Storm winds from the west
Send us scurrying down the plank
Steps into the dank basement
Sounds become deafening as the
Skies darken

Whatever is happening
Is only visible through a four-paned
Window no larger than a newspaper

At age seven this is all new
Thunder, lightening, storms
Have come and gone
Usually starting in the west
Among growing and billowing clouds
This time the darkness is heavy
Winds blow straight yet swirl simultaneously

A look of fear covers his mother’s face
Unlike any he has seen before
His father, a man of few words and a placid personality
Forces new wrinkles upon his worried forehead

The hay barn slides across the yard
Walking as though each wall has legs
Slowly collapsing, it crumbles into the granary
Once it lands the storm begins to abate
They will survive
Slowly, step by step his father, then his mother
And finally he ascend to view what damage
Has occurred.  One view and he knows the answer
The devastation is substantial
Survival, storms, childhood
Sep 6 · 127
Freshly Planted Bush
That freshly planted bush
Dries under the afternoon sun
Filtering through an overgrown pear tree
Loaded with an unpicked harvest

Were he younger
He would climb the tree
Were he younger he would
Enter the house and kiss
The woman
Who says she loves him

That freshly planted bush
Might not make it
Through the Fall
Wilting and dying before Winter

Were he younger
The plant would not die
Were he younger
What would the plant become
Aug 12 · 207
I Nag Myself
Among the many things
I have learned to do
In this life
Is to “nag” myself

I nag myself
To take a walk
Because it is good for me

Exercise you know
Is good for me

I nag myself
To avoid wasting time
And I nag myself to
Take some time for myself

I nag myself about the things
I did not do
Like buy a sweet sports car
Like see that popular foreign movie
Like read the writings of the Dalai Lama
Like love others more
Like love myself more

I nag myself
To stop nagging myself
I nagged myself to post this poem.
Aug 1 · 159
Let me look really intending to see

How soft and graceful your smile can be

Let me gather every furrow’s wrinkle and dip

Each purposeful twist upon your lip

Sensing every fear, anger and envy

Let me escape judgments of thee

And keep all distractions away from me

While I am collecting all of your script

Let me look, really intending to see

Summon each emotion be it sad or happy

Amass all your thoughts, goals and worry

Reflect, rephrase, without a slip

All pain, plight, dilemma, and witty quip

And in the end realize the need to let you be

Let me look, really intending to see
Jun 30 · 238
Is it harder to let go of
Bad habits and addictions
Or, harder to climb over
That wall where
Feelings hide away

There is so much one can do
With feelings, stuffing them
into some bulging mental drawer
Is generally counterproductive
And learning to befriend them
Is no easy task albeit
Extremely worthwhile

Each engendered feeling
Seems as tough to hide as
A newborn puppy
In a college dormitory

Peaking over the wall
At secreted feelings
Displays piles of anger, fear, envy,
While more pleasant feelings like joy  
Fight to garner attention

Pleasant or unpleasant
Gently pet each emotion
Befriend it and it will
Give you strength
And insight into
Weathering a crisis,
Healing a relationship
Or finding your path in life
Not sure this is even a poem.  I can't seem to make it flow so I'm posting it as a stream of consciousness.
May 23 · 355
The Way Out
Late in the evening we chew over
     how to foil dilemmas and conflicts

Does resolution come from
     defending my ground

Or by being sure I establish
     your guilt

Is life like a court
     of law

Or a platform for

The answer may be
     far afield

In an arena where shared
     feelings and misperceptions
     trump facts

Where love is honest enough to yield
     a renewed commitment
Mar 10 · 1.1k
Tonight is a cluster of
Recognitions, remembrances
Mostly reminiscence
Which sift in the breeze
Gusting beneath the temporary
Tarpaulin tent

Backs are slapped
Arms embraced
Smiles predominate
As shiny faces and gleaming  foreheads
Illuminated by flashing cameras
Twinkle like fireflies displaying
In a muggy June meadow

Photos pulled from stained
Billfolds move from hand to hand
Displaying glossies of babies, graduations
Weddings and “The big catch”

Relatives, friends and officials
Find their place on folded metal chairs
For a wedding ceremony

Tonight has become a gathering
Marriage planned for tonight
Mar 9 · 291
Imprisoned Emotions
As pen rubs against paper
What is the purpose
To illustrate, with words
All that is within

