Summer of '99
How ironic. There I was, waking to a magnificent kaleidoscopic sky
and I had no one to share it with. I thought you'd be there but I knew
that it was too good to have lasted. It was too perfect--
you were too perfect, all the way down to your cheesy pick up
line... "Steamy Summer Love" indeed...
But what is steam anyway? I guess the love that we shared
that summer literally evaporated. All at the heat of the moment.
How cliched. But it sure burned me, now I realize how true it is
that steam is way much hotter than boiling water.
Was it all a dream? I tend to think so, but then
I finger the bracelet around my wrist,
and realize it was true after all.
Breath on breath. Skin to skin. Heartbeat to heartbeat.
Soul to soul? I thought so.
I've come back here, to this same spot where we were a year ago,
just for me to let go.
Literally bottling up everything...
this write goes in this bottle, as well as some sand here
and your joke of a bracelet.
I'm tossing this out to sea, because that's where it belongs--
those memories to be swallowed up.
by angry waves...
Was it a fantasy? Maybe, but then I hold him close to me
and realize it wasn't. I named him Nicholas, you know.
See, I remembered your name.
Summer of 2008
I've come back to this place to mull over something rotten
I did a decade ago. And remember-- that gorgeous face,
those mesmerizing eyes and smile... that amazing spirit.
And hit myself on why I was such a fool.
Then I see this bottle, and in it is some sort of letter,
and what is this? A bracelet? An all too familiar one--
holding it in my palm, I get a chill not brought on by the sea breeze.
Reading the note, I burn up, ashen.
I then weep till my eyes and soul feel like dying.
I have a son.
and her name has escaped my memory.
** July 18 2010r06262012
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eye'd,
Such seems your beauty still.
~ William Shakespeare
I have looked into the mirror
Looking for a trace....a trace of my youth
A trace of the girl that I used to be...
Is she there? Buried deep? Is she still part of me?
Years can't be halted, change can't erase..
And there...in my face, are the lines of experience
Stories and time...I see staring back at me
A part of me wants to grieve for that girl
The girl that I was.. Has she vanished for good?
Oh, I do understand....
That I can't hang on to "then"..
To days long ago, when time was our friend
When summers, together, seemed never to end
But, then............ , here by chance, we meet up once again.....
Our friendship born in childhood..so young, and carefree
You...with bright eyes, and brown hair that fell long
Around your high cheeks ...and a wide, gamin smile!
You were the one who's light shined so brightly
Who's charm, laugh, and wisdom I fondly admired
A girlhood where we danced together in sweet grass under sunny skies
And under nighttime stadium lights, to the music of the high school band
After years, that have taken us to separate worlds
In my mind, and in my dreams you have always been
The fair maiden, the one who held my hand
Two girls who made promises...who sat in the dark, under a summer sky
And talked of our "somedays", of our future, our hopes
By the light of the moon, we wished upon the stars
Now here in this moment, I have found you again
And here in this moment, I have found "me" again....
I can be that girl again....as we share our history
our moment in the sun, ....I am "her", again!..
I can be that child, I can be fifteen, I can wear a crown, upon a teenaged throne...
And I can still dance to the sound of the drum, and the tuba,
I can sing football songs, and gossip about the boys,
and make fun of the stuck-up girls
and laugh about the teachers we didn't like,
and about the night of the prom, when I cried in your arms
I can hear Johnny Mathis singing "Misty", and the words will make me weep
I can hear "Canadian Sunset" as it lulls me off to sleep
Perhaps the stars have faded a bit...but beyond the weary miles
They still shine when I look into your eyes...my dear friend, from the past...
They will shine through the ages.........where a summer will always last....
For Frank's Contest:
I tasted summer…
It sure tasted good
I was dying for a sip
Of my iced coffee CHINO
Only in Cyprus…
My drug of choice
Crushed ice with sweetened coffee
In the evenings
succulent watermelon treats
Eating it all with relish
Even the seeds
I tasted summer…
In that first dive into the pool
Immersed in liquid delight
I touched the bottom of the pool
Two dolphins painted there
Let me have my way...
I did a handstand
Legs pointed straight up into the air
The water running down my legs
Straight up....I held on
In my element
My hair flowing around me
As I did my strokes
Diving in and out of the water
That's how I got described
by the one who watched,
"Your so agile"
I thought…OH…this is better...
