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12.3k · Jan 2019
Buzzed Poets Round Table
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
11.2k · Apr 2019
Train Soul
Juhlhaus Apr 2019
Fingers on the rails can feel
The pulse of steel and diesel engines,
The muscle and sinew 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, traveling approximately five million miles by rail during his career.
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
If I had words
To close the day for you
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.
Juhlhaus Mar 2019
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 left in your heart or mine

With no more tears to soften dry leather
I put both our hearts 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
7.2k · Feb 2019
Our Third Thing
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
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 unknown 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 unopened 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.
6.5k · Jan 2019
A New Year's Walk
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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
4.7k · May 2019
Ride Share
Juhlhaus May 2019
Midway upon the journey of life I found myself
Riding zigzag through dark streets,
For there was no straight way
Through that teeming urban grid.
Thus I ventured deeper into the night,
While rosary beads swung hypnotic
From the mirror, reflecting the revenant eyes
Of one raised by an invisible hand
From salt water rocks where as a boy,
He said, he should have died.
Deftly navigating changing lights
Of amber, red, and green,
He humbly inquired after my beliefs
And the state of my soul.
As to this, I could not say.
So I drew it out and held it gingerly
By the rough edges, examining
As best I might in that dim backseat,
Its wrinkles, creases, and scars.
In the reflection he saw all these clearly,
And with gentle resonance spoke
Of things impossible to know,
Less difficult to believe,
And blessed me so
That on passing out the door
I found my soul again soft and warm.
It was the most profound Uber ride I have ever experienced.
4.3k · Jun 2019
Every Now and Then
Juhlhaus Jun 2019
Every now and then,
Someone lights up your world
Like breaking weather,
Scattering the clouds
And baptizing your soul
In a deluge of colors.

Every now and then,
Someone captures emotions
Like bluebottle flies
In a jar, only to release,
Too delighted ever
To pin them with names.

Every now and then,
Someone dares you to dance
With words or muscle memory,
And laughs with you
When flailing efforts prove
That you almost can.

Every now and then,
Someone glows like Traffic Lights
And points you to new roads
They've traveled on before:
Ways that part and meet again,
Every now and then.
3.7k · Feb 2019
Soup for Squirrels
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
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.
Juhlhaus Mar 2019
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
2.8k · Jan 2019
The Day of the Site Visit
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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 Feb 2019
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.
2.6k · Feb 2019
Squirrels for Soup
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
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.
2.5k · Aug 2019
Maybe You Find Your Center
Juhlhaus Aug 2019
Maybe you find your center
On a couch beside a divided highway,
Where asphalt ribbons melt together
In the beautiful mess of the day's last fire,
Where light falls on upholstery
In a manufactured Southwest pattern,
Best suited to drier air but somehow
At home on a Wisconsin shoulder,
Watching the world go by in metallic paint
Colors and autoglass reflections,
Moving too fast to catch all the names
Of almost-forgotten rivers crossed:
Rib River,
Rat River,
Jump River,
And any number of State Name Rivers.
Or maybe you find your center
On the other side of a plume of red granite dust,
Where the asphalt ends and the rivers
Are more than almost-forgotten signs
Beside a divided highway.
Inspired by an actual couch beside a divided highway.
2.4k · Jul 2019
O Black Toad
Juhlhaus Jul 2019
O black toad,
Sage of the sodden floor,
Grant me your stoicism
As I my go labored way.
And may you prosper,
Consume legions, grow fat;
Yet deftly elude all
Who would do you injury.
A tribute to the noble toad of the Northwoods.
2.4k · Mar 2019
Dawn Ghost
Juhlhaus Mar 2019
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.
2.3k · Apr 2019
Happy Face
Juhlhaus Apr 2019
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.
2.1k · Jan 2019
I Am a Stone.
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
Long ago my mother gave me birth.
From her molten womb 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 light 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.
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.
2.0k · Aug 2019
Some Impossible Goodbyes
Juhlhaus Aug 2019
Some impossible goodbyes,
Like a farewell embrace
For a wisp of tobacco smoke
Or a parting kiss
From the vapors dancing at the rim
Of that favorite chipped teacup,
You carry with you wherever you go.
1.8k · Jan 2019
Heart of Empires
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
1.7k · Jan 2019
The Scrounger Sees
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
1.7k · May 2019
Little Colossi
Juhlhaus May 2019
Gravel mounds in the mist
Are the mountain ranges of fantasy,
Spring green, eerie seen
Through commuter train windows.

Pitched roofs recede
Into infinite distance,
And junkyard parking lots are legion
In the gray suburban obscurity.

Factories and landfills loom,
Monuments and masoleums,
The labor and the leavings
Of Earth's little colossi.
Musing on the view from a morning commuter train.
1.6k · Feb 2019
Fire Walkers
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
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.
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
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?
1.4k · Jun 2019
Mountain Writing
Juhlhaus Jun 2019
You neatly told me
That your muse is more a student
Of mountain writing
Than of poems; the way they go in
And out, all natural and deserted.

