These Fleeting Sparks

Campfire with sparks in Anttoora, Finland.
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Each moment scurries by

Faster than I can blink,

I grab what memories I can,

There’s little time to think,

These fleeting sparks are life,

Part of the eternal flame,

Novas on a smaller scale,

Without a noble name,

I tell the stories of others,

Leaving them a place in rhyme,

Immortalizing them with words,

That will stand the test of time,

Those fleeting moments race,

Yet are caught within this age,

My life will be productive,

Capturing sparks upon the page.

“Sweaty and Dirty”

A German nurse in 2005.
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Forgiveness is a Positive Virtue

She was trembling as she stood facing me,

Was there something she wanted to see?

Her hands were pressed against her chest,

Then I noticed she was cupping her breasts,

It was difficult for her to hide her fright,

Her small voice quavered ever so slight,

When she asked, “Are my breasts too small?”

She was exposing thoughts, fears, her very all,

She had pulchritude, talent, and intelligence,

Everything I thought was of the essence,

Her eyes searched mine hoping to find,

That I had forgiven her and made up my mind,

If I loved her, she needed desperately to know,

The question she posed was far different though,

I thought back three months to when we met,

The circumstances were very hard to forget,

I had been downsized with an economy shift,

Turned loose in the jobless current to drift,

Overqualified,” they would say to me,

“That’s just the way it’s got to be,”

That was the response I got from several firms,

Saying I had a doctorate opened a can of worms,

I needed work to keep paying my bills,

I finally found work by deemphasizing my skills,

A hospital laundry kept me from going deeper in debt,

And I tried to remain cheerful with no regrets,

Yes, I remember the day we first met,

My shirt was dirty and I was soaked with sweat,

I expected to be alone while I ate lunch,

Usually treated like a pariah by the hospital bunch,

Smokers gravitated to me because I was dirty anyway,

But I sprayed a can of freshener as two smokers puffed away,

“What are you doing?” one howled in dismay,

“You’ve ruined our air and now you’re going to pay!”

I moved to another table to avoid further trouble,

That’s when two nurses arrived bringing trouble double,

The cutest nurse spoke up quickly, she didn’t hesitate,

“That was brave what you did. I think that was just great!”

The other nurse nudged her forward, “Hurry up, we’re late,”

The cute one said, “Would you go to a party?  I need a date.”

“I’m just a laundry worker,” I quietly said,

“Why don’t you ask one of the doctors instead?”

Tears dripped from those bewitching eyes,

At first I didn’t believe she could tell me lies,

“Yes, I’ll be honored to go with you,”

Why she had asked me I had no clue,

But a hospital nurse of stature and style,

Had stayed and talked with me awhile,

There had to be a reason behind her smile,

Was there something about me that she reviled?

Or maybe it was just a set up for a cruel prank,

I couldn’t think of anything positive, I was drawing a blank,

In spite of my misgivings, I knew it was only a date,

If I continued to be positive I would determine my own fate,

I told myself I was just curious, I knew I didn’t really rate,

But I had forgotten about my albatross, my gullible trait,

(to be continued)

I’ve Planted Flowers Along the Way

A poster with twelve species of flowers or clu...
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My path has varied from time to time,

The mountains chosen were hard to climb,,

There are tasks I wish I’d done,

And things I wish I’d left undone,

But there were flowers along the way,

And strings of lights as bright as day,

Within the poems I wish I’d said,

The secrets of journeys where my path led, 

 I didn’t go to many faraway lands,

And learn the languages to understand,

But hearts I’ve touched with silver words,

Encouraged the forlorn with things they heard,

There are flowers I’ve planted where I’ve stayed,

And lights that twinkle where I’ve strayed,

 I may have wandered far and wide,

Yet I’ve learned to take life in stride,

I’ve tried to help those I saw in need,

Gave them strength, from bondage freed,

 I’ve planted flowers along the way,

And fastened lights as bright as day,

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring,

Though a twisted past I wouldn’t change a thing,

If you touch others with your words,

Let it resonate with all you’ve heard.

Rock On, Turn Loose, Let the Rhythm Entrance

Clapton performing live at the Eishalle theate...
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My Drums and My Guitar

If my house was on fire I would save my guitar,

How else will I ever be a star?

