POEM – BIRTH OF A MOTHER

an idea, a thought, a what if
a vision too grayed by haze to see or know succinctly
destination charted and adventure started

a planted seed
blossoms, stretches
(with an entire unspoken journey in between)

a rhythmic beat
congratulations
collective sighs of relief

a swelling bubble
thrashing arms and wiggling feet
grainy silhouette

a countdown to uncertain
unknown day, hour, method, outcome
belly full of dried toast
and hope

a pang (call it women’s intuition) to go
Now
hurrying just to wait, take a deep breath, count to ten
centimeters

a push, a deep breath, a push
against yesterday and toward tomorrow
of a life forever altered by today

a birth
of a child, yes, but birth of a mother first
the moment she conceived what could be
and what finally is

-T.S. Reiger

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Poem – Shine

The flickering flame rages higher
until a cover comes down
to smother.

The fervor and mighty hue of blue fades
while the wick clings onto
the yellow and the orange too.

Gasping and fighting for air to feed,
dying candle begins to free itself from the fight,
the plight of conceding miserably.

Opened top, smotherer pushed away,
back to rejuvenating, illuminating, back to life
only after the burden backs away.

Shine on, flame. Move away over clouded,
snuffers rolling in, suffocating
with your dampening, darkening.

I will not be converted to the abyss
in which you reside.
I will shine.

-T.S. Reiger

Poem – Papaw

Papaw

I sat and watched
his tanned, wrinkled hands
(light lines appeared, beneath the sawdust
here and there
where bleeding had long since stopped).

He gripped the silent barking
but biting saw,
placed the free hand on the creamy oak block
like comfort on a heavy-burdened shoulder.
Rocked and rowed
pressed and pulled
sawed deeper
to cut away the useless
the excess
the roughness.

Now the saw remains
untouched, unmoved
like the sawdust on the floor.
How I’d give the world to see my carpenter
with scarred up hands and sawdust covered pants
once more.

For my carpenter was more beautiful to me
than a potter with his clay,
a painter with his paint,
a fisher on the lake

Carpenter, carved deep in memory.

-T.S. Reiger

Poem – Poppy (In Honor of Father’s Day)

“Poppy”

Sweat beaded brow above eyes of cornflower blue
weathered face from years of sun
Navy ships and rooftops
face of my father, friend
and in fireside frequents, foe

laugh
coarse rubbing of sandpaper
fluidity of rivers
floating in the carefree forever

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Poppy (circa 1967)

standing straight, well-armed warrior
weapons walled up around a soul ablaze with life’s fires
smokescreen of independence, walking solo high wire
but all the while
beneath beat a heart bursting
determined, downright Sedberry stubbornness

swept away across kitchen tiles
little girl standing proudly on Father’s feet
to the tune of several Elvis songs I can sing from memory
fast forward time to school days, home rides
jingling and jangling, bluegrass banjo bopping
childhood freely
cheek kisses on corsage nights
cap and gown smiles
miles and miles to white dress aisle

turndown sheets
fluffed pillows
sitting at the bedside of this fallen hero
one breath more
I cannot follow

goodbye, dear man
until we meet again at my life’s final tomorrow
heart beating
steadily
pulsating
grieving

-T.S. Reiger

Poem – disordered thinking

I wake every morning to a lion growling
prowling and prodding
to be beaten into submission
unruly beast
this hopeless hunger
never ceases

tiptoe to cool tile
feet plant down
no sense to stall when validation calls
from the confines of these bathroom walls
a few seconds
a few numbers
to measure if I did enough
if I am enough
if I’m worthy at all

numbers or not
naked and numb
the mirror mocks my midsection,
my imperfections,
my not-so-secret indiscretions

knobby notches burrow down
fighting to get out
neck to nethers
bones protrude
notches on the belt of this battle I wage daily ensues

appearing weak
I’ve proven strength
every time I turn away
from morsels on my god-forsaken,
temptation bloated plate

I will not give up
not be overcome
I’ve worked too hard to be outdone
by a pastry
something tasty
or anything frankly
that isn’t nothing

caught up in my ways
my manners
disordered eating
web spiraling
tangled thoughts
disordered thinking

-T.S. Reiger (compiled from adolescent journal scribblings)