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2021 American Place Oklahoma Poems

Cuba

The table’s set, the food is made
Here we sit and give this grace
We’ve gathered here to share our wits
A funny quip, a story with grit

I remember the grand house on the Cimmaron
I’d play in the woods when told to “run along”
In the hills and trees and on sandy shores
The red, red dirt where the water pours

Those days of youth when I was carefree
Not burdened by this loss that’s coming for me
Of my gracious aunt whose lovely smile
Was warm as the hearth after a cold country mile

Never the center piece like her beloved Yellow Rose
But always the backbone for all of those
Who have come and gone doing God’s work
Filling trucks full of clothes and food for the Church

No she was never the center of attention
Just a helping hand, a cup of coffee from the kitchen
An open door to her welcoming home
A meal, a blanket, a place to rest weary bones

I never once heard her ask for her turn
Always on task to help those who yearn
To find God’s grace in an unforgiving land
To help without question her fellow man

Her radiant smile, her questions about you
So gracious, so kind, so ready to do
Anything she could to make things run smooth
All she would do to comfort and soothe

Her presence is missed as we gather today
One more moment or kiss or kind word to say
From this lady of grace who asked for no return
On her investment in you, your life, your concern

We should all be so bold to live life like this
To give all that we have of ourselves in kindness
Like our fair lady who we lay here to rest
Who spent her whole life giving only her best.

Categories
2021 Albuquerque American Place Arizona New Mexico Oklahoma Poems

Defend The Road

I stand on the side of the road. For she has stood for me, stood for Freedom, for choices, for opportunities un-bounded. Of course, she stands for interruptions as well. Dead ends; roads closed; terminus and for some she is the end of all things before her. The end of a journey; the end of a life; the end of a generation of prosperity. As I stand on the black tar in the hot desert, the orange glow of the sun casting my shadow across the glimmering mirage that dissects her never-ending sprawl across the sand, I can’t help but feel lost. Evacuated from time and space. I don’t know if the sun is rising or setting. There are no clues but my own presence observing the history of her procession across this place. I fall to my knees as if to pray, kiss the hot gravel and feel the surge of every road I’ve ever taken — After hours of driving through the Rockies we reached the end with a washed out road and had to turn back the way we came. The miles of road we travelled all night from Walla Walla to Las Vegas on the bus, the city a beacon of light shining out of the desolate night. Trading cigarettes for whiskey with a Navajo man at 6am when I wasn’t old enough to have breakfast in the casino back in the days before anyone cared that you weren’t old enough to be in the casino buying breakfast and pulling slots. The long drives from Prescott to Oklahoma along I-40 (aka Rt. 66), Albuquerque being the mid-point where I always remembered the dancing cottonwood leaves shining behind the bridge as we pressed on for Texas. The back and forth between Lansing and Louisville via Indianapolis or Cincinnati where the highways were pulmonary arteries throbbing with American life. All of this pavement laid down over the bones of those whose land this once was. So many forgotten dreams of the dead who got in the way of the road’s progress. So much progress fallen under the knee of authority that presses faces into pavement until they can’t breathe because they believe this black road must be painted with white dividing lines. These bypasses that left behind and isolated these segregated communities who now struggle and cry for the American dream that was paved to make way for Amazon and the next off-ramp to the nearest Wal*Mart. And, yet I must defend her. She has given me so many choices; taken me time and again into the beauty of our mountains and forests. She has driven my dreams of change and fueled my ambitions to do something bigger with my life. She has done nothing to us or for us, yet she lets us be good or bad or something or no one. She is my friend and my lover and I must forgive her abuses by the hands of the unworthy. I must revel in her possibility to bring dreams into the night of our awakening dawn.

Categories
2020 American Place Oklahoma Poems

Bare My Sole

The moist October air
Puts the curls back in my hair
Away, away, away, I’ve been
Out in the Desert for 30 years
Yet, born out here was
My Pioneer Spirit —
My grandparents survived
With soil, toil and grit.
My parents carried on
with God and good will.
So, here I sit
No shoes to fill…
Stickered feet
Of my own desire
To return with bare soles
In these modern times
Fat and well fed
Much longer to survive
Than my pioneering
Great-grandfather
Who died out here.
A bout of pneumonia
After their posse did find
The lost little girl
Out in a world most unkind.

Categories
2020 American Place Oklahoma Poems

Borne of the Plains

So much morning
To this day
A long slow sunrise
On the plains
The hawks and owls
And songbirds sing

The soil moist
The leaves turning
Awakening in me
My Childhood’s Past
A sense of spirit
The smell of cut grass

There’s something about
These fruited plains
A wildlife spirit
I once thought mundane

But a feeling of home
With open arms
Each time I return
I become reborn