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Our beauty outside is a fleeting thing,
is but a mask we all wear. And in time
something we must all surrender, when
the mask we see in our mirror is no
longer pleasing. But it's the beauty
within us that truly matters, and once
discovered and acknowledged never
really disappears.

Outer beauty can be seen with
a glance. Inner beauty must be
discovered. By ourselves firstly
and then recognized by others
who care enough to dig a little
deeper.
This write was inspired by the thoughtful
poem "Reflections versus perceptions"
by our lovely friend C.J. Sutherland.
Jan 30 · 85
The Promised Land
The small family of four
were mixed into a crowd
of tired nearly exhausted
and disheveled long distant
travelers. Most having walked
overland for many weeks from
their homelands in Central or
South America driven by the
desire to escape physical danger
and abject poverty, all seeking a
new beginning. Men and women
many with babies or children in
their arms or upon their backs.
Willing to risk everything to reach
the Promised land.

Nearing their objective their paths
are blocked by a tall fence of steel
and barbwire, behind which stand men
with guns and snarling barking dogs.

And upon that barrier wall are posted
many signs some written others implied
in several languages that read.
"Stop!" "No Trespassing! "
"No Vacancies! Full up!"
"No Vagrants need Apply!"
"No work Here!"
"Not accepting any new applicants!"
"Move along no loitering allowed!"
"Go Back Where You Came From!"
"THIS BORDER CLOSED!"
"Violators are subject to having your
children taking from you, and or
being arrested or being shot!"

The disheartening collective message
being, you are not welcome here.
We got ours and you can't have any!
Oh, American I hardly know thee
anymore.
Jan 7 · 413
My Wish
Much of my life has been invested in
nurturing my children to embrace kindness.
To practice and project decency in their
lives and thus reap the rewards that good
behavior does inspire. To revere and embrace
love given and received.

They will be bequeathed some material riches
when I am gone, but these moral principles
and lessons passed down to me from my folks
are my most enduring and valuable legacy.

My lifelong desire is that my offspring pass on
these values to their future progenies, as there
is no greater human gift to bestow or receive.
Decent behavior and kindness are acquired
through repetitive examples and teachings
instilled in us by loving family members.
Jan 6 · 135
Seduction Expert
He comes as if on a mission, first around my feet,
rubbing against my legs as if asking permission,
then ever so carefully he jumps up onto my desk,
sits on the edge for a moment looking at me. Then
he turns his back allowing his large tail to hang off
the corner edge of the desk and like a fisherman, the
tail his line and bait, he slowly sways it back and forth
as an intentional invitation for me to play the "Tail Game"
with him. Left and right, back and forth, slowly, enticingly.

It swings to the left and my waiting fingers gently grasp it,
give it a light brief shake and let go and it swings back
onto the desktop, then back and forth for as long as I care
to participate. Cunning little attention gaining feline fellow
that he is.

Eventually I will tire of the game and require two hands
on the keyboard, thus ending the event, he will then turn
around and lay down right in front of me on the desktop
purring his pleasure song, and blinking his big seductive
contented "I got ya' again" cat eyes.
I have been seduced and manipulated many times
in my long life, but this little cat is an expert at it.
Stephen E Yocum Dec 2023
By Marshal Gebbie:

Sought the lost and lonely trailles
Slept beneath the stars,
Walked where the wild beast trod
And gazed aloft to Mars.
Tasted that which succoured me
Exquisite on the tongue,
Drank the wild and wooly brews
Then lay down in the sun.
Ran the race of all young men
Epic and guilt free,
Often paid the price in pain
Which brought me to the knee.
Could lament on sorrows past,
Easily shed a tear.....
But things just, kinda, balanced out
Twixt laughter and the fear.
Can't complain about my lot
I've scaled the mighty peaks
And paddled my old log canoe
Despite it's many leaks.
Guess it all boils down to where
Your values rest in tune
In moments of tranquility
Beneath a hanging moon.

M@Foxglove.Taranaki.NZ
A repost written as a reply/comment to
something I wrote and posted on HP
Marshal gets me, not too many people do.
Dec 2023 · 200
Island Girl
Stephen E Yocum Dec 2023
An addendum to 2013 HP poem
"The Road to One Chicken"
with 37,000 "Public" reads.

She was there again, a vision.
Slow walking with assured purpose
and grace not seen in most women
of any age, barefoot or in sandals.
Mainland restrictive shoes unknown,
and not required by her. A free spirit
exhibiting nary a hint of artifice,
a natural unaffected beauty.

Wind fluttering her long dark hair
like a flag atop the mast of a sleet
schooner upon a gentle rolling sea.
A Tahitian girl barely 20 walking
beside me, on a dirt road, by the
vibrant blue Ocean, holding my
hand and smiling.

Not having a common language
our eyes, some pidgin talk and
gestures conveyed all that was
needed. We loved one another
for a few days and nights, and
then too soon I departed as crew
on a sloop bound for Bora Bora,
while she remained happily
behind on her beautiful island.

