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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #5

  • Section A: July 15, 1997
  • Section B: August 15, 1997
  • Section C: September 15, 1997
  • Section D: October 15, 1997
  • Section E: November 12, 1997
  • Section F: .................................................................. December 15, 1997



      On a sparkling summer afternoon
      nature's alliteration runs free
      across the air, over the lawn
      and tauntingly throughout the trees.

      Lovely lilies linger in sunlight
      daffodils dance defiantly till dusk
      towering treetops thicken tightly
      and animal families build their trust.

      Blue-lipped tulips two-step trickily
      to the tune of trillions of busy bees
      and streams of sunlight dance serenely
      through branches and leaves so free.

      Prose roses very gently are teased
      by mandolinin' chrysanthemums fair
      cheers do rise in caladium stadiums
      and nasturtium action fills the air.

      Few-trip tulips taunt defiant dandelions
      who are forging foreign exotic vacations
      and cranium geraniums flaunt their genius
      to forget-me-nots at carnation station.

    Pearl Mitchell

    Soquel, CA


      On the Monterey Fairgrounds
      walking in the rain
      on Thanksgiving morning
      looking for the caretaker.

      A fog smudges low and about,
      I wander in languid window curtains
      ----------------------of rain,
      the so still grounds all immediate,
      intimate, the boarded stalls
      toys of summer.

      A jet, invisible in fog,
      making a landing approach,
      rips a long overhead
      seam of sound.
      Tons of polished steel,
      needle gauges, glowing lights,
      all guided by great winking
      by antennaed men speaking
      softly, confidently,
      landing the plane
      tire squeal safe,
      all aboard and those
      waiting giving thanks.

      I walk slow in mission
      on the fairgrounds
      seeking the caretaker
      to unlock a fence
      allowing the aged, the beset,
      the eternally puzzled,
      the so easily exploited,
      those that are daily tortured
      just enough to make it
      to one more night,
      to enter and be served.

      Walking slow thankful
      for a moment alone,
      trying to own my step
      on a ghosted midway,
      to stay within my stride,
      thankful for the food,
      for the gentle smiling caretaker,
      for a few-- two-- slow celebratory
      dance steps in the rain,
      knowing the essential difference
      between me and the waiting
      was a locked fence
      soon to be opened.

    Donald Marsh

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    Section E: .................................................................. November 12, 1997

    Soquel, CA


      Years ago I read poetry
      to a group of stroke patients.
      From a wheelchair one asked,
      "Where do poems come from?"
      I had to tell him I didn't know.

      I still don't.

      I don't know what it is
      I'm trying to write
      or even what I'm trying
      to think or not think.

      I don't know how
      to make it happen
      and have given up trying.

      When it does happen
      I don't know how or why.
      I'm just busy trying
      to catch some of it.
      Any of it.

      Each thing caught
      is only a facsimile.

      I don't know where
      this particular effort
      is going.

      In a bakery cafeteria
      I saw four women at a table.
      It was obvious they liked
      one another, for they had
      such deepdish laughs
      and looking-back smiles.

      It's going to them.


      Old men with penknives
      know seedbed things
      yet seldom say anything at all.

      Rise up dressed practical before dawn
      to squint in master patience
      at the strut and slump of things,
      their dentures aftertasting of coffee,
      their clothes smelling of careful closets.

      In the windows on the porches in the yards
      on streetcorners in apartments
      in nursing homes all over the world,
      old men with penknives repair,
      shape, and carve remembered things
      wonderfully important and useless,
      handing down their life experience
      to eager summer fingers.

      In early morning elbows,
      flexing their hands,
      cracking the sheet ice
      of arthritis,
      old men with penknives
      are ready to be knowing
      for any emergency
      that may never arise.

      Finally, on afternoons
      with time in long shadows,
      with diligent thumbs,
      they whittle death down
      to a final intimate thing
      they know no one
      can give away.

