The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

Posts Tagged ‘poetry’


Desert traces
Seeking shelter from the swelter,
in my love’s embraces

Winter’s pardon
Seeking Grace from War’s disgrace
Heals the battle-hardened

Summer’s pillow
Flowered vase for love’s embrace
Devotion’s languid billows

Emotion’s ships
Oasis charted,
Garden started
Meadow gartered
Loneliness’ eclipse


Requiem for a Bat:

Crazy night-time flying bat

Looked to me ’twas getting fat

Tried to dodge, but went kersplat

Flew akimbo off my hat

Dare I wonder where you’re at?

Hit the road, and there you sat

By the morn you’ll be run flat

Poor flat bat, to hit my hat, and die like that.

Twists my heart all pitter-pat.

Coffee Thief


I awakened this morning to coffeeCoffee thief

It was left from the day before

Normally stolen and leaving no sign

the thief must be missing, the coffee’s now mine.


It sits there in silence, abandoned and cold

I know how it feels, with no one to hold

a day has gone by, two more she’s away

Till my favorite thief, who causes such grief,

Will return to her pilfering ways


That person who steals my coffee

has also stolen my heart

a day with plenty of coffee

is a day wishing we weren’t apart

Chasing Down the Moon

The morning light remains a dream

And yet, not my dream

My dreams don’t look for the dawn

They ride through the night’s dark mantle

Like a tailor’s shears

Cutting the dark before me with a beam of light

Gathering it behind amidst the growls of an angry exhaust

A dragon, warning those who would follow my path

That this moonlit road is my dream, and mine alone.


In that space between the light ahead and the growls behind

The fabric of night furls and unfurls, windswept sheets

With a patchwork quilt of a hundred stories

Of other travels, of other travelers that passed this way

Alone with their dreams, in another night’s ride.


Free from the smothering streetlights that drown my eyes

I breathe in the pure night darkness, the scent of the Great Bear above me,

Wheeling in the sky pointing the way home

To Polaris

I touch in my mind the celestial doorposts of heaven itself

And then gather the reins in my fists 

Joining with the Hunter, pursuing our prey

Shadow, or Light, it matters not which

The chase is what feeds me

To race through the shadows, to feel the whip-cords of light

Lashing my back as I ride through the trees

Thundering hooves pound in my ears

Beating heart pounds in my chest

Flailing wind pounds at my face

Riding this writhing dragon as it rises and drops in the darkness, twisting beneath me to unhorse me.

I fight alone in this night, until the dragon is spent, dropping to the earth with its head atop its gilded hoard

And through the trees I break, into the calm of a mountain plateau

The moon, an arms-length away, bathes my sweating spirit in peace

I drift into a languid pool of silver night-sea, the alpine meadow grass rippling in the breeze.

I lean back, letting my mind’s sails fill with mountain air

Pinpoints of a million distant suns guide my thoughts

The open sky cradles my head

This lonely road rests my body

The crest of another mountain pass frees my soul.

The Christmas Dreary

Once upon a Christmas dreary, children screaming, getting teary

Over several bright and glossy tomes of merchandise galore

While they prodded, nearly popping, seemingly there was no stopping

From without there came a hopping, hopping at my chamber door.

“‘tis some visitor,” I muttered, “hopping at my chamber door.

Not my children I adore.”

Ah distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,

And each separate credit card wrought its ghost upon my door

Eagerly I wished the ‘morrow, vainly I had sought to borrow

From my bank surcease of sorrow -sorrow for the lost cash flow

For the rare and radiant paycheck, whom the angels named “cash-flow”

Nameless here for evermore

Ah, so softly did they succor, whine and made their brows to pucker

So they played me for a sucker, crying, sighing all the more

So that now to still the beating of my heart I stood repeating

“‘Tis the season to be giving, giving all to help the poor.”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the words, “the poor?”

This I heard, and then much more.

