Friday, May 05, 2023

Traipsing lightfooted

The news that Gordon had passed on stopped me

Then his songs, melodies, and lyrics clambered forward

In a room where ya do what you don't confess

I saw him in concert once. In Boston, it was surreal

Having listened to his albums, he played exactly the same way

The minstrel of the dawn is here

That was his thing, he worked hard to create it, we bought it, he wanted us to get what we paid for

On the summer side of life

His ballads or story songs told many memorable tales

Reaching for his saddlebag, 

he takes a battered book into his hand

When the gales of November came early

If you could read my mind love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Rows of lights in a circle of steel

It's time for a summertime dream

In a race among the ruins

Ribbon of darkness over me

And the big steel rail

Gonna carry me home to the one I love

And by the way, did she mention my name

If she didn't, I did. And will I remember you fondly

When the green dark forest is to silent to be real

In fond memory of Gordon Lightfoot, his music, his voice

Sunday, April 16, 2023

If we believe


Through the door
the window
walk or fly 
nothing possible
until you believe 

Mother child
mother daughter
frames this life
until you believe 

The athlete
practices long
hard or not
will not succeed 
until they believe 

House cleaning advice
let your spouse
keep the memories
until you believe

Two sides of the one coin
Two faces of one coin
Flipped still solid
Until you believe 

How do you 
tell someone 
about your dream
find the words
until they believe 


I'm no stranger
to mystery
listening intently
until you believe

One step, one stride 
lengthens miles 
or trials, on a mission
until you believe

All around
every death
brings new life
gentle reminders 
until you believe 

Hearing deficit
Is separate 
From listening
until you believe 

Since oil is king
And change is hard
Our kids have 
no future
unless we believe 

Religion won't
Government can't
change for better
may happen
If we believe 

My full response to the "Believe" poem Jamele Adams read at the poetry workshop Apr 8, 2023. I shared part 1 of my response here  previously

Hurt people triptych

** Good loop

Hurt people
hurt people
So find hurt folks
Care for them
Before they 
hurt others

** Bad loop

Hurt people
hurt people
Leave them free
And they will
Find a way to
Hurt people

** Loopy loop

Hurt people
Hurt enough 
Folks that there
Are no people left
To care for those hurt

Monday, April 10, 2023

Poetry Workshop: prompts and Responses - April 8, 2023

The first of two poetry events was held at the Franklin Public Library Saturday, April 8.  The second event, a Favorite Poem Reading is scheduled for April 29 will also be held at the Library from noon to 3 PM.

On Saturday, there was a choice of two workshops to respond to prompts and have some time to be creative and write. 

Camile Bernstein lead one group, Jamele Adams led the other group.

Camille's group worked on the concept of 'found poetry'. She provided bunches of textual material from which you could select your poems text and leave it in order or revise the order to make it work for you. You can find samples of her output on the Instagram accounts as follows:
Jamele's group worked from a series of writing prompts that he provided. He would give the prompt, set some time for us to write the response, then if we choose to share the response. The conversation around the responses was equally as good as the responses.

First prompt: you have a short period of time, what would you say to a person that you want to/need to…

Response as a ‘Long’ version (notes, plus)

First select the person

Then the setting

What is the stage

Purpose, reason

I am a poet cuz

Words matter; words

Convey ideas, thoughts

Reasons to be,

Reasons to strive

I write daily, more

Than multiple times

Within the day

Journalism is one

Path to my writing

Reporting on what

Matters, life matters

Life here in Franklin Matters 

Response as a sherku

Sherku: First prompt

poetry cuz

words matter

words convey

ideas, thoughts


is one path

. . . . . .

Second prompt: What is your superpower? Write your superpower as a haiku

Response long version (notes, plus)

long distance runner

sweat no worry

shoes tied tight

socks smoothed 

one step, one stride

after another

joy in the doing

Haiku: distance runner

Shoes tied tight, socks smoothed

There is joy in the doing

Long distance runner

. . . . .

Write a Haiku of a superpower of another

Haiku: Jamele 

He's full of color

Brightly welcoming all folks

To comfy front porch

. . . . .

Jamele read one of his recent poems, "Believe" to which we were then asked to respond in whichever way we chose, haiku, or longer. I chose one of the new formats I am creating and working with. An almost complete version is shared here.

