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Remember when we did as we pleased?
Now we’re wrinkled, gray, and diseased
With Rage that crushes any caring heart,
And drops us low to our knees—
There is no succor or understanding
For respite or for relief for any parents’ pleas.
Why do we think ourselves
Into such boxes of darkness
Into that snare of ever wrong turns?
To put down hard roots
Into a never loved land,
Grasping, with our heart that burns—
Another lost kite strung over a high tree,
Another lost thing we swore to safe keep—
Living a clueless life beyond what we hear or see;
As now I lay me down to sleep?

–Amberly Alexis Barnett’s body was found in an undisclosed location early Saturday morning hours after authorities began searching for the 11-year-old, who was last seen at her aunt’s house in Mt. Vernon, Ala.


Poet’s Last Word

Oh, where in the world can your poet run
When the words fall flat, and the rhymes won’t come?
Oh, what hard trials arise to squash younglet poetry,
Like a weeded up, oak-wilt, unlovely and broken tree?
No thesaurus, no dictionary, nor dog-paged Bartlett’s
Can save a poor rhymester when the scansion he forgets.
Arched over his blank page, a pen rusting in his hand,
He remembers clever phrasing that once lofted grand.
But today, too many hours passed, when imagery faded away:
No paragraphs soar to shine, no dark truths for a heart to sway.
Just letters on a keyboard accompany the page gleaming white—
Is it old age, or a brain cancer, or Alzheimer’s that’s blanked his inner sight?
Swirling leaves, the pelting rain; no, just tears to wet another empty page.
Crashing thunder, volcanic explosions; no, just writer’s blocked impotent rage.
Was all this alleged talent just Life’s joke on the unwittingly absurd?
What do you say to the one who cannot find the poet’s last word?

Number 62 In Blue

The candle sputtered
Then guttered out
The wick a speck in the wax
The old poet looked
And suffered to stand up
The last present wrapped was Jack’s

A fresh Christmas candle
Striped Santa red and holly green
With its new flame warmed the room
Placing presents about
A tree to shame Charlie Brown
The shards of wrapping left with the broom

The cat’s tail flicked serene
The poet reached for his quill
As words soft filled a new page
A chance Winter memory
Spurred the poet on
Thoughts neither steep nor very sage

She bought him skis for a gift
Though “cross” country would mean something else
Tears of laughter with every tumble and spill
He wondered where she was now
A score of years have long passed
When meeting on Concourse B was such the piquant thrill

Chinese Five Spices
Floated upon the solemn merlot
The poet paused to let the tightness pass
Tomorrow the two-state drive
Back to his beloved Crescent City
Though this year without his own wee lass

Daughter would be skiing
Off out with her Mother and half family
Cross country over in the mountain West
He’d be with swiftly aging brother
And a Christmas with the family Creole
But things always work out for the best

A meow and a sigh
The poet let Jack out the door
A cat in search of secret nocturnal meetings
The candle blew out neat
The cold front had as promised arrived
As the rain pelted out its Season’s Greetings

Waxing and waning here came Christmas Number Sixty-two
But he yet looked ahead brightly through this Yuletide in Blue

Freedom [preposition] Religion

Two lapsed Catholics
Sitting neath the tree
Contemplating the meaning
Of Eternity.
First comes Doubt,
Followed by Despair,
Then they’re closing down all the bars
Because they just don’t…
Give a rat’s rear end anymore.

Upon Closer Inspection

The opossum had wanted in.
He wanted to come in real bad.
He scritter-scratched at one vent;
He scrapper-skritched like he was mad.
Of course I understand critters wanting in:
The winter does right nasty by them.
But the problem mostly I had?
He was wanting in at 10:30PM!
Banging on the ceiling did no good,
Nor outside on the underside of the overhang!
So, at last I just had to grab the ladder
And go up on the roof—Just Dang!
Got up on there no problem,
Just barely saw the tail of poor dear.
Hope he finds somewhere [ELSE!]nice to winter,
And I wish him a Happy New Year!

Inspector Opossum Peter Francis O’Henry
Returned late to our Christmas Branch Office.
Looking harrumphed and worse for wear,
Seems something had gone quite amiss.
He was completing his annual inspection
For homes being correctly Christmas ready:
Like: “Stockings Hung With Care” and
“Tree Standing Upright And Steady.”
But, Peter was in a less than beaming mood;
Seems the last house was a tad of a goof:
The owner of the residence demurred him entry,
And even chased poor Peter off the roof!
He’d had to go back later to finish,
Opting to check in through a handy window,
He noted a pretty fir bright with light,
And that all looked correct, and properly so.
Peter wondered if his time had come,
Time to hang up his clipboard and end,
Til Santa came around to him and said:
“Ho, Ho, Ho, but you’re my best worker and friend!”

Everyone is ready for Christmas,
Peter F. O’Henry and me,
But if you hearing noises late at night,
Try not to take affright—
It’s just a FOS [Friend of Santa] checking out your tree!