Ray Brown makes his debut at cavalcadeofstars this week with a sample of his beautiful poetry.
The Quiet Man
There was a certain calmness about him.
So soft, the word demeanor was too harsh.
A voice which lullabied the soul,
like the gentle swaying of a hinged cradle.
I could listen for an eternity
to this voice of peace.
Accept the assurances which,
if left alone to linger in the air,
might fade so quietly.
This was new for me.
It took this quiet calm,
to help me understand
my hearing was so full of my own words.
Her Fingerprints upon His Heart
Not so hard a man
he found his touch against her cheek
enough of a message of tenderness
to warm him.
They would walk
along the tow path of the canal
by the placid Delaware River
near Stockton NJ.
They talked of life
of why, and here, and now,
In a walk once through Tinicum Park,
on the Pennsylvania side, while holding hands
they stopped and turned towards one another
and as the near silent breeze
rustled the leaves of fall, they kissed –
an imprint of emotion.
There was within both, this urge of passion
but somehow it was tenderness
that drew them together.
They enjoyed the shad fest at Lambertville
feed each other by hand
little portions of warm sustenance
and then again, the Chamber concert
at the Lutheran Church in Erwinna.
One day – as fall turned to winter – she was gone…
She left alone,
her fingerprints upon his heart.
Behind the Red Door in the Little Brick Cottage
Behind the red door in the little brick cottage
was the place that security
called its home.
In the back yard
we planted our roots in spring –
together with the peas
that would grace our summer table
during the cozy evenings when the greens of the spinach
nurtured our plates and our hearts.
It was here that we found love
fitted within the pleats of the home made curtains
that warmed our windows.
The early morning sunshine
filtered on the breakfast table
where our liveliness awakened for the day.
The birds at the garden feeder
accompanied my mother
as her melodies lifted my spirit.
In the afternoon I sat in the dappled sunlight
under the overflowing wisteria
and read from a school book.
When my father walked home,
his arduous work complete,
he always had enough energy to carry happiness
through the red door,
and while after dinner mother rocked and knitted
we would listen to him tell us
of the tragedies of the world beyond the door.
Sadness and heartache, war in foreign lands,
things we had not yet experienced
but could see in his words.
At age sixteen I left for university
understood a year later
how hard they had worked,
he and my mother,
to provide when we were young
a place of peace,
a time for strong roots to develop
for the sapling to grow to withstand the winds
from which the brick of our cottage –
and the little red door
had up to now
I only eat on Fridays
50,000 people die of hunger each day.
A child, every 5 seconds.
Every 5 seconds,
as the world devours a McDonald’s french fry –
starvation consumes a child.
The path to this destination of death – contorted.
At first, pains of hunger turn to numbness
then tissue thin skin
clings to the skeleton, like a balloon out of air
falls amongst the netting on the circus floor
below the high wire of life….
In Costa Rica, 53 years old,
he trudges for the 40th consecutive year,
the 14,600th consecutive day to the refuse dump
where he fights with the other human scavengers – and the rats
for rotten, left over morsels to sustain his family.
When the garbage truck arrives, a rush like lemmings
or vermin avoiding the exterminator
to be the first – push to the front
when the dump body releases rotting, days old food.
Sheltered in a tin covered lean-to,
an anxious family awaits
having returned from a difficult walk
to the stream below
– where people
bathe, drink, urinate, defecate
and catch amoebic dysentery.
Upon his return, his pickings,
food scraps parceled out among family members
each – with their own day of the week to eat.
In the intervening days,
when the growls pull on the heartstrings of a mother –
when the cries can no longer be tolerated
she mixes clay with salt and water –
a paste more suitable for a child’s nursery school project,
and bakes dirt pies –
so the stomachs of her children feel full.
On the beach at the resort –
with the white colored sand, the crystal blue waters,
under the green trimmed cabana
the ocean waves lullaby my afternoon’s end.
I invite an emaciated urchin to share
half a local unfinished sandwich,
one the restaurant’s garbage purveyor can do without.
I offer it up
encourage this thin replica of a human child
to pick it from the plate –
tears from the child’s eyes –
at first – I thought appreciation
but when he still resisted,
my inquiry answered:
“This is Thursday, and I only get to eat on Friday…
Friday is my day to eat…..”
I Have His Letters Still
When I was young
they were kept in a shoebox.
Then, in late middle age,
in an old leather correspondence case,
found at a flea market,
kept in the bottom desk drawer.
Handwritten in flowing cursive script
by original Lewis Waterman pen
point dipped in a well
the fountain of personal essence
the blue flowed with emotion
like the waters of life.
Soul captured not by Lucifer
but by the fiber of the paper
crafted in Egypt along the Nile
history nested so deeply between the reeds
between the threads of papyrus.
The envelope, self-sealed in a meticulous way
with wax, monogrammed
engraved so beautifully on the back,
The Steamboat Savannah stamp
hand canceled – May 24, 1944
a distinctive ink which marked its journey
as would a traveler his journal
from South Carolina to Baptistown, NJ.
I treasure this letter, and its envelope.
When I pick it up and read
I feel him rising
through the warmth of the words,
grasping my hand…
this post saved in the attic of my memories.
While I have other poets today
their presence I see just fleetingly
on the computer screen,
my palm touch against the monitor
only makes work for me
Though a friend taught me about the “Save” button
I feel as if I have saved nothing, and lost much
each time I push/click –
their correspondence lost –
in impersonal set aside.
Why time took this treasured means of human discourse
there is no answer.
Does it have no sense of history –
Upon my death, for what
will they use my leather satchel?
Thankfully — I have his letters still.
Ray Brown | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Poetry of Ray Brown | http://raybrown.wordpress.com