Emotions imprisoned
Have feasted on my flesh
Now released to you as
Impressions on a page

Let me send them
To you, to others

Let us see if anyone
Has the compassion
To take them in
To live with them
As I have
Embattled, alone
At war with these
Unfulfilled passions
Mar 8 · 289
Walking on a river’s bank
Looking inward
I pause with fear

Turning over rocks
May not
Soothe my heart

There may be mysteries and
Fears waiting
Amid joyous realizations
Waiting in the warmth
Of the ground

Sensing what is about me
Intaking all that is
Allowed to transform
Like I’m pumping
an accordion’s bellows

Breathing in and out while
Each of my senses
Alerts me to what
Surrounds me

I want to feel those things
That are pieces of me  
But do not define me
Feb 19 · 182
The sheets are cool
Upon crawling inside
Unlike your continual warmth

A lullaby soothes me
Welcoming my dreamworld
Perhaps infancy is approaching

Over forty years
Beside legs willing
To entangle

Whoever thought our nights
Would become my
Emotional sustenance
Feb 18 · 197
Odd standing alone
Before becoming
One of them

Their gathering looks
Warm from the outside
Will I become singed
When leaning into the
Friction they generate
Trying to hide
From each other

Being with them feels
Like I might
Shed some armor
And give up
That loneliness
Of staying outside looking in

Each one is hard to hate
How long must I wait
To be noticed
How shall I  
safeguard myself
Without degrading another
Lean in, stay curious
Feb 7 · 132
Each morning
the boundaries recede
Skies are still blue
Wisps of wind still stir
High noon marks an end
and a beginning
Must someone star
in a slow motion film
as a carp stirring
in the remnant floodwater
of a receding river
Trapped, alone, hopelessness,
Inspired by a line in Victoria's poem
Habitual tendencies
Jan 29 · 264
Sullen is seldom
Used to describe the day

Today stillness sets heavy
Amid morning’s dew

Shadows cast by
Morning’s sun seem
Uncommonly gloomy

How long will
Debate fill my brain?

Is the day glum
Or is there a surly
Infection upon my soul?
Mornings, Mondays, Weariness
Jan 27 · 173
Heart Speak
Words form in the mind
Evoke from the throat
Meant from the heart
Designed to *******
To the soul

Words so often fall barren
To the ground

Listen to each beat of
Blood racing
Through veins
In search of
A distinctive

Intellect emanates
From the heart

Listen, hear
Heart speaks
Heart, life
Jan 12 · 741
Easy Road
Sitting next to you
Feels like driving
On an easy path

Sitting in your shadow
Soothes my wounds
As an ******
Sedates life’s pains

I sit beside you
As you gather my
Responsibilities into
Your basket
And carry them for awhile

You help me understand
When to set blame aside
When to carry duty uphill
And when to let you grab
One of my hands
And pull me to your level

I sense a danger here
A bait as wispy and enchanting
As a fly fisherman's lure
Dec 2017 · 380
A Life Without Resentment
William A Poppen Dec 2017
Life Without Resentment

Nearly everyone has stored
among hardbacks and paperbacks
or dusty mental drawers
resentments, gathered incidentally
unintentionally or
by rubbing shoulders
with ingrates and other
irritating souls

Meeting her, she exudes
an excitement for what is said
while displaying an openness
a self-reliance
that disallows any acrimony
indignation or animosity

No bitterness is harbored
nor rancor secreted
among the ruins
of her disappointments

Not long-suffering
the past is forgiven and forgotten

Not apprehensive or perturbed
she treads in this moment
with the power of living in the present
no longer feeling victimized
She lives refreshed, restored
without resentment
My impression of someone I know who now seems free of resentment
Dec 2017 · 110
Removing Spend Stalks
William A Poppen Dec 2017
Brown and withered
Who could foresee
How tenuous was the
Hold on earth

Embedded deep
Surrounded by soft
loam, lightly tethered
There was slight resistance

Efforts to replace
Prove futile
Remnants of what
Once appeared to thrive

Lie gathered among
Scraps decaying
In the morning sunlight
When the weather turns cold, hosta foliage "melts" like tissue paper. Clearing away this foliage in late fall will make way for new growth.
Dec 2017 · 244
William A Poppen Dec 2017
Like a newborn
I am stimulated
By whatever is near

Things become unfathomable
I’m unable to grasp
My surroundings

What is near and
What is far?

