Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Weight Of Ghosts...

The Weight Of Ghosts...

Life is like an egg timer,
Or maybe an egg shell,
Or some other fragile damn cliche.

I know the richness of memories,
Times and places only a very few will know,
Less and less every year,
But I remember.

We're like cloud shapes in the sky,
Just visible for a blink or two,
But I have seen some seriously good ones.

It's comical,
When I talk to someone half my age,
The backdrop they're missing,
Utter cool evaporating on the wind.

Times and sayings,
Hair and clothes and music,
But people,
People most of all.

The thought of no one knowing who they were,
That's crushing,
And I wonder if that's what truly ages us,
The sheer weight of ghosts.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/25/2018

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Honor Among Clouds...

The Honor Among Clouds...

It's an old and faithful thing,
These flying volunteers.

It started with cloth and grit in World War Two,
The day after the war started,
In fact most people hardly know.

Civilian Airmen took their own planes to the skies,
Spotting submarines off our coastlines,
Sparrowhawks hunting tin sharks,
Piper Cubs and old Jennies alike,
They fiercly defended home.

They still volunteer among the clouds,
Or in old buildings on little airports,
Out among the dust and obscurity.


How many cadets went on to lead,
Officers and judges,
And every other working thing,
The stuff of civil duty,
A nearly-forgotten thing.

If your plane goes down,
They will find you.

If your house is flattened by a hurricane,
They will take the pictures that rebuild you.

If you want to learn of aviation,
They will teach you,
Or your sons and daughters.

The Silent Service,
Those barely heard of or known,
There when the chips are down,
Or when the skies are up.

Say hello to the Civil Air Patrol,
A golden thing under a blanket of dust,
A wonder that America barely remembers it has.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/17/2018

Author's Note:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer's Winter Home...

Summer's Winter Home...

We moved here about three and one-half years ago,
A series of lucky circumstances led us,
Also seems to have followed us,
As we followed the childhood of our grandchildren.

Who could've known in those cold Chicago Winters,
That we would land at the heart of an unknown paradise?

Let me wake you with a morning,
Cool and sometimes misty,
Early balloons fly off the wineries,
Their baskets small and high and glorious,
Floating above the palm trees.

I walk the hills,
Steep hills at that,
Past a golf course I love to look at,
But never will use.

Roses and California poppies are littered alongside the walk,
Dots of color lead to beds of flame,
Ducks and loons and even herons and egrets grace the ponds,
As the temperature soars thirty degrees in two hours.

The citrus trees in our sideyard have fortified me,
And the blazing Sun emboldens the now dry air,
All the world is abustle and busy,
Until the breeze swoops up the valley at three PM.

By eight it will have fallen from ninety-five to seventy-seven,
Overnight look to the fifties or sixties,
Until the mist drifts up the valley from a San Diego harbor morning,
Forty-five minutes' drive South.

The mountains that surround us look just like ones I've seen,
Where Juan Valdez carted Folgers beans in sacks on his burro,
Yet these are quite beautifully real,
A far cry from the flat prairies of Illinois eaten by corn and soy.

It's January and February that tie me here,
Rainy forties and the tangerines are ripe,
Tomatoes  survived the Winter,
Lemons were for Thanksgiving and Christmas,
Oranges and grapefruits wait for June and July,
As the strawberry carts do for April.

How could one lose,
Here at our little green house,
On a street named for my grandparents,
Here in Summer's Winter home?


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/09/2018

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Softened Place..

A Softened Place..

The sky is steel-grey with low-angle light,
Waves roll onto the beach from the endless line of surf,
Clouds saunter slowly past above Lake Michigan.

The beach grass is turning that golden color of the Northern Midwest,

Leaves are green,
Yet edged with yellow or orange-red,
Hints of splendors to come.

You may walk here today with the chill breeze that never stops,
Knowing that Winter will freeze you out in a month or two,
You pull your jacket tighter,
Reflective and visually immersed at the edge of a freshwater sea,
A timeless place where the seasons roll you,
And never the other way around.

The throngs of Summer are long-gone,
A few hardy souls wend the art of a cool lake,
Watching their breath waft up into the enchanted air,
Clutching a warm mug of coffee for dear life.

This place is bigger than you,
It's bigger than me,
Yet it's vulnerable to the endless raft of human ants,
Who are too small to see the impacts of their combined works.

You can feel that immense body of water,
From miles away you know where it is,
Just like it grinds broken bottles into soft beach glass,
Baubles for next Summer's children.

The seagulls sing their forever song,
Counterpoint to the bass of continuous waves,
Rolling, rolling, rolling,
The snare of grasses and branches rustling in time,
The slight notes of wind-whistle a finishing touch.

In the distance,
Far, far, far in the distance,
A train horn sings along,
Yet here is the domain of Nature,
Of seasons and time far older than us,
What was with us in our youth,
Hopefully will see children long after we're gone,
Poetry that is beyond writing.

In a place like this,
A softened giant timeless place,
You can find yourself an atom drifting with infinity's dream.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/03/2018

Miller Beach, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, 2010 - Photo by Daniel A. Stafford

Tuesday, July 03, 2018



How lovely it is,
To decorate the walls,
To feel a touch of nostalgia in every visit to a place.

Easy on the eyes.

Like a spiral notebook,
One you've written and drawn in,
On-and-off for years,
Soft in the hand.

Easy on the eyes.

I look up and see stars,
A smiling Moon beaming down,
A raft of familiar faces.

Easy on the eyes.

Not so hard on the heart,


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/02/2018

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Lonely Old Things...

Lonely Old Things...

Perhaps a candalabra,
Filled with glowing wax,
Hovers over blank parchment,
A dusty plume quill lying silent,
Next to the dried-up inkwell,
There on the desk in Mary Shelley's room.

Percy will never come home again,
As Frankenstein's monster shall have no siblings,
And the headstone on Mary's mother's grave,
That grows weathered and smooth,
Cracked and tilted,
The flowers there wildly entwined with the weeds.

Even long-hand cursive writing seems doomed,
All despite its lustrous flowing curves,
Sweeping grace into the ephemera of the past.

It was ever the creatures if fortune,
Who could call such things as normal.

It wounds the world to see them as lonely old things...


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 07/01/2018