(Possibly High School) Poetry: Pine Needles

Editor’s note: This poem was originally found untitled but has been supplementarily named “Pine Needles.” Also, due to my desire to be fully transparent when publishing my earliest work (more on when I might have written this poem here), I have preserved original typos, including misuse of “it’s for “its” and “loose” for “lose” in stanza one to name just a couple. The linked post above details why I’ve done this. Enjoy.

Pine Needles

The pine needles fall one by one.
This is not a painless process,
The little tree flinches each time,
because the age of its core,
the age of it’s soul,
reveals that it doesn’t have many left to loose.

Each one is prickly on the end,
for many, the fallen forms a nuisance,
the type that pierce shoes,
cause delay and annoy people.

Yet in full bloom, these little needles smell good,
They fill the air around the tree
with infectious hope and enthusiasm,
Until they fall, when they suck for pedestrian and tree alike.

The bark is strong
But it’s weakened by holes
Written in it by the rains of
Former lovers comments.

Poetry: Daydreaming While In Lit Class

(Editor’s note: This poem was originally written Monday, April 17, 2017 while the Boston Marathon was underway.)

Daydreaming While In Lit Class

I think about what it it’ll be like:
posting that long-triumphant status,
experiencing that special emotion
of measurable,
anticipated success
After a lifetime of waiting for “indefinite” to end.

That overwhelming joy I daydream of,
of when I’ll post “I haven’t run a half-marathon since 2015,”
only to post follow with “….until now,”
with a colorful date, and a poster
of a race location.

I daydream of that,
as I sit in a literature class,
while thousands celebrate Patriot’s Day
in running’s Eden: Boston.

Yesterday, I started my return-to-run progression.
Just 20 minutes of intentioned-walking.
One day down.

A lot to go.
But one less than yesterday…


Independent: Part 1.

(Editor’s note: I originally wrote this poem for a class in medieval literature. I have received permission from the professor to publish it here. Enjoy.)
Independent: (Part 1)
“So this is how it was back then?” he asked her with special kindness.
“Yes. Before the hills burned and the majesties of the castles were
vanquished into barbarism. Before the great darkness
illuminated our hatred for one another, not out of wanting more,
but only wanting. Yes, this is how it was,” she told him.
The story I’m about to tell you is true to the tiniest factual detail. It is a story of love,
between two people and themselves
and their surroundings. This is not a love story solely of shallow human love
but of the special kind that can exist only when time, place
pomp and circumstance all are brought to coincide.
He stared delicately at her, careful not to stare too zealously.
He was an aspiring young duke who, for the most part, was confined by his rank
not enabled by it
not emboldened by it as was so often the case
but limited.
Or at least, limited everywhere else. Here, he was free to be captivated by her.
She on the other hand, was the noblest of seven daughters
to a peasant. She knew nothing
of rank or right because all her life was spent defending her younger sisters
sometimes unsuccessfully as we know was so often the case.
They stood together, on a hill overlooking a field
in Spain. A field like any other
except that in those days it wasn’t. In those days it was green
while the fields around the country were dead, burned
like the millions in castles across what is modern day Europe.
Everything had been burned.
Castles made of noble stone had been scarred with human ashes,
sometimes inside the castles as the dying tried to destroy the dead,
sometimes on the outsides as the catapults launched the bodies
falling short, hitting the wall, falling onto the attacker’s own troops.
Geometry had a long way to go back then.
But so did love. Somewhere on a field where it doesn’t rain in Spain
except when it does, we find our hero and our heroine.
He is of noble birth, seven generations engraved with the mark of aristocracy
But lacking zeal for power. She, meanwhile is of humble birth
but yearns simply for a quiet spot to rule on her own.
“Are you sure you want this particular land?” he asks.
“Though beautifully and certainly unique, it lacks any kind of tree.
There are no fruits to pick for you labors of settling here. No wood
to build a house, no hill to dig your way into. In every way this land is flat
except for the small creek running along its edge. Yet you would still desire it?”
“Noble sir,” she confesses,
“I lack the type of ambition of someone trying to build halls held high
by story-tall stones. I lack interest in the material, for material is the way to corruption.
I lack ambition for resources, for as one builds excess, so also one builds enemies
who wish to take it. I wish for no war. Living is hard enough.”
“Yet even those who call upon peace find war,” he torts,
“True peace, though a noble ambition, is scarcely ever possible. People always wish
to have others as their subjects, even when those subjects can offer them nothing.
How wouldst thou defend thyself against those from far lands who want
simply what others have?”
“My defense is none of your concern,” she replies.
“Surely you will not take this as a comment of disrespect. I am most honored
by your presence and your time. But I am strong, and my father
though ailing, is ripe with the fervor of life when it is needed most.
We’ll be fine.”
He acquiesces, promising to fulfill her desire for the land she has requested.
It belongs to her family seven weeks later. Five humble acres, hidden by a hill,
nourished by a creek
empty grassland somewhere in Spain where nobody can know
unless they already do. Unless their ancestors already did.
It is a few weeks later and he has returned to call upon her.
She is his age, or thereabouts. Her little family has set up camp
hidden among the hills by the grasslands from the crusades waging around them.
When someone comes with ill intent, she deliberately entrances them. Her wit, her kindness
her special beauty have the power to neutralize nations as they travel through hers.
The boy is not so lucky.
She uses her gifts of wit and intellect
only to infuriate and dodge him. When he remarks playfully,
she responds with one-word answers. When he pokes fun
she lets his jokes stand without retort.
Yet our hero knows as all men do that something powerful is at work in her.
He can see beyond her selective passivity
because he and his family have given hers this land. He has seen
her family transform what was once grassy and of little appeal
into a fantastic, well-run estate.
And with her being the lone survivor of the plague that is of working health,
he knows it is mostly her who has done this.
So he offers himself
Not in the way you would likely think, but in the way of a nobleman:
he offers to stick around and help.
So ends part 1 of Independent.

