Poetry Niche – December 2022

All That I Can Be

John Thomas Dodds

only ever one glass of wine

no matter how beautiful the pair might seem together,

each crafted individually, exquisitely unique

engendered with a particular essence

a minion among snowflakes, crystals, stars.

Yet nothing about us uniquely other than

one person, an individual cell, a single being, being human,

one body, one mind

one soul of an old and scarly cat,

smugly contemplating tolerance.

Everything we love expresses how we feel

about this organ of water and air,

this mind of matter and darkness,

this exposed soul of a universal want and need.

To plant the seed

that I am the earth I stand upon,

I live in light and love

I breathe my air

I admire the flower that I am

that grows upon the earth I nurture

with my tears of joy

for as I turn from day to day

the wind I create caresses my body.

I am the earth

I am all that I see, all that I feel

all that I can be.

If we were one light

how brilliant would we shine.

The heavens would cease running away

and look back upon us

as the star over Bethlehem

or the light of Mecca.

If we were one surface

monumentally varied and etched

with the wisdom of ages

what a beautiful color our skin would be

blinded by the light and sensitive to the touch.

If we were one breath,

drawing in everything that has been,

nurturing every pore of our being,

in an understanding

that with a sigh of recognition

we are the earth

all that was, is, and will be

then, and all that we can see

is what we imagine love to be


One’s Company

Judy Dykstra Brown

Must you put it in my mind that I will be lonely
just because my life has boiled down to just me only?
That we are not enough for us may prove to be a fiction.
Just a recent sort of fad spread by TV’s depiction
of solitude as something harsh, stressing what we lack,
yet our ship can stay buoyant with just one to hold its tack.

There are so many selves in us. Now there’s time to converse.
The you that you’ve been up ’til now may be the very worse!
Wander into your heartland and see the you’s you’ll find.
Who knows what you’ll discover now that you’re in a bind.
The mind’s a worthy raider, seeking out new plunder.
There may be hidden parts of you full of joy and wonder.

It’s hard to get inside yourself when there’s so much to do—
so many new discoveries and worlds to wander through.
We’ve plundered all the gold mines and withdrawn all the oil.
There’s barely any place on earth left for us to spoil.
But now nature’s decided to produce the biggest clue
that it’s time to mine the resources within the rest of you.


Ring Out, Wild Bells, And Soft Ones Too!

A 2022 Holiday Poem

Don Beaudreau

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

With a clang, and a tinkle and a how-do-you do!

Clamor and strike, and push and pull,

Swing with the news of a happy time Yule.

Oh clarion, angelic and enthralling of tunes

Bringing peace and joy, oh, blessed boon!

To each and all, to every and one

From child to elder – be music undone.

Sound out your notes from town to town

Forever the joy of the season unbound.

Forever the hope, forever the promise

Of innocence, sweetness, now come among us.

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

When we are born, and cuddle and coo –

For such we have come each in our way

From time before time, to have our own say;

To traverse our own particular path –

Be it forward, in circles, or even quite back.

So we each are given a bit of eternity,

To use as we will, without complete certainty.

We learn, we labor, we love, we create,

We become ourselves, we live out our fate,

While the bells do ring, sometimes quite wildly,

We live through our lives, not always so mildly.

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

The marriage is sealed, all seems quite true!

Ring out our hopes for a future most bright

For lovers now married – through both day and night.

May they realize the joy of a most noble vision

Not one merely limited by petty divisions,

But an image quite linked, with threaded events –

With days of meaning, with times well spent.

And when the moments of confusion occur

Or flash points of anger the mix doth stir

May they play through them all to the other side

Where love awaits, and honor besides!

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

When war is ended and the dream comes true

Of peace on earth and goodwill to all,

A joyous land where no ills befall.

Where no fear awaits, no greed attends,

Where no one’s goodness wavers or bends.

Where children are expected to just be their age,

Not molded by circumstance, or fashioned by rage

Where no one goes hungry, or cold, or neglected

Where everyone is cared for, not just the selected.

A land where our elders can live out their years,

All nurtured by love, none banished by fear.

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

For creative new ways to be and to do

When thought and purpose accomplish a task

Bringing fresh vision, from behind the old masks;

Allowing our spirits to behold and leap up

With ever-bright nourishment filling our cups;

Keeping our minds, and hearts and bodies attuned

To ecstatic delights, blending later and soon.

When we see that our lives are stories of creation

As events in movement, forever in animation.

So may the bells sound the chorus ecstatic

That we live and create – a point most emphatic.

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

For we who are ending the life we once knew;

May your sounds make it known to everyone here

That life is a mystery, with both sorrow and cheer.

But that life is, as well, sometimes quite clear,

Despite all the laughter, despite all the tears.

That sometimes what’s honest, or that which is truthful

Or what is most noble, or sweet, or most mirthful

Will be the one thing to seize the bright day,

To win the big battle, to have its own say –

But that sometimes, quite sadly, what’s opposite to these

Will drown out the peace bells with disharmonies.

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too

Keep ringing out loudly your sounds all so true

Despite the harshness of wartime and sorrow

Ring out, wild bells, today and tomorrow

May we and may you forever ring out

Above the clamor, the harshness, the shout,

Above what is evil, or brutish or cruel,

Our message of peace, of our life’s renewal.

May the time before us bloom with promise and hope

Exceeding a life of merely “do” and “cope”

Creating a new world, of love hereto –

Ring out, wild bells, and soft ones, too!


Santa’s Dilemma

Mark Sconce

Every year about this time,

St. Nicholas begins

To organize his trip abroad

Amid the children’s grins.

But news this year at Christmastide

Includes a sober piece:

That certain children far and wide

Are shockingly obese.

Never one to shirk his duty,

Old Santa makes a vow:

“By shedding from m’own big booty,

I’ll show the children how

To take a little pride.

I’m setting the example

For children far and wide

To make us all less ample!

Ho, Ho, Ho.”

And so Dear Santa shopped around

To find the right equipment

To help him shed his portly pound

Before the Great Transhipment.

Mrs. Claus encouraged him

Throughout the days and nights.

She fantasized him slim and trim

And bought him trendy tights.

The active adult that he is

Soon led to Leisure Village,

Where fitness is a booming biz,

Where dumbbells curl and curl…

 The Fitness Center

The Gallery of grunt and groan,

The Palisade of pain,

Where fitness buffs are wont to hone

Their muscle and their brain.

Welcomed as an honored guest,

Dear Santa needed training,

To finally look and feel his best

Trans-fatty foods disdaining.

Cybex apparatus staff

Were there to spot poor Santa,

Who cut his workout time in half

So he could drink a Fanta.

They worked his pecs; they worked his glutes,

Abdominals and deltoids.

They exercised him to his roots

And retrofit his rhomboids.

They goaded his gamellus,

His traps and pectoralis;

They lowered his patellas

And pulverized his pelvis.

Santa finally had enough.

To fitness world, “Adieu.

 I’ll never be a fitness buff

And be a Santa, too.”

The residents all rallied round

To bid a fond farewell,

And everyone could hear the sound

Of Santa’s ‘scape from hell:

“Merry Christmas to All

And to All a Good Night!”

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Mel Goldberg
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