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

During Those Days

Remember when we were kids,

the spruce saplings in backyard acreage

we tore through those  – sticks and rage,

long before we misunderstood cyber-kids.

 

Back then, way back when, back in the day

we figured our lives were then forever

never imagined hearts we love might sever

would we really have to stay inside today

 

Simple solutions surrounded our lives when

everyone around, the supporters we did glean

at least that illusion gave us strength as a teen.

Nothing needed last forever way back then.

 

We were a now, an immediate satisfaction

long before ever a need for this gratification.


© Thom Amundsen 8/2020

The Sacrifice of a Feeling

Yesterday traveling ‘Old Steepee’ I careened upon gravel

ripping apart my knees in the rocky crags of a violent spill.

 

I could understand how someone might react to the news

a son or daughter in kind would experience shallow views

 

We as a nation seem easily drawn be opportunity to flounder

knowing somehow in the end no one takes any time to ponder.

 

Our lives are consistent with a penchant for sweet perfection

maybe my own having practiced this viral scheme of attention

 

Whatever case could conclude in our desire to find release

from the burden of sensitivity provides little felt peace.


© Thom Amundsen 7/2020

Finding a Moment

 Go home and write
      a page tonight.
      And let that page come out of you—
      Then, it will be true.
– Langston Hughes
~
Though when time would suggest
it is an easy ask,
this only task we have in life,
is to speak our truths,
who it is we might be,
what we believe,
how it could possibly be
that all of our time spent
in speculation
just another round of
wanting to know,
to give us reason
to live our lives by,
understand the whole
no matter the loss of insight
brought upon ourselves
with some unraveled deceit.
~
Finding the words
the best way to relate my story,
glancing out windows
where my life once used to be,
sort of meant to be,
the picket fence round gardens,
dog running free,
children in a play set
being watched by
you and me.
~
My view is a spotlight
across a little street,
windows like my own,
yet different lives,
we all seem to share a similar
structure
meant to hold form
rather  beyond an original,
that formula had its way
for decades or more,
and now,
in an aging pattern
of recognizing our mortality,
here to stay,
this will be the remainder
of my game.
~
I would look for my children
for theirs are the memory
I reflect upon,
standing by the river
teaching them both
how to dribble a ball,
skate on ice,
master a bicycle,
show excitement when they search
my own eyes,
rather than letting them see
some pain I must hide
I would wish they feel
laughter and love,
an eternal fantasy in dreams.
~
For now would these words be
the reality I am ask to only seem.

© Thom Amundsen 7/2020

The Story of Mak (or Man’s Best Friend)

The year 2020 started off with a bang for me. I was suddenly about to be found swirling in a myriad of life choices, decisions, adjustments and COVID 19. To begin the year, my marriage of 30 years had fallen apart, and I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and take responsibility for my own share of grief and distance in a collaboration that had been failing for years. When I reflect upon our time together there is no question the rock my wife provided me in the midst of years of turmoil with a variety of addictions that helped unravel my world. I am fortunate on many different levels for her support not only in straightening out my own life, in her patience, and as well, our opportunity to share in the wealth of raising two wonderful children.

So the reader might ask, what does any of this have to do with a dog? One common denominator in our marriage was that we always had a dog. We had a cat for a lot of years as well, but that was a different story. We raised three Golden Retrievers from puppies over three decades, the last moving on with her true companion, my spouse. When we split there was no question she would travel on her journey with the companionship of the dog, albeit hers was an ownership I would never argue, given the nature of our circumstance. I began the first month of a separation without a dog and living in a home we had shared together raising our children and dogs for twenty years. There is no question the nights were long with memory and confusion. The one piece missing for me all the time was an animal, a dog to come and lay near me whether I was overwhelmed with tears, or simply wanting a companion to hang out with. The silence was deafening.

Then one day my daughter suggested I take her dog for a few days. She said she couldn’t stand to see me so alone without a dog after seeing us grow as  a dog family all these years. To be clear, I would have plenty of opportunity to see our present dog when time permitted, but being in the early throes of a separation it had been hard to imagine those times. So I gave my daughter an emphatic ‘yes’ and she brought her dog – a golden retriever – over that evening. My world changed in an instant and three days later as I was readying her return to my daughter, I had already begun scanning pages for rescue dogs. I knew I would get a dog eventually, I just didn’t know when I would be ready.

The answer to that question arrived one day in the story of Mak, a Bernese Mountain dog basically given to me out of the kindness of a colleague’s heart. It was immediate love.IMG_0313 Well, the first night Mak chose to lay twenty yards away from me all night, basically just keeping an eye on me, a complete stranger. That first night was a sleepless night for me, not knowing whether this dog would ever acclimate himself with me. Within 48 hours we were pretty inseparable, and that to me is the essence of seeing a man with his dog. This week I am on our last leg of a journey up to the north shore, morning looking at the vast waters of Lake Superior and then later on mini-hikes throughout the day. Mak is such a mellow dog, I was able to let go of the leash and just have him toddle along with me on the path, in fact many times he would take control of the walk by laying down in the middle of the path and giving me a look like, ‘there is no way you are making me keep up your pace’ – break time. Let me tell you it is a rather daunting ask to force a 120 pound animal to move forward until they are good and ready. The hikes were filled with smiles and laughs that serve as a preview for many walks in the future.