Distractions flow
Like tattered streamers
Waving from a
Parade float heading
To the junkyard

With blurs all around
Life becomes like
Circular bands of light
Emanating from streetlights
Along a foggy riverside highway

Whenever lucidness invades
Life seems simple,
And I realize
it is simple

All that is required
Is to traverse
Layer upon layer
Of  events and missions
Difficult to accomplish
Is life complicated or simple or a combination of the two?
Oct 2017 · 186
The Appearance of Anger
William A Poppen Oct 2017
Although the landscape is level
clouds begin to bellow
in the distance

Mere wisps at first
gradually more pronounce
gray, then coal-black

Interrupted with flashes
strikes, bold and brilliant
disappearing, reappearing
each with a thunderous entry
and silently sleeking away

Where would it display
its fury and
what would be
left behind

Was it birthed of one’s own volition
Was it intended or uncontrolled
Nevertheless, left behind
is a blistered path
waiting to be healed
to spring forth
albeit slowly as a
recovering forest
after a wildfire
What does anger look like?  (A friend asked this question yesterday and it sparked this poem.)
Aug 2017 · 438
William A Poppen Aug 2017
A bee is flitting with my shoulder
pecking aimlessly around my ears
plotting a plan to strangle me

If the plan evolves
I fear I will become
anchored into
the depths of grief

And invaded by drips
of senselessness,  
fierce enough
that their stench
can’t be purged
with fans, perfumes
or candles

Will the enormity
of it all kindle
a fragmentation
more taxing than
trying to complete
the Rubik’s Cube
Aug 2017 · 429
William A Poppen Aug 2017
Each day is
as a procession of
redundant clopping
on the ground
rhythmic sounds
that anesthetize,

have we become blinkered
along this trail
through life

like a steed in harness
undistracted by
glimpses of
clouds of hate
along the horizons
or seething storms
blowing in from the seas
This poem is revised in an attempt to respond to the events in Charlottesville, VA
Jun 2017 · 520
William A Poppen Jun 2017

With time names and dates
engraved on headstones
weather beneath pelting sleet and rain
to soften carefully chiseled letters

Little by little
etchings become
blurred at the edges
indistinct and unreadable

Personality features
fade daily
hidden with words
structured into facades
readily available as a cover
from those who wish
to unearth the treasures within

What a struggle to hide
to mute or soften
eccentricities into normalities
What an effort
continual concealment
behind frights and fears
as though a child
playing hide-and-go seek with others

Self-effacement becomes
a life-style of constantly
playing a game without a prize
First write in a long time.  I'm giving HelloPoetry another try
Apr 2017 · 418
Today is Not Someday
William A Poppen Apr 2017
first comes the walk
walks are required now
prescribed to ward off
effects of life

getting from here to there
taken for granted
vertical movement
now a task

next was found
the Underground
home of brews
home of seats

some soft, cushy
others wooden
yet warm, inviting
come, taste our brew

chairs, sofas
filled with chatting people
mostly women
looking into faces

illuminated screens
across coffee, latte or tea
smiles, grimaces

what is shared
humor, news
fears, fraughts, fragments
dimensions of now, the past

people rise to
pick up special steaming
drinks fresh from
the Underground

he never orders latte
standard drinks
brew of the day
fill his cup

an inkling may stir
his brain, he will order
a white chocolate mocha
Apr 2017 · 219
William A Poppen Apr 2017
After forty years of marriage
he still pondered whether
she liked
his arm around
her stomach
as she awakened
in the morning
Feb 2017 · 526
Dust to Dust
William A Poppen Feb 2017
He is born amid
dust blown from
burnt and dried plains
powdered grime carried
past the James River
conveyed though arid skies
pelting window panes
penetrating cracks
and crevasses

She dampens
muslim sheets
wraps them
around his crib
catching sand
and falling chaff
like a coffee filter
captures grounds
from boiling liquid
draining into the ***

He survives
exposed to
horrors of the 1930’s
gradually he grasps
a new catastrophe
symbolized by woolen
uniforms embossed
with chevrons
and metals
for bravely killing
and destroying uncles
and cousins
committed to expanding
the **** nation

She cries
consols Granny
who frets in vain
repetitively rubbing
her hands across her knees
fearful as her native
beloved homeland
becomes scarred
war torn by
death and torture
beyond imagination.

