Comments Posted By Paul Woodruff

Displaying 1 To 30 Of 72 Comments

The word: Circuitous

Cycling

The route from ground to saddle
And from saddle to ground
Is circuitous. But, once begun,
Not optional. What goes up
Comes down, in time, one way
Or another.

Mail, however,
If correctly addressed and adequately
Stamped is rarely returned.

How you come
To ground is matter for choice,
Most times. Head first is not
Recommended. Feet are best
But if you cannot find them,
Try your buttocks. If they fail
Your shoulder will do in a pinch,
Though a painful one.

Rising higher
And higher without return
Is an ideal hard to achieve
In practice, but you can always
Hope your address is correct,
And you carry the approved postage.

» Posted By paul woodruff On May 13, 2017 @ 3:20 pm

The word: Crepuscular

Frolic till the Shadows

Crepuscular creatures come out to play
In the soft light that grows at break of day
And again in the evening as the sun goes dim
We frolic till the shadows of night close in.

Our time is short between day and night
We must love as we can in the waning light,
And think as we can with shadows in our minds:
It is only to enliven us that Death sends signs.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On April 25, 2017 @ 7:28 pm

The word: Happy

The Good Life

I float like a gamma ray
Through a crystalline structure
Of traffic down the avenue
On my bike. The gate is nothing
For me. It opens wide.

A Marine takes my helmet
Another my bike at the portico
Go right in sir. He’s been asking
For you all day. I burrow
In my pack for a shirt. I have
Been aswim in the warm air.

No need sir. But I’ll be cold
I say. My T-shirt reads
Oedipus Tex, a favorite, only
Slightly torn. The lady coming out
As I go in recognizes me
Which is a surprise. I dress
Better going to Buck House.

An intern hands me a sheaf
Of paper. Too hot for email
She says, sleek as a model
In stiletto heels and a sheath
Dress tight to her figure.

Sorry to be late sir I say
The rehearsal ran way overtime
At the Kennedy Center.
I understand he says. Do they
Understand your play?

They do now, I say. That’s
Why it took so long. Broadway
Was easier. Give me a mo
While I read this. He drums
On his desk.

Here’s what
You do I say. You can sell
Anything. Why not sell
Compassion? Good idea
He says. The intern takes
Notes and flirts with me.
We are ogling each other’s
Legs, which are bare. He
Does not notice. You’ve
Saved my bacon once again
He says. No problem
I say always happy to help.

The Marines salute as I
Take off the OT shirt and mount
My bike. A gamma ray again,
I float through crystal.
Life is good I say. Life is good.

» Posted By paul woodruff On April 3, 2017 @ 12:18 pm

The word: Fantasy

Fear or Ragged Cutting

A dream of dull dado heads
Haunts my night: the blades
Cutting too rough a groove
To suit my fantasy of seals
Of splines to dados holding all
Parts together of my pedestal.
Will the table I am making stand?
Will the rough men now in DC-land
Cut smooth or ragged deals?
Will my dreams of peace and progress prove
No more than fantasy? Beds
Of fragrant roses dying as night fades?

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On February 14, 2017 @ 9:31 pm

The word: Electric

Homage

After the first pulse
The electric whales
Moved up and down
In the narrow depths
Synchronously.

Their passengers,
Dining on red tablecloths,
Swapped hot stories
Of blistered paint
And tawny mornings.

Seeing this,
The savage tympani
Along the banks
Fell silent
In holy dread,

While the clockwork
Mermaids, decorously
Ticking down upon
The hastily scattering
Rocks, laughed.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On January 20, 2017 @ 12:12 am

The word: Adventure

Discovery

The nights are cold now
Outside, green ferns
Turn brown and brittle. Time
Marches, blasts beauties,
Desiccates the mind.

