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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #6

  • Section A: January 15, 1998
  • Section B: February 15, 1998
  • Section C: March 15, 1998
  • Section D: April 15, 1998
  • Section E: May 15, 1998
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 1998

    Creative Edge LBOL shares these poems from A Year on the Avenue, thanks to Two Dog Press!


      The Neanderthal they say
      Dropped bunches of wildflowers
      Into graves when burying
      Their dead

      So creatures with sloping brow
      And hobbling gait indulge such
      Simple gestures to show
      Their love

      Indeed had they no language beyond
      Cries and tears to express their loss
      So I will shape their words move
      Their mouths

      And twist their tongues to say
      Do not leave me here alone
      I went without you to a hillside
      To pick

      These flowers and listened for
      Your steps behind me and
      The sound of brush bending as
      You walked

      Feet fall silent and you leave
      I place flower blossoms on your
      Eyes but you do not wake or stir
      Asleep now

      Tonight I will sit with my back
      To the fire wishing I could show
      You one last gesture that says stay
      With me

    Doug Tanoury


      I used to write poetry
      when I was in school
      long, flowing, precision verse
      I'd inhale Shakespeare
      and conjure worlds of
      love, happiness, tragedy, triumph

      But then I got married at seventeen
      dropped out of school
      had two kids--good, handsome boys
      watched my father die slowly of cancer
      saw my brother killed on the street
      comforted my embittered mother
      rallied behind my husband
      when he lost his job
      started a day-care and
      surrounded myself with
      children who speak in
      sentence fragments

      I don't write poetry anymore
      You can see it in my eyes

    Karen Dowell

    Athens Avenue Poetry Circle.

    A Year on the Avenue is available at most online bookstores and from Two Dog Press.

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 1998

    Monterey, CA


      Las Vegas - crystalline center of the Empire
      Where the pseudo Greco-Roman statue of a young male athlete has a fig leaf
      covering the penis
      Puritan propriety in wide-open Las Vegas

      Or metaphor of United States imperial might covered by the fig leaf
      of promoter of democracy

      Mystery, Babylon, Mother of Whores

      Babylon - the desert city of a great empire dedicated to human folly

      I pass the endless newspaper racks advertising hookers and phone sex
      The litter of the streets flowing with pictures of dangling bulbous breasts
      smiling women spread-legged with one beckoning hand on the mons veneris

      And mystery? The magic shows, thrill rides,
      the hypnotic glare of the slot machines and games of chance

      As I look down upon the city from the one hundred and tenth floor
      of the observation tower of the Stratosphere hotel where I am staying
      I wonder what this time and place could have to do with the image of Babylon
      a city so far away in both
      and named, after all,
      for that legendary monument to hubris, the Tower of Babel

      During the shuttle-bus ride from the airport the driver explained
      that Las Vegas is the top convention city in the world.

      An echo from the desert came to me saying
      "Mystery, Babylon, Mother of Whores, who causes all the nations of the world
      to drink from the cup of her abomination!"

    Wes Lovette

    Carmel, CA


      It's raining a summer's rain--
      In a rhythm that echoes some of my youth.
      A full, windless, down in-the-dark liquid patter.

      ...Nineteen and tucked for-a-moment into a sidewalk doorway on McDougal
      Street off Washington Square. Thinking of umbrellas and the sweet smell
      of freshly baked croissants that danced down the wet Greenich Village
      street like Gene Kelly splashing in puddles...swinging from lamposts.
      My walk home from the night club where I waited on tables and sang with
      a Steinway for tips was always a musical if not a lonely adventure. And
      the canyon-like streets of lower New York were perfect for echoing
      tired blues...whistling torch songs of Edith Piaf and Judy Garland,
      especially in the rain while the city slept.

