jimowenswrites

Reflections on Life, Leadership, Mindfulness, Change, and other Important Stuff

Month: March, 2015

Set Them Free

When in the morn,

I oft awake

To body sore

So full of ache;

 

From the night

Of blissful sleep,

This back and neck

I hear them weep;

 

Amongst the sound,

Of gasp and groan,

And stretch to wake

This fragile stone;

 

And face this day

With growing bliss

These limbs cannot,

My soul resist;

 

But with each pain,

I tell them so,

We must arise

‘Tis time to go;

 

At my command

They oft do flee,

Though he so slowly,

My tender knee;

 

Yet giving thanks

For every pain,

Life is joy

Despite the strain;

 

And as I bid,

These hurts to go

They remind me still

Of what I know;

 

Body and heart

Let me attend,

Care for them,

Until they end

 

Let me see,

With open eyes,

Another’s struggle

Through their disguise;

 

Couldst I restore,

In kindness see,

Some broken soul,

Set them free?

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Birdsong in the Morning

Birdsong in the morning,

Squirrels dancing round.

The sound of running water,

White sun pierced clouds.

A day full of promise,

A pregnant Honeycrisp,

Dripping with the sweet juice of life.

Please.

One more bite.

Some Hurried Thoughts On Patience

Some say patience is a virtue,

Though I’m uncertain that its quite true.

 

Probably spoken by some guy,

Who never had to fly.

 

For if one thing I hate,

It’s a silly useless wait.

 

I know I would less worry,

If the microwave would just hurry.

 

And it really makes me fume,

These things called waiting rooms.

 

But its true I must confess,

I bothered by this less.

 

Recovering from Type A,

Seems the better way.

 

Now when I wait in line,

I tell myself I’m fine.

 

But if you stop on yellow,

In front of this big fellow,

 

I admit that you may find,

I completely lose my mind.

When Once I was a Younger Man

When once I was a younger man

And thought so much I knew,

There really wasn’t anything

I didn’t know was true.

 

When once I was a younger man

It seemed I was so bright,

I never doubted for a bit

That I was mostly right.

 

But now I am an older man

Who finally sees the way,

More like the like the child

Who longs to dance and play.

 

Now I am an older man

With so much left to find

So please forgive me of my sins

When I was still so blind.

 

Now I am an older man

And humbly hope my face,

To all I meet shall surely be

Filled with love and grace.

 

There is so much I still must learn

As my hair turns white,

So much left to understand

Before the final night.

 

So if my days be short or long

I hope it can be said,

He learned so much before he went

To sleep on his eternal bed.

Driving in the Rain

Roaring tires on the path,

Through oil shimmering pools,

Rubber squalls at the glass,

In rhythmic soft cadence.

 

Lights piercing the gray,

In amber vague hue.

The miles passing by

Amidst cracks of loud thunder

Bolts lighting the sky.

 

At pace of this journey,

Pilots on their fine way,

Some fast and some slow.

They peer through the torrent,

Somewhere they must go.

 

To arrive at some end,

In fury they race.

Yet fail to unravel,

The pleasant soft riddle,

Of this path we all travel.

 

Still now there is time,

This road of true life,

Gently gaze all round.

Now look and just listen

See beauty abound.

Cab Fare: A Short Fiction

The woman stood at the edge of the sidewalk looking down the street. She was growing impatient waiting for the cab. Rather than cool the night, the light rain that had fallen on the hot pavement just served to make an otherwise difficult day even worse. An oily steam rose gently from the ground.   It was almost midnight and though she had finally stopped crying, she felt alone and hopeless. And she hated herself for it.

“Come on, damnit,” willing the cab to appear, which it did, turning the corner just a block north. She saw the amber glow of its lights mix with the glare of the streetlights and neon hum of the office buildings surrounding her.

She opened the back door to the cab to find the driver, like so many in this city, an immigrant from some indeterminate place.

“Sorry ‘mam,” said the driver.

She told him her destination without acknowledging his apology and pulled the door shut behind her. At least it was cool in the cab.

“The Dispatcher sent another driver but he has car trouble. So they send me. I came as quickly as I could.”

Karen did not want to talk. Not to anyone. Especially not a cab driver that she guessed was from some far away place.

“It is very late to be going to the airport, ‘mam. You must have a very important flight. I will get you there quickly. And safe. Are you travelling on business?”