    Donald Marsh

    San Jose, CA

    For many years I was deeply involved with Christianity. It was only a few years ago that I left my tightly held beliefs behind, venturing into the unknown and going through a spiritual awakening of a kind I'd never know before. It has been a difficult journey for me. The first time I entered a New Age book store it felt like I had immersed myself under water... I had to excuse myself after about 20 minutes for air! This analogy fits well, if you imagine the "water" as the unconscious or perhaps the "shadow" as Carl Jung would say.

    I started collecting books and sacred objects, often in secret for fear my "Christian" husband would find them and chastise me. I wasn't free to explore in the way my soul wanted me to, but I continued. My heart opened greatly and mystical experiences started happening to me on a daily basis. Some have described this kind of thing as a spiritual emergence. Mine bordered on spiritual emergency; a combination of bliss and terror! Hiding this from my partner became fairly impossible. He has and never will know the full scope of it. Unfortunately I didn't keep a journal, so I can't recall everything either. Needless to say our relationship split apart. We had other issues but it basically came down to his fears that I had become demon possessed. (I imagine I wasn't the easiest person to live with during this time. I was questioning everything, my values, beliefs, the nature of reality... you name it!) The divorce crushed me. The past two years have been torturous... really... and I'll spare you the details.

    Now, as I'm beginning to raise my head from the ashes. I feel the fluttering of unused and rather large wings. Hey, I'm free! It's OK, I can follow my heart unfettered by the condemnation of the patriarchs (Father God, father husband) of my old life. The release is not just one of outer freedom, for truly the chains that held me where of my own making, a captivity whose appearance could conveniently be blamed on my partner.

    Anyway... with this new freedom, I'm soaking up the wisdom from Mukunda (Yogananda). I'm really wanting to explore eastern philosophies and practices. They feel accessible to me and I'm not afraid. East meets West, the integration occurring in my heart. Of course everything begins with and returns to the Beloved... the Beloved... a thousand times... the Beloved!

    Lara Cone

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    Section D: .................................................................. October 15, 1997

    Seaside, CA

    Reflections from my sister Nancy's funeral.


      we have no time to bury our dead now
      in this pressed time when money rules
      and all men are slaves
      working 15 hour days so that the boss can play around of golf at pebble
      and make the payment on the lear jet
      in order to send his kids to stanford
      and why do you need the day off any way?

      we are working so hard here on the beach
      in the bahamas fighting off the boredom
      you should know your place
      and be happy with the nickel an hour that we pay you
      you people don't need more and why do you ask
      are you being a trouble maker or something
      my god i need a cappuccino here
      this is so damn hard
      we can no longer take the time to bury our dear dead.

      NANCY 9-16-97

      It was the willow standing beside the river

      The river reflecting the clouds the sun and sky

      Reflecting the stars and the moon

      Beyond the willows

      The Corn is standing in murmuring rows of green

      It was the willow standing beside the river

      The river reflecting the reds and yellows

      That shimmer the wind

      The corn just now is turning golden

      Stacked in perfect sheaves against the wind

      It was the willow standing beside the river

      The river reflecting the cold blue grey

      The leaves long gone

      The corn beneath the snow is awaiting

      The breath of spring

    Steve Brown

    Northfield, MN

    I enjoy The Creative Edge on-line. I enjoy thinking about your workshops, the presenters, and wish I were there for all of them! And here I am in Northfield, MN, with the cows, colleges, and corporate farms which want to have a couple of million pigs or turkeys on one farm.

    Mary Ruth

    Soquel, CA


      Berserk drag queen
      puts gun in mouth,
      pouts, squeezes
      eyes shut, peeks
      in mirror, sweeps
      back strand of hair,
      pulls trigger.

      Woman in Rapid City
      sits with mother's service,
      spoons potato salad,
      looks off, has spent
      lifetime looking off.
      Out in garage
      husband tapes
      things in boxes.

      At the end of a meal
      in a four star restaurant
      in Provence, man scans
      the bill, adds to gratuity,
      offers Mastercard, smokes,
      wondering, when it ends,
      when credit is cut off
      and bills are overdue,
      will he feel anything?

