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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #8

  • Section A: January 15, 1999
  • Section B: February 15, 1999
  • Section C: March 15, 1999
  • Section D: April 15, 1999
  • Section E: May 15, 1999
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 1999
    Molieres sur l'Alberte, France

    The French Experience (today's mind)

    Go to sleep in the gently glowing (by candle light) bedroom, yellow and white, gauzy curtains softly flowing at the French doors; wake up to harsher light, the mists are back in the valley, casting their grayish glint and dulling glows.

    Look down into my morning drink at minute gnats thrashing for their lives; lift them out with my finger tip; kettle on the stove to warm the water for dishes, left from last night ... too much in the dark for a tired body; meanwhile sweep the window sills of their night's accumulation of spent gnats, lives lost in seeking outside from the inside of the window. Their futility is matched only by their numbers.

    Hard to get going on a day like this; but three laundry bits wait soaking by the door; take them to the river; roll up my pants; off with the sandles; wade into the shallows and dip, swirl, swish, then wring. Carry the three bits back to the clothes line strung between a tree limb and the bars on the window; wring again and hang the three bits, hoping that if the rains come it is gently, not like yesterday's thunder and cloud burst, allowing me to retract the three bits for inside drying.

    Sharon Davies

    Salt Lake City, UT


      They say the soul tells stories
      in the form of tumors
      or goldfish
      swimming in an outdoor globe
      of late vacation sun

      We read poetry aloud
      to tell our stories
      we pull out weeds
      of a garden
      as if we were sowing
      our own skin

      replacing the dried
      up dead stuff
      with color
      with passion
      with art
      (with fear)

      Can soul
      be lumps
      and bumps
      and choices
      and airplanes?
      Can soul be

      or is soul merely absence of that
      and mere caring
      for what we cannot see?

      Oh soul of my soul
      come dance with me
      join me
      on my run
      in my terror
      in my nights spent alone

      Remind me of your
      truth your love
      your presence
      a foothold and footprint
      or permanent
      the seat and the seeds
      of my heart.

    Ingrid Middleton

    Soquel, CA

    Heroes. I still have them and the subject of this poem is one of my greatest heroes. On February 11, 1998, he walked out of prison a free man. Now the world is honoring this man, a hero to so many, as he retires to private life.


      Nelson Mandela
      Walked from prison.

      I sat in front of a television
      and looked, lost.
      So many people, some running,
      photographers crouching,
      most waving, cheering.
      So many automobiles.
      Where, in the frenzy,
      was he?

      A free man after twenty seven years.
      Broken? Bitter? Enraged?

      There probably is a name
      for looking at something
      and not being able to see it.

      Suddenly, there was Mandela,
      walking, in the eye of liberation,
      having been there all the time.

      Free. .

      Walking to something,
      not from anything.
      Walking owning only the ground
      beneath his feet.
      Made so quiet, so sure,
      by what he had,
      over the years,
      discovered in his cell.
      He would later tell the world:

      "Our deepest fear
      is not that we are inadequate.
      Our deepest fear
      is that we are powerful beyond measure."

      Twenty seven years
      forged a man beyond bitterness and rage,

      His jailers? They were nowhere to be seen.
      Still inside the jail; perhaps wondering,
      for the first time, exactly
      who it was that was imprisoned.

      "As we are liberated from our own fears,
      our presence automatically liberates others."

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

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 1999

    Crete, IL

    I taught high school for three years in a town that was a 160 mile round trip daily for me. I had to leave home about 5:00 A.M. to reach the school in time for the first class. More often than not much of the drive was in very dense fog and that was where this poem came from, deep within the confines of my mind while trying desperately to see the road in front of me.


