Red Flames on the Roof

Cover of "The Fire"
Cover of The Fire

Traveling a back road under star-lit sky,

Depressed and sad after a long goodbye,

 It was over but I didn’t understand why,

I had time to ponder but no time to cry,

Few houses were here on this lonely road,

If there were lights, none of them showed,

But a light flickered a short distance ahead,

Why was this light on?  It was flickering red,

The glow was larger, red flames on the roof,

There was no time to waste, no time to be aloof,

Up to the door I ran and knocked once or twice,

Someone approached with words that weren’t nice,

“What do you want?” he shouted through the door,

“I’ll blast you with Betsy if you bother me anymore!”

“There are flames on your roof. Your house is on fire!”

“Your trickery won’t work,” he said, “I know you’re a liar.”

He fired one shot as I raced back to the car,

I needed to call the fire department, it couldn’t be far,

9-1-1, I was shaking but my fingers flew fast,

“What do you want?” a sleepy voice asked,

“There’s a house on fire,” I hurried to say,

“Tell me the address, and I’ll be on my way,”

 “The flames are roaring from this particular house,

If you don’t hurry, there’ll be no flames to dowse,”

“I’m warning you now, this better not be a prank,

I’m getting up to put water in the tank,”

I threw down the phone and raced to the door,

The fire was burning the house to the core,

I kicked open the door and raced down one hall,

I stooped down low and made myself small,

I didn’t feel brave, the heat was intense,

I couldn’t see far, the smoke was too dense,  

I managed to get over my stress and fears,

I heard voices crying, I knew there were tears,

Two small children, one under each arm,

I got them to safety without any harm,

A woman was found, collapsed in a heap,

I hoped she would awaken from this sleep,

Another person, I thought, the man at the door,

I hope that’s all, I can’t look for any more,

I tried to enter, but the heat drove me back,

The fire truck arrived then to take up the slack,

“It’s too late to save the house,” someone said,

“Anyone in there would now be dead,”

“Isn’t this where the chief lives with his wife Mage?

“Yes, there’s his truck, his coat and badge,”

“If someone had warned him his house was on fire,

This would not have become his funeral pyre,”

A fireman asked, “Stranger, what did you see?”

“I arrived too late, the heat was too much for me,

I saw a man carry two children and then his wife,

Without concern for his very own life,

He went inside, no reason or rhyme,

But he didn’t make it out the very last time.”

“The chief is a hero!” the fireman cried,

He saved his family before he died.”

I continued my journey wishing I had saved the chief,

But he wouldn’t listen; he called me a thief,

Without warning his family he went back to bed,

I’m glad they are safe, but he is dead.

New Year’s Resolutions (Part Three)

Sydney New Years Eve Fireworks 2007
Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr

I will work on the things that are weak,

Until they become the strengths I seek,

I don’t want to accept any goal left incomplete,

I’ll urge opportunity to knock twice so I can repeat,  

I’ll risk my heart and be vulnerable in every way,

For love not spent shrivels a little each day,

And my fragile heart will never fully learn,

Unless it loves again after it’s been burned,

I want to prepare for the challenges I face,

Set my targets higher, make steady my pace,

Sometimes I’ll be punctual, sometimes some doubt,

Make an entrance at celebrations and just stand out,

I’ll put my priorities in order just the way it seems,

Using time and perspective to realize my dreams.

New Year’s Resolutions (Part two)

Chinese New Year
Image by yewenyi via Flickr

This year I’ll learn to trust and treat everyone as a friend,

A handshake and a well spoke word will mean truth again,

I won’t live a life gone by, stewing in my own pot,

Wallowing in self pity, at a time and place I’d rather not,

I’ll enjoy all the challenges that life always poses,

But never for a day or a minute, forget to smell the roses,

I’ll plan for the future and dream about what could be,

With my feet planted in the present to keep my sanity,

I’ll dance like nobody is looking, probably that’s best,

I may not win a dance contest, but I’ll show some zest,

Love with my whole heart, halfway will not do,

Holding part of myself back, is not fair to me or you,

I’ll treat everyone with respect, in each and every relation,

For without respect there will not be a solid foundation,

I’ll spotlight my strengths and focus on what I do well,

I want this year to be positive, on faults I will not dwell.

