exploring life in all its variety

February 7, 2008

Smuggler of Dreams

The New Moon can’t be trusted.
Rather than float her darker
face as a shadow dotting
the brilliance of the sky,
she hides behind a blue mask.

Still the glassy surface of my
inner pool grows agitated, (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 7:00 am PST, 02/07/08
September 16, 2007

Who was the first poet?

I wonder, because reading
so inevitably
pushes me to write.
I wonder, and I even worry.

What if I’d never seen a poem?
Might I burst apart one day
from the pressure of too much
held in too long? Could I have learned,

even as slowly as I do, how to
forge words into a proper
plough to break the heart’s earthy
crust? Could I witness the drop

of soft rain on edgy leaves of thought, see
sun poured on a cloud and stars suspended
in a faint array, high and deep in a black sky?
Would I sense the ruddy pulse of Mars?

What if I’d never known a poem
can sing me to sleep at night,
can single out the imperfections
and perfect whole of a lily pond?

Who would I be, or what?
Where could I go? Who started this?
I want to send the first poet flowers and
lily dreams, across the bridge of time.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 2:47 pm PST, 09/16/07
July 6, 2007

It just got old

old thoughts sometimes
wear grooves so deep
they bury themselves before
new ones can rise
the buried old ones
make good fertilizer

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 10:27 am PST, 07/06/07
June 12, 2007

Focus

Poetry turns
an unshuttered eye
on beauty, on ugliness,
and everything between.

It translates the profound
through focus on
the loved, the reviled,
and everything between.

Not the driest news, nor
the most turgid
melodrama
have anything on this

passion expressed
in objectivity,
objectivity
in passion.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 10:58 am PST, 06/12/07
April 20, 2007

Early morning in the country

Slick roads. A thousand tires stir the water
in a broken rhythm echoing off concrete.
Brakes squeal, a helicopter passes overhead,
not the first or last today.
All around me people start another work day
that begins, and will end, in traffic.

People say this is the country,
but in the rain I hear city.
So where’s the country?
Is there any left?

Now I hear the gentle tap of rain on roof and leaves.
Cat purrs, washing beside me. Dog snores. Husband stirs
in the other room, at rest in our island of peace.
Birds sing as the sun lightens clouds in the east.
I think about planting seeds and pulling weeds.
Oh — the country is here.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 10:44 am PST, 04/20/07
April 16, 2007

Compass rose

When you’ve lived near the sea
you notice its scent each time
you return from far away.

Fifty miles from home
I’ve caught wind of it.

Once, driving west
across the desert
from Arizona, still a
hundred miles inland and
separated by mountains,
we hit a bank of
salty air thick as fog.
The sky was clear. Stars
appeared one by one.

Their pin pricks lit the faint rose dusk
all around a slender cup of moon.

We lifted our faces to the heady
breeze and traded looks that said,
"We’ll be home soon."

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 3:07 pm PST, 04/16/07
March 13, 2007

To a fish on her birthday

Can I still believe in love, in spite of you?

Was it a Pisces thing, you loving
so much? For nineteen years
I’ve swum slow circles around your death.
I rarely speak or write of it.

People tend to turn away,
afraid to touch my pain, fearing
a touch will make it theirs. Even I
feared to swim this way again.

On jury duty, two years ago, I was
excused because I’d think too much
of you, who shared the barest thread of fate
with a man who’d been shot dead.

You’d be fifty-six and still I swim
against the pain, inching myself
your way again. Did I love too much?
Can one love anyone too much?

The oldest sister, a Pisces like our mom, and
shy yourself, you seemed to understand.
You dished out love, but did you claim
your share? Did we return enough to you?

How can one love so much? I try to think
of love as holy fish and bread, divided, multiplied
’til all are fed. But if that’s true, how is it
one you loved so much could harm you?

Was it a Pisces thing, your love? You were
no cold fish. Sometimes I think you loved too much.
My Pisces Mars dampens me into a steamy
bog for love. Your Pisces Sun was light.