I grew up with music dancing in my blood,

Music flowed over me, through me, a raging flood,

My dad was a popular DJ on the radio,

His voice drew raves for being sweet and low,

He played the tunes and talked gnarley,

His playlists included records by Clapton and Marley,

Due to station requests he played American pop,

Although his listeners suggested he slow to a stop,

And play the music that was raging in New Orleans,

Amos Milburn, Fats Domino, and other artists of means,

So when he got home we would experiment,

Checking out the sounds we could invent,

Since he played instruments of all makes,

We often tried several different takes,

Mixing the sounds, adjusting the levels,

Discovering how strings sound on different bevels,

Putting in layers, laying the bass components of a melody,

Sometimes stripping the accents to let the sound go free,

But emphasizing the drums, that’s what I learned first,

I thought I had to play the drums or I would burst,

The drums and the bass made the most sense,

The other instruments were added as accents,

For dad, his life was here or there in his dreams,

But I wanted riches and fame that gleamed,

Dad was content and never strayed from home,

While I counted days until I could roam,

Friends would come over and we would play in the alley,

 Play for hours if they wanted, especially for Sally,

One evening just about seven it was her and me,

She’d hung around and I knew what she wanted it to be,

While I was putting complex layers of music on,

She was slipping complex layers off until they were gone,

Now I was younger and easily impressed,

With her slim tender body completely undressed,

She taught me a lesson to help me understand,

There was more than riches to make life grand,

Sally was there often after hearing me play,

But she kissed me goodbye and left one day,

My music became hypnotic arrangements,

Other Sallys dropped by, they came and went,

Electronic music evolved that tugged at the heart,

It spoke to me and became my favorite kind of art,

Dub music, ska, reggae, punk, I played them all,

Sallys everywhere let my throbbing music enthrall,

Opening their hearts to music of all kinds,

Learning from it, freeing their minds,

They showed respect for me while I played,

And stayed around after long, long days,

Their warm bodies were always on fire,

And sooner or later quenched my desire,

Peace and calm reigned when no one was in sight,

My music would sing softly throughout the night,

Now my living room has become my music space,

But if you’re restless like Sally, I’ll find you a place,

We’ll turn the lights low, let the beat enhance,

Rock on, turn loose, let the rhythm entrance,

Let the soft layered melodies stir you to dance,

Rock on, rock on, and feel the romance,

My music absorbs me, it’ll touch you too,

We’ll listen, we’ll talk, about all things true,

We’ll dance to rhythms beneath moonlit sky,

Then surrender together to love’s tender cry.

Music of the Ages

An Altay shaman beating a gong. Music was one ...
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Music Has Always Existed

The shaman shared his secrets in a cave,

Where no one dared enter, even the brave,

It was time for his wisdom to be passed down,

His chosen one had to have an ear for sound,

For rhythms were the lifeblood of his clan,

Without his approval rhythms were banned,

She waited patiently as herbs were mixed,

He stirred the drinks with seasoned sticks,

“Drink,” he ordered and gave her a cup,

“This will excite the spirits that I call up,”

She sipped it slowly , then drank it all down,

Her world began spinning round and round,

Yet she listened and never resisted,

He chanted, “Music has always existed,”

“In the beginning it was cool,

When humans started using tools,

Rock against rock and maybe by chance,

The rhythmic pounding induced a trance,”

And he added, “Strong emotions were stirred,

When good vibrations occurred,”

He held up the wand that stirred the drink,

 He chanted the spell that made the link,

Between the other world and the wand,

Invoking spirits from far beyond,

The shaman paused, “ With this magic stick,

 I can contact spirits, heal the sick,

And on a tree trunk I can beat,

And the music will enter my feet,

Now I’ll take two wands and start,

Tapping to the rhythm of your heart,

You’ll feel the beat stir deep inside,

Release the energy you can’t hide,

You will sway your hips and dance,

You’ll help two people find real romance,

Create with magic the will,

For us to care for each other still,

The bonds that unite will not come apart,

When joy brings love into your heart,

To all kinds of rhythms, open your mind,

Show respect and love and you will find,

You will be held in high esteem,

I’ll dance to your music and listen to your dreams,

But for now you’ll warm me with your fire,

I’ll invoke the spirits to stir your desire,

And the rhythms of love will fill the night,

Creating special magic until dawn’s first light,”

As the Shaman’s apprentice she blossomed and grew,

Learning all he taught her until she was confident and knew,

The rhythms of music that would keep peace in their clan,

She taught women to dance so each could please her own man,

Magic was in the drums, in the beat that was played,

The magic wands set the cadence with skills displayed,

And the tribe danced with happy feet,

Dancing to nature, enjoying the beat,

And the rhythms of love would fill the night,

Creating special magic until dawn’s first light.

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Fires, and Floods

One of the deep water buoys used in the DART t...
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In this world there is so much to do,

Earthquakes shaking,

Buildings breaking,

Are you still waiting with a concern that is true?

Tsunamis rushing,

Water crushing,

Are you still watching but doing nothing?

Fires roaring,

Flames burning,

What does it take to get you moving?

Floods claiming,

Water drowning,

Earthquake, tsunami, fire, flood,

Lives changing,

Fortunes ruining,

These moments of life filled with blood,

Feeling an itch,

Wishing you were rich,

Do you only help when you’re in the mood?

