Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summer Picnic

Calm, quiet……..
Alone  –
The breeze juggles butterflies across the lawn.
The bees sizzle – frantic – panic –
inside the jar.
Sizzle, sizzle.

Dad readies the coals –
hot red – soon to ash
Neighbors bring the cole slaw,
Bees try not to touch the glass….

Sue laughs.

Cecil and Shirley,
Neighbors are early,
Jack Russells Spot and Ginger too…
Mom pats the patties
into big burger fatties,
and sprinkles them with salt and pepper too.

Dad ties the apron strings,
grabs a spatula and other things
As Sue watches the bees die….
one…by one… by one…  by one

They look so small and far
laying in the bottom of that jar.

Sue used a towel
and my soul felt like a whimpering howl,
when she took the jar of dead bees out of the coals.

The adults didn’t notice,
conversation their only purpose.
Burgers and potato salad and fun.
And I, alone, the only one –
who saw what Sue had done.
Her little bee holocaust
amidst the summer fun.

Had I known her plan,
I wouldn’t have caught them for her.
I was just following orders.

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Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.

Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake.

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

—Hannah Senesh, written days before her capture by the Nazis

 

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 Miss Senesh was a young Jew living in Palestine who joined a group of underground resistance fighters that parachuted into Nazi held territory to disrupt their efforts.   She was caught and killed by German forces.  I recently had the opportunity to tour the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.. Whoever you are, where ever you are, what ever your beliefs or feelings about this, please, please, visit this museum.

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The Raven’s Call

poe1Grave Memorial of Edgar Allan Poe, Baltimore
(Please click on the mp3 file below to read along with my voice)

Twas happenstance that I should stumble upon the repository of Sir Edgar Allan Poe most recently.  And dare I say that the Raven’s shadow appeared before me.  The morning air seemed to stand still under sheets of silence.  Little but the overnight dew remained within the earth’s slightly chilly breath and I wondered a moment if time itself had not become as still as I.   The red brick steeple shot straight into a motionless sky, as though frozen within its blue swallow.  And nary a blown leaf nor expedient beetle could be seen across the world’s velveteen scape.  An eeriness fell upon me, as the quiet enveloped my very soul.  Or had something else surrounded me as I stood outside the gates of Poe’s repose?  Perhaps I may never know, but I shall evermore suspect that Edgar himself was standing before me with another great tale for  any passerby.  And unfortunate me, with no ear to hear.

I wonder what Mr. Edgar would have to say to this curious soul today?

Is that the gentle tap, tapping of a visitor upon my threshold?  Lenore, I should hope, but hope stays nevermore.  But do stay, visitor, even if not to show yourself but the black of night.  For in that night, that black spirit, are my tales, now gone evermore, and my withered soul longs only to let them live.  Though I am long away from the gentleness of the sun you feel upon your skin or the anticipation of breeze that I shall keep myself during your stay, it is with the greatest honor I accept your bereavement, friend, for the lone purpose only to assuage your heart.  For this little time, in this little place,  my heart is yours.

From the Author:

Recently I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the city of Baltimore, once temporary home – and now permanent home – to Mr. Edgar Allan Poe.  My traveling companion, teenage daughter Chelsea, seemed to be engrossed in her deep sleep and dreams, as teenage girls tend to do, so I slipped away early this past Saturday morn to visit Mr. Poe’s Gravesight and memorial alone.

So early was I that even the gates to the cemetery had not been unlocked yet, so I busied myself admiring the beautiful red-brick church built on premise in 1855, six years after Poe’s original burial there.   The serenity of the morning was unlike any other I have ever known, and the quant nature of this church and cemetery grounds were just simply overwhelming.   I rather enjoy “me-time” a great deal, though as a general rule mostly require someone to be attentive to my rantings and over-indulgent quips…..  Until this day my favorite “me-time” had been as a boy, passing early Sunday morning papers in my hometown on cold, dark, snowy mornings.  It was so serene.  And the snow tends to muffle all sound.  Have you ever been somewhere completely quiet?  But now, after having visited Mr. Poe, I think this is my favorite me-time ever.  I’m still amazed that at the end of May, even with all of the trees present, there was not a single bird chirping that morning.

A wonderful place to visit and I hope you’ll have the opportunity to see this someday.  It is well worth it…..

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Ye who read are still among the living, but I who write shall have long since gone my way into the region of the shadows.

“Shadow”, Edgar Allan Poe

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© 2013 John Richter


A Song For Who I Used to be…

 

A Song For Who I used to Be
(when you were with me)

Memories so far away
distance keeps our lives at bay.

At sixteen years lived a boy in me,
who died yesterday.
And your eyes –
Slowly fade Away –
Away from yesterday.

How long can a memory last?
Longer than your heartfelt grasp
How strong can a memory be?
When your eyes were looking at me?

A different world sings a different song.
A different time and my life seems gone.

After sixteen –
I don’t –
belong.

At sixteen years lived a boy in me,
who died yesterday.
And your eyes –
Slowly fade Away –
Away from yesterday.

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Every time I tried to tell you

The words just came out wrong

So I had to say I love you

In a song.

-Jim Croce

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Grateful Rising

Click the arrow below to follow along:

A blissful day, could have slept away –
and lost this love for nothing more –
but for you this memory  to convey
For in fact I rose to the chore…

“Time is wasting,” echoed my dreams.
Eyes not aware of the lamp-blast glow.
“Get up – get dressed,” what seemed like screams,
Now the lamp spewed a dead-fast blow!

