Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ode to Wives

How do you know
     so much about me
     and I so little of you?
Taking me aback
     when least expected

"Do you think you should visit
     Joe (the barber) soon?
We have community Dessert & Games nite Saturday."
And how is it
    you notice my long hair and beard
    when I never do?
Rare is the time
     I trim and shave my cheeks
    and then you say
"Oh how nice you look!"
And I know you mean it
    because other friends say it too
    not just the women.

Or on cleaning day
    when you say
"Help me flip your mattress.
Didn't you say it was lumpy?"
And I ask myself,
    How did she remember that?

Or on Movie night with Barb
    and you ask
" Why don't you change that ratty shirt
     for the nice one I just bought?"
    you had bought two,
    hearing "I need more long sleeved tops,"
    two weeks earlier

Or before the Baha'i Assembly meeting
     and you ask nicely
 "Should you change for our guests?"
     and I put the other new top on.

Or "Did you brush for the dentist?"
     before leaving for my cleaning appointment.
Or "I taped Agent Carter for you
     why don't you watch that
     while I'm at the PTA meeting?"
Or "Where would you like to go
     for dinner tonite?"
Or "I sent your Mom a birthday card
     from both of us."
And to Dad, and brothers and wives, sister and husband.
Or "Did you see you were tagged 
     on Facebook yesterday?"
Of course not.

I used to resent the nagging
     until I realized
Hell, it's all for my benefit
     she cares about me more than I do!
And that was twenty years ago
      and I've been a happier husband since

Or, rarely, "Would you mind
     going to Acme for skim milk?
     I ran out."
And finally it dawns
     How rare she asks me to do something for her!
How rare in fact
     she asks for anything for herself
     except me to look my best
     except me to remember -- to be nice

I marvel at her noticing
      not rare like mine
At her caring that much
      to remember

 that she still loves me

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards

Ode to Moms

Oh Mom!
The tongue you bequeathed me
 – inadequate--  
for your praise!

Shall I thank thee for your sacrifice?
That called for single motherhood
for eight hard years that sufficed

Shall I thank thee for your gifts?
That gave me smarts
to endear teachers' hearts
and the girl I married not to miff

Shall I thank thee for your kindness?
That put brother and I first
without showing sadness

Shall I thank thee for thy sweet demeanor?
That only grew angry
because I was meaner?

Shall I thank thee for putting others before thee?
Family, friends, strangers 
and all you see including me

Shall I thank thee for your encouraging words?
Praising our achievements
no matter how absurd

Shall I thank thee for food on the table and clothes on my back?
Before you ate
or took your own outfits
off the Goodwill rack?

Shall I thank thee for your rose-colored glasses?
In light of dark
begging dashes
when He sent you aid

Shall I thank thee for your unlimited faith?
In God, the Pope
and Christian fate

I could go on and tell your stories
but tears would fall
there are so few great glories

Yet, yet, there are many
'cause we survived
 -- by your own and God's hands –
tender at times or hard
creating mutual destiny

So thank you Mom

I am that much more

a better man for it

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards

Ode to DaDs

Was it the Marine Corps
that taught you cleanliness?

You taught me to scrub a commode
better than Mr. Clean
while you vaccumed our beige-carpeted and walled
garden apartment

You taught me to shake hands firmly
as a man would
especially a woman's

You taught me no hatred
of colored, or weak, or stupid, or foreign, or cruel
or poor ones;
to treat people with respect and intelligence
every time

You taught me respect for humanity
that The Tao
would not
until four years later

You taught me to tee my butts
and jam them in my back jean's pocket                                 
which my wife still uncovers in the wash
and hates finding the stinky things

You must've taught me to drive
your salmon '57 Chevy Bel Air hardtop with no posts               
and it was good enough
to earn my California license as a kid
despite running over curbs

And you taught me respect                        
for our many girlish dates                                                           
and of women likewise                                                                  
to love them all                                                                          
with "Treat women well."

And so "I Do" has meant more than mere words                       
after 43 years with my first wife;                                                     
a strong redhead                                                                           
you gave me courage to approach                                         
without fear of showing a good heart

And you Dad, you taught me responsibility also                            
to work dedicated at a job                                                           
and remain loyal                                                                            
as you supported a family of four at first                                    
then five, then six, seven, eight and nine

And though I never drove your faded green Ford Fairlane            
I remember family Sunday drives                                           
around the gorgeous Delaware Valley                                            
in cold, cool, warm then humid seasons

And you taught me                                                                        
that our recalcitrant decrepit lawnmower                                  
could be repaired                                                                             
by your tenacity                                                                            
and cunningly constructed temporary fixes

So I don't give up hope easily,                                              
fulfilling my Taurean nature

And I learned to arrive early                                                    
which increases my sweetheart's lovingness                                
not keeping her waiting

You both gave me freedom to break rules                                   
and I broke them                                                                          
until one of you said                                                                   
"He must go to his Father."

How else would I have learned                                                       
to tee and clean                                                                               
to respect and drive                                                                         
to dedicate and not be late and                                                        
to love without fear?

Thank you DaDs!                                                                  
Rodney Senior my first and least known                                 
Ralph Senior my last for near on five decades

What's in a Dad's name or appelation?                                     
except example and words?

Sad to think both of you gone physically                                     
but not spiritually                                                                           
not internally                                                                                 
not emotionally                                                                              
not laughably                                                                                
not memorably                                                                                                       
Because I Am your Junior Apprentice

Copyright 2015 Rodney Richards                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Monday, February 9, 2015

Inspired by the Glory of God

The Baha’i teachings contain enormous wisdom. For me, every time I read Baha’u’llah’s or Abdu’l-Baha’s writings, I feel powerfully informed and inspired. Sometimes I let that inner inspiration transform itself into poetry. Reflecting on the two passages below from Baha’u’llah’s writings, I wrote this poem at 1:30 pm on the 16th of December, 2014, while sitting on a Presbyterian Church bench dedicated to the Glory of God.

    "Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation…. Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty." – Baha’u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u'llah, pp. 65-66.

It’s Always There

My eyes often travel downward
I see the tuft of grass in the sidewalk crack

     and follow my urge to pluck It
I spy the dirty napkin caught on the church’s lawn
     and bend down to dispose of It

Then they travel upward

I bask in Sol’s glow behind the clouds 
     and push my body and face into It
I meditate on His Godness
     and speak words of praise to It

Then they travel inward

I feel the wrath of ire at the speeding car

     and the dangerous driver in It
I sense the love from my own true love
     and wonder how we have held It

Then they meander the world

I find Banana Split ice cream in the fridge

     and spoon the deliciousness out of It
I watch the senseless hate turning to violence
    and wish mankind to end It

Grass, napkin, Sol, Godness, wrath, love, ice cream, and hate

     all lay in my Path

I acknowledge them with unhesitating impulses

     to touch, feel, give way, absorb and consume them

All the essences of this life we humans experience

     every day, every wakeful moment of It

The Its of existence at our fingertips

    "These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory." – Baha’u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u'llah, pp. 65-66.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or any institution of the Baha’i Faith