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To light a solitary candle
may not seem like much
but will suffice to
illuminate a neighbor’s path -
obscured by the loss of day.

So we strike a match
and with charring fiber and melting wax
reveal our neighbors’ faces
glowing faintly in the shadows.

Friends gather to join
their wicks and wax with ours
spreading shafts of hope-born light -
melting despair and gloom
in consoling flames of transfiguration.

Like a lighthouse set high on a cliff,
our beacons will shine through
the dark and fog of uncertainty -

       Light to press the harm aside
       Light to safen the shaking ones

in vessels great and small
from splintering against the rocks.

To light a single candle
may not seem like much
but it can suffice.
This we can do and we will!
Where do we go for sanctuary?
Tossed by turbulent waves in storms of time,
we scramble for a leeward shore.

Where can we find security when
violent winds rise to splinter our shelters -
cursing dreams to oblivion?

How can we conjure hope
when famine, disease and bitter tyranny
stalk us in the shadows?

The answers lie within us
where means and tools for restoration live
and empathy is our guide.

Gifted with imagination’s plow,
we envision re-cultivation of the thirsty soil -
so prescribed by our creator.

We think, and so we care.
we care, therefore we act and sacrifice.
The future is our calling.

Reason, trust and community
must ever be our strong and worthy foundations
and capstones of our sanctuary.
On a tranquil spring morning
     after the gold-washed rising sun
had yielded to the glow of an azure sky,

     the western peaks crept into view -
their crystaline white-capped peaks
     frosted by a nocturnal snow shower.

While the valley gently awakened,
     a frenetic dance swirled on the heights
choreographed by turbulent winds.

     Billowing clouds gathered like dervishes
whirling violently in a ritual tempest -
     hurling frigid sprays into the dawning sky

Down in the valley, the warming sun
     calmly consumed the remaining flakes  -
while battle raged on the peaks, unabated.

April, 2020
Through troubled seasons when cherished ones
      are out of sight but never out of heart,
we close our eyes and visages appear,
     from reliquaries of hallowed memories.

From exile, we gather sustenance
     from smiles or hearty laughs recalled
or brows contorted from common care -
     harvesting golden tokens of our kinship.

United beyond walls of separation
     we envision times to come
when we clasp arms again in solidarity
    and break a common loaf of bread.

For now, we chant hymns to caritas
    for all we hold dear and sacred -
conjuring not too distant seasons
    when hope and restoration regain the earth.
Rain clouds hover in the night
veiling the crystal moon -
spraying steady showers
on the hills and plains below.

The Missouri stirs from slumber
spreading claws of water up its banks
as rain sheets, lashed to horizontal
saturate the fields and valleys.

Illumined by the misted moon
The river’s shoreline grows
by inches through the night -
stealing into ever higher ground.

Daybreak finds new ponds conjoined
and spilled across low lying roads
and TV teasers sound their alarms.
'Stay tuned, tape at 10: 00.'

Downpours to the west and north
saturate Mississippi valleys and
Saint Louis flood gates rumble closed.
Farmers abandon all hope for harvest.

Our screens chant nightmare litanies
of sandbag crews and second floor rescues,
crumbling levies and sunken vehicles -
a twisting farmhouse claimed for driftwood.

The clouds’ reservoirs at last are spent,
the inland sea recedes to lakes
and our weary cousins stumble home
as the Mississippi quietly relearns it banks.

March, 2008
I’d never mark my stamp on you
even if I thought I could
and with lessons drawn
from father’s “tool and die, ”
I know I’ll never try.

That stamping press he used
left only negative impressions,
crushed in carbide steel,
to mark the owner’s brand.

No, I’ll have none of that
I need your free undented souls
To sing both “I” and “we”
in mystic synchronicity:
drawing life from the speckled pages.

But like my father at his lathe,
I’ll ply my studied craft
and bid you do the same with yours
so that you and I
can find our truth among the spots
and, with mysterious synchronicity,
breathe radiant, illimitable life
into the freckled, speckled pages.

June, 2009
for my parents with love

Such a grand and festive lady
that steamer to Put-in-Bay
escaping her dock
just after dawn
leaving Detroit's factory din
moored to the Michigan shore.

Sunbeams glanced off waves
in lake Erie's tranquility
bound for Sandusky
and Put-in-Bay Island.

Clattering silver and porcelain
veiled by sweeter sounds
of congenial banter and
ballads crooned by the shipboard band.
playing late beneath the stars
for 'swing' and 'jitterbug'
reeds and horns and ritual beats
blazed the air with frenzied jubilation.

Paired in the rhythm section,
Jim drove chords from strings and pick
while Janice matched beat for beat -
fingers gliding over ivory and ebony
until Detroit lights shone ashore
on the port side bow
where the Put-in-Bay would
re-tether to its Motor City pier.

How their union sealed is forever’s mystery.
Was it bonded
checking chords in a Gershwin tune
or on break over scotch at the bar
or with a sideward smile during “All of Me? ”
No one knows but the moment came,
as sure as rain to Lake Erie,
when Janice knew that Jim would ask
and he knew she’d answer, 'Yes.'

Thanksgiving day, 2008
(also Dad's birthday)
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