Both this girl and her island
tenderly vividly remembered,
for over 50 years.

Some impressions last forever.
Unlike myself, she remains young
and vibrant evermore, a benevolent
ghost memory dream only appearing
at night and always assuredly welcome.
Now from time to time she visits me
in my dreams and I always wake up
smiling. Last night was one of those
times, and I was compelled to write it
down.
Nov 2023 · 316
The desire to cook
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2023
It seems of late, that I exist on
merely two bowls of Raisin Bran
Crunch (with cut up peaches or
banna on alternating days) wetted
down and softened with Lactose
free 2% milk, so it does not upset
my stomach or hurt my gums.
What the heck, I used to like to
cook and the gods know I sure
have the time, but have lost the
desire and the fire I surmise.
Lazy is not the problem, desire is.
Do two bowls a day count as meals?
Dietitians please advise. LOL
Fear not HP friends I eat full
dinners, with all the balanced
necessities, take all my vitamins,
and lack for nothing.
Nov 2023 · 270
Do No Harm
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2023
I have trekked scorching deserts,
leaving only temporary footprints,
upon trackless sands. Shallow etched
impressions soon erased by the wind.

Sailed upon deep ocean seas, swam
and surfed cobalt blue saline waves
skimming over colorful coral reefs.
Leaving nothing to mark my passage.

Hiked high mountain wilderness trails,
camped and slept under bright star lit
skies, decamping with not a single trace
of my transitory visit, or earthly presence.

In travel I learned meaningful values and
life lessons from people that lived in thatched
huts and never attended college or read a book.

My great grandchildren will not know me
except for some old photos and a few handed
down stories, I will not hold them, kiss their
tiny faces, or pass on anything I have learned,
that becomes my children's role. And that
will be my only lasting footprint on this earth.

This knowledge should be our goal in all
we do in our short lives. Like all living
creatures, we are but brief guest on this
earth. Destined to procreate and fade away.
While we are passing through, we should
endeavor to do as little harm as possible.
No amount of formal education can teach and
enlighten us as much as broad travel and the
exposure to the wisdom of nature.

I am grateful to have traveled and explored
diverse lands and cultures and to have
acquired broader insight gained in the
process.

I have bought things, built things,
accumulated "Stuff" much of it
meaningless in the full scope of
time and importance. My only real
ongoing accomplishment is my
family, that and understanding my
limited significance upon this Earth.

It is not what we have, it is what we do,
or do not do that matters. And above all
do no harm.
Nov 2023 · 167
Endings
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2023
Endings are often sad, we had one yesterday.
He was a proud stocky three-year-old Angus
steer, the last of our small herd, filled out and
contented on augmented buckets of grain to
fatten him up over the last few months and
lessen his lonely estrangement from his
departed or sold off family herd.

All alone in the pasture he would often bellow
mournfully, which he would also do twice a
day to remind us he wanted his grain.

When the box truck pulled in, he trotted to the gate,
curious I suspect. The two men in not so white overalls
stepped down and approached their side of the fence.
One man held something at his side.  The steer raised
his head and ears, stepped back a little, perhaps he
sensed danger, the man raised his rifle from ten feet
away and a shot rang out.

Dead in a heartbeat, the big steer collapsed in the dust.
Deceased before he hit the ground. Yet in his throws of
death his legs thrashed violently in sad reflex. The
accomplice killer opened the gate and cut the beefs
throat to bleed him out and the thrashing soon ceased.

This was mobile butchery, done on the spot, the skilled
butchers knew their grisly tasks and bent to their work.
In about 30 minutes the steer, (we stopped naming our
cattle, all but the mothers, when my grandsons grew old
enough to understand that these animals were meat on
the hoof, not pets and names made the partings harder).
Useful Farm Boy emotional armor I suppose.

In half an hour the two halves of our animal were bleed
out, gutted, skinned, washed, dismembered tagged with
a number and hung up on hooks in the truck, alongside
eight other steers of the day, all on the way to the shop
for further cutting up and packaging. Then placed into
flash freezers. Ready for our family to bring home or to
sell to friends.

Raised without injections or hormones this is healthy
beef, tasty too, but which I reframed from eating some
years ago. Having watched our cattle born and growing,
I became too soft hearted to eat them. Preferring to buy
nameless, faceless meat with no personal history, from
grocery stores in neat little clear plastic wrappings. To
at least avoid some of my old man hypocritical guilt.
So, the barn and pasture are now empty, no more 4-H
animals for the almost grown boys to raise and show,
out of the side gig of beef and pig business. No more
cute baby swine or bovines, no more dung upon my boots.
It was yet another chapter in our book of family life, another
ending. As all things must.
Oct 2023 · 185
The joy of Highflyers
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2023
After several days of rain, blue sky was the theme,
fostering a sunshiny afternoon, I was on my way
to the mailbox when their flight songs pleasingly
reached my ears. Sounds that have captivated me
since childhood, the encouraging yet plaintive
heavenly honking incantations of Canada Geese in
their massive vee formations, and at once I began to
smile like a kid on Christmas morn.