      Twenty seven and standing on the porch of my rented 19th century
      country house in Connecticut, I looked sleepily into night's rain down
      a road of old elms that dissappeared into a cavern of dark, wet leaves.
      I could still smell the burnt-umber and meadow-green from the oil
      painting I just finished, the scent of coffee cooling in my cup,
      cabbages and carrots in the garden hidden behind the house in tall
      grasses, the fragrance of the season...an earth that cradled change and
      affectionately held so many human stories. It was the summer of
      Woodstock. Friends would be joining that crusade while I packed up the
      household and the canoe that rested down the road under a small bridge
      in the marshes, to prepare for a new life in the Colorado mountains.
      There were fireflys hiding in the trees. The last I would see for a while.

      Rain memories. As easily as they entered my open door and tugged
      me from sleep, they fall away to the call of sea gulls, Canada geese,
      Pacific Coast cattle in the hills and my enthusiasm for another day

      in love with life.

    Gary Ibsen

    Soquel, CA


      Sitting in a knuckled orchard
      in a sun bleached rocker
      watching our two dogs in play.

      They are rough and so quick,
      glossy in exuberant detail.
      It may rain.

      They roll, pivot, and pounce
      in green leaps. Apple blossoms
      are extravagant in yellow-white plops.

      I sit feeling seventy years
      of ache and fatigue
      as the dogs trick and pursue in manic glee.

      I am an unknown poet
      only beginning to know the gift of that.
      Dark, big-bellied clouds want to rain.

      It has been such an ordinary life,
      improbable in pursuit
      of what so many abandon.

      I galumph off my rocker
      to the soft tickling grass
      that will retake its shape
      after we, the dogs and me,
      end our rowdy play.
      It begins a gentle spring rain.

    Donald Marsh
    (To receive one of these free original poems emailed each Monday, contact Donald Marsh.)

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 1998

    Valleyford, WA

    I wrote this poem last summer, a moment captured in time, on the beautiful island of Kauai. The trip was graced with healing energys that came in with each wave.


      Holding each other in warm embrace
      I float with you,
      One heart of compassion touches me.
      inviting me to open.
      tenderly the tears begin to fall upon my
      melting the walls of protection
      I have made
      to keep you away.
      One heart of compassion
      has given me grace.
      Unvieling myself
      nakedly bare,
      grace unfolding,
      In your eyes I see
      my relfection,
      Goddess I am.

      Emerging, embracing,
      holding you in my arms,
      We are one, flowing in the river of
      One heart of compassion.
      Come let the river flow wide,
      come take her into your arms
      she will float.
      Seeing her reflection in your eyes
      Goddess she is.

    Dagma Beth Lacey

    Soquel, CA

    Donald Marsh
    (To receive one of these free original poems emailed each Monday, contact Donald Marsh.)

    Atlanta, GA

      [Gary Smith image]

      THE TREE by Gary R. Smith

    The seed contains the pattern and essence of the tree. In germination, white threads of root tendrils thrust their way through the seed husk, seeking moisture and nutrients in the soil. The energy of life bursts from the seed crown in a sprout, reaching to be met by the warmth of the sun.

    Tender sprouts are at risk from devouring mouths and harsh elements. They are easily uprooted. Unprotected from cold winds, many perish. Over time, the survivor forms a defense of bark and entrenched roots determined to stay. The treetop may rise above a canopy of foliage to partake of the sun's blessings.

    Humans are complex beings. In a metaphorical comparison to trees, our psyche has many layers like tree rings, and our outer lives compare to the branches, bark, twigs, leaves, fruit and seeds. We have interactions with the outside world, the sunlight and rain, the earth, the winds, lightning, parasites, diseases, knives of young lovers and axes of woodsmen, the pollinators, nest-makers and scampering squirrels.

    We sometimes think and behave as though we are a leaf blowing in the wind, as though the leaf is who we are. Many people operate in a leaf consciousness, without real life and power, easily pushed about by circumstances, unaware of their grounding in the strength of the tree.

