while sitting in a bar
or was it a restaurant?
yes, and it was Italian
because he was eating the
linguini con vongole

Billy Collins
my favorite poet
you know, the poet laureate
said that death
is the magnetic north of poetry

he said this to me while he was
sipping his Campari and soda
at his table
and i was eating my sandwich
at my table
half a world away

and i took the opportunity to
disagree with him
rather vehemently

if you had asked me a number of
years ago, I would have
told you that fear 
is the magnetic north of poetry

or fast-forward a few years after that
and it would have been
and a few years after that
loneliness or isolation
or a year later, that winter
is the magnetic north of poetry

and i may find myself in agreement
with Mr. Collins a few years hence
maybe five or ten or twenty
who's to say?
i may tip my glass to him
and agree that death
is the magnetic north of poetry

but i can't help but believe that 
right here, right now
in this time and place
in this car
on this couch
in this bed
that the truth is that
is the magnetic north of poetry

up and up and up.

There are days when the words flow freely
     There are days when the well is dry
There are times when I am full of fire
     There are times when I am cold
There are instances of love and grace
     Beautiful sunrises and sunsets
There are instances of disappointment
     Tiny pinpricks of bitter loss

But there has never been a day
     In the past three hundred sixty-five
     When I haven’t known
     Precisely where we stand

Always going
     Always growing
          Always exploring
               Always moving forward

Up and up and up

Able to see the past
     for what it was
Able to dream of the future
     for what it could be
Able to see the now
     for precisely what it is

Alive to the restorative power
     of caring
     of being
     of allowing
     of space
     of time
     of lust
     of love.


I don't recall if I ever told you
     how the sunrise
          reminds me of you

as it breaks through the clouds
     signaling a new start
     signaling a new day
          just as you are
     the start of something wonderful
     the dawning of a new day

as it warms the brisk morning air
     waking the songbirds
     who sing to their lovers
        just as I am
     awakened by beauty
     and seduction, and grace

as it shines into the darkness
     illuminating hidden corners
     returning color to the world
          just as we
     illuminate each other
     one coloring the other

but in this very moment
     as I write these words
          I realize
     that all along
          I have had it wrong

for it is not
     that the sunrise
          reminds me of you

          but rather
     that you are
my sunrise

c’est comme ça.

tu as beaucoup souffert,
     comme nous tous,
et je prends ce que 
     tu as à donner,
gracieusement et 
     avec gratitude.

pleinement conscient que 
     je ne suis pas le seul,
mais plutôt celui 
     en ce moment.

j'ai été à ta place,
     où tu en es dans la vie,
alors, j'accepte pleinement 
     mon rôle dans votre vie 
comme votre rebond.

c'est comme ça.

sentir les roses.

je suis à nouveau 
     sur quelque chose 
          de nouveau
et je me dépêche de le 
          faire fonctionner
     quand je devrais 
          prendre mon temps

Rome n'a pas été 
          en un jour
mais me voilà 
          avec mon marteau 
     et une poignée 
     de clous

j'essaie de construire 
     le Colisée
quand je devrais m'arrêter 
          pour sentir 
          les roses

mais je m'arrête 
     pour penser à ce que 
          tu viens 
          de dire
     et prends-le à cœur

je pas confondre 
          et précipitation

la construction continue 
          à son rythme 
          en son temps
     et je m'arrêterai 
          pour sentir 
          les roses

En aglais (In English):

I'm onto something 
     new again
and I hurry to 
     make it work
when I should 
     take my time

Rome wasn't built 
          in a day
     but here I am 
          with my hammer and 
          a handful of nails

I try to build 
          the Colosseum
when I should stop 
     to smell 
          the roses

but I stop to think about 
          what you just said
and take it to heart

I do not confuse 
     speed and haste
construction continues 
          at its own pace
and I'll stop 
     to smell 
          the roses


          this silence is deafening
     your presence in 
     your absence
the heaviness in the clouds
the whispering in the trees
your name written across the sky

          this silence is awakening
     your absence in
     the present
sunlight just over the hill
illuminates the cold morning
bringing warmth to a new day

          this silence is transformative
     this daybreak in
     the evening
like a thousand voices singing
like a thousand bodies dancing
like a thousand words unspoken

          this silence is transfixed
     time frozen in
     this moment
anticipation of movement
where no movement exists
only stillness, only turmoil

          this silence is burgeoning
     demon unleashed in
     this barren forest
no hope of rescue
no hope of escape
no hope of salvation

          this silence is beginning
     and ending
and beginning again

not wanting to get burned.

to say that I couldn't live
          without you
     is certainly an overstatement
     is definitely crossing a line
     is 100% true

even as I close my eyes
          to sleep
     I know I will wake up to you
     I will feel you and taste you
     and that makes me smile

do I dream of you?
          who's to say?
     it is no one's concern
     it is nobody's business
     but mine, yours, ours

to say that you are my only
          reason for living
     sounds odd, in a way
     but like you and all you are
     it is strangely satisfying

your scent awakens me
          in the morning
     the aroma of you beckoning
     the longing to taste you on my lips
     hands warmed by your very being

and while I am still half asleep
          and groggy
     you are already downstairs
     getting ready for the day
     and you call to me

feeling my way in the morning
     into the kitchen
     following your siren song
     to where I want to be

I can't help but smile
          once again
     you are sitting on the counter
     ready to be taken
     and so I do

reaching out for your warmth
           your beautiful scent
     hitting my nostrils
     my eyes widen
     my mouth waters

your warmth a deception
          for you are burning hot
     and so I very carefully
     tenderly and gingerly
     pour you into my cup

and we sit together on the
          back porch
     watching the dogs play
     listening to the morning birds
     you in my hands, against my chest

and touching you to my lips
          gently blowing
     wanting you in me
     but, as with everything
     not wanting to get burned.

