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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #16

  • Section A: January 15, 2003
  • Section B: February 15, 2003
  • Section C: March 15, 2003
  • Section D: April 15, 2003
  • Section E: May 15, 2003
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2003

    San Jose, CA

    I just returned from New York. I visited the Metropolitan Museum and I saw the exhibition "The Oldest Cities." I am still reflecting on this show, which displays art and artifacts from Mesopotamia from 5000BCA to the pre-biblical area around 1500BCA.

    I was struck by the vibrancy and the modernity of many of the pieces on display. Some of the abstractions of bulls could have been done by Picasso and some of the stark and erect human figures could have been done by Giaccometti. And the difference in time is almost 6000 years. This proved to me that doing art and appreciating art is not climbing a Platonic ladder to higher and higher levels of purity and truth. It is rather a going back, again and again, to a well unchanging, universal and deep in the fabric of what it means to be human. It is very moving to experience this circular movement in the flesh before your eyes contemplating the displays.

    It is sad the looting of the museum in Bagdad and of the archeological sites in Iraq disrupts this experience. The gatherings with the Creative Edge provide an opportunity to go back to the well. Thank you for being a good well keeper.

    Franz Spickhoff

    Roy, UT

    (The following tips are forwarded to help your readers) ...think more creatively and I am also offering a free copy of my e-book on creative thinking.

    3 Tips to be more creative

    No logic allowed

    Logic and creativity belong together as much as drinking and driving do. Of course logic is critical in our daily lives, but there is one place it does not belong—during the creative thinking process and brainstorming activities. Why? Because logic always pulverizes the flow of creative ideas. Save the logic for later.

    Think like Thomas Edison

    This is so simple, but only a few smart people do it. Be smart. Schedule "time to think" into your weekly work schedule. It's one of the most effective things you can do to come up with new ideas and to be creative. And it won't cost you a dime. Try a couple of 2-hour blocks a week for starters.

    Use the right tools

    If you're like most people, you probably just sit there and stare at the walls when looking for new ideas. Most of us use the accidental method because we don't know any other way. This is the slowest, most ineffective, and boring process to come up with new ideas. And when you do come up with an idea, you won't be sure how you did it so you can't repeat the process. There are fast, effective, and deliberate methods to generate new ideas. Some of the best tools and techniques can be found in a free e-book at www.slyasafox.com. These tools will help you consistently generate 100's of ideas in about an hour. This is not the exception, but the norm.

    Mark Fox

    Del Rey Oaks


      Has anyone ever written a poem
      while having a rectal exam?

      Tried to heap piles of words
      to hide the fear?

      Hoping to snow the uncomfort
      with phrases?

      Has anyone ever written a poem
      while having a rectal exam?

      I asked the Doctor when he was done
      if he had ever heard of such a thing.

      "No, No, Never!" he said,
      so I did

    Steve Brown

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2003

    Del Rey Oaks



      begin the chant
      deep the breath
      hallowed soul
      of free lined grace
      beneath the bohdi
      sighted on the key lime tree
      blessing the raising sun
      waiting the frost to clear

      He came among us this way. When he had set down, a gentle silence came towards us and filled all of the space to become the room,
              We waited for him to speak.

          "All that we are is now."

          I reached out and picked up two of the five river worn stones which were arranged along the edge of the platform, each was a like size and well worn from their journey to the sea.

          The only sound was the smell from the single rose laying by the stones.

          "Time as we know it is as a soap bubble. Linked to many others each interlocking and touching the others."

          Putting one stone to rest, I held the other An both hands. Passing it one to the other.

          The sound of breath filled the space.
          As I put the stone to rest on its journey it took its place.

      "On a tree grow many leaves."

          The stone, which I had set back on the ledge, split into two parts issuing the sound of a Robin sharp and very clear.

          "All motion flows through all time."

          The sound of breathing filled the space of the Ocean. Earth waited.

          "In the sunrise comes the pearl."