New Year’s Resolutions (Part One)

Anti-abortion demonstration "Each life ma...
Image via Wikipedia

This year I want to grow up and act my age,

You’d think I had accomplished that at this stage,

It required responsibility to make the right choices,

But I listened instead to my own inner voices,

I wanted to get older but I’ve changed my mind,

All the things I wanted I’ve already left behind,

Have a family, have a job, be productive for awhile,

Been there, done that, I’ve traveled those roads in style,

Perhaps this is the year I finally will get a new start,

Lessons at Hard Knocks School didn’t make me smart,

I know, I’ll loosen up, and try not to be so tense,

Before, I tried too much, too soon; I had little common sense,

My money will grow by leaps and bounds if I put some away,

But it’ll have to wait for tomorrow, for there’s a sale today,

Be generous to a fault this year, give to those in need,

But without discipline to pay my debts, little can I heed,

Work hard and do my best, a goal for the coming year,

Instead I think it’s time to reflect, and face unknown fears,

I want to be kind and passionate, loving life without regard,

Easier said than done, my friends, life is pushing hard,

Live life with gusto, I don’t want to be tied to fear,

I’ll try to make every second count, just to survive this year.

Something’s Out There

Cougar / Puma / Mountain Lion / Panther (Puma ...
Image via Wikipedia

Something’s Out There

“Would you stop it,” I said loudly to the two black Labradors, Roxie and Pixie.  They had been restless all evening and their activity was getting on my nerves.  I would order them to lie down and both of them would look at me questioningly as if I was making a mistake. They would lie down for a short while, and then, one at a time would go to the front door, bump the door knob, and stare at me.  I was too busy to pay much attention to them as I typed a poem on the computer.

Their behavior grew worse.  Now they were bumping the knob and softly growling.  “They’re being very strange,” I thought, but I continued to ignore them.  Finally they plopped next to me and stared at the door. 

Usually they were very well behaved and obedient.  A month ago I had taken them with me to a family reunion.  They played with the young children, stayed out of trouble, caught two mice in my cabin, and performed flawlessly as they went through their repertoire of tricks at the talent show. They not only did the basic commands but remembered all of their more advanced tricks. They were stars and were even invited back.

Their good behavior and obedience was expected at all times and sometimes that obedience brought unexpected results.  For example, last week they were wearing harnesses and lying in the bed of my truck.  They were quiet and I had forgotten they were there.  In the meantime my  beagle, Scooter, had wandered into the road.  Scooter had very little training and had a tendency to do what she wanted.  I was determined to change Scooter’s free wheeling behavior to obedience.  “Scooter!” I commanded sternly.  “Come.”  She continued down the road, her nose to the ground, oblivious to my command.  “Scooter,” I shouted, “Come!”  Scooter paid no attention but the two labs leaped to action. Both jumped over the tailgate when they heard my command. Now both were dangling over the tailgate suspended in mid-air, hanging by their harnesses but unhurt, looking foolish. I felt even more foolish because I had given a command in their presence and they were just trying to please.

Now as I watched them pacing the floor, wanting to be obedient but they were distracted by something outside.  “Okay,” I said. “Let’s go and see what’s there.”  Roxie race in front of me and blocked my path to the door.  “You’re so funny, Roxie,” I said.  “Now get out of the way.  I want to go outside.” 

Both of them brushed past me and began sniffing the air, the ground, and then one of the nearby trees.  Pixie began throwing herself high against the tree.  Then Roxie began leaping into the air, making strange high pitched yelps.  I could see nothing in the trees and the dogs were still excitedly leaping and trying to climb the tree nearest me.  Finally I turned back to the house. “Come on, girls. There’s nothing out here.  You’re making a big fuss over nothing.”  Once we were inside again they quieted right down.

Two days later I was talking to one of my friends about how deer hunting had lost its excitement.  “Not for me,” he interrupted.  “Wait a minute.  I’ve got a picture I want to show you.  I took it two days ago, not far from here.”  He went to his truck and returned in a few minutes.  “I was alone when I shot a buck.  I wanted to take my picture with it just to show my friends.  I set up my camera on a tripod, set the timer, and posed.  I didn’t realize what a good picture it was until I brought the camera to a photo shop to have copies made. Take a good look at the picture and tell me what you think.” 