He is no question a hiker with a prowess, but right now around 16 months of big baby, so we will take our time readying ourselves for an all day hike – someday maybe, quite a feat, more for me than the dog, but he will push me forward. The last couple of days have been spent just watching the rain outside our window as the churned waves that would crash along the shoreline and then drift out to sea with shadows of mid-day sunlight moving them like surface shadows in a breeze. The magic of the lake was certainly not lost upon either of us throughout our hours together. Tomorrow we will return home.

IMG_0315I have found myself in recent weeks understanding more and more how special this animal is in my life. If I am having a bad morning, I only turn to see Mak’s doe-like eyes waiting for my glance and when we do connect his tail takes off. When in a lighter moment Mak wants to play he will plant his two front paws onto the carpet or wood floor or the grass outside and stretch his body all the way to his back paws and then land squarely on his butt and give me a look like, ‘c’mon man, let’s go!’ There really is something rather special in the affinity a man can feel with his dog. I’m writing this and if I look across the room, I will find Mak in a comfortable posture sleeping the night away. The moment I move a muscle his eyes will be upon me checking my next move. I can only be grateful to have this big guy by my side as we venture into this extraordinary time with COVID 19 starting our year with a pandemic, and now the remarkable early stages of social justice being finally recognized as a purposeful focus in our society. I can only imagine how torn I might be having to face the perils of a pandemic alone, how lost I might feel not having anyone to talk to about my feelings towards social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s incredulous death. To Mak, it is simply another day, but one that will be spent giving me the confidence to know we both appreciate one another unconditionally.

So having met the end of Pink Floyd’s Animals, the twilight out my window as Lake Superior slaps the rocks nearby with a gentle breeze, it is time to retire for the night. I see his tail wagging as he caught my glance, knowing something is up. Ah, the sweet peace of a man and his dog as we venture forth in these our early days of summer.

IMG_0310


© Thom Amundsen 6/2020

summer on Lake Superior with Mak

Listening To The Trains

I was listening to the rain outside,

a steady rhythm of a soft spring shower

the whistle of a train nearby,

reminded me of a man I love so dear.

 

I have watched him grow his entire life

a boy to a young man, such happens overnight

I see pictures and memories and I want to cry

for when might I tell him how grateful am I.

 

I’d like to remind him of all the moments he believed

even when I was a puddle of self agony and grieved.

I want him to know that quite honestly every night

while the whistle of the train plays the rains so light.

 

I love him, I’m so proud I may call him my son.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

for Alex

The Strength of a Statesman

obama

Last night I couldn’t wait to hear what former President Obama would say to our nation of 2020 graduates. He has always, since that first stump speech, tried to provide a positive perspective on our lives. Whether people would like to simply reduce his words to only rhetoric, the fact remains they are his own, whether rehearsed or spontaneous. I think it is important to recognize how a public figure in our lives can become a Statesman, and just how much strength that gives them in respect to who they are today compared to a past life so often referenced.

I noticed on social media last night and this morning all the raves and support President Obama received after his speeches yesterday to the “graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and to the high school graduates of 2020” (Wanda Fleming Notebook). I heard people say things like, “God I miss him” or “so down to earth” as he once again put words of possibility into the young hearts of America.

The students listened, and we do all continue to listen to his words. Certainly there will always be disagreement, and I respect that; however, if done in malice then all we do is break down what anyone tries to say no matter their capacity before our lives. I think with Obama we get the true nature of a man who knows how to work a crowd, but when given the opportunity does it with character and integrity. There isn’t a wow factor in his words as much as a hope and promise. He would like people to find a way, again, to smile and realize there is much to believe in ahead of us all, young and old.

To me, those are the components of a Statesman in our country, and what is important to realize is that this person or any persons who can reach such capacity are not going away. Their words still remain, it is up to us to listen or pass off. Last night I listened.

In my life I have watched many people in positions of power become Statesmen in their next lives as we speak to everyone’s newest chapter. When President Carter left office, he was quietly ridiculed by people that were the seeming nuts and bolts of governmental machinations. He went silent into the distance, and then became the gentle giant he is today, as one of our more powerful Statesmen in the country. One of his foundations, ‘Habitat for Humanity’ has a sublime history supporting our impoverished and homeless not only across the United States and America but the World. This all happened because of the passion of a man that believed in his country, in the fellowship of man. President Carter believed in doing what is right for society, not himself.

I believe I have seen this in nearly every President that has left office after having an either illustrious or embarrassing experience as the leader of our country. I have always believed myself to have moderate views on politics, most would look at me and shout liberal, very few would imagine conservative. Maybe it has to do with the clothes I wear, the length of my hair, my own insecurity with a philosophy, but the fact is I believe in people far sooner than I do any political affiliate. I feel for the human condition long before I attach myself to any religious orthodoxy. I think our ability to remain open to everything that happens around us is a key element to surviving not only this life-changing pandemic but everything we experience in our lives.