          The Ocean had filled the sky which turned from blue to green and they had become one in the darkness before the dawn.
          Clouds formed there, the green becoming darker and darker fill the lightening filled the air with thunder claps.

          "All edges become new beginnings. There is no difference one from the other."

          The sound of breathing filled the sky.
              The stone that split became gold and the sun shone on all.
          I lifted another stone to hold it in my hand.

          "The soul contains all."

          This stone, worn from its journey to the sea, split in my hand. Its silver core glowed from within and it became as the moon.
          "From without and within, it is one."
          As far as the eye could see the land was covered with yellow flowers.
          The Buddha rose to go. So be it.


      Blessing sentence lord on high wait the time

      terror on the hill from off the mountain
      placing many stones all in a row

      sea gull mounts a new horizon
      placing all who came before us in a most special peril

      waiting along the river Styx
      for Charons boat
      Athena was there along with all of the others. They were all bent over crying tears saddened by the course of man towards the flaming death. Lightening struck. All turned to salt for looking back into the dragons mouth of greed. They had picked up his sword and could not drop it. Sucking all that the earth could produce, sapping the mortal soul from it, they carried the banner of profit, they drowned all who were with them, laughing and claiming immunity because it was for profit and their lord claimed that as his cloak they could plunder as they wished—enslave all who were about them in his name. "Will Jesus wash the blood stain from their hands?"

      So be it

    Steve Brown

    Carmel Valley, CA


      is a phantom
      you feel compelled to follow
      into the moldy basement
      or spider-infested attic
      where it drags you through dust
      you cannot name
      brings out goosebumps
      sweaters cannot dispel
      just before
      it throws open the back door
      and shoves you
      into the sunlit backyard
      of your own good sense

      is a gauzy breeze
      that brushes your cheek
      whispers silky gibberish
      into spiraled chambers
      of your mute ears
      visits you dreaming
      beneath cherry clouds of dawn
      at the riverside crying
      the same tears
      you cried more times
      than you care to admit
      then kisses your forehead
      and leads you home...


      The tears are welcome
      when they reappear
      from some deep aquifer
      that streams beneath the surface
      of ordinary days.
      I do not reject their raw sting
      their unexpected spilling
      into an otherwise serene moment.

      Memories are sometimes harsh
      when they reclaim their pocket
      in my heart,
      for they have been riding
      undercurrents far too long,
      deep-rooted aches
      the years have buried.

      Sadness is welcome
      when it grips my shoulders,
      shudders my foundation,
      for it is the only remaining sum
      of the joy that once was.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 2003

    San Jose, CA


      Here I am, an old man
      Waking up late at night,
      Disturbed by dreams
      Clawing for attention.
      Strange dreams of anger and rage.
      Fierce furies are on the loose
      During fickle sleep of this age,
      Fading into shadows unknown
      The moment I come to myself

      Into darkness I must descend
      To recover old rubbish
      Discarded in youthful days
      When feelings became so painful.
      Barely forgotten the pain
      Just settled into the bones
      As a constant reminder,
      A reminder not heeded for years:
      Attend! Tender Attention!

      I have become used to pain,
      Less frightened by feelings.
      It is time to climb down,
      To sift carefully through my rubbish
      And salvage fragments of my life.

    Franz Spickhoff

    Carmel, CA

          —for Bob Faul

      Tethered by the tube that brought oxygen,
      your last days spent in the downstairs bedroom
      listening to the soft whisper of flesh
      leaving bone, eyes still aglow, determined,
      to drink deeply of this life, to leave with
      no regrets. And I, drawn to you, tethered
      to you in ways I did not understand
      as I sat by your bedside, listening
      to you tell about the only book of
      poems you ever bought, fifty-three years ago
      On your honeymoon.

              We are all tethered
      to what sustains us. What is it that keeps
      me tethered to you? Simply by being
      yourself, you changed the fives of others. Where
      would I be had you not seen in me what
      I myself could not see? At that crossroad,
      you offered a path, then stepped back and I
      found my way, drawing, though I did not know
      it then, strength from you. What had brought me to
      your bedside, dear friend, what brings me today
      to this gathering to celebrate your
      life but my love for you.

