Poetry by Ethan Holmes
A Lonely, Lonely Man
By Ethan Holmes
He sets his head upon the pillow,
as he has done many thousands of nights before,
embraced only by the confined dark of the room,
wrapped solely in the silence that comes with every inevitable night.
Sleep brings only what could be or might have been,
restless, no peace, tossing in the black with demons of tormented thought,
Waking and sleeping, sleeping and waking,
Always succumbing to the sheer weariness.
He is a lonely, lonely man.
He quietly sips the morning’s coffee, now tasteless and without comfort,
watching sunrise in no particular awe, listening to birds sing far happier than he.
He plods through work, mindless and without joy or pride,
hoping each week be longer than the last, that he could remain out, away, anywhere but home.
Doleful, even wistful, he gazes in wonder at the couple on the bench,
holding hands, each searching the windows of the other’s soul for love.
In his mind he holds his hands high to heaven and cries out to no one and nothing.
“Why not me? Where could she be?”
He is a lonely, lonely man.
He walks, the walk of a man with no life in the step,
slogging forward, one foot floating by the other, neither an inch from the ground.
He remembers he used to notice things, the water, the squirrels, the annoyed crows.
He recalls a man who moved with purpose, long lost goals, unfulfilled dreams.
The wind tears at his jacket, burns his eyes, tingles his fingers.
He wobbles against the beating, raising his arms as though to take it with him.
The white water races and jumps, cavorts over the red boulders below, begging him.
“Come down from there.” He barely hears her voice over the wind.
He was a lonely, lonely man.
There is a tree somewhere that has yet to live,
A tree somewhere that waits to fall
The tree yet to live ponders where its roots shall be,
Where shall it spread its limbs, cast its shade
To what creatures shall I be a home and haven,
Shall I shelter and shade
What storms and wind to bear
Shall I be strong of limb and stout of trunk,
Or shall I be thin and worn when first bite of winter comes
To live a long and fruitful span,
To be here this year and so many more,
Or this year now and not the next,
What shall I be asks the tree that has yet to live
The tree that has yet to fall ponders only where it might fall,
By what means its end shall come
My roots are here, I cannot move, for this is where first wind blew
me as a seed,
No choice when forces greater than I choose the place I should be,
Here I grew as best I could in this poorest of spots,
And did the best I could with what presented,
Home to none but pests I shivered at last,
Lost all when came the cold,
And now I, bare of leaf and of broken limb, await some final fall
When comes the time to answer the call, which tree shall you choose to be,
Shall you be the tree yet to live,
Shall you be the tree yet to fall
Too Often I Forget to Remember
Too often I forget to remember, to pause a moment among many distractions,
Life pulls at us here and there, first this way and that, then upside down,
Till there are times when you are lost, hopeless, hapless and ungrateful,
Too often I forget, this is the time to choose stillness, to cease the pulling, the tearing,
the grasping and reaching
I forget to remember, to look around and inward for a fleeting second or two,
To see what I am, who I am, what I strive to be, my hopes and dreams, my goals yet unattained,
To take stock of what I have of things not material, of things vital to joyful life,
And yes, to be grateful, to say thank you to everyone and no one and every thing,
I forget to remember to be thankful, for health, for food, for shelter from cold and rain,
For mobility, freedom to move about borne of my own volition, freedom to be still,
To extend gratefulness where none is required or asked, to offer kindness where none exists,
And though they be few of number, for friends always there and never far
Too often I forget to remember to be truly grateful, and extend my gratitude to others,
That they too, in turn, may remember to be thankful and pass it kindly to the next,
To take the most fleeting moments of life as an interlude on the way to grace,
To enshrine such grace with gentle acts of unselfish benevolence
I will remember to forget what remains to be ungrateful for, what grievance, unkindness and troubles,
I will remember all that is left is to be grateful.
Twas the Week Before Christmas
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the stores
People were pushing and shoving and scrambling for more
Christmas lights were hung all over window and sill
In the hopes that we could pay the electric bill.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
With visions of Iphones dancing in their heads
And mamma with her Tylenol and I with my booze
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s snooze.
When out in the street there arose such a clatter
I grabbed the shotgun to see what was the matter
Away to the door I flew like a flash
Locking the deadbolt and hiding my stash.
The security light shone on the new fallen snow
Revealing a crowd in the street down below
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
Eight cop cars, an ambulance and a street strewn with beer.
With a little old driver looking pale and quite sick
I knew in a moment this couldn’t be St. Nick
Out of their pockets everyone’s cell phone came
While the old drunk cursed and called them bad names.
“Now drop to the ground, put your hands in the air”
The cops reached for handcuffs and pulled out a pair
“On your belly, don’t you move, put your face in the snow”
“This Christmas night to jail you will go.”
The old man spotted my ladder by the house
And up he flew to the roof quick as a mouse
Up to the housetop he carried a sack
While the cops tried to plug him with a stun gun in the back
And then on the roof I heard after a while
The breaking and cracking of each little tile
As I checked the empty gun barrel and was turning around
This old man came down the chimney with a bound
He was dressed in a sweatsuit from his head to his foot
And his clothes were all torn and covered with soot
A bundle of something he had in his sack
And he looked like a drug dealer going through his pack.
His eyes didn’t twinkle and his dimples were deep
His cheeks were quite sunken and he looked like a creep
His droll little mouth looked like a black pool
And the beard on his chin was covered with frozen drool.
The stump of a joint he clenched tight in his teeth
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath
He had a pimply face and little dark eyes
And a big round belly that spoke of too many french fries.
He was wobbly and pale, a quite jolly ol’ drunk
And I laughed as I watched him fall down with a clunk
A wink from his eye and a nod toward his gun
And I knew then and there this would not be fun.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
He took all our stuff and turned with a jerk
And pulling a hankie to blow his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose
He sprang to the roof edge to sing out a carol
And the cops plugged him good, like fish in a barrel
The ambulance driver, ere he drove out of sight,
Yelled out the window,
“Happy Christmas to all and to all a good-night!”
She is There
She is there, for deep within my most quiet thoughts I have felt her touch.
In times when I am at my loneliest, my most solitary sadness, yes even despair,
She is there.
When nothing flows as it should, when the long stillness holds the air,
she is there.
Hope seeks to conquer disappointment and when I ask to hope, do I dare,
she is there.
When shoulders bowed and spirit low, I seek my deepest thoughts to lay bare,
she is always there.
I feel her, I sense her, I can all but reach to touch her, just that far away, just out of reach,
yet she is there.
I cannot do any more than that I have done, I call out no more, yet I know,
she is there.
Not hopeless, for hope springs eternal, I stand hopeful, hopeful that
she is there.
Where I wait, where I am, where I go, where I will be,
she is there.
Do I play the fool? Do I dream? Do I wish on the empty well?
Do I think on empty thoughts, driven by a vacant heart and only wish that she is there?
Hope springs eternal, my friend, fed only by the notion, defying all failure, that she is there.