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A blank screen
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Just a blank video
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The end
Check my books www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
About today

What can I say to you about today
It moves along with slowly rising grace
Leaving all my thoughts of you still in play  
Around and around but still in this place

No matter what other thoughts may arise
You cast a shadow over all others  
They all compete but you are still the prize
That towers above all mental flowers

Come along with me, soar above this fray
Clear your mind and rise, rise as the sun does  
Each and every day without thought this day  
Will be different no matter what was

Each day is always breaking out anew
Aspirations swirling round what you do

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
A Cold Rain is here

The invading cold rain
Pummels the fall foliage
Punches the dead leaves
Like an angry mob of looters
Stealing color from the trees
Leaving the ground covered with the fallen  
Now bruised and broken underfoot        
Stomped and kicked to the curb
Trampled by the relentless rain

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Updatted 10/31/2016
Check out my books www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Aging Gracefully
It gives you clarity, perspective and appreciation

Always thought cataracts were rapids in a river
Or a boat or something: fuzzy thinking
Don't think they give clarity
Even bifocals don't help

As a kid I wanted to be a king like Arthur
Didn't realize getting a crown would be painful
Like a poke in the eye: going down the canal
And not a canal in Venice either

Always enjoyed a smile with dimples
But time adds wrinkles to the smile
Causing ever so slow changes
As my dimples turn to jowls

I found out that PSA
Isn't a pro sport authority
Doesn't regulate the rules of golf
But It can affect my game

Copyright 2016
Animal Crackers
A smal book of illustrated poems in my new book
Animal Crackers
Now on Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
My quirky humor available for all
Order now hellp a starving poet
Great Christmas guilt
A smal book of illustrated poems in my new book
Animal Crackers
Now on Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
My quirky humor available for all
Order now help a starving poet
April  

If April is cruel
May is so friendly
Pleasant and warm

May is green and pink and red
A teenage year
As summer learns to drive

June's young adult
Searches for July and August
Hoping for a tryst

Then a mellow September
Casting long shadows
To the final quarter

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
April

If April is cruel
May is so friendly
Pleasant and kind
The result of soft winter snow
And spring rains

May is green and pink and red
A teenage year
As summer learns to drive
Right to tulips left to peonies

June's young adult
Searches for July and August
Hoping for a tryst

Then a mellow September
Casting long shadows
To the final quarter

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff

Published in April 2017 Pencil Marks newsletter
Buy my books at www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff


As my hair thins

As my hair thins
Should the barber charge less
Give a seniors discount?
Or charge more because there is less to work with
Not enough to give creative expression
You know they are called stylists now

Copyright 2015
Richard L Ratliff
Autumn Morning On The Porch      


There's a chill in the air
Goose bumps and bristled hair
Morning coffee steaming            
Big yellow leafed hostas turning
Copper tree leaves falling like pennies    
Lipstick red bushes burning                        
There's a chill in the air

Copyright 2014
Richard L Ratliff

Published in Pencil Marks newsletter Nov. 2016
Awake?

Some morning
I will not wake        
I will have learned
Hamlet's answer
Or not

To sleep, perchance to dream
But if I do not wake
How will I know Ive dreamed
It seems a question without answer

Wake up Wake up Wake up
Can I hear that?
Quit yelling not so loud
You'll wake......
Is that white light ice?

Not what I meant at all

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Buy my books www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
A Warm Sweater    

You are a warm sweater
I wear like a second skin
A warm gentle breeze that lifts
Away the melancholy
  
A nod, a glance, a kiss hello
Brings comfort
As I move through time
Yesterday today and tomorrow

Hand on your soft waist
Rubbing hip to hip
That swelling inflating light headed reverie
Half real, half imagined memories
As homemade perfect dreams

Visions of the night
Floating away like a kite
Making love in the clouds
Sharing a laugh and a smile for no reason

Simple shared joy of a song,
A dance, a hug, holding hands.
We are philosophers of our time
Floating in the moon's evening glow

Copyright 2013-16
Richard L Ratliff
Breathless Conversation


       Oh do me --again

(You overwhelm me)

       Again and again

(I can't keep up)

       Coming again and split asunder

(I am too soft for now ---wait)

       Can't wait --come here!
       You own the wet spot

(Let me repose a while)

      Hurry while I'm here and now
      A visible slit in time  

(Let me rest my faculties)

