I wish that once more we could walk
Across a wintry parking lot
And I could feel your ungloved hand.
We reveled in a northern land,
Planted our skis on snow-packed trails
And snow-shoe’d over hills and dales.
I wish we could be comrades again.
When pines with snowy mounds are bent
And ice shards crackle underfoot
And overhead a raven croaks
Then I imagine I can see
Your ski tracks up ahead of me.
Our Lady of Liberty, cover your eyes.
Your huddled masses do not breathe free.
They cower in cells, they molder in sties.
Of liberty this is a mockery.
Our Lady of Liberty, cover your ears.
Terrified children torn from families
Are not what you would have wanted to hear.
What justifies these atrocities?
Our Lady of Liberty, what has become
Of our founding fathers’ noble ideals?
We can no longer be rightly known
As the home of the brave and the land of the free.
These are the evils of slavery
Enforced by the power of tyranny.
Why do we sit in our circus seats
Watching a shaggy yellow-haired ape
Swagger and strut his pompous stuff?
Hear all the dissonant noise he makes!
Does he mean us harm? Is that a stick
Of dynamite or is it sugar cane?
And is that a cigarette lighter
His other hand points and waves
At us? Why don’t we boo and hiss
Until they drag him off the stage?
We like to play with fire. We love
To tempt the bull, wave the red cape,
Run our outdated nuclear reactors,
Ignore the winds of a blackening hurricane.
What a beneficent day this is:
Sumer is icumen in,
Lilacs at the door now bloom,
Our time for flowering has come.
Toss the cumbrous coats aside.
Light and lithesome is our style.
We’ll be darkly cloaked no more.
Warmth has reached our northern shores.
From our caverns we’ll emerge,
For frolicking we feel the urge.
Setting out plants and pulling weeds
With gardening fervor we are seized
Old bones step out with vigor and vim
And all the world is young again.
CUTTING THE CORD
At the age of twelve, why did I
Decide it was time to be baptized?
In our church, full immersion was the rite.
I never experienced an epiphany,
No inner voices spoke to me,
My nights were calm: no vision dreams.
It was a fairly embarrassing sight
To be draped in a tent-like gown of white:
A dunked and dripping young acolyte.
But it seemed like a step toward maturity,
Like a high school diploma, a college degree:
An escape from parental authority.
THE STAFF OF LIFE
My daughter has carved a stout hiking staff
For me to carry along Elysian trails.
She thinks that on that journey I will have
A need to warn sky bears to stay away.
We carried bear sticks once in Glacier Park
And bear bells tinkled merrily as we walked
Back when the ice fields still were white and hard.
That they would disappear we never thought.
The river of time runs either slow or fast
Depending on the season and the flood.
How much I’d give to live again the past
And I’d not change it even if I could.
My grandpa taught me to play cribbage.
“Two points for His Nibs,” he’d say
And if I’d wrongly count some cards
He’d take those points away.
He’d carve the turkey in the pantry
The spaniel at his feet.
Some bits of skin and gristle he’d
Let fall for Tippy to eat.
My grandpa smoked a fat cigar.
They said he liked to drink
Take up with women in the bars:
It gave me cause to think.
My calm and literate grandma never
Spoke of his defects.
Like her I’ll give him a measure of credit
But not my full respect.