Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Story of November

November Poem Day #30--Last Day

The Story of November

Only one November exists
each year and only 30 days,
each individualized, overscheduled
with more than we ever imagined:
a typical gorgeous fall
with golden leaves everywhere,
in the valley and in the mountains,

weddings, our first snow,
Thanksgiving (salmon this year),
setting up the Christmas tree
and decorations at the end,
gathering chestnuts off the ground,
digging about in the garden,
fall finally ending with colder weather

and snow, freezing the leaves
on most of the trees.
Then a thaw dripped through
with the wind and blue skies,
only for a day or two
but enough to be mesmerized
by the thoughts of an elongated fall.

The sunsets were magnificent,
each unique with their orange,
yellow, blue, and purple hues.
We did celebrate my birthday,
Black Friday, and Cyber Monday,
nothing too spectacular unless
you looked for it or needed something.

Now, November is abruptly coming
to an end, with anticipation
of more snow, colder temperatures,
more crazy drivers on the roads
without any knowledge of how
to drive in the snow.
We can still reminisce about fall

and November, immersing ourselves
in such eclectic thinking,
perhaps enough to create
another November just like this one
or wrap up in one of Grandma’s quilts
and hibernate until next November.
Truly, it’s all a matter of choice.

November 30, 2022

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Writing Your Stories

November Poem Month #29

Writing Your Stories

If you are not careful,
someone may write
a story about you.
Before they do, though, it
may be better for you to write
your own story, full of your truths,

experiences, and challenges.
They may not be what others want
to read or share or get emotional about.
But they are your stories, good, bad,
challenging, engaging, and wonderful!
Perhaps, it is now time to write

about your life’s transformations.
For me, it’s about milking cows,
working in the garden,
spending time with my grandparents
at their little grocery store,
going to so many different schools,

learning about history and literature
and bullies, learning to write poetry,
spending time moving sprinkler pipe
or in your room alone, listening
to Chicago and Bread,
roasting Marshmallows and hotdogs

haphazardly stuck on willows
cut from the clump from down by the slough,
learning to play marbles,
riding motorcycles up around Rainey Creek,
selling nightcrawlers to fishermen,
climbing mountains, swimming

in cold Idaho streams and lakes,
catching my first fish in Birch Creek,
experiencing the Hammon chicken harvest
in early fall, going to college
and learning a different way to think,
spending time in foreign countries,

marrying my sweetheart, waiting
for such a long time for children to come,
seeing miracles, moving from place to place,
settling each time—these are all stories,
and there are so many more
that you can conjure up

from memory, once you begin
to reminisce and think about your life.
Just dig deep and often and plop
your life out onto the page
where you see it and feel it again
as if for the very first time.

November 29, 2022

Monday, November 28, 2022

Art Classes

November Poem Day #28

Art Classes

I have discovered lately most acutely
the effervescent talent of artists.
I took a couple of art classes,
drawing and watercolor, and learned
my hands and fingers do not align
with the right side of my brain.

In fact, I had to wonder if my neurons
are actually even functioning.
They try really hard, probably enough
to receive a certificate of participation.

To be real, the blue sky with tinges
of oranges and yellows looked pretty good,
so did a couple of the trees and stems
of grass but the far-off mountains seemed
a little bleak and drab as if they were conjured up
out of forced necessity, not fluidity.

Surely, the brushes and pencils have minds
of their own, yet fail to share with me
what they are doing or thinking, keeping me
in the dark like some type of overshading.

The teacher affirms with just a nod
of her head, propelling us forward.
We struggle on, heads bent,
trying to focus while soft music plays
in the background, our brushes and pencils
dancing and creating havoc across the page.

I have to admit, a bit reluctantly,
that my personal inner canvas exposed
a bit of humility revealing that some things
do not come as easily as other things in my life.
What appeared in my mind’s eye so beautifully
just wouldn’t emerge as such on the page.
I could see it there, lounging so cavalierly, so boldly.
Something within wanted to escape, create,
magnify, be something grand, maybe even whimsical.

So, I let it out, hesitantly, knowing what
was really going to happen, resigning myself
to the inevitable or a surprise, a releasing a sense
of therapeutic wonderfulness, a luminosity,
allowing me to coax out some semblance
of beauty holed up inside that flopped onto the page.

Art is a marvelous way to cajole one’s inner self
to push paint around, do a little shading here and there,
let the paint soak into the page, perhaps even drizzling
it in such a way as to make something look more or less real.

I am okay with all that and will try again and again
until the brushes and pencils grudgingly heed
my plea while the paint strays into real shapes
and images, at least real enough for me.