      Successful man
      in neo-colonial home,
      eighteen years
      into alcoholic recovery,
      walks past cut glass
      whiskey decanters,
      in a blink is
      gulping contents.
      An hour later, high speed,
      in a car crash
      on his way back
      to see someone
      he could only remember
      by first name.

      Cameras record the moment
      and words important enough
      to remember. A banquet
      to recognize a woman
      praised in speeches and award.
      The woman sits smiling, alone,
      bemused. Harbors a secret:
      she is not the person
      they're talking about.

      Old man walks slowly in park,
      sits exhausted on bench,
      looks around at trees, people.
      Has pancreatic cancer
      that has metastasized.
      Takes out a folded paper,
      printout of blood work,
      cryptic numbers tell him
      he has not long to wait.
      Looks around thinks
      might be last time in park.
      Raises hand flicks fingers
      in a salute, a farewell.
      Looks again at printout,
      slowly raises end of thumb
      to tip of nose, wiggles fingers.

    As a poet, form has always fascinated me. Haiku is one of several highly disciplined forms. To me, haiku suggest a world in seventeen or fewer syllables. Here is one.

    At first morning light
    a hawk glides among the oaks
    calling my heart out

    Donald Marsh

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    Section C: .................................................................. September 15, 1997

    Soquel, CA


      Walking with two dogs in a huge meadow
      nearing the dome of sun blasted grass
      when the female dog is gone
      the male near me and nervous
      attenuated in fits all of his attention
      focused across the meadow
      with only an occasional nervous glance at me.

      Then I see the grass parting as the female comes
      running leaping high to see around
      and ahead of her a red fox intent and assessing
      heading right for us until the intelligence of the fox
      sees and our male runs low his shoulders bunching
      body accordion neck stretching with the fox
      veering in the tall grass and me shouting "No!" twice
      then watching as the fox with its wonderful full tail
      in slipstream a tail that would be a comforter at night
      in burrow the fox magnificent in its calculated running
      me not calling but knowing something elemental
      is happening that the animals are so alive and radiant
      in pursuit and fleeing that they know all this in a way
      I can only dream that this is their lives and their will
      as they come back across the meadow
      there is an aura and fleet chess game going not in slow motion
      but is happening very fast in images that are motionless
      and the fox won't circle because that way they'd cut it off
      but instead pretends to circle then sprints straight as they
      lose a stride each time and when it has the distance
      it heads for the Monterey pines and is gone and the dogs
      come back their tongues hanging to one side like Freshmen school ties
      and I am astonished to realize I never stopped walking
      it was only seconds in which I saw everything
      saw the completeness saw the earth speed under
      and continue in stride the day ringing glory glory I saw it.


      Big dog jacking
      up an embankment
      from a pond--
      water pouring from him
      a transparent defining

      Whales scrawled
      with barnacle graffiti
      in a continuing roll--
      water sluicing
      white puffs
      of white water air

      Rainwater falling long seconds
      sinuous on a mountain backdrop--
      bird beating its way
      somewhere but there

      Battering-ram white waves
      exploding against rocks
      slow motion
      bride throwing back her veil

      My wife lifts the water thirsty
      I see her freckled buttermilk skin
      working through the glass
      through the water
      I see her drink drink drink
      ah drink stop to think

      Water waiting a silver dot
      on the very blade tip
      of a bamboo leaf--
      in half a thought
      holding a reflected universe

    Donald Marsh

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    Section B: .................................................................. August 15, 1997

    Fairfax, CA


      Where the sea and the river meet
      one lays over the other in their earth bed.
      Ebbs and floods and downstream currents mingle as
      each tracks the cycles in the way it knows, has always known ...
      As the circle says, my beginning and ending are one,
      and so it is with this sea and this river.
      Each reveals the other, conceals the other, becomes the other's
      coming and going,
      like the wolf,
      coming and going through the night,
      tracking dreamers.

    Marti Spiegelman

    Three Rivers, MI

    I guess the bills get to us all sometimes, and this poem was given birth by that moment in which I weigh Dime and Dream and the consequences of the loss of either. As artists we do what we must do!


      There are those in which
      The Dream lives so strong
      that life is
      inadequate consolation.