     Remember the batteries
     Shake and bake



Copyright 2012-16
Richard L Ratliff
Bunny ears

Bunny ears, bunny ear
Down the rabbit hole
How can I tie my shoe
If I can't remember the line
Over under a round an back
I'm just different but it works
Maybe because I'm left handed
Don't know but I'm doing fine
Just a little different, unique  

Flip, flop, tie a knot
Doesn't matter
I've got slip ons

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Bunny ears

Bunny ears, bunny ear
Down the rabbit hole
How can I tie my shoe
If I can't remember the line
Over under a round an back
I'm just different but it works
Maybe because I'm left handed
Don't know but I'm doing fine
Just a little different, unique  

Flip, flop, tie a knot
Doesn't matter
I've got slip ons

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
From my book "Animal Crackers" available at Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Burma-Shave    

I remember........
Getting hit in the head with the swing set;
Doctor sewing up my scalp at home,        
While setting on the step.
Taking the bus downtown with mom,
Car shopping for dad.
Picked out a Ford with a windshield sun visor.      
A two tone black and cream collage
Mom using it to  "move the garage".  

I remember family vacation:
Driving to Florida before the interstate
Before Disney became a nation
Motels with pools, swimming laps,
And all those tourists traps:
The house that reverses gravity
Burma-Shave signs leading the way        
To where the fountain of youth lay          

Driving to the lake,
Dad forgetting his hat
At the halfway restaurant cafe
Finding it still there the next year.
Those were special days

Weeks at the lake catching turtles
Cleaning fish guts and scales                        
Swimming and skiing on glass.
Great fun and no care of details
No telephone at the cabin


Copyright 2014
Richard L. Ratliff  

Published in The Indiana Voice Journal
Butterflies and snow angels

Snowflakes floating across the sky
Cause such wild seasonal thoughts
Butterflies and snow angels
As the sun shines through the grey
Rainbows and snowdrifts
While traveling from place to place
Convertibles and snow plows
And life near the beach with
Snowmen and life guards
Playtime for children
Snowballs and baseballs

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Clouds

Dot dash dot
Clouds in the sky
Morris code

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my books www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Constitutional

Morning constitutional
What does it have to do
With the Supreme Court?

If it's been a few days
While siting reading the news
It's a great ruling coming down  

Vacating the lower courts ruling
And wiping the slate clean
Is a release to enjoy
I'll start my day
Flush with success  

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Mom’s chocolate  chip
The cookie jar is empty
She has passed on

Copyright 2019
Richard L Ratliff
Cookies

Does it hurt? Is it painful
Or just a gnawing hunger
Something  misplaced or used up
Going to the cookie jar
And finding it empty
You can’t bake anymore because
The recipe is lost  

Enjoying snacks one by one      
Year after year tasting small bites
Returning to the jar
Always expecting a handful
Until there were none
And you wished you had baked more
Or somehow made them last longer
The recipe is lost

Copyright 6/6/19
Richard L Ratliff
Dandelion wine        
                      

When you are dead and buried
Do your thoughts and memories bubble to the surface?
                        Feed the grass?
Do dandelions fluff and carry your ideas with the wind
Mental pollen irritating and pollinating the world
Impregnating others with your mental seeds
                 Both weeds and flowers
Do your thoughts continue and repeat a cycle
            Seed, growth, bloom, and seed again

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Drip

Drip drip drip drop drop
The **** kitchen faucet leaks
Those ***** dishes


Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Ducks

How do you get your
ducks to line up in a straight row
If you have only one


Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my books  www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Erase          

How could I have missed it for so long  
Living an Ozzie and Harriet scripted life
Unable to see the reality
Long missing forgetting ignoring overlooking

How can someone erase memories
Make just a bunch of washed out snapshots
Alcohol is good at disinfecting things
It can clean a surface or erase memories

She left me those snaps shots
No usable video
How many things were wiped clean? Sanitized
Sterilized to black and white no color

I don't know, so much has been overwritten

Stumbling in the dark with a small candle
Only now seeing touched up photos
Why have these past memories been blotched

Were those formative years sanitized?
Only to be revealed at the end
Still bitter about the ending ones

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Expecting you'd be there

Took for granted  
Did I ever ask for a date
Think I just assumed knew
You'd be there
Don't remember ever asking for a date
We just seemed to be
Could you read my mind from afar
You never broke my heart
Hope I never broke yours
I knew you'd be there
I knew you'd go
I knew you'd enjoy

Came to visit on my bike
Knew you'd be home

The movies :Doctor Zivago
Knew you'd like a love story

Home from college
Visited your modeling
Knew you would smile

Made plans for your prom
I knew we'd be there

Dinner at the Union
Football games at college
Knew you'd root with me

Frat parties
Motel night
Knew you'd stay

Stewardess job
Took you away
Knew you'd be back

Returning home visit
Knew you were there
Airport kisses

Then I knew you went away
Digital visits
What's next
Ethereal visits?

