Dainty Demons

Soft, lush memories scream to life
Sleep a mellow cradle to their rebirth
Scars of joy so deep few would understand
Beauty and love and freedom and sentiment as pain.

Looking glass recollections delivered to the heart’s front door
Never reminded of what we were looking for
Joys and smiles and camaraderie bare
Life’s story splayed naked, diamond needle of playback deep in the soul’s grooves…

Wanton dreams of emotions and women
Traversing the white-water thrills from imagination’s core
Ghosts now. Undefined. General. Wisps of recollections.
Faded as the sun-stained remnants of decades passed into oblivion

Of games and thrills and timeless joy
No times ever recapture the life of the boy
Baseballs, hoops and rivers to swim
Age never dreamt to chase and catch him…

He lived in our house
He walked in my fears
He ruined too much of my manhood
With his follies and fears…

Last of days
Last of life
Disenfranchised children and wife
We strolled the day
We slinked the night
We stand unable to distinguish wrong from right

IRippled blue pool coddling many swimmers
No one racing, everyone winners
Summer days pass like the most pleasnt breeze
No one to worry you, no one to please

Wonder touches our hearts and our minds
Each though each sight, each touch each smell, each sound
Wait patient four our attention to slow and relax
Yet we go, go go go go go go

Your breath
Just now
Special
Another moment of life
Another chance
Speak its name
Acknowledge its power
Allow it to roll through your softened hear
Live
Now

What follows is writing inspiring poetry and vis versa. The poem above was contrived from the text below. Why? Why does any writer write anything? The simple answer is “because.” Because a dream woke me one night. Because the compulsion to write gnaws at me day and night. I love writing. Writing is my peace. My refuge. My joy. My sorrow. I copied each stanza from the paragraphs below and combined them into one unit. I hope there is something in this for you…

Awakened at five o’clock in the morning, ten hours past London midnight (for those who may be interested) my emotional throat lay bare and constricted by memory’s powerful, demanding hands, both of which felt destined to wring all the tears from my preteen and early teen experiences at the “police pool” as we called it. Long chiseled into my psyche that incredible experiences deliver pain as well as the evil happenings in life, I chose not to breathe and allowed the hands to focus my attention on those incredible summer days.

Looking glass recollections delivered to the heart’s front door
Never reminded of what we were looking for
Joys and smiles and camaraderie bare
Life’s story splayed naked, diamond needle of playback deep in the soul’s grooves…

JB. Me. The “police pool” named so because it was funded by the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) of which my father was a member, he being a police officer. The pool itself was nothing too spectacular. I learned to swim there as a young boy. There was the “deep end” with the two diving boards – one a spring loaded “low board” that regardless of its name, intimidated me with its height over the water. The “high dive” stood as diving’s Everest in my eyes, just as fearful and loaded with potential death as the mountain itself.

There was the concession stand, a magical place for a kid if he had some money. No eating in the pool area, but picnic tables and “The Deck” were surreal slices of escape for the tongue and eyes. Chocolate Black Cows or stringy taffy, Milk Duds and other childhood delights slipped hand in glove with preteen, ravenous eyes scouring girls in bikinis.

The Deck was located on the roof of the concession stand/changing rooms, a long, rectangular flat area peppered with young women working their tans. Most lay face down with the straps of their bikini tops tantalizingly draped careless by their sides. We filled our eyes with what squished underneath them, imaginations wild and begging in silence. Even the music, which was current to the times, fell in step with this favorite focus of our day. “I’m a Girl Watcher” played from the speakers strategically placed around the pool and deck area at a volume easily able to overcome the noise of children squealing and people talking.

Wanton dreams of emotions and women
Traversing the white-water thrills from imagination’s core
Ghosts now. Undefined. General. Wisps of recollections.
Faded as the sun-stained remnants of decades passed into oblivion

“What are you doing?” I queried JB as he sat on a bench staring underneath the high dive.
“I’m checking out a BT.”
“BT?”
“Yeah. Big Titties. She’s right over there,” he pointed, “and when she bends over, you can see nipple!”

Yes, call it base. Call it many things. But this was a time of growing and learning and exploring and many other young experiences. We created different code names from that point on. BT always got attention when one of us uttered the magic letters.

