...the chubby penny 

...watercolor rose

  november doesn’t hurt anymore

  i used to wind back winter memories
  as hurriedly as i would turn back the hands
  on some cheap throw-away alarm clock.
  pending holidays marched in cadence through my mind
  like burdensome social events,
  catered, crowded, and distant.
  rain tempted me.
  snow teased me.
  i tasted both and each left me cold and thirsty.
  i hitchhiked through childhood
  when i should have walked.
  i cried through terror-filled nights
  and hid in the shadows of day.
   then you touched me
  and folded your words over me warmly
  like a soft down-filled blanket.
  you spoke kindly
  through the love-filled months of summer
  and when the doors of october closed
  you set back the clock for an hour,
  turned, and taught me about love
 …in november.
 now, because of your love
 november doesn’t hurt anymore.

 the watercolor rose
 i paint by numbers she said in a matter of fact way
 to no one standing close by
 i use decimals and fractions for pale shades of gray
 filling the palette with dull shades of dry
 i paint by numbers she said to any who would listen
 though there were very few who really did
 i use red where i see nine and green is three
she paused then quietly closed the lid
her hand was shaky and her eyes were dim
 as she pointed towards number eight
 saying ‘that will be blue when i pick up my brush
 but not now, I still have to wait’
 i paint by numbers she said with pride
 i am so careful which color i use
 then she closed her eyes and quietly died
 she had no more colors to choose
 i painted a watercolor rose on a page that was blank
 there were no numbers there to guide me
 i painted from my heart while colors poured out
 her rose is what I found—deep inside me

morning rose

i met you
as morning meets an unfurling rose
before you spoke a word
sitting there quietly nervous
i knew from the look in your eyes
that i was destined to know love
we kissed that morning
on the wooden steps leading to tomorrow

so well i remember your sensual lips
and at once my dream divided on a flicker of fire

the sun set in the park
that cool day soon after
when we shared a picnic lunch
that beckoned us to share a forever for dessert
never had a kiss been a kiss until you
and the coolness of the evening
was chased away by the warmth of our hearts
rain sometimes fell on us
but love is a wonderful umbrella
and your giggle warmed my heart
in ways i never told you
a bird sang low as the afternoon sun dropped
and the moon shared just enough light
that you could watch me walk away
i would love to meet you again
fresh and new in that special way...
just as morning meets an unfurling rose 


the cowboy

his cowboy hat dipped and curled
like a green montana blanket
draped over rolling hills,
celebrating the wind.

face craggy and used too often,
straight lines carved in crooked directions.
tanned skin stretched
like leather on a worn saddle.

his eyes spelled ‘yesterday’
in lower case sadness,
he was broken with no hope
and pulled his hat down.

sleep reminded him
that his body was eighty-four
yet when he dreamed
his mind romped on playgrounds.

where wild horses roamed…
and his hat was never too big

the barren bridge

i can see beyond the bridge
though barren, trees still grow
weeping for the springtime
when color will once again rise
from the belly of the earth

sucked to the highest branches
in celebration of life
the bridge remains as my hope
my trust in today

and every day thereafter
when i walk from this palette
from this easel
to that

as seasons visit like weary visitors
suitcases stuffed with memories
and boxes packed with questions

no one saw beneath the bridge

where a trickling stream once played melodiously
on rounded stones
winding in a thousand directions
rolling, singing

celebrating the pennies and souls
the kisses and promises
all in honor of the bridge

and the road, the only road
from here to there
and back


 morning was sadder than april

 he looked at his clock and calendar at the same time
 then glanced back at march before it ended
 and ahead to april before it had begun.
 there were no flowers spraying color or fragrance…
 no breeze to push the clouds along
 and no promise of hope beyond the horizon.
 it was morning and morning was sadder than all of april
 —nowhere to turn, nowhere to hide—
 just time—minutes really—before he had to go.
 there were no birds in the sky on a day such as this…
 third monday—march too far gone—
 yet april too far away.
 morning was sadder than all of april
 and he had chosen to watch as march surrendered it’s place
 to the delegation of memories.
morning pushed hard on the clouds,
 moving quieter than the silence of daybreak,
 waiting like a vagrant at a bus depot and with less hope for kindness.
 there were no flowers spraying color or fragrance across the countryside…
 and no promise of hope beyond the horizon.
 morning was sadder than all of april and only fragments of march remained.