      Shadowed haze envelopes my car
      Nature arranges her grey shroud,
      Cloaking Earth in secrecy.
      Patchwork of grey and white,
      The Interstate plays
      Hopscotch with my mind.
      Nothing stands between me and Eternity
      Save the thin white line
      Marking the pavement
      A mammoth shape looms...
      Tree Sentinel, limbs distorted by fog
      Dense, thick, impenetrable curtain
      Yet, my car glides through
      With uncanny ease
      Imagination runs rampant
      Eyes strain to see what is or is not there
      Assuring myself everything familiar is
      Still beneath this misty veil
      Hypnotized by the fog...
      To avert my gaze to either side
      Is to be lost
      Pressing nearer, the mysterious fog
      Closets and chokes me
      Swirling, murky vapor
      Conjures old stories of evil
      Lurking on Scottish Moors
      Sherlock appears in my mind's mist
      Pipe-puffing, check-caped
      Searching diligently for clues
      His hounds, ghostly apparitions
      Fangs snarling, hot-breathed
      Sprinting toward a doomed villain
      Fog rises, issuing
      From land-locked lake
      The Lochness Monster swims
      Eerily into my consciousness
      Tires slide easily into pavement gap
      Startling me back to the present
      If the road divides, camouflaged by fog,
      And I am confused,


    Patricia Hall

    Soquel, CA

    Since this weeks poem is about memory, it is dedicated to the memory of Floyd Silliman, a good friend, who entered The Mystery April 28, 1999.


      A Function of Memory
      is to tell us who we are.

      The us of a Sunday afternoon as a boy in Trenton.
      I am with my parents on our way to church.
      I am dressed as a little man complete to snapbrim hat.
      I carry the family bible close to my body.

      On old Spring Street, a colored neighborhood,
      in the time when neighborhoods were colored
      and individuals who lived there were Negroes.
      From behind a screen door very much like ours at home,
      we hear a young girl laugh then call,
      "Mommy, come see the white trash."

      I look and my father snaps, "Don't."
      We walk, my father low voiced, lips not moving.
      "Don't give 'em the time of day."
      We walk, my mother gripping my father's arm,
      frightened and angry. "The nerve," she says aloud.
      My father almost smiling. "Just keep on walking."
      All of us looking ahead. My father reassuring.
      "Just as pretty as you please."

      Just as pretty as you please
      I said the words in my head.
      Oh, how they tasted.
      At night, in bed, in the dark,
      I whispered, smiling, loving how the words
      were put together,
      "Just as pretty as you please."
      I said them at odd times for weeks.

      The function
      is to tell
      and tell
      in the telling
      none of it happening but
      in the telling
      of who we are.

      Decades later I am married
      on the other side of the continent.
      One day, my wife says,
      "Interested in the Preakness?"
      I look at her and love the word, Preakness.
      The way she says it: clean and slow
      and suggesting I might or should be.

      I marvel. She has never talked of races,
      even of horses. Ever.
      I imagine again her allowing me to enter
      a whole parallel world she exists in.
      A world of gambling, of having a bookie.
      His name is Cardona, he always wears a hat,
      sucks on his teeth a lot,
      knows too much about betting and bettors,
      taps his toes in cleated shoes while sitting.
      He looks at Joan, up and down.
      He stares at her breasts and body
      full of lascivious fantasy intent.

      He respects her because she wins.
      They talk as equals about over and under,
      of jockeys and stables and track conditions.

      I never knew of any of this until she said,
      "Preakness," just as pretty as you please.

      The function
      is telling others
      who we are by creating anecdote
      which they then recreate.

      Back again in time to Trenton.
      I am just been teenaged.
      I am in Stacy Park.
      The Delaware river is frozen
      so people can walk, can skid and slide,
      from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, and back.
      It is so still and so cold a breath is snapped off from the air,
      breaking, inhaled brittle intoxicating.
      Then Spring surges and shrugs and knuckles
      and the ice begins to break up
      in huge slabs that rear up then sink
      to crash and splinter up elsewhere.

      Along Stacy Park is a cement flood wall.
      I see ice big as a playground, thick as a grave,
      standing on end, towering over everything,
      pressed mighty against the wall,
      sculpted slow and hollow and huge by the flood wall,
      all the ice tinged with an angelbreath blue
      the sun seen through it all,
      glinting in the anvil cold clattering
      ice breakup Spring day.
      Great ice dragged along grinding in snaps.
      I watched, my breath blasting fast adagio ghosts.

      Ice breaking,
      The Preakness,
      white trash.

