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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Festival of Poetry - Reading Selections

Today I will be taking part in one of the Winter Festival of Poetry readings.  Each Sunday in January and February the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets organizes a reading to showcase Wisconsin poets.

This is the first time I have ever taken part in anything like this.  I'm excited and nervous.  I'm looking forward to hearing a lot of poetry that will make me fell ashamed to be calling myself a poet.  But I also know that I will learn from this experience and make connections with others who appreciate good writing and storytelling.

I am the last to read today so that is even more intimidating.  Reading before me are:  Marilyn Taylor, Lori Lipsky, Gary Powell, Shoshauna Shy, and Dave Scheler.  If you clicked on any of the links, it is clear that I am out of my league.  But I am honored to be even the least amongst them.


Below are the selections I will be reading.
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Excerpts from “Colleen

Colleen was the most unanticipated person
in my life.

Having given up on love years before,
I had no hope of finding someone
I did not want to live without.

I often just wanted to watch her because
she was so graceful and deliberate.
I came to love her when I realized that
most of her life was approached
with that same style, dedication, and insight.

Colleen never gave up on people.
She was friendly in the most stubborn way possible.
She greeted every person, every day.
If someone snubbed her, she made a point
of being friendly to them until they cracked;
sometimes it was just a warm smile, but she had changed a life.
People I would not have given a second thought to,
she saw the value in being kind to.
It wasn't a game or a matter of pride;
she knew that everyone was worthy
of a kind word and a smile;
those who cannot reciprocate need it even more.

Colleen did not mind hurting, suffering, and sacrificing.
At times holding her hands hurt her.
And so many nights I feel asleep holding her hand.
My love was honest unless it would hurt someone else;
I never knew how much she hurt or for how long.
On a Saturday afternoon in May, the doctors explained the situation:
An infection
they could not adequately treat had developed.
(and Colleen was always afraid of dying from an infection)

Aren't I too young to make this decision?
Aren't I too young to have to make it?
Isn't the doctor too young to know for sure?
"Will treatment cause her more pain?"
"Yes, it will cause her more pain;
though it might prolong her life slightly.
She is too weak to respond well.

Colleen likely has brain damage."

Colleen likely has brain damage?

Likely?
Yes, you will have to push a button every 15 minutes
to help ease her pain,
you will have to tell her
it is okay "to go" and
"I will be okay"
The last thing you hear her say (yell) will be
"Oh, God make it stop!"

In a few days you will have to hold her close

as her last breath is taken,

you will have to sit with
her dead body to wait for her lifelong friend
to come and say goodbye,

you will watch
as her blood settles and her skin turns alabaster,
you will be haunted by all you have seen,
you will often be alone now,
you will have to endure the "knowing" glances of everyone who knows
and the "ignorant" remarks of those who don't,

you will sometimes find yourself wandering around your
home looking for
something you can never find,

you will die some day too but you will be
far less afraid of death. 
How Do I Look?

Will
I make it
through the day
without my morning
blessing, "You look
handsome!"?

I
am never handsome
but I believed;
all that mattered
was what you
thought.

Can
I make it
through the day
knowing you are
not waiting for
me to come
home?

Do
I make it
through the day
without anticipation of
reward, returning home
for your love?
I guess I
"muddle through somehow"
as the lyric
goes.

The Mother Of Certainty

In Mother's home
there will always
be a hot
kettle for tea
on the stove
(or iced tea
in the fridge),
a peanut butter
jar on the
table, and dishes
of baked goods.

It may be
unwise to take
comfort in certainty
when life is
so unsure. What
else drowns out
our death clock's
ticking, winding down?

Grief stricken and
wallowing Mom said,
"Now you have
only to do
what Carney wants.
You have to
figure out what
you really want."
Wisdom mixed with
love, sadness, anticipation...

Mom's message is:
life is to
be enjoyed, beloved
are to be
held close, truth
is to be
accepted as a
vital first step,
choices are to
be doubted even
while moving on;
life is to
be lived so
it is always
worth being remembered.

Cleaning List

clear out junk cupboard
dump out catch-all drawer
give away poor fitting clothes
throw ratty sneakers
sell lonely guitar on Craigslist
cash in gold with jeweler
give away rock collection

You might find room for the unexpected.

burn old greeting cards
donate a box of random
isolate photos in one box
toss wilted bouquet
fling musty blankets
put empty vases aside
bundle papers for pulp

You might find room for the unexpected.
Life expands to fill every void.

un-bury secrets near tree roots
air dirty laundry
shake lose unseen pests
walk skeletons out of closet
sweep cobwebs everywhere
open doors for breeze
show fears the sun

You might find room for the unexpected.
Life expands to fill every void.
Anticipate all the newness to come.

One Who Loves Me Must...
idolize my ugliness
and be turned off by my vanities.

tolerate my gloominess,
remembering my smiles.

be fulfilled in us
though made vulnerable by sharing.

admire my focus
while ignoring my stubborn ways.

despise my distant moments,
seeking renewal in my affections.

love me
as much as one could loathe me.

To reverse any
above would make
hate, not love.

Too Right To Be Scared

The last woman in
my arms was dying.
Now, your response
to my touch reawakened
the joys of mingled flesh.

I feel vulnerable, but I'm crying
happy tears.
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.

Met you months ago and
never thought we'd be here.
Now, being in each others'
arms seems inevitable. How
lucky to have this chance.

I feel exhausted, and I'm writing
weepy poetry.
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.

That you are possible and real
is why I stayed up all night.
Now, I have memories of
you trying to sleep and of
how close we can be.

I feel anticipation, and I'm saying
"Thank You."
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.
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