When I cleared the large evergreen trees along
the drive that first clear sight took my breath away,
there were hundreds of them, three huge flocks in
tight formations calling to one another headed in an
Easterly direction, at an altitude of perhaps 1000 feet,
probably going to the recently harvested hay and
wheat fields in the valley to set down for rest and
nourishment on their long winter migration South.

I watched until they became but tiny blackish
dots in an azure sky. Then louder honking and
another huge flock crossed right above me, lower,
closer, their nearness and songs turned my smile
to spontaneous unabashed childlike laughter. . .
If I could still jump up and down, I might have.

Once again, I was that seven-year-old boy laying
in my bed listening to the migratory highflyers
passing over my home. Wishing I too had such
freedom gained from the flight of powerful wings.
When I was 14 friends took my dad and me goose
hunting in Northern California. I had hunted pheasants
a time or two with some success. My first shots that day
killed two geese. When I got to them, picking one up into
my arms, I was overtaken by emotions of regret and began
to cry. That was over 64 years ago, I have never hunted
birds again. I prefer to hear and watch them not **** them.
Now if I and or my family were starving that would be a
very different matter.

Yes, you are right, there goes that blithering old fool again!
Writing about Geese and old memories only he cares to relive.
But that is what old folks do. And it shames me not one bit.
Oct 2023 · 359
Carpe Diem
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2023
I have always believed in the suggestion
and sound advice of "Carpe diem" (to seize
the day).

However now I am more inclined to sneak
carefully up behind it and gently pick its pocket.
My seizing days are pretty much over.
To quote the late Mister Buffett,
"Changes in latitudes and changes
in attitudes" Going with the flow
of necessity. To quote my grandfather
"The old grey mare ain't what she used
to be." Or stallion either.
Oct 2023 · 377
The Contest Begins....
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2023
To the cadence of drums and bugles they
enter the field, helmets gleaming in the light,
all clad in colorful matching battle dress.
A cadre of warriors crossing the impending
battleground. Prancing like cavalry steeds,
chomping at the bit, ready and eager to join
the fray.

Visceral electric energy fills the air, as in
one collective voice they begin their warrior
battle chant.

Across the field their adversary's approach,
clad in helmets and armor, fit and ready.
Both sides determined to defeat the other.
Fridy Night under the lights. The contest
about to begin.
Played out thousands of times each week
in America, at schools large and small,
from youngsters for fun, to beefy grown
men earning a living, spectator stadiums
filled with cheering rabid fans. Gridiron!
More than merely a sport, an extension
of our human evolution, a harnessing of
our inner natural instincts for aggression
and mutual hostility. Thankfully little or
no blood is shed, it is but a game. But oh,
what a truly marvelous sport to watch
and to have played.

Last night watching my youngest High
Schooler grandson and his brother warriors
play and defeat their foes of the week 42
to 6. Though, I felt saddened for the other
team, it was a very one-sided affair. But then,
there is as much knowledge gained from losing,
as from winning. I believe that to be true and
have shared that knowledge with my
offspring. Hopefully those boys on the
opposing team hear that from a parent,
or coach that cares about them as well.
Life Lessons, come in many ways.
Sep 2023 · 254
Time
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2023
Next to my computer desk, a battery
driven wall clock audibly ticks away each
expired second, "Tick Tock, Tick Tock,"
In the silence of the room, it's every measure
clicking like muffled somber drumbeats.
Sitting today the clock a foot from my ear,
I placed my fingers on my neck and found
a perfectly matching heart pulse beating
"Thump-Thump, Thump-Thump repeated.
Clock and Heart together paired in perfect
synchronization, an inescapable reminder
of the fleeting precious time that remains.

Each second, minute, hour and day a
cherished gift.
Older people are perhaps more aware
of time, knowing as we do that it is
not forever.
Jul 2023 · 258
Friendship
Stephen E Yocum Jul 2023
After ten years we recommence,
old friends together again,
Picking right up where last we
left off. Laughing and endlessly
talking, swapping animated stories,
remembering and emotionally
embracing.

Few friendships endure for
decades, this one formed by
two men, one from America,
the other from Down Under,
men more alike than not,
comrades at nearly first site
50 years ago, now grown
old and grey in these twilight
years.

Visit over, parting now with
mixed emotions of happiness
and sincere sorrow, even a tear
or two, sensing the inescapable
reality that we may never meet
again. That life is truly a fleeting
thing.

