First Kiss / Last Kiss, Lake Padden

1. First Kiss

Do you remember
that day at the lake,
how pleasant it was,
how the sun shone
on the lake waters,
how pleasantly cool
it was along the trail
through the wooded
trail around the lake?
Do you remember
how we didn’t talk
about our divorces,
about your grown kids
or about my cats
or about the logistics
of it all?
Do you remember
our first kiss?
I haven’t forgotten
how we held hands,
how we sat on a bench
in an opening along
the lake shore,
kissed and breathed
in each other’s
sweet attention,
how we ignored
those passing by.

2. Interlude

The Native Hawaiians
believe that breath
(ha) is sacred.
Foreigners — and finally
Caucasians only —
are referred to as haole
(ole, without;
ha ole, without breath).
I grew up in the islands;
as a local haole
I was tolerated.
Hawai‛i was home
for a long time,
until it wasn’t,
until I felt I was
no longer welcome.
I was haole,
a Caucasian man
without (sacred) breath.
I haven’t forgotten.

3. Commentary

What if every breath
were sacred?
What if every
shared breath —
every kiss —
were sacred?
We would breathe
and we would kiss
with great care
with great diligence.

4. Last Kiss

Do you remember
that day at the lake,
our last kiss,
how we backed
away from each other,
how we backed
away from the idea
of us, resumed
being ‘just friends’?
I haven’t forgotten.
Now we pursue
the sacred
separately.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 27

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An Easter Poem

Signs of spring, divine agency,
and human agency rising everywhere.
Divine agency is alive and at work —
in the winged love and trills of birds,
in all the green growing things,
in rising mystery and surprise,
in all that is as holy as these woods.
Human agency is at work all along
this creek, throughout its strip
of woods, too — and much of it is good.
Five tulips blooming pale red,
a sixth tulip blooming pale orange
with variegated yellow petals.
Incongruous and a surprise in finding
tulips in a tiny clearing along creek bank
here. A gardener, engaged in earthy work
and love: tulips now, and I recall daffodils
blooming nearby earlier this spring.
Closer to the estuary, a rabbit sees me
watching, bolts into a tangle of thicket
toward those tulips. It is Easter morning;
while we are here, will we rise to love
earth and all of her creatures? Will we
offer comfort? Will we make a positive
difference in the lives of those we love
and other strangers? Will we rise
to be our best selves?

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 26

~*~

Blessings to all travelers, on all paths.

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Easter Service

1.

I’m on the trail early, want to look
at the tulips again, want to see

if the rabbit is still around. I hear
voices lifted in song, choir-like,

coming from Fairhaven Park,
lilting over Padden Creek. I wonder

if this might be the winding down
of a sunrise service. It is, after all,

Easter morning. Well off the trail,
a gray-hooded man reclines,

his legs fully extended. He appears
engrossed in listening to the choir.

I leave him in peace, continue
down the trail.

2.

Off the lower trail, I find a paper bag
partially crumpled, a couple

of discarded Coors Light cans.
Who is responsible?

East of the last footbridge over
earthen fill, a figure in a sleeping bag

straddles the trail. A figure
which stirs slightly, alive.

I step by gingerly, so as not to wake
the figure. Who is responsible?

Yards away from the estuary I see
a can in a paper bag, another can

on the creek bank. My mood lifts
after I see the tulips and the rabbit

again. I repeat a prayer for peace,
stand watching the estuary,

enjoying the commotion and fuss
of two to three dozen gulls

and crows wheeling and calling
over a man scattering chunks of bread
on the water.

3.

On this day I will be responsible.

I return to the trail, wake the figure,
fear wreckage or sudden rage,

receive neither. A youngish man,
twenties, sleepy-eyed.

I apologize for waking him, ask
if he knows there’s a shelter in town.

He assures me he isn’t homeless,
assures me he’s on his way to Alaska,

assures me he’s waiting for some
money to come in. I suggest

that a safer place for him to camp
would be in a copse of trees nearby,

tell him a couple of times
I just wanted to make sure you were OK.

I wish him a safe trip, take my leave.
I have more work to do;

I begin collecting the paper bags
and aluminum cans I saw.

I head home with my hands full:
it is, after all, Easter morning —
and I finally have an Easter poem.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 25

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Comments and Questions for Padden Creek Trail

The Padden Creek trail isn’t remote, isn’t that many
steps from my front door. I pass through a curtain
of trees, enter its green strip of woods. I’m often
charmed by what I find along the trail, but not always.
I keep on the trail, unless I see a newly-discarded can
or bottle, pick it up for proper disposal in a recycle bin.
I never litter. How do we foster mindfulness and
taking care so these are elements in our daily lives?
The trail can be dangerous during and after heavy
snow or high winds, and the rifle shots of breaking
tree limbs are unnerving. How do we fold caution
into our daily lives? How do we cross into safety?

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 24

~*~

For my prompt, I used the words from the 2012 Kumquat Challenge:

remote, curtain, step, keep, never, charm, foster, element, fold, and wind

Here it is again, with the words italicized.

