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Here in the Neighborhood

Three times I’ve seen a Great Blue Heron

in the little stream of a neighborhood park.

What can she be finding in there?

No fish, that’s for sure.

It truly is at most a stream, a trickle.

Is she just wanting a drink?

Granted, that could be had.

But nothing more.

As my dog and I approach

she lifts her great heavy body

off those spindly legs

with amazing grace and ease.

Perhaps she prefers our humble stream

for just a drink

Quiet, secluded, less traveled by loose dogs and coyotes.

I am, of late, also preferring this civilized little park

to the wilder places we love that are also

loved by copperheads,

where a friend’s dog recently was bitten.

A yellow lab, he spent two nights in hospital.

My dog is too small and old to survive that

and I am too much in love with him to

weather that, knowing it was my poor judgment

that brought about his misery and possible end.

We will, instead, hang out with the lovely Great Blue Heron

right here in our neighborhood.

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I’m not going anywhere.

I’ll start at your temples

spread upwards and across,

your frequent companion

your Achilles heel.

Unassailable, trenchant, here to stay.

I’m not going anywhere.

You can bring out your pills

dab on your oils

eat or drink whatever

you think might help

but I’m not going anywhere.

Always happy to stay

I’ll be here when you wake

from your troubled sleep.

Don’t think I won’t.

I’m not going anywhere.

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Natural Events

Fog covers the town

or so I’m told

by those who tell.

Another natural event

that enlivens my heart

like the gathering of starlings

and the whoosh of them going,

the V of geese flying over

announcing themselves noisily.

Sunrise, sunset, the turn of the leaves.

The call of the elusive Kingfisher

and the cry of the hawk.

All of these simple miracles

tell me a secret I already knew

but love to be told again and again:

this life is a Russian doll

nested with gifts inside gifts

down to the tiniest prize

of the wren calling 

Good Morning! 

to anyone who will listen.

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A New Day

Comes another dawn

on a late November day

when the bare trees

display their essences

against a changing background

perhaps not spectacular this time

not one for the photographers

but one that gladdens the heart

with its arrival.

And the big voice I mistook

for a cardinal

is, I believe, a compact little wren

in its brown suit

making its voice heard

as if to declare It’s a new day

and this is my little world.

And I think, why not

start the day with a song

staking a claim for my world?

Why not call out, Hello, you!

Hello, world! I am here.

Its a new day and I am here.

What will I do with this day?

Sing.  Fly.  Sing again.

And love this day.

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He is an old dog, my vet said.

He’s only eleven! I cried.

He is in his 70s, she countered.

But.  But but but.  

I had so many objections.  

He is my hale and hearty dog

my stalwart companion

the one with the jaunty step

the fearless explorer of woods & creek

my role model for flat-out joy 

my Tigger

my heart.

How could he, like me,

have a decrepit neck?

I take Social Security. Medicare.

But he!   He is only eleven.

Just yesterday he killed a snake!

We have yet to go camping.

He hasn’t seen the ocean.

I still have his baby tooth.

He is only eleven.

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I’ve come home, it seems.

Returned again to the place of my heart

where I’ve wandered before

with my stalwart companion.

The place where my spirit soars

and his runs free, ears flying.

I wonder, if I could no longer walk

for whatever reason

whether I might find such a place

within myself.

Could I, would I rise to the challenge?

People do, I’m told.  They rise.

People break and yet carry on.

Could I?  Or rather, would I?

I pray to the trees, the creek and the dawn,

the chickadee, the kingfisher and the heron

that I never need learn the answer.

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Outdoor concert on a lovely evening in June

children running back and forth absorbed

in everchanging games, rolling down the

grassy hill, ignoring for the most part the

genius of Brahms, Massenet, Sousa,

pulling at my heart to bend over those

pages of my own sons’ childhoods and

even mine, so very long ago.

That one little boy, in a sweater vest,

necktie, no shirt, looking somehow

French–did he insist on that tie

in the way of headstrong little boys

knowing what he likes, being strictly

his own person, impervious as yet

to the dull demands of convention?

How now is the boy who, years ago

at my sons’ preschool wore a Superman

costume for days on end demanding

that he be called Superman or only

in a pinch Clark Kent?  Has his fierce

own self remained true and steadfast

through the years unwavered by the

insistent voices that call day in day out?

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Congratulate me for I have landed

an important contract, prestigious employment

the job of loving all with whom I come into contact

no, all, flat out All, seen unseen no exceptions.

I have a new job, a calling, nothing more,

nothing less, an employment with

benefits, continuous overtime,

Sundays, holidays, no vacation,

unlimited ongoing lifetime contract.

True job security.

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Squirrel chatters at my window.

What does she know of contentment?

She is bound to find food, make babies,

avoid enemies and most importantly, survive.

Contentment is not found in her DNA with

that rapidly beating heart, the twitching tail.

But what about me?  And you?

We humans always want more and

then more still and it seems we always will.

Direction, innovation, love, laughter,

travel, family, recognition, lists of things.

We come no closer than squirrels

to reaching nirvana.