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so sharply spoken,

”Doubtless,” said I, “what they utter is their only stock and store,

Caught from some grim advertisement warning shrill that woe and lament

Follows fast and follows faster if its warnings they ignore

Till the dirges of their languish blend with howls of needless anguish

Yea, of sadness, evermore.

But the children still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,

wheedled sweetly through the doorway, child and merchandise galore;

Then, upon the bedpost sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what these anguished children bore–

What this ghastly advertisement meant in croaking “You need more!”

Always this, and always more.

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the kids whose teary eyes now burned into my bosom‘s core;

This and more they cried beseeching, in my head I pondered preaching

On the notion that their leeching brings upon us creditors

Creditors whose endless screeching rails upon my chamber door

Rails upon me, evermore!

But the children, never flinching, still are sitting, still are clinching

So my answer had no meaning—little relevancy bore;

Not the least concession made they; not a minute stopped or stayed they

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched before my chamber door–

Perched and wailed their mournful tale to me behind my chamber door–

Perched, and wailed, and little more.

Presently my soul grew meeker, hesitating, much the weaker

Child”, said I, “or demons, truly your forgiveness I implore

Now I sense my purpose clearly, clearly as in days of yore

Darkest night and plaintive sobbing grants me wisdom lost before

Peace on earth, good will toward parents comes from merchandise galore.”

With installments, evermore!

Who am I?

Who am I?

You ask me, with a voice so low it is drowned by the distant highway, who I am.

And I cannot say.

I use a thousand words, and smiles, and scowls,

And tell you who I love.

And who I hate.

And yet I cannot tell you who I am.


Who am I?

You ask me, though your lips move through the patterns of other words,

Your questions gently couched in questions of statistics and health.

Your Question sticks to your face, like a fear.

Half afraid I’ll turn out to be different than you.

Half afraid I’ll be the same.


Who am I?

If I told you, you wouldna believe me, you’d say that I’m putting on aires.

And that they do not become me

But aires is who I am, to you and to a thousand others

I cannot be other

I cannot be others

I cannot be anything other than who you say I am


Who am I?

If I lie awake at night, and puzzle at the answer

and at the midnight hour offer up my best guess.

If I fail the test will you turn me out into that dark night?

Will you give me extra credit for effort?

Will you correct me with a blood-red pen?

Will you announce to the world that I have failed?


Who am I?

Who are you? This game we play but never win.

While my answer is shouted down by the sound of the distant highway

Your answer is shouted down by your nature.

And after we both are spent by shouting, when we are reduced to nothing but hoarse whispers

A question only spoken in that tortured voice remains,

Who are we?


Over the past few months I’ve come to know a group of veterans  who have experienced more than their share of anguish.  In the last few days this theme came to my mind, and in the end, the following came from it.  This is for them:


Mother’s anguish bleeds

from the body of a mother’s son dying

Through the stream of a mother’s soul

tears turn to pools, pools into streams.

Streams into torrents

Mother’s son’s mother cries.

wretched life wasted, wretched cry wasted – wretched

Anguish is the sound of the torrent through her torn soul.

Raging in the ears of those who didn’t know.

Still don’t know.

Won’t ever know.


Son’s anguish sneaks

out the back alley, down the lane, out to the highway

The sound of grief and failure suppressed,

the soul pushed down the asphalt way

motor off

the crunch and pop of loose gravel its only voice.

Until its final grief explodes, pent-up breath,

becomes the sound of the machine jamming through gears

The empty night highway has no more dreams,

running away

Rider’s soul flutters, torn, to the pavement behind,

Anguish is the fading sound of anger,  rounding the distant corner, gone.

Not holding back, never looking back.


Looking back.


Father’s Anguish

never spoken, never open

always borne, never born,

bears the pain of mother’s anguish

bears the blame for children’s anguish

wears the sound of anguish in his eyes

no one hears the scream 

of such pain as no single soul can bear

it flutters in the wind without a sound like a drum-skin, torn,

Anguish is the sound of his silence

Beaten, in the presence of hope.