Of games and thrills and timeless joy
No times ever recapture the life of the boy
Baseballs, hoops and rivers to swim
Age never dreamt to chase and catch him…

The pool felt great, with its lure of water, girls (we did not think of them as women or even young women) and challenges as to who could seim further, faster, longer under water. Yet, there were other thrills like the ever dangerous, life and limb-threatening merry-go-round. We would whirl that sucker to near the speed of light. I’m amazed no one died or suffered life-altering injuries. We knew we were on the edge. The edge of life and death. This did not matter. We lived to be young. The thrill ran our veins like electricity through high conductive metal. No stopping us. No parental pleading for our safety could slow our brushes with fate.

He lived in our house
He walked in my fears
He ruined too much of my manhood
With his follies and fears…

In later years, they built an indoor basketball court. I discovered it one day at the Policeman’s Annual Picnic. No one was there. Just me, a basketball and a nice, fresh court. As I shot, my father walked in. My first reaction was that he would chase me out. I was in seventh grade and had made the junior varsity basketball team. To my surprise, he grabbed on of my rebounds and actually shot the ball.

Not just any lame, clumsy sort of shot, but one which spoke of knowledge and experience on the court. Up until this point, he had not paid much attention to my basketball exploits, nor had he acknowledged my passion for the game. But this one day stands as a pinnacle or a deep dark well, depending upon my ability to focus on the positive or negative. It would be the only time he would show interest in my love of sports.

I don’t mean talking sports, I mean actively participating. I do cherish that short period of time that day, but mostly, I am saddened by the father who could not bond with his only son. Many years of sadness and separation followed us like ominous storm clouds that would not veer away.

Last of days
Last of life
Disenfranchised children and wife
We strolled the day
We slinked the night
We stand unable to distinguish wrong from right

The Police Pool, despite the close association with my father, is a joy I count in my life. I am glad he shared this with us. I am glad he shared that one day with me. I suppose, in the sparsity of days, this one day has become incredibly memorable and etched into my heart.

Rippled blue pool coddling many swimmers
No one racing, everyone winners
Summer days pass like the most pleasant breeze
No one to worry you, no one to please

Wonder touches our hearts and our minds
Each though each sight, each touch each smell, each sound
Wait patient four our attention to slow and relax
Yet we go, go go go go go go

Your breath
Just now
Special
Another moment of life
Another chance
Speak its name
Acknowledge its power
Allow it to roll through your softened hear
Live
Now

Epilogue

Now that I’m at the end of this lengthy post, my original thought was to call attention to the pains of joy and happiness and glee. Make no mistake. All of these positive, wonderful experiences possess levels of pain. Sweet pain. Dainty Demons.

Memory calls them to the fore at time. I miss and long for the joys and happinesses and glees of days gone by. That kiss with Vicky where I felt, at a minimum, the entire galaxy coalesce into ecstatic wonder. The thrill of one dance, one song, with Dawna in 7th grade. Incredible smells and sights of youth like hot dogs on a campfire or dew glistening on morning grasses.

The pangs of loss, not of memory, but the loss of feeling that original intensity. Not so much the loss, but the TRUTH that Vicky’s kiss will never ride my lips and entire nervous system through the universe again. While dew remains pretty and a minor joy, back then the water droplets barely restrained magic bursting from their precarious and bulbous grasp of a blade of grass.

Stephen King said, “All you need to be a writer is the ability to remember every scar.” I would add that those scars may be positive as well as negative. Beautiful scars pepper my life. Each one a treasured memory. Many of them I rediscover when something triggers a long-lost beautiful experience. Writing about negativity is easy. I do this all the time. Writing about the positive scars, those incredible memories which breathe life into words like melancholy, reverie, and hopeless romantic, should become part of every writer’s repertoire.

Or not. I hope my writing captures the good and the bad. The grays and the yellows as well as the black and whites. Some darkness is good. Healing. Like midnight moons and love through heart-revealing words. Some light is damaging like sunburns and mistake revelations to the world. All deserve our attention. All comprise their space in life.

The Self-Masturbating Poet

It’s a shame some of my posts still hang out in “Draft” land. I stumbled across this one today. The story behind this post is as follows. I received a text one day (while leading a large writer’s group meeting) from a clergyman I’d decided to part ways with, along with the church he led. I’d been writing for a while under the freeing concept that writing one’s personal truth owns far more power than writing what others say one SHOULD write. Censorship comes in many forms. I’d grown weary of the portending avalanche of backlash and criticism if I chose to write my truth, the way in which I see, hear, taste, smell, and feel this world.

I’d also confided in a number of writer confidants my perception that if I wrote my personal truths, I would suffer the backlash of people who may observe this world differently. As I proceeded with the “writing from the heart” style, I noted that what I received rather than backlash, were ‘thank you’s’ for mustering the courage to write my truth.

