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Hull Village Reunion

Colleen's Poetry


Starting a Fire

The view from my hammock is green
a green that gets noticed
and sometimes mowed
a shade I would find
too bright to wear myself

Yellow jackets buzz
like the hum of a concert
long after the songs have been played
I watch them high in the evergreen branches
not knowing if their business is amusement or work

I'm writing this poem to lift myself up
from the crash and burn of dizzy momentum
to restore the shine of my dulled ambition
rubbing pen and paper together

I know it's nearly September
by the sound of acorns dropping
on the wood shed's tin roof
I don't know if the nuts
are slipping from the paws of squirrels
or if they are being strategically thrown

In a flash events can
completely change us
like the man on the nightly news
who poured gasoline on a government van
and set it ablaze after being informed
that his son died in Iraq

I don't know the difference
between lethargy and apathy
Are they the opposite of passion
and compassion?

Trees wear green without explanation
They don't strive to be emptied of self
They don't make a list of things to do
or look in the mirror to admire their color


What does a suicide bomber
have in common with a Buddhist monk
who protests war by setting himself on fire
and what's the difference between them
and the man who followed orders
dropping the atomic bomb on Japan?

The stars burn silently
whether we see them or not
They don't question the sky
They wink like they know all the answers
and people make wishes when they fall
because we are human and need to ask
Where do our dead go?

I know evening is descending
by the high pitched drone
of a single mosquito
Maybe it will drive me from my hammock
like little stinging words that spark my interest

Maybe I'll swing in darkness
watch fireflies blink
their way to enlightenment
dazzle like signals
I don't know the code to
inspiring wonder as they glow

Are we fighting fire with fire?
Terror for terror?
Are the 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians
liberated now?

I want to swing high and then jump
come down with a resounding stomp
The fire within demands expression
and doesn't depend on a happy ending

Colleen Redman

From Dust to Dust:
The 3rd Anniversary of My Brother's Deaths

Today I brushed the dust
off their framed photographs
Dan stared without blinking
straight at me
Jim laughed with unease
at the intimacy of my gesture

Tenderly wiping the clear glass clean
as though giving a loved-one
a hospital sponge bath
I try not to dwell on their loss of function
or settle my eyes on what's being

Like blowing feathered seeds
from a milkweed pod
off to unknown locations
I purse my lip and let out my breath
as though scattering the ashes of our childhood

I won't linger too long, like I used to
or let myself be lured
by the stolen frames of time
Why should this task be so different
than dusting off the television set
muted and stuck on pause?

But Dan looks down, still unflinching
from the shelf where his photograph sits
His gaze over my shoulder
follows me on to new chores

I hurry to pull the plug
on the vacuum cleaner's deafening roar
as if Dan could come knocking
at the front door
and I wouldn't hear

As if Jim who is still holding
a slice of watermelon in July
might lift his arm
and finally take a bite…

On the porch
wind chimes call out
like church bells of our youth
underscoring the stark reality
of no one at the door

I look for a sign in the ringing
but can't make myself fully believe
in the grace of heavenly reunion
or the complete annihilation of an existence

I too am stuck
within the framework of mortality
amidst the residue and mystery
of life's disintegration

Colleen Redman

If you would like to read more of Colleen's Poetry, click here.

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