Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Jade Pagoda

During our first trip to Viet Nam in July of 2014, we visited the Jade Pagoda which is a very serene place engulfed in activity. The afternoon was very hot and humid and yet I was deeply moved and inspired.

The Jade Pagoda

Crowded on the sidewalk
nearly spilling into the street,
a weathered woman of indeterminate age
begging us to buy
turtles or
goldfish or
caged sparrows
to set free
on the grounds of the pagoda.

Incense hangs heavy in
the dank afternoon air
as carved sentinels
swords in scabbards
loom over us and
stare into centuries past
where ancestors walk
down silent corridors and move
in the rustling of leaves and
the weeping of rain.

A white and tabby spotted cat
pads noiselessly across
blood-stained colored roof tiles
a still twitching mouse
seized solidly in its jaws
not yet ready to join
his grandfather.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

First Dog

This poem is about the English Springer Spaniel our family had when I was young.  She was the best companion and a terrific bird dog.

First Dog

We had a dog when I was young
who lived 
to hunt birds in the fall.
The rest of the year
she lived
to chase sparks from 
leaf-fueled backyard bonfires 
her brown and white body 
silhouetting smoky twilight.

She was our make-believe St. Bernard
who carried 
a canteen of hot chocolate
on snowy sledding days.

She carried 
first aid supplies as
we fought 
the Germans in Belleau Wood.

When we had been in trouble at school
she would greet
us  at the back door as if 
we were conquering heroes and 
after we been scolded and 
sent to our room
she would snuggle with 
us on the bed 
a warm hairy bandage 
for our wounds.

On bright mornings 
with no school

she ran with us
chasing our bicycles 
through the maze of our youth.