Torn, in the presence of pride.

Soundless, in the presence of joy.


Memorial of freedom’s sacrifice

This Memorial Day, I heard several people suggest that to honor those who served in combat honors war itself, and that perhaps we should not. I would like to take a moment to publicly dispute this.

They suggest that perhaps if we spent as much time working for peace as we do preparing for war, we would all be better off. It would seem there are those who still believe there aren’t and down through history never has been people who don’t want to work for peace, but for domination. There comes a point where you can’t talk to those people. There was no talking to King George, as Ben Franklin eventually came to believe and advise. There came a point where there was no talking to the folk who felt the need to own other people in this country, as gentle a man as Abraham Lincoln came to realize. Stalin, Hitler, Emperor Hirohito, Ho Chi Minh, Osama bin Laden…there’s a long list. At some point our freedom has been threatened by these people who didn’t fail to understand reason or respect for others rights, they simply had no interest in it.

I don’t use freedom as a patriotic catchphrase to be bandied around with a flag tied to it. I mean the right to determine our style of government, our right to raise our children with our own beliefs, not those of the state, our right to choose within the confines of personal circumstances our occupation, religious belief, the very location of our home. It is our freedom that allows us to change those things if opportunity, conviction, and desire motivate us. These are our freedoms, and it is these that were threatened. Many consider these freedoms trivial. I believe they think this way because that freedom has never been genuinely threatened or restricted, and the reality of life without them is too far away for most to give serious thought to, what with the joys or pains of the moment in front of us. But there are those amongst us who, when called upon, are capable of seeing a little further, and have acted upon the need to be prepared for our defense against those who would deny us those freedoms. We have set aside one day in a year to celebrate the foresight and sacrifice it has taken for us to remain free.

The people who have been in combat know a secret that is hard to live with. They realize that in spite of all the skill, or equipment, or training – often it comes down to odds that can only be influenced in small ways, and the guy they were just standing next to died because some guy across the battlefield just happened to target him. That guy didn’t die because he was a lesser man, but because he, and everyone else, volunteered to place themselves in the way of this possibility for a cause they felt was that important. Chance did the rest.

It is hard to live with this, because most men in combat have seen others act in a way that makes no sense to the common world – they’ve seen men take actions that endanger themselves in order to protect those around them. In some of the worst of human conditions some of the best human traits come to the surface to meet the need. And every man that’s been in combat and not died comes away wondering, somewhere in the back of his mind, why it wasn’t he that was killed, but some other guy. We wonder if perhaps that guy was more worthy, more courageous – if maybe that other guy died because we didn’t do enough- and we remember it for the rest of our life. We do this despite the abject fear we sometimes saw in that man’s eyes, the fear-driven anger, things that are ugly, and not comfortable talking about. We still wonder in the aftermath if that man was more worthy than us. Memorial day is one day for these men to share this pain of survival with others, to give those who were safe at home a moment’s glimpse into what it takes to maintain this way of life, and most importantly, to honor the men we had the opportunity to see at their best when no one else could. It seems most people don’t believe it takes armed conflict. It seems much of our society believes armed soldiers are bloodthirsty animals looking for prey. Memorial day is a moment for us to realize that most of those who have been in combat were not looking for blood, and expected no glory, on the day when our companions died. On that day when battle plans are executed, men feel fear because they do not want to be killed, nor do they want to kill. And yet, to protect the society they support, it must be done, and this is that day.

Most everyone prefers peace. But once in a while, someone who will not be satisfied with peace comes along, and needs defending against. We don’t have a memorial day for those people. We have a memorial day for those who picked up a weapon and defended his home against them, regardless of the danger. We don’t celebrate the brash young man who left home with his rifle to kick some butt yelling “yee-hah!” down the road in a cloud of dust. We celebrate the courage of a young man who got to battle, and learned quickly that there was more to it than that, that his glory came second to the survival of his group, and who, in the end, got his butt kicked defending them. We celebrate that transformation from brashness to complete sacrifice. And through that example we wish for more courage ourselves to face the need for sacrifice in living each day in our hard-won freedom, seeking peace.