You were my safety net
I knew you were
And yet I know you care
And then you weren't

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
A blank screen
Is this the way it ends?
Just a blank video
Ctrl+ Alt+Del, Esc, Esc
It doesn't matter
The end

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Father

I saw my father in the mirror this morning
He hadn't shaved for the weekend
There was lots of gray stubble
And I realized he was old  

It was so gradual I didn't notice
Like it happened overnight
I should have paid more attention
Yet here I am staring in the mirror

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Father's Right Arm    
    

I've been a right arm seat belt
A set of training wheels
A floaty
A catchers mitt    
A steering wheel
A teacher, a scolder, a hugger
I am a father

Copyright 2019
Richard L Ratliff
Father's Right Arm    

I've been a right arm seat belt
A set of training wheels
A floaty
A catchers mitt    
A steering wheel
A teacher, a scolder, a hugger
I am a father

Copyright 2018
Richard L Ratliff
Fathers talking
When did it happen
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I don't know how it happened
Really my friend, I don't know
I had to stop and get diapers

You were just supposed to pick her up
You know, at daycare on the way home

Has it happened to you before?
Perhaps returning from brownies

You too? Were you
Going to softball, or soccer practice?
Playing catch

I know, I know, I was coming
From the junior high fundraiser

Well I'm confused, I was
Saying "easy, easy on the breaks!"

Nice to met you
Be back by eleven

Come guys come on
How did this happen

Only yesterday
I had to pay tuition

So he ask for what?
Her hand, quaint
A tear

Now I'm at the bar
Paying for everyone's drinks

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Giraffe

This lumbering power forward    
with knots on his head    
from bumping the rim        
has a tongue like Michael Jordan’s    
              
You were recruited
to play on the team
with our passing pigmy point guard
not to date his little sister

And that's the long and short of it

Copyright  
Richard L Ratliff
check my books Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Gopal
Check out my books www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff

Met my friend Gopal at the bar where he sat
Las Vegas has lots of places to sit and gamble
He showed me his fifty thousand dollar hat
That baseball cap had a big "S" on the front angle
It didn't look expensive but it was he shared
His daughter was graduating from Stanford

Copyright 2013
Richard L Ratliff
Got rejected        

Had some poems rejected today
Some 25 year old editor; with an MFA
Suggested getting rid of some chilies
They weren't cliches or common images
When I lived them 40 years ago
Life experience doesn't change much
But at 25 how do you know
That life is a series of cliches            
So acclaimed they are repeated again and again


Copyright 2018
Richard L Ratliff
Graduation

Buy my book Amazon.com/author/richardratliff

Picked up my sons cap and gown
At the campus book store in the college town
The clerk was so thrilled                      
Congratulated me and ask    
Is a masters gown to get down
No a bachelors I said
You should be so proud
Having graduated after all these years

Couldn't spoil her confusion.              
I just went along with her illusion
Told her it took nearly 40 years
Had to work full time and such
The effort was almost too much
But I finally made it
I then put it the trunk
Of my alumni plated Benz
Heading off to my son's graduation

Copyright 2014
Richard L Ratliff
Grandmother

I miss her for unknown reasons
We were never close
She is just link to history
But she was fun and comfortable
Made great chicken and noodles
I guess she was a life line
Sewing our family fabric together
From me to dad to her
Gave me a sense of continuity
A pathway backward and forward
I think it was a two way street
Especially when my daughter was born
As she was slipping away

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my books   www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Hand Soap


I remember
getting in trouble
While away on vacation
Saying “go like hell” when I was 8, or 9

As an adult,
I remember,

Not to wash my mouth with soap
Because it tastes awful


Copyright 2014-16
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my books  Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Happy    

Someone ask me
Are you happy?
How do you answer
The undefinable ?
The journey from
Happiness to sadness and back
And all the living in-between
It's hard to describe the flow of life

Am I ?
Not all the time, sometimes
Being self absorbed, who knows
My children make me happy,
And anxious at the same time
Do they cancel each other out?
Does laughing at a joke count
Just who decides?

