Coming Home Again

When I was twelve, I found a copy of Thomas Wolfe’s classic, You Can’t Go Home Again, I remember being profoundly impacted by the title. Just the words alone made me wonder about home, and in my 12 year old mind I thought of my cousin Billy, who had just passed weeks earlier in a tragic car accident. He was a close friend, a cousin, and a model of a human being whom I aspired to, but whose magic had departed at an early age.

At Billy’s passing, the tragedy effectively shut me down, I was a ghost of myself for the next few months, and really didn’t have any clue what life meant to me anymore. I only knew that my cousin was gone, and I could no longer count on him to be there next to me as a child growing up in a confusing world. What used to be important to me suddenly didn’t matter. We were embroiled in the Vietnam war, and now all I paid attention to were the names scrolled on the news of the dead U.S. servicemen. Somehow I related that to my own loss.

President Nixon would resign in six months, Spiro Agnew already convicted, the political world that my mother paid attention to with every pundit’s prognostication began to have meaning in my life. I was raised in the 60’s so I already had experienced the loss of the Kennedy’s, MLK Jr., Malcolm X and countless others through the eyes of my older siblings and parents. Yet, as things settled, I kept still trying to figure out what Wolfe meant with that engaging title. So, I read the book.

I remember being fascinated with how fiction would somehow expose reality, how the community didn’t respond well to the writer’s focus, and the meaning began to take shape. For the next few years, my life evolved as a child turned troubled teenager in the city of Wausau, WI. I attended three different high schools, had academic struggles, dabbled in alcohol and drugs and was generally a classic mixed up kid with a lot of baggage that followed me until I could finally leave town. I moved to the twin cities and slowly carved out a world for myself.

Tonight, I return to Wausau four decades after I left, though I have been here many times since, I now have a better understanding of Thomas Wolfe’s meaning when he wrote his book. He didn’t necessarily intend to suggest he was ostracized or banished from his community, really more likely he was acknowledging that change is inevitable and we all must be prepared to accept the challenges that life might have in store for us.

Tonight, I drove into my hometown in the middle of a snowstorm. I drove past city markings familiar to my childhood, and realized while the snow fell as regularly as it did when I was twelve years old. I remember burying my cousin Billy in Minneapolis while snow gathered on the treetops along the winding roads around Lake Calhoun as we caravanned to the cemetery to pay our respects. I looked down 28th avenue as we drove into town, my home 40 years earlier, my life now settling into an early autumn. I realized I could come home again.

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In My Comfort Zone

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It is where I am every day,

my comfort zone,

I give a glimpse into the world

I see,

every hour of my day,

until the sun does set,

hues change, sky becomes a darkness outside

I cannot see as readily.

 

Until the morning comes,

then in rain or sunshine, the view the same,

I always see the leaves in summer,

in winter the naked branch, the neighbor’s home,

I see this every day,

it is in my comfort zone …

 

Where no bombs exist,

shattered windows, glass explodes,

the screams of children barely two,

barely recognizing a reason to fear,

yet they endure,

a daily barrage of human agony,

a tragic reality leaves a shell now,

where a window frame once gave a shield

to the weather, the mortars, the terror, the wind …

carries evil’s wares inside the shadows.

 

It is where I am every day,

my comfort zone,

I give a glimpse into the world,

I see …

 

Haiku Pattern

brief quick respond sweet

while inside our hearts do meet

tick we solemn greet

~

want happy ending

searching for a new something

always in yearning

~

simple truths began

an early childhood plan

never fear the man

~

summer in sunset

a beautiful days only regret

what is chaos let

~

once in a happy smile

a positive energy awhile

outside peace beguile

I Came Back Home …

To catch a dream …

I suppose visits are marginal,

memories, reflection,

hold the hope of lives lost or known

– misunderstood misfortunes –

seem to carry their own weight,

have a bearing

who we are, were then, now

what we might have become,

or some hope to think we have realized that fortune of peace.

~

I listen with quiet mockery to

Dan Fogelberg,

clearly steer me away

from a convenience store,

yet the notion plays my head.

I wonder sometimes why it is when we wish

for that we cannot have,

is there a solution, or is that time forsaken

reality of acceptance.

I would speak to overthrow compromise,

except to suggest we are all human – frailty …

such exposure of will.

~

To tell you the truth,

I haven’t any answer, anymore than I might have

thirty years ago – I only do know today,

I’m as human as I was then,

only how I wish I might have accepted that reality

when all I would ever do is cry to silly

melodramatic lyrics that seemed to

haunt my mind with a vivid persona,

were you ever so aware how many songs we all cried over,

they make better sense today,

back then I suppose they were just,

catchy.

I Wandered Home

I’ve come here often,

when I could remember fear,

often,

when time seemed to stand still

I would look over the horizon,

picture running through fields as a child,

suddenly thrown into my teens,

those places I would weary my return.

I wonder about people

those I knew,

those I wished I might never know again,

I remember why it is I sometimes don’t really like people,

not everyone of course – I do love you.

I just

just when I might begin the next year,

I wonder sometimes why it is we continue to return to that place

we began to fear

when time allowed us to question ourselves,

when we had far too much energy to worry about who we

might have been, had become, wanted to seem,

where it was we all remember this might begin,

little flashbacks,

idioms of pain,

little moments of reckoning,

stir the anxiety in our mind,

while returning home,

where there is love, where we unwind.

home

love

time

we all do return after all,

it is sort of ironic really,

how quickly we begin to wonder again.

Vantage Points

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We all hope to understand truths

while acknowledging secrets

we might look inside the world of time

to find an artifact, a memory,

-a childhood rite of passage-

reunion, delight, gathering, loss, solace

in all of our travels somewhere it is where we call home

~

This too will always remain strong

in mind when reflection offers time

to understand our lives

where we began

who it is we come from

how far we might travel now

knowing a foundation of love began

in the arms and eyes and laughter

… family …

~

When visitors would arrive,

smiles would always ensue

a welcome of many generations

wise

lovely elegance

childhood laughter

the pangs of understanding who we are

began here

wherever we go tomorrow

we can always return

our own personal spiritual mecca

~

home is peace

How Much is Life a Setup

I went home last night,

everything around me was real,

the fantasy had spoken of a reality

now today,

we were all together again,

yet, the years had created lines,

the sort we watched in our elders,

when as children we would laugh,

out loud on occasion,

despite the wells of afterthought,

we noticed in their painted grins.

~

I went home last night,

drove past my memories,

recalled how often I was perceived

by my own insecurity.

I discovered as I looked around the room,

at the smiles, they would quickly glance,

look for refuge,

find their own,

whereby their laughter became accepted.

~

I went home last night,

wanted to cry,

yet, not the sort that brought attention to me,

more the kind of gentle reminder

our lives in the balance,

only need to me,

just,

you and me.