I watched as President Nixon became a criminal in the eyes of America, and then years later began to receive acknowledgement with his prowess for foreign diplomacy despite his alleged personal perils running the country. I will not believe he passed on in disgrace, more a Statesman. President Kennedy really didn’t get a chance. I reference him only because he was the first President I experienced as a toddler. I became increasingly aware with age.

I have watched both Bushes become recognized for not simply their philanthropy but their kindness toward what we find to be our world. I never thought I would say that about either, certainly not ‘W’ but now today, I do, because I listen to who they became and have become since leaving office. Perhaps they don’t stand before a podium nearly as often as some, but when they do, their voices are heard and they are respected by everyone. Will we be able to say that about every person that leaves the most visible and powerful position of office in America? For me, that reality is what caused Obama’s words to so resonate yesterday evening.

Even Ronald Reagan left an endearing legacy while his mind struggled to pass gently into the night. The thing about Reagan is he was the same man that entered the office of the Presidency that later left. He did not attempt to make himself something that he was not.

A person does not have to agree with politics to recognize the beauty in human nature. For two decades I lived in a neighborhood of mostly conservative republicans whom today I consider close friends well beyond our political views. We can even talk about politics together without upsetting each other, undermining one another, abusing our right and privilege to exist in and around society together. I thank my family for that attitude because from the moment I could speak, I learned how to defend myself and listen to others with true passion.

I think the values that have allowed us to carve out some niche of who we are today, do evolve from listening to those speakers. They are not just ‘holding the codes’ are capable of ‘pressing the button’ on our survival or demise. True speakers in my lifetime are the one who long after their visible duties have been retired, continue to embrace a world with words of logic, of consciousness of kindness.

Last night, I believe that was President Obama’s motive, and I am grateful. During this time of confusion, hardship, fear as doors begin their opening, there are a lot of posts reflecting what life will be like when we do re-enter society. Please do not imagine for a moment that people’s struggles today are temporary. It is a frightening prospect to know what this pandemic has done to so many lives already struggling long before the outbreak occurred.

Despite fear and the unknown, the strongest belief I wish to hear day in and day out is – Be Kind.

I believe that was Barack Obama’s motive yesterday, and he wakes with the same today.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

Finding One Door

IMG_0177

This matter of doors,

talked about in quiet rooms,

where two people, maybe four, three

could openly speak

closing doors, reasons why,

open doors, easily cry

for there is some certain avenue

allows us all to find our way,

if we choose to be

the person we might

want to

speak someday.

 

I remember a year ago,

saying I wished I might not live another day,

exhausted,

it was a similar hour of night,

this seemingly special occasion,

where I

the leader or the exhibit on display,

wanted nothing more

than to go away.

 

Yet here I am today,

celebrating some reason to explain

how it might I came to be,

this life,

this scrutiny

that only I control.

 

Oh I may allow others

have a hand

in my own dismay,

but it is in those darker

moments,

I can begin to

explain away,

the tragedy of my own

today.

 

I met someone once,

she touched my heart,

we spent hours into the twilight

talking about who or what our psychic meanings were.

I remember wanting only to

kiss her,

and yet so compelling was her ability

to sway the judgment of my play,

I listened,

and the hours flew by,

suddenly sunlight peeking through

her apartment drawn shades,

the two of us laying comfortably apart

together,

opened our eyes,

smiled,

suggested

what a day this will be

today.

 

So tonight,

just after midnight,

I look again into that open door, a space

just kind of waits,

and yet there are so many stories about

that man in the chair,

who looks like yesterday,

or maybe a little like his mom

whom as he weeps in

a sweet silence,

he imagines or hopes,

dreams on occasion,

if he did stand up,

and walk through,

there would be she,

and all of the questions

that have rocked his mind for over

half a century

might suddenly

come to life,

what some could easily pin upon

the afterlife

 

Yet why is that even as we try to blend

the pallet of our fantasy,

why do the same entrances tease our mind,

the darkness will always prevail

until that moment,

when trying to be,

might only become

the aftermath of

we in the some triggered response

to ending all of the confusion

that inherent blend of

mystery

the human condition.

 

Safe in my distance, I do imagine the other side,

and just wonder if a  picture will ever help me decide.

 

Silence is a Forest

Listen to the birds singing in spring
Hear the cello at home in between

Each memory
Each moment

A song we could create in melody
If only the world not live parody
Such is the mendacity of our time
When still is beauty yet sublime

Each moment
Each memory

If in the midst of a traveled rhyme
We shut out a neighbor is a crime,
Only preserve that moment, oh 9/11
Restoration, is love in sweet Heaven

Each memory
Each moment

Now in wood, in silence find our Zen
A patch of forest heart and soul then
Speaks fond of a once nostalgic liberty
We would may always grasp this reality

Oh to know the sound a certain bird will
Sweet a peace of mind, distant cello still


©️ Thom Amundsen 4/2020