Sample Poems

DIAMOND TIME

Diamond Time

She spins around
flower pots on her deck,
arms out wide,
laughter tumbling
down the hill
through the hemlocks
to the water.
Loons yodel back,
Old man Sun
throws diamonds
over David Pond.

 

GREEN BAY BLUES

Goober in Green Bay
Goober in Green Bay

The blues wrap around me
like ice-glaze on trees,
branches vulnerable to winter’s wind.
At the wild life sanctuary,
looking for comfort’s thaw,
I send up a high-pitched howl,

“Aowoo, aowoo, aowoo.”
He must have been lonesome, too, for
Brother Coyote mimics back with
long, tenor dog-wails, throaty half barks
and a few short yips.
We keep on—antiphon of ancient cries—
human howls, animal replies.

 

 

HEALERS

 

If you could see
a mimosa bend
its flowered branch
to caress my friend,
would it be
too much to say
that trees relate
and possibly care
for the human race?

If you wandered
into a sacred place,
came upon a mountain
bent in grief,
would it be
too much to say
stones can speak,
even heal?

Michael and Kelley—
my son and his wife—
coach and counsel
young people not ready to fly
into doubtful futures,
and I have lost count
of all the drifting
friends of her children
who found safe harbor
in my sister Carol’s kitchen.

 

Repatriation Soliloquy

for Hunter Bear, Micmac Man

 

Repatriation Soliloquy

The moment I saw you in that eye-popping oil painting—
forty inches wide by forty-six inches tall,
fiery red background framing your cowboy hat,
brim drawn down, further shading sun-glassed eyes,
pipe clenched in the corner of bear-jaws,
denim jacket drawn open across the relaxed expanse
of your white-shirted torso, elbows jutted outside
the portrait’s border, open book balanced
in your right hand and
in the center of all this unnerving masculinity
sat two cups of your favorite drink, coffee—
that moment I knew I’d have to be the painting’s caretaker.

My husband’s lips tightened, face went ashen
as I paid the artist—your brother—his asking price.
Back home, the portrait, named Micmac Man,
got relegated to our basement den

where many nights I retreated,
beating my brains for understanding about why your image
should hold such sway upon my soul
like a Marlboro Cowboy gone amok,
sniffing the spoils of an unraveling animal—
easy hog-tying points.  Then

I remembered your classroom style and teachings—
a great oak, unperturbed by winds,
always fighting for grass roots people—
miners, migrants, Native Americans,
Black citizens caught up
in the Jackson, Mississippi lunch counter boycotts.
Your family life bespoke a discipleship
of which I was incapable.
Thank God your detachment
from academic indoctrination

led me to ancient stories of Migoum’agi—
land of the Micmac—
how Kesoulk made Glous’gap, who, in turn taught the People
to thrive in a new creation.
Faintly I began to hear the sweet notes of a flute’s song
nudging me towards that same country—beckoning me to
another beginning.  One day I left
the material comforts of my home, your portrait in tow.

For nearly a decade your image hung central in my homes
from Rock Island to Washington, DC and back to Chicago.
I called you a “marriage spoiler,”
for in your exalted position over my couch,
male visitors seemed to squirm, uneasy with
my MITH—man in the house,
quintessential Indian Cowboy,
favorite professor,

clear-sighted justice worker—
all rolled into my inner MYTH of masculine psychology.

One man—Alec Azure—wasn’t fazed.
He knew you as a compassionate friend,
was one of many who accompanied you on visits
to Fort Madison Penitentiary’s Indian prisoners.

After we wed, he mildly suggested
the dominant red of your portrait’s fine image
could brighten the interior of NAES College’s
fire-renovated white-drabness.
Opting for domestic harmony,
I donated you away to the college—
hung Micmac Man high in the central stairwell

where all of us who worked there daily passed
under the spell of your confident, laid-back calm.

After Alec passed to spirit—after I left the college’s employ,
your portrait was removed down to the archives,
where you stayed until a decade later
when the time of your repatriation at last arrived.

It wasn’t easy getting you out of that place
with me then living in southeastern Connecticut.
My Chicago friends—mostly women—said they’d help.
In the dark of night,

your portrait strangely astir,
they carried you out of NAES,
detached the canvass from its frame
staple by rusted staple,
rolled you up in bubble wrap
and sent you on your way

over interstate roads from Chicago to Pocatello.

Maybe it was a multiplier effect
of good medicine unleashed
by a web-based tribute from your friends—
students, colleagues, comrades-in-arms, family and the rest,
hundreds banded together—
that led to your release from that dark storage, from
the near lethal grip of Systemic Lupus.

On the other hand, as you once suggested,
your own Bear Medicine unrolled its Power,
returned you and Micmac Man to where you belong,
front and center in that place you now stand—
will always stand—
among family and friends, enjoying camaraderie
and all those cups of early morning coffee.