Then, this fateful day at my writer’s group, the following “backlash” stormed my way. In the end, the attack was nothing more than a “tempest in a teacup” full of sound and fury, truly signifying nothing other than an end to holding back on my views of life. What follows is the original post written in July, 2012:

July, 2012

Isn’t it interesting what writing straight from your heart can elicit from others. A reader of my blog messaged me that, among other observations, he sees my writing on this site as “Your self serving, self glorifying and self masturbating (personal note: this ridiculous phrase is redundant…) word games are nothing more than clear evidence that you are moving farther and further into the darkness of a terribly self and family destroying solitude that is little different from merely wasting away again in your own tawdry version of Margaritaville.” 

(My father was an alcoholic. I’ve hardly ever touched the stuff, and I’ve never been drunk a day in my life. No matter the stretch, I do understand his poor attempt at analogy…)

I find even more interesting a later statement that “Your words reveal you. I have been reading them. They reveal a self- absorbed, angry, bitter man who is choosing every way and word except the words and ways of the one he professes to be his Savior to advance the issues of your life.”

The fact that the words I write so aptly “reveal” what is happening in my heart and my life IS the point. The understated accusation is that I am unaware that I’ve exposed these things to the world like some crouching, sneaky child trying to cover over his missteps.

I committed, some time ago, to write this blog real. It comes to you, the reader, unedited and straight off my views and emotional experiences. That I have a good bit of strife in my life and I have been surrounded by toxicity for decades AND the fact I write about it, is not self-serving, self-glorifying, or even self-masturbating (despite the ridiculous redundancy in this last adjective attack), but more a bold step into the world with the possibility to help others in the same state or similar issues.

Oh yes, I do not go shoving religious paradigms and belief systems off on my readers. I don’t ‘toe the company line’ on religion at all. The Sin Police are everywhere in organized religion. Last I saw, the only being capable of judging my faith, or lack thereof, is somewhat above the human plane.

Ultimately, the attempt at scathing criticism of my writing here validates the underbelly I’d been observing in the church for years. Truth, outside their blinders-laden doctrine, is not something they care to address. They flee an intelligent and deep observation of life like someone working to convince a mathematician that 1 + 1 = 3. If the pains and sorrows of this life do not meet their doctrine-driven criteria, there is nothing but scurrilous rhetoric pushing forth from their control-oriented mouthpiece. Give me a world where I possess the ability to observe and feel life as it is rather than tunneling underground to avoid backlash for thinking outside their closeted box. 

Today

As is my custom on this site, since this remains a poetry site, I now am required to conjure a poem. I must admit, this one is a bit difficult.

So Many Voices

They whisper fear
Fear the air
Fear the water
Fear your food
Fear what matters

They scream fear
Fear the weather
Fear your health
Fear your mind
Fear your wealth

Passive aggressive control in every broadcast
Manipulation of emotion and mind in every broadcast
Blatant restriction of basic freedoms in every edict
Ridiculous destruction of history and that which would condemn them…

…TRUTH

So many voices clamor for your ears
So many voices throughout the years
So many voices assault everything you once knew was right
So many voices block your life’s path and sight

So many voices with no ears to listen
So many voices need no ears to listen
So many voices desire only one action
So many voices demand capitulation

Truth will never be the dominate voice in this world
When the “world” speaks a “truth” BEWARE
TRUTH lies outside the people/entities/governments in control
TRUTH makes itself known to those who see through the rhetoric

So many voices but the one needed most.

Your own.

TRUTH will never TRULY ride the propaganda machines

Moments of Now

Fleeting moments in hallowed hills
Breakfast under the sun on a rotting picnic table
Dogwood blossoms flying spring breezes
Fresh air surging through awakening lives
The glint of sunshine off her hair

Happiness now a daily experience
Every little nuance of life a joy
No dream approaches the connections
Right time. Right purpose. Right person
Love given and received without fetters or fears

Beauty which all the senses breathe in
Peace
Comfort
Friend
Lover

The whole of life to surround us
We own the moments of now.

