Open Letter to the “Men Along the Journey”

The other day I posted a video on Facebook, tagging a crew of men to whom I was expressing gratitude.  As I watched the video of a young boy, fatherless, being held up by “A Village of Fathers” I began thinking of the men who have supported my son, Bryan, throughout his journey.  The list includes friends, teachers, pastors, leaders, uncles, coaches, neighbors, a grandpa, a brother, and an adoptive father.

The thing is, I didn’t really explain why I tagged so many of you, and I did not explain how you fit into the overall picture.  As a matter of fact, I started picturing each of you guys thinking “Uh, was it a mistake that Julie tagged me in this?  What was she thinking?  As far as I know Bryan was never in a Training Academy and I most certainly have never done push-ups with him on my back!”  Here’s the thing, though.  You have!  You have done push-ups with my son on your back.

Every time that you
Pushed Bryan to excel,
Challenged him, or
Taught him something new,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you chased him at the park,
Included him in your game of catch,
And high-fived his efforts,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you picked him up,
Dropped him off,
Or sat in the passenger seat while he drove,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

Every time that you said “Hello,”
Celebrated his birthday,
Reached out to him,
Listened, joked, supported, helped,
congratulated, encouraged, or coached,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you taught him
the quadratic formula,
how to mow a lawn,
how to get the ball in the net,
How to run faster,
Think smarter,
Speak louder,
Read more,
and to listen to great music,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

You were there when he
Hung drywall,
Asked questions,
Won a bet,
Broke a bone,
Waxed philosophical,
Painted walls,
Calculated algorithms,
Broke personal records,
Used power tools,
Volunteered his time,
Invested his money,
and learned that he was

worth the investment.

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you
worried about him,
corrected him,
prayed for him,
laughed with him,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

When you went running with him,
Met him for coffee,
Or made chai for him,
Fed him,
Played Chess, Stratego, and Capture the Flag with him,

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

As he continues to grow,
Learn, explore, change,
and transform into the man
he is to become,
I will be eternally grateful
for your role
in Bryan’s journey.

When I could not provide for his every need,
Because I could not teach him everything,
You stepped in.
You showed up.
You came through.

You were doing push-ups
With my son on your back.

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Mike, David, Doug, Charlie, Dan, Ryan, Charles, Tom, Jon, John, Kyle, John, Dan, Donnie, Michael, Jay, Zack, Craig, Martin, Don, Chris, Dave, Dave, Dave, David, Kareem, Ben, Bob, Bobby, Dan, Dale, Ken, John, Odis, Scott, Chris, Ed, Thom, Hubert, Keith, Seth, Dale, Pat, Tim, Adam, Sean, Scott, and the countless other men who have been there through the journey.

Forget Fearlessness (for Joanne)

 

I remember that you wanted
to be
fearless,
And I remember
How you seemed
Disappointed in yourself
That you were not as
Fearless
As you expected yourself
To be.

My friend, you are
Not fearless—
Never have been,
Never will.

I know that seems harsh,
But what I am
Trying to say
Is that

You
Are
More
Than
Fearless.

You see,
Fearless lacks fear.

Fearless
does
not see
or acknowledge fear.

At all.

Fearless does not care.

Fearless has no worries.

Fearless is
not concerned.

Fearless doesn’t grapple.

Fearless does
Not
Consider the
consequences.

Fearless does
not require
perseverance or
stamina.

Fearless does
not spend time
to evaluate
or reflect.

Fearless does
Not
Weigh the
Costs
And benefits.

Fearless is for an instant.

Fearless is empty.

You are
Not fearless.

You are brave
And courageous.

Courage is complete.

Courage takes commitment,
Knowing the risks
But acting on
Behalf
Of
others.

Courage is compassionate,
Considering the impact of
The actions,
the inactions,
and
the reactions.

Courage sees fear,
looks it straight in the eye,
Nods with acknowledgement,

And then does
what
Is right.

Courage worries—

Courage loses sleep
And agonizes
While sifting through
What is obvious
In order
To
Find
The truth.

Courage evaluates the options,
Weighing the costs
And benefits.

Courage thinks and reflects,
Constantly soul-searching
And searching souls.

Courage makes a
careful
and brave
decisions.

Courage stands

When it would be easier
To fight
Or to flee.

Courage takes time,
Perseverance,
And stamina.

You are not fearless,
but
you are
Brave
and courageous.