Was it a Pisces thing, you loved so much—
so much, no holding back—so much it melted
ice—a river overflowing so with Pisces
love it made a flood? Even so, was it enough?

I should not think that I can love too much.
A fish lives, once entombing ice melts down,
and you were no fancy goldfish drifting delicate
as feathers in a glass bowl. You would’ve laughed.

When your body fell—then did your love
swim free? A wild salmon, did you bunch red muscle,
at white water, over rocks and logs, leap up falls,
spinning unending love back to its source?

Were you the first to forgive? Before God, even?

I still believe in love because of you.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 12:54 am PST, 03/13/07
March 12, 2007

Blogging for the future

With a few clicks I hang words here
faster than ink could dry. Quick speech
cast on the winds may evaporate
to half-forgotten recollection,

but this is more permanent.
Poured in careless streams with little
edit, boldly the slant and kilter
of unfiltered thought sinks deep

into real time. Collective thoughts carve
a virtual Grand Canyon online,
with little grounding or meditation
in the haste for expression.

Elders paused, honed tools, crushed pigment.
No delete key forgave errors in execution.
They chronicled tales pre-told and re-told,
their gradual unfold governed by slow prudence.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 10:55 pm PST, 03/12/07
March 7, 2007

Morning flight

I watched a mourning dove
fly up with such slow beat
of wings, it seemed barely
enough to make it fly.

My heart, a free thing, loose
and at odds with itself,
longed to fly with it, to be
its mate, to nest—to raise young—

to free young things in flight
in time, to stand at the edge
of a nest, full-fledged,
and push lovingly from behind.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 11:29 am PST, 03/07/07
March 4, 2007

Listen

A poem is violin song.
It asks only that you let it play,
even as it sings your life back to you,
and rends your heart to hear it
and do nothing
but listen.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 12:47 pm PST, 03/04/07
February 28, 2007

Metamorphosis

There’s a quality of light just after a rain, when the sun first shines through gray and turns every green thing several shades brighter. The birds are subdued, but sound hopeful. The light sparkles in drops of water suspended on pine needles. It dims, then grows, in a pulsing kind of dance, from gray to green to gray again. Cars take on a different sound, driving a little faster, tires stirring up the water as it drains away.

It’s a liminal time, like dusk or dawn, or the beginning or end of the world. We stand inside the metamorphosis. Wet to dry, dry to wet. A moment suspended in time. Peace, for just a second, while the future resolves itself and prepares to unfold. More rain? Or not? Then a patch of blue appears.

File: — Barbara @ 3:05 pm PST, 02/28/07
February 12, 2007

Unspoken

A crow wakens me
from a dream that you
found words I wrote in private.
Some groundhog far away
didn’t see his shadow, so
now crows pair off, dancing,
cawing, impressing mates for spring.
I sleep and dream
you found my journals.
I wonder if you read my stream
of consciousness, saw the flying
buttresses and spires of my heart,
sketches drawn on paper, then lost.
I don’t remember where I left them
that you found them,
so many words that I forgot I wrote.
I don’t understand
why you waited until
now, as I’m gathering
my things to leave,
to show me this, or
why my scribbled scraps
are mixed with yours
in wooden boxes,
a page of yours, a page of mine
still in your hand.
Do you care, I wonder.
Did you read them?
Were you annoyed
that somehow my words
fell in here with yours?
You don’t say and
I’m afraid to ask.
Are you as hesitant as I
to beg access to the heart
that played those parts
in other dreams,
that drew those things,
that strung those words?
I wonder what it is
you don’t say out loud.
Then I realize I’m awake
because I hear the crow.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 2:35 pm PST, 02/12/07
February 6, 2007

Life’s palette

Souls come in splashes of color, intermingling,
from pale spring pastel to chartreuse, opening
a gaudy bloom in a hot summer garden,
or tossing a pigment-saturated leaf in autumn.
One fades, a soft breeze that waved flower tops
departs in murmurs of leaves, a whisper lost.
Another dies. All the flowers droop, leaves fall as one,
surrender to winter’s chill and the death of the sun,
as if each only stood upright or hung on to
witness the flash and brilliance of a single hue.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 5:21 pm PST, 02/06/07

Sometimes a flood

Grief lays stones in my heart,
one for each loss,
gemstones all, but
it’s harder to pump
blood around stones.