Good God, Karen thought. Of all the cab drivers I could get in this town this one not only speaks English, he wants to talk.

“No,” was all she replied.

Hassan glanced into the rear view window then returned his attention to the nearly deserted city streets. His glance was sufficient to see a woman in her late thirties, professionally dressed, if a bit damp. He could tell her eyes were swollen as they drove through the well-lighted part of town. Hassan began to ask if she was okay, if he could help, but hesitated.

“So for pleasure then?   Where are you going?”

“Look, I just want a quiet ride to the airport, okay? If you could just take me I would appreciate it. Less talk. More tip. Okay?”

“By all means. Yes. Yes, ‘mam.”

Karen let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes. She was glad to be leaving the city. She was exhausted and the hum of the tires on the damp pavement was soothing. She felt some of the tension leaving her body and tried to let herself relax. Damn her feet hurt. How far had she walked in these heels? She opened her eyes and felt the stare of the cab driver coming through the rear view window.

If the man had not offered her a gentle smile and nod of his head she might have been angered by the man’s intrusion into her rare moment of peace. His eyes seemed genuinely concerned and she began to feel guilty for having spoken harshly to him.

“I’m going home,” she said more gently than before but still wishing it had come out a little softer.

Hassan did not respond, so she added, “To Georgia.”

Hassan nodded. “Very good. Home is a good place to go. I have a cousin in Atlanta. Are you going to Atlanta?”

“Alpharetta. It’s outside of Atlanta. Not far though.

Hassan nodded again. “I have never been to Atlanta. I would like to see my cousin. He has a small store there. I would like to see his children.”

Karen found herself surprisingly willing to talk to this man. Perhaps this was just what she needed. To talk to someone who knew nothing about her, about the events of the last twenty-four hours, suddenly seemed like a gift.

“Why don’t you go and see him?”

“Oh, I cannot afford to do that. I have this job. I have children myself. And a wife. But you, why are you going home? To Alphredah?” He managed to pronounce the name of her hometown with a reasonable approximation of accuracy. Karen laughed to herself, thinking of Fettucine “Alphredah.”

Karen wondered if she should tell the man. What the hell? It was a long drive to the airport and she would never see him again. Besides, he seemed like a nice man. And it had been a while she felt like she had met someone nice. Someone genuine. Odd that it had to be in a cab at midnight.

“It’s just time I guess. This place has just been one heartache after another for me. I can’t do it anymore. I guess I am running away.   Or at least running home.”

“I am sorry ‘mam. But going home is good. It is a good thing to go home. I would like to go home. But I cannot.”

“Because of the money?”

“Oh no. Because going home for me would be going back to a terrible place. I guess this is my home now. But the home I was raised in, well, it is a difficult place to leave.   Not because you can’t leave, but because it is a hard place to get away from. Once you are away you do not go back. Even though you miss it sometimes.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, do not be sorry for Hassan. I did not leave it so much as I came here. I wasn’t trying to get away as much as I was trying to go to something. It is important in life to go to a thing or a place. The problem with trying to get away from something is that sometimes you just carry everything with you that you are trying to get away from.”

For a moment, Karen found the man’s words irritating. She wondered if he was trying to tell her she was running away. But the wisdom of his words overcame her anger and she found herself quietly nodding and saying “hmmmh?” as she pondered the man’s words.

“But I am sorry ‘mam. You asked for quiet and Hassan is talking too much. I will be quiet. My wife says I talk too much. She is always right.” Hassan smiled, then added, “At least about this she is right. But other things, well…” He shrugged his shoulders.

Karen smiled, grateful for the man’s nuanced sense of humor. They had reached the interstate now and the cab picked up speed. She looked outside to see the moon struggling to escape from behind the clouds. She wondered what it would be like to be up there, so far away, where nothing, or more importantly, no one, could hurt you. She remembered how she used to lay on her back on summer nights and gaze up at the stars over Georgia and dream of flying to the moon and the stars. Life had been perfect then. She thought about what Hassan had said and wondered if she was going to something or trying to get away from something.

“Hassan have you ever heard the saying ‘home is where the heart is?”

“I don’t think so. Home is where home is. And the heart is here.” He tapped his chest.

Karen laughed at his literal interpretation of the aphorism.

“No Hassan, it means that you always carry home with you in your heart. No matter where you go.”

Hassan paused and then acknowledged he understood.