Giver of Life

Giver of Life

Full moon shadows dance in dark delight
Serene morning smiles feel so good that they hurt
Soft kisses crafted in earth’s heaven
Far less gentle and full of passion than in the heart

Midnight stars grin universal happiness
Rustled leaves giggle with glee
Laughter timbered in the voice free and frivolous
Far less hearty and relaxed than in the soul

Peaceful strolls through mutual minds
Hopeful sighs for glorious tomorrows
A future on the horizon
Far less amazing than the mind’s knowledge of the reality…

Any Less

So this is writing in my current reality. 4:00 am. Do not read one iota of negativity here. This is my happy time. Those moments of creativity whirling off the cusp of sleep, the words and concepts of my heart and mind in their most pristine moments, sail through my fingertips as sanity-grabs and emotion-release-benevolent demons. I am, at this moment, in my true element.

I do aspire to pick up my many book projects while writing at this hour. This hour is midnight in MY heart. That time to release, regain, and reveal. That time when I am most allowed to be myself in all my turmoil, joy, and dreams. For this first foray, however, I must give a nod to this site. I may not write here each morning, because I do have mountains to write and depths to explore. But this day, I begin with something weighing on my heart, not in a heavy fashion, but a loving one.

Kindred: having the same belief, attitude, or feeling. We talk and write of “kindred spirits” and “soul mates.” While somewhat rare in life, these terms describe something – a relationship – in order to attempt to explain a bond. These terms pale and fade to a light mist when life gifts you a truly incredible person in your life. This is midnight in my heart, as stated above…

Any Less

For all the years of heart-tears and support
…The connection of souls
…the lacing of connection
…gifts of the heart

For all the pain shared, relieved, mended and understood
…The affirmations
…the risks of sharing the soul
…your midnight muse

For all the comfort and motivation and acclamation
…The tender renderings of emotion
…the manner of communicating your heart
…selfless giving

For all the universe and the next breath you draw
…Nothing could ever taint us
…nothing could ever fade your surrealistic touch
…nor ever cause this heart to think anything less than Keats’ Urn which truly pales…

…to anything less than who we know us to be…

Creative Canoodling

Was it the year? Was it the intensity of work? Was it my loneliness?

While 2020 crapped out most people’s lives, mine meandered along quite well. Work increased in responsibility and stress, but the experience was nothing I hadn’t seen before. Loneliness has strolled with me much of my life. We tend to walk hand in hand, despite many people around me who would never know how alone I often feel.

The questions address my productivity level. I’ve been on a sabbatical from coaching book-writing and publishing, even though I’ve taken on a number of publishing jobs. My reduction in writing is no reflection on my desire to write. More so, the reduction is a buildup to a more concentrated focus on my writing. Coaching drained me and led me away from my own work. I count this sabbatical time as a “recovery” of sorts. I over-deliver with clients which leaves me with little for myself.

I have at least seven book projects in various stages of completion. Three books written but not edited, one ready to go, and at least three in progress. Maybe five. I need to check… I only write this because there may be someone out there in the same situation – your creative work suffers because you give too much of yourself to others.

2020 did not help, in that I did not have any “extra” time. I worked full time all year. No time off. When you coach or teach others, especially when you own a passion for this type of work, you can get into a creative backlog (I avoid the word block because writer’s block is poppycock). There come a tendency to dam up your own work while you help others.

I now live on the cusp of a new dawn of creativity. My stalwart determination to concentrate on my writing begins to pay dividends. My passion and desire to write has never been more compelling. While I’ve written a bit less, the quality of my writing has increased. Honorable Mention and a Third Place ($200! Yee haw!!!) finish in the quarterly “24 Hour Short Story Contest” brought this home to me.

Please do not confuse this “new” elation as something related to the calendar. I have no resolutions. The timing comes more from the reduction of work stress, and hours, now that the holidays wind down. I may now hit the keyboard bricks with more emphasis and intensity.

It does not hurt that I met someone, literally halfway around the world, who brings something for which I’ve longed my whole life – companionship. We will see how this reflects in my creative works. I don’t believe I will write much on this site about us. Suffice it to say, I have never been happier on a daily basis than these past six months.

Today, while working quite diligently, a thought about a character to add to my work-in-progress-dark-humor-book made me laugh out loud. I mean, seriously, a near guffaw! I quickly scanned the room to make sure no one heard me. I’m sure I sounded like a lunatic. The character and the scene which popped into my head were hilarious! I love it when these creative moments creep up and slap the snot out of you! I’m still snickering a bit.

I have the final advance-read of my poetry book, “Ayesha’s Song” under way. I plan to get this book out in January. Likely, early January. The book is only four years overdue. I believe I finally set it right by taking out a ton of unnecessary gibberish. I’m allowing the poetry and Ayesha’s commentary to carry the book.

