Rough-Riding Sidesaddle

I wore out my welcome before I was born;
I will never play Kate to your Petruccio.
Adversity has been my most constant friend
You cannot teach things that I already know.

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James Ward,  A Farmhand Riding Side-saddle, Carrying an Urn.

 

Disapprove of me all you please;
Censure has always been my lot.
All those things you’d prefer not to remember
Are things for me too dear to be forgot.

Your outcasts do not always wither away;
Sometimes they flourish in alien soil.
And sometimes the ones you sought to destroy
Are the very ones you cannot despoil.

Eulogy for the Single Socks

Oh you keepers of false hope
generator of quixotic tasks
you have laid too long in state.
In your boxes and baskets
you have mocked us
offering up expectations
of reunions that will never be.

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This sock went on to become a Baby Sock Coin Purse by Gregory Vern (CC by SA 2.0)

It is time for you to pass on
to the rag bags and trash cans
to the waste bins and into dog toys.
You will taunt us with possibilities
of happy reunions no more.
Your brethren are gone, but verily,
they shall return. . .the moment you depart.

Day After Solstice

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Day after Solstice

We take it on faith that the days are getting longer
though the nights seem as dark and the air seems as cold

We choose to believe that the light’s getting stronger
although all it sounds like a quaint fairytale of old.

We do not sigh or yearn for the simple old times
though it is always tempting to polish up the past

We instead choose to live, to embrace the darkling day
though our faith needs sharpening and our kindness won’t last

We know that this darkness brings some tests of courage
through the cold we prevail though our hearts are undone

We put our feet to the path, wave farewell to the summer
though this journey is ended, a new one has begun.

Christmas Pastiche

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Sentimental Deer by T.L. Ryder (c) 2017

It’s Christmas time
sleigh bells ring
in the city

The carolers sing
“Noel, Noel”

Are you listening?
Christmas brings
joy to the world

The bells ring
“Noel, Noel”

Candles gleaming
eyes all aglow
O holy night,

The angels sing
“Noel, Noel”

In the manger
flocks by night
to cradle run

The friendly beasts sing
“Noel, Noel”

In thy dark streets
come and worship
the newborn king

The holy star sings
“Noel, Noel”

((I cobbled together lines from various Christmas songs to make this pastiche like holiday ode. Give it a try if you dare! And drop me a link in the comments if you do.))

Chasing the Transcendent

Patti Smith on Singing at Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Ceremony

Smith’s essay in the New Yorker spoke to a thing that I’ve known for a very long time. I’ve been a singer most of my life. I was the music director for a UU church. I sang in a very large semi-pro symphony orchestra.  I sang many, many solos for contests and won a lot of prizes. I sang in a Celtic folk band, in a 60s revival pop band. I helped facilitate many folk nights, caroling parties and etc. I’ve stood up before audiences so many times that I can’t even begin to count them. Many of those I did a capella– nothing but me and my voice before the world. Smith says:

and in the end I had to come to terms with the truer nature of my duty. Why do we commit our work? Why do we perform? It is above all for the entertainment and transformation of the people. It is all for them.

Occasionally as a musician (or as a live theater performer of any kind) one gets a perfect moment. They never come in the solitude of a practice room. Only with the participation of an audience can we suspend our disbelief and enter that transcendent performance where everything is beautiful. That moment exists beyond our understanding, and we create it with the audience. In those moments, we become vessels of the transcendent. It is a highly addictive drug.

Musicians, especially singers, often look like the most egotistical people one could imagine. Indeed, many times we are. I think that even in those cases when it appears that we sincerely think that we are “the shit”, as the kids say now, it’s all armor. And here, listening to Patti Smith, both in her essay and singing at the ceremony, perhaps one gets a glimpse of what that ego is, and why we need its armor. It is armor against the world, against the music, even. The music demands perfection, and yet it demands even more than that. It demands ours whole heart, even as it fills us to the breaking point. Sometimes we break, right there in front of you. Sometimes even a lifetime of practicing and performing doesn’t save us from the music, the pain, the beautiful horror of it all. All the contents of our heart and soul spill out. And that, my friends, is real music. No perfection required.

So They Say

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Photo by Aimee Vogelsang, via Unsplash

They Say
it is wrong to speak ill of the dead
And So
they feast, eat us alive
They Say
honor your mother and father
And So
we duck our heads, and lie
They say
until death do us part
But No
there’s no severing of hearts.

dead, alive, mother, father, truth, or lie
there is only us, together and apart.

Orphan at Your Table

The orphan at your table
didn’t ask to be invited.
She’d rather be down at the diner where
The waitress knows.
Knows she likes sweet tea
and hot cinnamon rolls.
She fills the cup without comment
when the orphan has her head in a book.

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In just a few more chapters
Mr. Wickham gets his comeuppance
and the cinnamon rolls
are really good on Thursdays.

The orphan at your table
hears all your whispered pity
The muttered comments in the kitchen
She takes them on the chin, with a smile.
Behind her  grin she knows it
knows your motives better than you do
She’s here not for her pleasure
but for your benevolence.

The orphan at the diner
sips her sweet tea
This year she escaped the Lady Bountifuls
The cinnamon rolls are perfect.

Shift Work

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can beer by  Edonjeta Iberhysaj (PD)

The tall boys sit in their ice filled coffin
proud to be working man’s beer.
“You deserve a break today!” but wait. . .
that’s McD’s. That’s for women coming off
a 38 hour week at the five & dime, to another
shift or two or three at home.

The tall boys don’t know about that.
Their drinkers work hard.
Hard work that the little woman can’t understand
and then she wants him to fix the toilet.
“Christ, woman, I just sat down!” but wait. . .
there’s more; the mortgage company called again. About the lawn.

The husks of former tall boys lay in the un-mown grass
consumed, forgotten.
“Do we live in a police state now?”
Who cares about a little peeling paint, a little rust,
a load of sodium and fat clogging hearts that were
broken years ago.

A younger man drives fresh tall boys by,
company truck loaded full.
The wife just got promoted at MalWart. well, a 10 cent raise.
Soon they’ll move out of grandma’s. When he
has a lawn of his own, he swears it will be different–
He’ll mow it every day.

All Saints Day

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Some of the saints in my life don’t look very saintly
examined under the lens of churchly piety

But I tell you that with their words and deeds
with their loving hearts and helping hands

They have shown me more of God than any prayer book
and given me more Grace than any hymn.

~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~

Algunos de los santos de mi vida no son muy piadoso
Mirado con la piedad ordinaria

Pero les digo que con sus palabras y hechos
Con sus corazones amorosos y ayudando a las manos

A mí se ha revelado a Dios más que cualquier en los libros de oraciones
Y para mí se ha dado más gracia que cualquier himno.

(Please forgive my beginner’s Spanish!/Lo siento por mi principiante español)