Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Amends To My Muse

Amends To My Muse

Oh, Muse
Forgive my prolonged evasion
We were companions once
You and I
Invariably sharing
And, when I freely pondered
You answered, eloquently
This, our repartee
You, and me

And then
I began to avoid our encounters
Keeping only breviloquent discourse
Then, subtle nods in your direction
Until, finally, nothing at all
Our concord only a distant memory

It was not by design, you see
But for the sake of brevity
My attention split into fragments
Of paternity and every responsibility
An exhausting helotry
Impalpable perspiration 
Dampening the wick
That once lit my imagination
And so
I resigned myself
To that

And yet
Have I not seen you?
There, in the periphery?
Patiently waiting for me
To fortuitously notice
To restore our harmony
And welcome you back
With familiar embrace?

Yes, I've heard 
Your voice in the morning birdsong
In the words of my son, reciting stories
And the patter of raindrops on fresh leaves of green

I have seen you
Dancing with my daughter's loose tooth
Unfurling the blossoms, awash in color
And in the soft shine of silver moonlight

I've felt your presence
On the soft, light-speckled footpaths in the forest
In the panorama of hallowed Civil War battlefields
And in the warm breath of my sleeping children

There you have dwelled
In my simple joys
There you have dwelled
In the fissures of my hardships
Bursting out of my mind
And into the din...
The declarations of the sufferers
The bluster of political hysteria
The trumped up election
The Black Lives
Toppled bronze statues
And bleeding schools

In connubial bickering
Preschooler stand-offs
Restless nights
Tight clothes
Gray whiskers
And backaches
The earnest things
The petty things
You were there
In the distractions
But more so, in between them...

There, you have dwelled
In the quiet places
Between truth and belief
Amid the atoms
And the ticks of second hands
Ready to materialize
From space and time
If only I beckoned

Oh, Muse
I call to you now
Hoping you attend to me
For who will tell my story?
Who will be my confidant?
Celebrate my victories?
Bemoan my travails?
And study the times?
Who will illuminate
Fading memories?
My friend...
You are my voice
My vision
Please, come and
Dwell within
So that we may speak 
Once again

(c) 2018

Monday, January 11, 2016

You Are My Son, Shine!

You Are My Son, Shine!

You are my son, shine!
And let the whole world
See what we so often see
The loving smile of
Our precious baby boy
A contagious radiance
That fills every corner
Brightening the hearts bearing
Witness to your light laughter
And primordial tongues

You are my son, climb
The tallest mountain
Just as you scale seemingly
Insurmountable staircases
With confidence and persistence
You will achieve great things!
And if you should stumble
We will be there, behind you
To hold you, just as we did
The night you were born

You are my son, time
Will certainly pass by
And someday you will grow
Stronger than your Daddy
Sillier than your Mommy
A staunch sibling to your sister
But, for now you are One
And that is all you need to be
Clinging tightly to my legs, or
Snuggling in your mother’s arms

You are my son, find
Everything that brings you joy
Jump and dance
When the music plays
Sing and shout
When you greet the day
Always be yourself
Without reservation
Without doubt
You are wonderfully made

You are my son, divine!
For JAH has been generous
Establishing your place
In this family of mine
You invite us to be happy
You teach us to be simple
You remind us to be kind
We give thanks for you, Isaiah
Amid the wintry months
You are our warm sunshine!

(c) 2016

Friday, July 24, 2015

Crown The Day

Crown The Day

If you fail to raise your eyes
From the pedestrian things
Then you will surely miss it
That brief but glorious moment of time
After the sting of the afternoon heat subsides
And the glow of pinks and oranges 
Peek above cerulean clouds

The most jaded soul must still wonder
On the origin of this palette
Searching the sky for a signature
Finding grace within that recognition
Of impressionist swirls of experiences
Painted on his own consciousness
In countless subtle shades

Friend, you must bear witness
To the crowning of the day
A ceremonious confirmation of life
When doleful eyes shine vividly
And pensive hearts rejoice again
Within this daily miracle, creation sings
Extolling Him that rides upon the heavens

And as eventide rolls in
You will understand the revelation
Beneath the beacon of the evening star
In the moonlight that kisses the earth
In the lullaby of chirping crickets
Blowing through the cool night air
Relieving the day’s vexation

Remember to raise your eyes tomorrow
And witness the crowning of the day

(c) 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Play On (In The Key Of G)

Play On (In The Key Of G)

She stands there with a gleam in her eyes
The silver metal of the harmonica
Folded in her tiny hands
And she smiles…
The type of smile that
Pulls and stretches across her face
The type of smile that probably hurts
But is unavoidable

She laughs in excitement
Then she brings the instrument to her lips
And joyfully blows 
A cascade of notes that pour into the air
Sounding like a mad organ player
Or an accordion flopping down the stairway

Her legs follow suit
Marching in wild, erratic steps
Off balance, and nearly toppling over
But she’s clinging to the harmonica
With all her might
And drawing notes through the reeds
With a ferocity 
Reserved for one possessed...