Adieu and thanks for coming
old friend! My love to you and
your sweet wife Janet. It was
great having you both here.
It was my friend Marshal Gebbie
that led me to Hello Poetry in
2013, told me to pick up the pen.
I remain grateful to him for that
advise and his enduring friendship.
Jul 2023 · 361
Class Reunion
Stephen E Yocum Jul 2023
"I see you there, I would know you anywhere.
(Both smile and laugh)
You have changed very little. Care to Dance?
(She takes his hand, and they go arm and arm.
On the dance floor they closely embrace and
it seems familiar.)

"Your perfume or maybe that is just your
scent, brings back pleasant fond memories
of you and me parked out on the bluff
in my '58 Chevy, just two kids in love
kissing 'till our lips hurt. Though a little
time worn around the edges, we still move
well together". (They laugh.)

(Close to her ear he whispers)
"I hope your life has been good, that you're happy.
That you lived some of the dreams you had back
then. My own memories are flowing, I suppose that's
what reunions are about, this is my first one, a bit
remiss, I guess, plus living 700 miles distant.

We were good together back then, wow, 60 years
ago, father time is an elusive fleeting old thief,
steals our youth and gives us grey hair and
wrinkles in return, not even a fair trade."

(Entwined they slow dance to the oldies for
an hour, neither wanting to let go caught up
in the mood. He looks into her eyes and says)

"I must admit my feet hurt; can I buy you a cold
drink while we sit, perhaps you will catch me up
on your Life's adventures since 1963?"
(She smiles and nods her approval, kissing him
lightly on his cheek.)
Bittersweet these reunions,
but worth the effort. The
undeniable truth is that
life does fly by and is all
too brief. Memories are
a beautiful thing that can
last almost forever.
Jul 2023 · 583
The Sea
Stephen E Yocum Jul 2023
The first time I saw the ocean
I was transfixed, caught like a
fish on a hook, or a newborn
baby first viewing its mother.
Enraptured and forever
emotionally captured.

For over 75 years the irresistible
pull and power of the sea does
still inspire and enchant me.
This is a purely one-sided affair,
as the vast oceans pays to me, or
any human no attention whatsoever.
I am compelled to revisit my coastal
Pacific sea several times a year, to
renew this intimate enduring
relationship. Recharge my batteries
as it were.
Some say humans evolved from
life in the salty sea, can that be the
attraction? A salt fixation?
Jun 2023 · 834
Yes, I remember my Father
Stephen E Yocum Jun 2023
Dads are people sons never
forget, for good or bad and
when the son is gone there
is no one to remember the
father. Say for some fading
black and white photos in a
scrap book: "That was your
great grandfather. He fought
in the war. People called him
Bud, but his real name was
Wyett with an E. He taught
me to cast a fly in a mountain
stream and tune the engine
in my first car, and not to lie."

My grandsons almost grown
are good and loving chaps, but
never ask me about their Great
Grandfather. Out of sight, out of
mind, I guess. Maybe I am the last
to remember or care. Our touchstones
to the past are frail at best.
Yes, on this day and everyday
I remember my Father with the
same love he bestowed upon me.
Jun 2023 · 549
Aloneness
Stephen E Yocum Jun 2023
When examined, and embraced
aloneness is not a punishment,
rather it is an earned pleasure
to foster and savor.
Perhaps one must reach a certain
age and level of maturity to grasp
this concept. My thoughts here are
inspired by a fellow member poet
Sally Bayan and her poem
"Comforting Dark".
Apr 2023 · 352
Bad Endings
Stephen E Yocum Apr 2023
From the outside in daylight my
large front porch windows are
nearly as reflective as mirrors.
Birds often mistake them for
open space fly zones.

Today I watched in horror as a
stalwart resolute Towhee fell for
the visual illusion, flying full tilt
into the window, impacting,
bouncing recoiling, reversing
and then trying it yet again!

The second impact bounced him
out onto the lawn, where he laid
stunned, feet pointing to the sky
for perhaps a minute.

I watched helplessly as eventually
he struggled to rise, then into the air
he drunkenly took wing, away from
the porch, turned and flew directly
back onto his delusion of freedoms
space. The sound of the impact
sickened me.

One minute alive the next he lay
dead on the stone porch. A victim
of his instinctive inherit perseverance
for freedom.

We humans; perhaps all living creatures
are not so different than this little bird,
our innate instincts can and often do lead
us down the wrong paths, even to bad
endings. I buried the little downed flyer
beneath my favorite Birch tree in my
garden.
Apr 2023 · 275
Gone But Not Forgotten
Stephen E Yocum Apr 2023
How long has it been since
I had ***, I mean of course
with another person?
You know two consenting
warm bodies embracing,
deep wet kisses, real human
longing, affection rendered.
Forever it seems, relegated
now to indistinct night dreams
and long life ago memories
viewed as if projected like
pale untouchable shadows
on an indistinct grey wall.
There, but not there.