      The function is
      to tell all of us
      we are
      made up
      to memory-made others,

      just as pretty as you please

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

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 1999

    Somewhere, UK


      He sat alone on a wooden chair
      All around was still
      Filtered light in a room so bare
      Which silence seemed to fill

      His eyes were closed but surveyed all
      His body was limp and numb
      He was five foot nine but forty foot tall
      In a world the size of his thumb

      His mind was clear in the smoggy black
      His senses sharp but dead
      Eternal Knowledge like a winding track
      Stretching miles around his head

      Forgotten memories spring to life
      Then fade like fire in rain
      An inner voice cuts like a knife
      Then silence reigns again.

    Terry Cummings

    Soquel, CA


      Walking, looking at the stars, at Antares,
      I imagined my terrible death.

      Taking little shuffle steps
      on cold polished hospital floor,
      being held at the elbow by a nurse's aide;
      that aide bored, morose,
      wanting to be someone else somewhere else,
      moving with the weighted density of defeat
      before her twenty fifth birthday.

      Me tottering in crotch-stained pajamas,
      robe as a shroud, clear plastic hose
      looping each ear, then under my nose.
      I'm being led to sit in the sun where the aide
      can forget about me until time to complain
      she has to help me dribble back inside.

      I am weak and tired and fading
      and want to do something to die spectacularly--
      such as taking off the clear oxygen hose
      and strangling the aide while she resists.
      Only I'd fail, too weak, falling in great heaving breaths
      while she ran down the hall screaming,
      getting sympathy for days on my attempt.

      Antares, a red giant, won't go that way.
      Its death will be magnificent, a celestial explosion.
      Bigger than our sun, bigger than the orbits
      of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars combined,
      it will be a show. Creatures millions of light years away
      will stop and stare. Some will point, some make a sound
      as the great nova takes place. Most will watch in silence.

      With me, it might be an explosion of star genes.
      A slow growth of cancer cells erupting,
      a ruction, an artery going pop, a burst vessel allowing
      blood to bathe my brain and people will point
      and sirens will wail while some watch in silent grief.

      Antares? It too can't avoid the sullen little aides;
      it will drift, being observed, studied, explained.
      It will have its dim shroud of gas and dust,
      shuffling aimlessly for millennia,
      dreaming, dreaming of murdering gravity.

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

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 1999

    Morden, Manitoba, Canada

    I live with my wife Lori, a grade 4 & 5 teacher, in the Southern Manitoba country on three acres of oak trees and the meandering Dead Horse Creek, just outside the small town of Morden. I have been writing seriously for the past twenty some years, initially influenced by the music and lyrics of Bob Dylan and the Beatles; especially John Lennon. Later I discovered the Beat Generation, concentrating on Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. The poetry and writing of Octavio Paz, Paul Bowles and Malcolm Lowery are also a constant source of inspiration.

    Both my wife and I enjoy traveling and have been to most of the United States, parts of Mexico, lived and taught school in Honduras for a year, traveled through parts of Europe and most recently spent five months traveling in southeast Asia.


      life gets harder to make
      things broken
      fallen by the wayside
      fragile wings
      turning into
      and then away from
      the idea of being

      pick up the pieces
      continue on
      with the work
      of the living -- loving
      keeping fed
      maintaining shelter

      listen to the wind's
      as it soughs thru the
      grid of snow lined branches

      binds to the winter blue sky

      the human impression
      of dealing
      in times of sorrow

      to a sparrow's
      measure of life


      this sea of snow
      and distant shore
      horizon's home
      this tiny vessel soul
      with silent foot prints
      drifting over
      no where else
      a small voice this
      that fits so well
      is elsewhere missed
      is breathing on the mirror

      no where else am i this large
      as inward
      -----------------the wizard
      holding all the cards
      no where else this vast
      and shadowless
      a light skin stretched
      and single heart
      this color white
      is frozen
      sleeping deep
      day and night

      nowhere else like this

    Harold Janzen

    Boulder and Estes Park, CO

    On special days, Benjamin Cyr, age 14, writes poetry for his family. Some of them contain secret symbols for the family to find. The tradition began for him when he was a very little boy, and he and his mother exchanged poems on their birthdays. The following two poems are among the ones that Benjamin has written to commemorate Mother's Day and Father's Day. He'd like to share them with THE CREATIVE EDGE.

    For my Father (Clark R. Cyr).