              I breathe deeply.
      These words become a lifeline between us.
      The weight of sadness falls away. Inspired
      by the love that gives each of us life, we
      discover we are tethered to each other.

    Elliot Ruchowitz Roberts

    Carmel Valley, CA

      A Journal Entry:

      Ask your inner poet: What have you got to say?

      It is 3:20 pm on March 20th, a cloudy afternoon in Carmel Valley. There is something ticklish about the coincidence of time and date all of a sudden being identical—a magic moment to begin writing. Because of the clouds the light is subdued. Huge shadows block the sun, mountains of clouds laying shade where sunbeams ought to be. There is a lack of warmth, and a stillness that contrasts to the explosions of bombs half a world away. I am cloaked in a layer of guilt for a consequence in which I have had no choice.

      What have you got to say about that poet?

      Your thoughts have no power. They are simply the carousel that goes round and round, but your poems, the actual words you write and revise and read aloud and move in shapes on the pages, those are tender and potent. Sixty one and one half years of compassion and intuition, a lifetime of loving and kindnesses, these are your counterpoint to all the ego-centric rhetoric, the baseless justifications for cruelty.

      I hear what you say but find it difficult to focus on any aching truth in poems with the specter of innocent deaths rising from the smoke of destruction.

      So she answers: All the more reason for the medicine of poetry. What else of value do have to give the world besides your heart.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2003

    Del Rey Oaks


      You know

      It was just a dog
      that I shared those times with

      It was just a dog
      greeting me when I came home

      It was just a dog
      when the kids were born

      It was just a dog
      when my mother died

      It was just a dog
      at Christmas time

      It was just a dog
      when Bob was sick

      But her time has come
      she can hardly walk
      with all of the pain

      It was just a dog
      when I said good bye!

    Steve Brown

    Wuppertal, Germany

    What a wonderful collection of poems you got for us again in the February LBOL! Many thanks to the people who contribute. For example, Patricia's lines moved my heart to tears (I am sentimental as I am older now...), she has so very much to give with all she expresses, also the others whoever they are, I'd like to answer with namaste, the light in my soul greets your light!

    Enclosed is a springtime impression (I like these Japanese Haikus).


      I saw a bird
      it did not sing.
      Well then,
      it was a stone.

    (I had forgotten my spectacles)

    Hilly Mueller

    Tucson, AZ

      IN & OUT

      There's no way out
      And there's no way in
      And I don't even know
      Where to begin
      So I tried the hitting the wall trick
      And found the wall is still that thick
      If I had any answers do you think I'd be here?
      It's been a week
      Since the space shuttle Columbia broke up
      Killing all aboard

      God rest their souls
      Too many good men and women have died
      And can the rest of us say we've really tried?
      All I can do is to let go
      Into the frightening void
      And ask for comfort from the
      One Who said "I will give you rest"

    This one is almost too dry for my taste. But I take what I get.


      Canto I

      Oh! I love
      the smell of coffee in the morning
      Oh! I love
      group therapy in the morning

      Today Mark the street merchant
      Was kicked out of group
      Because he is noisy and disruptive
      And his shit doesn't stink.

      I had a brain fart
      And blabbed about my mania
      Leading with my chin
      Displaying my peacock (peabrained) tailfeathers

      Just like a peacock
      Oh honey lay me down
      And then we can get to sleep
      Hypersexuality: you figure it out

      Canto II

      Pounding the floor with my fists
      I ended up hurting—why?
      The staff at the nursing station
      Very dryly asked if I had had my meds

      Well a frontal lobotomy
      Is all that's going to slow this roadrunner down
      You got it: One flew east, west
      And one flew the coop.

