Heartbeat    teabtraeH



Heartbeat—pulse of the city street

or a country road

Heartbeat of rhythms carry me to the sea

carry me,

far away

far from shores of steel and cobblestone

and far from rooftops—stargazer’s threshold

to Heaven

And further yet from stillness

of country nights

a heartbeat riding bareback, hair flying free

riding into darkness—far from me

Heartbeat of traffic


a hornblast

infant’s cry across the alley

padding feet upon the pavement

Far from mountains

Deep-taken breaths

and time





Hard, fast, intense

Heartbeat of city streets

Gentle, patient, passion restrained


still a heartbeat

Different and distant

two heartbeats

two hearts beat

As one

Heartbeat    teabtraeH




Love Swings


Love swings,

like Basie or Duke

As softly as a morning sunrise

streams into the day

It swings


Love swings,

as the breast gently rises

and her breath fills his horn

giving life to the moment

It swings


Oh hear,

how it soars so high

and crashes so low

and it swings


Hear it,

as my soul fills with color

but is left dark and empty

as it swings


sweet rhythm

Coming for to carry me

carry me,

but never deliver me

from love


Love swings,

her call irresistible,

my heart’s steady rhythm

a whisper


heard by my lover

whose love is a song

that swings


Since my son Cliff has been better able to express his thoughts and feelings on the movement, I’m sharing his latest poem with the hope it sparks change, and provides inspiration to jump start my own writing.

We are each but one voice
Screams into shielded faces
Cascading chants
Words calculated and calmly spoken into a lens
Each but one voice
Gaining power as it transforms into a chorus
Attempts to silence
I can’t breathe
My eyes cannot forget
A man’s death over loosie cigarettes
I can’t breathe
The glassy eyed stare at the onlookers
A badge meant to protect and serve
As he choked the life of a man
Another father
Another son
I can’t breathe
The words become louder
The crowds rise like an ocean tide
And somehow this feels different
It has to be different
A time for change
Hands up, don’t shoot
Bullets fly and pierce through flesh
A crime to be in one’s own home
When black
Black voices that can fill your soundtracks
Black hands that can catch your ball
Black bodies in your uniforms
Defending your freedoms
But you won’t extend the same liberties
Because of the color of their skin
So one voice
Becomes two
Which makes way for more
Until the voices of the unseen
Drown out all others
The noise
All lives
Respect the flag
Simply veiled racism
And now the cover has been lifted
Exposing the wounds
Hundreds of years of injustice
For all to bear witness
Voices in unison
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter
And Repeated
Until the words sink in and are truly heard

Spring and All

Keeping with Tanya’s Marigolds theme, –visit Soul Symphonies Marigolds in May–and my failed attempts to hurry Spring along, I decided to torture myself by writing a sonnet, the first I’ve ever attempted.



Sunflower staggered under mass of suns

Shoulders the weight of a solar hour

Forlornly lusting over meadow runs

Tournesol to shun the cosmic bower


Shedding the burden of the sunflower

You burn with inextinguishable joy

Ne’er bowing to incinerate power

Seeking universal laws to destroy


Corolla of daisy’s ringed yoke ensnares

A dark core of isolation within

The day’s eye opens while the Buddha stares

Contemplating a freed soul void of sin


Marigold! Sun and flower incarnate

Light and color embrace my garden gate



via Obsession 

I am adrift, but my fellow bloggers help ground me. I appreciate their comments and encouragement, especially when they come from someone who’s work I admire and respect. Such is the case with Illusive Road author Dawn to Dusk. Her poetry is genuine and without pretense, raw emotion expressed in simple, yet musical language. Her photography displays unique vision and a willingness to experiment.
Ironically, a recurring theme in her work is self-doubt and fear of rejection. While she questions her worthiness, which we all do from time to time, she does so devoid of self-pity, instead allowing her anxiety to draw her to the edge of the abyss to face her insecurities head on. There is great courage in this brutal honesty. What follows is my personal favorite, a poem filled with words and images I have carried with me since I discovered it several years ago.


That which makes you happy
I should love that too
But my obsession
Has me cursing your freedom

I love you
But your love scares me
I’ve surpassed abnormality
My love is no longer pure and simple

What is this obsession
It’s taken possession of my mind and heart
You seem to fill each thought
I sense you in every breath I take

I’m afraid,
This love consumes me
This love is no longer the calm lake in which I glide
But a stormy sea that throttles me day and night

Insecurity is a foreign entity entering me
I began to doubt my competence
I’m not enough to satisfy your needs
Not enough to keep you smiling

I’m addicted to you
A moment without you is a void
My sanity is at risk
All because you are my obsession



I have so much information floating around in my head, much of it of dubious value. This assemblage has been collected, coalesced and distorted by fading memory, so that even the formidable powers of Google fail me when I try to reconnect the original source. Such was nearly the case for a quote I would likely have attributed to one of many famous existential authors. Instead, said quote helped me rediscover other long-forgotten gems from the brilliantly twisted mind of Kurt Vonnegut, and this particular search will serve as the motivation to revisit his work.