Poetry: Anthem Of Age 27

Today I am fast at play.
Not “hard at work” because to say “work”
would be to imply I resist what
I do.
I do not.
On my desk are notes
and a full page of verse I have been…
What’s the word? “Whittling away at”?
surely not “Working on” but perhaps.
Working on.
Behind me is a made bed with blue blankets
on my left. On my right
a freshly-erased dry-erase board
sticks to a wall. It is empty like a blank page
though I don’t believe there is actually anything empty about a blank page.
To my right is a coffee cup on my desk
with the inscription “The Adventure Begins.”
Further to my right is a lithograph of Taylor Swift in summer.
On the floor to my left is a blue yoga mat. The sky is blue as if in summer
though I know that scientifically, it isn’t actually blue.
All around I am surrounded
by beauty. From Taylor Swift
to the phone which lacks any new texts, even as I hope to get new texts.
And in front of me is a beautiful, blank piece of paper on a screen, not beautiful
Because of what already is, but beautiful because of what may yet be.
God is good!
I love Sundays.

On Reading “The Abnormal Is Not Courage” by Jack Gilbert

I am overwhelmed.
I have seen through the half-blind verse of another
writer’s eyes. I have become
involuntarily mesmerized
as if watching an owl fly
illuminated only by the light of the stars beyond,
little more than a mere memory of a shadow.
I have been overwhelmed,
have looked into her
eyes before “Anything Goes” in 2014. Seen
Taylor Swift at the Sprint Center a year earlier heard
13,000 fans sing in blissful ignorance about love.
I have been overwhelmed by the poem
the way I felt walking
home after my very first dance class.
The way I felt after seeing Carolyn dance
to win “Dancing with the K-State Stars.”
I am, at the hands of verse
Left wordless.
Voluntarily recaptured.

Poetry: Artificially Friendly

We drive over a hill and find ourselves
face to face with the night
of a thousand multi-colored eyes
staring back at us,
the Christmas lights illuminating
the suburb below.
We drive through, exploring
them, exploring
ourselves, exploring
the unique joy, the happy story
each pretends to tell
to the passersby in the dark green Dakota.
Each bulb speaks,
silently but unrelenting
as the rays of light that each casts away.
Each bulb whispers its partial meaning
like a shy, rainbow-colored flower
that only blooms at night.
We in the truck crack jokes we shouldn’t,
we in the truck share stories we shouldn’t,
because we are drunk. Except I.
I am sober. Silent. Determined to listen
through the whispered lies the lights try to tell us
into the deeper meaning of the truth they don’t.

Poetry: “Memoir Of A Sea Captain.”