Power outages,

Water shortages,

People hungry, and dying without food,


Treatable diseases,

Following catastrophes the need never ceases,

Nuclear disasters,

 Injuries long-lasting,

Whether the amount is great or small,

Is it pretense,

Or nonsense,

To be the kind of person who shares all,

What compassion,

What sacrifice,

When the world around you starts to shake,

Is your concern real or fake?

What steps should you take?

What changes in lifestyle are you willing to make?

Or do you close your eyes so you don’t see their pains,

And go blithely on, ignoring the crimson stains.

Dying to Live or Learning to Die

Camposanto Monumentale (Monumental graveyard) ...
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Dying to Live or Learning to Die

(Sorry, I couldn’t make up my mind)

I might be around for quite a few years,

So don’t shed any tears,

Oh, for goodness sake,

Give me an Irish wake,

Or bake a large cake,

I’ve been dying since the moment I was born,

A finite length somewhere in eternity,

Not that anyone said that to me,

But I knew life was limited like a blade of grass,

When my time was up I expected to pass,

I didn’t want to close my mind,

Facing death is but a challenge to find,

The other side, without the fear,

Of leaving here,

I was taken from my mother’s womb,

Uncomfortable there with little room,

To grow, and do you know,

I’m being crowded again,

With my limitations and eager to emerge,

Into a new world, I’m on the verge

 I’m ready to face, or even embrace,

Death when it comes for me,

Like going to sleep and awakening in another place,

But for now I want to live every minute of every day,

Not worrying about the ifs and whens,

Ready to confront death with a grin,

Not fearful at all, knowing it will happen,

 Sooner or later, maybe not today,

And it might not be my way

I might want to take a snooze or die on a cruise,

Take medicines to keep me sane,

Or just sit back and let my life wane,

You can help me by showing love and support,

Take out the trash,  give me a glass of port,

I don’t need to see you cry, or to know why,

You think you’re going to miss me,

My passing will set you free,

 I don’t want to take care of you,

I’ve got enough to do,

Keeping death from snuffing my wick,

Hey! Remember I’m the one who is sick!

I have faith that there is life after death,

I have my hope, and that helps me cope,

I’d like to see you there too,

Not just another molecule,

Returning back to dust,

But if you must, you must,

How much time do I have really?

I enjoy life, but how time flew,

I was ready to give life up long ago for you,

But I didn’t have to,

I’ve lived a full life, faced a little strife,

And discovered much about me,

But don’t you see, that’s vanity,

I want to have a normal day, the best,

Go home and get some rest,

Get my life in order, no unfinished business,

No unsettled mess,

I don’t intend to leave you all alone,

I’ll be watching, helping you atone,

All the times you thought I wasn’t a great friend,

I want you to know I was the best I’ve been,

And whatever you say or do, remember I loved you,

Play some music on my last days,

Or read me a book about how to mend my ways,

Tell lies about telling the truth,

Laugh and share things with Ruth,

Wait a minute! I don’t know any Ruth, that’s the truth,

Tell me funny stories or remind me of stories I still need to write,

But I’m afraid that would keep me up throughout the night,

I can see me now, waiting with my laptop in bed,

Wanting you to remember the last words I said,

It’s hard to type with these clumsy fingers of mine,

They’re coming for me, it’s about time,

I’m waiting in line,

Oops! I’m out of time.  Don’t forget to write!

Call me sometime!

Okay! I’m going already.

Uh, could I tell one more story or write a poem?”

Written in response to my own thoughts about death and dying, knowing that I don’t know what tomorrow might bring, should tomorrow even come. I’ve tasted hell a few times here on earth, and decided I don’t want the full menu. I tell people that every day above ground is a good day and I say, “Thank God, I’m alive!”  I’m reminded daily of all the good things here and better things yet to come.  When you get to the pearly gates, I want to be there to greet you with a smile and say, “I’m glad you made it. There’s a place reserved for you.  Take off your shoes and stay awhile.  Don’t worry about the weather.  It won’t get too hot or too cold and Hell storms never make it up the hill.”

Your Words Are Treasures

A woman and a man performing a high five.
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It’s time to clear your mind of clutter,

Of harmful words that you might utter,

Clear the slate of words that sting,

Think of terms that love might bring,

When the air is filled with words of praise,

They warm the nights and soften the days,

Those words build relationships deep,

Forging bonds that your heart will keep,

A base composed of appreciation and trust,

With treasures that won’t break or rust,

Positive words will increase self-worth,

There is a shortage of those on earth,

Those sweet words that build self-esteem,

Are given to you when angels dream,

Your body language and tone of voice,

Can strike fear or give cause to rejoice,

Show mercy to others as given to you,

What goes around, comes around, you know that too,

Let terms of endearment sweeten your tongue,

Let your kindness be legendary, your praises sung,

If respect is given to both young and old,

Your hair might turn silver, but your heart will stay gold,

Encourage others to search for a star,

Give them a boost if they can’t reach that far,

And let them know your heart, tell them you care,

You’ll love them forever, and always be there.