pachelbel's canon in d minor


~a solitary oak tree...torn from a page of my life~


kenny gave us the music man
and dolly the
colored coat

time in a bottle wasn’t meant for jim
it was just a song he wrote

some said it was elvis forever
as the king of rock n roll
but who could know his majesty
was spinning out of control

peter, paul and mary
sang dylan’s blowin’ in th’ wind
as the beatles did it all for us
with a little help from their friends

those years all past too quickly
and are now forever gone
even neil, the solitary man
returned to brooklyn roads, his home

the statlers wrote of monuments
in washington d c
mccartney climbed on jonathan’s wings
and crashed into the apple tree

mac showed us a little ghetto life
james took us up on the roof
the oak ridge boys went into a saloon
to down some hundred proof

jimmy smashed electric guitars
while janice sang bobby mcgee
rick’s plane tumbled from the sky
he said no garden party for me

kris and willie inhaled their weed
said it make their throats feel good
but jimmy should never light my fire
in mr. roger’s neighborhood

a song could go on forever
about the singers i’ve never known
and one by one they’ve said goodbye
and turned to go back home

where have all the flowers gone?
that’s the question pete seeger asked
i guess with old songs everyone
to that great juke box of the past

 new york memories

i watched the glare of neon lights
from the place they say is new york city
i walked her streets on lonesome nights
and watched old men pushing carts of pity

i wept amidst the lettered street signs
and prayed beneath the subway stairs
stood for food in winding breadlines
wondering why god refused my prayers

i stood in the shadow of concrete towers
and smoked broken cigarettes cast aside
and joints that gave me super powers
refueling dreams that had already died

i watched the sunrise in central park
joggers and dogs all looked the same
but the sun painted over the black of dark
and soothed my aching childhood pain

so many people laughed and smiled
so many strangers seemed to understand
time had come to travel the miles
it would take to leave this new york land

yet with fondness i remember those new york nights
when young women worked the streets for a hit
as they stood beneath those neon lights
hopelessly trapped in hell’s deepest pit

i felt the waves on the atlantic shore
then travelled to the city by the bay
can't see the new york lights no more
and i suppose that's just how it'll stay

i never felt new york was unkind
i guess i never felt new york at all
but all the memories i could find
i left scribbled on a subway wall



she walked along the silken shore
crocheting thoughts and even more
morning could not unravel her
men’s lustful eyes freely traveled her

she cleaned the windows of my soul

laying together between satin sheets
she took my life and rhymed for me
those lines which had always dangled free
and in her hands i could be
an emperor of my destiny

hers was a life so freely lived
she had so much that she could give
a lady of the pauper’s dreams
more suited for the feast of kings

she played the game like none before
...gave her all and still had more

she walked amidst the forest light
where her creator marveled at the sight

surely pleased at what he had done
...defining beauty for everyone

while colors wept in a crimson sky

it was that time, early dawn
when sailors cast their anchors down
and the grace of morning gained control
as i watched her smile freely unfold

and purity revealed her milk-white skin

she enjoyed a life so freely lived
and had so much that she could give
a lady of the pauper’s dreams
more suited for the feast of kings

her knight bowed slowly to the floor
while the pawn crept out the waiting door
she played the game like none before
never caring about the final score

‘til at last she laid beneath the forest trees
and felt the gentle flowing breeze
her golden hair, a babbling brook
with soothing sounds at each turn it took

only rainbow-washed colors could compare

she answered to the distant sound
of a shepherd’s harp placed on the ground
and walked behind the towering clouds
waving goodbye to her admiring crowds

when nature brought her to her knees
oh, some crowds you can never please

til at last they laid her body down
and pulled away her tarnished crown
pushed a smile where there was a frown
and placed her with the famous clowns

and it rained


Animated Emoticons


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more poetry by tolbert: http://www.kephale06.wordpress.com