      You saw the radiance in me
      A well-kept diamond in the rough
      A tattered lock, you found my key
      Unlatched freely, I shine enough

      Through darkness, the light of you glowed with me
      Your soul bobbed gently, paving the way
      Now, my sanguine optic orbs see
      A gentle man, one who will always stay

      Every now and then, your lights will flash
      Sometimes blinding, invariably bright
      Through suns of your heavens, I wish to dash
      Hankering to shimmer in that exquisite light

      I grow now, every moment of the year
      Knowing that a savior's always near

    For momma (Kiesa Kay Cyr) on Mother's day.


      A unicorn
      Lost beneath the endless skin
      Loved by husband and kin
      A warlock tries to steal the gold
      Leaving a scar to seal its hold
      A winding path ahead of thee
      Miles and miles behind you to see
      To your sides the great ones chant
      "Gallop forth, you can, you can!"
      For they have lived a life you had
      And not a single one is sad
      Yes, go forth, concealed one
      Happy mother's day, for years to come

    Benjamin Cyr
    kiesakay@msn.com or clarkcyr@msn.com

    Soquel, CA

    This poem was written in the waning years of the Peloponnesian War -- which is my smartass way of saying it was written a long time ago. I don't remember how long ago. It is a love poem and it does have a Dionysian character to it, and... Spring is inching closer.


      I've sifted through you many times
      with fine fingers of salacious greed.

      It seems I take from you forever
      with childlike gluttony and glee.

      One would think me a ravening killer,
      stalking the emotions, snaring the flesh-

      The syrup agony of bones breaking,
      the sweet, the very marrow, sucked.

      I cannot leave your honky-tonk ways.
      In hunching with lust, I devour you.

      Then smugly insane with animal thoughts,
      I sit to see you smirking serve me
      hot breakfast while I slyly steal my hand
      up your hothouse thighs and honeysuckle skirt.

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

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 1999

    Kalispell, MT


      The icy dawn
      gently stirs me
      from restless sleep
      and I inhale slowly
      the purified air
      that fills me
      as lavender streamers of cloud
      swept along by the graceful
      rising wind
      sail past the windows
      and I am lifted
      to join their noble voyage
      down the long valley
      past the frozen lake
      and over the peaks awakening darkly
      headed toward the last fading star

      Far below
      the crystalline snow
      has renewed the world
      and its silent indigo holds
      every pine needle
      every nuance of bark
      in rapture
      and all things watch
      as each
      birthing moment
      bestows yet another
      miracle upon
      the brightening day

    Noel Drury

    Soquel, CA

    This poem was written some twenty years ago. My father had a great passion for words and read aloud nearly everything he saw in print: road signs, tombstones, newspapers, books, labels on bottles. His love of language lifted me to learn how to read before I attended kindergarten. It wasn't so much instruction as it was osmosis: his headlong love affair with words, with telling, with communicating. "Asbury Park, that sign says Asbury Park."


      My brother's voice came small, tightrope, pausing
      balanced on the white ether hiss of long distance.
      "Dad is dead."

      Those tiptoe words evoked past, present, future:
      me now caught in the constancy of grief and regret.
      Me showing him a land he would now never see.
      "This is Big Sur. See how the mountains rush.
      There is an energy here bends you. Slugs and
      snails your soul if you stay too long."
      A long distance after fact-- "He didn't suffer."

      The phone turned nervous and contained and I
      was small again and setting up for Odd Fellows
      bingo. Outside, glittering snow was sugaring down.
      Solemn rite of chalking the floor string then
      snapping it, leaving instant bluewhite line,
      a rubric to which we aligned folding chairs.
      The phone blinked and was careful,
      weighing whispers in my ear.
      "He knew me. Right up to. You know."
      Then stocking the coolers with ice and soda.
      Then my reward, our male leisure;
      the serene green rectangular table,
      the good clean order of the hooded light,
      the balls caroming in kellygreen silence.
      My father talking in a voice used to shouting
      over machinery, over concrete floors.
      "Always look and know where your cue ball
      is gonna go. A real pool player always
      leaves his self an easy shot."

      The phone was historical, citing statistics.
      "He died. Seven twenty five. Our time."

      My father cocking his head, taking a bead,
      machinist sure, chalking his cue.
      "Always take your toughest shot first. That way,
      from there on in, it gets easier, don't you see."
      Phone being a little puzzled, a little proud.
      "You should know. He was calm. At the end."