Going Camping (Part Three)

The Texas longhorn serves as the university ma...
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Melissa had gone on a rampage and destroyed the room,

The lamps, the mirror, she left me to face my doom,

I didn’t bother going to bed, I wouldn’t be able to sleep,

Every passing car could be the Sheriff, Nathan, or some creep,

Destroying evidence would be claimed if I started to clean,

But if I didn’t, what would be surmised if I fled the scene?

It was all so confusing, I wasn’t sure next what should ensue,

I slipped a note under the office door explaining what I would do,

I’d pay for the damage even though it wasn’t mine,

I wanted to leave a positive note but there just wasn’t time,

I gathered what I could and hiked towards the station,

Staying in the deepest shadows, a desperate man in a situation,

In an alley across the street I caught my breath, it looked safe to go,

A sudden premonition said something was wrong, just stay low,

My pickup looked ready, but the station was too quiet, too perfect,

I waited a few minutes for some sounds I could detect,

A car door opened, I heard a voice, “For Pete’s sake, can’t you wait?”

“I have to pee.  He’s not here anyway, it’s probably too late,”

“If you scare that bastard off you’ll wreck the Sheriff’s plan,

If the Sheriff sees you standing there, you’ll be a dead man,”

“Check your gun and be ready, but let me get the first shot,

I’m the better marksman, in case you up and forgot,”

The two deputies I met at the café seemed to have plenty to say,

I dropped to the pavement, I wanted to live another day,

Another car drove past, Nathan and the Sheriff, side by side,

The Sheriff was driving, Nathan had a rifle pointing outside,

They went two blocks, came back and parked their car,

“Don’t worry, Nathan,” the Sheriff consoled, “He can’t get far,”

“You seen him yet? I’ve got the other boys ready at the ends of town,

I’m hoping he’ll come here, it won’t be long before he’s found,

Anybody who’s dumb enough to rape the mayor’s wife,

Doesn’t deserve to live.  We’ll string him up and take his life,”

“We should have done that with the other strangers last time,

Rather than dumping their bodies in the old gold mine,

Now, Nathan, you’ve got to be calm and just wait,

We’ll hang him as an example, this time justice won’t be late.”

In the alley I inched away, then sprinted to the main highway,

There was no time to lose, there was no place to stay,

At a fast food restaurant two trucks were parked, my last hope,

One truck was loaded with carnival rides, I could bless the Pope!

One of the rides was a big fish!  Wouldn’t I have quite the tale,

Wouldn’t it be something if I escaped in the belly of a whale?

But positive energy was flowing towards the cattle truck,

Call me crazy, but I pushed and shoved my way in, trusting to luck,

The cattle were restless so I sang softly to quiet them down,  

When the driver returned they watched him but made no sound,

He followed the carnival driver heading south through the woods,

After a few miles they came to a halt, “We need to check your goods”

Deputies swarmed all over the carnival truck, checking out the rides,

The cattle truck was smelly and two deputies said, “We’re not climbing inside,”

The truck was waved on after the deputies said their goodbyes,

I stood again as soon as we were on the road, crooning lullabies,

A few towns later the trucks pulled over and the drivers popped out,

They came to the back and the cattle truck driver began to shout,

“You can come out now and quit your hiding, it’s time you were found,”

I made my way forward and stepped quickly to the ground,

“The cattle wouldn’t be behavin’ unless there’s a cowboy, was my hunch,

But I’ll be danged if I was going to turn you over to that wild logger bunch,

We’d be witnesses to your treatment, they’d shoot us on sight,

Telling anybody who’d listen that we helped you take flight,”

“Where’re you headin’? I’d take you up front but you don’t smell good,”

“To turn myself in,” I answered, “It’s the right thing, I know I should,”

At the police station they ignored me, then things happened quick,

 I convinced them I was telling them the truth, it wasn’t a trick,

I told them about the old mine and the FBI was called in,

Tourists had disappeared there, and speculation was grim,

Melissa hung tough but after inconsistencies began to show,

She blubbered about the sheriff and Nathan, her tears did flow,

The Sheriff and two of the deputies were arrested and booked,

Nathan had shot one of Melissa’s lovers so his goose was cooked,

Me? I was lucky to get out of there, my pickup fixed free,

The rude man and his friends? Now that’s still a mystery,

I don’t think about what they tried to do, that’s negativity,

All I know is positive forces seem to agree with me.

I think being positive beats negativity every time, although I still haven’t gotten to go camping.  I can picture it now, camping in the forest, close to the ocean, watching the elk herd meander along, waiting for the fog to lift, enjoying the excitement of nature, wide eyed and ready for new adventures.

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