He recalls crouching
beneath wooden school desks
practicing survival
of an unsurvivable danger
while nations
race to discover
an explosive intended  
to end all war
Jan 2017 · 469
Today’s Downpour
William A Poppen Jan 2017
Faded stains of spilled bourbon
dot the weathered nightstand’s surface
like stars speckle a clear midnight sky
Each commemorates a prop of courage
swigged to help forge another day

Bras, slips, heels and flats
pepper the soiled carpet
reflections of the many
nightly transgressions now
impediments which fleck her soul

Her frontal lobe
harbors distortions
from her past
forgiven by those who know her
forgotten by others

Rain pelts her window
rat-tat, rat-tats against the panes
compulsively splatters the door
flings open her mind
to let today’s downpour
splash away
any trace of her anguish
Blocked in inspiration I am editing previous posts here.  This work was originally called Drops of Compulsion and listed here in 2015.
Jan 2017 · 2.0k
Pipe Dream
William A Poppen Jan 2017
Illusions of skydiving in a kimono
are not nightmares that awaken her
in a sweat each night

Fantasies of floating like a drone
creep into morning daydreams

Unprepared for make-believe
no kimono hangs in her closet

Each day she stands in front
of her full-length mirror
stares at perceived imperfections
as they thicken before her eyes

Friends don’t notice
each misplaced mole
or cellulite pleading
to hide from any

Co-workers notice her
post-it-note headline

“Intelligent Perfect Women
Skydives in Kimono”

affixed to the cubicle wall

Today results of
her search for kimonos
of various colors
is carefully placed in
a folder entitled skydiving
My wife wonders where the idea for this poem came from.  My answer - I have no idea.
William A Poppen Jan 2017
Today all carp are swimming high
in swirling waters.  Autumn
calls them to flip sideways and glance skyward

Industrious people prepare homes
for the ravages of winter
cocooning foundations with bales of straw

Storm windows prop against scaffolds
like volumes balancing
between bookends on library shelves

Each evening doors close and shut tight
locking out lonely shadows
in search of a bed before sunrise

Skin dark from summer rays fade away
Evenings edge closer to night,
fish form schools in the lake’s warm bottom

Dakota is preparing for winter
Memories from my childhood
Jan 2017 · 519
Make a List
William A Poppen Jan 2017
Morning coffee
spills on the kitchen counter
grains of Christmas Blend
a gift
don’t remember who
was so thoughtful

Never scramble eggs
with a mixture of
so sweet

Time for morning
nothings to do
still so much to

Morning pill
respond to e-mail
mid-morning pill
call your mother
no phones
in paradise

I should
make a list

Where did
I put
Aging, life, memory, forgetful
Jan 2017 · 229
Trust Returns
William A Poppen Jan 2017
She feels no confusion
with her lips against his eye.
Eyes blue as a
deep mountain lake.
She senses comfort
resting across her
chest, like the first time
her cheek touched his
bicep when they walked
Now feels so warm,
soft on her mind
for fear has
fallen to the trail.
Renewal of trust
reborn fills her heart.
Trust, love, warmth,
Jan 2017 · 6.8k
Contain My Soul
William A Poppen Jan 2017
I wonder
how our great creator
built a vessel
strong enough
to contain my soul?

Each day my spirit fights
against my skin with violent
jolts as a young bird
seeking exit from a cage.

Unfettered psyche
free from me
bounces among clouds
rolls through deserts,
climbs volcanic ridges
migrates with birds in flight.

Curious instincts guide
my vital force inside and out
like honey bees
scour zinnias in full bloom.