After all, she was spellbound 
Pulled in, as soon as she heard it
How could she not be?
When I was enchanted the same way
Back then, when I was a child...

She played on and on…
As a bubbling stream of
Both shrill and warm notes
Began reverberating between 
The confines of the moment
And deep echoes of the past
And instead of my kitchen
I was suddenly back in his...

He took two harmonicas down
From the top of the harvest-gold fridge
One for me, one for him
I probably wore the same face as my daughter
Eyes gleaming, a beaming grin
The hard plastic case of the Marine Band
Was placed into my hands and 
When I opened it, I could see
Matthias Hohner peering up from 
My reflection in the shiny cover plate

My grandfather took his and
Cupping his large hands around the harp
Spun out a medley of
Italian folksongs and 
Stephen Foster compositions
Giving me permission to join in 
Signaling me to blow or draw a note
With his pointed finger
While we played the
Chords and melodies of
“Oh! Susanna” and 
“Old Folks At Home”

We would play on and on
As my Grandma watched, smiling
We would play on and on
As I showed off for my parents
We would play on and on
As my brothers tugged my legs for their turn...
We would play on and on
For guests, relatives, celebrations
He would play
And I would play

I would play on and on
Becoming more nimble at
Blowing riffs beneath melodies
Breathing and blocking, while
Tasting the wooden comb
Swollen from salivating, and
Playing until the edges of my mouth were raw
I would play on and on
Yet never quite master the way
He would play a dancing tarantella 
Deftly shifting scales on his chromatic
I would play on and on...
Even after he passed on...

I had to play on without him...
I mourned him through the moody
Wistful rhythm of the Blues 
Bending my notes to infuse
Williamson, Walter
Wells, and Cotton
And when I had forgotten
How to live in the positive
I found my way back
From Talking Blues, like
Lee Jaffe on a Marley track
Resting my roots in reggae
Finding my voice like Dylan
Instilling pieces of 
Composed memories and
Explored aspirations
Into my own identity
I was finally ready to
Play the same song
I had learned long ago
But in a new style
It had been a while
So, I played on...

She played on and on
Parting the curtains of time
Pulling me back in like a note
Squeezed through the reed plate
“Daddy!... ah you ok?”
I forgot to play...
And so I did

Who knew that 
I would find him again
In my dear daughter
Just shy of two
Copying my every move
Vigorously playing 
The harmonica I gave her
Slapping the spit out
Against her leg
Cupping her hands
Waving her fingers
Prancing behind me
From room to room
Our own parade
For Mama and brother

Turning around
I stop to kneel down
And looking into her eyes
I see him
As we play a medley of
“The ABC’s” and 
“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”
Us three...
Together, in the key of G

Our doors to each other
Are unlocked by keys
Played on these
Marine Bands and Blues Harps
Our Gemini hearts
Born on Special 20’s
Together, we will play on and on...

(c) 2015

Written as a tribute to my daughter and my grandpa, both having birthdays on either side of mine:
May 21st - My grandfather, the late Edmond Gioielli
May 22nd - My birthday
May 23rd - My daughter, Makeda

Friday, May 22, 2015

I Am That Tree

I Am That Tree

How fortunate of me
To be that tree
Planted by the water
My branches heavy with
The fruits of my love
My son, my daughter

The countenance of my wife
Shines upon my life
Like the warm sun 
And her affection 
Will never cease, like
The morning dew on my leaves

You see, I grew from a seed
Planted and received
In arable soil
A royal garden where
I rose in the shade
Of ones greater than I

My roots reach down
To the riverside
Where Jehovah abides
In the constant waters
The birds nest in my crown
I’m surrounded in song

I am tall and splendid
But without the roots
I would bear no fruits
Without the stream
My leaves would cease
From spreading green...

I will never be cut down
I shall not rot or whither
Even in the year of drought
I have no doubt
That I am that tree
Planted by rivers of water...

