Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Small Kindnesses

Ancient Orange Tree
—Photos by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA
—Poems by JD DeHart, Chattanooga, TN


The mouth of mountains
speaks in rusty water,
cleaned by flowing over leaves,
the dogwood blossom,
the sound of mother and father.

The mouth of mountains
gave me a name,
taught me to dance quickly
when bee stings came,
taught me not to quiver
at the sound of buckshot,

taught me how to be on
my own, a voice
not confused with fitting
in to match the rest,
standing up straight.

The mouth of mountains
taught me the song of high winds
moving through creaking trees
and the hammering of bird wings
with autumn scamper,
the sound of my own people.



This is the poem
never read, like the box
of photographs
that will never be passed on.

Some people I have
forgotten, the others
forgotten soon
This is the sound
of no sound at all, the space
of a cave where light
and music could have been.

 First Daffodil


Dad's mystery box
of books he brought
to share with me.

The first place I found
Steinbeck, and a book
about Tracy and Hepburn.

How I would stack up
books to hold up my summers,
how I would never get
as far into the pile
as I wanted by August.



I am nothing if not drastic,
the darkest end of the shaded
spectrum, the word livid
as opposed to the phrase
mildly ticked off,

the elective surgery,
the all or nothing kind of guy,
the absence at offense felt
or casually ignored.



Smell of a coffee can,
shine of the metal interior
reminds me of rains
at night when we would go out,
earth worms laying left and right.

The key is not to shine
the flashlight directly,
they will slip back into dirt.

Grab, pull, drop into the can
for tomorrow’s fishing trip,
dad and me.



In these digital landscapes
we trickle and tickle with words
etched in glowing cursor

Sounds meet and merge
in bound affinity spaces,
one would hope packed
always with friends

Gathered around a literary
cause, assembled by love
of writ and lit, always
submerged in the latest story

Always drafting the next verse.



There is an infusion
of creativity that happens
when September arrives;

perhaps it is the death
of leaves that makes me
want to reproduce thought.

Perhaps it is a subtle change
in the atmosphere, opening
vessels, allowing oxygen in.

Perhaps it is the academic
crisp sense of another year
of classes, texts, and authors.



It’s not what he thought it
would be, these hours at home
with no gravel sticking in his
back; sure it was cold and difficult.

Sure he worked long hours.

But the useless drawl of daytime
personalities and the arranging
of pieces on the checkerboard
hold no fire for him these days.

 Ook book


I’d like a small amount
of kindness. A silver dish
of helpful offerings from a place
that’s humble. I grew to understand
that shoulders are made for lifting
up the young. I am not accustomed
to begging. We help each other.

The sight of chopped wood
in the back of a pickup trucks reminds
me of the warmth of a potbellied stove.

Shards of kindling in the floor, being
careful of the splinters.

I grew to understand that small
kindnesses are what life’s built on,
that holding on to past bitterness
poisons the spirit, drags down the
face, lays sagging on the talk
like a tired dog, long baying,
now hoarse, at empty wind.


Today’s LittleNip:

—JD DeHart

A stretch
of untamed grass
with cattails
rising high
on a freshly mowed

“Perhaps that’s
where they keep
their lions,” I say.


—Medusa, with many thanks to Stacey Morgan for her photos, and to JD DeHart for sending us his poems, all the way from Tennessee! “Coffee Cans” was previously published in
Dead Mule. “Literary Cause”, “Modicum”, “Early Retirement”, “September” and “Lions” were first published in The Poetry Community.

Celebrate poetry tonight in Sacramento at the 
Squaw Valley Community of Writers benefit reading
Sierra 2 Center, 7pm. Scroll down to the blue column 
 (under the green column at the right) for info about 
this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—
and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.