David K. Reynolds, Ph.D. - *These reflections are based on the Japanese collection of New Year poems called the Hyakunin Isshu. The poems are used in a fast-paced card game played during the New Year holidays.**
The blackberry vines in my backyard
Remind me never to give up.
I apologize as I pull weeds.
Clothes dryers are convenient
But the wind kindly dries
The sweat on my forehead.
Sleepless and jet-lagged
I keep company with my computer
In the night.
Stubborn patches of snow
On the mountainside in late spring
We are kin.
Water doesn’t die
Even when it disappears.
It’s natural that I drop from your memory.
Rain will fall now and then.
Knowing the odds of flying safely
Yet I shiver
When we hit turbulence.
As a child I imagined the moon falling.
Now I have more mature fantasies
To worry about.
Advance and you risk losing perspective
Retreat and you risk losing impact.
So lose yourself in the ebb and flow.
Fall’s fiery colors last well into winter these days.
My hair shows only traces of white.
Sun and snow are both real.
Names and faces slip from mind.
Forgotten places are newly visited.
Fresh moments never reappear
However vast our experienced past.
Cities stitched together by airlines.
People interlocked in mobile communications
Now alone, writing.
There is no end to waiting.
Age and experience bring some perspective
If not resignation.
Floating along on love’s current
Don’t miss the scenery and the snags.
Step ashore now and then
To build a sturdy craft.
Too much is going on
To anticipate it all.
No map charts Reality accurately.
Words are maps, too.
Giving to you
Is not merely return on a debt.
This offering is what makes me, me
And you, you.
It is strange that whenever we are apart,
Whatever we are doing,
We are waiting to be together again.
All traffic lanes open
Yet this car sputters along.
Which off ramp will I take?
Some of me I won’t show you.
Some I can’t see myself.
There is so much more to see.
I don’t want to block your view.
Moments between tasks
Sprout new tasks.
Gardening never ends.
Be willing to pay the price
For worthy sacrifices.
Beware the cost of whims and obsessions.
Trying not to wake you
With my sleeplessness
I tiptoe out to the couch
And drift off.
Brisk breeze excites mind and body,
Leaves and wind chimes.
Slaps us into action.
Thank you, breeze.
Moon gazing offers perspective
On reflected light, time, and change.
Pre-flight prayers forgotten
I exit newly alive
To a grounded welcome.
Love has its limits
Learned as one grows older.
I’m hungry now,
Anticipation merges into her smile and hug
Two become one again.
I miss her less than I used to.
Time, curiosity, and yard work
Rescue me for the moment.
Eyes, knees, and memory
Show signs of the hard work years.
Thank you, Guys.
Chilly air and warm blankets
Help me sleep.
Housework and long walks
Do their part, too.
I loved many times
Surprising myself to love again.
Love was forever in season.
Wading through soft neon moonlight,
And spongy grounded mist,
I stroll while the town sleeps.
Two plants so close together
I thought they were one.
Leaf and flower in new combination.
What a couple!
I can analyze and distance myself
From everything but innocence and purity.
My eyes get blurry then.
My memories of long ago
Linger like daylight in summer.
Children must go to bed early anyway.
Even photos fade over time.
There are no freeze frames.
This camera, this eye, this subject-
I no longer notice much of this room
But the calendar reminds me
To change it.
Wind blows away the past.
Wind leans my body forward.
Wind reminds me to breathe
Be very careful with promises.
You may be required to honor a vow
Made by a different you.
Unnoticed, the low-lying weeds
Spread their roots widely.
While arching dandelions
Get pulled up quickly.
People will remember you
For what you did,
Not for what you felt.
While blown about by love and anger
Hold to your noble purposes.
Lovesets like sunsets
Herald the night and the next loverise.
Dawn arrives later in some seasons.
The day’s events bring smiles and laughter.
I’m noticing the embedded humor
Noticing the noticing.
Blessed with crinkly eyes.
The phone rings at 10:30 p.m.
Do you think about the inconvenience to you
Or who else the caller may have called just now?
We may never meet again.
The bearable sadness
will be covered by time’s landslides.
Will the erosion of years
Uncover memories of you?
Anger, resentment, and grudges interfere with sleep.
Willing sleep to come provides no antidote.
For all your foresight and planning
What awaits you today is unknowable.
Observe, embrace, and dance
Letting the music play you.
My home is always
Presentable for visitors.
Few actually come
But my home deserves the attention.
Seacliffs battered by waves
Stand for hundreds of years.
We endure life’s surf for much less time.
The perfect posture for sleep
On days when my mind races
And my body has been idle.
Who would you die for?
What would you die for?
How can you repay the lenders
Of your borrowed life?
How could you give away
What isn’t yours to begin with?
Anger, feeding on self interest
Burns holes in life.
Love overflows the self
And waters life’s roots.
Cloudy skies soothe my eyes
And freshen my skin.
Gloom is in the heart
And not in the sky.
Travelers meet many beds
And times for sleeping.
I had to learn to sleep alone sometimes.
Pleasant or not
Memories of you
Are not you.
Hopes for you
Are not you.
Recordings of you
Are not you.
Time and distance
Snuff the flame that is you
Even while you burn with life.
Names bob to the surface
And float along for a while.
