a different life

Recently,

inside a fantasy

I was given something

not ever would I imagine.

 

Life doesn’t hold a

twist upon what we believe,

or chance

state of mind

might bury itself for years.

 

An orderly intimacy

drawn on paperwork eons ago,

the masters of a philosophy

in matrimony

created this our lives,

borne out of some necessity

let ourselves know love,

give our lives a moral code.

 

Raise children,

esteem values,

if in the midst of our growth,

if there is a mental breakdown,

an inability –

separate paths

seem distant in the wind.

 

A rain storm may have occasion

led to a questionable civility,

then it happens,

in the quiet of our own solace,

we do realize

yet seldom act upon,

a desire to return ourselves

to some identity forgotten

decades ago.

 

Though be thankful,

we have a grateful energy always

travels with our memory,

for we would not be the person we are today,

the longest path

is the one

where wisdom winds

upon the mind.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

Distance Learning

So, I imagined this happening,

the wave of the virus,

would shut us down,

remove our access to the classroom.

 

A part of me appreciated the break,

I could still with students,

have a dialogue in the distance,

never contemplated the reality.

 

Then the news,

the overbearing sentence

of every teacher, every student,

we were suddenly thrown a ball

 

and we missed, no one could grasp

the nature of our loss,

of their loss

of a world of we miss you.

 

Here we are now,

a beautiful day,

one would say,

grasp the sunlight’s rays

 

We are a positive group,

this humanity,

we will endure

like wars and 9/11.

 

Oh you will not rule us,

please COVID 19,

know we’d rather not assumptions,

we wish everyone to know you.

 

Wear a mask,

stay at home

wear a mask stay at home

we cannot deny your influence.

 

We will overcome the nature of this fear,

We must stay together, live our sphere.

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

Having A Cry

Just now,

in the quiet atmosphere,

where no one

might hear my sigh.

A silent recall

today a different time,

conversation and laughs,

and then a glance, a pause

when eyes purposely

met one another

again.

Quite evident is the changing focus,

something

exciting to us both.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.

 

Sometime we wonder,

what if,

when did,

no answers coming yet.

There will be those moments

when our lives

do recall the humor

held our lives together,

and then today in the sweet

reckoning of our reality,

we did glance,

we did look for

some solace

in a spectacular time.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.

 

Look at love said the obscure seer

who believed in harmony

look before a discord shook the enemy.

So it looks the way

we might imagine,

some purpose,

a reliance

on know

we will live upon our dreams,

share our fortunes

without any monetary

illusion.

 

I will remember you

a saying just out of the blue.

I will remember you

a vision, a different view.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

Two Would Pass Together

(dedicated to the goodness of time, a friend and his family)

When in a moment we might reflect

upon the reason,

we could together share a memory,

the fleeting laughter,

we would do this together,

wouldn’t we create a scene,

a wonderful attribute,

of the years,

oh the many years,

the travels we knew

without ever having to leave our home.

 

In a sort of magical day dream,

we crossed so many paths as one,

and now today,

they celebrate a journey

oh for the love of our children

we do,

we will always,

we did for the span of a lifetime

hope and pray,

we might somehow find His way,

some way decide upon a natural course

of our lives

we would find

sweet serenity,

a mysterious energy,

one with love,

a compassion

we might give freely …

cherish the beauty of time.

 

For it is today,

we now togeteher

cross the sky

with a specacular

sunrise,

a setting moon,

in each adventure,

I might in the arctic

winter

share love as a soul mate

might find again,

discover the truth

was always within our dreams.

 

Peace be with the onlookers

for their journey just begun.

My America (written for contest)

To understand, My America, I wanted to embody a lifetime of experience that could speak directly to my concept of living as a white man in the Midwest. I was fortunate to grow up with conscientious siblings all of whom were driven by values instilled by parents just trying to keep up with the norms of their day. My folks raised five kids, most of whom came of age in the sixties, experiencing the death of JFK, RFK, Shirley Chisolm running for President, the assassinations of Malcolm X and MLK Jr., and countless other life changing events wrapped around the atrocities of the Vietnam War. My sad claim to fame was that in 1972, Kent State had occurred on my birthday. These events all of them tragic had a huge impact on who I am today.