Inside, a child finds
Pebbles on the floor
And a little time to have
A small adventure
Of discovery.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On January 8, 2017 @ 10:41 am

The word: Eudemonic

After Conquest

The old man advises
A conquered people: Think
One eudemonic thought
At break of day
Or as your head falls
On your pillow:
A blessing, a memory
Of comfort
Or a phrase of music.

Murmur of grandmother’s voice,
Brightly painted breakfast nook,
Fragrance of ripe-cup cantaloupe,
Faint remembrance of stove gas,
Grandfather’s deep-voiced silences.

Sarabande of Bach launched
From a dotted figure
Leading to a chord, ends
With a fall of two octaves,
The lowest sad, promising,
Note, after a deep breath.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On December 14, 2016 @ 9:59 am

The word: Relevant

The Loving Eye

The little blue heron shadowed in the tree—
Snowy egrets there in plain sight, now dusk
Settles wind and everything but fruit bats
Awakening for their nocturnal hunt—

How may I see them relevant to me
And to each other? A conquered nation waits
For its new overlord’s commands, but the moon,
The totally relevant moon, rises before dawn.

As you to me, we cast the gift of relevance,
Gathering light, always (we hope), the loving eye.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On November 29, 2016 @ 9:32 am

The word: Frenetic

Summoning Peace

The unhurried cellist dwells on a cresc
-endo, bow lying almost still, long
On the quivering string: we hold our breath
One breath in a thousand beating chests.

Between me and the hospital bed where you
Toss, wanting but not wanting your release,
Cars kettle like rising hawks in the gyres,
The frenetic gyres of parking garages. Hear me:

The brown fisherman’s still line stands
Upright in unmoved waters. Look across:
A horde of great white egrets in dark trees,
Flightless till the pearls of dawn fall, waits.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On November 13, 2016 @ 8:17 pm

The word: Shame

Let Wonder

Let wonder rhyme
With shame and the eye
Turn outward, forget it
Self and rhyme with awe:
Try to know what
Has no center (not me)
Anyway), fame or infame.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On November 2, 2016 @ 6:59 am

The word: Space

Emend my last line to read: “To learn younger trees by heart.”

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On October 25, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

Awakenings

Rot in the white birch
Brings it down like an aging
Memory, clearing space
For awakenings of green
On the forest floor
Drenched now with new
Light, teeming with the urge
To learn younger trees.

» Posted By paul woodruff On October 25, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

The word: Starlight

Was Starlight Enough?

The blanket of darkness,
Before it bleeds out of the sky
At dawn, should be safe
For every living thing.

The stars point us the right
Way but do not show us
Predators our Prey.
Unless we amplify
Star power.
Was starlight enough
To know that the blurred figures
Lurching toward us in the eyepiece
Of our stolen starlight scope
Were to be killed?

The scope magnified every photon
In green till we thought we could see
What was what, in 1970
In Cambodia, where we were not
Supposed to be at all.

Who were these runners?
And who were we by starlight?
How much light must I have
(Or make) to see the truth
Of life or enmity or love?

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On October 15, 2016 @ 8:00 am

The word(s): Carpe Diem

Harvest Season

The harvest of days?
They are all taken, all,
In the harvest of hours.

Golden flowers fall
In still waters, float
Like reflections, drift

Like unmanned boats
Beneath sky-pointing brothers
Calling bees to pollinate.

None stay. Those others
Taken to a vase, will waste
Away. Few are truly seen

Or felt or smelled or tasted,
Carpe diem? No. Taste each long.
Let its tart sweetness
Linger on your tongue.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On October 8, 2016 @ 10:39 am

The word: Happiness

Where to Play

For R.R. McD.

A certain activity of the soul
Is happiness (the philosopher said),
So do not let it idle too long
In heavy traffic. Avoid red lights,
TV, political conversations.

My soul or yours tonight?
You’ve been busy in mine
Ever since the evening you
Sent us a loving text and died.
Now I wish to visit yours.

