Quiet Love

Words will only restrain

such is beauty in motion.

An actual acknowledgment

within a silent serenade.

For this is love

when planning matter not.

For love is

somehow a quizzical reminder.

Our lives not bound by preface

if we live in simple harmony.

Love is

a quiet refuge stills the shadows.


©️ Thom Amundsen 1/2021

Choices

Beautiful morning in pastel skies

lain in silent repose, autumn respite

breathes crisp is the air. Slow emergent eyes

would life alone always feel sweet regret.

How then we nourish a waking desire

the soul in our heart alive less restrain,

for there always this confusion aspire

dreams ahead so absolute quell the rain.

Let swift his own methodic … a Chopin

serenade … to reach high in the heavens.

Varied in nature our eyes could open

while an offering melt away burdens.

Oh now this moment our passion release.

For there is the will of God grant our peace.


©️ Thom Amundsen 12/2020

This Thing We Call Love

I remember a long time ago, I wrote a little piece about John Lennon, the day he was killed and the newspaper printed it. I was 20 at the time, and it was simple, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do’ and I couldn’t really take credit for something the world was repeating to itself over and over in the mass confusion of such a loss. I remember his second album was coming out – he was talking about 40 being his next life, just published ‘Double Fantasy’ and it spoke of saving relationships with one common denominator – that was love.

My mother saw my letter to the editor and cut it out and put it on the refrigerator. To me that was an honor and I felt loved by her actions. To me that has always been what love is, not something expected but just what happens in our lives. I think in my family my children and I would say to each other and their mother, ‘I love you’ to finish conversations on the telephone. I remember one time recalling we did it so often it would glaring if one day we did not, and so I maintained the tradition, we all did, until later on in life it became a question in our minds. Suddenly name value didn’t have as much impact.

One day when I was 20 years old, I worked in an intake office and took phone calls and directed them to the psych units I worked with, and the phone rang, I answered and the voice on the other end said ‘I love you’ and hung up. I remember being so touched it gave me a tear. I had really never felt that kind of love before and here was a young woman whom I was falling in love with just chose the moment, hung up and probably smiled as much as I did the rest of that day.

So how do we define love today? I suppose it doesn’t have to be ritual as much as it needs a genuine appeal. I recently came across something about a friend that caused me some judgment, a place I don’t often like to go because it makes me feel shallow. The truth is though, I wanted to know and the only way I could is if I asked her directly, and then my greatest fear would be her rejection. So how do we define love? We don’t.

We simply allow love to happen in our lives, and then smiles and light in our eyes become real.


© Thom Amundsen 12/5/2020

In This My Quiet

Is when then known only me

Some is the sacrifice

More often is penchant to grieve

Finding only solace

A genuine peace

Pressures are off

Too soon we would scoff

For know that day

Beautiful sunrise

Warm is energy late fall

While the morning mellows

Changing winds

Still elude this fellow

His smile

Forever held in eyes

Enough that

His soul

Would that he might

Would he still find

Her heart

Continue reading

That Last Place

Months ago,

in an arid summer sun

I stood stunned

watching their feet play the edge,

up close, gravel and loose rock,

awesome picture for the den,

a wide expanse behind us all,

let’s us believe

there really is a top to the world.

~

Too far away,

too scared,

couldn’t make it anyway

I don’t know if it is the fear of crossing over,

or leaving behind feeling no longer wanted.

A speaker

could rationalize any reason

to want to disappear,

because it is them,

doesn’t have to be real.

~

Think about the time it would take,

versus all the hours to return,

how quickly the immediacy,

there isn’t enough time in a day to

ever understand

just why one choice over the other,

evinces that random inability to

cry.

~

I remember when I was a little boy,

something about a woman

everyone knew,

left all of them in confusion

though her words clearly made it real,

she spoke of no longer needing

the speaker,

to give audience to her own personal

demons,

the sad surrender.

~

I really don’t understand what it takes to recognize why,

I don’t know if I ever can.


© Thom Amundsen 10/22/2020 

An Autumn Sky

Oh we do see the autumn of our lives

each season holds promise to the wise,

ah, to breathe sordid remnants of summer

where twilight body bathed in hot slumber

 

Now to wander in the mind inside a travel

on sunsets and rises we felt could unravel.

That perseverance such is humanity fierce

that will always sing its harmony in verse.

 

When does love on this earth become sweet

how silence in the rain may venture in sleet,

yet still do our eyes have wells, a dignified cry

would we let a mist cleanse face in gray sky.

 

An ashen wind in the west a foreboding scenery

while our sacrifice weep, sweet is aging silvery.


