This week's Weekend Wordsmith prompt is "Sleepless". I knew that before anybody else, of course, since it's my website, and I post the words ahead of time. What I didn't know was that I'd be up half the night, each tick of the clock taking a couple hours.

Then, it happened - that indefinable moment when late night turned into early morning, like pushing through a bead curtain and feeling the different quality of air on the other side. Subtle, but definitely there. And still several hours to go before it was decent to get up and make the coffee.

January 30, 2009, 4:42 AM

There's an almost indiscernible moment
when late night
becomes early morning.

Some nights, it's not there at all.
Night ripples gently into day
with not a seam or dropped stitch.

Others - like this one - deliver you
through a foaming, pounding surf,
over nameless hidden foot-cutting horrors,
to dump you, half dead and gasping
on the rocky and barren beach of the next day
with still miles to limp to the treeline
and shelter.

Grandfather's Pens

Grandfather's Pens

He hugged fiercely.
He did everything fiercely.
I never knew him to do anything half way,
or unintentionally.

Every day, he wrote
a letter, threw a lifeline
to someone treading water
in some not-quite-God-forsaken
city, so far away.

Consequently his pockets were always full
of pens, full to the bursting point
against the unforeseen need
to fling another life preserver.

Hugging him, one encountered
this portcullis of pens
pressing back, a comfortable pain,
this reminder of the thousands of pages
he produced each year --
the journal of the mundane,
so beautiful to anyone
deprived of it.

Without Hats

Without Hats

Weekend Wordsmith

January 4, 2009

Life is a quest for the perfect hat.
The rest is just distraction -
the necessary evils of sustaining life
until we find it.

It was easier 60 years ago,
when everyone wore hats
all the time.
A walking smorgasbord of lids
from which one could sample,
taste a little of this tweed cap,
admire that felt fedora,
wrinkle one's nose at that
feather-bedecked monstrosity.

Nowadays, however, there's a famine,
with the fast-food John Deere cap
predominating, and the delicacy
of a tam o'shanter so rare
as to be drooled at from across
a restaurant, nose pressed to glass.

Gone are the days when a bowler
or a top hat
adorned every pate,
and gentlemen lifted their hat
to a passing lady.

Perhaps our lost gentility
is nothing more than
having forgotten our hats.


From the Weekend Wordsmith

December 12, 2008

That's how it works:
One's sanity depends
on the sanity of others,
and folks with no point
of reference drift irretrievably
into the abyss, forever
pursuing their chimerical vision
of goodness and light.


For the Weekend Wordsmith

Mt. Longonot, 1988
November 25, 2008

It certainly seemed like an avalanche,
the trickle of scree running away
from our boots that had run around the mountain,
and up from the plain, so far below.
Standing here at the edge of that life,
on the cusp of another,
nudging these pebbles down the slope
where they would dislodge so many others
unthought-of and unseen from where
we stood, at the top
of our world, miles ahead
of our friends
who had stopped to enjoy the view.


Some people are heroes. And some people jot down notes. Sometimes, they're the same person. (The Truth. Terry Pratchett)