Behind my smile

One day will come, maybe soon
And this day will be new and unfamiliar,
At least parts of it will be,
And maybe this day will happen over again
And at different times and places

I recall the clanking of the metal latch
On the bottom of my window
Like a forgotten treasure chest
That hasn’t been disturbed for generations
The window swings open and the day begins

I recall walking into the market
To join the bustling commerce of the morning
There’s something happening here
Maybe it’s not always significant, but maybe it is
A jarring embrace from the community
As I stand, I am connected to it

I recall the rain drops slipping off the roof
A free fall of a few meters
Into the uniquely shaped puddles
Carved out by a barrage of Nature’s purest love
The splashes echo in just the right way
To calm even the most ambitious of intentions

I recall the peculiarity of my dearest friend
Clearing his throat intentionally to announce himself
My response is to clear my own throat
And we engage in this dance for a few moments
To let each other know it’s safe to talk

I recall the security of my house
A physical extension of myself
A place to return to and seek refuge, to feel sane
To shut out the world, when needed
And to welcome it in, when warranted
To work, to play, to eat, to share, to learn

I recall the grand views of this corner of the world
The proud and solitary hill framed by my window
The daunting and strong mountains hugging our town
The lush forest, once far thicker and healthier
The vast fields where joyful families toil for a living

I recall the man I was
Unsure of what to do or what to say
Uneasy about navigating the new realities
Curious about strange, yet still familiar, surroundings
Ready, but nothing could prepare for a transformation

When this day comes, and surely it will
Reflections from the past will comfort me
Wisdom will guide me forward
Understanding will motivate me
I smile because I have lived here

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My mind stepped out

Some days, my mind, it wanders
Carries me away, just briefly
Times of past and familiar places
Come rushing back to greet me

I’m in the streets of Florence now
Making my way to Franco’s place
The Duomo cleans up nicely
I drink coffee at the local pace

Tormented by thoughts of pizza
I can taste the tomatoes and cheese
Nights on the bridge with wine and friends
The guitarist’s tune picked up in the breeze

Another thought, I’m in the future
White noise and a beer in my hand
I lean in to answer your question
Which version of my story can you stand?

Do you want the whole thing?
Or are you asking to be nice?
What justice is served to shorten it to
“I taught English and I ate rice”?

Some days, my mind, it wanders
And I float away without remorse
A distraction from the here and now
Bittersweet to be caught in that force

What shall I do

What shall I do
With the months and weeks and days
How shall I get along
When my purpose becomes a haze

The cigarette burns quickly
In a world without a clock
So few measures, so few records
Favoring action more than talk

The American inside me aches
For worth in quantitative terms
But numbers aren’t as sexy here
As one eventually learns

What things should I be doing
Often I’m unsure of my course
Suspended in ambiguity
Hard to move despite my force

Some days are good and others bad
My emotions ebb and flow
I stab in the dark for answers
But I may not ever know

I occupy this time and space
This, I’m certain, must be true
But the way in which I carry myself
May speak volumes over what I do

The question of what shall I do
Becomes much too focused on me
The question should, however, change
To answer how you and I will be

Words with weight

Bonjour, I am not
Feeble, I am not
Tired, I am not
Tourist, I am not

You say these things to me
Every day or maybe not
It’s easy for me to stay quiet
Instead of speaking my mind
Afraid my words would be mistaken
Or might they fall on deaf ears

I am a man of culture
As you are, although different
I am a man of strength
Possessing powers often hidden
I am a man who rests my head
And works the day alongside you
I am a man in foreign lands
To bathe in their traditions

I left my world to be with you
To know you and to love you
I use your words to make a bond
Sometimes words are too much
I share my hand and my heart
To bring our worlds together
Our work is never done

Thunder

The thunder crashes loudly
And the rain pelts the roof
The noise builds a crescendo
But what is there to prove?
A flash of lightning first
Then the pounding boom
What once was light and useful
Is now sitting dark in my room
The drops of water falling
On the tin roof of the shed
Over and over they pester me
As I lie sleepless in my bed
Nature displaying her fury
An empty threat is all she shows
For what good is the thunder
If after a while, it simply goes?
The rain and wind are fleeting
They are temporary things
And when the weather clears
I’ll be able to unfurl my wings

During a recent thunderstorm that kept me awake for most of the night, I was inspired to start writing poetry. It’s a writing style that I’m not very well versed in, but I felt I could best express my feelings in a more abstract way.

What I learned from the storm and from reflecting on my emotions was that despite obstacles or distractions in our lives, we should be mindful of the greater goals and duties that we each have. The peripheral grab for our attention can sometimes feel overwhelming. The thunder can be startling or frightening, like a sudden change of plans or unforeseen event. The rain can be noisy, persistent, and downright annoying, like the criticism or nagging of other people. And like the thunder and rain, these things are temporary. So when the path to our goals becomes clear and focused again, we can pursue it with the attention and passion that it deserves.

May you find focus and clarity, even among the thunderstorms of life.