“Best of”… Cincinnati

Dear Readers and Friends,

It’s Best of Cincinnati time again! (Vote below).I am humbled to be nominated in the Local Author category. There are many amazing candidates to be sure, each one authoring a life in this gem we call our city.

FullSizeRender-2In my days, I work to find the connections that makes each person, each writing piece a unique contributor to the fabric of Cincinnati, weaving in poetry about the homeless, essays about a mother with dementia, snapshots of my morning finds from walks around the city, and rants about the Bengals. In those words and pictures, I always strive to find the hidden, the rare, that which moves us, that which inspires.

Many other citizens, including the other nominees in this category, accomplish the same goal in a different manner. We are all local authors in that sense.

All are eligible to vote, provided the voter selects a candidate in ten categories. Click here to vote. (Arts & Nightlife). Voting ends Feb 8th!

Read below for some of my favorite posts:

Embarrassed by Those Who Are Embarrassed

Reminiscing about Old Age

Lucky Sparrow

Wintertime.
I am tucked inside somewhere
bitter cold winds whipping across the yard.

A sliver of wind’s breath slips in
through the crack in the door
sneaking around the kitchen
taunting my curled toes and bare ankles
blowing cold my coffee
leaving frozen flakes
of coddled cream
across my cup.

Soon a shiver travels up my spine
and I remember
the trembling woman I brushed past
on the street as I rushed
pulled up my collar and yanked down
my hat to keep the chill
from permeating my shield of wool.

Her hands were crippled by frost, her face
pocked with holes, mottled by age
her eyes
cold and vacant
as if the wind had swept inside her
and frozen solid her soul.

AJW
12/14/2015
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They said The River would stop

We sit in the river’s lap
asking for a tale
so The River begins
with dirt unearthed from the thirties
when waters ran eighty feet
and kept on runnin’ for the seven hills.
Some towns declared martial law,
others thought instead to declare
this disaster maritime.
Carousel horses from Coney Island
leaped off their stead and floated away.
Downtrodden men held out hands
for rationed gallons of drinkable water
while the river flowed through
to sop their feet.
Someone said the river would stop,
but it kept comin’ up each notched stick.
One boy, he ran, up a wood pole
and the river climbed right up behind.
When the water cleared, everyone was in need,
everyone was all poured out.

We sat again in The River’s lap,
the story blooming
like a pop-up book with predictable arc.
Men went to work as waters rushed,
erecting fences, kids with erector sets.
Citizens tripped over sand bags,
blockades and each other
to catch a glimpse of greatness
trading on
misfortunes of the river’s banks.
Many were turned away from work
‘til the river loosened its grip.
Eight to ten feet to go,
fish wove in and out
of cypress twigs and potted plants
plunged to their death below.
All that sod, a man wiped his brow.
Just planted,
now washed away or worse –
rotten to the root.

There are places grass won’t grow
once The River has its way.

High above, another carousel
had no quivers, its horses yet
to don their coat of paint.
While up on Fourth, drivers turned
off cars and minds, pedestrians peddled
with cappuccino poured, newspaper hawkers
hawked

all oblivious of The River
who had waited eighty years
to arise.

3/16/2015
AJW
Ohio River flood.

 

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Thundering Silence

Thundering Silence

Scurrying done, now we wait for Thor
in silence
padding through the timeless park
dog sniffing at the rare dry air.
Even the homeless acquiesce
in deeper stillness
than before – one more time, one rasps –
and a park hand in his red jacket
shakes his head
pokes his broom
his work yet to start.

All around there is work
of the wordless kind
a mother wheeling carts of cereal
her kids on break from school and standards
will raid her pantry, bleed dry her frig.

In clandestine corners
contractors meet construction
coffee carried in quiet
to encourage work be performed before Thor befalls.

Stodgy men in vests of green and overalls
dodge bullets of ice and rain
contort themselves around
blinking neon arrows
or noiselessly wrap wires
in the streetcar’s electric box.

The restaurants honor the hour of lunch
then Edison bulbs over bourbon bottles
will go dark
for dinner, dismissing Thor
from their front stoop though he will be
in the mood for margaritas
which will reign on this frozen night.