      Inadequate, expendable
      yet they live on
      respecting the only moral law
      which they dare not challenge.

      Gasping for indulgences
      of art
      and nature
      of true experience
      mystical experience
      if only the most fleeting kind.

      Breathing every moment
      a ceaseless prayer
      of abject request
      for tolerance
      an apple
      and please
      enough of
      The Dream.

    Kim Schuette

    Portsmouth, NH


      At sunset
      on the first day

      The ocean is a copper meadow
      ringed with clouds
      of make-believe forest and mountains.
      Shearwaters, petrels
      and flying fish
      skim its gleaming surface.
      The outer rim of the world
      is our destination.

      The full moon blossoms
      like an iris,
      blooms all night long.

      At 4 A. M.
      clouds pile up on the horizon,
      slip and tumble
      into the sea,
      reflected icebergs.
      The tropical night
      is warmed silver,
      the air, heavy, wet,
      and the Southern Cross
      hangs over our heads,
      a kite tipped with gold.

      Just before sunrise
      a school of
      sleek black and white dolphins
      rise up at our bow,
      carve a path for us into a Bay.

      They leap
      though the dark waters
      toward the pale ghost
      of the day moon.

    Anne Dewees

    Tucson, AZ

    This is a poem written from a flashback I had.


      I lay alone bruised, crying in my bed of shame
      beaten, dripping wet, shaking from the pain
      clutching my torn nightie, giving god all the blame
      whispering, desperate prayers, in vain

      surrounded by darkness, in shadows of the night
      will I ever sleep this night, must face the day
      close my eyes, hear their screams of fright
      clutching my teddy, eyes closed nightmares find their way.

      shake, shiver and wake up screaming
      gasping for breath staring at the wall
      was it real or was I dreaming
      fall back to bed grasp my teddy and bawl

      it's over now, it's over they say
      I shake my head to agree with sadness
      but these things are in my heart each day
      it has all driven me to madness

      and yet I'm still alive, some say I've survived
      who am I to say it's true, I find it hard to believe
      I feel so unloved, I've been morally deprived
      trapped in my own web of reality, I weave

    Lucretia Bennett

    Soquel, CA


      "Marsh Marsh,"
      She found our house
      from short-circuited memory
      fused direct with idiot love,
      lost in our garden
      facing the wrong way,
      calling to the cottage
      where her father had lived,
      her voice coming over the years
      calling broken, snuff palated.

      The passing of senseless time
      made the girl a woman
      in uncoordinated lumps,
      one side too large,
      humping, devouring the other.
      Splayed feet in heeled stride,
      stood grinning awry uncertain
      near some rosemary.
      I want to walk and pick some,
      I want to say to her,
      "That's for remembrance,"
      then have her quietly reply,
      "Pray you, love, remember."
      Instead a screwed face honking,
      "Marsh Marsh."

      I went calling her name,
      she turned in teetering lurches,
      in gleeful fists,
      in a failed blind grace.
      "Hey you got it."

      The you of hey you
      said singling me out
      from remembered
      and fancied me, you, others.

      Stood close in rocking pride,
      in snuffling hugs,
      "You got it,"
      telling several nothings
      at once; of remembered
      and invented pet cats
      to care for. Everything,
      including the me of hey,
      the me of you, of got it,
      was one while her eyes dream-danced
      over my face, her merry mouth
      spittled and fizzed.

      I crushed some rosemary
      that we smelled in giggles,
      in her arms reaching, dreaming,
      in woman-heat, in pure rosemary
      in getting and giving.

      I took her back to her father
      where we parted in rosemary promises.
      "Marsh Marsh," she called
      from a cheerleader's crouch,
      "You got it."

      Walking back to my work
      feeling good about
      having seen her, still
      unable to keep out
      the selfish guilty thanks
      on the cusp of sleaze
      she wasn't my child,
      flicking the limp rosemary
      crazyquilt to the wind;
      unable, at that moment,
      to accept or keep
      what I had gotten--
      for remembrance.

    *"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews, Chapter 13, verse 2.