November 28, 2022

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Milestones in Our Lives

November Poem Day #27

Milestones in Our Lives

Each of us has reached milestones
in our lives, some huge, some small,
some significant, some simple,
but we reach them—

climbing a high mountain peak,
climbing the stairs after surgery;

a weekly date with our loved one;
a night celebrating by ourselves;

a huge promotion at work,
learning a new job that is waiting for us;

a festive feast with so many family and friends,
eating solids after a long illness and hospital stay;

a new color and style of our hair,
our hair finally growing back after chemo;

buying your first home in a new city,
moving into your first apartment;

running a half-marathon as a personal best,
walking your first step after a hip replacement;

going to a concert of your favorite rock band,
listening to our grandchildren sing
happy birthday to you in a video;

the publication of your first novel,
a scribbled message of I love you!
from your little four-year-old;

a nine-day cruise to the Caribbean,
your first carriage stroll with a new baby—

Milestones come at opportune times,
sometimes knowingly, sometimes surprisingly,
yet they come and warm us no matter when,
and we celebrate each one.

November 27, 2022

Saturday, November 26, 2022


November Poem Day #26

End of Parley Street, Nauvoo, IL


I rather like reflections
as I look at the mountain
across the deep, dark blue lake
that sees itself,
sometimes a bit fuzzy
when the gentle breeze
blows across the water,
distorting the true image.

I see similar reflections
of the setting sun
as its deep oranges reflect
and bounce across the choppy waves
or even more perfectly
when turmoil does not exist.

Much clearer are the reflections
of ourselves in mirrors,
big or small, rectangle or square.

Often, just like the reflection
of the mountain or sun,
our view of ourselves
in the mirror is a bit blurry
unless we look more closely,
stand still, and look straight into it.

What do we see?
What do we want to see?
What should we see?

Can we see ourselves reflected
in the pictures of our parents,
grandparents, or other family members?

Do we see our smiles and positivity
reflected in others when we pass them
on the street or talk to them
in the office or at some event?

Often, what others do
or say reflects what
we have done or said
when they follow our lead.

In another room, bathed
in white in a sacred place,
we look into a mirror
in front of us and one behind us,
and we see the reflection
of ourselves forever and ever.

We should not look into the mirror
or within ourselves only to see
what others think of us
or what we think momentarily
of ourselves today.

True reflections allow us to see
with lucidity, no blurriness, no fog,
and help us understand and grasp
what we really can become,
now and beyond today,
perhaps even for eternity!

November 26, 2022

Friday, November 25, 2022

Reading Directions

November Poetry Month #25

Reading Directions

Reading directions has always been
a challenge for me.
I tend to bypass them,
just launch into doing
what needs to be done,
believe I can do it—
or so I think.
Invariably, before too long,
I am frustrated,
making the simple
more complicated.
If I had just read the directions,
it would be done,
finished, perfectly done,
my persona calm and together,
but my overlooking—
yes, ignoring—
directions throws me down
the erroneous path,
causing me to shove
the wrong part
in the wrong place,
causing such exasperation
so perplexing, so disturbing,
that I have to stop,
take five or six deep breaths,
perhaps even ten more
even deeper breaths,
in and out, even walking away
for some time
to avoid the situation.
But, eventually, I run out of steam,
succumb to the more compelling voice
of someone I love
more than life itself,
someone more pragmatic than I,
to calm me down
and think it through.
It is only then
that I finally understand,
once again for the umpteenth time,
that reading and following directions
is the only way to keep
within the bounds
of sanity, sensibility, and mindfulness.

November 25, 2022

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Art of Being Grateful

November Poem Day #24

The Art of Being Grateful

There is an art to being grateful,
especially every single day.
It’s easy to celebrate Thanksgiving
and be safely grateful
for a couple of hours
while we munch down turkey,
salmon, ham, three-bean salad,
some green Jello with pears,
mashed potatoes with real noodle gravy,
cranberries, broccoli salad,
pumpkin or berry pie
(always with ice cream),
or whatever your traditional eats are.

It’s the rest of the time,
when times are tough,
when something goes wrong,
or someone is mean to you.
Gratitude miserably wanes
during these challenging times,
mostly because our “woe-is-me”
weighs so heavily that we submerge
ourselves in its messy stickiness.

The kernel in all this hinges on
striving to be thankful every day—
for the big things, the little things,
the simplest things, even the mundane,
insignificant things.
All our lives are blessed
in some wonderful way.
The trick is learning
to become better sleuths
in finding and recognizing them.

Thanksgiving, November 24, 2022

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Who and whose we are

November Poem Day #23

Who and whose we are

The travesty of life is not truly knowing
who we are and not loving ourselves.
We berate ourselves, treat ourselves
with such animosity and disdain.

We add belittling labels
for good measure. If only we could
conquer such tortuous thoughts
and recognize that we are children
of a loving Heavenly Father,
endowed with spiritual gifts
and powers to overcome anything,
with a transcendent legacy
that is beyond anything
we can ever imagine.

When we look in the mirror
who and what do we see?

If for a brief moment
each day we could look
into the mirror, acknowledge
who and whose we are,
we would begin to change,
from the heart out
and then from head to toe.

We would sense a burgeoning
newness about us.
Our shame would dissipate
like fog on an early sunny morning.
We would arise stoically
from the abyss of self-deprecation.

We would know who we really are
and become who we need to become—
courageous, happy, self-assured,
confident yet humble and secure—
shedding the awful skins
of self-scorning and scolding—
knowing we are still in the arms
of Him who is the Creator of all things
whose love for us is eternal,
meaning forever more.

