Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sleeping Around

My Grandaughter

She twists and turns in the darkness,
sheets coil and contort in her wake
until I am splayed and drawn, quartered
by the magnetic wires that bind generations,
until the wire threatens to snap and slash
the progeny who is my nemesis.
I reach through night’s dark shroud,
place my palm on her small sweet chest…and breathe.

My Gray-Haired Lover

We rest a matched set of spoons fused
by love and living: shared memories, shared
dreams, shared name. His quiet breath,
a butterfly kiss, tickles my ear until I stretch,
back arching, roll onto my stomach breaking spoon’s seal.
He stirs, turns onto his back in slow motion moan,
He reaches through night’s dark veil,
a work-worn hand cups my buttock….and he sighs.

My Favorite Pooch

His small self presses against the hollow of my back,
fused by with a weld that assures I am not alone.
When midnight blasts of fiesta fireworks rouse,
he circles ’round three times, curls his lean body
into a tight “C” and flops into a heap at my side.
I reach through night’s dark curtain,
touch the tiny rump against my side,
pat three times …and sigh.

My Grandson

He sleeps, perchance to dream of damsels and noble knights.
I lay side-by-side my Celtic youngling, a boy of courage and honor,
suffer the wrath of this small chivalrous knight, resolved to slay
the mythic dragon that snores near his ear. The slap of a gauntlet glove,
a mace to the kidney, a flail to my head! I stir. Pelted half-awake
I hear his battle cry: “Take that you filthy beast!”
I roll to the bed’s edge, reach across night's battle scene,
place my hand on his small, gallant head ….and nod.

My Mother

She sleeps, in tomblike silence in somnolent, silken repose.
We lay together, covered by a cotton quilt, hand-stitched
by her own mother many years ago when she was just a girl.
I awaken to unnatural stillness – night silent as a sepulcher,
no sound from my mute mother: not a whisper, not a sigh ,
nor the small, soft wheeze of breath’s inspiration.
I reach through night’s indigo blanket, gently shake
a boney shoulder until she gulps a small gasped growl…..and I smile.

Alone in My Tree House

I lay, a laggard in a hammock, atop a maple tree,
listen to soft summer sounds hum in harmony.
Leaves, a river floating, swirl into child-deep-sleep,
lulling introspection - thoughts superficial; thoughts profound,
 I dream through green leaf filters, and smile as I recall,
all the many different ones of you with whom …. I’ve slept around.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Be the Sparrow