What is love and life but
lingering vague whispers
in a night of dwindling light.
Lasting only as long as our
conscious memories allow.
Much is lost to us in old age,
one of the worst is the secession
of human physical interaction.
The intimacy of touching and
gentle loving caresses exchanged.
Apr 2023 · 375
Back Down to Earth
Stephen E Yocum Apr 2023
In my youth I strove to
ride all the WorldWinds,
until falling off, no longer
able to remount the beasts.

I miss the lofty views,
but not the extreme
exhausting turbulence.
Our grasp should never
exceed our reach.
Mar 2023 · 466
Tolerance
Stephen E Yocum Mar 2023
Humans are by our natures
nurturers, we thrive when
giving, we take in stray animals
raise and love them like our own
children, if they by their natures
eat our sofa, crap on our carpet
we readily with charity forgive
them, clean up their mess and go on.

Is it not sad that we cannot always
extend or receive that same charity
of tolerance to or from the humans
in our lives?
Perhaps it is because people can
speak, make excuses, even lie and
our pets merely stay mute, remote
making no excuses.
Mar 2023 · 158
Sightless
Stephen E Yocum Mar 2023
I gazed too long at the sun,
blinded, at least now I am
spared the sight of all of
Lifes insufferable travails.
Better to dream or remember
the beauty that was, then look
upon the ugly that is.
Mar 2023 · 647
More
Stephen E Yocum Mar 2023
In my youth I grasped for
more than I could possess.
Now grey of hair and beard,
I have learned less can be
more than enough.
Mar 2023 · 155
On Point
Stephen E Yocum Mar 2023
Running forward on point, stalwart of
instinctive purpose he stopped at the
end of the orchard, waiting for me
to catch up, turning his head he sniffed
the air, listening, ever alert scanning the
surroundings and trail ahead.

No one assigned him to this task,
it was just in him. It's reassuring to
have a good old dog scout your way,
even if it is only a leisurely walk in
our own orchard.

He has gone on alone now, into the
next life, devotedly blazing our path
ahead. I trust that someday I will see
him there, forever faithfully on point.
**** I do miss that old rascal.
If there is a heaven, I prefer the
doggy one not the people one.
Feb 2023 · 217
Reason For Being
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2023
The older we grow
the faster life goes,
priorities change
quality of living
and loving takes
precedent, over
self-indulgence
and material things.
Nothing as important
as family and friends.

It is racing now,
these fleeting days
and years, reflected
most in my grandsons
growing too soon from
children to young men.

Along with Steller parents
our little farm provides
a learning ground for the
kids, teaching life lessons
that inspire character and
self-discipline, with Cows
and pigs to show at fairs,
pride earned with accomplishments
and Blue Ribbons to share.

So lucky am I having a ringside
seat, watching yet another family
generation grow and ascend,
Football and basketball
games to attend, Christmas
morns of excited children
clamoring down the stairs,  
many birthday celebrations
with ever more candles aglow.
Memories all, retained and shared.

Perhaps the best part is,
these grandsons of mine,
still are up for hugs and
good night kisses, genuine
affection received and given.

Families are a true blessing
and a privilege, the only
real reason we are here.

All these things, remain the
sweet frosting on my aging
Grandfather's cake of life.
I sometimes wonder where
I would be without all these,  
my reasons for being?
Feb 2023 · 337
Peace Found and Shared
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2023
A morning orchard walk,
myself, two dogs and
two following barn cats.
Repeated often, a shared
companionable reverie
of mutual tranquility.
An odd family of sorts,
devotion comes is many forms.
Remembering four beloved
animal friends, all departed
now. But never forgotten.
And lovely sunny days spent
with them.
Feb 2023 · 225
Aged Parchment Paper
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2023
Under bright light, there they are again, close
up upon my desktop, two stark reminders
of my long ago-departed grandfather's hands,
that now I have reluctantly inherited. Stiff and
painful just as his must have been while nearing
his own inevitable end.

Hard used-weathered and bony, liver spotted
with nearly transparent skin, vains clearly
visible, wrinkled derma like aged yellowing
parchment paper. Fingers having grown
untrustworthy of dexterity and strength, not
my hands I recall from even ten years ago.

I loved my Granddads hands, they fit
his other features; gentle, comforting and
reassuring. I knew them and him no other way.

Now my hands and face viewed up close are
becoming bitter daily reminders of my own
precious and fleeting time.
We are cast in bone and tissue, not
stone. Bone and Tissues age and
change with time, stone almost not at all.
Living with that irrefutable knowledge,
now that is the challenge. I wonder what
my grandchildren see in my hands, seeing
through their young eyes have I always
been only old, just as my Poppy was to me?
Feb 2023 · 255
Simple Kindness
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2023
Your investment in Kindness
rendered to others' is a gift
shared, that costs you nothing,
yet pays huge return dividends.
Feb 2023 · 249
New Beginnings #2
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2023
Long sunless winters seem
to bring out the emotional
darkness in us, as we hide
hunkered down in our dens
of personal regret and loss
this enveloping gloom guides
our thoughts, moods and pens.