Valentine Haiku

Yes.  Seriously.  I know…roll your eyes all you want, but here it is, Haiku for the Valentine.  In case you didn’t know, the idea with Haiku is to pack as much meaning into three lines as possible.  But not just any three lines, NO!  Five syllables for the first and last line, seven for the middle.  Making it can be as much fun as reading it, but here’s some to get you started.  Write it on a napkin, and slide it across the table to your One True Love during dinner Monday.  You know you want to.  You know you need to.  And written in “Electric Green” from the flourescent Crayola box provided by the restaurant for the kiddies makes it even more romantic!

For text message if you have to be on a business trip:

My heart is heavy

your love is always with me

but you are not here

Is it raining and/or snowing out? Are you somewhere cold, but somehow mindless of the discomfort?

My heart is snuggled

your love is wrapped about me

blanketed and safe

Is there a Big Question you’re planning to ask?

My heart is bubbling

your love is spilling over

I can’t keep it in

Perhaps you and/or the object of your affection dislike the winter.

My heart is glowing

your love fills me with sunshine

basking in the grass

What else is in that Crayola box the waitress gave you for no good reason, seeing as you’re out on a date with no kids?  Use them all to write this one:

hearts are a canvass

your love paints mine with colors

beautiful mirror

Ok, folks, have fun.  Or write your own, that’s even more fun!  Remind me to tell you about the ones I wrote with the kids when one of them came home with Haiku writing as homework.  It was an epic homework night that lives on in our memories lo these oh…I’m thinking about 15 years ago.  It was that good.

Winks and Sighs

Here in my middle ages, I look at the young men, as they court

and the young girls, as they are courted

they are so full of life, and so empty of wisdom

and yet, so full of life

I feel my life waning

I feel the life draining, out of the pond, and into the river

flowers bobbing, spilling, tumbling free

out into the broader, slower river, to spend another lifetime languishing towards the sea

But the old codger on the street-corner

craggy, dried man, drained and empty

He cheers the young men on

with a toothy grin and a wink he nods at the boys as they follow

that girl down the street with their eyes, and their hearts.

the old flower-seller lady urges the young man

and she watches the young girl, and sighs

remembering her own first rose, brought to her by a young man, perhaps just like this one

brought with a stumbling shyness, by a boy who knew she loved flowers

but didn’t know why

and didn’t care why

except, that something about that flower

might make her think of him, and feel happy when she did

because while he wanted her to think of him, he wanted her to be happy too

it would be another forty-seven years before he would understand that he really just

wanted her to be happy

and said so, with his last breath

She sighs, knowing this is how it is

and knows how to be happy watching another boy

making a fool of himself without knowing why

because he will know why, when it becomes important, and in the meantime

will do what he can without knowing why

And I, here in my middle ages, still worry about what I don’t know

I worry about what I can no longer do

I feel, here in my middle ages, stuck in the middle

neither wise, nor full of youthful vigor

but I watch the codger winking

and the flower-lady sighing her sighs

and watching them wink and sigh, I lose my fear

Time will pass me by, and in its passing

will teach me to wink, and sigh, and to not miss being young

and stupid

and so full of life that there was no room for knowing

why the happiness that sits by my side

sipping her coffee with me, watching me, watching them,

knowing that I watch, and think, happy with the show of things she cannot see

going on in my mind

knowing why her happiness is so important to me.

I hope I tell her in a breath sooner than my last that

I hope to tell her with a wink, that her happiness is more important than mine

I want to hear her sigh, before it means she misses me

I am one flower on the surface of the river

and I will rush to the sea, and become the sea

cheering both codgers and young men in my time, and selling flowers

glad that I am neither

happy that I am both

satisfied that today I am not yet part of the sea