© Thom Amundsen 9/12/2020

Critical Circumstance

We do measure

our lives

our accomplishments

a steadfast ability to compete with

ourselves.

If might our lives not be

so easily swept by the tides of societal

expectation

what then might be our

end game.

Would we survive if we came

to realize

nothing else really mattered

beyond the satisfaction of, inevitably,

ourselves?

 

Oh so we are told,

or perhaps

in the manner of a scold,

to look to ourselves,

yes, us,

not beyond the measure of our soul,

only to recognize

the deeper commitment of our own

personal salvation,

must always be in the realm

of some

internalized realization.

 

Our lives,

who we are,

the world in which we have lived,

is based upon action,

only,

not philosophy,

more aptly

in the end,

it is truly the strides

we have taken in our own

efforts to not compromise what we believe,

instead we do try

to emulate

the beauty around us,

the simple freedom of appreciation,

rather than that criticism

of who we are,

what we might have been,

where we shall travel in our

long extended remaining

steps along some

theoretical

path in our lives.

 

We live to see tomorrow,

therefore is it presumptuous to believe

a next day matters less

than what has promised itself to be

the beauty of our past.

 

Forge ahead with a passion

this is the matter of such is wise.


© Thom Amundsen 1/2020

An Observation In Absence

MLK JR.

Martin Luther King Jr.


The other night I attended ‘Just Mercy’ at our local theater complex. It was a late showing, but still I was struck with wonder about the emptiness of the room. I was actually the only person in the theater, it was a rather surreal experience. Now I’ve been to shows with limited audience in the past, shows of little consequence, a comedy that has run its course, the latest version of Die Hard or Transformers after a several week run at the theater house. However, the lack of eyes on this show about Brian Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative upset me on many levels.

In theaters nearby, people poured into the late night showings of Star Wars, and 1917. I wondered to myself, as I gazed around the empty space on a Saturday night, is this really due to the content of the film? ‘Just Mercy’ is receiving rave reviews, and it opened ten days ago on the 10th of January. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and I have thought about this movie’s impact on me all weekend long.

Brian Stevenson began the Equal Justice Initiative in the late ’80’s to defend the false imprisonment of the incarcerated on death row. He has dedicated his life to this cause as executive director and founder of EJI. “Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned” (eji.org). His central focus is to give a voice to those whose lives are marginalized by bigotry and social injustice. Do not for a minute believe he is wanting to release a criminal to the streets, that would be the short answer to defend injustice. His voice is meant to defend the innocence inside a legal mindset bent upon maintaining systemic atrocity in our society.

The movie is focused upon his commitment to releasing several prisoners, namely Walter McMillan, a falsely accused black man who was sent to death row a year before his eventual trial and conviction. Stevenson managed to get the case reopened through avenues only he could challenge as a young black attorney walking directly in the fire of a racist prosecution in Alabama. His case eventually won the attention of a 60 Minutes expose that revealed the truths of McMillan’s plight in a closed door, self protective, small-minded community filled with hatred and denial.

‘Just Mercy’ focused on the familiar haves and have nots, a poignant moment being when at the start of a heated hearing, the sheriff and his deputies refuse to allow McMillan’s family and friends to enter the courtroom until the room is filled with white community members leaving little space for additional seating. The scene that follows is compelling. While all the seats are taken the room is filled with a community who stands together in strength and courage despite living their lives in fear and injustice.

The poignant message in this movie speaks to a familiar issue in our society today. The color of your skin will have a demonstrable impact upon the treatment and respect received in a confused and racist society. Today, in social justice there is a new mantra being heard that would suggest we practice being anti-racist. The idea of being non-racist no longer being enough. I believe that was the central argument in ‘Just Mercy’ not only creating another intriguing and frightening appraisal of the horrific treatment of blacks in a white dominated region of our country. More important is the implication of not stepping forward, not feeling a need to speak, not recognizing our responsibility to be human beings rather than misguided classes of distinction.

Today on MLK day, I try to celebrate the truth, and the timing and message in ‘Just Mercy’ cannot be denied. For years I have had to work on this day, and always struggled with not being able to focus upon the spirited and remarkable nature of Martin Luther King Jr’s amazing legacy. In the background I’m listening to an MLK celebration at the Apollo Theater with responsible and outstanding voices, including moments ago, Brian Stevenson, speaking not to a movie made about his life, more specifically about his continued journey with EJI. I miss Maya Angelou today.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the message of MLK Jr.

Peace.