Not unlike rabbits, or other
animals of the earth we await
the light and warmth of spring
with its possibility of new beginnings.
Out of the rain and bleakness
our spirts arise, spring is a
renewal to all living things.
Jan 2023 · 792
A Beautiful Empty Vessel
Stephen E Yocum Jan 2023
Her eyes bespoke
à depth untouched,
an allure of sensual
mystery that she kept
locked inside.

We married, but sadly,
I never found the key
to unlock the voided
recesses of her walled
citadel, containing the
inner depths of unselfish
love and beauty that I'd
hoped resided there.
She remained a self-absorbed
isolated Island unto herself.
Looks alone can be very
deceptive. Too often beauty
is only skin deep. She has
been married 4 times and
no man has found the key.
Keys cannot unlock what
is not there.
Jan 2023 · 425
Dreams
Stephen E Yocum Jan 2023
We reach a point where
all our night and daydreams
revolve around the things
we did rather than the things
we want to do, featuring the
person we used to be.

A remembered scrapbook of
Life already lived rather than
anticipated. An exercise in
Self-Absolution perhaps
sometimes dreamed in color.
Stephen E Yocum Jan 2023
I stumbled blindly into marriage
twice, but thankfully soon thereafter
I fully regained my sight.
Repeating one's mistakes twice
and expecting a different result
is indeed foolish thinking.
Dec 2022 · 442
The Remaining Tomorrow's
Stephen E Yocum Dec 2022
The dog firmly placed his chin upon the old
man's knee, stirring him from sleep in his chair.
The only light in the room coming from the
television screen. The dog's gentle message
being, "Time we go to bed" dear friend.
A ritual event occurring more often now
and most likely tomorrow night again.

As the man slowly stood the dog pranced towards
the door, to go outside and do his required business.
The man also to the bathroom did retire, brushing of
teeth and to attend to his own urgent business.

Six years of twenty-four seven companionship had
bonded them forever, each knowing the other as
only best friends or family can, both fully habituated
to the other's needs and routines.

In the bedroom the dog sat upon his own bed, close by
to the man's bed, patiently waiting as he always did.
The man leaned down and took the dog's face and
head into his hands, forehead to forehead they paused
while silent endearing messages were, like every night,
conveyed and mutually affectionately received. Loving
friendship as real as any can be.

The man climbed aboard his own bed, donning his CPAP
mask like a pilot before takeoff and arranged himself
in his fully-automatic-adjustable bed, then clapped his
hands twice to extinguish the lamp on the bedside table.

"Good night, buddy, we'll have some more fun in the
morning." the man murmured, closing his eyes to sleep.
While his friend also laid down, curled into a ball and
released a contented sigh, as they both did every night.

Another day ended as most now do, as will, all their
remaining shared tomorrows.
Written four years ago, my irreplaceable Boxer dog Tucker
passed away two months ago, I do so miss his companionship.
I have lost too many loved canine friends, I will not be getting
another. Too hard to endure the loss. Too old to start again.
Dec 2022 · 343
Lots of Work
Stephen E Yocum Dec 2022
Loving people is complicated
and a lot of work! At some point
we just want to retire.
Dec 2022 · 340
First Snow
Stephen E Yocum Dec 2022
The chill morning brought a first of winter  
snow fall, accumulating upon the branches
of our naked Birch, and stalwart towering
evergreen Spruce trees, coating each in
alabaster, like powdered sugar frosting on
holiday pastries, lovely winter décorations
of the season, compliments of mother nature.

Gone two hours later, missed already.
Nov 2022 · 154
Candles on a bedside table
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2022
What has it been, over four years
since we lay naked in each other's
arms, breathing each other's breath,
enfolded entwined clinging skin to
skin upon damp bedsheets, with
the scent of your evocative perfume
and our spent passions strong in
the air of that room, lit only by two
flickering candles on a bedside table.
It is your touch and caress even more
than the *** that is remembered and
missed.

Two grandparents, friends and lovers
in their twilight years, one last night
that shall never come again, relegated
to sweet fading memories and shadows
on their own 600 mile far distant bedroom
walls, and a phone call now and then.
When I was young, I never imagined
that old people still made love, that
perhaps my own grandparents felt
and yet shared their mutual passions.
I was then of course quite naive and
mistaken.
Nov 2022 · 588
Chipped Crockery
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2022
Like my life, all my kitchen crockery
is used, worn and chipped,
Maybe I could buy replacements,
but sadly, they do not make them
like that anymore. Or me either.

Aging and time are unavoidable.
Sure, new dishes I can buy, but can
anyone sell me another 25 or 30 years
of healthy life? Now wouldn't that be
great! Let see I'm 77, 30 more years
would be 107. Naw, that may be a bit
greedy. I'll just plug along with the
wear and tear as it comes naturally.
One day at a time. Grinning all the way.
Nov 2022 · 229
CALCUTTA
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2022
My first impressions were mind expanding,
filled with crushing throngs of busy people
all moving, their clamor and noise unrelenting.
The enduring, evocative scents and smells of
a culture thousands of years old and thriving.