I had a professor who knew Vonnegut personally, and used his teaching platform to spread the author’s insights into the values of big business and society. Vonnegut’s view of existence and Man’s place in the world, like many of his generation, was colored by the transformation from his personal exposure to World War II. Ironically, this quote was the runner-up to the original quote I was seeking, which was from a relatively obscure book of poetry from 1970 entitled Black Out Loud. At the risk of misquoting the original poem and taking liberty with language that some may feel I have no right to use in any context, I have supplanted it with the following:

“Trout was petrified there on Forty-second Street. It had given him a
life not worth living, but I had also given him an iron will to live. This
was a common combination on the planet Earth.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

My intent was to channel the energy, imagery and frustration of the speaker in the original poem to springboard into my own work.  



Must I die upon the cross

To grant salvation for a life that’s lost?

Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series – Pt 4

Several of the poems in The Dream Keeper by Langston Hughes have seasonal themes. Featured on this icy January night is Dreams.

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Our featured redhead is Mickey Rooney. Rooney starred in over 300 films, his career reaching all the way back to the silent film era. The 5ft-2in Rooney was quite the ladies’ man, and his Andy Hardy series in the 1930’s marked the period of his greatest popularity.


Our featured song is Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Fats Waller. The song didn’t apply to Rooney who was married eight times, six of those marriages ending in divorce.

No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you
For you, for you, for you

I know for certain
The one I love
I’m through with flirtin’
It’s just you I’m thinkin’ of

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

Like Jack Horner
In the corner
Don’t go nowhere
What do I care

Your kisses
Are worth waitin’ for
Believe me

I don’t stay out late
Got no place to go
I’m home about 8
Just me and my radio

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ all my love for you

I don’t stay out late
Got no place to go
I’m home about 8
Just me and my radio

Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you

  • Writer(s): Andy Razaf, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller, Harry Brooks

Fats Waller

Winter in America

It was 3-deg Fahrenheit as I drove to work this morning. Snow is coming tomorrow. Once we get past the holidays I have no use for winter.

Our featured poem is Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind. I attended nearly every extension campus of Mercy College, a small school in Westchester County, New York and discovered this poem at the location which occupied the space that was once Cross County Hospital, odd in its own right as it was located in a shopping center and featured a helipad. The open air mall opened in 1954 and is one of the nation’s oldest. Guided by the closest proximity to my workplace at the time, I also took classes in White Plains, which had a great second-hand bookstore on Martine Avenue, the Bronx campus which split classrooms between a storefront on Williamsbridge Road, and St. Catherine Academy, an all girls Catholic high school during the day, and finally finished my studies at the home campus in Dobbs Ferry. But, I am getting way off track…

I remember writing an essay on Shelley’s poem, interpreting the final stanza as optimistic, to which my professor commented, “Why optimistic?”

“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” Today, with our literal and figurative Winter in America, I’m not so sure.

Ode to the West Wind

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed
The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky’s commotion,
Loose clouds like earth’s decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head
Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith’s height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!
Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lull’d by the coil of his crystalline streams,
Beside a pumice isle in Baiae’s bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
Quivering within the wave’s intenser day,
All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic’s level powers
Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
The sapless foliage of the ocean, know
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be
The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
Scarce seem’d a vision; I would ne’er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither’d leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish’d hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken’d earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series – Pt 3

Our featured poem from Langston Hughes is Homesick Blues. Home is not only where the heart is, and it isn’t always a physical location, but is a place where we are most our self. While this poem may not be my favorite, it is the one where I most relate to the speaker, who’s voice and words never leave me.

De railroad bridge’s
A sad song in de air.
De railroad bridge’s
A sad song in de air.
Ever time de trains pass
I wants to go somewhere.

I went down to de station.
Ma heart was in ma mouth.
Went down to de station.
Heart was in ma mouth.
Lookin’ for a box car
To roll me to de South.

Homesick blues, Lawd,
‘S a terrible thing to have.
Homesick blues is
A terrible thing to have.
To keep from cryin’
I opens ma mouth an’ laughs.

Once I settled on the poem and theme, selecting our featured redhead was simple. It had to be Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Her performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow carries a message and emotions that are universal. This longing stretches across decades of music; Stephanie Mills’ Home, Subterranean Homesick Blues by Dylan, Carole King’s Home Again, and Home by Foo Fighters. During the Great Depression, home was the hope for a return to normalcy.

judy garland

“Over The Rainbow”
Harold Arlen, E. Harburg

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh, why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow.
Why, oh, why can’t I?

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