Dare I release my spirit today?
Free spirit, soul,
Dec 2016 · 779
A Walk Together
William A Poppen Dec 2016
No confusion wrinkles her forehead, eyes affixed first on his lips
until magnetically drawn to eyes blue as a mountain lake.
Comfort rests across her chest. Hips burn together and
her cheek brushes the ironclad hardness of his bicep.
They walk enmeshed. Traces of trepidation, 
scars embedded in her mind from tragic romance, fade. 
Residual fears fall to the trail among twigs and stones.
Rebirth of trust creeps into her heart. 
Together their feet trample her qualms.
Dec 2016 · 632
Perceptions of a Rainbow
William A Poppen Dec 2016
It’s spring 
on the shore
near Isle of Palms
their toes dig deep 
in wet sand 

until shards of shells 
fashion a ***** 
that challenges their soles
as they tiptoe forward

A faint-hearted rainbow
bridges sea to sky above 
while they walk 
along the wind blown shore

She sees the arch of colors as an omen 
that love fades
like the bronze backs of teenagers 
turn pale in autumn’s shadows

He regards the
vague glow
as a pristine promise
that their love will grow.

He attempts to link 
fingers as a sign of endearment.
She smiles, swings her hands in rhythm
and quickens her pace before him
Dec 2016 · 210
William A Poppen Dec 2016
shelves filled
pages turned
podcasts downloaded
unfinished soundtracks
surrounded by media
mostly lies
pulpits visited
sermons forgotten

silence beckons
sit, notice
insight sifts

mist becomes

absorb this moment
search no more
meditation, spirituality,
Dec 2016 · 339
William A Poppen Dec 2016
advertisement beckoned
free screening
trouser thuds upon hardwood
metal belt buckle clinks
gloved finger
probes to find
a nodular protrusion
resting sac bound
begotten, benign
now watch, wait

shall it birth
some high grade
with a passionate
desire to consume
the whole of you

on guard
on edge
for inevitable
around each
new scrutiny
of numbers
presented in decimals
detectors of death
seeking to find
an oasis
to plant
to grow
Cancer, fear, prevention, examination
Dec 2016 · 247
Morning Toast
William A Poppen Dec 2016
Bread is gray, molding
No toast and jam this morning
Food for chickadee
Morning, toast
Dec 2016 · 944
Rainy Morning
William A Poppen Dec 2016
Still in your pink sleeper
Poking your smartphone

I watch the raindrops
playing dribble on the patio

Looking over plastic frames
You search through missives

Dark eyes still intriguing
Captivating as our first encounter

Still overwhelming
This urge to embrace
Nov 2016 · 1.1k
William A Poppen Nov 2016
Tell me am I love
or am I suffering
Am I stepping into the black
or into purity
So purity is white
and white is purity
Am I noticed for love
or projecting my suffering
hoping to be on stage
for all to see
Love is pure
Suffering is pure
Love is marred
as are flecks
pitting the whole
of suffering
*More of a stream of though rather than a poem
Aug 2016 · 859
William A Poppen Aug 2016
Entertainment comes in many forms
One without Nielson ratings
presents daily shows
below the garage gutter

Weathered leather shoestring
strains under the weight
of unfilled feeder
long exposed to wind
and air until
it's original surface
contains only flecks
of it's original varnish

When filled, squares of suet cakes
fitted between wire grids
entice chickadees
early in the day
before nuthatches, wren
and downy woodpeckers
peck and feed on the
nut, corn and protein
snack.  Bluejays struggle
without success to
hang sideways and gather
specks of nuts from the tallow.

Other large birds, cardinal
and red-bellied woodpecker
show-up the jay as they feed
with ease at the suet rack

Each day suet sinks
slowly descending until
little is found by
winged visitors

Begrudgingly he rises
from his chair, tramps to the
garage to find a new
insert for the feed box.
Hands, weathered like the
pine of the feeder
unpack the next cake
to refresh the lure
as the scenery of wild birds
return to their feeding
and refill his soul
a description of the scene out my backdoor window
Aug 2016 · 1.4k
Blurry Photos
William A Poppen Aug 2016
His eyes squinted
carefully scanning
three hazy photos
taken in black and white
undated of two mountains
rising behind a bridge
crossing a river

Was it France?
Arizona, Dakota
Probably not Dakota
Few hills there
Maybe along the Danube
Yet no signs of vineyards
along the river banks

Travel broadens one
with indistinct memories
Places that inspired
yesterday and today
remain as slight fabrics
and experiences
absorbed and fuzzy
resting in a corner
of his mind
Aug 2016 · 3.1k
August Breeze
William A Poppen Aug 2016
Some days
the wind blows in
gentle massaging gusts