How otherwise can one know
The heart of the matter than
To isolate the heart, at least
For a moment or several, with
What remains of earth and air?

Leave it alone without water.
Send it into the woods with nothing but
A flimsy packet of beef jerky,
No swimwear, and hope
That the sky doesn't pour itself in riot.

So be ready for anything with
The grace to let the self be
Washed, dunked in a lake
Of coffee to emerge what it could
Have been from the beginning.
Written as a round-robin with one of my favorite fellow poets.
1.1k · May 2019
Lake Flies
Juhlhaus May 2019
In the sunbeams lake flies dance
Away the days like decades 'til
Exhausted from their revels drop
To coat the water with their dead
From where on Winter's other side
Unseen young will hatch and rise
To dance away their seven days
In the sunlight of another Spring
1.1k · Jan 2019
Omen (The Sword of Damocles)
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
1.1k · Jan 2019
A Morning Commute
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
1.1k · Jan 2019
Once a Friend Died
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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
870 · Jul 2019
Following Stars
Juhlhaus Jul 2019
The Sun kissed me goodbye
With a parting ray and left me
To walk the woods alone
Through green into gray.
Some say you can't see
The stars for the rain, but
Come what may, I will follow them
Until I find the Sun, see her light
And feel her warmth again.
I composed this while backpacking on the North Country Trail. The trail's symbol, which appears on its signposts, is Polaris: the North Star.
823 · Feb 2019
Haiku
Juhlhaus Feb 2019
Mercury expands
As pinched faces are eased and
Flowers remembered
Hints of a thaw.
769 · Jan 2019
From Kecskemét to Budapest
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
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.
749 · Oct 2019
Tender Thunder
Juhlhaus Oct 2019
Stiff necks turn your ears
To the approaching thunder
In the sanctuary walls,
A tremor in the civic flagstones,
Four million poster-board sentiments,
And twice as many young lungs.
They will be marching still,
When you can no longer
Answer those piercing eyes
Looking to your legacy,
Nor stand before the tender feet
Shaking the earth you leave them.
For Greta and the planet.
735 · Sep 2019
Gears, Sprockets, and Coils
Juhlhaus Sep 2019
Animated by twitch of muscle,
Electric spark through live wire,
Humming rail and synapse,
Wheels spin at the fingertips of maybe
An ineffable humorist,
The mastermind of this beautiful prank
Pocketwatch of silver and gold
That explodes in the hand
And leaves you stranded on the platform
The second you go to check the time.
714 · Jul 2019
I Felt a Tree's Heart
Juhlhaus Jul 2019
I felt a tree's heart one summer
Night after the heatwave;
The wood was damp where abandoned
Roots drew the cool groundwater, still
Trying to make cells, shade, and scent
As they'd done for more years than I
Walked by without pause,
Until the tree was gone.
394 · Jan 2019
Haiku
Juhlhaus Jan 2019
Blue sky over ice
And now water in my eyes
Not just from cold wind
On a cold, beautiful January morning in Chicago.
377 · Dec 2019
On Another Side of a World
Juhlhaus Dec 2019
We soak our travel-weary feet
Together in the deep end of a sea of clouds;
Take pause on the immortal steps
To inhale Yellow Mountain mist,
Coal dust, incense. Smokeless
Digital fireworks and sky-high butterfly facades
Sprout like corn stalks in autumn haze,
While we navigate this land of a billion characters
And more with only a phrase to go on,
Past the shops, libraries,
And reading rooms packed
With a literature only seen;
Poetic place names set
To a music only heard;
Guided by subtext, courteous,
And often as odd
As we find ourselves, on another side
Of a world only passing through.
Musing on travel in foreign places.
Juhlhaus Jul 2019
It is for no ill will, no caprice on the part of fire, but for love. Man wakens fire from sleep, feeds her, cares for her, and keeps her alive. And so she smiles on him with friendly light, warms him, whispers to him mysterious songs, and drives away all that would sting, bite, harass, or harm. For as man loves fire, so fire loves man and delights in his company, all the more in wild and lonely places.
Juhlhaus Oct 2019
I am a creature
Of movement and pain.
In movement and pain I exist
And have always existed.
To cease movement
Will be to pass from existence.
I am a creature
Of movement and pain.
A marathoner's mantra.
283 · Jul 2019
Hiking the Northwoods
Juhlhaus Jul 2019
In June, I saw
A beautiful white spider
On my backpack.
It was eating a mosquito.
I will write a poem
About it later.
Juhlhaus Dec 2019
May you find your Polaris
When fickle starfields shift—
Behind dry eyelids: no constant
But decision and movement,
Too deep in the gut for volition;
No feeling, only the throb
Of an unquiet pendulum heart
Marking the numb, blind hours
Between midnight and winter dawn.
For a New Year.

— The End —