      My hands are hurting from pounding the floor
      The meds I've taken are under control
      My roommate wants to suck my dick
      And I'll show'em all I can be a prick

      Listen my children and you shall hear
      The midnight cross I have to bear
      In an asylum for the insane
      Why I don't want to stop feeling my pain

    Donald - thanks for caring. The one thing life has been teaching me is that I must never fear. Caution is good, but fear gives rise to paranoia and delusions very easily, and can corrupt the process of rational judgment. My poetry has been a way of grounding myself. Thanks for encouraging me to pursue it. This poem expresses where I am and the next phase I face.


      Because I have not answered the question
      "Who am I?"
      I have not become a person.
      I have not stood naked before God,
      Without social standing,
      Without a job or a career,
      Without a hobby or vocation,
      And had to answer this one simple question:
      Who am I?

      I have not stood before the all-seeing eye
      That perceives spirit as well as matter
      And which I can only sense
      By the eyes of the heart and of the mind
      I have not stood naked and alone
      Without a spouse to support me
      Without children who look up to me
      Without community ties
      I have held up bits and pieces
      Of tattered masks representing
      All these roles, but not in sincerity,
      Not in connection to a central whole
      Of which they are simply aspects
      No, I have held to the Greek actor's masks
      From which comes the root word for "hypocrite"
      And yet I do not hate myself.
      I am simply a gooey mass of feeling
      Where a strong coherent identity
      Forged and tried and true
      Will one day exist.
      Alone and all alone
      That is the way I must journey to stand before God
      And then, perhaps, I will begin to know
      The answers to two questions:
      Who am I? And
      Who is this God?

    Christopher Lovette

    Carmel Valley, CA


      when the moon
      shines deeply
      many moons
      in pools
      of recent rain
      I imagine
      personal moonbeams
      brilliant rays
      tapping gently
      on window panes
      alerting us all
      to awaken from sleep
      to gather light
      during darkness
      by opening hearts
      to hold kindness
      proclaiming peace
      as a universal right
      heaven sent.


      rose colored sky
      trees and hillside
      golden glaze

      emotions less than gratitude

      weightless in body and burden
      I inhale perfume of peace
      silence becomes a wordless song
      one small tear runs down my cheek

      I taste salt

      prayer that asks for nothing
      accompanie's me, home,

    Illia Thompson

    Carmel Valley, CA

      A DOG'S LIFE

      My poems tell me where I have to go,
      gradually guide me
      as if I were an untrained pup
      in need of a firm voice,
      short leash.
      stay the poem instructs,
      wait for your reward

      and I obey
      because I know the bone wants to be found.
      I dig
      even when the ground is hard
      and the scent is faint.

      I follow the trail,
      a bloodhound in search of my own scarlet veins.
      MY poem is in command.
      I jump through hoops,
      an old trick now,
      familiar as chewed slippers.

      I slog through shadowed forests
      and up steep cliffs,
      wander along narrow alleys,
      meet my tale coming and going.

      My poem knew the destination all along.
      It asks me to trust my own buried instincts.


      All night the silver blade
      in the ebony sky carves
      westward seeking the other side
      of earth. Crickets
      play their fiddle wings.
      White owl rotates
      his head to catch
      a small rustle
      under the sage.

      All night the stars appear
      to follow in the wake
      of the moon
      on a similar journey
      in a larger universe.
      Fog creeps upriver
      along the south mountain range
      veiling village lights
      with an eerie glow.

      All night a light breeze
      weaves through thin fingers
      of a pine tree,
      carrying its sharp fragrance
      past open windows.
      A gray fox and his mate pause
      to drink from a water bowl,
      blessing moisture
      with their tongues.

    Laura Bayless

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 2003

    Birmingham, AL


      The Blue Jays
      The Red birds
      The Wax Wings
          in Winter
      Against bare gray limbs
          of trees
      Flying flowers
      To tide us over
          'til Spring

      I'm like a lover
      Courting the words
      That visit me
      In light or night.
      I embrace them hungrily
      And kiss them with the pen.
      They respond to my touch
      And leap onto the page—
      Together we engage
      In making magic
      And the world turns purple
      With joy
      Our souls traversing
      The universe
      With music and laughter,
      Flying on the winds of time.