Today a temporary
wisp rushes
through the tall
oak leaf hydrangea
pushing the brown and green
branches dressed for August
to wave at me through the window

Saying no more
it dances away
like a ruby throated
hummingbird seeking
it's nectar
wind, august, breeze, hummingbird
Jul 2016 · 532
William A Poppen Jul 2016
At ten
I skip through opportunity
eyes focused
across the bridge

At thirty
each day
duties and plans,
surround me
to smother every dream

At fifty
sons and daughters
abandon my side
to swim
in their own soup

At eighty
days are handled
like worry beads
strung on a broken cord
Aging, dreams, life,
William A Poppen Jun 2016
Aging arms
splotched with purple and red
signs of tangling
with jagged dead branches
reach for a copy
of Ted Kooser's *
Flying at Night
Pages flip
for a stop here and there
to read _Sunset
and _Spring Plowing

Envy swells inside him
with the realization
that he will never
write such fine poems
about memories
of childhood adventures

Like Kooser
he was reared
living rural
among tiger lilies
blooming in meadows,
amid newborn calves
teetering toward first steps,
and around
freshly spread manure
capturing the scent of fall air

His fingers still grimy
from early morning planting
place the volume
carefully beside
his empty coffee cup
content that he is blessed
to have discovered Kooser's work

He rises to tackle
digging potholes
for double begonias
to decorate his yard
and to dream
his dream
of pages unread.
and pages unwritten.
*, Ted Kooser, The United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 - 2006
Jun 2016 · 554
Intentional Flaw
William A Poppen Jun 2016
There is this debate each time
Within my head you see
Will perfection be my goal
Or will wisdom be my guide

There is a ***** in everything
A mark, a flaw not all can see
Still there to be detected
By those like you and me

To hone to make faultless
Takes effort few endure

Others fashion some blemish
Intentional ding so slight

Because to strive for pure
Is playing ***
Which is a sin for sure
Perfection, Blemish, Playing ***,
Jun 2016 · 714
William A Poppen Jun 2016

Together they sit
Watching morning rain nourish
A dying planet

Together they sit
Swallowing daily reports
Attempts to save earth

Together they sit
Feeling gradual demise
Of their own bodies
Climate change
Apr 2016 · 594
William A Poppen Apr 2016
Each day there is the morning walk
to gather the morning news in print

An amble back to a rocking chair
comfort for consuming coffee
and attempts to ingest current events

Soon the coffee is gone
followed by another cup
News columns are skimmed
like a dragon-fly skits across
the still of an evening pond

Skittish has become a life-style
concentration a foreign word
completion evasive
By nighttime there is
an abundance of projects,
goals, desires left to await
revisitation - revisitation never happens
as  new distractions fulfill
the daily routine
of living in the moment
Apr 2016 · 274
Older than FM Radio
William A Poppen Apr 2016
I'm older than FM radio,
I grew up when it was normal
to hate your enemies.

“****” and “Nip” were taught
as appropriate
and wars raged
on air, land, and sea.

Food stamps rested with coins
before situational ethics
made life grayer than gray.

Might did not make right,
Right made right!

I don’t know if “then” was better.
I know it was different
and I was at play.

Judgment had an extra “e.”
It was a different day and
no one knew who I was.
Mar 2016 · 334
William A Poppen Mar 2016
see beauty
open one's heart
obtain relief and forgiveness
show thankfulness
Mar 2016 · 691
Befriend Yourself
William A Poppen Mar 2016
Walking alone
along the neighborhood greenway
aware of unique colors and sounds
normally hidden
or camouflaged by toxic thoughts
that chip away beauty

Centered upon each step
each swing
of first
the left arm
then right arm
signals of life

Noting strength
surging through
each calf and thigh
careful attention
of each intricate
movement of a body
complex as spider webs
on a damp morning
braiding from a woven-wire fence

Notice each moment
see how each second
contains now again
Feb 2016 · 9.7k
Night Lights
William A Poppen Feb 2016
I was told when six
lighted smokes show up for miles
during a blackout

Toward home, Christmas eve
lighted candles on tree bough
pierce through dark windows

Moonlight can become
bright enough to cast shadows
beneath my movements
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