“A time to laugh…”

(I’ve been very fortunate to have had people in my life
with whom I’ve experienced the healing power of laughter
in some of the roughest of times. This poem is dedicated
to Nick and Daniel. Thanks guys.)

They parted that Tuesday at one,
each going his separate way,
each buzzing with a keen energy
that seemed to turn up the volume
of life maybe a notch or two:  sights
and sounds pinging nerve endings
with a little more intensity,
neighborhood aromas registering
more noticeably like some kind
of fragrant alchemical mist.

One day lingering over a second beer,
dishes having been cleared, they wondered
together what kept them coming back
to this monthly lunch after twenty-some years.
Well-educated, serious seekers
of truth, they first postulated
some existential gobbledygook
that sounded profound but held
no satisfaction or resonance.

Finally they settled into an easy groove, smiling
ever more broadly at their recognized pretensions
until a spontaneous explosion of laughter
nearly upended their table onto the floor.
Suddenly, they remembered as one
that no matter how stirring or draining
the tale of weal or woe they weaved,
inevitably, at some point, they would
find themselves falling into a pool of irony,
doused by a spray of humorous leveling
and farcical turn.

And it was this, this salting
of stern and smoky clouds with laughter,
they finally decided, which continued
to lure them and confirm them
with the resolve and dignity
needed to step back again
into the sometimes torturous maze
that is the inscrutable, cockeyed
drama of life.

And so, as they exited into bright sunshine
they once again pronounced their version
of amen—a simple see you next time.

© 2015 Dennis Ference

This Friend You Love

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This friend you love
is bleeding inside
and you dare not
staunch the flow.
Her heart is breaking,
but it must break often
if she is to find her way.

Does she say her world
is falling apart? Old worlds
must fall apart before
new worlds can be born.
Does she say that life
is more than she can bear?
She is stronger than either
of you can know.

Walk with her but do not
steer her down your path.
Talk with her but do not
write her script.

Dance with her,
just dance with her now
to the silent, healing music,
the Oneness of Love.

© 2014 Dennis Ference
(First posted without pic 6/16/14.)

When the last child leaves home

What does one make of this time?
A time filled to the very edge
with emotions almost unbearable.
At first taste, sadness.
But then again joy,
and pride and fulfillment.
Yes, it is our son
who is leaving this time –
the youngest,
the last to go,
farther away than the first.
But in the symbol of the leaving
is also the daughter, the first.
For something deeply significant happens
this time around
for mother and father –
the close of a chapter
never to be repeated.
And we stand in awe
of what, or rather, who
has come to be.
For we, husband and wife, have loved
out of a oneness
that we have been destined to live.
And out of that oneness
has blossomed life
that in this strange mystery
that we are all part of,
has shared deeply in our union
and yet has always been meant
to branch off
into something uniquely awesome,
to find its own magic
and mystery
and beauty.

As we look upon the two of you,
as we willingly share you
with others
beyond the womb of home,
we ache to have you understand
your significance
for us and within us.
The heaviness in our hearts at this time
is a mere fraction
of the weight of our love for each of you.
It is a bursting of pride
in who you have become.
It is the fullness of our blessing
with which we christen this new chapter
that now begins in earnest.
Looking upon the two of you
we can say to ourselves, “Well done!”

And to you, our dear children,
friends and companions for ever, we say:
seek your unique meanings
with respect for,
but with freedom from, the past;
be forgiving of yourself and those of us you love;
do not expect perfection but
in gentleness call forth the good and the true;
share your blessedness
with all who enter your destiny;
do not give up your search
for the fullness of God;
and continue to drink
from the wellspring of love.

© 1998 Dennis Ference

Old Man Brady

Old Man Brady
made money. I mean–
abracadabra, ta da–he made money.
That’s what I believed when I was five.
Nickels, dimes, pennies, quarters—
he plucked them from the grass
like a bird snatching bugs,
swearing, of course,
they were there all the time
just waiting to be found
by a couple of guys like us.
Old Man Brady
walked the block ‘most every day.
It got to be when I spotted him,
I’d lock my step to his and
he’d say, “I don’t know
if we’ll be lucky today,”
but we always were, and
I always got to pocket the change.

Old Man Brady
stopped walking the block
a long time ago. And me, I still
scan the ground now and again,
kicking up memories
and wistful longings for
a flash or two of magic
and its sweet, tonic buzz.

© 2004 Dennis Ference

The Flock of Seven

The Flock of Seven,
grey feathers, sparsely
layered on heads hinged
atop bluntly compromised
bodies and bones, alight
at their usual watering hole,
as their usual routine demands.

They have loped again in circles,
or waddled or limped, on hairless,
bowed, blue-veined, and spindly legs,
just as they have for more
than 25 years, these migrating
cranes of the waking, morning mall.

They sip, now, their steaming
brew, reminisce, hold court, and
jostle each other’s pride,
an occasional teen-like laugh
rebounding off enclosing walls.

But though all seven remain
acutely aware, there will be
no spoken reminder this day,
that less than a month ago,
              here they sat,
the Flock of Nine.

© 2014 Dennis Ference