    Jean Callahan Crowe

    Carmel Valley, CA


      tugged at my big toe
      pulled me into the underworld.
      She could not bear the cold
      needed my company to withstand
      the chill bestowed upon her
      solely because she ate of pomegranate
      autumn red, one bite and the juice
      stained fingers and lips,
      no way to erase the blush.

      Free-falling downward
      a glide of sorts
      landed me in snow
      no heat to melt
      no warmth to thaw
      just a steady freeze
      to slow to almost stop
      musing motion.

      Persephone held out her hand
      well-gloved in skin of doe
      welcomed me as though
      by mutual arrangement
      we had set this date

      That simple tug
      pulled me through
      a winter of my own
      a sedentary respite
      ending when the New Year
      invited me to celebrate.

    Illia Thompson

    Tucson, AZ

    I especially liked the (poem by David Dunn in NL#37) about being humbled and how it felt so appropriate that it appeared on the same page as my poem "Ballad of the Hooch" ... I can relate to being humbled by practically everything and he expressed it beautifully. He also touched on the theme of homelessness which leads in to my poem about my experiences with the homeless. They are not really homeless. Their homes (their "hooches") are just different from yours and mine—a tent, some plywood and blankets thrown together, or whatever else can make a livable shelter... At any rate, I'd like to share a new poem.


      He was only thirty-four when he died
      Confused and numb and overdosing
      He did not know You when he died
      Lord, have mercy on his soul

      He was not the smartest or the strongest
      Have mercy, Lord
      He was living with Gizmo in the Hooch
      Lord, have mercy

      When I saw him most times he had a troubled look
      Have mercy, Lord
      But when he smiled with both his mouth and his eyes
      I could see you made him Lord
      Lord, have mercy

      He fell out of a tree while high on speed
      Have mercy, Lord
      And fractured his back
      Lord, have mercy

      He got food stamps and a hundred and seven a month
      Have mercy, Lord
      And a prescription for morphine for his back
      Lord, have mercy

      Lord, have mercy

      One time I brought my Guitar to the Hooch
      Lord, have mercy
      Gizmo played and sang Loozeeanna blues
      Have mercy, Lord

      Ron listened and we all smiled
      Lord, have mercy
      I played a bit too
      Have mercy, Lord

      Don't know how his handle came to be Animal
      Lord, have mercy
      S'pose cause his back was all bent
      Have mercy, Lord

      Once we talked about right and wrong
      Lord, have mercy
      About how we ought to live
      Have mercy Lord

      I was too blind to see how far I'd failed
      Lord, have mercy
      But Ron looked like he knew he had
      Have mercy, Lord

      Why didn't I have more love for him?
      Lord, have mercy
      Would he still be with us if I had?
      Have mercy, Lord

      Lord, I pray he be with You now
      Lord, have mercy
      Looking down and smiling blues at us his friends
      Have mercy, Lord.

    Christopher Lovette

    Carmel, CA


      Love the Creator, Death the Destroyer?
      Or Death the Creator, Love the Destroyer?
      Relentless—Discoverer, Captor, Hunter.
      Wait! Do you mean Love? ... Yes.
          Or do you mean Death? ... Of course.

      Do I hunt for it? Or does it hunt for me?
      Does it capture me? Or do I capture it?
      Do I discover it? Or does it discover me?
      Wait! Do you mean Love? ... Yes.
          Or do you mean Death? ... Of course.

      I've lived at the Edge of the Precipice,
      And I've lived on the Peaceful Plateau..
      Now I mean Love, looking to the past.
      But I do live at the Edge and on the Plateau.
          And now you mean Death? ... Of course.

      Death the Destroyer or Love the Creator?
      Love the Destroyer or Death the Creator?
      Please go away! Please stay!
      Wait! Do you mean Love? ... Yes.
          Or do you mean Death? ... Of course.