 

I love America, I truly do, I am a patriot by all accounts, thankful for my freedom and the many men and women that sacrificed their lives to help maintain our free society. However, there are times when I am made physically sick by the actions of many, all of whom could find more peace in their lives by just opening their eyes. There is a systemic method of discrimination in our society that permeates every aspect of our lives. Interestingly, as a white person in this time, it seems I would be just fine if I ignored everything around me that is hostile or demeaning to my way of life. I wouldn’t have to deal with it because I am of the color of skin that these realities do not impede. For me personally, that is a problem, it always has been and is resultant in my writing this story.

 

When I was a young boy, I took a trip to New York with my family. I was 12 years old. One night a group of us went to the corner grocery store. I noticed a number of black kids playing about outside the store, and I asked the person I was with if they knew any of them, as the market was only a couple blocks from their home. They immediately responded with, “I don’t mess with any (n-word).” It was at that moment I was struck with fear. I had never felt this way, I didn’t know how to feel. I was raised in the whitest of white America in the Midwest and had never experienced any aspect of the African-American culture, beyond my readings about MLK and X, and my mother’s insistence we recognize authors of color in all of our studies. I was scared for the first time in my life of something I had no control over, I felt threatened without knowing why. It wasn’t until the next day that I could understand my fear was based upon the person I was with and not the people at the corner store who left me feeling curious.

 

The next morning our family was given an auto tour of Manhattan and several surrounding Burroughs including Harlem. As we drove past The Cotton Club and I noticed the streets were filled with black people, I said emphatically to my mother, “That’s who I saw last night mom, black people.”

 

She looked out to the gatherings of people going about their morning, turned to me, and provided me a life changing suggestion. “Thom, those aren’t black people you’re seeing, those are people,” and then she smiled and continued to finish her Tareyton cigarette, like Katherine Hepburn standing with a foggy backdrop, showing logical purpose.

 

Fast forward 30 years, and I am a teacher in a high school classroom. I finish my licensure and am fortunate to be given my first theatre program. During that summer, while working on the coming year, I scour multi-cultural scripts, the only one I know firsthand is Raisin in the Sun, and I keep it on my shelf for future consideration. I can’t find anything I like or understand. I’m having a hard time maintaining my goal of becoming the ‘multi-cultural teacher of the year’ if all I can produce are mainstream script ideas. I call a friend at a local high school with a unique demographic and ask for her suggestions.

 

She states calmly, “I’ve never used a multicultural script.” And I think about that for a moment, and I’m suddenly thrown off wondering how that could be possible. When I asked her why not, her response was my first lesson of a new cultural awareness that I suddenly realized had nothing to do with race and more to do with talent.

 

“I cast only the right person for the character or role,” she stated, and I was in the moment humbled. I suddenly felt like a racist, because rather than focusing on the content, I was centering my aim upon the color of every students’ skin that would eventually audition to be on my stage. Years later that lesson echoes in my mind every time I hold an audition. However, I wish that solution could remain that easy.

 

In today’s world there is a greater need to understand diversity and how it works in our society. Gone are the days of suggesting that issues only apply to one minority. They apply to everyone, and right now as I write this I am questioning my own ability to be an open minded citizen of America that recognizes and respects every culture that I have the opportunity to encounter in my daily life. It’s not easy, but I didn’t come here to whine.

 

In recognizing My America I try to look to the future, given the present turn of events since our last election. We are in the middle of a crisis, that one group of people would suggest is overstated, while another group will cry out, ‘when will it ever be enough?’ Today, my focus is on racism and how it permeates our society to a greater level than even I was kept sheltered from in my formative years, beyond the television and books. Through my family’s eyes, I did experience Civil Rights and I did value its importance on our society. Today it seems all those battles in the 60’s have been summarily dismissed and we are faced with re-tooling our ability to open our minds to an incredibly diverse and beautiful world of people.

 

I don’t have the answers, but I do certainly have the passion and that desire and hope remains with me in every waking moment. My dreams are what fuel an idealism that allows the world to imagine being one.

 

In the words of John Lennon and Malcolm X, with liberties to merge ideas:

“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the sixties, that’s his problem (Lennon) … I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation” (Malcolm X).

To Reach The Sky

When on a walk one early summer morn

A man began to think of life beyond

He paused to watch while children so forlorn

Seemed occupied in games they thought so fond.

 

While certain parts of life seem unattained

If standing here today would measure love

Then all the man would need to feel restrained

Might be a song, a cooing of a dove.

 

Where have the days begun to slide away

A man who stands alone knows no despair

Yet when the people call there is this way

The sky becomes the answer though we swear.

 

To gather storms to help define a sky

Would leave the afterward a silent cry.