Memoir Of A Sea Captain
He sails alone.
In a ship with a hull full of holes
The Sea captain engages the journey’s onslaught.
He has spent weeks on this ship,
Bailing water out of a wooden bowl
With but a single sail.
Death’s body odor has been his lone, constant companion.
It could have come, could still come
At any moment.
He has slept.
But when he has slept
It has been with the restlessness of an infant.
He has eaten.
But when he has eaten,
He has conserved food like the soldier in the trench converses toilet paper.
All the while, he has spent every minute aware.
Aware that the little hull he sails across the sea,
Aware that this vessel, the single, small sinew which binds him to life,
Could fail at any moment.
Until he sees the shore, that is,
And he finally starts to believe that he might actually make it.
Thus is my autobiography as I approach
My final semester in college.

Poetry: Morning Nostalgia

There was something almost musical in the way the morning went.
In the way Denison was packed at 6 a.m.,
the construction workers packing into the small lot
next to SAE.
Twenty-three degrees,
frost everywhere; on windshields; via breath; In the air.
Two guys in orange vests in one truck laughing at another
who, backing his small white car into a spot, hit the curb; locked eyes with them; and laughed.
Yet when I see them, I see a glimmer of myself.
My eyes transform like fire,
that encounters a chemical spill in the grass it burns,
creating an aroma about as soothing as fresh brewed coffee or freshly baked bread.
I see my dad in his jeans, four-inch rolls of building plans under one arm, hardhat in the other,
way back when I was 13. I see the way his truck tires were always dirty
the mud of a job site 30 miles across Phoenix
painting it like frosting on the edge of cake, or the adobe walls of the Mayans.
I see the jokes my friends and I in the army used to tell,
one pulling a parking maneuver that bordered on illegal
to get into a small Fort Bliss parking spot just in time for Physical training,
and that same soul getting teased for rest of the day.
The music of life can hit us when we’re not always ready.
It can hit us blindside with nostalgia so hard that if you were a hockey player,
it’d get suspended for the hit.
Kind of like today. As I went for pizza. After five hours of sleep. Waking up from a 20 hour day.

Poetry: 2-1-1 At Home, 2-0 Win Over UMKC

A poem about a night at Kansas State Soccer:


2-1-1 At Home. 2-0 Win Over UMKC
Stand in the stadium after
their last home win. Hear their
voices, vibrant and surrounded
by friends, family, loved ones.
Use your ears and see
the internal battles each one faces:
two parts triumph, one part conflict, one part fatigue.
Stand in silence amid the organized
chaos. Stand. Bask in the way the voices
feel as you hear them, in the way you see
only their smiles and the tired outlines of their eyes
under the night sky. See the scoreboard that screams
“2-0 victory” with ignited lights.
Feel their smiles in your soul. Warm, jubilant, sometimes
frustrated. Imagine what they feel, then don’t.
If you’re really listening with your eyes
and seeing with your heart
they’ll tell you.
But you have to choose. Like each of them
did. Like each, who chose to come to a Division 1
school with no soccer program. You have to choose
to turn around before you walk through the gate to write
about their victory. You have to choose to realize
that what’s really worth writing about is worth waiting for.
You have to choose
To realize that the stories really worth telling
Are the ones that happen when nothing is happening at all.

Poetry: Uninstalled Strings

Listen to the rhythm of my feet.
Listen to the heart pour itself forth.
Like Pavarotti’s tenor notes,
Like Lebron yelling “Cleveland!”
Like the way monks in the Alps pray for humanity.
Listen not for sounds of skill
for my feet are delicate, slow, and untrained.
Listen not for hints of Heaven-instilled greatness,
all you’ll hear is a need
for consistently-hard work.
But listen instead for the accented voice that lacks eloquence.
Listen to the feet as they
stumble through shuffles like a poet through a sestina.
Listen. Watch. Feel.
And take heart.
Hear the ebbs and flows of the soul through the soles
like a high mountain creek.
Hear the dissonance of weakness and vulnerability
conveyed fiercely, ferociously,
in a stomp shim-sham shimmy and a paradiddle.
This poetry of rhythm does not come from skill.
It is not eloquent or gentle or soft-handed.
It is bred of pure desire and prayers for patience.
It is bred like the hockey player in the desert.
It is bred like passion breeds with age.
It is bred like a piano player breeds skill with Beethoven
on a piano with uninstalled strings.