Poem of My Old House, 1742
by Tom Sheehan
For history and legend sakes, certain attributes, character traits if you will,
have to be appointed here at the beginning of This old house (B. 1742),
home for more than a half century of my life.
To start off with, to walk these stairs,
up or down, a signal for day or evening in the heart of an otherwise silence,
is to hear sassy children underfoot.
They are the underlings of square nails stretching their might,
hanging on for more than two and a half centuries worth of treads
and risers and hand-hewn stringers.
Last night I heard one letting go,
tired of the holding on.
Without doubt, age talks back to you at night.
that message, hear that voice.
Likewise, on a few major beams, exposed newly by my reach back into the house’s beginning,
some broadly a foot across, ax marks permanentas scars, bark on round edges
clinging in place,refuse to let go.
That refusal boggles the mind to think these beams were slabbed out of trees
closing now on 300 years of being, if not already there.
Their span spans, their grip hangs tenaciously.
Like a promise for its dear but dread life into the aftermath.
a special window snugs close by the porch roof.
How many times it has been the way in or out for generations of youth
on to daughters or destinies, we’ll never know.
That window is where my sons and attesting companions saw one Halloween night, stars mere,
Moon absconded with light,
the shadow of a man in a felt hat.
A strange man, they swore and swear.
So strong the sight that these years later they step aside passing through the
back hall, as if making room for a dusky persona grata,
granting memorial space for a solitary, dark intruder.
Though it’s sworn he wore the hat last seen hereabouts only on my father.
From a most personal confrontation comes another point of home lore.
Standing by the twin windows of the bathroom one weekend morning,
I watched two sons and a daughter at early play.
The day bristled and crackled, leaves at heavy spoilage and thick of pile,
golden and myriad red Persians at a momentary standstill of their October march.
My eyes trained on my own beginnings where an old barn,
sloped at ridge beam and atilt, leaning forever,
continued to lose energies and imaginations.
In the barn, rain hung on like old statements.
Soft corners kept themselves wetter than rooting, heaved mushrooms
out of droppings swept from stallions now but bone.
taking up their dew, walked on railroad silver, aimed for stars,
locked at night where roofed pine knots fall, or the moon, needing a drink,
dropped its straws down.
It’s wetter underground,
but can’t smell like this: old blankets out all night, fond dog’s breath,
leather still breathing hide work a mule threw off his
brewed chassis barreling the field all day.
My intent to watch and marvel at children’s play and hustle,
propose enduring love from a distance, tempest of the far heart.
Mysteriously, I was joined by another father peered over my shoulder,
sharing this intent. This man, this visitor, appeared out of the damp air of the room,
specter of comfort and custom, trying, I assumed, to take his place again,
steal something back he had lost. I told him without looking back at him,
indirectly at first, and then most pointedly, that this
time was mine.
That father, and who knows how many others in conjunction with him in
the same space, went back to eternal comfort. There were no tears, no
ministrations or implorations, no wringing of hands, no fright wrought out of his visit,
as though an inalienable right had been invoked.
Bio note: Tom Sheehan, (30 years retired), now in his 94th year, (31st Infantry, Korea 1950-52; Boston College 1952-56), has published 52 books, the last three with Taj Mahal Press in India, He has multiple works in Rosebud, The Linnet’s Wings (Ireland-100), Copperfield Review, Literally Stories (UK-137), Frontier Tales, Green Silk Journal, Rope & Wire Magazine. He has 18 Pushcart nominations, 6 Best of Net nominations (one winner). Several books are in submission status. His story, “The Tale of Trot and Dim Johnny,” recently won the Ageless Writers contest.
The Forest In Springtime
by Patrick O'Shea
She has waited patiently for so many months, with no covering but the inelegant dull bark that wraps
Around, and protects her from the harsh winds of winter,
Some of her branches have been lost, damaged, torn away with no chance of recovery after the days
Of storms and the heavy weight of settled snow,
She now begins to regain the elegant covering of the young leaves in a chiffon-like form of lemon and
Pale greens, and stretches out to the sky, reaching out for
Light that begins to caress and warm her, as birds begin to gather on her branches, and sing their song
Of renewal and new beginnings, a gift by a naturally gifted choir,
Garlands of flowers have begun to cover her feet in homage, daffodils and scattered bluebells gather in
Their masses, and nod their heads in appreciation of existence,
Her strength is now growing again, she is leaving that period when she was viewed as merely quiescent,
A collection of trees which were simply there, and seemed static.
She will walk through our lives again, and knows that those strange small people, will just like the birds,
Begin to enter her domain again, and admire her beauty,
The buds in her domain are coming forth, and will shortly begin to open with the young leaves asking to
Be seen, presenting themselves in greeting to the sky,
Rain falls onto the paths between her soldiers, the trees that have massed together to form the forest,
And in whom, their combined strength, shows her glory,
She has waited patiently for the many months, and now with the covering of green that will further
Enhance her beauty, she feels a peace in her being,
She knows that in the coming months, there will be days of heat to follow, and there will be more
Growth to be seen, and then she will wear the colors of autumn,
But for now, as small creatures scuttle through her lands, and life comes into its own again, she is quite
Content, content to just to be the forest in Springtime.
Bio: Patrick O’Shea, has lived in Rijswijk Holland for many years; the society, the people, and their perspective and view of the world seem to fit him. He likes traveling for the exposure he gets to many different peoples. His outlook on people and life is that he trusts the “ordinary” people far more than he trusts most politicians, and thinks we live in a magnificent world that we are fully responsible for preserving, and protecting. He writes because he has realized that he must. He thinks he has a responsibility to try to speak for those without voices, to show the failures and successes in societies, and to reflect on the dreams we all have, and the hopes that we keep deep in our hearts. He has been fortunate to have some pieces published in The Green Silk Journal, the Vaughan Street Doubles, and The Poet Magazine, and will in the future be published in The Journal of Undiscovered Poets.