Better that a sensual high
There was I
Gliding in and out
Water above, below, all around
Splashing around me
Playing...playing with my hair
Saturating my soul
Below the surface
I swim underwater
The width of the pool
I thrust up for air
Water slides off my body
The sun kisses me
Applauding the feat
I taste summer
It sure tastes good
Salty scent in my hair
My body slathered in sunscreen
Sand clinging to me
My sensing feasting
On every single thing...
My eyes delighted
A small September crowd
Enjoys the breeze
that creates the waves
I wade into the water
Intake of breath
It's refreshingly cold
The water laps at my legs
crawling further and further up
Making me gasp
I dive into the waves
One by one
I push myself high
My face to the shore
They pound on my back
I take a deep breath and let them roll over me
Enjoying the roughness
That "out of control" feeling
This is greater than me
I lie back
White puffs: baby angel breath clouds
I let the sun ravish
The water carries me
I forget everything
My mind blank like the blue sky
There is nothing but the NOW
And there am I
Salty and sweet
Oh, so, happy, am, I!
The day’s hot-the wind like a convection oven
Blows hot air in our faces.
My cap and gown insulates me
Baking me like a potato wrapped in aluminum foil
I desperately fan myself and look around
My eyes search for my peers and see;
The bros that survived school with me;
The others who shouldn't have;
The girls with memories already wet in their eyes;
The people I never met and will never know;
All desperately fanning themselves
In silence and in waiting.
We all are waiting for the same thing-
What's next to come.
For some it will be their names
For another a trip to boot camp
For many including myself- college
A couple can't wait to forget the tortures of high school
And a few will already be planning our high school reunion
because it was the best years of their life.
As I bow my head, not out of sadness,
but out of sheer defeat by the sun,
I scuff up my dress shoes in the clumpy grass of the field-
that just finished another infamous drawn out lacrosse season,
I'll be thinking about the 4 plus years, 8 seasons,
worth of drilling and conditioning I did in that very field and on the surrounding track,
With a flash of ivory across my sweating face
I'll be thinking about
All the nooks and crannies
that I sanctioned for the intimate meetings of my girlfriends
The times caught and not,
All the heartbreaks and rejections,
The friends made, the best friends kept, and the many lost.
The drama, stupidity, and immaturity,
Everything that was and used to be.
And, all this time spent waiting-preparing
for this one moment
You can't help but remember it all
And with one, final sweet goodby-
So many memories I have are summer-colored,
like those walking-down-the-lane days recalled in various hues of green.
Green for Grandpa’s cornfields spread all around us
and green for the grass on which my sisters and I used to run and play.
Besides that color green, which prettily surrounded me through all my childhood,
I think a favorite memory would be
the colors of one lovely day spent with my family,
the family created by my spouse and me and a day our kids were young.
We lived near San Francisco.
Few troubles plagued us then and I loved our short time in California!
One summer day at last we went to see the beach of Santa Cruz.
I don’t remember details of everything we did.
We walked along the boardwalk, naturally.
I’m sure the kids, both pre-teens, enjoyed the rides.
Even I was every bit as excited as the two of them.
I’m sure my spouse and I took pictures, ate good-tasting food
and watched our children doing things all children love to do.
But what stood out for me was our time spent on the beach
and how we all jumped up to greet each wave that tumbled toward us
time and time again to knock us down.
What pure pleasure in the splashes of blue that fun-filled day,
the blue of the Pacific, which chilled me at the start
until I warmed to it as the yellow sun in blue of sky above
smiled down on us.
Yes, the blue of sky and water
and the constant shining yellow of the sun:
those would be the colors of my favorite summer memory -
when times were good and we were young and simply having fun.
Looking at an old photo of myself at age 13,
I see a girl, rail-thin, but on the verge of womanhood.
Her hair hangs in long pigtails and she wears a modest top with shorts
as she sits posing on her brand new bike, grinning happily at the camera.
The purple bike in that picture was a Schwinn Stingray.
Not just any bike, this one had high handlebars and a banana seat.
It was just about the hottest property of any kid my age
at that time in the late 60’s when Stingray was at its pinnacle of popularity.
In our family of ten, Dad worked hard just to pay the bills.
Our bikes were second-hand, and I never had one all my own.
My new bike, therefore, represented for me, a summer of very hard work!
I’d spent a good part of my summer vacation that year
peddling greeting cards, even Christmas cards, door to door.
