I wake up tired from broken sleep,
two cats in tow to the screened-in porch
to meditate on breathing while I still can.
Max inspects the water bowl,
Tony leaps to his favorite chair,
alerting me to soft mist over the river.
Birdsong seems muted as I pray
the watery blanket to stay
against the weight of heavier heat.
TV news echoes persistent
hardness in all the hot spots
from adolescent to military mayhem.
Is it my elder calling to cultivate
gentle breathing for my own peace,
and a small aid for a tormented world
that I love and mourn,
offering fresh balm
in my closing time?
Much about aging is waning odds on a roll of dice,
Things they don’t ask you to lift,
A few more bicycle rides avoiding the hills
And a recurrent fatigue that throws a sudden pall.
Easy to get maudlin about it and sit sad
On the grumbler’s bench, or fake bonhomie
With thumping bravados of not me, not me,
Embracing the lame heroics of futile dreams
I read old journals as a museum of myself,
Albums of smiles, joys, struggles and pain,
A kind of vibrant wrestling with the unfinished,
Not knowing how it will turn out.
As the flooded river moves slow against purple-gold
Clouds repainting themselves at the dimming of day,
I circle the stone labyrinth behind my house,
An invitation to heed beloved ashes at the center.
From: “The Hum of It All”
“Poems from a Personal Journey”
(more poetry and aging blog)
The Cat and the Crow
By Eugene C. Bianchi
Blue eyes in chocolate face squint at the door
ears forward rump raised
with a swift fix
on my full hands fumbling the knob,
he grasps the sweet moment,
and lunges to freedom but not too much
as he hunkers under Volvo or cryptomeria
mindful of hawk, owl maybe crow,
no place in the open for a Siamese without claws.
Back for the monumental purring on my chest
during Netflix “Max at the Movies”
not far from water food litter
to sniff and mark the known world,
the feisty curmudgeon loves me.
Crows prance the morning driveway
squawking their daily agenda
not threatened by me or the New York Times.
No need to divebomb my white hair
or my feline in silly harness.
Suddenly they soar fullthroated from the oaks
to see the big picture of
life tumbling along the river,
then down again to sandbank for morning prayer and
They wink each other for takeoff,
up and up a proud squadron
ready to swoop and flap over the barricades,
black messiahs to save the earth.
Eugene Bianchi is a retired professor of Religion at Emory University.
This poem was published in Bianchi’s second book of poetry, Ear to the Ground: Poems from the Long View, Parson’s Porch Books, 2014, p. 34. For more of his poetry, including the book of poems, Chewing Down My Barn, and his aging blog, see his website, http://bianchibooks.com.