I am remembering that time
when the party was a painting.
And I was new paint.
squeezed from a fresh tube
applied in bold wild strokes
streaming across the virgin canvas
mixing and blending
with the calming blues
and the restless yellows
Today when we gathered
I was an extra
in a movie scene.
You know the one
mouth moving but no sound.
Only that wasn’t me.
I was the lonely man
behind that one
in the distance
sitting on a bench
by a frozen river
staring at a dull silver cup
holding the artist’s dusty brush.
~ Ron Wolfgang
Ron Wolfgang is an Arizona poet, contractor, and classical musician, and I am pleased to share this poem with his permission. Ron holds the copyright to his work and if you would like to contact him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside the window,
In the courtyard,
The yellow leaves
Swirled like dervishes,
The ground to the sky.
Oh, this can only
And so it was.
Now, years later,
The leaves again
And the squirrels
Scatter as I clap
Greeting the frost
I’ve always had a good relationship with the insect world, bugs, if you will. As a kid, I watched them endlessly, thinking of their kingdoms beneath the ground—the little newspapers they surely published, the family structures… It was fascinating and kept me occupied, in between popping tar bubbles on the street from my curbside perch.
The other day, I was walking into work, and there, right next to the door, was the most beautiful beetle I’ve ever seen. My scientific/craftsman brain kicked into gear. I was going to capture the beetle, pop it in the freezer, and then cast it in resin and make a paperweight. 10 minutes later, the beetle was nestled inside a plastic cup with a smaller cup capping the top, and I put it under my desk.
As the day wore on, I googled rhinoceros beetles and discovered they live up to two years. Then, I discovered they are kept as pets by people in parts of Asia. (In the telling of the story, my friend, Ann, asked me, “So, at that point, you’d already given it a name.” Nicely observed. )
Another hour ticked by with no sound from the plastic cup. Now, I’m starting to feel really awful about the whole thing. I’m wondering when did I get so mean that I could just kill this beautiful bug? With that, I quietly retrieved the cup, went outside, and freed Willie. (Yes, Ann, that was his name.)
Instantly, it burrowed into the lawn and disappeared. I went back to my desk feeling the weight of that particular lesson lifting gently off my soul. Just let me end by saying I have no compunction about outlasting mosquitoes, ticks, and flies. Just hand me a hammer.
How sad that ice brought to its knees
The tallest, proudest of oak trees
Just when Spring’s second had left a card
Amid the fog of Winter’s yard.
No call of crow, nor flight of smoke
Can now unbend the fallen oak,
Nor lift new leaves up to the skies
To greet the Spring as Winter dies.
There are witches and pirates in the closet, and an alligator under the bed… so don’t let your hands of feet fall off to the side of the mattress, or you might not have them in the morning… (my oldest sister’s warning)
There was a comic strip, not so long ago, called Bloom County, in which one of the characters, Binkley, had an Anxiety Closet complete with monsters who were always trying to push past the door. I can still relate. But I have come to realize that anxiety is not reality.
There is a lot wrong with the world, and there are evil people in it – but that’s no reason to give up hope. Nor, to give in to the idea the world just plain sucks. It doesn’t.
Everywhere around me, I see people working hard to make a difference, to ease the suffering of others, to create beauty, and to share that beauty, and dare I say, hope.
For every bad guy, there are thousands of everyday people who reach out, who educate, who share, who comfort, who literally take the coat off their backs and give them to one who is cold.
I believe in goodness. I have seen it, first hand. From the woman in the supermarket who sat down on the floor with a young man with Downs who became separated from his mother, and waited until they were reunited, singing a song with him, to the elderly man who offered me his seat in the DMV, to the kid on the skateboard who helped his buddy up after a spill.
It’s easy to give up on the world, to give in to cynicism. But, it’s also easy to say, THIS IS WHAT I AM GRATEFUL FOR. Fill in the blanks.
This hasn’t been an easy ride, but from where I am, I can still see the stars, I have fingers that play the guitar, and I am blessed with the hope of tomorrow. My sorrows are all in my great big box of sorrows, but because the box is so big, I can sit on it, comfortably, while I play my guitar.
Just after Christmas, the days lengthen,
And the sun dips below the horizon –
Leaving faint traces of gold that linger
As the moon rises over the pond.
I have been alone on Christmas,
I have leaned my forehead onto the window
And melted the frost outside,
Desperate with loneliness, sick with grief.
I am still fragile, these days before Christmas,
But I am stronger than the night,
And my heart burns brighter than Venus
In the early morning sky.
I see the Star of Bethlehem,
And you are by my side.
I am with you, still -
Things break. Little things, big things, hearts, you name it – the FRAGILE stamp is stamped straight, sideways, and upside down. And what isn’t broken can be lost just as easily. That being said, I’ve always kept an eye on the incidentals of my life, the three tiny porcelain ducks and the brown cow creamer that my grandmother let us play with, unconcerned; the yellow Easter egg she gave me on that last holiday we were together; the souvenir cup and saucer from the Gingerbread Castle in Hamburg, NJ, kept safe by my sister Lynnie for all those years – that recently and unexpectedly arrived in the mail as a wonderful surprise – yes, I look at these inanimate objects like little touchstones of emotional safety, knowing they can be broken or lost.
Such was the fate of my clown figurine. Never crazy about clowns, I, nevertheless, found it looking at me from a shelf at the Goodwill in South Florida. This particular clown had nothing creepy about it. And at two bucks, money was not a deal-breaker. My tile floor, however, proved to be a clown-breaker five years later. I picked up the pieces but couldn’t stand to throw them away. Instead, I stuck them in a zip-lock bag and saved them for the savior of shattered clowns – okay, that’s dramatic – I saved them because I knew my dear friend, the artist B. Aline Blanchard, would figure something out. Over our next dinner, I handed her the pieces, and then forgot all about the whole thing. I had other things to break, and who has time to dwell over crushed clowns?
Fast forward six months. My husband and I relocated to another part of the country, a new dwelling, a new configuration, everything changed. The spot where the clown sat now had a small gnome holding a daisy – honestly, I’d forgotten all about the sound of slip clay hitting tile. And then Aline and Arthur visited, and she presented me with – THE CLOWN! Only now, it’s an art piece called “Moving Casualty” and hangs on the wall over my reading chair. I can’t stop looking at it. With thanksgiving. For friendship, for love, for family, for knowing that the incidentals in life aren’t what’s really important, love is all that matters.