LAUREL LEAVES POETRY


Monthly Poetry Magazine



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POET AND POEMS OF THE MONTH

PEGGY LEYVA CONLEY




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OCTOBER 2014

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SELECTED POEMS

 

In My Heart I’m Dancing

Old Father Time had come to me “to visit”, so he said.
I must admit I didn’t see a reason, so I fled;
avoided him, and bid him leave, “I haven’t time,” I vowed.
but he was mean, with no reprieve; said I was not allowed
to dictate to him what I thought, that I, no power had.
That he would simply “call the shots” for me, though they be bad.

But I was not to be denied, my angels hovered ‘round.
They propped me up; said we would hide from the one who wished me bound.
They loved and cared; protected me, and gave me peace of mind.
Old father Time, no match was he, for angels wise and kind.

A power struggle was employed a stand-off did ensue.
Old Father Time became annoyed at things he couldn’t do.
He couldn’t win my heart and mind, but dancing he controlled.
It’s hard to hear, I’m partly blind, but I do not feel old.
I feel God’s love exalting me. My doubts and pains depart.
And though my body isn’t free I’m dancing in my heart.

 

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Spreading Chestnut Wisdom

Where are the horses, hot with sweat, that rested ‘neath my wings?
The ropes that dangled from my arms to make the children’s swings?
Where is the house whose big front door I watched from day to day,
as people, yes, my family, came out to work and play?

My butt is broad, it’s five feet through there just above the ground.
My arms are like huge tentacles that wave and wind around.
And though I once stood in a yard where flowers ‘round me bloomed,
I now am standing all alone.  I miss their sweet perfume.

I must have known a hundred springs, yes even more, I guess;
my life juice surging through my veins to make a leafy dress.
And though I’m old for a chestnut tree, I feel the breath of youth,
as warm spring rains caress new leaves, they energize and soothe.

I feel alone.  How have I lived beyond my normal years?
The family, the house, is gone.  Now, no one prunes and shears
my limbs.  They grow without restraint in grotesque, ugly shapes.
Still, passersby are beauty awed when snow my branches drapes.
And then when fall envelops me I get the urge of birth,
my verdant growth of chestnut pods illuminates my worth.

My branches creak when cold winds blow and though my skin is thick,
I suffer from an old disease that makes me rather sick.
My pods don’t form the three big nuts, as in my younger days,
and no one picks them anymore except the squirrels and Jays.

But I’m alive!  I’m standing tall; much taller than before!
My arms are spreading wider now.  All seasons change decor.
Some say I’ve grown more stately, and more beautiful with age.
In winter, summer, spring, or fall, my colors draw front-page.

And there is something else I watch, just over by the road,
I have three offspring standing there.  They change this episode.
A good example I must be, so they can view me proud.
I’ll not complain to them of life, my head must not be bowed
until my Maker calls to me, “It’s time for you to go.”
Then I will pack my trunk with joy, and let the cold winds blow.

 

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The Address Book

In looking through possessions held and cherished many years,
I saw the names so deftly spelled among her souvenirs.
The address book was tattered, torn; it’s binding loose and stripped.
So old, its index tabs were worn from hands whose fingers gripped.
At first I tossed it on the pile of things to throw away.
But after just a little while it beckoned me to stay.
I picked it up, sat down to rest, and opened it again.
It seemed that God my efforts blessed, I gazed upon my name.
The page was smudged from many calls and teardrops, I could tell.
She didn’t always share her falls, or tell me when she fell.
Her thoughts and prayers had always been for those she loved and served.
From newborn babe to aging man, ‘twas more than I deserved.
Yes, there were many other names within that tattered book.
I scanned the pages, said a prayer, then I began to look
at all her friends who’d gone before, in mem’ry some I’d known.
‘Twas then I realized much more why she had felt alone.
A line was neatly penciled through the names when they had died.
“Deceased” was written by them too, and droplets where she cried.

Oh Mother, what a loving soul you were. I miss you so.
I know you’re on the Savior’s roll, you had not far to go
to meet Him at His throne on high; your mansion He’s prepared.
Your crown of glory now is nigh because you loved and cared.

The tattered address book, I’ll keep, with names of friends you knew.
Then someday in my final sleep I’ll meet them all, with you.
add_book

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The Pruner

The limbs of the half-grown apple tree were grotesque at their best.
The orchard owner didn’t see and prune it like the rest.
It sat alone; had never grown the way of other trees
that he had planted row by row and shaped them; eyes to please.
The tangled mess of branches fought their way to see the light.
Till they had hurt themselves, were caught with nothing growing right.

And then one day the orchardist thought he’d remove the tree.
He’d cut it down with axe he brought, “It won’t be missed,” thought he.
It’s apples, tiny, not the size the market did require.
The orchardist had deemed it wise the tree should just expire.

He raised his axe to cut it down but something made him stop.
He looked it over, once around from bottom to the top.
“Oh, what if I remove the wood? (some limbs it doesn’t need);
to shape the tree ‘til it looks good.  It’s from the choicest seed.”
So he began to prune and trim until the task was done.
It seemed the tree smiled back at him, as it soaked in the sun.

Next year the apples on the tree were bigger than before.
And each succeeding year would see it ripen more and more.

The tree is like an untrained youth whose life is “on the line”.
Though he be rash, at times uncouth, and no one’s valentine,
when pruned by love and discipline sometimes he will respond.
If in the light his heart is won, to goodness he will bond.
Sometimes we overlook a jewel whose life’s a tangled mess?
Who really won’t be mean and cruel if we show love, and bless.

So let us watch and be aware of those who most reject,
and ready be to “just be there” to show them our respect.
They, like the tree, will blossom more when pure light filters in.
And help them prune the dross before they’re cut off; lost to men.