When do you have an opening
For active souls? I am free in ‘96
And would love to meet you there,
Or ‘99. Whenever. Happiness
(He said) is a certain activity of the soul.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On September 18, 2016 @ 9:20 am

The word: Legendary

The Nameless

We have too few myths
To go around. The rain
Lilies leap and bloom
After each storm, month
After month, indefatigable.
Look! They fill this triangle
Between 35th and 38th Streets,
And more, more. They are as many
And as nameless as the dead
(Those who knew their names
Are also dead, in Aleppo or Sudan.)
Hyacinth and Narcissus will not be
Forgotten. Legendary boys
Live on as flowers, but these
Nameless dead have no
Future as legend. No poet
Has the power to make them so.
The lilies, beyond count, rise
And fall, cast seeds, and go
Nameless into oblivion.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On August 22, 2016 @ 10:36 am

The word: Close

Sanctuary

These I can open, as I wish, or close:
This window for a breeze or wind-drift rain
(The shutters in my little writing house,
Which has no glass), the valve of my garden hose
When plants droop thirsty or rise well-slaked,
The covers of the bed where we have lain,
The trap-jaws for an unsuspecting mouse,
The oven door for when my pie is baked

(Which will not feed this mouse today). My mind
When I hear things I’d rather not be told,
And when refugees are desperate, my soul.
Sometimes open, sometimes closed is kind.
Knowing how and when to love’s the art
Of closing well or opening my heart.

Readers on this site might like to look at Yehudi Amichai’s last great work, Open, Closed,Open.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On August 5, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

The word: Jug

Life Not Still

Round table top canted on taut
White canvas, pencil limns a bowl
Of fresh-picked loquats, some with leaves
Green beside pale yellow ovals
Nestling in pottery now blue.
To the right, further back, a large jug
With one handle and a lip
For pouring, the color of red earth,
Its mother. The wall behind is lavender.
A tint of cherries gives the lemonade
A pinkish cast, while the hand is black
That tries to insert a clean, transparent glass
And fill it with sweet tart lemonade
But cannot break the boundary of this art.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On August 1, 2016 @ 9:31 am

The word: Ephemeral

The Multiplication of Moons

If you know how to summon a wind
On the night of a full moon, you can
Put a moon on every wave. Beyond
Counting they dance across the waters.

So it is with the sun, if you wash
White sheets and pillowcases, set
Them capering on the line, each fold
To capture a sun, flash sun on sun.

Ephemera and epinuktia like these
Call for a welcoming eye, and unstint-
Ing soul. With what generosity of dreams
Are you pregnant now, unknowing?

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On July 25, 2016 @ 12:32 pm

The word: Vacation

The Corruption of Food

Please don’t wake the lion
In the living room. He’s on
Vacation from the coliseum

His doctor told him to pull
Back from work—too full
Of salt and bad cholesterol

To say nothing of anger and fear.
Today’s Christians aren’t what they were.
He longs for the days of pure

Nutritious martyrs and the young
Energy of a new church, feeling
Now that he does not belong

In the world that he has aged
Into. He’s old enough to be a lion sage
But all he knows has fallen off the page.

Talk gentle to the lion
In the living room. He’s on
Trial retirement: call it ‘va-ka-shion.’

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On June 21, 2016 @ 6:14 am

The word: Condolence

Elizabeth’s poem is so lovely I hardly dared write. But here goes:

The Comfort of Fog

Waking to fog after a long night’s sleep
And dreams of the last bright day,
Waking to the silence after I have heard
And seen and remembered more than
I could carry, I discover the comfort of fog,
The need for forgiveness gently softened
And for condolence, by a respite to all
The senses, the deep quietness of morning
At sea.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On June 5, 2016 @ 10:45 am

The word: Mental Health

Homage

After the first pulse
The electric whales
Moved up and down
In the narrow depths
Synchronously.

Their passengers,
Dining on red tablecloths,
Swapped hot stories
Of blistered paint
And tawny mornings.