The wide mud brown life's blood Ganges
River flowing through the heart of the city,
filled with wooden crafts of all descriptions,
people on the banks bathing, washing clothes,
living, open funeral pyres burning, life and
death laid bare for all eyes to see as it has been
since Time Immemorial.

On the street's flowers and music in abundance,
women in colorful, to drab Sari dresses denoting
their stature, along with some men in western attire
but most in sarongs and open toed sandals. While
walking the streets every few blocks the at first
shocking sight of impoverished recently deceased
bodies laid out on the sidewalks upon straw mats,
swaddled in cloth wrappings awaiting donation
offerings enough to pay for their funeral fires.

Unaccustomed to seeing Westerners the people pause
and stare as if we were from outer space visitors, if we
stopped moving, unthreateningly and wide eyed they
would surround us, perhaps unsure what they are seeing.

A mutually curious encounter, Humanity visited up
close and personal. Aw yes, I fondly remember India.
Few impressions are as vivid and lasting
as my first days in India, the colors, activity
and memories the likes of which I had never
known before or since. Of all the countries I've
had the pleasure of visiting India stands alone
in drama and excitement.
Three weeks in India 1973
Nov 2022 · 265
That Thing Hates Me!
Stephen E Yocum Nov 2022
That mirror hates me!
Or is it me that resents it?
I deplore that face looking
back at me. That old guy I
do not recognize, appearing
more like my unattractive
maternal grandmother than
the me I see, missing the once
upon a time, face that these
days I can barely remember.
Oct 2022 · 335
Pismo Beach
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2022
Last night I dreamed of
Pismo beach, our blanket
on the sand, hidden in the
cratered dunes, the sweet
sweat of love making and
sandy deep wet kisses with
you, and the sunburn on my
backside that followed.
Memorable youthful passions
fondly recalled, never forgotten.
Oct 2022 · 258
Long Journey to Equality
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2022
77 years ago, I was born into
this world having but one
sibling, a brother three years
my senior and perhaps not
all that happy to greet me.

As sometimes happens, for
most of our parallel lives
resentment and derision
seemed to rule our relationship.
We appeared to have nothing
in common but say for decent,
loving parents and place of mutual
residence. Arguing, fighting the
norm of our shared existence.

Not an uncommon state of affairs
in many families for all the normal
sibling rivalry psychological reasons.

As we have aged and matured it
is only in the last few years that
most pleasantly, we've discovered
how truly much alike we are and
how much we always had in common.
That we are brothers in every sense
of the word. Spending hours each
week on the phone and computer
gleefully unearthing and exploring
those many similarities and memories.

Finally living an actual for real Bromance,
a long time in the making. And most
assuredly rewarding.
No one else shares our childhood
and family memories like our
brother or sister, as we age, it's a
true Treasure Tove of remembering
better when shared by two.
If you have a sib, and old bitter
feelings keep you apart, reach out
you may discover what we have
found, it is never too late to start
over.
Oct 2022 · 364
Wind and Sand
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2022
The blowing winds
build eccentric artful
geometric patterns upon
the beach dunes, Natures
crafty masterpieces forever
shifting changing into delicate
natural never repeated beauty.
Stephen E Yocum Oct 2022
Perhaps when I was younger
it mattered, needing to belong,
be part of the crowd, one of the
guys, desiring to meet girls,
or were business required,
looking for acceptance and
inclusion from mostly strangers.
Now as I have aged, been and done,
I would almost rather eat broken
glass than indure endless boring
events and gatherings of required
social small talk with people I'm not
related to and actually, have nothing
in common with and never really did.
Not antisocial, just anti *******.
Sep 2022 · 225
New Beginnings
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
6:30 AM dew on the plants,
à chill in the air, feeling the
season changing, fall is upon
us. A clear Sunrise glowing
day.

Hanging my robe on a wall
hook, naked I shiver a little.
Swing my good leg over the
edge into the warm water set
at 102. The other leg follows,
I slide in.

Hot water is a kind of heaven,
it envelops and embrases us.
A return to the womb perhaps.

The pumps engage and 50 jets
commence, I recline and murmur
"Yes, yes, oh **** yes!" several
times out loud to no one in
particular, as I am completely
alone. I think I say this every
time I slide in, such is my
unbridled fervor.

The full pulsing body massage
begins to overtake my aches
and pains that permit me no
more than 6 hours sleep at night.

Joyfully soothing, rejuvenating,
à rebirth of sorts, an everyday new
beginning.
I would like to meet the person that
invented the modern-day Hot Tubs.
I would embrace them, possibly even
kiss them gratefully upon the mouth.
Or just shake their hand.
Sep 2022 · 175
Generation Gap
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
I no longer aspire to climb
lofty mountains in summer,
or ski down snowy slopes
in winter, nor ride the back
of rank horses, or motorcycles
at over 100 miles per hour.