 

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The Rutabega Patch

Dad could always make jobs fun,
Well, almost always, ‘cept for one.
His attitude toward work was cheery,
Always positive, not weary.
Still, there was a task we dreaded.
Out behind the barn we headed,
Past the big manure pile
Down the hill without a smile.
Our sawed off hoes would come in handy
For Dad, myself, and Brother Randy.
The job ahead was easy seen,
Rows of rutabagas, green
That stretched forever through the field,
Or so it seemed to me, and sealed
A hopeless feeling in my mind,
Those rows so long; it was unkind
Of Dad to think that we could stay
Out in the sun the livelong day
And slowly crawl on hands and knees
To thin the plants and cut the weeds.
Two little boys of six and eight
It seemed like endless hours to wait
For dinnertime to come at noon.
We didn’t sing a happy tune.
In afternoons the sun was hotter,
Causing frequent stops for water.
And though it was a lame excuse
The bathroom got extended use.
But Daddy’s pace was fast and steady
We dropped behind, but he was ready;
To leave his row and help us out.
His hoe moved swiftly roundabout.
We watched his strokes, it was an art
To see him thin the plants apart,
To leave the right amount of space
Between them so they could embrace
The sun and water; grow with vigor
His rutabagas would be bigger.
Dad seemed happy; didn’t mind
The endless hours.  He seemed to find
The satisfaction faith can bring—
That age-old sower, reaper thing.
He had the vision of the field
Next fall, when all those rows would yield
Clean hardy rutes for us to dig;
He saw the plants were very big.
But little boys just couldn’t see
The end result, the victory.

We pouted in our misery,
And wished our dad would set us free
But somehow after days of toil
We finished working in that soil.
In the fall, the wagon drawn
by Tag and Nig began at dawn
To haul the loads of giant rutes.
Our Daddy’s plan drew proud salutes,
And we began to realize
Our contribution to this prize.
The bin up in the barn was full
Enough to feed the cows and bull
For many days to come that fall
With silage, hay, and grain, it all
Would keep the milk production high,
Dad would have no feed to buy.
Through cold and wintry days of storm
We milked the cows; our barn was warm
With body heat from cows and calves.
Smells of fodder, dung, and salves
Would permeate the stale moist air
And we felt safe and peaceful there.
We sliced those rutes up real thin
When we removed them from the bin.
Dad’s big potato-slice machine
Worked fine, the slabs were nice and clean.
The old hand crank would sometimes halt,
We’d grab a slice and shake some salt;
Those rutabagas were a treat
For any hungry boy to eat.
The stanchioned cows would stretch and strain
To get those rutes mixed with their grain.
By then, we saw in Dad’s work plan

The pleasure shared by cow and man.
Those rutabaga rows were long
But if we’d hoed them with a song
While thinking of the harvest joys
We could have been two happy boys.
The thankfulness that we all share
Is--- Daddy made us “hang in there”.
That life will never give us gain
Without our will to stand some pain.
So if our rows seem long and hard
We’ll tough it through and disregard
Our thoughts to quit before the end;
We’ll follow Daddy’s recommend.

 

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Those Football Feelings

There’s something about a football game
that doesn’t have to do with fame.
Anticipation energizes 
every boy whate’er his size is.
If you’re a little running back,
or burly lineman on attack,
the thought of every coming game
affects each player’s mind the same.

You wonder why the butterflies 
cause queasy stomach in those guys
whose muscles bulge and look so tough,
who hit so hard and play so rough,
but they’re just normal down inside
and wonder if they’ll play with pride.

The night before a game can be
so long; a sleepless recipe,
a worry time when games are won
or lost before they have begun.
On offense you must catch the ball
and hold on to it when you fall.
The linemen charge and clear the way
and not let up one single play.
You dream and practice through the night 
until you get the signals right,
then just before the dawn you sleep
so hard you miss the alarm clock beep.
But when you wake it’s with a start!
You’ve torn the covers all apart
with running, kicking, football dreams
of plays that score, and defense schemes.

You rise and shower, dress and eat,
while in your mind the plays repeat. 
Your concentration is not good!
Throughout the day your efforts should
produce much better than they do,
but thoughts of football strangle you.

Somehow the moment does arrive.
Excitement builds, you feel alive.
You don your jersey, pants and pads.
The locker room is full of lads
like you with thoughtful somber faces,
football suits with ties and laces.

When running out upon the field
your aches and pains are quickly healed.

Adrenaline is streaming through
your veins, there’s just no stopping you.
That power-pak that you’ve unleashed 
drove out all fear; it’s gone! Impeached!

You just can’t wait for that first hit.
You exercise and run a bit
until your muscles feel the strain.
If something hurts you don’t complain,
you tough it through and hide the limp,
‘cause no coach wants to play a gimp.

It’s time to start! The Anthem plays.
The flapping flag invades your gaze,
reminding you that through it all,
win or lose, you must stand tall.
And in that moment you feel pride,
a lumpy throat, and warm inside.

The whistle blows, the game begins; 
the rising football floats and spins
til it is caught down near the ten.
The speedy runner dodges men
and scampers through til he is creamed!
No scoring here like he had dreamed.

On offense linemen open holes.
On defense they reverse their roles.
Some hits produce a loud report,
reminding us this contact sport
can rattle teeth, or break an arm.
But no one shrinks from certain harm.

The sweat, the pain, desire to win
helps all corral that old pigskin.
The running back squirts through a hole
and crosses his opponent’s goal.
A touchdown!! Fans go wild and cheer!!
Why, I can see it all from here.
What great excitement in my breast!
We won the game! My biggest test
was watching while my fist I’d clench;
my part was sitting on the bench.

 

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