Chapters

Beneath the waning light’s gentle caress,
A solitary soul, aging’s slow progress.
Through the landscapes of life, the journey’s trace,
Each chapter written on his weathered face.

Footsteps echo in a measured beat,
Moments counted, a life complete.
Every passing day unveils a page,
In the aging book, each line and stage.

Reflections in the mirror, stories unfold,
Contours of a life, intricately scrolled.
Eyes that have witnessed the seasons turn,
In the silent verses, wisdom earned.

Colors of youth, now softened, subdued,
Yet within, a flame, a stoic mood.
Threads of gold weave tales untold,
In the quiet room where life unfolds.

Ghosts of moments, shadows cast,
Wandering through the chapters of the past.
In the stillness, resilience found,
A spirit enduring, on solid ground.

Bones may creak, steps slower tread,
Yet the heart’s rhythm, unwavering thread.
Through life’s gentle stream, the narrative flows,
A symphony of years, each stanza glows.

As the sun dips low, casting hues in the sky,
A palette of memories, where moments lie.
In the twilight of life, a serene grace,
Embracing the journey, in this sacred space.

Let time’s hands weave their art,
On the canvas of age, each chapter a part.
In the quiet twilight, when the last page is spun,
A life well-lived, the story is done.

Mother Sends a Dog

Fog hems the ocher backwater
like hoar frost on Georgia clay —
as the lodestar fades
against the breaking of a wailing sky,
rare winter lightning
flashes against a sea of granite
flags — the broken rear guard.

We are instant saints, lifting mother’s
ornate box — our scuffling boots
mimic the sound of dragging a mime
to the cadence of father’s walking stick,
its distant tapping calling her home —

a moment too solemn, too discreet.

Then suddenly a red dog appears
running wildly between tombstones,
its body pulsing to the rhythm
of its sagging tongue, and a girl
no more than seven kneels
with a glass of water, smiling
as the irreverent dog drinks loudly.

©2023 Glenn Lyvers

Johnstown Poets at the Bar

Now a poet in my 50th year,
I have settled on the mountain –
and I ponder the gentle streets,
the silent-blue church spires
and the listless Conemaugh.

Here, among the Alleghenies,
in a chair near the jukebox,
I spent a year sipping lager,
a parishioner to the vibrations
of a Johnstown congregation.

Each night someone is there
feeding the hopeful jukebox,
Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen,
as the thinning light births stars
over the wild onion side
of the mountain, reflecting
the rail-lights of the Inclined Plane – 

and every evening someone new comes in,
and they are regaled with stories
about relentless rains and the flood,
and the way people were grasped
by the hands of the raging river,
flung sideways like flat rocks
skipping over water and water.

The words ring gently poetic
across the bar, with a voice
so familiar it feels like your own,
and it penetrates your very heart
as naturally as lightning seeks the ground,
and the artfulness fills me with hope
that someday I will write this well,
pierce as deeply as the poets at the bar.

2020

We interrupt this message to inform you that some horrible thing happened to someone you don’t know somewhere far away, and our complete lack of respect for the victim’s privacy is brought to you by Xanex.

I turn off the TV, and the yellow dog
that never cared all that much for me
paces briefly past the loveseat
before jumping up to splay
her body across my aging legs

And I can’t help but feel her disappointment
that my legs are not my wife’s
and my feet have no pink slippers
and there are no balls of yarn
being wound by rhythmic hands

I think I must be getting a taste
for what my wife felt every evening
sitting in this chair with our yellow dog
and it really is quite nice, being chosen
to be a splayed upon companion

Trapped by a dog across my legs
because I dare not move a muscle
and risk disturbing the old girl
who spent the day pacing the house
looking in vain for a lost mother

I’ll never be able to explain
in terms a dog could understand
that I couldn’t bring her back home
and that they shut off the ventilator
before I was even allowed to say goodbye

This house is as quiet as clay
the furnace seems to have gone out
because it feels colder somehow
yellow dog is my last reason to live
and she isn’t breathing anymore

It occurs to me in these numb, small hours
that my wife would say, as a poem, it’s cliché
“but it has good bones,” she’d offer up
and I’d joke about “bones” in a dog poem
before heading out to the barn for a shovel.

Learning Love from a Dog

Learning Love from a Dog

My hound dog, Ellie, was abused
by a cop before I rescued her
from her rescuer, an abused puppy,
unable to restrain her bladder
all day long. The cop’s wife begged
the pound to reclaim her,
to save her from her savior.
That’s where I come in –
a hero – they say things like that
so you will take a dog home.

Still, Ellie couldn’t hold it
at my house either, she told me,
with a cowering whimper,
one need only care enough to listen –
and every night I carried her
down the stairs, out the door,
placing her gently on the grass,
where she proceeded to lollygag
for a frustrating minute or two
before doing her business –
it went like that for two months…

Eventually she made the trek herself,
and these many years later, still,
she wakes me – with a bark these days,
and in the stretch of these fortunate years,
my forties gave way to my fifties,
a slow event marked by back pain,
aching knees, stiff joints all over,
and for every one of those years,
Ellie has aged seven, they say,
always wagging her tail, graying
face unaware she is now older than me.

Soon, I will lift her into the bed
when she can no longer leap,
and I’ll carry her in my human way,
down the stairs when she tells me,
each painful step a gift to the old girl,
and I will set her lightly in the grass
where I have no doubt that she’ll delay,
sniffing the yard, stopping occasionally
to look up the mountain for a rabbit,
and she can take as long as she likes
because she is older than I am,
wiser in the way she quickly lives,
fully present every waking minute.

Ellie is now the rescuer, teaching
calm grace before the setting sun,
wagging her tail when I look at her,
the way she never changes, always
living and loving completely.

Slumber in the Valley

Slumber in the Valley

Johnstown is sleeping
except for me, awake –
gazing at the rooftops
in the valley below
my old cliffside home,
and if I squint my eyes
just a little, blurring
the wintry spectacle,
now a Christmas village,
I delight in imagining
all the sleepy-eyed
schoolchildren, waking
to my January vision,
another downy morning,
a gift without words.