November 23, 2022

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Sense of Hope

November Poem Day #22

A Sense of Hope

We shiver and shudder within us
when we think of the awful plight
of the world, its wars, rumors of wars,
rampant corruption, senseless killings,
abuse, earthquakes, abject poverty,
the subjugation of so many people,
apathy, extremism, and a host
of other vile and nasty things.

It almost makes us crawl
into our rooms, close the blinds,
and avoid any connection
to the outside world.

But there is hope,
hope in Jesus Christ,
hope in His Atonement,
hope that we will be free

from all challenges
that doth beset us,
hope that He will come
again and reign in all his Majesty.

I believe in this hope.
I trust that hope is real.
I pray for this hope.
I invite hope to enter

into everyone’s life.
Hope is what will propel us
out of the abyss of hopelessness.
Hope will shatter the darkness

and allow Light to enter our lives.
Hope must prevail within us
to elicit the peace we must feel
to be whole once again,
today, tomorrow, and forever!

November 22, 2022

Monday, November 21, 2022

La Playa

Para mis amigos que hablan Español! He traducido el poema del dia para que puedan leelo.

La Playa

La playa es terapéutica,
especialmente en las primeras horas de la mañana
mientras serpenteamos a lo largo de ella,
buscando conchas y cristales de mar,
mirando simultáneamente al este.

Está tranquilo justo antes del amanecer,
un tiempo en el que puedes contemplar la vida
y sus múltiples desafíos.
Irónicamente, parecen disiparse
mientras sale el poderoso sol
estoico y audazmente en el horizonte.

Las olas rompiendo chocan contra la arena,
arrastrarse por la playa hacia las algas
ahora acostado en grupos entremezclados
con conchas descartadas
por otras olas a través de la noche.

A medida que las olas retroceden, la arena absorbe
un poco de agua salada antes de que se escape
de vuelta al mar, dejando la arena
mojado y suave hasta que los pequeños cangrejos de arena
corretean por la playa, tratando de encontrar
los agujeros más pequeños para entrar y enterrarse.

Por encima de nosotros y más arriba en la playa,
las palmeras brillan en el suave viento del Caribe
mientras las aves marinas revolotean sobre el mar,
buscando su desayuno o simplemente queriendo
interrumpir el momento de silencio.
La suavidad y la tranquilidad de todo
trae claridad e iluminación a nuestras almas.

Es fascinante detenerse y sentarse en el borde,
dedos de los pies cavando en la arena,
brazos envueltos alrededorlas rodillas
levantadas hacia el pecho, una mirada silenciosa
en las olas, rompiendo y arrastrándose
la playa y volviendo sobre sus pasos hacia el mar.

Solo miramos, meticulosamente, tomando el sol
en los gloriosos saludos de la mañana,
saludando al sol naciente, eclipsando
todos los sentimientos como un sentido de pertenencia y anhelo
porque más de esta paz cae sobre nosotros,
ondeando a través de nuestras mentes y corazones,
sintiendo la magnificencia de Aquel que es el Creador!

21 de Noviembre 2022

La Playa

November Poem Day #21

End of the Road in Samaná, DR

La Playa

The beaches are therapeutic,
especially in the early mornings
as we meander along them,
looking for seashells and sea glass,
simultaneously watching the east.

It’s quiet just before dawn,
a time you can contemplate life
and its many challenges.
Ironically, they seem to dissipate
as the mighty sun rises
stoically and boldly on the horizon.

The lapping waves crash onto the sand,
crawl up the beach into the seaweed
now lying in clumps intermixed
with seashells discarded
by other waves through the night.

As the waves recede, the sand absorbs
some salt water before it escapes
back into the sea, leaving the sand
wet and smooth until the little sand crabs
scamper across the beach, trying to find
the tiniest holes to enter and bury themselves.

Above us and further up the beach,
palm trees shimmer in the soft Caribbean wind
while the seabirds hover over the sea,
seeking for breakfast or just wanting
to interrupt the moment of quiet.
The softness and tranquility of it all
bring clarity and illumination to our souls.

It’s mesmerizing to stop and sit at the edge,
toes digging into the sand, arms wrapped around
pulled up knees to the chest, a silent staring
into the waves, crashing and creeping up
the beach and retracing their steps back to the sea.

We just watch, meticulously, basking
in the glorious hellos of morning,
greeting the rising sun, overshadowing
all feelings as a sense of belonging and longing
for more of this peace cascades over us,
rippling through our minds and hearts,
sensing the magnificence of Him who is the Creator!

November 21, 2022
a.m. in Puerto Plata

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Light becomes us

November Poem Day #20

Light becomes us

I feel more comfortable
traveling in the light
than in the darkness.

Landscapes, markers,
signs, people in crosswalks
are far more visible
in the light.

Darkness covers the familiar,
leaving the world
almost unrecognizable.

The light within us
is the same.

We see ourselves,
our whole selves,
so much better
when we are filled
with true light.

When darkness creeps in
because of choices
and mismatched values,
we lose sight
of the constant signs,
markers, and guides
that have helped us
along the way.