Standing aside and not yet fully in hue,
my eyes straining for a glimpse to see
(which nightmare must be in this queue?)
when Dad’s image emerged to me.

“It’s a quarter to four, let’s get out the door,”
“The fish won’t wait, you see?”
So I rubbed my eyes and hit the floor
for an all out fishing spree!

Now I remember,
t’was in bed by nine
Fully clothed too –
just to save time.

Dad pulled and tugged
on that old deep-green outboard
until it spewed and spugged
(actually smoked and chugged)
and then across to our reward….

Astride a lilly pad flock he’d seen,
one that had caught his eye,
as the sun began to peek o’er green,
I heard the plop of his popper from high.

“click click clickety click”
went his slow, methodical reel.
The top-water lure pulled up a lick
and then back to its reposing still.

Suddenly a splash and a “Snatch!” was seen,
his pole quickly whipped to set the hook.
And soon looking at me from our canteen,
was a largemouth’s angry and cold-eyed look.

To suppose for any more wonderful day,
you see it wasn’t the fish or lilly pad.
For evermore I will always say-
It was simply spending the day with Dad.

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Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a dad.

Anne Geddes

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Never On The Crack

My Dear Mother, Valerie

My Dear Mother, Valerie

Never on the Crack

Who’s to say, as we often played,
stepping on cracks
breaks Mama’s backs.  So we stayed –
inbetween –

inbetween – like Mama’s scrubbed floor
and her all day cooking.
So young was the Sun, its shine just begun –
inbetween –

So leisurely we played,
While London bridge merrily –
merrily –
fell down the stream.
Ashes.

inbetween, inbetween…
Did she ever know
the pains I took to show
that I loved her?

Life’s lines never change.
Except the good things.

– Years have gone by and still I must proclaim there is no greater love than that of a young boy for his mother…  My own mother instilled within me a certain sense of goodness, a love for all things of God.  Sadly, as I’ve grown and entered the world I have found so many others in life who are obviously not blessed with such a wonderful intensity as what mom presented to me.  In fact it seems the world is half filled with those who must have been reared in sheer hatefulness and resentment.  How incredibly sad I find this world, and how sad I feel for those who must not know the glory of a sunshine memory of a day when skipping a crack on the sidewalk was the proudest way a little boy could show his love for mom.

Childhood games and songs were so plentiful back then in the 60’s.  London Bridge, A pocket full of posies, Merrily, Merrily down the stream….  I’m not sure if today’s children would play them lest they put down their texting machines or gameboys long enough.  Nor if they would understand the meaning behind some of our childhood songs.  One favorite game of the girls and sisters I grew up with was “Hopscotch”, where a series of one or two boxes were outlined for about ten feet along the walk.  One would toss a pebble into the squares and then hop, skip, or jump to it according to the boxes.  It’s been so long I don’t remember the end or how the game was won.   But I remember all the players shouting loudly “Step on a crack – break your mamma’s back!”  whenever someone’s foot would land on a crack in the sidewalk.  To a boy of three or four that became gospel to me, and even today I still avoid cracks in the hopes that mamma will learn of my devotion to her….  For it is certainly endless – as is my fondness of this little memory…..  I hope you enjoyed it.
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© 2013 John Richter


Hatred’s Accomplices

Whenst may the fallen shards of pain betray
these eyes of swollen tears?
Upon thy yielding breast I’ll lay
to hide my remaining years.

For evil’s pawn has spun her yarn
to lash my escaping soul.
Her venom spews as words diffuse,
my life in kind she stole.

Dear Lord, forgive this child,
for the evil she spreads has homes.
It is not solely her revile,
but others that throw her stones.

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© 2013 John Richter


Time Enough

This poem was meant to be a whimsical little piece on the nature of hussle-bussle and goal oriented world that the U.S. has been accused of being.  From de Tocqueville to today we have famously earned the reputation of giving our children goals before they are even born.   I think our contemporary time is worse than ever before.  Complicate that with our hedonistic desires and staggering deficits and borrowing habits, we are passing a bill onto them that they will never be able to work off.   I hope you will enjoy my little peom, though it is more of an auto-biography, I fear….

Time Enough

When shall I ponder thee, Life?
Your treasures abound yet my
hand’s tightly bound to
this rudder found – at birth.

The taskmasters wait
at every passing gate
and I haven’t a moment to give.

Their blinders on straight and
their goals chasing haste –
I’ve barely a breath left to live.

When, sweet Life, may I ask without strife,
of your glory and blessed concern?

May I sneak in the night, like a fleeing thief might,
to hear your story and learn?

Or must I wait upon the edge of ever,
and risk the chance to forever sever
the hopes and dreams I’ve been taught to yearn?

Oh, dear Life, if all were but goals,
and the world filled with but ragged-run souls,
then what is our purpose here?

For if we shant find
a moment in kind
to explore your best complexities,
Then we should be lashed to post
as does our dog’s unkind host
and be robbed of your kindest amenities.

So to you I vow
Someday, somehow,
I will hold your hand in mine.
You will tell me
And I will tell you,
and somehow our stories will unwind….

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The butterfly counts not months but moments,
and has time enough.

Rabindranath Tagore

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copyright John Richter, 2013