         One Note Wonder
     The sun had been up for an hour stealing morning’s chill. I had shared a solitude sunrise with a cup of coffee high in a tree, in the tree house built by my husband - complete with a “NO BOYS ALLOWED” sign.
     A lone sparrow lit on an overhead branch, settled himself, and began to sing. Treeeeat! Treeeeat! Treeeat! He chirped - a single monotone song. What he lacked in musical ability, He made up for with enthusiasm -- his song a one-note solo. He didn’t know, or care, if he blended into the other bird’s halleluiah chorus. I found myself carried back some 40-plus years, and chuckled to myself as the slideshow of my mind played out a childhood scene.
     I attended a very small school. Auditions weren’t required for any the choral groups. Every grade had one and no talent or singing ability was necessary. My friends and I signed up the first day – mostly drawn to the idea of a field trip in the spring to compete with other schools in the county in the yearly choral contest. Mrs. A, our music teacher, took these competitions seriously, and puffed up like a proud mother goose when her goslings came home with the trophy.
     Because I have a fairly low voice, I could never reach the high notes. My friend, Patsy and I were designated as the alto section. Patsy easily harmonized with the melody singing sopranos, and she could belt it out like a musical foghorn. I, on the other hand, carried my tuneless pail as quietly as possible, but hid my lack of talent by standing hip to hip with Patsy, and softly following her lead. As long as Patsy stood by me, I was an alto.
     But, when Patsy missed the practice session, I shivered solo; knowing Mrs. A would call attention to my unblending little voice. This morning as I watched my treetop sparrow sing his one-note wonder to the sky, I recalled a reoccurring childhood embarrassment. It happened every time Patsy missed practice, and I was alone “in the alto section.”
     Mrs. A, a gray-haired matron, would pound out the tunes on her piano again and again, molding her songbirds into a flock that could bring home the gold. Wisps of hair disengaged from her topknot bun, as she feverishly strained to hear each of us sing while she played. Her rotund hips spread wide nearly filling the piano bench and she had a large flap of loose skin, where her chin should have been, that warbled when she talked like a big Tom turkey.
     She was stern, but also kind. I’m certain she didn’t intend to embarrass me but, never the less, every time she stopped playing, tapped her baton on the top of the piano and announced to the ceiling, “Girls, girls, there’s someone off in the alto section,” I wished for some magical invisible power that would let me slither between the cracks of the black floor tiles. All my friends would twitter. My cheeks would braise pink and I’d strain to keep the floodgates behind my eyes in closed position. I was the alto section. It was obvious that someone was me!
     It happened over and over again that year - every time Patsy couldn’t make practice. The next year I didn’t sign up for the choral group.
     I haven’t sung for years, although I do hum softly to myself much of the time. But, this morning, as I watched that little sparrow, quite literally out on a limb singing his one-note wonder, I was reminded that song is a celebration of love. Who cares if you sing off key?
     What I do know is that the sun rose this morning and warmed my face, a hush of a breeze kissed my cheeks. The trees were full with the melody, and the harmony, of heartland songbirds. A sparrow perched on an overhead branch and sang as though his tiny heart might burst. What he lacked in talent; he made up for with enthusiasm.
     Be the sparrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


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A long-legged woman stands at the bow of her boat,
face warmed by rising sun. Silver streaks glint in her
light brown hair, sunbeams dance in the morning glow.

Nimble as a dancer she slips over the side,
rising and falling in undulating waves,
she sinks into her kayak.

With a mermaid’s grace she paddles toward the
white sand beach, frosted thick with pink and purple
seashells that stretches to the brink of the world.

She listens to the shells, so deep they tinkle like
a thousand wind chimes with each retreating wave.

She hunts.
She gathers.
She explores
the beach all day
filling a hand woven bag
with bountiful gifts from the sea,
until afternoon’s slanted light warns
soon the setting sun will stoke world’s
edge in a brilliant backdrop of fiery color.

The woman catches the first wave,
the smallest in a cycle of seven,
and smoothly paddles the kayak
toward her anchored sailboat home.

She spreads pink and purple shells
across the bow, admires each shape and hue,
then picks just one, that calls her name,
and slips the others gently over the side
returning them to the sea.

The woman has everything she needs;
and she knows what
she needs is
Written 2006 for my life-long mermaid friend, Janet who has  taught so much about living.   ~ N L Harless

Monday, November 22, 2010

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story catching

live wisely
for remnants
of your story woven today
will linger like a spider’s webbed
gye wires stretched between stanchions
holding the meat of a long dead fly
in slow decay -  caught in her
 sticky trap long after
 you have gone

by nancy harless summer 2007

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The River Rises

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The River Rises Up in the Night.

Wet beads cling to everything metal:
stanchions, guy wires, the bow hook
left leaning against the cockpit door
all glaze in tiny shimmering drops of light.

The river rises up in the night. Towels hung
to dry, now more sodden than the day before.
Her smoky wetness drifts into my bed; I awaken
damp and clammy, taste her earthy scent;slither
from my bunk, glide up the ladder into the shadows.

The river rises up in the night, licks my pajamas
with a cool wet tongue, brushes her fragile fog
through my tangled hair. Vapors permeate my flesh,
diffuse into my soul, swirl beyond the margins of myself.

The river rises up in the night, works her magic
with smoke and mirrors, burns scenes
of mystical madness onto her tree lined banks
until I, and the river, dissolve into one.

River Lights 2nd Edition

River Lights 2nd Edition


Norm's Masterpiece