Part I (of 2)

Through the door

the window

walk or fly 

nothing possible

until you believe 

Mother child

mother daughter


frames this life

until you believe 

The athlete

practices long

hard or not

will not succeed 

until they believe 

House cleaning advice

let the spouse

keep the memories

until you believe 

how do you 

tell someone a 

dream it's images

find words

Until they believe 

Two sides of the one coin

Two faces of one coin

Flipped still solid

Until you believe

When Part 2 is complete, it will be shared here as well.
For more about the event check out the Franklin Matters posting here ->

Sunday, April 02, 2023

sherku: kids alright

Hello the 
kids are alright 
now they will be 
taking things apart

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

'please' should not be needed


In the search for happiness is it enough to have stuff in your bowl, or to help those with empty bowls

Many streets pass over culverts where we have no clue they run underneath, yet that water is critical to our lives, with or without an empty bowl
While Franklin is considered an idyllic community, it is not immune from food insecurity; almost 10 percent of our neighbors regularly face an empty bowl

If all you have is a hammer, there should be only a few circumstances where that hammer can positively help someone with an empty bowl

The new building campaign will not about the building; it will be about how the Pantry will be able use the space the building provides to help those with empty bowls

Our neighbors stories are many, varied, and deeply personal; we need to be respectful when helping someone with an empty bowl


The UN has an internet vocabulary game that for every correct answer they help to provide grains of rice to someone with an empty bowl

FHS students have worked diligently, crafting ceramic bowls in various shapes, colors, and designs as a reminder of those with empty bowls

The student led Empty Bowl dinner gets folks together for soup and conversation to help create the awareness of those with empty bowls

The ceramics crafted for the silent auction are truly works of art, some practical, some glorious, all reminding us to help those with an empty bowl

Indigenous languages had no equivalent for "please", food was meant to be shared, it was a cultural given that one was treated respectfully when one had an empty bowl

Recovering from the pandemic will take time, many folks may have been shocked to find out how close they were to facing an empty bowl 

In reeling from the shock, the hope is that folks will recognize how easy it is, that they too, can help someone with an empty bowl

For Brenna Johnson and the FHS Empty Bowls Club

Monday, March 20, 2023

This branch


Cluster of kids playing, around the front yard tree, taking turns, trying to climb a low branch, failing to clamber successfully to the next branch

Green stems protrude tentatively? from the cold, brown earth; it is spring yet? or it this new weather an experience, a budding branch

The student theater group had set times within which to set the stage, to perform, and then to clear their set, props and all, to enable the judicial branch

Heated greenhouse served as the classroom for seed lessons, amidst the seedlings, beginning their own journey into the world food branch

Completed reading the collected works of my namesake, his perception and logic astounds some to this day, in awe of his prowess in the detective branch

Perhaps some of the family recipes passed down through the ages were really developed as means of survival to make the most of the food available to that branch


I cleared a vine or two that had tangled themselves between the trees, it would have more caused damage if I hadn't clipped that branch 

Soccer is the beautiful game, even more beautiful when the team can move with, and play with the triangles, passing to the open branch

The grill flames blew out twice while cooking, the wind blustering with such force, the grill relit quickly, enough heat had built under the branch

Odd how the last time we had been to the restaurant had been for my aunts birthday, then we hear that she has passed, only two sisters left of mother's branch

We should be more careful with whatever we're talking about when little ones are around, they do listen, remarkably they will repeat what we have said about the branch

Density and affordable housing are incompatible pairs, they are good enough for them to be elsewhere, as long as they do not get built on this branch

On the first day of spring, all the major papers have dire headlines, significant action is required, or climate change will make life a real challenge on this branch

a tree on the Franklin Town Common Apr 11, 2023
a tree on the Franklin Town Common Apr 11, 2023

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Advice from the corner


I bought a new basketball when I retired, planning to be ready to shoot some hoops, yet it sits in its the box in the corner

Neighborhood natives will give you directions to go down a ways, and turn 'where such and such used to be' on the corner

You can save time cleaning by doing the visible spots first, if it seems to pass the white glove test, inspectors may not check in the corner 

I'll drink any beer the first time, after that, only the really good ones make it to the shopping cart, the rest will remain in the corner

MA needs more housing, especially that which is affordable, yet there are those that won't approve building something down on the corner