Arlington Heights (NaPoWriMo – Day 29)

I remember days on bicycles
Riding from edge to edge
Of town.

I remember pool passes
The smell of chlorine on our towels
And in our hair.

I remember legendary rounds of
Capture the flag, with every kid
In the neighborhood.

I remember Banbury Road
The one street allowed to angle and curve
Through Scarsdale.

I remember the Frontier Days
Parade, Carnival, music
Then fireworks at the track.

I remember hide-and-seek
In the stacks of books at the
Public library.

I remember Green River sodas
And onion rings at the best restaurant
Eros.

I remember the friendships
That have continued through decades
Real and timeless.

 

Jeep (NaPoWriMo Day 28)

JEEP
Buggy
Four-wheel drive

Plowing over fear,
Playfully cruising through,
Handling wild, worldly weather.

“All-purpose motor vehicle”

“The Clarity Pyramid is a poetry form designed and constructed by Jerry P. Quinn.
A Clarity Pyramid is a poem consisting of two triplets and a single line (7 lines in all). Usually, this poem is center aligned when displayed.
The first triplet has 1, 2, and 3 syllables. The title of the poem is the one-syllable word of the first triplet, which is displayed in all capital letters. This line is followed by a two-syllable line, and then a three-syllable line, both of which clarify the definition of the poem, or are synonyms for the title.
The second triplet has 5, 6, and 7 syllables. Its design is based around a life event contained within the triplet which helps give a poetic view or outlook on the first line (title).
The last line is 8 syllables, and is in quotations as this line contains a quote that defines the first word (title).” http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/pyramid.html

Reading (NaPoWriMo Day 27)

New book—
Pages to read,
Plot hook!

The words
Splayed on the page—
Songbirds.

Immerse,
Capture my heart—
In verse.

 

 

The Musette consists of three verses, three lines each. The syllable pattern is 2/4/2.  The rhyme scheme is a/b/a; c/d/c f, and e/f/e.

Bye-Bye Binaries (for Annika)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 7.55.28 PM

We are coming up to the crossroads,
But they look like borders.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

I know your life ain’t been no crystal stair,
And mine has had tacks in it.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We came through,
Seeing past
My privileged poverty
and
Your oppressed opulence.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

The two of us?
We are:
Clover and Anna
Marlee and Liz
T.J.  and Andy
Ella and Z
Wren and Darra
Gabby and David

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

They directed you into a police state,
Leaving me devastated, needing to make a statement.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We are coming up to the crossroads,
But they look like borders.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We will stand up tall
State our case
Hold our heads up high
Lift our voices
Raise our fists

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

Now they understand
Just why our head’s are not bowed.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

 

Into a daybreak that is wondrously clear,
We rise!

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We have come to realize that my destiny is tied up with your destiny.
My freedom is inextricably bound to your freedom.
We cannot walk alone.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We are friends, comrades,
Unapologetically.

What should we do when we get to the crossroads?
They can’t separate us if we’re holding hands!

We rise!

 

NaPoWriMo – Day 26 prompt

“Write a poem that incorporates a call and response. Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns (and also in sea chanties!), in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response.”

 

 

 

Going down in Flames (Day 25)

Her hardest hue to hold—
Bubblegum innocence
Now a sour  sangria,
From violated vines.

 

She once was dewy fern
Unfurled fronds, helical,
Harboring hope and joy,
Now, jaded with envy.

 

Long ago lapped lapis
With gloved-Tiffany-touch;
Today, tired and tainted
Aged and aegean .

 

Once a tawny tiger—
Delightful Dreamsicle—
Sunsetting sandstone o’er
Her insecurities.

 

NaPoWriMo prompt for May 25 — “Write a poem that begins with a line from a another poem (not necessarily the first one), but then goes elsewhere with it. This will work best if you just start with a line of poetry you remember, but without looking up the whole original poem.”

 

Rain Is Purple – R.I.P.

Prince,
Rest in peace
Purple rain

R.I.P
Rip
Ripe
Ripen
Pence
Inspire
Piece nest
Ice lune
Price spare
Pain plan
Lunar pep
Rap spine
Sprain lips
Spur plea

Plea sure
Pleasure
Sure Please
Press ace
Arise in place
Ripen rules
Air Please
Sure tear
It is pain
Purple rain

C’est peine

Rest In Peace, Prince

Rain Is Purple, R.I.P.