I still have an eye for an enchanting
woman from a safe distance,
experience has taught me that
looking is better than having,
avoiding those complications.

Mostly I choose being alone,
but I am never lonely. I have
explored the many mysteries
of life, traveled around the world
satisfying most of my curiosities.

I have fathered children, loved
and been loved, committed no
moral or legal transgressions
and possess a clear conscience
and very few regrets.

I have been successful in most of
my business endeavors, planned
well and possess security and
tranquility.

I revel now in the one day at a time
moments of living, with nature, the sky,
music, books, my fellow creatures of
wing and paw, a cool breeze on a hot
day, the sight and scent of flowers in
my garden, and most of all the joyful
times spent with my children.

Strolling the lanes in my orchard are
much more pleasant and satisfying
than revisiting and walking the streets
of the world's biggest overcrowded cities.

Happiness is finding our place in the
world, realizing its value while ignoring
all the other distractions of which there
are many. Knowing the difference between
Want vs. Need.

Written for my grandsons, who only
know me as an old man, one who
does not go off to work every day
like their dad, or seem not to have
many friends, leading them to assume
and worry that I am "lonely".

Hard to explain all this to a young man
who is just beginning life, when I am on
the tail end of mine, that our interests and
desires change and evolve over time.
No need to fret my boys, Poppy is just fine.
Sep 2022 · 205
Lost My Best Friend Today
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
I lost my best friend today,
more like my child than
merely a friend.

My 24/7 companion for 9
all too short years.

He could read me, my moods
my health, even my intentions.
We were both fully habituated
to one another that way.

Laugh, oh my how every day  
he could make me laugh.
A born and breed clown that
never lost his puppy inclinations,
his love and joy for life always
on display, even on the last day
of his earthly existence.

In the end though his eyes reflected
his pain, still his love for me remained,
with no words ever required.

Weeping does no good,
the loss and anguish must
be endured. Tucker my Boxer
dog with a wonderful soul,
will be remembered evermore.

His beloved chew and fetch
toys litter the floors, along
with his now forever empty bed.
What shall I do with all these
bittersweet artifacts of his life?

I will have to think about that
for à while.
A newly discovered tumor
and severe joint arthritis came
on all at once and in a week
he was gone, organs shut down.
One week from his 9th birthday.
Losing him reminds me I still
know how to cry and not ashamed
to admit it.
Sep 2022 · 377
Fate and Wishful Thinking
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
We don't control our own lives,
we pretend we do, but that is
merely a wishful self-deception.
Even human life happens not
unlike our riding a rollercoaster.
we are merely up and down
passengers with no control, on
board for the duration, at the
Whims of Fate, and recent
good maintenance of all the
equipment.
Sep 2022 · 223
The Chick-Inn
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
It was coming on darkness,
It was a Monday, the place was
closed, no lights, but 'say for a
neon Blue and Red Budweiser
sign flashing in the front window.
My father had built this place
over 72 years ago, his dream,
a Fried Chicken Restaurant in
a one trafic light, logging and
two mills town of 2800 souls.

Dad's "Chick-Inn" thrived for a time,
everyone loved his friend chicken,
this long before anyone out West
ever heard of the Southern Colonel.
Dad cooked and Mom ran the front.

On Saturday nights when the hard top
races were on, it was standing room
only. Even the railroad crews stopped
on the tracks and walked crossed the
Interstate to get a bite, Highway big rig
Truckers parked all over town to get a
good home cooked chicken dinner, or
chicken fried beef steak, hot biscuits
and gravy, best coffee for miles around.

That place nearly killed my parents,
opened at 6AM all three meals served
'till around 7PM, one day off on Mondays.
I was around 6 years old, I did not know
or appreciate how hard they slaved.

They persevered for a few years, then
sold the place and we moved on to a
bigger town and they to jobs less stressful,
they even bought their first home ever.

I remember the good smells from that kitchen
and sitting in one of the booths getting pleasant
attention from all the town folks. For my brother
and I even in old age, those are pleasant memories.

The old place looks pretty good, some new paint
and remodeling, the horseshoe counter is gone,
the seating is all different, no booths just tables.
It's now boasting "Fine Mexican Food Served Here",
and now some other family, one of many over all
these years I suspect, toils, mired in their dream of
restaurant ownership. The little town has not changed
much, one Mill closed down; one remains. It has
three traffic lights now and a population of 8000.

The sign outside the Fair Grounds a block away,
advertises "Hard Top Races this Saturday Night
                           Come One Come All."
Good memories like these, sustain us,
ground us and embrace us. The old
"Chick-Inn" and humble little town
of Anderson Calif. is one of mine.
Sep 2022 · 593
?
Stephen E Yocum Sep 2022
?
I dreamed that I died last night,
not just once but twice.
What the hell is that all about?
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