Poetry and Prose… and Coffee

Yanked out of the deep netherworld of dreams by a sudden squawking, I groggily fumble for my phone and manage to stumble across the snooze button. Somehow. Nothing exists at this hour of the morning except the coffee pot. No coffee—who am I, and what am I doing up this early? Coffee perking—it’s not so bad; at least I’ll get to watch the sunrise. Pouring the first cup—ah, life is all right I suppose. First sip—once again a rational (if not fully coherent) member of the human race. Complete and utter silence. I slide into my chair and snap on the lamp. After the first long drink or two, and with much creaking and protest, the gears in my brain begin turning again. One or two lines… complete rubbish. I erase them, and take another long swig of coffee. Somewhere in the second paragraph, and about halfway through the first mug, it all begins to make sense. The words flow easily and freely. There’s almost a sense of disconnect between my brain and my fingers—am I even consciously thinking about each word as it appears on the page? But all too soon it’s over. I’ve run out of time again, or to be more accurate, time has run away with me.

The sun is peeking his face over the edge of the horizon, so I turn instead to tasks, and my neatly ordered lists. Do this, read that, say this, pack this, plan this, go here, get that… And I check. Neat little checkmarks, all in a row. My day is a page of ordered lines, with little boxes to color in. But I can never color them all in, because new lines and new boxes are forever being added to the bottom of this seemingly infinite page. I write new lines, I cross some out, and I color a few boxes in. At some point I’ve done enough of them, even if they aren’t all complete. So I bury the lists and try not to think about them.

The sun is gone once more
Hidden from my view
I ought to sleep, but instead I think
About the day, and the morning new
Little things
Become lines and rhymes
Bits of words, snatched from time
I catch them as they drift on by
Nab them with the tip of my pen
And carefully trace, lest I forget
The heartbeat of the day.

Sunrise II

Murky depths

Hazy hues

Browns and grays

Without blue


Emerald green

Between the trees

Sloping hill

A cock crow


Lazy insects

Nibbling fish

A flock of geese

Through the mist


The winning sun

Rising through

The bleak cloud bank

With rosy hue


Birds in song

A gentle breeze

Rippled mirror

Air damp to breathe


Gone the mist

Comes the light

The sun victorious

With golden might


Tinges of pink

Color the gray

Up overhead

Where once dwelt dread


Mirror mirror

At my feet

Isn’t it the loveliest

Morn thou hast seen?



The line between bank and water was almost indiscernible. Tiny flying things buzzed and swam through the early morning air and, though it was cool, the air remained damp and hazy. The water has many faces and on this particular morn, it was a dark and mysterious one. The murky lake was the same shade as the silt lining its bed, and the steel gray clouds reflected on the ever-shifting mirror. A flock of geese paced the closer shore, their beady eyes suspicious of the lone occupant of the weatherworn dock. Sunrise had begun, behind the brooding blanket of moisture above, heralded by the ever-constant chorus of excited insects and twittering of tiny birds. Somewhere far off, across the lake, a rooster crowed. It was lighter now. Gradually, the colors began to change. Deep, brooding hues grew softer and more inviting. Verdant emerald grass, hidden in the shadow and mist before, lapped right up to the very edge of the water, telling of recent rain. The geese finally overcame their doubts and ceased their grumbling, and slid into the water for a brief voyage. All the while, a distant hum tickled at the edge of hearing, just close enough to recall to mind the highway less than half a mile away. A bird sprang from the tree line, winging her way above the gleaming water, so close her feathers almost—but never quite—brushed the surface. And the mighty sky was blue again, though lazy clouds slid to and fro, sometimes hiding his deep colors, and other times parting for him to peep through on the waking earth below. The last of the sunrise peeked through, tingeing the steely clouds with a few strokes of pink. And all at once, the lake wasn’t dark anymore. Far away, down in the deep, the blue sky, the hurrying clouds, and the sunrise glow were glimmering.

Mountain Heart

Rock Creek Lake, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California.

Have you ever seen the glory

of a mighty mountain sunrise

o’er the lip of an old tin mug

as you wipe the sleep out of your eyes?


Have you ever sloshed across

a chattering mountain stream

with a precarious hop from rock to rock

as you watch the dancing water-beams?


Have you ever tip toed o’er a

fresh carpet of needles from the pines

thick and soft up to the trunks

the perfume as sweet as wine?


Have you ever gazed in wonder

at the brilliant starlit sky

frosty gleaming so close and low

you could almost touch it if you tried?