 


© Thom Amundsen 1/20/2020

The Importance of Beauty

We live in a society of measure. Of mirrors and reflections and purposeful glances. We operate by sensing physicality alone, even when made aware of a far deeper context to what is beauty in our lives, in our society. This is an important subject to dwell upon in light of the ugliness we are experiencing in our own country, in the world itself. The idea of glamor far exceeds the recognition of beauty and how it operates in the well-being of ourselves, our friends and family, our planet.

I remember as a young child knowing what beauty was in an innocent mind. I watched Diana Ross on Ed Sullivan, I noticed the screaming young girls at the front of a stage at a concert for the Beatles. I was madly in love with Gidget or Marcia Brady of course. In all those examples I was focusing on their physical attributes, which gave me a foundation as young boy to know what defined beauty in my life. It wasn’t until I watched a dear friend perform her gymnastic composition on parallel bars that I began to know another definition. It wasn’t until I walked home with a school mate, though a couple years older than me, and striking in her glamorous demeanor that I noticed beauty in a different level.

In watching my friend perform I was struck by her commitment to what she loved at the time, an athletic prowess as a young woman, one that allowed her to become a state champion in her abilities. To me that wonderment of effort was beautiful to observe.

Later in life, listening to a friend of the family talk about what is important, as we crossed our familiar bridge on our way home from school, and descended a hill that held our neighborhood. She was teaching lessons as a 12th grader to a 9th grader, how important it was to love yourself before you could love others. In listening to her, I realized there was more than fashionable jeans, a chic style sweater, perfect hair to define the beauty inherent with my friend. She taught me about compassion and that began for me a different focus upon beauty in our lives.

One day as a twelve year old I was getting a ride from my sister to basketball practice. She asked me what was wrong as I slumped in the passenger seat. I told her I was lonely, didn’t know what to do about it. She stopped the car, turned to me and said you have to find a passion in your life. As a twelve year old, I blushed and imagined passion to be something sexual, and I couldn’t believe she was telling me this. She then explained the word passion is not simply about sex, it is about loving what you do, finding something that gives you the ability to believe in yourself because your energy is drawn completely to accentuating your own passion.

That lesson from my sister, the walk with my friend, the athletic prowess of my schoolmate, all of those pieces of my life gave me opportunity to recognize a more holistic approach to understanding beauty in my life.

Certainly as a young man, I was still drawn to the beauty of woman, the wonder of her elegance, in the summertime, the fascination of her stylistic manner of wardrobe on a cold winter’s day, how intriguing it was to know she would be cognizant of a look she wanted to have in the midst of a bustling society. I remember knowing a woman who I watched cross the street one day, wearing a striking rain jacket and green knee high rain boots.

Her image has stayed with me all my life, as did the day she and I were lounging in her apartment, and I commented on her jeans, and she gave me a smile and said she had been wearing them for eight days. I thought that was the coolest thing, her sweet comfort level with her own self image caused me to feel beauty about her person, well beyond a physical characteristic.

I think the deeper context of who we are is often easily forgotten about, put aside, neglected. I have a brother who in his elder life, now sits in an art museum and curates the lovers of a gallery in his home town. We had a chance to visit him one afternoon, and he was so in his element – he knew the history of all the works in the gallery, and his smile radiated as we walked through the rooms. I took his picture afterwards because I wanted to have a record of the beauty that shined from him internally. He looked to be a happy man.

Beauty for me holds a lot of different values. Seeing a band perform live, watching my students reach fruition on the stage with their efforts. Observing a student find their way in a classroom studying a subject they have never understood. Seeing students take chances and risks knowing one another beyond a superficial level. Watching my family evolve as I see my two children continue to strive for happiness in their lives rather than letting hardships discourage them. Having close friends dear to your heart that are there to support you, laugh at your whims, share dialogue and understanding for your own passions.

That word passion comes back every time I struggle. The passion to seek, the passion to address needs of concern, the passion to love. We are a vulnerable lot easily drawn to the pain in our lives rather than seeing the beauty of who we are and accentuating beauty in the lives of those around us. My hope is that the people around me, those I am closest to, can see beauty for what it truly is, to give meaning to what is important, beautiful and eternal in our lives.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

Are We All The Same

Do we feel pain

rather simple agony

stepping upon cracks

forgetting  what is civility.

 

Sitting in another quiet

century

last one

got away from me.

 

Wandering in my mind

his heart became

a wonder

just how far our lives –

 

Could we see

the light of day

when the birds own

the world with melody.

 

Might we all see the truth

in love

rather than the pain

in inherent  with difference?

 

Walk away from deceit,

rather knowing life is a feat.