    Ray Cyr

    Carmel Valley, CA


      "There is no death so final as the death of memory"
      —Paul Gruchow (The Necessity of Empty Places)

      Recollections rise,
      slip from my grasp,
      phantoms never quite faithful.

      I hear my father's laughter in dreams,
      but cannot retrieve the warmth of his arms,
      the love that illuminated his eyes.

      The last hours of her dying return,
      more memorable than the ordinary events
      of my sister's life.

      Two black and white images,
      discolored by almost forty years on the shelf,
      long past their abruptly terminated childhood,
      the only tangible objects
      that remain of a boy and a girl,
      children from a life now indistinct,
      shrouded in the crowd of other hours.

      The paper faces are not near enough
      to counter the losses
      of voice and substance,
      laying of cheek to forehead,
      silky tendrils of hair,
      scent at the base of a throat,

      Memories diminish
      in the veneer of the present,
      Time raids the ledgers of the past
      taking what is most precious,
      what cannot be replaced.

    Laura Bayless

    Colorado Springs, CO

    It was good to hold the Creative Edge again in its printed form. I send to you two pieces of work and I can't tell you just how much courage it is taking to do this. When I wrote the poem, "The Secret," about four years ago, it held so much truth that it frightened me. I almost destroyed the poem, but instead I hid it away as I have hidden my life away.

    Then the day after Christmas 2002, this story emerged and with it a message was delivered ... I must also share the poem ... it is time. I break the silence. And it is my deep desire that this is what my mother had always hoped I would do, since she herself could not do it.


      there is no way back.

      I take form
      in my mother's womb
      feeling her shame, her anger.

      I know that
      I am a mistake, a sin
      of passion. Already she
      offers me her legacy of guilt.

      Out of a lie
      I am born, and
      in the lie I shall live.
      Her fear fills me, feeds
      me as I grow—uninvited

      Beneath her breast.

      as she is trapped,
      branded as she is branded.

      Not until
      her death will I be free
      to speak—the lie we lived.

    Patricia Ann Doneson

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2003

    Monterey, CA

    These poems are dedicated to my Mother: Edith Victoria Ostman, born June 24, 1914 in Minnesota, died November 25, 2002 in Medford Oregon.


      I alwavs knew you loved me, Mom.
      You had a loving touch,
      That soothed my aching forehead,
      Which always meant so much.
      You worked for every dollar
      When times for us were lean.
      You bought our clothes on lay-away,
      And kept them neat and clean.
      The ice cream truck played music.
      I begged and got a dime.
      You sang and told me stories
      Of once upon a time.
      I know it wasn't easy
      That time we were alone.
      But then along came Daddy
      And soon we had a home.
      Whenever I remember
      Those times I feel a thrill,
      For I always knew you loved me,
      And that you always will.


      Little boat
      Upon the sea,
      Take me where
      I need to be.

      Keep me safe
      From every storm.
      Shelter me
      And keep me warm.

      Rock me
      In your cradle deep,
      Bring me comfort
      While I sleep.

      Let me know
      I need not fear
      While God and angels
      Hover near

    Shirley Tofle

    Monterey, CA


      Somewhere west of the dawn
      And east of the moon's pale beams
      There is a tiny kingdom
      Wherein do live my dreams.

      'Tis peopled by forgotten friends
      And folks I've never met;
      With some remembered faces
      And those I've not known yet.

      By azure flights of fancy
      And familiar places known;
      With houses full of trapdoors,
      With gentle gardens grown.

      It is a place of wonder
      But not a place of rest
      For time runs very odd
      And I've often got a quest.

      So oft I make a journey
      That morphs from that to this.
      Sometimes its with a lady
      Who I've been known to kiss.

      Yet often in this kingdom
      Familiar turns to strange;
      So what was here is gone
      As billowing thoughts do range.

      Sometimes it is fantastic
      Sometimes it is mundane
      But always it is changing
      And never seem the same.