But they sink again in the current.
The flow goes on.
Except for the word itself
I don’t know about “death”.
I’ve never been there.
I’m not eager to learn.
I don’t know if I’ll “know” even then.
Some women are best seen from behind.
Some men are best remembered after their funeral.
The “good old days” are filtered before bottling.
Torment is foolishness at both ends.
Holding on to pain burns both hands.
Neither tormentor nor victim exist
When you lose yourself
In this moment’s purposeful activity.
Waiting and patience are different.
Use all your time well,
Even while waiting,
Even while impatient.
The furniture in this house doesn’t move
Inside, my mind must generate motion.
Outdoors the tree branches sway in the wind.
My mind rolls with the trees.
Bluejays attack my bird feeder
Hoping to spill its contents.
The water balloons I sling at them
Express my competing hopes, as well.
Early morning working in the yard
I keep on the move and mosquitoes don’t notice me.
Come to think of it, my life has been like that.
Thoughts of missing you
Come only when I slow down.
They are natural reminders
To look for what needs doing.
Orderly daily routines
Dissipate some of the future fog
But not all of it.
We all weather our days.
Requiring certain feelings to occur
Is like ordering from a weather menu.
Expect disappointment for dessert.
It’s not that you need to know this material.
I need to write it.
That you kindly read it
Prompts my gratitude and amazement.
My name and reputation are not me.
My borrowed words are not me.
They are all markers of where I once was.
Moments of fame
If bestowed on you
Breed moments of lonely comparisons
Down the road.
Bracketed by moments of calm.
The storm gets our attention.
Learn to notice the calm, too.
Don’t take it for granted.
Walking at dawn.
No one else about.
I get to taste the first fresh breezes.
Who knows how far my breath goes?
Protecting what I have.
Is already something of a burden.
So many exposed boundaries.
Fortified walls and multiple locks
Fossilize the mind.
Keeping distance is safe.
Avoiding challenge is the easy course.
Staying home avoids the danger of travel.
Effortlessness is debilitating.
Just sit and the sled gathers momentum.
I make guesses about the future.
But my guesses are often wrong.
My mind moves ahead,
But my body only moves now.
Sin requires ignoring all perspectives
But your own.
This narrowed perception permits
Obsessions, phobias, and crime
Are cut from the same selfish
Strips of cloth.
It is better to refuse
Than to fail to keep your word.
A forced smile
Is kinder than sobs and complaints.
A manufactured smile during grief
Is as eloquent as tears.
Missing her is about me, not her.
Welcoming her is about her, not me.
Hugging her is about us.
So is driving carefully.
Day or night
Rather than toss and turn
While feeling miserable,
It’s better to get moving
And rest later.
Lets the sun shine through.
Don’t be distracted by clouds.
Unravelling the intricacies
Of your mind
With your mind
Thinking with your mind
That you can master your mind
With your mind
Is called psychotherapy.
My body takes me to the den.
I can’t remember why.
I discover my errand.
Something knew it all along.
My life course
Looks more like a fish swimming
Than like a ruler.
But for all the meandering
There was direction.
And here I am.
Even if I can’t bring about world peace.
I can keep my back yard trimmed and neat,
And my closet orderly.
Found under my shoe,
Seen in my radiator grill,
Lying on my garden,
Viewed on television,
Written in my will.
How can one word
Cover so much?
I can’t empty myself of words by writing.
The space keeps filling up with more words.
So I can’t ever catch up on my debt
To whatever puts them there.
So many people I once knew
Have turned out well
Without me in their lives all along.
I’m relieved for two reasons.
Rain may clear the air
And leave muddy puddles, too.
You can walk around puddles
While breathing fresh air.
My life is borrowed, too.
So I can’t give it to you.
But I’ll share some moments
Thus incurring more debt.
Hiding weakness we fear exposure.
Revealing weakness we fear rejection
By those with weakness, too.
Our lives are dyed by action.
Colors fade and reappear.
Choose the hues you wish to wear.
New, uncolored, clothing is impossible.
Shivering and trembling happen to me.
Cold and fear happen to me, too.
So do anger and joy and sorrow.
Just passing through.
Not my fault.
Tears and laughter disappear
When you multiply twelve by sixteen.
Sorrow’s depth is not measured by tears.
Humor’s depth is not measured by laughter.
Druggie mother loves her child
And steals her lunch money.
Pressured worker hates his boss
And smiles a greeting to her.
Feelings and actions don’t have to match.
Beaten down, bobbing up
Seaweed in the surf.
People save themselves
Though supported by others.
I cannot rescue you
Sustained by many hands.
I’m trying on new expectations of aging.
Freed up here
Bound up there
Doing it my way.
Making you wait steals your time.
Distracted, I steal your words.
Uncommitted, I steal your life.
Among throngs of thoughtless thieves
My selfish deeds stand out.
My body is a gift from others
Known and unknown.
It is a tool for working on my debt to them.
I dare not throw it away
Or let it rust.
Acceptance is not passivity.
Acceptance trumps indifference.
Acceptance is unselfish.
Acceptance allows relief.
Movie stars and CEO’s die, too.
Estates become ruins.
And a name is not even a person.
This moment lasts just long enough.
Use it well.