain,
Northwood pines sun washed again,
Spring moss upon the forest floor,
Peeling paint on the unknown door.

"Let us go then, you and I,"
Together take the road untried,
Wend our way across the sky:
A little sphere of green and blue
Round which we dance,

Me and you.
For my Love, on Valentine's Day 2019.
Feb 9 · 375
Haiku
Juhlhaus Feb 9
Mercury expands
As pinched faces are eased and
Flowers remembered
Hints of a thaw.
Juhlhaus Feb 5
Even though I walked for an hour
In the snow melt mist
Threading my boots
Through the brown salt muck and flotsam
Winter's junk food wrappers
The city just stared vacantly
At its own face in the lake ice
Seemingly as uninspired as me
Not every day can be poetic, right?
Juhlhaus Jan 31
Hangs overhead by a solitary thread
Pommel set with Lucifer's jewel
Crossguard made of crescent moon
The Blade a king's interminable doom
On January 31, 2019 in the darkness before dawn I witnessed the triple conjunction of Venus, Luna, and Jupiter in perfect alignment, creating the shape of a long sword in the southern sky. Venus (the "Light Bringer") adorned the pommel, the waning crescent moon formed the crossguard, and kingly Jupiter gleamed at the blade's point. The omen was revealed to me as the fabled Sword of Damocles (dam-uh-kleez) which hangs over all those in seats of power, suspended by a single strand of hair.
Jan 29 · 244
Haiku
Juhlhaus Jan 29
Blue sky over ice
And now water in my eyes
Not just from cold wind
On a cold, beautiful January morning in Chicago.
Jan 25 · 642
Heart of Empires
Juhlhaus Jan 25
Wellspring of blood and gold
In flame and glory ever
Doest thou faithful rise
Cast off thy vapor shrouds
Radiance of ancient godhood undimmed

Magnified by singing ice
As prophesied in the late darkness thy
Hoped triumph heralded while
Bearers chained on metalled rails
Muttered protest under
Hoary breath of polar air

But lo! The brazen promise of thine
Image graven in beholder's eye
Rings hollow in the bitten ears
And the stung flesh
Feels thy boasted fire
Not at all

Above thee stands the city's goddess proud
So virile once thou smilest
Upon her white clad shoulder now
Ceres scorns thine impotence turns not
But fixes her steeled gaze
On the frozen north
Mythos of a -15˚F Chicago sunrise.
Jan 23 · 656
The Scrounger Sees
Juhlhaus Jan 23
A sidewalk canvas
Half done slush
An oil slick
Twice frozen ice
And boots that slip
A train just missed
The red eyes glare
Rain that floats
In sour air
Brutalized concrete
Bleeding rust
Filthy floors
And alley walls
Spent cigarettes
In every nook
Steel that shrieks
In cold protest
Blue lights
And a defiant poet
On every corner
An inventory of materials.
Juhlhaus Jan 22
I'd give you sunbeams
Golden of hue
I would make this light
Last for all time
And wish you a night
Bright with moon shine
If I had words
To close the day for you
A spin on "If I Had Words" (1978) by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keely. A wish for a friend on a special day.
Jan 17 · 1.1k
A New Year's Walk
Juhlhaus Jan 17
On a misty city morning
still resolved to early rising
I came upon a heap of corpses

They were child sacrifices
made to satisfy the fancy
of Christian capitalist and pagan
and a jolly old fat man
who lives at the North Pole

They might have been

growing tall
in a field or on a hill
drinking sunlight
breathing love songs
in answer to caress of wind

But the silent pines
didn't seem to mind
their broken bodies one last gift
filling my chest with fragrant air
and longings
for fields and hills
on a misty city morning
Jan 16 · 2.0k
Buzzed Poets Round Table
Juhlhaus Jan 16
Sipping the air of a city night
So heady in the cold
On the move under static lights
Little worlds about
To collide

Gravity frivolity
Draw broken hearts like earth bound stars
As the pull of every
Small storied point holds others back
From abysses beneath
Dark waters

Lone souls each
And all compose this metropolis
Joy is to be
Discovered in insignificance
Where together
We belong
Three poets walked into a bar. These are some thoughts that emerged.
Juhlhaus Jan 15
I hurried out at six fifteen to wait
For a train with a waning moon,
Bright Venus and Jupiter hovering
Above the skyline. The amber horizon
Turned to orange and pink
As scattered stars went dim.

Misread the schedule and arrived
Downtown three quarters of an hour
Before my Electric District connection.
An accidental gift to self. I ascended
And ate two breakfast sandwiches
I got for one dollar with a coupon,
Warm in my hands on a blue picnic table.