“I see. I don’t know. I guess I think that is right. I just know that home is where home is. Sometimes home is not where you come from but where you are going. Sometimes it is both.”

That almost made Karen’s head hurt. She was tired and asked Hassan to repeat himself, which he did, apologizing that his English might not be so good.

“It’s just that people go looking for a lot of things in the world. For a home. For a place to be. But while they are looking they don’t know that all that they are looking for is right inside them. In their mind. In their heart. They are just to busy looking for something to see it. People have noise in their heads and when head is noisy so is the soul.”

In that moment Karen realized that she had been looking for something. That her soul was noisy from trying to find something, or someone, to set her apart, make her feel better about herself. And in doing that she had sacrificed herself again and again to things that only left her disappointed and now, near broken. It was as if Hassan had been sent specifically to her, at just the right time.

As they pulled into to the passenger drop circle in front of the terminal, Hassan slowed, and eased the cab to the curb.

“How much is my fare, Hassan?”

“Oh, ‘mam. Hassan has forgotten to start the meter. There is no fare to pay.”

“But Hassan, I have to pay you. Won’t you get fired? At least let me give you what you think the fare should have been.” Karen had stepped out of the cab and was leaning into the passenger side window. She held out a fifty-dollar bill.

“No. No ‘mam. It is nothing. The Dispatcher will understand. Have a very good trip going home.” And with that he eased the car back into traffic. Karen stood watching him pull away. How strange, she thought. What a nice man. She turned and headed into the terminal.

A few hundred yards from where Karen had been dropped off, Hassan pulled over to the curb. A man stood there impatiently waiting for a cab. He opened the door to the cab and was greeted by the driver.

“Sorry, sir. The Dispatcher sent another driver but he has car trouble. So they send me. I came as quickly as I could.”

 

 

 

Rugged Path

On rugged path,

his journey long,

Man may wonder

What is his song?

 

What road to take?

And what to say?

To carry on,

Or from it stray?

 

To ramble forward,

Or leave it now,

What shall he do?

He wonders how?

 

To strike anew,

Now to go.

Find green paths,

Must he now know.

 

How can he sort,

And find fresh start?

The day has come

Within his heart.

 

To cast away,

Chains and tears.

Familiar ways,

And all that’s near.

 

On this journey,

He must admit,

When comes the place,

His path to quit.

 

And go the way,

Tis his own true.

Forgetting all,

That others knew.

 

In letting go

Of expectation,

At crossroads now,

Exhilaration.

 

The travelled road

Some poets say

Was not for him

The proper way.

 

Where hides now the gentle grace?

Where hides now the gentle grace,

that once beamed upon thy precious face?

 

What grave harm from thee hast stole

the kindness from thy weeping soul?

 

Why hast thou forsaken, gone, to flee

and cast me in this dreadful sea?

 

When whilst thou return o distant friend

thy strength and mine to ever lend?

 

Who hast taken thy loving glance

and left mine heart no more to dance?

 

Could I a sorcerer conjure some potion

and thus assure eternal devotion?

 

Would I a King compel you near,

and drive you by some noble fear?

 

Or if, a God would I command

come to me now, walk hand in hand?

 

Sure not true friend gone far astray,

‘tis not for me to judge thy chosen way.

 

But hold this space for thy return,

will I for thee and without spurn.

 

With open arms to hold close once more,

now, the ‘morrow, and evermore.

I like the sun

 

I like the sun.

It’s very fun.

 

But all its glow.

does really show,

 

The certain must,

I need to dust!

In the vacant stares of confusion

In the vacant stares of confusion

from the unending darkness,

the candle now flickers

where once a great spark;

 

Some thief of has stolen

all that belongs

from the old castle,

all its beautiful songs.

 

Remembered, though gone,

as his subjects stand near;

they watch and they listen,

resisting their fear.

 

Echoes rise from every hall

washing hope from despair

in sharing grand memories

of this castle once fair.

 

The warrior of kindness

now reclines on the throne;

his own house empty,

gazing at the unknown.

 

Still king in his castle, now a frail shadow

of his forgotten life past;

still his story is ever,

a thing that will last.

 

For all who knew him

will carry his light

and build their own castles

in fatigue or in might.

 

His spirit and wisdom

shall evermore fill,

their rooms and their halls,

when his body is still.

 

No longer to wander,

no darkness to sift;

farewell his beloved,

who carry his gift.