If you’ve read this far, I’m impressed I’ve not bored you too much. I simply needed to get behind the keyboard with my old off-the-cuff writing. More like off-the-fingers writing, eh? Topic for a poem? How about the resplendent beauty of melancholy whispering a gentle “come hither” to my creative passions? I’ve not thought of anything to write, but that last sentence will do quite nicely…

Creative Canoodle

She stirred
My soul
She whisked about the evening like an ethereal being
I simply gazed through her

She crooked a forefinger my direction
I cocked my creative head
She slowly writhed her stunning body – sultry – sensual – sexy
I stirred inside

She dissipated into mist
I scanned the empty space she left behind
She reappeared directly in front of me, undulating in achingly slow invitation
I rose

She slipped a chiffon, gentle hand in mine
I thrilled to her touch
She rotated us into motion
I joined

We whirled through the creativity of chaos
We struck a mark
We waltzed the cosmos together, connected, free, in harmony
We stirred everything imaginable

I awoke with the retraction of fingertips from keyboard
I realized she will always be mine
She that stirs my soul
She the creative spoon who renders me life
My confidante
My lover
My lovely muse

 

Interesting serendipity moment. I decided about halfway through the poem to make the title something with the word “spoon” in it. I decided to look up synonyms for “spoon” in the off chance such a utensil has another label. What I found was embrace, canoodle, and other synonyms like “make out” and caress.

How appropriate! For me, writing is just so – making out with my literary muse. Canoodling with her. Caressing her. Or is it she doing such to me? Does it really matter? I enjoyed this. I am back. I am happy.

Someone Who’ll Believe

Someone Who’ll Believe

Is this so very difficult?
Is the question some kind of joke?
Does the thought elicit derision
Am I some ignorant bloke?

My dreams this night do haunt me
Like the ghosts from Christmases past
Spirits of those whom I’ve loved the most
Wrapped together as loves which did not last

Each sat enjoying laughter
At a table and my expense
Blood rushed cheeks delivered flight to feet
Unwilling to hope for suspense

In my mind I admit some amusements
As I studied the four who smirked
Yet sadness crawled through my darkening heart
I realized I’d become irked

If any one of the three had but simply believed
If any one had but tried
They would have felt the pain I know
They would realize why I cry

“Why three?” the astute mind may query
Rightfully so, I’d say
Four women lounged and laughed at me
In this dream before the day

The fourth embodied the woman I love
Ok, the one in my heart in this moment
She the light and the hope for my life
Assistance from this lifelong torment

The three, I realized, did not mean harm
I realized the love I still held
Despite their inability to see themselves
Their love had been the ones shelved

For I cannot in this life of mine
Set away love for conveniences sake
Love haunts and nurtures my broken dreams
Each of the three attempted to take

All I search for is the woman who believes
Who knows that love will prevail
She believes our love will carry our world
Our love, together, sets sail

I cannot hold but my end of the bargain
A love so immense time will never relinquish
Without her belief and strength of heart
We both remain doomed to our own vanquish

All I ask is for someone who’ll believe
Ride this life in enraptured love
Three muses cackle and make sport of me
While the fourth, I pray, will embrace love

I believe in my love
Love which lasts forever
I believe in my heart
No further words to tether

For I could say I believe in my heart that love will last
Love without time nor end
But this is displayed in the phrase “I believe in my heart,”
For this defines the wellspring, my friend

All the fourth needs to do
Is reach out her heart to mine
Simplest thing, this meeting of love
Yet most elusive all this time

Loneliness accompanies my infinite heart
Three muses could not lend reprieve
All comes down to this waning life moment
With someone who’ll believe

***

I wrote this at 3:00 am three days before Christmas from a dream which woke me. Three women I’ve loved in my life gathered in this dream. My love for them does not wither nor die. Sad. Very sad for me. Their humor directed at my endless love did not hurt like it once did. I even chuckled a bit, embarrassed that I possessed something they could not. The fourth woman did not completely mock my belief in love between two people. She laughed, but hope’s eye fell upon me from her glance. She desired such a love. Don’t we all?

I’ve been told many times in words and painful experience, that my belief in love between two people on the level I seek is not maintainable. I stalwartly disagree, even in the face of six decades of evidence to the contrary. I believe in a deep, abiding love, which transcends human idiosyncrasies. A love which allows for massive imperfections simply because the imperfections define the persons we live as in these bodies. Love, at the end of the day, heals. When we allow the final word from love to be pain, we lose our faith in love’s supreme power and endurance.