Light creates a vision
beyond ourselves
when we inject it
every single day,
diminishing the power of darkness,
and empowering us
to doing things
we have never done
seeing things
we have never seen
feeling things
that are truly worth feeling.

It's those consistent
daily injections of light,
now and forever,
that shape us,
heal us,
and give us
more light
to chase away darkness,
to see and become
who we really are,
growing brighter
and brighter
until that perfect day!

November 20, 2022

Saturday, November 19, 2022


November Poem Day #19


Sunrises invigorate the soul,
no matter where you see them.
I particularly like sunrises
at the beach, my toes digging
into the sand that oozes
between them or standing
at the water’s edge like a sentinel,
watching the darkness turn into
shades of oranges and yellows
with some fringing blues.

As the sun tenuously makes its way
above the horizon, we bask
in the oranges and morning colors.
We saunter east along the beach
and onto the pier, extending out
over the calm sea in full view
of the brilliance of the morning.
Peering over the edge,
we see the water’s darkness,
turquoise during the day,
but now just a hue of night.

Dainty ripples displace the evening light,
as the reflecting rising sun’s rays
bounce along intermixing
the oranges, yellows, and dark greens.
The waves splash their way
to the shore, depositing the evening colors
onto the sand where the seaweed
has washed up overnight.

We just stand there, waiting
for the sun to immerse us
in the new morning, now creeping up
and over the far horizon,
becoming larger, engulfing everything,
and then popping up and over,
one giant ball of fire and beginning
its crawl through the sky, turning
the morning colors to piercing blues
with a few white puffy clouds,
the night dissipating into the water.

We lounge for a brief moment more,
eyes closed, faces toward the sun,
soaking up the rays and relishing
the early morning while sea birds scream
overhead, looking for a quick breakfast.

November 19, 2022

Friday, November 18, 2022

Cajoling words to come out and play

November Poem Day #18

Cajoling words to come out and play

Writing poetry or anything really is a challenge.
Sometimes the words just do not come out.
They linger longer than they need to,
gurgling somewhere deep within you
or hover just on the surface,

just waiting to spill out onto the page,
making more noise than they should.
Somethings, they plop out like globs of mud
covering your whole pages with words
but not in the right places.

You have to use either a broom
to sweep the lounging ones away
or a paintbrush to stroke them into place.
Other times, a mere poof of our breath
will press them perfectly in line.

Words are meant to sing highs and lows,
dance waltzes or jitterbugs, or even melt
in your mouth when they touch your tongue,
quicken your mind, ease peace into your soul.
Words can do that and so much more,

if you let them, coax them, cajole them,
and even command them into place,
promising them they will thrill the world.
Once they juxtapose where they need to go,
where you want them to go and stay,

then they become simultaneously
delicious and savory,
peaceful and meaningful,
kind and compassionate,
vibrant and wistful,
bold but not overbearing
to all who read them
in the right mind,
the right place,
the right mood.

November 18, 2022

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

November Poem Day #17

La Isla Saona near Bayahibe

Snorkeling in the Caribbean

The water is cold in eastern Idaho—
the lakes, creeks, and rivers.
So cold you shiver,
the moment you step in
even in the summer.

The water comes cold
from high mountain snows
and glaciers, flows downstream,
still cold, still frigid, ice-like.

I thought all water was like that
until we went to the Caribbean,
the Dominican Republic,
Bayahibe and La Isla Saona,
any beach there.

I had heard stories
of the lukewarm water
of the Caribbean and wondered
if it were true.

My first time at the edge
of the sand where the ocean began,
I hesitated, the past years
of frigid cold still in my mind,
making me shiver
in the hot, humid air.

Then, I strode out into the water,
my mind, surprised, propelled me
forward, clamoring for more,
farther and farther out
until I was chest-high.


I donned my snorkel
with prescription lenses
and eased beneath the water,
anticipating the shock of cold.

But it didn’t come, never came.

Adjusting my breathing,
I looked around.

Fish of all colors, kinds,
and sizes darted in
and around me,
swimming close
into my line of vision.

I just lay there forever,
it seemed, moving ever so gently,
basking in the oh, so warm water,
forgetting about eastern Idaho,
the cold water, the deep freezes,
chipping ice, sub-below weather,
and the constant cold snow.

The Caribbean oozes
through my being
with its warmth
and turquoise water,
so balmy,
so inviting,
so sauna-like.

November 17, 2022

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Weightier Things

November Poem Day #16

The Weightier Things

We often live a life
of ease and superficiality.
Everything is digital.
Cars almost run themselves.
You can manage
household appliances
from our phones.
Robust information can be
accessed in one click,
maybe two.

We worry
about how many likes
or hearts we receive
on our posts.
We worry too much
about how we look,
what clothes we wear,
and the size of our 401Ks.

What about
the weightier things
of the world—
Who we are,
and whose
we really are?

How our attitude
shapes our lives?
About the Atonement
of Jesus Christ?
About what happens
when we die?
The Plan of Happiness?
Or what we do
to become even better
human beings?
How we treat others?
More importantly,
the welfare of our families,
on both sides of the veil?