    This poem has disturbed any number of people. I'd have to say that the "event" in the poem never happened. Bits and pieces of it happened over a period of decades. The young woman in the story was a friend when she was a child and continues to be a good friend even though we're separated by distance. There was a time when I felt she saved my sanity. How she did this I don't know. Maybe just by being herself. We've always been close, always understood one another.

    Some of what I put in the poem is a deep disturbance in me... a sense that I desert people, disappoint them. The last time I talked to my friend, she was trying hard to get a driver's license. She's been trying for years.

    I've been thinking about her and how we relate. No one, not her mother or father, both loving, nor my wife can understand what it is between us. To say she saved my life is such a melodramtic thing, yet she did. Our first time together she was about 12 and we spent the whole day and got along with a minimum of words. I felt differently after being with her and now, on those rare occasions when we do see one another, we laugh a lot and she does most of the talking.

    Donald Marsh

    Toronto, Canada

    I was especially touched by one of the poems by Sharon Davies (LBOL #3, Section C), and the phrase... "...not knowing if she was still alive..."

    I remember being in the the old USSR when my mother was ill and often thinking that I didn't know at the moment if she was alive. But one time when we stopped over in Helsinki on my way home I went shopping for a dress for her to wear comfortably in her wheelchair. These were difficult to find. I found the perfect dress and something told me that she didn't need it and I knew that meant that she was not alive... The moment I arrived in Canada a phone call to her home verified that she had died the day before... Of course, to punish me for going away when she was ill (I made 11 trips to the USSR while she was ill) ... the family had buried her without waiting for me. A dear friend, former Chief of the West Coast Haida Indians, came to my home and put on a wonderful and very meaningful "saying goodbye" ritual for me and about 18 friends. He didn't know my mother and that her favorite flower was red roses but he brought red roses for everyone present. It was a fitting good-bye for my mother and a "quietening in the heart" ritual for me...

    So that's why her poem meant so much to me....

    Crystal Croll-Young
    hawk145@idirect.com (Crystal Hawk)

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    Section A: .................................................................. July 15, 1997

    Boulder Creek, CA

    Having received an E-mail from a friend to save a weekend date, this poem came.


      Just as the sun dipped below the horizon
      the sky split open and the heavens thundered
      as the summons from the silken goddess of the north arrived
      Save these dates!!!
      Who me?
      Can a human being do such a thing?
      Whatever we do the dates will go on.
      Is this another new age cause?
      Are the dates endangered?
      Save these whales!!!
      Did you ever try to lift one of those things?
      Can you imagine pulling one from the sea and trying to breathe into it?
      Who's going to save me?

      These dates are not endangered.
      They stand there in single file.
      A line so long you could never see the end
      marching relentlessly forward one by one by one
      until they reach the front
      have their moment in the light
      and poof! they vanish.
      The day you were born. Poof!
      The day you fell off the bike. Poof!
      The day you got fired. Poof!
      Should I lose all abandon and throw my body
      amidst this eternal machine and become trampled.
      Save these dates!!!
      Do you know what you're asking of me?

      As these dates disappear
      we don't really care.
      Most have no name.
      They're gone.
      We have other fish to fry.
      But every now and then we save one.
      You, you're the day that will live in infamy.
      You, you're the day Kennedy was shot.
      You, you're the day my father died.
      I still know you well.
      But the day he put his arm on top of my shoulder
      and said I was the perfect height
      And the day not so many years later when he became
      the perfect height for me
      I don't know those dates
      they don't live in time.
      Save these dates!!!
      Do you know what you're asking of me?

      All around the world calendars open
      the beautiful silence of empty pages
      some with a month filling the page
      others with only one day
      and we facing the joy and the horror of the emptiness
      desperately wanting to be needed, to be useful
      to be somebody
      begin to eliminate the space
      and each writing our place in the world
      pin a note to the body of the date marching down the line
      so it arrives at the front covered in notes, bleeding
      a lifeless corpse
      Save these dates!!!
      Do you know what you're asking of me?