Sometimes a family
of beavers moves in,
fells trees, sets up house.
Minding their business,
they don’t know
they stop the flow.
The pressure builds,
wet, heavy,
nudging rocks,
until the dam bursts,
catching me unaware—
catching us all unaware.

Sometimes the buildup’s
so slow I don’t know I hurt
until the dam bursts.
Sometimes I’m washed away.
But the rocks, they stay.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 4:36 pm PST, 02/06/07
January 29, 2007

Past perfect, present imperfect

On the perfect yellow rose
rested a dewdrop
as perfect as the rose
in every way.

It slid down the petal
with a most perfect grace,
then fell to the rich soil below,
content to find its place.

I will never be as perfect as the dewdrop,
yet in my awkward way, I have my grace,
and I shall be content, when that time comes
to fall gently, but with dignity, into my place.

From my journal, 1974.

This poem brings back memories. I recall typing it out as a homemade card for my dad for either his birthday or Father’s Day, weeks or months after I wrote it. Today I think a lot differently about perfection. Back then I secretly wanted perfect — perfect roses, perfect looks, perfect prospects, perfect romance. I envisioned a perfect future as an adult. A perfect home, a perfect family.

I’ve come to appreciate flaws, in nature and in people — in all the surprising ways things turn out. A perfect rose doesn’t exist, except in a hothouse, and I don’t want to live in a hothouse. No one has a perfect life. Such a life only exists in that trite phrase, happily ever after. Does anyone know what that means? Beauty? There are lots of unhappy beautiful people. Wealth? There are lots of unhappy wealthy people. A fairytale romance? We’ve seen where that got some real life princesses.

Today I find lopsided roses endearing. They’re more like me. I can identify. They’re more like everyone.

As for perfection in my work, in my actions, I’ve learned there are tradeoffs of time and energy and expected outcomes. I can negotiate with myself and decide when to stop and be content. There are points at which I know certain things are done. Maybe they’re perfect, maybe they’re not — but there’s no more to fix, adjust, edit, or tweak. It’s time to move along to the next thing. At that point the next thing becomes the now thing, and that’s most important.

But the sentiment expressed in the poem still applies, and I think a lot now, as I did when I struggled to decide what to do with my life, about one’s calling. We each have one, some purpose for being here. The thing is, it may remain a mystery all our lives, even as we fulfill it. Sometimes the really important things aren’t what we planned, sometimes we don’t even remember them, they’re just the after effects of our passage through others’ lives. The important things are more likely to happen behind us in positive ways if we’re kind than if we aren’t, if we appreciate others than if we don’t, if we’re forgiving rather than not. But we still may not know in this life what they were, how we made someone feel, or inspired them, or taught them.

I think we’re very lucky if we find a purpose we recognize and can be happy with, even if it doesn’t mean being a star, or rich, or having perfect teeth, or keeping one’s hair free of gray, or one’s hair altogether. I remember my mom once saying it would’ve been nice to have more money, but the most important thing one needed in abundance while raising kids was love. She left a lot of love in her wake.

Today I think that with all our flaws we’re glorious, spectacular. We shine, especially if we can accept our imperfections, even love them, and especially if we can love, forgive, and accept the flaws in others, and go on living each day as thoroughly, vibrantly, and full of wonder as possible.

Considering the peace that time has brought me, I wouldn’t be 18 again for anything.

But . . . if I had the body today that I was so dissatisfied with then, I’d be ecstatic. It’s true youth is wasted on the young. At least youthful bodies are. Damn it. (wink)

Copyright © 1974, 2007 Barbara W. Klaser

File: — Barbara @ 6:40 pm PST, 01/29/07

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