Should we not seek
the weightier, more profound
things of life
that will provide
a soulful purpose
and leads us
to never-ending happiness?

November 16, 2022

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

My dad was right about silver platters

November Poem Day #15:

My dad was right about silver platters

Growing up is a challenging time.
For some of us, we thought
we knew everything
and expected people
to cater to us.

My dad set me straight.
His dad died when he was 11.
He emerged as a tough guy,
a high school dropout,
tattoos in the army.

He told me in colorful language
that life was not served
on a silver platter.
He created opportunities
for us to learn to work
and serve others.

Moanings and groanings erupted
during chores and such
but not when he was around.
We knew the consequences….

I milked cows, fed the horses,
dug postholes, worked in the garden,
bucked hay, pulled weeds,
mowed and trimmed the lawn,
shoveled snow in our yard
and our neighbors’ yards—
no allowance, just a bed,
a shared room with two brothers,
numerous delicious meals,
and all the snacks we could eat
with some clothes
and fishing trips thrown in.

When I had a real job,
I bought my own clothes,
a motorcycle, a Hodaka 100,
and then a used car,
a 1970 Chevy Impala for $600.

I sacrificed, saved money,
went to college on my own dime,
worked so we could pay
the rent, tuition, and books.
Hard work paid off.
We left college with no debt!  

Now, I sing praises to my dad,
his hard, yet wise counsel,
his relentless working us,
his attitude toward service.

I confess we do have just one
silver platter in our house.
It stays hidden in the cupboard,
biding its time for special occasions
where it, too, must work,
carry heavy things, and serve others.

November 15, 2022  

Monday, November 14, 2022

Growing up in the Country

November Poem Day #14:

Thanks to Dennis Hammon Photograph--
Picture of Menan, Idaho, population 596 in 1975

Growing up in the Country

Growing up in the countryside amidst the horses, cows,
pigs, chickens, a few ducks and geese, and a large garden
make children grow up fast and learn responsibility.

Early mornings create some havoc for those of us
whose pillows have become our innate friends
and the warmth of the covers keeps us holed up in dreams.

The cooking bacon and eggs, hashbrowns
from real Idaho potatoes, waffles
and sometimes French toast lull us
into scrambling out of the beds, jumping
into old faded 501s, and shoving on our boots.

We eat a hearty breakfast, knowing that tomorrow
will come again with more food and gallons
of fresh, organic milk, organic in sense
of what sometimes floats to the top.

It’s all about the organic, living in the country
with winds, cows, strainers that the milk seeps through,
eliminating most of the organicness,
and cats, tortoiseshell and grays, that sip
on the foam in their favorite bowls
or open their mouths for squirts of warm milk.

In the spring, though, things get
a little gooey with a snow and rain mix.
We try to toss straw bales into the corrals
and mix it up with sloppy slush, hoping
it will soak it up and make it less sticky and smelly.

When the cow tromps into the barn to be milked,
we strap her tail in the hobbles, hoping with every fiber
of our brain that it will not come out.
Yet, we know it will, heavy-laden with manure
and barnyard muck, slapping us across the face,
coating us with awful-smelling stuff.

But that is the life of farm boys in early spring.
We just wash off, shower, splash on a little
of Dad’s Old Spice, hoping the girls at school
smell that and not the gunk from the barn.

At night, we repeat the daily chores—
feeding pigs, chipping ice in the winter,
tossing hay to horses and cows,
filling the chickens’ feeders, gathering
any eggs we missed during the morning run,
and then return to the house, wash up,
comb our hair so as to be presentable.
Before we sit, we stand, mom eying
each of us, taking inventory.

Then, she nods her approval, places
some sort of potatoes and all the accouterments
on the table, where we now sit
after passing inspection, heads bowed,
waiting to hear a thankful prayer to heaven,
all the while anticipating filling our growling,
empty stomachs and watering mouths.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Six Haiku

November Poem Day #13

Six Haiku

Sunflowers raise heads
each time the sun passes by
internal calmness

Cock pheasants burst forth
disappear into the night
tail feathers streaming

Rose blossoms seek truth
through reds, pinks, peach, yellows, whites
stoic in the wind

Spring rains patter down
gurgles on the ground knowing
they give abundance

Morning dew glistens
shielding life with a sheen
seen by open eyes

White lilies smile
when little children walk by
discerning pureness

November 13, 2022

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The stillness of nights

November Poem Day #12: 

The stillness of nights

In the country, nights are peaceful
and serene—no lights, no artificial sounds.
Yet, when you sit beneath
the weeping willow, the serenity
of the night erupts into a cacophony
of night sounds, nature’s sounds—
of owls out in the woods somewhere,
hooting for their own to respond.

Along Spring Creek, the mallards float in,
wings bent just so, and calmly land
in the middle of the creek
or on the eddy, quacking sounds of joy
or comfort or just being out of the air.

Amidst the constant gurgling
of the creek as it swirls downstream,
frogs croak incessantly while the crickets chirp
in cadence with them and other night sounds.

