Pain Shadow (on exhibit)

Congratulations to Robyn Lee on the acceptance of her fine work for exhibit by PainExhibit.org. Go see her post entitled Pain Shadow (on exhibit) on her Through the Healing Lens blog, But don’t just stop with the one post. Take the time to read her story and then wander through the images and words. It’s time well spent.

Perseid Remembered

A multicolored, long Perseid meteor striking t...

This past weekend we passed through the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, which happens each year near the middle of August. This year is a particularly good year for viewing because of the current phase of the moon. If you missed the show this weekend, you can still look tonight.

This poem was originally published in A Matter of Mind (Foothills Publishing, 2004).

Perseid Remembered

The crow circled once
and fell into the black trees,
invisible bird.

This was on Copper Mountain
where I’d seen the fat groundhog raise its head.

For those who’ll give up the desire to know,
the world is filled with surprise,
like the snake cutting
silently through the water
looking like a stick
or beavers sliding
from the bank where the raccoon
stands splashing its food.

Or that night we sat on a park table watching
unobstructed stars too many to count,
too many to comprehend. We were like children
in front of a store window at Christmas, dazzled
by the dancing lights.
One by one the stars broke free and ran through the sky
along firey trails.
The summer grass moved
and a mysterious form waddled our way —
a white streak on black that seemed to mirror the sky.
And for an instant, before fear rushed us
out of its way and pushed us
back inside our tent,

that wandering skunk
beneath the falling heavens
was a wondrous sight.

© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 2004, 2012.

The Last Day of His Life

This poem was first published along with “The Letter Writer” by Carcinogenic Poetry on July 24, 2011.

The Last Day of His Life

The last day of his life began
like all the rest except
he found some pills above the sink
and took them down to stare
into their white infinity
then said out loud, Why white?

The last day of his life he packed lunch for his children
and stood waiting at the door while each one filed by
taking the brown bag from his hand and smiling
as he admonished them to study hard.

The last day of his life he kissed
his wife and told her not to worry.

Getting in the car he drove
until he couldn’t be seen from the house
then followed the long narrow path through the field to the beach
with its white sand that seemed to stretch into infinity
and sat there watching white clouds disturb
the sky with shapes that had no permanence,
with weight that wasn’t there,
and wondered once more Why white?

© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 2012.

The Letter Writer

This poem was originally published by Carcinogenic Poetry on July 24, 2011.

The Letter Writer

The tip of the pen had worn away
and scratched at the page,
making him shudder the way hard chalk
scraping on a blackboard once did.
Still, just one more letter to write.

One more letter. No one writes letters anymore,
not with a pen with a broken tip.

It would be easier on a computer–
e-mail. Just hit send, and it’s done before
there’s time to think, do I want to send this?
Computers are safer. They protect
him the way his own handwriting cannot.
But his computer’s in a dark
room inside an empty house.

A room void of other breath but
his own. He thinks he’d rather hear
the scratching. At least here, men
with great rings of keys pass back and forth
with great practiced ceremony,

pushing brooms, wearing rags
on their belts, coughing phlegm. Not pretty.
Not like a friend
would be.
Not what a dog or cat
could be. But still he prefers

the company of their loneliness
to such silent dependency,
the smell of ammonia and polish to
sour milk and rotting grapes
behind the beer in the fridge at home.

He wants to like this place. This time.
But he can’t. The letter’s unfinished and
the pen won’t let him. He thinks
a new pen, one that didn’t scrape
but rolled as easy as the surf

would make this place perfect.
The words would spill out the way milk
Leaks from a mother’s breast. We’ve
become too private,
he writes and then
throws the paper away because

that’s all there is that’s left to be.

© Joseph Saling and The New Word Mechanic, 2012.