Plan, share the plan, talk about the plan, adjust the plan, many minds will do better planning together, otherwise you can end up in the corner


You can get a book through the Minuteman library network, easy peasy, just like it was on the shelf, at your library, on the corner

He sang the song, as if he owned it, but finding out that his wife actually wrote the lyrics to the song blew me off the corner

The webinar shared insights on listening trends, some broken down by age group, some made sense, some could have stayed in the corner

She is such a breath of fresh air, yet some powerful men despise her so much, they work hard to keep her in the corner

The agenda was to plan for the event, which they found out as the meeting started couldn't happen, someone was not able to come out of their corner

There is a relationship between a thing, and the word for the thing, otherwise the concept would need to remain in the corner

Those in the know need to share what they know, or folks will fill the void with anything else, forcing those in the know to dig out of the corner

Friday, March 03, 2023

The face of my father


He would come home from work, lunch bucket, and newspaper tucked under his arm, and sink one-handed free throws endlessly; I have not forgotten the face of my father

He would only need to threaten us kids with the belt, and when he'd yell "Not one more peep out of you" one of us said "peep". I have not forgotten the face of my father

He played Cribbage during lunch time with his office buddies, when someone got a 29 hand, they'd tape it to the wall, and crack open a new deck of cards. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He was a cost accountant at the Washburn Wire mill, a steelworker union organizer, and for a long time, president of his local union. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He had worked as a roofer and helped weld leaks in the city hall tower during the winter before getting into office work at Washburn. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He served in the 4th Marines, seeing action on Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. He always said he was lucky to return and finally left us quietly on February 19, yes, 67 years to the day that he had landed on Iwo. I have not forgotten the face of my father


He was the middle child of 9, although he found out when his brother researched the family genealogy, that it was really 10; "They only counted the live ones". I have not forgotten the face of my father

He met, fell in love, and married Rita, in the time after WW II, and eventually reconciled with her parents even though they did not attend her wedding.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He was not French, Rita's father felt it was beneath his daughter to marry an Irishman, so he took the family out of town come wedding day. I have not forgotten the face of my father

He folded out the living room sleep sofa nightly; that was their bedroom for 20+ years while raising 6 kids in a 2 bedroom 5 room 1st floor of a triple decker.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He would have us gather our shoes to be shined while watching TV Saturday night, while we took our turns through the bathroom, well organized chaos, I have not forgotten the face of my father

He became well respected by Pepe for his ability to maintain a serious, and civil discourse, especially when some of the in-laws couldn't.  I have not forgotten the face of my father

He and Mom had got back into good graces with Pepe after the first grandchild came along. That was me. Now I understand it was my calling to bring people together. I will not forget the face of my father

for Gerald Sherlock

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Elephant corral


Sitar sounds & rhythmic drumming prepare the way for 
words of Rumi and my thoughts to run

Back in the day of simple street names, park, north park, 
the stream was put into a culvert and allowed to run

The power substation is setback from the houses, utility poles, 
and towers hold the lines up high for the electricity to run

The ballfields are not far from the combo basketball & hockey court 
near the playground where the kiddos are able to safely run

Green dots mark the progress of cleaning the catch basins 
to ensure the storm water can freely run

Brick chimney on one side of the roof peak, newer galvanized 
pipe on the other, allows the exhaust to run


The sign tells folks to "be the reason for someone to smile today", 
you make me smile everyday I get up to run

Walking along the gutter, or taking a shower, both times 
create the space to allow my thoughts to run

I resist the urge to fix their mailbox which was clearly smashed 
by someone with a baseball bat on the run

Until we corral the unspoken elephant in the room, 
multiple cries for overdue justice will continue to run

Trouble is, will the corral be big enough, the cries for justice tend 
to be drowned out by the truthsplaining ads that run

We must take action to corral the elephants, shout through the ads, 
restore justice and order by catching those on the run

Searches return what has been asked for, that is what they are designed to do, hence the context, and the text strings used, are key for proper results to run

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Valentine's Day 2023


Writing is a challenge, you need to capture that thought, before 
something else comes along and the idea runs

The Town doesn't own the bridge, the T does, because 
the train to Boston underneath it runs

The natural depression forms a grassy bowl among 
the houses to collect the storm water when it runs

The sprawling red brick mill complex is as important to this 
area as the tangled wooded vines along the stream that runs