      Aye Dreamland is a faerie place
      Wherein my Id doth soar.
      And when I do awaken
      I mourn its closing door.


      Dancing waters, dancing waves,
      Dancing on lost wat'ry graves.

      Singing naiads, crying gulls,
      Singing over lost ships' hulls.

      Shadows of a hungry shark
      Whose parents once fed in the dark.

      Blowing winds and gentle breeze
      Dimming now the memories.

      Once again are naiads singing;
      What fresh sorrow are they bringing?

    Jeff Hudelson

    Big Sur, CA


      pain in new york.
      shame in seattle.
      suicide in san fransisco.
      war and murder here, war and murder
      there, war and murder everywhere.
      what is, changes tomorrow.
      and yesterday i heard of someone who needs
      some new bone marrow.
      idealism. intellectualism. metaphysicalism.
      meditation. medication...
      how about a warm bath instead, and less
      first it was buddha in your bedroom,
      now christ's blood is on your hands.
      tomorrow i'll be just another man and we'll
      all do the best we can.
      paradise within and then it's everywhere
      without. my last lover never realized this,
      of that there is no doubt.
      some enjoy it light, some enjoy it dark.
      some like it fast, others like it slow.
      some just cease to care and let everything go.
      the world is large, and rather small no doubt.
      sometimes i wonder if the schools we went to
      really knew what anything's about...

    David Dunn

    Tucson, AZ


      Christmas time—the wonder of it
      Ladies baking, caroling
      And of course the gifts—so many gifts

      The minister thought these happy thoughts
      In his study, settling in to prepare his sermon
      For that Sunday, Christmas Sunday

      It was so peaceful there; he did nothing.
      His mind drifted, until it caught
      On a memory of long ago

      Thirty years—it's been thirty years
      The child would have been thirty, or almost
      The child of that sweet girl he'd known in seminary

      Why did the memory come?
      He began to feel the panic, the need to hide,
      The frantic talks with his girlfriend, the tears . . .

      He remembered taking her to the abortion clinic
      Waiting for her, how he'd watched the other women
      Almost all young, almost all attractive

      Remembering back over the years
      He had an absurd idea: those women
      Were like Barbie dolls—broken Barbie dolls that needed fixing

      They all left the clinic fixed, he and his girlfriend had left fixed.
      The inconvenience was over, the shame hidden,
      No one had to know.

      Why did he think now about what might have been?
      A son, perhaps a son . . . almost thirty
      Perhaps grandchildren

      Hadn't he gone on for the better though?
      Become a fine minister, yes he had.
      Though he had had to leave that episode behind, almost forgotten

      The girl had managed to keep quiet
      Shortly after the clinic visit they broke up
      He had gone on to graduate, to work, to marry

      Yes, he had suffered like those in his flock
      And now he could open his arms to all the rainbow of lifestyles
      All sexual preferences, all spiritual paths, and rejoice in the diversity

      How far things had progressed in thirty years.
      Now even some on his church staff
      Would counsel a young woman in difficulty to terminate a pregnancy

      But something in his stomach didn't feel good
      (Must be eating too many spicy foods)
      What about getting that sermon outlined, at least?

      The afternoon was drifting on like his mind
      He decided the sermon would have to wait
      He let himself go with the current

      What about the Christmas songs?
      Yes, which ones would they be singing that Sunday?
      He could almost hear "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

      But his mind was still playing tricks on him
      And instead of "God and sinners reconciled"
      He imagined he heard "God and Satan reconciled"

      Yes, he thought, maybe that's it really
      Maybe peace on earth would come
      With God and Satan reconciled

      No, even with his diverse congregation
      That would not go over as a Christmas sermon
      Better stick to the baby in the manger.

      A child . . . why did he have to remember
      About a child that was removed in the eighth week of pregnancy
      How absurd to think it had even been a child!

    Chris Lovette

    Thank you for your creative offerings!

    I invite readers to share their own creative works (poems, stories, images, comment, etc.) in Letter Box On Line (LBOL). I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.

    The Editor

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