(c) 2015

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Great Love

A Great Love

Behold, a great love
Exists between this mother
And her dear children
There is no power on earth
Able to separate them

Her presence alone
Subdues this uncertain life
With a constant love
Her daughter dances with her
Her son seeks her warm embrace

She'll love them beyond
The ends of eternity
This is their mother
Who once held them in her womb
Who holds them now in her arms

They’ll never outgrow
The size of her beating heart
They’ll never outgrow
The home she has made upon
The pillars of family

(c) 2015

Livicated to my wife, my Empress, and mother of my beautiful children. Her love is a Great Love! Written in honor of her motherhood and the motherhood of my mother, mother-in-law, and all of the mothers I know. Their love is a Great Love! 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Melodies Pure & True

It was about two months ago, a few weeks before our son would be born, when my wife and I were driving in the car with our daughter who was 19 months old at the time. During that short ride she did something that caused us to be both amazed and overjoyed, and ever since then this miraculous moment has now become an everyday occurrence (almost an “all-day” occurrence). Though it all started on that day when we first witnessed a simple miracle of word, sound, and power.

It starts and ends with music. Music is a big part of our lives and so we find occasion to play it almost anywhere and anytime, especially on our car rides. On that particular day we were playing an album that I had frequently put on while putting my daughter to bed. As we were listening, we suddenly heard another texture to the music, something like another voice adding to the mix. My wife and I looked back, and to our great surprise, saw our daughter singing and harmonizing with this one beautiful melody. Mind you, this was no simple nursery rhyme either. It was a rich piece of music with many elements, layers, and vocal harmonies. Yet, here was our daughter singing the words with perfect annunciation, perfect tone and in perfect time! She had been using a variety of words and speaking her own brand of melodic gibberish for some time, but this was very different… she was actually singing!

What made this moment even more special was the fact that this was such a wonderful tune to hear our daughter sing. It was a song about love. Love for a child, love of family, love for the Most High God, and one filled with gratitude.  While we listened, a verse came forth from her lips in perfect clarity. “Oh how I love you, oh yes I love you! My precious baby, you mean so much to me!” She sang loudly with a smile of satisfaction. Then as the album continued, other songs and phrases emerged like, “I love you baby, so overwhelmed by your beauty… It’s an honor to feed to you, a privilege to take care of you, a joy to hold you, and a blessing to have you… Each and every day, I do find time to pray, thanking God the Father for you my precious daughter!...

The songs came from an album sung by Marge Blackman along with her family members and friends. She comes from a family of musicians from Trinidad & Tobago who sing in a style called Jamoo, or JAH Music. If you’ve never heard of it before then it is because it belongs to a unique niche in world music and I am fortunate enough to have a little collection of these hard-to-find albums.  Jamoo could be described as a rootsy blend of calypso, soca, reggae and Caribbean folk with spiritual and uplifting messages. We used to play this album frequently even before our daughter was born. In fact, it is actually titled “Songs for the Womb and Beyond” and I owned it long before I was a married man, or had even thought of becoming a Dad, just because I loved the music and the style. 

Playing the album on that day opened up a musical floodgate. Songs spill from our daughter’s mouth almost as quickly as she hears them with her ears. It is simply amazing to learn how intently she’s been listening to the music and what she is picking up from it. She is grasping language so quickly and putting words together with ideas and abstract thoughts. Although she doesn't know exactly what a song may be saying, she hangs on important words and their associations, repeating phrases and feeling the general vibes of the whole tune, dancing and soaking it all in. Witnessing this has proven two things to me. First, that one cannot underestimate the abilities and the awareness of a young child, and second, one cannot underestimate the power that music has on people, even very young people. It makes me wonder what would happen if I was playing music with less substance, or lyrics with foul and crude language. What type of impact would it have on my little daughter, and now my newborn son? How could I not be ashamed if they repeated demeaning and dirty lyrics, or mimicked some inappropriate pantomime? Unfortunately, I’m not sure if every parent thinks this through until it happens. 

Toward the beginning of this month of February my family (along with many millions more in the world, I'm sure) celebrated what would have been the 70th Birthday of Bob Marley, the man who carried positive and life-giving music all across the world. Every time I reflect on that car ride, and the days since, a verse from one of Bob’s most famous songs comes to mind. “…Three little birds upon my doorstep, singin’ sweet songs of melodies pure and true, sayin’ this is my message to you-ou-ou…” I love that line. Melodies pure and true… yes, that is what sustains me. Everyone has their own taste in music and whatever else that grabs them and brings them to life. However in my own universe, and in the world I’ve created for my family, we surround ourselves with music that builds us up and fills us up with love and strength, with purpose and confidence. Music created from positive vibrations. Roots reggae, or sounds of polyrhythms and languages from all over the African continent, Jamoo, soul, and world music that give thanks and praise or speaks truth no matter what nation it originates from. This is the music of our lives and the beat that we march to. I feel so satisfied and happy to see the impact it already has on our young daughter, singing these sweet songs. And I give thanks for the melodies pure and true, because music is life. In the words of Mr. Robert Nesta Marley, play I some music!...


And Yeshua said unto them, “Yea, have ye never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise’?” - Matthew 21:16