    Our real self is the nature and fullness of the tree -- our real self is the treeness. What a difference it makes to function in the full consciousness of our being, and to recognize our connection with the forest through the underground River tapped by our roots.

    Gary Smith

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 1998

    Carmel, CA

    Something I woke with I wanted to share in my early morning tribute to the letting all of us BE who we are.


      I love your wild places...

      Where the freedom within you and
      wilderness of your possibilities
      are not caged in compromise;
      where the true essence of you
      knows no limits;
      and the fertile texture of your soul
      remains enriched forever unconfined.

      Like daylight being lifted from the horizon,
      by wings of flying geese toward uncharted land,
      your heart has no map.

      This new day, I again fall open in wonder,
      as spring flowers in sunlight,
      to the splendor of you unfettered.

      Within the echo and embrace of our intimacy,
      I am comfort to your freedom...
      music for your dance.

      I love... your wild... places.

    I also woke with this on my breath.


      What is time to a rabbit?
      To an elk...
      in the cadence
      of it's own breath,
      drifting hypnotically
      across snowy night-meadows?
      To an owl...
      within it's soundless-swoop
      upon a critter in high grasses?
      Where does time hide...
      In an artist's passion...
      In the groan of pleasure
      that springs from a lover...
      In the center of a child's laugh...
      Or in the moonlight
      mirrored back to me
      from your smiling eyes?

      As my enraptured heart
      shepherd's me,
      through an eternity
      of glorious moments,
      time waits...

      for someone else
      to call it's name.

    Gary Ibsen

    Soquel, CA


      Day's end cowboys
      squatted on wire milk crates
      on bootheel ground
      nodding one another
      tomcat permission
      beer cans offered
      as blindman
      begging cups

      Cowboy dumptruck
      septic tank pump
      backhoe bronco
      in an alley
      behind a Quonset hut
      after work

      They tune torque time
      shake heads softly swear
      over cars pickups
      hang doors frame windows
      friend's home for grass
      for dinner
      for wine
      have love and trouble
      with their women

      Then have their tired redolent
      day's end
      in an alley
      one more ritual ride
      Jesus they say over and over
      Jesus Christ
      in an alley
      as cowboys

      Lazy brown bear sway
      to their pride
      to their scorn
      to their dream

      one step behind
      on time payments
      of who they are
      of what an alley
      they have


      Her face--
      powdered pale,
      skull capped
      in cloche hat,
      Kewpie doll red lips--
      has haunted me
      for over sixty years.

      A crimped pie-tin face,
      mascara eyes pan shallow,
      staring off,
      bone lonely,
      over a hot fudge sundae
      isolated at a Five-and-Dime

      Mommy-- what--
      that lady-- what about her--
      she's so sad-- no--
      my mother mirroring,
      staring off-- no, she's just


    *First Corinthians, thirteen

    Donald Marsh
    (To receive one of these free original poems emailed each Monday, contact Donald Marsh.)

    Atlanta, GA


    Each part of creation, of the material universe and the spark that perpetuates life, can say with all other parts, that in our essence we are the River. The River is a symbol of whatever you believe about the Spirit of God and His creation or about biological and spiritual evolution, or however you express your understanding and experience of the greater life. This is the expression of the River through one writer.

    I am all rivers, moving from what is to something greater. I am pumped from the heart of the Universe through the circulatory system of all cycles and seasons and back into the heart center.

    My essence is conscious potentiality, pushing and throbbing into the cells of matter, bringing new life, new awareness, new forms and combinations, into material existence. I am at once a river of sparkling light and a river of flowing, silky gold fully alive, fully aware.

    My waters meet the roots of trees and plants and are drawn up to the stem, bringing life into every fiber. In the tops of trees I greet the sun and through evaporation am carried into the clouds, to repeat the cycle. I am the cycle. I am all cycles and seasons, renewing and moving forward in a vast River pulsating with the force of life. All history and all prophecy are contained in my changing waters, and in my center I am the eternal now.