The sky grew light
Above the Lake and I wandered
Through Millennium Park. It was empty
Or nearly, which felt the same.
The sun broke the bent horizon
In chrome and ice. I took some pictures,
Then descended to find Track Five.

The day's light revealed
Hollow houses with cartoon stone applied
Like paint, unable to compete
For preeminence with two-car garages.
The newest were bigger and offered
In different colors, but all the same.
Driving conditions were excellent.

At sunset I stood on another platform
Above a busy highway. The last rays came
Through tree branches and melted
Into the pale sky as they left my face.
I had witnessed that sun's birth,
It had warmed me while I waited for my carpool,
Rested with me on a concrete planter after lunch.

I entered the city in darkness
A second time. Changed muddy boots
For clean shoes and hurried to the museum.
It was a free night, overcrowded
With families and children, so difficult
To find a quiet corner for contemplation,
Any sanctuary for my own small soul.

I descended, discovered the typewriters, then
Realized you and I were already there, just
In different colors, using different words,
Spending school vacation to view old paintings
And the Holiday Miniature Rooms.
It dawned and the future was brighter even
As I left the city in darkness.
For a wonderful fellow poet who reminds me that there is no such thing as an ordinary day.
Juhlhaus Jan 14
Seventy minutes or years
And the bus does not stop
We chose to get on
Knowing where we'd get off
Guided by our Hungarian brother

We ride past invisible fields
And through birch forests
I see their ghosts
In the headlights' glow
By day it could be Wisconsin
Or Indiana or Michigan

What a feast we enjoyed
The bounty of earth and its creatures
Gifts of love from family
We met only once before
Five households around the table
And two or three languages

Their people have well-hidden scars
Seeds of pain are buried deep
Underneath these invisible fields
Brother betrayed brother here
And many times before that
Since the first of us

Fairy lights dance on the horizon
And assemble to make a suburb
But the bus does not stop
By night it could be Wisconsin
Or Indiana or Michigan
And so it is

Seventy years or minutes
To process these thoughts
And in that time
Seeds of pain may grow
Into gifts of love
If we choose
Written as a stream of consciousness on an express bus traveling between the cities of Kecskemét and Budapest in Hungary.
Jan 13 · 351
I Am a Stone.
Juhlhaus Jan 13
Long ago my mother gave me birth.
From her molten **** in the cooling rain I took shape.
Wind and water gently fashioned me
And smoothed my hard edges.
Through riven clouds the bright sun warmed me,
And in the mist life wove me mossy coverings.
Day after day I listened to the wind in the heather
And the cry of the sea birds wheeling overhead.

Men found me on the mountainside,
Stripped me of my mossy cloak
And hauled me away on a cart of wood,
To be used for the glory of God.
With metal tools and hammer blows they fashioned me
And gave me hard edges.
They stacked me high on top of other stones,
Fitted me snug and sealed me in.
Through narrow windows colored lights shone on the floor below,
And in the darkness voices rose with scented smoke,
Singing of the glory of God.

Men warred with other men, took each other’s lives
And threw down what they had raised up, for the glory of God.
Scorched by angry flames, I fell
From that high place to lie broken in the ashes.
Wind and water gently washed me
And smoothed my hard edges.
Through riven clouds the bright sun warmed me,
And in the mist life wove me mossy coverings.
Day after day I listened to the wind in the ruins
And the cry of the sea birds wheeling overhead.

A shepherd found me in the grass, lifted me up
And carried me away in his arms.
He nestled me alongside other stones
To keep the wandering sheep from deadly cliffs.
Though riven clouds the bright sun warms us,
And in the mist life weaves us mossy coverings.
Day after day we listen to the wind in the heather
And the cry of the sea birds wheeling overhead.
I would not have thought a stone could possess a soul, until I visited Scotland. This poem was inspired in part by a visit to the ruins of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. I composed the poem a few months later, after a friend suggested I write an essay describing my spiritual journey through disillusionment and doubt. As I pondered this, it seemed that no essay could ever convey my bound-up thoughts and emotions, but a poem might begin to do so.
Jan 13 · 513
Once a Friend Died
Juhlhaus Jan 13
I cried and I cried
Such a great pain
My heart's well it did drain
None has equaled since then
And free of tears I have been
Jan 13 · 568
A Morning Commute
Juhlhaus Jan 13
The sweet kiss of the young sun
And a bitter embrace
Begin another day.
Do people still die in the cold?
Trains and warm cars keep it at bay.
Could one bewitched by this light
Receive its kisses
While losing his life?
The universe giveth and taketh away.

— The End —