Seeing this,
The savage tympani
Along the banks
Fell silent
In holy dread,

While the clockwork
Mermaids, decorously
Ticking down upon
The hastily scattering
Rocks, laughed.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On January 20, 2017 @ 12:10 am

The word: Future

The Young Runners

The young runners stream
(Bare-backed—how clean
They look, in light rain!)
Past me. But they’ll not gain
One minute of plodding time
On feet nimbler than mine.
(The future comes at the same pace
For us all.) This is no race
To see who gets to Tuesday first;
It waits for us both. But the worse
For me: I stranger every day,
They more and more at home.
Time past is my domain;
They make the time to come their own.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On April 20, 2016 @ 7:00 pm

The word: Sunshine

PTSD Session at the VA

They taught me weapons, but I never fought;
I was only a cook, so I told my kids.
But cover my head with a broad-brimmed hat
If I must go out (the veteran said):
The sunshine is clean but I am not.

Those bar girls, to me, were never hot;
I was never there when the whore’s hand
Trickled up my thigh and she asked for a drink.
But draw the blinds (the veteran said):
The sunshine is pure and I am not.

I never heard it when the mother caught
A bullet and the small child wailed.
I never saw blood pooling beneath
My friend’s stretcher on the Huey’s deck.
The sunshine is true and I am not.

The land holds judgment but the sea does not:
That sobbing old woman they detained,
All those sad-eyed prisoners—I never saw a one.
But keep me afloat, far from the land,
Sail me under the darkest clouds.

I must not be touched by a thing so fine:
The sunlight falls straight, but I do not.

(In Euripides’ Heracles Furens, Heracles covers his head so as not to pollute the sun by contact with him, after what he has done.) April 11, 2016

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On April 11, 2016 @ 9:21 pm

The word: Apoplectic

All Night Summer Ball by the River Isis

We delay kissing till the last strain
Of the last slow dance: there will be
No place to go after, till light prinks
Darkness at dawn: then racing clouds
Will cover us in the boat where at last
Stroking can begin—first into the flow’
Of the pewter river, then, paddles resting,
The softness of you, after the ball, and me,
Hard in my starched white shirt and black tie.

But the brightening sky will be apoplectic,
Strokes will flash around us, drive us to shore,
Where lightening might not strike,
Or so we will hope, giddily, already struck.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On April 3, 2016 @ 9:19 pm

The word: Heart

When an Emoji is Not Enough

If I had the heart I would send it to you—
The real thing, of course, not an image,
A duplicate, compressed for transmission,
Programmed to decompress and beat
Its way out of your I-phone ready to pump
Red, oxygen-rich love to you on arrival.

I would send you this, if I had the heart.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On April 3, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

The word: Fambambulous

Resisting the Call

Not to fall asleep to thundering lullabies
Or even fambambulous pianissimos
Of a breeze at dawn, this is what
The pulse of life, beating on, demands.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On March 6, 2016 @ 7:28 am

The word: Ryba

Learn Something Every Day

I am lying naked on a mat
In an empty warehouse
Trying to button up a shirt
I do not have. I wonder:
If buttons grew on me
By nature, would they be
Like scales on a fish?

The security guard in a sleek
Brown uniform strides by.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Ryba,” I say, squirming.
“It’s Russian for fish.”

2/22/16

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On February 22, 2016 @ 7:38 am

The word: Water

Let me add how much I enjoyed Patty Crane’s poem.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On February 15, 2016 @ 7:25 pm

Unnatural Grief

Nothing weeps.
Waves crash,
Spray rises
And falls,
But never tears.
Wings beat,
Bufflehead
Take to the sky
Leaving tiny prisms
To catch the sun.
Trees let
The heavy dew
Down on me,
But nothing weeps:
The tracks
On my dry cheeks
Are only water.

» Posted By Paul Woodruff On February 15, 2016 @ 7:22 pm

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