      This ritual slaughter takes place at midnight
      when we are asleep or too tired to care.
      Greeting tomorrow in the light when we are wide awake
      we have no interest in grief.
      The old system was right
      let the day end with the setting sun
      with us still awake knowing what we missed,
      tomorrow suddenly arrives.
      Facing the long abyss of darkness
      knowing that by the time light arrives
      this day will be half gone.
      The panic gripping us as we clutch our calendars
      trying to keep up.
      Save these dates!!!
      Do you know what you're asking of me?

      Just once I'd like to see a date make it to the front naked
      No notes
      All calendars blank
      We know who we are but not what we are.
      Job, we don't remember.
      Stock market, we don't remember.
      Chores, we don't remember.
      We'll have nothing to do,
      we won't even know what doing is.
      When we meet we can look in each other's eyes
      and we will know we share a secret
      and we will never know what that secret is.
      We won't need to.
      It's not the dates that need saving.

    Stuart Wells

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Here is a poem for you..


      The potter's wheel
      is wooden
      turning in time
      to the yellow sun
      outside the trees
      bent toward the window
      as if to say "hello"

      On top of it
      I place the clay
      the grey matter
      full of impulses
      and synapses
      they call
      of the brain

      I shape it
      out of intestine shaped
      into something
      not quite round
      but split in two

      each half
      to influencing
      the other

      When I am done
      I look outside
      nearly dark
      there are only shadows
      the wood

      until another

    Ingrid Middleton
    IR Middelton@aol.com

    Soquel, CA


      God came, a Princeton graduate:
      tap dancing, bowtie,
      dark flannel jokes.

      God, a lonely pie-faced woman
      eating a sundae
      in a resurrected Five-and-Dime.
      A longing and looking
      out over Notions.

      God, a Brahmin girl:
      finger cymbals, sidesaddle looks,
      supple brown bare midriff.
      Her eyes told me
      I could not seduce Him
      but She me.

      God, an old blackman
      has seen everything
      in a reverie
      in an empty ghetto lot.
      Calls klaxon,
      smiles snaggle,
      offers all a paperbag
      bottle benediction
      at a going by.

      So many birds in a field feeding:
      on a signal they rise together,
      turn in a slow tornado,
      confetti pieces of night:
      only to please,
      one of them is God,
      a redwing blackbird.

    Port Authority is a huge bus station in Manhattan. Just about all the Trailways and Greyhound buses from all over the country come there. Also commuter buses from Connecticut and New Jersey and all the surrounding airports. At one time it was in the center of the porno movie district. It was said you could buy just about any human vice and/or drug in the area surrounding Port Authority. The neighborhood is being cleaned up now, Disney Mickey Mouse Centers replacing the streetwalkers... an elusive difference. In midtown Manhattan, on the west side, Port Authority sits in an area once known as Hell's Kitchen.


      In the din and dirty
      card-deck neon jumble,
      in the squawking dingle
      of porno festered 8th Avenue,
      spider clenched in webbed
      in the impatient steam hiss,
      in the panting horn bleat--

      From a taxi window
      watching a street vendor
      twist stamp snap compulsive
      in some great tired hate,
      spitting words, head jerking,
      finger belly-ripping the air,
      "I am sick," he screams,
      "I am sick and I am tired,"
      in exhausted rage,
      "Of your shit!"

      Spins indignant, stalks away
      from his pretzel cart to return
      to twist stamp snap compulsive,
      "I am sick," he says all day,
      "And I am tired," everyday,
      "of," he does it on the subway,
      "your," at sad shabby room,
      "shit," for long dark years.

      This misery mantra
      repeated by rote, finding
      a fulfillment in ritual,
      threadbare satisfaction
      in stale fantasy.
      I know. I understand.

      I am sick and I am tired
      of this write I write
      everyday at home, away,
      in my head, my heart, for years.
      We are sick and we are tired.
      We are caught, we are sick
      and we are tired of our caught,
      must say it over and over.

      "He's working," the taxidriver
      in a chocolate coffee voice
      gazing turtle eyed at me
      in the rear-view mirror,
      "He's working and that's all
      ----------------------that matters."

    Donald Marsh

    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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