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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2023
All in a day, poems by Peter A Witt
All in a Day
It was a day of buttermilk clouds,
cold enough for turtlenecks, wet
enough for grey raincoats to ward off
sullen cloudbursts, the possibility
of rancorous thunderheads and blazes
of white shotgun lightning painting
the vainly spattered sky.
By late afternoon, storm had passed,
welcome sun peaked from behind the remnant
clouds, milkweed dazzled with silvery raindrops
clinging to stalks waving in the soft breeze.
At glowing sunset we built a fire to ward off
the damp, woodsmoke twirled from chimney,
drifting away in the calming air.
Through the open window we were moonstruck
and starglazed by display of galaxies that city folk
only dream of. Soon we drifted to bed,
pulling the imaginary drawbridge up behind us
as we toothbrushed and showered before coupling
our way to a night of dreamland.
Failing red tractor pulled the heavily loaded hay wagon
through the freshly mowed pasture towards the faded barn.
Wildflowers bloomed in colored roadside ribbons,
their bouquet scented like vanilla and lemonade.
Farmer felt the weight of decades of work
falling heavy on his stooped shoulders, displayed
sadly in his weathered face and hands.
He was glad for this last load of hay before evening
storm created a light show, draped the dry valley in rain.
Today would end 63 years of toil in the fields;
with the farm now sold they would move to town.
Gone would be treasured days among strutting peacocks;
quiet time tending his carrots, lettuce, onions, yellow corn.
He would fondly remember the clanging bell
calling him to pause for a picnic lunch
under the aged willow.
After lunch, he would sometimes stretch out,
rest his eyes for just a few minutes before
taking up his work again.
He’d proudly weathered the seasons, worked through cold,
ice, snow, been buffeted by streaking winds, survived
the halting heat of summer. Now, he would talk grain prices
the weather, local politics with neighbors around a stove
at the county grain elevator.
But most of all, he looked forward to fishing the river
with his grandson, sharing the boy’s love of birds,
squirrels, his joy at a jumping fish, a passing rabbit.
The boy would call him grandpa, he would call the boy junior.
welcome the remaining time they would share.
Scent of the Woods
Sweet aroma of lemonade
wafting across the pond
on a warm spring day –
picnickers enjoy their lunch.
Rich fragrance of freshly mown grass
carried on the wind through the park –
tissues dab hay fevered eyes.
Stench of a rotting squirrel
dashes through the air
deep in the woods –
makes it hard to breathe.
Bouquet of wildflowers
nestled in the meadow
beside the babbling brook –
picked for my sweetheart.
Scent of soft perfume
flowing from her nape
below flowing auburn hair –
inhaled with roiling pleasure.
Tincture of morning dew
escaping from hay
in the cow pasture –
dampened our Sunday shoes.
Wherever we went whether
pasture, meadow, woodlands
scents of the day
accompanied the journey –
during our walk in the woods.
Poetry Saved My Life
My first poem was full of heartache,
the kind that shames joy
and happiness until all is colored
grey with wrenching sadness.
Words were tears tumbling
onto paper, staining the surface
with the foul breath of a midnight
drunk lying in a gutter of despair.
Reading my penning now brings back
memories of the pain of separation,
loneliness, and rejection swaddled
in self-pity, the helpless feeling
of abject failure.
I wonder what would have happened
if I hadn’t emptied my chest
of these feelings, instead burying them
in the tomb of my near-death heart.
Poetry kept me on the right side
of sane, without it I’d have sunk below
the horizon without any hope
of rising with the dawn.
© Peter A. Witt
Peter A. Witt is a Texas poet and a recovering academic, who lost his adjectives in the doldrums of academic writing. Poetry has helped him recover his ability to see and describe the inner and outer world he inhabits. He also writes family history, with a book about his aunt published by the Texas A&M Press and is an avid birder and wildlife photographer.