Trending away.

Great minds speak of ideas
          average minds, of events
     small minds, of people and things
But me? I speak
          of the idea of us
     two people
          and what we did
          and what we had

Blatantly ignoring the signs
          I assumed it was me
     and I was wrong
But on the drive home
          that February afternoon
     you asked for forgiveness
          that wasn't mine to give
          I gave it anyway

Trending always away from
          what I thought we meant
     of what it meant to be us
But I was confused
          there was no us
     how could there be?
          there was only me
          there was only you

We played at 'us' as best we could
          never breaking character
     always saving face
But when it was time to leave
          there was always 
      someone else
          waiting for you
          waiting on me

And looking back now on it
          it shouldn't surprise me
     although it always does
But if I had it to do all over
          I know in my soul
     that my heart would be
          yours to break again
          forever and ever

You will always come first
          you will always be the one
     yes, that surprises me, too
But the past does not lie
          nor does it tell the truth
     it just is
          and continues to be
          never changing

Trending always towards
          what I thought we meant
     which was nothing
But I am confused
          and to tell the truth
     you never chose me 
          it was always someone else
          it was always somewhere else

So I should pour another drink
          cheers to us
     and what we never were
But the bottle is empty
          and it's far too late
     for me to brave the cold
          of this Autumn night
          for another drink.

Another Day by Debbie Vandenberg

A good friend of mine, Debbie Vandenberg, shared with me this beautiful poem she wrote this morning as she was enjoying the sunrise from her porch, and has given me her permission to share it with you...
Another Day

Sunset gently waking me
Kissing away the night before
Wiping sadness out of my eyes
Then teasing me
To play some more

I take a sip
I can taste the opportunity
In the warmth
Cup to my mouth
Toying with me
As I hold it in my hands
To make the best of this day
That is all it knows
And this, too, I understand
My clothes hit the floor
I need to be ready in an hour
So the shower takes me in
Washed away
Every ounce of sorrow
Then like a mad man
I let the water go cold
As the shower
Boldly reminds me
It is up to me to decide
Hold on, or let go

My chair wants to be one with me
It is the softest
Space I have
So I bring my legs up from the floor
And relax every muscle that I have
My breath I begin to watch
Breathing in, then I release
A sweet sense of joy surrounds me
My chair shows me how to find peace

It is time now for the mirror
Without the above
I could not face
In there I see lines of wisdom
And eyes that have seen
What it is to find grace

Now I am walking out the door
The world is mine to
I thank the
For waking me,
Cleaning me,
Holding me,
And letting me see the truth
Now I have the power
To face another day.

-Debbie Vandenberg, October 2021
©2021 Debbie Vandenberg 

at sea

and I've battened down all of
     the hatches
and I'm sailing too close to
     the wind
and at times I've been dead
    in the water
and at times I've held fast on
     the right tack

at times I've feel her shot
     across my bow
as it screamed and it tore
     through my decks
and at times I've trimmed
     my sails eastward
in pursuit of the leeway lost
     to the west

a loose cannon that meters
     deep waters
given a wide berth to pummel
     the shoals
three sheets to the wind, maybe
     four, maybe five
in dead water it is always
     sink or swim

and from atop the lofty
     crow's nest
yet again I hear the cry
     of land-ho!
and I trim to the aft
     just to find
the mirage of the sea
     once again

and so by the board
     all at sea
and sailing toward that
     distant horizon
the shimmering sea that
     beckons the brave
and equally the cowards
     like me

the salt air and a sail steady
     is all I can ask
as I search for the source
     of this call
a siren in red who gestures
     from close quarters
as the crow flies it is
     unimaginably far

as the storms whips my sails
     thunder clamps down
and the wind is brutally,
     caustically fierce
but I dare not set sail for
     the safety of home
there is nothing for me
     in that lonely port

better to batten down all of
     the hatches
better to sail too close to
     the wind
and ignore what it is that
     I am becoming
ignoring what I might
     have been


I remain a prisoner
     my own jailer
trapped in a tapestry of
     my own tastes and
          my own desires and
               my own self
a self that doesn't exist

I have freedom, to be sure
     free to act how I wish
     free from constraints
     free to think 
          to act
               to believe
but I am still a prisoner

and left to my own devices
     my own preconceived
view of right and wrong
     of good and bad
     of black and white
     of shades of gray
I remain imprisoned

victim of my own thoughts
     my own fears
          my own dreams
prisoner to my own view
     absent of clarity
     absent of context
chained to my day

while freedom is just a
     breath away
I reject the notion that
     I can just let go
as hard as I try, my
     attempts end in vain
and move forward

for even in the letting go
     there is expectation
     that does not dissipate
it eats at the fringes of
     my restful mind
     questioning all
doubting everything

never reaching that
     blissful, settled state
that promises relief from
busy, monkey-mind
won't release its grip
on the banana

whirling around in circles
on to the next stop
     when this one is
always starting
never finishing.


awaken to the sound
     the gentle swell and release
of the ocean just outside
     my window
of the ocean just inside
     my phone

smell the coffee brewing
     thank god for timers
the scent of vanilla
     wafting up the stairs
the scent of cinnamon
     filling the house

log in and grimace
     so much to do
take a deep breath
     but the stress remains
shut the laptop
     drink the coffee

randomly chosen mug
     I watch the words
resolve to a sentence
     and I think
me too, mug, me too -
     I'm definitely 
           going back 
               to bed
                    after this.