As much pain as I suffered with these three, the last word in my heart does not embrace pain with respect to them. Only an abiding loss and sadness because my love for them remains.

The fourth? She comes to me from a great quest. A quest one could easily say has lasted a lifetime. A quest I can identify clearly over the past three years. This quest has been, yes, to find my love, a grail beyond imagination. The quest becomes much larger because the search has required I discover my willingness and my passion to continue to believe.

I believe in my heart…


Special Solstice

In these quiet moments
Winter solstice steals into morning
Significance, blessing, and love

Years ago, at a time such as this
Our world slumbered toward warmer days
Days of hard labors of love
Midnights of warm, healing recovery

On a day, no different than any other
A child, sweet, full of heart,
Came into our lives without announcement
Her arrival more important to future lives than knowledge will ever attest.

Solstice, by definition, identifies as a turning point
In the case of this beautiful soul
Many lives will be brightened
Many hearts lifted
Many blessings bestowed

How appropriate, in a year overwhelmed by turmoil
This child, wizened by age
Marks her birth on this solstice
A turning point for many

There will never be any measurement
No capture of any uttered word
No loving thought capable
For those who know and love this incredible woman

May peace
Kindness
Love
Tenderness
All that remains good in this world
Fall gently on her this day and always

As for this writer
Only forever could hold the simplest inkling
The faintest touch
Of gratitude and love
For the celebration of the anniversary of this special birth

Someone Cared Enough to Take My Photograph

Someone cared enough to take my photograph
A momentary lapse in banal living
A microsecond when time held not only still
But enlisted a frozen smile over something long forgotten

Reasons for smiles become unimportant
Mere crumbs in the feasts of life
Smiles worn honest and real reveal not what the senses perceived
But the depth of which the heart is capable

Life becomes a tragedy of pain, anguish, and disappointments
Battering the inner self to the brink of submission
Yet, if the heart remains strong, courageous, valiant
The corners of you mouth curl northward, lifting said heart to manageable heights

Throughout the years, people steal smiles in merciless moments
Never using nor trading their ill-gotten goods
But tossing these signs of health and hope to the black dungeon of nothingness
Which leaves the victim powerless, hopeless, downtrodden

Nostalgia may deliver that picture
The one where your only care squirted up your gut, into your throat
Out into the world as laughter – and the moment the shutter fell
Upon your gleaming smile, the moment, the magic, granted a harmony with life.

Someone cared enough to take my photograph
Despite all which goes astray in life, despite all which damages us
So as to reveal a vibrancy, victorious in the smile’s very existence
Reminding me life and hope and love nurture laughter and smiles
Moments better to live in the real than rely on their reminders from the past.
The more I learn the less I know, yet this truth remains constant
The ability to smile and laugh exists as one of the greatest gifts a human possesses
And someone cared enough to take my photograph to remind me to smile and laugh in the now, to keep that picture alive…

Prompt writing can be a wonderful tool in a writer’s kit to own. I’ve honed my prompt writing over the years to the point that mere words or phrases elicit creative juices of which I cannot, nor wish I not, to control.

Today I watched an interview from the BBC back in the day where the interviewer was attempting to get Robin Williams to be serious. The interviewer actually achieved the near impossible task. Robin made a statement about a photograph and the fact that someone cared enough to take a picture of this person.

I’d been reminded by a FB post from a beautiful friend earlier in the day, of a Socratic quote which I’ve understood most of my life, that being, “The more I learn, the less I know.”

The photograph, the Socratic quote, and a simple smile prompted me most urgently to write a poem. When the muse insists, I do my best to oblige. What I learned from this poem is this:

Smiles are a truth of strength. If life beats you down so badly that you’ve lost the ability to smile an honest smile, the time has come for self inspection.

Smiling is becoming a vulnerable act these days. So much hate. So much loathing. So much fear-mongering. So much obligatory fear.

An honest smile is a healthy experience for your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. Not a derisive smile. Not a smile at someone’s expense. A warm, honest smile from within which requires only that you allow yourself to feel the warmth of life. This is a truth for me.

Sharing that smile with others becomes not only your gift, but theirs as well. There are many who desire these smiles wiped not only from our faces, but more so from others’ eyes. Why? Because a smile is more contagious than any illness known to man.

Honest, loving smiles bring goodness into this world. As sick and dying as our precious Earth is at this moment, we need an epidemic of smiles to infect the world and set our feet onto better paths…