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

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 1999

    Kentfield, CA

    (Having just celebrated the Epiphany on January 6, this poem is appropriate! Ed.)


      The knowledge which the three of us received
      was not of a kind to be disbelieved.
      So we set out, separately of course,
      though each--he thought--with sufficient force
      to hold off all those ruffians along the way
      who like to appear when one stops to pray;
      but whose visits now must be firmly parried
      lest one of us should lose the gift he carried.

      The way was long and adversities took their toll.
      Three caravans, now barely enough, made one whole.
      But thereafter, traveling together, we three earned
      a thing of value, priceless as we later learned.
      For when we arrived at last, the journey done,
      we no longer were as three but were like one.
      We were no longer Kings, indeed could not be
      in that place where the only true King was He.

      And what was most strange about that manger-stall
      was that we didn't mind..... we didn't mind at all.

    Rick Nelson
    Nels 3459@aol.com

    Jacksonville, NC


    A massage today for Sue, who was recently discharged from a mental hospital where she stayed for a week after slicing her wrists.

    She is a nurse, I find out--usually expected to be healing people on her job. I find it hard to believe that she was in so much pain that it resulted in an actual attempt to remove it from her body.

    As I begin our massage, I can already sense a jitteriness about her.

    "I am addicted to caffeine," she says--after hiding a can of a cola beverage behind the towel holders.

    Her skin is prickly--a feeling comes to me that I am touching a cactus or porcupine--but the energy is coming from inside her skin.

    "I was so angry," she says--as she tells me why she went into the hospital. "I just had to let it get out somehow."

    Anger, or at least very old anger, needs to escape the body. I tell her this and wonder if she has found ways to communicate it--express it--before her body decides to place it somewhere inside. Strangely, by touching her I feel as if I am somehow becoming a catalyst for this expression--although she has already started releasing it on her own.

    I put warm hands over her back and shoulders--suddenly thinking strangely, of my grandmother as I do this--and the reasons that she never lets anyone see her feeling anything. She does not talk about sadness, pain or anger. She does not communicate her feelings in a way that helps me or anyone know what is really going on inside of her.

    But almost like Sue--her pain ends up leaking out anyway--in the form of an ulcer on her leg.

    I wonder as I continue to think about Sue--who wears bandaids on her wrists still tainted with dried blood: How many of us are out there? How many of us are unwilling to feel our feelings, to express them or not and where do they go in our bodies if they are not let out?

    Ulcers, acne, stress in the shoulders--perhaps our bodies find ways to be seen and heard when feelings are not acknowledged otherwise.

    For Sue, the only way she could find for her pain to escape was by literally trying to open it and lift it from her body.

    I am up to her neck now--which is covered with a tattoo of a dolphin--appearing to almost rise above water.

    Now that we are nearly finished, I notice a calmness about her body--similar to the way I feel after spending a few hours on the beach--like the water has taken with it some of the pain and given instead, a sense of peace.

    Sue's skin has a soft, flowing feeling to it and the energy coming from her body feels the same.

    "I have always wanted to swim with a dolphin," she says.

    Which is exactly what I feel I have done with her..

    Ingrid Middleton

    Soquel, CA



      My fear is a knuckle-faced dwarf
      who so loves to skewer people
      with spit and icepick words,
      pinning them exposed to the day
      for all to see and snicker.

      My dwarf fear is so tired and lonely,
      knowing, sooner or later, someone
      will sneak attack, hurling acid words.
      So he sits erect in a too big chair,
      legs straight ahead with ping-pong eyes.


      My fear is a grinning young boy
      so happy to be walking hands in pockets,
      swaggering manly in lampoon.
      I want him to walk so easy forever,
      genial mocking man walk, walking
      with spine arched,
      so wanting to be like me, like you.
      Boy fear walking knowing
      he will slump and fail,
      at some point in anguish
      sell out for as little
      as a smile and nod.


      Finally my fear is an old woman
      sitting hands folded in lap
      with the light fading to night.
      Sits resigned, knowing that what
      has happened will happen again.
      So the she of me sits
      admitting the letting go of fear
      being the final fear.
      Nothing left but to bless
      dwarf and boy and woman
      in the slowly so softly
      settling silence.

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