Mosquitos continually cluster around your head,
buzzing viciously, perhaps, trying
to find the most perfect spot to stick you.

Some nights, the coyotes sit secluded,
maybe perched on the hillside,
yipping, one to another
while the horses in the corral
whinny good nights to each other.

Soon the pheasants begin
their musical crowing
until a fox or something rustles
them to flush, uttering
excited two-note calls
as they burst through the night.

These nights sounds, and so many others,
calm us, transport us to a place
of serenity and tranquility away
from the busyness of our lives.

To hear the placidity within ourselves,
we must hush the fears and concerns
that rope our lives, turning us
this and that way, scattering
them to places far and wide.

Yet, the serenity of it all stills
those thoughts, quells our scatterings,
lulls us into thinking all is mostly well,
and we succumb to noiselessness
of the peace that quenches
the longings of our souls.

November 12, 2022

Friday, November 11, 2022

Pieces of beauty in the minutia

November Poem Day #11:

Pieces of beauty in the minutia

Have you considered a tea rose petal
or even a single water skipper
skipping along the creek bank?

Or what about an acorn
water chestnut,
or single golden leaf
newly fallen to the ground?

The single blacked-eyed Susan 
amidst tall weeds and thistles
or the cluster of grapes
dangling ever so gallantly
along the fence line?

A praying mantis or caterpillar
hidden so surreptitiously
in the green foliage of spring?

A loon’s eerie hooting
at night while you sit
on boat dock covered
with a blanket and watching
the moon crisscross the sky?

A bike ride along a river in the fall
or a cool walk in fresh snow?

Ladybugs dotting so many flowers
in the flower garden?

Bees gliding in and out
of roses, clematis, peonies,
sunflowers, and daffodils?

Or even string beans, pea pods,
radishes, gooseberries,
and tomatoes in the garden?

The quiet smile of a passerby,
the cellist on a street corner
playing as if no one is watching,
or a hovering seagull at the beach?

A baby fast asleep in her crib,
or a toddler finding a rolly poly
or butterfly in the backyard,
fluttering ever so daintily in the air?

All these—and millions more—
are the minutia of life,
the pieces and parts
of a much bigger cosmic plan
than we know—at least for now.

Yes, it is the little things
that bring beauty
into our chaotic world,
and together they turn
the simple into the significant,
a glorious proclamation of eternity.

November 11, 2022

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Cutting Corners. Spurning responsibility

November Poem Day #10

Cutting Corners. Spurning responsibility.

Life has become about cutting corners.
I am saddened by this;
others are nonchalant,
thinking things will happen
much faster, more efficiently.

Cutting corners. Shunning responsibility!

Yet, cutting corners really means
cheaper goods, half-baked schemes,
shoddy workmanship,
doors that don’t really hang straight,
windows that let in air,
laisser-faire attitudes,
sloping floors, tiles that don’t line up,
hellos and how are yous
that really don’t mean much.
If we are already way past them
to even answer, forgetting
we have even seen them

Cutting corners. Snubbing responsibility.

Even productivity plummeted,
causing shortages, havoc with inflation,
and bottom lines to suffer—
mostly my bottom line.
Formerly ½ gallon ice cream boxes
dipped to 1.75 quarts,
now some at 1.5 quarts;
yet, they charge just as much
or even more.

Cutting corners. Shifting responsibility

Even potato chips bags
are now just seven ounces,
and the bag is still half empty.
Students at all levels cut corners,
try to cajole their parents
to do their homework,
cheat on tests,
copy off the kid who always does
their homework, lie about
where they have been,
arrive late to work
and try to explain it away.
Cutting corners boils down
to not taking responsibility.
A blame game.
You see, it’s your fault
that I am the mess that I am.

Cutting corners. Shirking responsibility.

I could go on and on and on.
We have all experienced it,
currently experiencing it,
and will continue to experience it.
Pretty soon, there will be no corners
to cut or spin around.
They will have dissolved into thin air,
sucking the life right out of us.

Cutting corners. Shuffling responsibility.

November 10, 2022

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Getting Older

November Poem Day #9

Getting Older

Today’s the day for celebrating getting older.
Some people wonder why I am not supportive
of my own getting older.
Yes, my hair is grayer and thinner.
The cowlicks somehow have disappeared into thin hair.
Yes, I have issues with back pains and need
to stretch every morning before exercising.

Yes, when I eat, things stick more than they used to.
I used to be a buck sixty-five for years
and ate like a horse we used to have.
Yet, when the clock struck 40,
something happened to my weight,
and it seemed when I looked at food,
and it would stick. I was not happy about this.

My ice cream intake took a nose dive.
Carbonation went out years before that,
except for a root beer float once in a while.
I only eat butter on baked potatoes—
it’s a sacred Idaho thing.
I don’t eat a lot of red meat.
Chicken and fish seem to be the way to go.

I even have oatmeal on Tuesdays and Thursdays
with a heavy dose of craisins or dried cherries,
dried apples, and nuts. I don’t even add sugar,
just some yogurt and a drop of honey.
Sugary cereal has pretty much disappeared,
except for a snack every couple of months.
We even exercise almost every single day.