Comments and Questions for Padden Creek Trail

The Padden Creek trail isn’t remote, isn’t that many
steps from my front door. I pass through a curtain
of trees, enter its green strip of woods. I’m often
charmed by what I find along the trail, but not always.
I keep on the trail, unless I see a newly-discarded can
or bottle, pick it up for proper disposal in a recycle bin.
I never litter. How do we foster mindfulness and
taking care so these are elements in our daily lives?
The trail can be dangerous during and after heavy
snow or high winds, and the rifle shots of breaking
tree limbs are unnerving. How do we fold caution
into our daily lives? How do we cross into safety?

My early Kumquat Challenge poems sprawled. For this attempt, I wanted to write a piece as short as possible, and as close to ten lines as possible (for me) while still being (somewhat) coherent.

This result is 12 lines long — not including the title and line space following it. What do you think?

Hey, YOU could try your hand at using this prompt too!

All the best, Andy

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Rescue

When I want to turn down
the volume of daily life,

or slow the burn of aggravation,
or avoid the drift to lack of focus,

I walk the trail along Padden Creek.
In a moment my day turns.

Padden Creek offers crows’ caws,
solace, birdcalls sweeter

than chimes, birds’ flight, awe.
Padden Creek is a refuge,

a kind of oasis of natural noise
and quiet, a green strip of peace.

There is life and death here
in every season: the season

of dogwood blossoms, the season
of drifting cottonwood seeds,

the season of falling leaves,
the season of cold, ice and snow.

I watch for signals, watch
for glimpses of other lives.

Another year passes; whether
low or high in its golden arc,

the sun will return. I watch for life
and death here, and surrender —

there is nothing to fear.
Padden Creek rescues me.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 23

I thought I’d return to an old prompt for this poem, and came up with the idea of using the prompt words from the 2013 Kumquat Challenge sponsored by Whatcom Community College.

The words are: moment, volume, cotton, burn, offer, signal, flight, drift, chimes, and kind.

Basically, we are to use all ten words in an original poem. Read about the Kumquat Challenge here.

Here’s my poem again, with words in the above list italicized:

Rescue

When I want to turn down
the volume of daily life,

or slow the burn of aggravation,
or avoid the drift to lack of focus,

I walk the trail along Padden Creek.
In a moment my day turns.

Padden Creek offers crows’ caws,
solace, birdcalls sweeter

than chimes, birds’ flight, awe.
Padden Creek is a refuge,

a kind of oasis of natural noise
and quiet, a green strip of peace.

There is life and death here
in every season: the season

of dogwood blossoms, the season
of drifting cottonwood seeds,

the season of falling leaves,
the season of cold, ice and snow.

I watch for signals, watch
for glimpses of other lives.

Another year passes; whether
low or high in its golden arc,

the sun will return. I watch for life
and death here, and surrender —

there is nothing to fear.
Padden Creek rescues me.

~*~

Are you writing poems? Are you writing, even if only for yourself? Are you walking? Where?

What’s your work? Get your work done.

With warm regards, Andy

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You Ask “Why Padden Creek?”

We ordinary beings can cling to the earth
and love where we are.

~ William Stafford

You ask, Why Padden Creek?
What’s so special about Padden Creek?

I could answer, Why not?
but there are so many answers
as there are so many paths.
Padden Creek is special,
as every place is special.
Padden Creek is beautiful and damaged,
as every place is beautiful and damaged.

Tell me about a place special to you,
and you begin telling me about yourself.
Tell me about the heart of a place,
and you begin telling me about your heart.
Tell me the secrets of a place,
and you begin telling me your secrets.

Peel back the layers of a place,
find everything expected and unexpected,
find what a place means.
Peel back layers, find a dwelling place.
Peel back layers, find history and longing,
find stories and belonging, find inspiration.
Peel back layers, find common ground;
peel back layers, find sacred ground.

You ask, Why Padden Creek?
What’s so special about Padden Creek?

This is where I am, and I love where I am.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 22

The epigraph is from William Stafford’s poem
“Allegiances” and is part of his concluding line.

Please see The Darkness Around Us Is Deep:
Selected Poems of William Stafford
, edited
and with an introduction by Robert Bly (1993),
page 30.

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Himalayan Blackberries

Imported from the east —
a New York trading house,
if I recall correctly —
several decades ago,
Himalayan blackberries
are now inseparable
from the landscape here.

In areas open to sky
everywhere: in clearings
along Padden Creek,
in a huge impenetrable tangle
along the banks of a slow
meander of lower creek
just east of the estuary.

The heavy snow of that late
surprise snowfall
(was it only last month?)
weighed down brambles.
Brambles remain prostrate
but indestructible.

It’s an invasive species,
true. A prediction:
soon enough the blackberries
will be everywhere.
Birds and walkers and pickers
won’t be able to resist
the bounty of blackberries,
will feast and carry
Himalayan blackberries
farther and further.
Another prediction:
purple blackberry-stained
beaks, hands and mouths.

~*~

Andrew Shattuck McBride
NaPoWriMo 2014 ~ Day 21

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