The yellow rectangle on the utility pole is meant to guide 
your drive along the safe side of the road that runs

A walk among the streets, and byways of this town, helps put 
my thoughts together to say how long my love for you runs


For breakfast, a once-over-easy egg is my favorite, the 
whites get solid, yet the yolk is allowed to run

Sisters of St Mary taught me in elementary school and in 
high school, Christian Brothers guided me to run 

A minor defect in my foot has me now walking 
many more miles daily than I used to run

You can see the light of the approaching train before 
the whistle blows alerting all that it is making a run

My joy rises as the red-tailed hawk follows the updraft
it too is searching for food to run

In the warmth of today's bright sun, you walk 
my side, while our shadows together run 

For DS

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Ghazal: rough sleepers

I learned to consider both the upstream and downstream work as part of the process to understand what was being done in front of me

During my commute to Boston, de-training at South Station, walking into the Financial District, I found the rough sleepers in front of me

What approach does one take to write a poem to send to Europa, is their water like the tap water in front of me?

A melody can transport me back in time to a place, a point, usually significant for what was happening in front of me

The sounds of the street, traffic, voices, a symphony of life, even if a hard life, always for the rough sleepers in front of me

What will Europa make of the poem which will come to it, or will it be treated like the rough sleepers in front of me 

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Ghazal: trial balloon

The heat seemed to stop on what was the coldest 
day of the year, or ever, who's counting, 
And how do we figure out this human interface 

The thermostat has only 2 wires, White 1 and Red heat, to
Complete the circuit, yet the battery wasn't charging 
It should have be easy to make sense of the human interface

In the old days, you put logs on the fire and as the logs 
burned down, you added more, later it was coal, or gas, 
or oil, the flickering flame provided the human interface

The Nest has its own mind, located somewhere up in the cloud, 
the workers remote, diligent, but unreachable in this new 
hybrid world with a cryptic human interface 

The simpler device comes back from storage, gets wired,
Time set again, and programed for generating heat while
Suspicious minds work out the human interface 

Turns out the balloon has flown before, a few times, with
many not knowing of it; this time, it came down with a shot
We need to take back the human interface 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Ghazal: is it live?

Don't say AI, say what it really is; artificial intelligence. 

yes artificial for sure, not really sure if it is 

intelligent yet. Is it live or is it Memorex 

Yet another shiny object catches attention, draws 

the media talking heads briefly and all too superficially 

discuss the latest. Is it live or is it Memorex

The daily writing or reflection time can center oneself 

in comfort and solitude, can allow for putting things 

into perspective  Is it live or is it Memorex

AI is an algorithm based upon data, the data set could be

Good to use or worthless depending upon what the data 

is trying to anticipate Is it live or is it Memorex

One talented individual with a high vocal range

Can hit the proper note, the proper pitch

To shatter fragile glass and ask is it live or is it Memorex

Kenyan proverb, the sun will rise tomorrow, simple in what 

It says and just as important in what it doesn’t say; 

Will we see the sun rise tomorrow? Is it live or is it Memorex

Monday, January 23, 2023

Ghazal: Thoreau's chairs

Part 1

Rectangular tables are an efficient use 
for maximizing space within the room where 
there can only be so many chairs

Why is it that sitting alone is the hardest
Thing to do, solitude can be so beneficial 
when there is only one chair

Round tables use more space, yet no matter 
where you sit, you are on the same level
With the person in the next chair

At the breakfast table, I go fetch my phone
Because you asked for my schedule which 
we review when I sit back in my chair

The conversation will go around and round
The square meal when the whole family
Sits together in each their own chair

Take a walk to Henry's place, he will
Welcome your visit, and he will bring out 
for you to sit on, one of his chairs

Part 2

Without tone or body language it is
Just the words that are shared with the app
That you use while sitting in your chair

Emojis and photos are added to provide the
Thousand words left out inconveniently
By you sitting impatiently in your chair

The party game is now online, of course,
And when the music stops, who is the one
Left out when they don't find a chair

The rain continues after dark as the storm 
forecast comes true, water runs down the gutter
Filling the background while I sit writing in my chair 

I ponder at what age will the youth need a smart device
to get by in this digital world while you 
increase your device time sitting in your chair

What is more authentic, the auto-generated chat
Text, or me reaching across the table, to hold your hand
While I sit patiently in my chair