Yet, I continue to age and grow wrinkles.
I have concluded that aging isn’t that bad.
Look at the discounts! AARP is my friend!
People hold the door for you
or let you in line first.
They even say, “Oh, that’s soooo..cute”
when my wife and I hold hands.

I want to shout to them and to everyone,
“We have been holding hands
for 43+ years, and we still love it!”
So, I guess I will still celebrate my birthday
while eating another slice of homemade carrot cake
with cream cheese frosting,
which happens only once a year,

I promise.

 November 9, 2022

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Animal crackers

November Poem Day #8

Animal crackers

I realize I am more mature
than I used to be
now with a pension
or two and living
in a 55+ community,
but my childhood infatuation
with animal crackers persists.
My parents purchased
my first animal crackers
years ago in a small box
with animals painted
on the sides behind bars
with a string attached
to each side of the box
so you could carry it
along with you.
I think the cookie makers
thought erroneously
that little kids would gobble
the giraffes and bears
and keep the camels
and rhinos at bay, safe
in the box for hours.
Little did they know
that animal crackers
don’t last long, really,
in the hands of five-year-olds
or a 60+-year-old.
Animal crackers are meant
to be eaten,
one tail or trunk
or leg at a time.
For me,
I am a whole animal
or a whole handful
kind of guy.
Just pop in
the whole animal
in my mouth
and be done with,
especially now
that I am older
and not as patient
as I used to be.
Plus, the little boxes are passé.
The big two-pounders
are just my size.
Of course, I will share
when asked,
with no strings attached.

November 8, 2022

Monday, November 7, 2022

A restful pause from our hectic days

November Poem Day 7: 

A restful pause from our hectic days

The pandemic slammed all of us,
put us on notice that pandemics
are not to be messed with.
We all suffered some sort of loss,
some tragic, some simple,
and some that just linger on.
Yet, no matter the loss,
we felt it, lived it, and became it.
Some of us climbed within ourselves;
others went hiking, took photos,
wrote poetry, put together puzzles;
others just worked harder,
kept their nose to the grind;
still, others remodeled their houses,
learned how to garden, stepped up
their certifications and knowledge via YouTube
Many took advantage, learned how
to become better than they ever had been—
and so many other things.

Throughout history, it appears,
pandemics disrupted families,
took lives, blindfolded many
into thinking that nothing could be done.
Yet, the world banded together,
the market soared.
Takeout from every eating source
became the thing that everyone did.
Dial a number. Food arrived.
Amazon and others of its ilk
also thrived. Just click on a box,
share your credit card numbers,
and in a few days, it arrived.
We never had to leave the house.
Just walk outside on the porch,
and there was whatever we ordered.

It’s a shame, though, that we cannot just order
a life with less pain and anguish,
a life with fewer heartaches,
a life with less anxiety or depression,
a life with less of anything that doth beset us,
or a life with more happiness,
a life filled with fewer cares and bills,
more of a life with a holistic view
of what we can do to climb out
of our abysses of darkness and despair,
yes, even more of a life filled with a restful pause.

But it was the Savior who invited us
to a better, more restful life, free
from the challenges that have overwhelmed us,
no matter what our lives have become:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
All we have to do, He promised,
is to “Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me….For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.”
His final words bring peace to us:
“…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Finally, a restful pause from our hectic days.

November 7, 2022

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Soups and Stews

Day 6, November Poetry Month

Soups and Stews

Cold weather hurdles
into our lives with bouts of snow,
cold mornings, even colder evenings,
and periodic biting winds
that seem to seep through
any kind of clothing,
stinging the face,
making your eyes water,
and pushing you
into a delirious doldrum.
As I trudge home, a bit dejected,
knowing it will be cold again tomorrow
and probably the next day,
I dare say—even admit—
that I think about soup,
warm soup, hot soup,
soups full of things I love.
I think of white bean chili,
regular bean chili with meat,
basil tomato, and chicken vegetable.
Then, images of Joanne’s famous stew
rush to my mind, a stew swirling
with potatoes, meat, onions, carrots,
tomatoes, celery, and some other ingredients
too sacred to mention in public,
including heavy sprinklings
of cilantro, dried or fresh.
Surely, it’s the breads that complement—
oatmeal and honey, Joanne’s French bread,
cornbread, wheat bread, and scones,
those luscious ones made from just flour,
yeast, water, and a pinch of this and that.
The culminating factor for me
for a soup or stew meal has to be
jam and jelly. Who can resist
homemade raspberry, strawberry,
plum, apricot, or peach?
Any jam or jelly, really!
Soups and stews exude peace
and a soothing of the soul,
a satisfaction oozing deep
into every pore, lessening the stress,
anxiety, and whatever ails you.
That first mouthful is savory, delicious,
delicate, comfortingly divine—
and you breathe a sigh of relief,
and can eat more than you should,
especially when no one is looking.

