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Sample Poems by Larry Smith

Our Touch

She sits by his bedside into late afternoon,
watches sunlight fill and empty his glass,
breathes in the pain of their room,
his hands cool yet smooth on the sheets,
breathes out a peace and love.
His face holds their history together
and she strokes it, the coolness of his hair,
as evening spreads across the room

It comes down to this,
no more, no less:
We live by our intentions
the way we give ourselves,
not what we hold but how.
Our breath teaches this…
gentle karma of energy flow.

The hawk gliding on wind
willow branches bending low;
the waters flow over rocks;
bright leaves turn and fall.

She reaches to wipe his brow;
a child’s hand taking yours.

The music sings within,
our self in our hands
our being in our touch
we live by letting go.

Without Wind

Tonight I want to sit on the porch
as the darkness comes through the trees
and hear the last birds of evening
while my coffee cools in my cup.
In a while I will rise and go in
to sit in the room with my wife.
But for now I want to sit alone
my hands folded on my lap,
my breath one with the night.

The Bonds of Work

“We’ll get the job done,”
I tell my daughter on the phone
and hear my father’s voice, all his life
turning work to love and honor.
“We’ll get the job done”—not perfection
but carry through, and I recall
the long hours of getting his tools
holding flashlights while he lay
on cardboard beneath the car
fixing brakes and starters, changing oil
because he could, because we
needed milk and bread.

When married, he’d help us move
each time not stopping till the beds
were up in each bedroom—his hands
red from lifting, turning wrenches
on appliances, thinking his way through.
And he’d follow our U-Haul back,
return with me and sandwiches,
my wife making the kids’ beds,
Mom serving coffee in paper cups,
only then could we sit and rest.

I give back now this work
for my children grown and wed,
helping them know their grandfather’s
love by the work he bred.

Sunday Service in the Ohio Valley

I stand in cemetery snow
one foot on each grave:
my father—my mother, to ask
forgiveness, announce great grandchildren
they would love and somehow
already know.

I drive to their old church,
enter smiling and penitent
greeted by smiling children and
chubby members extending old hands.
The church attendance is as sparse
as a winter garden, so I sing stronger
to keep the tunes alive. Up the aisle
comes my aging aunt in the choir,
nodding to me and life.

Yesterday I stood at the edge of town
looking down at the abandoned stadium
a ruined school bus in a field of snow,
the lights of the mill without sound,
freight cars dead on their tracks.
Wearing a coat of loss I turned,
walked back into town, and stood
at the Catholic school watching
children gliding over  new snow tracks.

It was then I gave up forever trying
to be a conduit from past to present,
a memory voice into now.
This old truth there in the ground.
And I said to myself again and again:
“What was—was, and what is—is,”
my eyes and heart bound in this
comfort chorus of a visit home.

At the church recessional, I wake,
the words flowing from my lips:

    “Let there be peace on earth,
    And let it begin with me.”

I close the door on my aunt’s car,
and sparrows rise to snowy skies.