    I am the underground river-awareness nourishing the roots of the humanity forest that grows in the field of matter.

    I am the underlying current of thought, expression and insight that flows through inspired art and literary works, the gems that link together to form a continuity of growing consciousness.

    More than the images and feelings evoked by these words, I am the essence dwelling in all potentiality, the urge to express new forms.

    I am the flow of all that has been, is, and will be.

    Gary Smith

    (Learn about resources such as Transformers and Vision River Guide from the Vision River Home Page.
    Gary Smith is the Internet developer who first put Creative Edge on the Web!

    Transformers is an online directory of people who are bringing forward the ideas, technologies, practices, products and services that are changing lives and contributing to human advancement.

    Vision River Guide provides in-depth profiles of hundreds of current books relating to life purpose, with information designed to help sort through the maze, guidelines for discovering life purpose and tools to support actually living it.)

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 1998

    Seattle, WA

    Susan and I are not sure what prompted our son Spencer (Age 7) to write this poem. He just seemed to like the rhyming of the words. As far as we know, it is not about anything in particular. Spencer's poem seems to reflect the ebbing and flowing of his usual day. His delight in writing it was only exceeded by his parent's enjoyment in discovering his talent.


      I sleep on your bed
      as long as I live.
      And look out the window
      from my bib.

      And awake in the morning,
      and eat breakfast and fly
      into the daylight.
      The daylight of sky.

      And in space to the sun
      I'm having some fun.
      And back to the earth,
      Close to my birth.

    Spencer L. Cyr

    I wrote my first haiku the day after we visited with you. When we went down to the beach on Sunday, we saw several whale spouts. We also watched in amusement as a 6' log and the surf played with each other. The log simply rolled back and forth on the beach with the surf. Here's the haiku:


      log and surf at play
      dancing and splashing about
      drenched in whale spout

    Craig Cyr

    Here are two of Susan's poems.


      Oh, vast reservoir of all human tears,
      ----I come again to leave my offering at your doorstep.
      You ably hear my sorrow
      ----And fold my tears into
      All there is.

      Great rocking cradle of time before time,
      ----Hold me today.

      You throw yourself about my ankles, when I dare get close,
      ----Reminding me of all I know.
      Urging me to not forget the lessons of salty waters.
      You are in me,
      ----And we are both moved by the moon.


      Beach running .
      Under red-flowerered cotton dress,
      a jubilant bare body.
      My own ample bottom jiggles loose and free.
      A subtle, just-enough sort of nudity.
      Only I know of sea breeze in happy, private hollows,
      ----Usually bound by pink cotton, white lycra, elastic strapping.
      Full breasts jump for joy.
      Sometimes I bring tears, but
      ----Today I sprinkle laughter over sea foam.

      Beach sitting.
      Energy of wind and breaker sound play with my dresstail.
      Sunlight glints off white thighs, wild and flying hair, upturned cheeks and teeth
      ----sending to the morning moon an ancient prayer of gratitude.

    Susan M. Cyr

    Soquel, CA


      My oldest brother in a voice
      chipped by pain, granulated by age,
      electronically intimate in long distance,
      wispy with a certain knowledge,
      naked in late-night in-bed truth:
      "He called it something sounded Greek.
      I asked. Told me. Twice. Slow.
      Anyway, what it means is that,
      well, there's a good chance
      I just won't be anymore."

      I instantly put him
      safely back in time
      to when he had that dangerous smile
      through black eyebrows
      and was building a kayak,
      the two of us warping its ribs
      in tensile ballet swoons.

      Then kayaking the colonial canals
      of Trenton north to Lambertville,
      gliding silent slumpbacked under
      weeping willows in green streamers,
      my brother holding the double-bladed oar
      sitting erect a flying Wallenda,
      Siamese twinned by the canal's
      mirror silvered cutting surface.