My past provides happy moments
As well as oh **** moments
And just living life moments

If Life is the night sky
All the stars are happiness
The rest is the fabric of life
Everyday life sprinkled with star light
Hidden by daylight but always there

Copyright 2016
Richard L.Ratliff
Buy my books   Amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Lemon drop  

That lemon drop is bearing down
So hot it wilts artificial flowers
And melts my plastic apples
Maybe I can draw some clouds
To soften that blistering orb
And tame that yellow candy drop
Before it melts the rocks
That line my path


Copyright 2018
Richard L Ratliff
Hug and a kiss

A hug and a kiss
Can be the language of love  
Please don’t bite your tongue

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Hugging up

Hugged my son today
I'm not used to hugging up
He is a man now
Ice man

O’Neil was right he did come
**** I’m old to remember when he came
We had a freezer, but he came to jimmy southgate’s house
In what looked like an old medic truck from WWII
Down the ruts in the unpaved alley to the back door
Those tongs for ice cubes as big as concrete blocks
Scary giant tweezers loading that wooden box

Nice man wearing a dark leather apron
told Jimmy’s mom (Who looked like Peggy Lee)
“Have a nice day”
I think she liked the milkman better
His delivery took a lot longer

Copyright  3/14/19
Richard L Ratliff
In the hay
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How about a roll in the hay
Just for old times sake
Let's turn back the clock
If only for an hour or a day

Let me hold you
Like the young lover
That I remember so well
Though this time would be anew

I'll put my arms around your waist
So kiss me with tinder hungry lips
I'll kiss you back
And trace the the contour of your face,

You taught me how to read  
The words of curves and valleys
That make a complete book in brail  
A story I love to read and reread


Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
In the wind          

In the wind that ruffles through the trees
I can find thoughts of you whispering to me  
Memories like a great novel, love songs and themes
The morning sun works its way through the tree leaves
Like a taxi weaving through traffic
The breeze delivering a warming kiss to remind me of you
Blowing through the garden of my mind
all the flowers bow to the power of your memory
You tickle the hair on my arms, give me goose bumps
But it is not you; it's just the wind
And the sun makes your shadow disappear    

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Kiss across the sea          

Can we hold hands across far distant lands
And share our kiss across the troubled seas
Let us breathe the air from around the world

Can we share thoughts in the clouded skies
And embrace the images of lovers
Carried along by thoughts of each other

Let the words we share warm your heart
And shrink the distance that separates us

Copyright 2017   12/1/17
Richard L Ratliff
Lights on
enlightening input
Can't sleep

Copyright 2017
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my poetry books  www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Lunch
Check my books  www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff

Sky looks like cottage cheese
Spilled on a blue table cloth
Needs some black pepper

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Mean

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I forgive you
It's really my fault
I saddled you with raising the kids
While I was off to work
I should have done more I know
It's ok when you mock me now
I understand it's my fault

Twenty-five years ago you drifted away
While I worked blissfully along
Go ahead push away, you should
I deserve all of it
It's really my fault

Push away my arms
They must be in your way
I'll draw back if that's ok
Never could truly comfort you

My health is my fault
Just rub it in I deserve it
It's fine to berate me now
I never have fought back
Why would I start

Every thing that breaks
I must be at fault
I'll accept the blame

Copyright 2015
Richard L Ratliff
My journey      

The sun, a flashlight running through the wood  
As I drove to my far destination                    
Autumn removed the shade that shields my hood
From the blinding rays that cause frustration

Can last Summer's sun be so blinding cold  
I'm traveling in search of comfort lost
Time has me chasing distant rays of gold  
I must continue no matter the cost

Speed makes travel quicker than expected  
But the distance traveled remains the same      
No mater, the trip is unaffected  
It does not matter what I overcame

Reaching this place of warmth brings that feeling
Of comfort here that I find appealing


Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
Check out my books  www.amazon.com/author/richardratliff
Crossing contrails looking down
At the plains of Peru
A negative image of Nazca's lines

Copyright 2016
Richard L Ratliff
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