This was ridiculous.  I’d seen enough hunters with their deer next to them.  But, to humor my friend, I took the photograph and looked it over.  The camera’s flash clearly showed him proudly posing next to his deer.  I started to put the photo down but noticed another figure close by.  A mountain lion was within ten feet of him, clearly advancing.  Startled, I looked up questioningly.

 “Yes,” he said.  “The mountain lion was probably after the deer that I was holding, but I don’t know for sure.  I think the flash scared it away.  I didn’t know the mountain lion was there until I got the pictures. I reported the incident to the game warden but he was skeptical.  Have you noticed anything strange around here?”

“No, not at all,” I said.

A few days later I glanced at a small article in the paper with a picture of a mountain lion on a branch.  The article stated that hunters spotted the mountain lion while hunting in southern Platte County.  Experts verified the mountain lion’s presence by collecting hair and studying scratch marks. 

I was curious now about the behavior of the dogs.  I went outside and looked up.  Just above the first large branch were several scratches.  I shivered and went inside.  “When will I ever learn to listen to those dogs?” I asked myself.  “I’m just not as smart as I think sometimes.”

I’ll Think of Failure as a Way to Grow

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...
Image via Wikipedia

A ruthless self-assessment for me,

When I look in life’s mirror I see,

Someone who needs to be more bold,

Because I have not yet reached my goal,

So it’s a time to evaluate and make a choice,

But if self-growth has a voice,

Between taking a risk and comfort,

It’s risk I really want to court,

I’ll just have to adjust, 

Get used to chance, I must,

Think of failure as a way to grow,

Making a judgment on what I know,

Using the outcome to try once more,

When opportunity knocks at my door,

The talents that were given as gifts,

Do I just let them slowly drift?

In life’s stream what talents did I use?

And which talents did I lose,

While I waited for life to begin,

Or was I waiting for life to end?

And love, sweet love, opportunity lost,

Because I was afraid to risk, at what cost?

By being distant, polite, and verbose,

Rather than being personal and up close,

The gifts I’ve been given I don’t dare,

To eye the talents of others or to compare,

What would others have done in my shoes?

Would they always win and never lose?

History names a few who found a way,

To overcome failure, to find success another day,

To repeat a grade in school, Winston Churchill had to fight,

He wanted a second opportunity to get it right,

Churchill was not the only one,

Who had to battle until he won,

Two hundred attempts in scientific routine,

Until Jonas Salk created a successful vaccine,

Were these two the only ones to fail,

Before their ships began to sail,

The Wrights were told they couldn’t fly,

They knew it was true if they didn’t try,

From the sidelines there is no way,

To have the kind of life I want to portray,

I’ll make a judgment on what I know,

And think of failure as a way to grow.

Making a Choice (The Fairy Queen and Me)

Prince Arthur and the Fairy Queen
Image via Wikipedia

The fairy queen stood proudly by me,

A statuesque beauty at my side,

And I, the recently exiled king,

Was thrilled she was my bride,

Upon my shoulders I wore a cloak,

Fairy magic had hidden me well,

To any outsider I appeared an oak,

In harmony with earth with the spell,

My trusty sword was ready to swing,

I thought with fairy magic,

I could conquer anything,

But alone I walked, a battle to seek,

My enthusiasm was shaken,

My knees were suddenly weak,

I realized I could not attack from the wood,

For fairy magic can only be used for good,

I noticed a stranger approaching from the east,

With a long bow and quiver, riding a beast,

A canvas covered box was within his grasp,

He asked if I wanted him to open the clasp,

“Only if it holds something for the good,

I’ll accept nothing evil, let that be understood,”

The stranger looked startled and ceased to grin,

“Think clearly, oh king, if you desire to win,

I have magic in this box that could kill you,

And the arrows I carry fly straight and true!”