It is March, and this we know –
Thor, by any other name, is just snow.

A husband walks to work, in webbed rubber boots
trudges up a sixty-percent grade
hopes he does not trundle down
the fluffy ice by morn.

Matt will pedal on his bike, knock
ask for Mrs. Manley
though there’s no Mrs. Manley here.
He won’t get the gag
but he’ll get the shovel
and borrow gloves to later sell or lose.
And when complete, shove off with
sandwiches, socks and clementines.
No taking of a nip of bourbon
for fear the drink will take him down.

He has battled Thor a plenty,
one more and he’ll survive.

Far East Meets Westside

I found myself on the westside of town the other day, and with a few minutes to spare before a meeting, I took a trip up the hill to check out the view from Mt. Echo. If you have not been there, go now. Or go when there is sun, at least. I was smitten. The next morning, while working out at the West End Y, I suddenly quit my cardio machine, grabbed my coat and scurried off to catch the sunrise from Mt. Echo once more. It was still dark when I arrived, so I had to guess which hill the sun might rise over. While seated, I began to meditate on our daughter Shannon, being half way around the world. How her day was already over, before mine had truly begun.

Far East meets Westside
For Shannon

The solar god will not be moved
‘til after half past seven.
But I wrap my body,
whisk past my pooch
with a secret he won’t share.

I’m going to watch the sun
wake up the dawn
from the Westside.

Yesterday, I took an impromptu turn,
down river from the city core,
and found myself hovering high
over currents, watching
whatever good things and waste
were coursing through murky veins.

Today, I return to the scene
of my crime of passion –
a thirsts for sunrises
to sip and swig,
a cocktail of light, an added swirl,
a tinkling of winter, not stirred.

II.

I linger,
the waterways as frosted
as flakes in my cereal.
A tug boat creeps through ice,
like a caterpillar waiting
to float downstream on a leaf,
instead having to push
through muddy slush.

Suddenly, noting the S-bend,
I think “Shannon.”
I think of you.

I am a half day late
in wishing– namaskaram –
your East taking so long to get to me.
Your light, the eastern one,
taking so long to saturate me.

I wait for the rays
that traced your face,
gently nudging at 6 a.m.
rolling you over
in a bed still strange,
to also cuddle mine.

III.

I perch, envious of this vista
possessed by the Westside.

I turn away only once,
to study sturdy columns
in the pavilion behind,
then spot in the distance
a man and his dog, a second
mongrel at the rear.

My sunrise rendezvous with you
will be now interrupted
by dog slobber and needless talk.
I rotate back to the river,
always to the water I face
for sagaciousness found nowhere else,
and catch a glint of color
as if a miner has struck pink gold.

Unnamed hills shake with delight.
The echoes of your life
reverberate,
across time zones and miles.

I stretch out my mittened hands,
take in your offered radiance
send it back to you.

1/28/2015

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God Was a No Show

Changing up my usual blog post for a poem:

No Show

God didn’t show
for work this morning.

I figured She knew I was coming,
as I rushed through a shower, blow dry
and feeding the dog

As I pulled on boots, gloves, scarves
to brace against cold I knew would melt my heart
if only I could get there

And then, the bells rang,
I closed in at number six
stepped through at seven
was seated by number eight

And I waited. Me and Benny
the homeless guy with his forehead
resting on the back of the walnut pew.
Yeah. It was gonna be that kind of day

And yet, no God

I tossed off my hat, unzipped my coat
ashamed of its smears of city dirt
But God forgives, if She shows

So I waited and stared
waited for the sun to rise through the stain
of glass, stained by sin, no doubt

The donkey outside brayed
The semi-truck dumped
buses rolled
an angry man on the corner yelled

I just kept hoping if I sat long enough
God would show up.
I tried to will Her here
I tried to make the pews levitate
because I noticed they had leaves
carved in their sides,
leaves that looked like wings,
and thought the benches could fly

And when I couldn’t makes the benches fly
I stopped waiting for God.
Truth be told, I had to let Her go too
on top of everything else.

And once I released Her from duty
a sort of teary calm came over me
and Benny lifted his head
maybe he felt a draft
or God walking out ahead of me.

12/30/14 1:21 PM