courage in its many forms

Courage - by Anne Sexton 
It is in the small things we see it. 
The child's first step, 
as awesome as an earthquake. 
The first time you rode a bike, 
wallowing up the sidewalk. 
The first spanking when your heart 
went on a journey all alone. 
When they called you crybaby 
or poor or fatty or crazy 
and made you into an alien, 
you drank their acid 
and concealed it.
Later, 
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets 
you did not do it with a banner, 
you did it with only a hat to 
cover your heart. 
You did not fondle the weakness inside you 
though it was there. 
Your courage was a small coal 
that you kept swallowing. 
If your buddy saved you 
and died himself in so doing, 
then his courage was not courage, 
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
Later, 
if you have endured a great despair, 
then you did it alone, 
getting a transfusion from the fire, 
picking the scabs off your heart, 
then wringing it out like a sock. 
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow, 
you gave it a back rub 
and then you covered it with a blanket 
and after it had slept a while 
it woke to the wings of the roses 
and was transformed.
Later, 
when you face old age and its natural conclusion 
your courage will still be shown in the little ways, 
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen, 
those you love will live in a fever of love, 
and you'll bargain with the calendar 
and at the last moment 
when death opens the back door 
you'll put on your carpet slippers 
and stride out.

wcw – a song of freedom

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps 
on the back of the wind 
and floats downstream 
till the current ends 
and dips his wings 
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks 
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through 
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and 
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings 
with a fearful trill
of the things unknown 
but longed for still
and his tune is heard 
on the distant hill for the caged bird 
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn 
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings 
with a fearful trill 
of things unknown
but longed for still 
and his tune is heard 
on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings 
of freedom. 

- Maya Angelou

Sunday Snapshot: you are the storm I am lost in

ocean&rocks

I came from the sea
from the arms of the waves
and the kiss of salt on my skin

I am the calm shade of green
before a terrible storm
The tempestuous wind
that laps at your cheeks

I am the cry of the lonesome gull
ringing in your ears
and the smell of the sea
on your freckled skin.

You are the quiet hand
that touches me so gently
You are the storm
I am lost in.

e.e. cummings

breathe in, breathe out

My eyes slide open
   and I pause,
      patiently listening
to the dark,
   waiting to learn
      what pulled me
out of sleep
   and into this hushed bedroom
      at midnight.

These used to be my moments
   of fight or flight,
      adrenaline kick starting
as I strained to catch
   a sound invading
      our home,
trampling 
   the peace of mind
      in my blanket cocoon.

Even the buzz of
   a streetlight
      could stop my heart.

All these years later
   it is simply an
      inconvenience,
an hour better left to
   kids out clubbing
      or New Year's Eve.
I quietly breathe
   and focus on the world
      around me.

              - ljh 2/8/17

 

Sunday Snapshot: roaming free

roosterkauai

Kauai, Hawaii

The roosters roam free near Spouting Horn,
ignoring tourists who come to gawk
and take endless pictures
of the ocean.
They peck the ground patiently,
intent on lunch,
oblivious to children's feet
thundering past
with cries of "Careful!"
in the air.
Women open their stalls nearby,
setting up wares
while reckless visitors
lean too far over the fence,
craning their necks to catch
a single glimpse
of water flying
fifty feet high.
They come to see spectacular beauty
but rush right past
the gorgeous creatures
at their feet.

- ljh 2/1/17

nature divided

The tree stands
undecided,
fresh green leaves
gracing the base
while a deep red
stretches,
throwing autumn hues
onto a powder blue
canvas.
We have only days
until our tree
surrenders to the fall
and dons a burgundy robe
before standing bare,
exposed to the elements,
biding its time
until spring returns
to warm its branches.

– ljh  10/26/16

Sunday Snapshot flipped: I see you

livingstatue

I see you.

Still as a mouse

caught in a cat’s gaze,

barely breathing,

as if thinking yourself

out of existence

could protect you from

the pounce.

I see you

watching, waiting,

seeing the world

pass you by

on your perch,

wondering if those hurried steps

would slow even a bit

to witness your

stillness.

I see you.

-ljh  11/6/16