“Go,” I said, “I’ve learned much from my queen,

Honesty, beauty, joy, and the earth always green,

I will not change my mind even unto death,

So away with your evil,” I hissed under my breath,

I watched him leave for a long, long, while,

Then I turned and saw the fairy queen’s smile,

She whispered, “I love you more than you’ll ever know,

I’ll fight by your side, dealing blow upon blow,”

I uttered, “With goodness and truth we’ll find another way,”

I could feel love’s awesome power increasing that day,

But was there too much evil to enact a new plan?

Would good be banned forever from this land?


Carnival of Souls
Image via Wikipedia


The oldest and strongest emotion is fear,

So I’ll release any phobia and not hold it dear,

I cringe when I think of letting fear run loose,

Stirring up trouble with adrenaline’s juice,

I know love makes the world go round,

While anxiety shuts those feelings down,

Love opens windows so the sun can shine,

Fear brings little deaths that kill the mind,

Hope brings a sparkle to weary eyes,

Fear douses dreams with untold lies,

Caution could keep me from places I could go,

Keeping me from trying what I know,

My sensitive heart has fears as well,

Letting phobias within it dwell,

For fears enter dreams and claim the throne,

Gliding in silently when confidence is gone,

Jealousy and distrust also climb aboard,

Wrecking havoc with love and cutting the cord,

Sweaty palms and a racing heart set the stage,

My fears overcome me, slowing creativity on every page,

Howling and snapping, fear continues to grow,

Until confronted, stared down, and commanded to go,

Apprehension is hesitant on life’s long ride,

And runs when courage stands by my side,

I may risk it all and not complete a task,

But I’ll try my best, that’s all I’ll ask,

With courage running over I’ll free my mind,

And leave fears in the dust, far behind,

My future is unveiled for me to see,

No web of fear to hinder me,

I’ll step forward and let nothing block my way,

Facing the world bravely, day by day.

Real Time

mobile phone text message
Image via Wikipedia

Real Time

Thirty seconds left on the microwave,

Time is getting short,

“Come on! Cook faster!” I shout,

But it does no good to exhort,

Immediate gratification is what I want,

The seconds pass by too slow,

There are things I could be doing,

Like texting someone I know,

I will eat while I’m standing,

I’m too impatient while I sit,

Three bites, two swallows, I’m done,

That’s lunch! I’m finally over it,

Now someone wants to chat,

Not talking by voice, but text,

Communicating real time,

I can’t wait to see what’s next,

Instant communication, not e-mail,

I don’t want to go that slow,

There are things I could be doing,

Like driving to the mall, you know,

Another message coming in,

“Come on, faster,” I urge,

Must be another good friend,

All the things from the past,

I simply don’t have time for,

They just couldn’t last,

So what will replace texting,

What will be the new supplant?

I think I know the answer,

It’ll be a microscopic implant,

My messages will be faster,

Everything will be in my head,

Words will be for sure real time,

And nothing will be left unsaid,

I don’t know if that’s bad or good,

To communicate in such a way,

It’s just that I want everything now,

Not then, or later, but real time today!

Changing the Future

Basilica San Juan Capistrano 1987
Image via Wikipedia

Changing the Future by Looking at the Past

This year the earth revealed its splendor,

 I watched keenly and wrote with joy,

As each delicious moment appeared,

The pleasures were mine to enjoy,

Yet I knew everything in my path,

Was not deserved, whether good or bad,

Possessions and talents squandered,

The things I wanted or thought I had,

Slipped dancing before my eyes,

Laughs I’ve given and sorrows, too,

Started coming back, one at a time,

Returning as Capistrano’s swallows do,

Time elapsed quickly like sand in a glass,

Keeping me mindful of family and friends,

I invested in friendship and gave love away,

Stayed vulnerable, bending with the winds,

My yesterdays were counted and gone,

Once spent, no way to pull them back,

But each day was a bonus and not my last,

That’s why I am so very determined,

To change the future by looking at the past,

Each day I’ll do an unexpected good,

Because everybody is broken in some way,

I’ll reach out to those who feel misunderstood,

I’ll be encouraging, patient and gentle every day,

I’ll try to make this year even better,

For there is still so much to be done,

I’ll lead by example, helping with love,

Reaching out to the world, one by one.

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