Monthly Archives: January 2015

Mr. Sparrow

Oh Mr. Sparrow, your song preceeds you so –
the uproar from your belly –
should find such pleasantness near.
My ears do swallow it whole –
thy lovely little cacophony –
meistro – please not to fear –
nor send alarm to neighbor’s ear.
for ’tis only I, to overhear
….. your song so very dear.

And if I could then surely would –
capture it in my jar…
and take it to my lonely place,
so very, very far.
And open it slowly, on another day –
when life offers less,
’tis then should I smile away –
while hearing your happiness….

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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Original Sin

Ever find us to pass longing will –
hunger driven, in monumental still –
blood soaked leaves of forest fall –
our flung spear, true and tall –
split wide the beast – an eerie chill
To find hunt sweeter than kill.
Forward the hunt shall ever go –
never sate our blackened soul.

And so friend, ready the bow
search for sweetness in death.
That certain peace we’ll never know
until comes our own last breath.
’til then should arrow point flee –
as fate puts her sight on we.

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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My Mother

This story is really for my children and encapsulates the things I know – or have come to understand about my mother, Valerie, who died so young that my own children never had the opportunity to meet her.

Valerie was born in 1926 – in Melbourne, Australia, to a young single woman named Florence Harrowfield.  Florence was deeply in love with a man named Robert Jolly – who sired my mother Valerie, but due to the times was fearful that he might lose his career position if it were discovered he had fathered a child out of wedlock.   So Robert and Florence made the fateful – and I’m certain difficult – decision to give their young baby to Florence’s sister, Gwenneth Gertrude Harrowfield Steinwart.   And so my mother believed Gwen to be her biological mother for the first 19 years of her life.

Along came World War II.  In 1944 my young father, a map maker, cartographers they called them, was stationed in Melbourne with a map making unit.  Japan was encroaching all the islands of the Pacific and neither the US or Australian governments had any accurate maps of those islands.  Needless to say, my father met my mother, became enthralled, asked her to marry him despite his Army’s superior’s wishes, and married her (which later got him demoted from Sargent to private, he once told me.)  The wedding was a hurried affair I believe since the Japanese lost control of the Phillipines and all mapping was complete, including mainland Japan for a conceived invasion – which never occurred due to President Truman and the atomic bombs later dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But my father was re-stationed to Manilla to assist the Army Engineers with rebuilding the city’s infrastructure – which had been destroyed by the fleeing Japanese.

So that is why I believe the wedding was a hurried affair – since my father Frederick Joseph was soon to be re-stationed.

The heart of this story comes when my mother attempted to apply for a marriage license.  The licensing bureau required her to bring a copy of her birth certificate, something she had never seen during her first 19 years of life.  So to be compliant she first went to get a copy of her birth certificate.  To her surprise this is when she discovered that her loving mother – Gwenneth – was not actually her mother.  Instead her “Aunt’s” name, Florence Harrowfield, was listed as her mother.  I’m certain this came as a devastating shock to her.

My understanding is that she went to her mum, Gwen, to inquire about her aunt’s name on her birth certificate.  That is when Gwen told her the truth about who her real mother was.  The heart-breaking – monumental shock – that came from this must have been completely devastating to my mother, at least in my perspective.  My mother never shared this with me, and always presented Gwen as her mum – and as our very loving Nana.

Soon after my mother’s birth Robert Jolly did indeed marry Florence, and although they went on to have six more children they never re-incorporated my mother back into their family.  My mother had looked upon them as her aunt and uncle and their children as cousins.  And apparently she was well acquainted with them and I have some very precious photographs of them playing together.

Anyway with her wedding and the hurried nature of her voyage to the United States I fear that my mother never had the opportunity to reconcile herself with her actual brothers and sisters.  Also, the fact that my father never allowed her to return to Australia – not even upon Gwen’s death in 1970 – I think weighed heavily upon her.  Although – and again – she never spoke of these things to me it is in retrospect that I’m putting the pieces together.

My mother, and her assumed mother Gwenneth, are two of the most loving people that I have ever known of.  It wasn’t until Norm Steinwart visited our family in Indianapolis during 1993 – along with his daughter Nolene – that I learned this story from my oldest sister Sandy – whom my mother had confided in many years earlier about it.  I don’t know the reason it was withheld from me – except to assume that my emotional nature is such that maybe it would have been too much for me to bear.  There are reasons that I am a poet and not a professional tackle for the Chicago Bears football organization.  And as such, even now, it is something that weighs terminally heavily upon me.

Below are some photos of my mother and her families.

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A Walk in the Wood

The blue-ness of the clear sky asks – demands –
to lighten every next step.
And the scent of ash and dogwood tree
do robustly push me along.
Wonder I, softly, this chorus center be –
Heaven sent or songbirds of field they.
Nether I, worldly, do God’s treasures accept –
such as these might last my eternity –
Tucked away serenely, saved alone for me.

And what should see, come upon us –
in these wildwood trees of colors so grand?
Nestled amongst the shaded floor –
‘twixt the sprouted saplings there
should find a creature grandly divine –
Spinning, webbing her silken thread –
toiling high wires so delicately fine.
The she-spider gliding along –
in her own geometric world –
Hop, hop, hop and stitch –
moving right along –
her very life a true love song
garnishing her moment in time.
And safely stowed deep away
…………..in her silky little patch –
are things of generations yet to come –
tiny spiders not yet born –
in their tender egg sac – but soon
for all this world to see….

Fly, baby spider – glide along –
time to scoot along to your own home…
Pray thee, not to look down –
else to find father – with missing crown –
left where mother killed – and laid him down.
His body, shrunken, coiled upon the ground.
Withered, and cold – yet clasping still –
that last after-sex cigarette – ash burnt down…
Fly away, little spider, fly away
No love here to be found……
Only cigarette ashes and fallen stars…..
Only the first of your many scars.
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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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Spectators All

Of life and love and destiny –
all things beyond our remedy.
For naught but single flame alone
burnt down the greatest all of Rome.
Those eyes who sifted through the ash –
mere spectators to the very last.

Now we, who carry the torch anew –
believe ourselves able and true –
As though we have found some cure
to reign destiny as our whore….
In the end it shall be unleashed –
that we are but ineffectual beasts.

And as well it shall come undone –
as glory and satan sing our song….
Peons we are unto destiny’s chart –
following its orders with sturdy heart.
Only fools will come to finally know –
our efforts are fruitless as driven snow.

We do not choose our love, nor our very life.
Destiny rules our lot – from happiness to strife.
So sing a song, my young friend –
let it sail into the wind.
Be yourself happy in whatever returns……
Spectators merely see, and never yearn.

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© 2014 John Allen Richter
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Forlorned

Dark night of soul, preface we
dwell in scurry of forest floor
searching for lost prophecy.

Ever a man, prey in the moire –
amongst the woodland creatures
slinking, sinking deeper – evermore.

Sunlight, crest upon we seekers –
bring our task into day –
show prophecy has no speakers…

Allow mankind to fade away.
For love so betrayed our world
That all we have left to say –

I no longer care.

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© 2014 John Allen Richter
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