      The two of us safe and young
      in kite-tail dragonfly summer,
      motionless in a feather-bowed boat,
      the loitering disreputable air
      painted thick hanging coats of humidity,
      drifting stately with the perhaps current
      near punked reeds. We are primed intent.
      My brother moves slow-oiled and tilts the oar
      and the water-oar image shimmers.
      We hold steady barely panting,
      piratical in open mouths.
      I hold a cavalry sword athwart.
      We are the slit-eyed electric snake hunters.
      Water Moccasin skins for naked girl's garters.

      "Almost just had it."
      His voice weary cinder steps
      back to the hospital-bed present.
      "Said it, repeated it after.
      Doesn't matter I don't remember.
      What matters is what it means.
      Means it has spread. Everywhere."

      Months after the call, after
      the vacuum implode of the funeral,
      after the sick sleep-laden smell
      of gardenias, after the neat specified grave
      dug by machine, after the following cars
      with their wipers weeping, after
      the routine of life binder-pressed down,
      I began seeing him again. Everywhere.

      At the back of a crowd of finance ministers
      gathered at Sao Paulo in a wire photo;
      on the television as an on-looker
      at an accident in Orinda
      the camera catching his kayak profile;
      ahead in a crowd on Dolores Street,
      the slope of his shoulders, the nape of neck
      unmistakable as he rounds a corner;
      in a car going the other way near Watsonville,
      his tan forearm draped out the window.

      In my dreams, waking late or early,
      remembering a rueful Latin-lidded smile;
      finally encountered face-to-face
      passing an unexpected mirror
      and knowing in responsibility
      and surprise, that something
      of us all never really dies.

    Donald Marsh
    (To receive one of these free original poems emailed each Monday, contact Donald Marsh.)

    Pataskala, OH

    I wrote this after my sister called me one day: She said that she had just gotten into a very violent fight with her husband. I wanted to call the police on him , but she was scared and begged me not to. So, felling very helpless, I just started writting.


      Somewhere they turned on us
      they wanted us to suffer
      How much pain can we take
      will we be victims forever
      alcoholics abusers they are all the same
      generation to generation have we no shame
      letting them take our lives like its all a game
      Games with your mind but please not your soul
      for once family lets get control
      Choose who you let in
      you have to take charge you see
      Realize abuse is not your destiny
      Stand you ground be firm and strong, you have to remember
      They have tought us one thing, life is not long
      God has given us alot of choices you see
      and we have always had the key,
      realize we are not one but We
      and maybe in time, We in spirit can be


      The tree of life is love:
      The branches are every aspect:
      Forever growing and thriving
      to reach thee ultimite source of
      light and love.

    I have a whole book of poems I've written over the years. I wrote the tree of life for my mother last christmas. I drew a large picture of a tree: wrote the poem in gold over the top of it, Then made a twig frame with vines and roses going around it. I've never showed them to any one other than family.

    Kerrie Cook

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 1998

    Carmel, CA

    After fixing a cup of tea, lighting a candle and returning to bed for awhile .....listening to John O'Donohue wax poetic on prayer in the dark--this little poem came.


      In my morning's freshly awakened
      and still pillowed mind,
      wrapped in honey-colored-cotton-sheets
      smelling of springwildflowers
      and the scent for another wonderous day,
      I am a harp and violin
      to his lyrical Irish cadence.

    Gary Ibsen

    Soquel, CA

    Who are we? I'm always struck by two things: one, who we think we are contrasted with who others feel we are; and, two, the idea that there is an immutable "self." It seems to me that on any given day at any hour I am a different person to different people.


      You've buried a loved one,
      gone back to your childhood
      for the final austere ritual,
      found everything smaller,
      shabbier, sorry.

      You've spent days going through
      the loved one's effects,
      discovering things
      you'd rather not know.

      Then you're beginning
      the long night's drive home
      through terrain that looks
      like industrial New Jersey.
      You're motoring back to a life
      where you feel taken for granted,
      where no one seems to want
      to know you beyond your provider role.