Each day I’d walk many blocks in the humid heat of our hilly town,
knocking on the doors of folks with no interest in ordering boxes of cards.
Some days I'd hardly get any sales at all, and always my profits were small.
Toward the end of my summer, a few large, painful boils appeared on my arms,
and I suppose they were evidence of the stress of my many hours walking.
However, I persevered, and at last I prevailed!
How proud I was to finally walk into the bicycle shop
and lay down on the counter my $45 I’d worked so hard to earn.
Never again did I have to borrow a family member’s bike.
With my purple Stingray, I could get across town to the Weed Park pool
in a quarter of the hour it normally took me to walk that distance.
Through all of junior high. that Stingray was my companion
when I would breeze down the long hill of Eighth Street to my school
and then have to trudge that hill on foot walking my bike to get back home!
Sometimes I would just take it out for fun, but mostly I used it
to ride over to friends’ houses or take it downtown, parking it near stores
while I shopped for 45’s, clothes or cosmetics,
the new items slowly replacing my thoughts of bicycling and play
as I began making money more easily babysitting or picking berries in summer.
My 13th summer soon became a vague memory
with only this black and white picture to show for it.
I don’t recall when or if that bike finally gave out on me or whether it just got tossed.
But looking again at the photo, I see not just that beautiful Stingray bike,
but also a young girl who smiles not just with happiness,
but with the pride of working hard for her very first time with an "eye on the prize!"
Deep in the woods I hear an angel's lyrical call.
Tranquil and serene, a majestic summer waterfall.
Where the oaks and wildflowers shade the creek,
reflections fall to earth from rays of destiny,
refreshing my soul and setting my spirit free.
I smell the aroma of rain mixed with the paradise breeze.
Tranquil and serene, a natural wonder and rainbow of peace.
A cascading sparkling jewel,
above a wave rippling whirlpool.
Upon the wind rides the angel's lyrical call.
Tranquil and serene, a majestic summer waterfall.
One of life’s sunshine days
A pleasant walk down to the river
Scene of all basking in high summer sun
Sheep graze roaming enamoured of the warm grass
The river flowing passing on its ancient meandering way
A self carved path by an enticement no choice drawn to the sea
And over the river and water meadows comfy white cottages seen
The bright garden colours given now a soft focus by haze and distance
Onto the river bridge the weight an impetus of water a few feet down below
Grey stone ancient buttress shaped by old artifice granting water a gentle pass
Auric and glistening the strong suns noonday blazing light beams down
Lit the riverbed of soft golden sands transmuted a bronze by depth
Flanking green reeds softly sway the gentle current persuades
Shadows shapes seen moving contrary and counter way
Lovely minnow’s dark tops sides a silver hidden
Viewed unseen but in this summer light
Serendipity favour a glance a view
Perhaps a little peep
It was an innocent summer afternoon
And for a day we pushed our problems aside
The almanac promised a clear day, highs in the eighties
Instead it was muggy and hot in the low nineties
After lunch the three of us
Took a slow walk under the summer sun
Coming home we went our separate ways
Jon to the living room
Elaine upstairs and
I to the den
Where I fell into a deep sleep
My body sinking into the sofa.
A faint breeze circulated through the air
Suddenly a yellow light woke me up
The skies suddenly darkened
Followed by heavy rain
It was a summer storm
Sudden it its ferocity
I woke up
Joining Jon and Elaine
Running out to bring in the lawn cushions
In the rain we
Made loud noises
Threw cushions around
To our hearts content
We were together again
Because of a summer storm.
A two-story house stands silent,
no longer prideful of its bay window,
running water in the kitchen,
and a shower in the basement,
or of having erased memories
of shotgun houses with no heat
and back-yard water pumps.
Its blank windows stare
onto fields where cotton once grew
tall and green; where stinging dirt clods
flew from our brother's straight arm,
whose aim my sister and I could never match.
Its closed face once laughed
at red noses, dust-crusted necks, muscles
tightening under skin worn waxed-paper thin
by twelve-hour days under burning skies
and the bitter taste of ashes
blown in by a greedy little weevil.
Our minds hung heavy
with hard-packed dirt and skimpy crops
as our hoes wielded strength and hope,
our toil fueled by dreams
of emerald fields and rain-kissed rows,
our memories ripe with younger days
when we swam in creeks, bucketed
minnows, and climbed trees
in search of possum grapes.