November 6, 2022

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Dirt Roads

Dirt Roads

Where I am from,
dirt roads and dirt bikes
are a thing, part of the roadways
that get you from here and there,
through potato and alfalfa fields,
down to your favorite fishing hole,
or just down to the end and back.
Dirt roads can be treacherous,
especially when it rains or snows.
They become mucky, their deep ruts
filling with mud, manure,
sometimes sand, and other goo.
Rain storms soften the sides,
beckoning us, often, teasing us
to be brave, come their way,
without divulging a great secret:
their soft sides become slick,
gushy, and swish you
from side to side,
a wreck just waiting to happen.
If your bike somehow slips out
from under you, the sides grab you,
and do not let go
until you have bounced
on your hips or back, depending
on the propulsion of your body
over the top of the handlebars
and onto the ground.
You must be aware,
stay on top out of the ruts,
swerving deftly
between rocks and weeds.
If you dip into the ruts,
the chances of being bucked off
grows exponentially
or you stay mired in
for what seems like forever.
Our lives are similar to traveling
on dirt roads, often filled
with ruts and rocks, causing us
to swerve here and there, sometimes
in unknown paths or gullies
where is no way out.
The key to all this is caution,
eyes straight ahead,
paying astute attention,
slowing down to watch the terrain.
Like life, you cannot go pell-mell
unawares down a dirt road,
expecting nothing bad to happen.
Invariably, ruts just materialize,
and a huge gully appears
on both sides, begs you,
even entices you, to deviate
from high ground, into its bowels
where there is no return.
If you are wise and not afraid,
stay on top, avoid the ruts,
keep in the center on the top
between the ruts,
and pay no attention
to the sides, not even a glance,
eyes on the road at all times,
motoring straightway and true.

November 5, 2022

Friday, November 4, 2022

Sunsets: An Encore

 Sunsets: An Encore

The show begins every night at dusk,
from balconies, backyards, the beach,
from potato or wheat fields, anywhere
you can see the western skies.

At first, the sun sinks slowly on the horizon,
round and bright, spreading its effulgent rays
of reds, yellows, oranges, tinges of violets,
blues, and reds with mixtures
of varying shades of grayish clouds
interspersed with orange light over everything.

The translucent picture spreads across
the alfalfa field where I am standing—
actually gawking at the majesty before me.

The sun commands the stage, as it should,
lingers longer and longer, deftly dodging darkness
until the last possible moment,
sliding ever so slowly, so methodically,
down, down, behind the horizon and then gone.

But its tailing light dallies even longer,
casts luminescent shadows on the far hills
on the other side of the valley,
first covering them fully, then descending,
leaving behind shadows until they, too,
are doused with darkness.

Still a soft glow loiters a bit longer
across the ridge of the mountains
for a brief moment and then shuffles away.

During the entire show, we do not fidget
or lower our eyes all the while
our mouths gape open and our minds
and eyes are mesmerized

by the flamboyant nature of the sun
as it crisscrosses the ever-changing stage,
in full glory and varying colorful costumes,
depending on where you sit

in the world’s theater,
and then receding like a retiring actor,
slowly, yet surely, inch by inch,
the crowd now standing
in unison, clapping
for an encore, knowing,
it will be
another 24 hours
before another

If we are lucky,
though, we move
our seats
in a few hours
to the east,
where the sun
will appear anew
in different hues,
radiant beauty,
and magnificence,
greeting us
like old friends,
like it

Thursday, November 3, 2022

First Snow

Day 3, Poetry Day:

First Snow

November barely burst on the scene
when the first snow interrupted fall
with a warning: I am coming!
And came it did with vigor
but not with the frigid cold,
merely a few degrees below freezing,
just enough to turn rain into snow!

Even amidst the white, water-engorged flakes,
the trees with their golden, yellow,
and green leaves hanging on
for dear life still clamored
for just one more day of fall.

It was denied with a winter blast!

Some flowers, particularly roses,
are drenched with huge clumps
of white and puddles of melting snow
dripping onto the ground,
adding a bit of shininess to everything.

Even the green grass looks majestic,
a tinge greener beneath the trees
still full of leaves and acting
as an umbrella to some green spears
with a sheen of moisture dripping
so incongruously from the limbs above.

So far, the roads are moist, a bit dangerous,
the snow not sticking but melting
as each snowflake touches down,
disappearing like many 401Ks,
covering the fallen leaves, the grass,
the bushes, fence tops, and parked cars,
coating them with wet flakes of white.

It won’t be long, though, until the greens,
yellows, reds, and golds will be buried
in pure white fluff, causing us to forlornly forget
summer and its incessant heat.

The first snow laughs uproariously
at the rain, considered a cousin,
for its lethargy this past summer,
relishing the thoughts of one-upping it today.

For now, we can only watch
out the front windows,
melancholy seeping through our souls,
behind crumbled curtains,
or even as we sit in our cars,
staring out as our windshield wipers try
to keep up with the first snow,
its big flakes giggling as they fall,
lightly, delicately, unabashedly,
basking in its beauty, moistness, and freshness,
beckoning us to come out and play
in its new white vivaciousness.

Thursday, November 3, 2022