      No one said good-bye at the funeral.
      You realize with a cresting sigh
      you are the last of a line
      that was once thick in tradition.

      You admit all over again
      you're operating
      with tired worn parts,
      that you can't really
      account for all the years,
      see so many plans as fruitless,
      listen to your heart making odd beats,
      taste your breath as stale
      and dentured in partials.

      You see a diner with its neon
      as lonely and expectant
      as an Edward Hopper painting.
      Inside there are a few
      desultory staring people. You sit at a counter
      wanting only coffee
      and a few quiet moments
      of caffeine mercy.
      You feel an urge to cry--
      at the tawdry inevitability of things,
      at the mean paucity of the spirit.

      Then, through the swinging doors
      from the kitchen comes the waitress.
      An entrance: pausing milkmaid hip thrown
      to one side, elbows in, palms spreading,
      " Ta-dah! Vanna White look-a-like!"
      A younger, less careful, more bovine
      version of Vanna. Shows a sales-window
      Chiclets smile. Then palms smoothing
      foam rubber waist, her look is mocking,
      lowered and sidesaddle.
      " Card turning and coffee pouring,"
      Silex pot poised. " All in the wrist."

      Slumps rubber-lipped staring off.
      " It's a stupid show and why not?
      The customers say I look like her.
      Men mostly hitting on me.
      Sometimes I resent it and get like,
      hey, buster, look, there's somebody here.
      Then I think, hey, people smile,
      and I think, if somebody laughs,"
      farmyard arms spread, " Hey,
      what the hell, why not?"

      You nod. At the cash register you pay,
      regarding yourself in a mirror.
      You are, as the doctor suggests,
      " Overweight."
      Gray and balding.
      The years have funhouse thickened
      your features. You look like
      so many other middle aged men.
      You smile. It is a perfect disguise.

      " Take care," the diner-Vanna says,
      handing you your change.
      " No," you say in a little smile,
      " Thanks all the same,
      but I don't think I will."
      " All. Right." She says, fists
      thumping the register, " All! Right!"
      repeated cleaning the diner air.

      Outside you pause to take in
      the jumbled nightline sky.
      You must be on the move,
      in the hunt, for you know
      that nearby, out of sight,
      there just has to be


    With the posting of today's poem, it is one year. It started with me sending poems to a few friends and grew to its current size mostly on its own. I am amazed and, hopefully, humble. Somewhere along the line I realized I was having a good time. I write poetry because I must. I also write it to be read and, through email, I've found a wonderful opinionated audience. Boy, the opinions flow. I thank you for all of them.

    I don't know how much longer I can continue posting new poems, but I'm willing and hope you're enjoying.


      in the end--
      to something that may
      or may not be there;

      may or may not
      be interested;

      may or may not
      be listening--

      thank you

      and yes.

    Heroes. Do you have any? I was in a discussion in which we all bemoaned the lack of modern day heroes. Then I started thinking. Made a list, discovering I had and have lots of heroes: both genders, all ages, most every race, living and dead. And a few, like a fireman I saw once, unknown by name.

    Here is a poem about one very special hero to me. I admired him much, for what he wrote about and how he continued to write, right up to his death. He was better known as Tennessee Williams.


      I thought of him as an older brother.
      of which the family was ashamed
      and I loved him for their shame.

      Oh, he did whistle in a way
      late at night made us smooth and giddy,
      then dance in a way made lanterns
      mean something more than papered light;
      made you want it never to be day.

      In the suggestive dark he danced and warbled
      of all the things that aren't
      supposed to be in the heart.

      He would whistle and tango
      just one dark apartment away,
      with backstairs laughter
      at thickening humid heat,
      behind glowing parchment window shades,
      from hot whore's whiskey throats.

      And what he had and what he was
      will always go on just out of sight,
      and families will always explain,
      and there will always be those that know
      the importance of daring against shame,
      the compassion in laughter in the dark.

    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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