Two for New Year’s Eve

Hi Friends,
Hope you all are having peaceful holidays so far! I have been traveling, so here are a few poems from my book, Flight Path, to tide you over until next week. Happy New Year!

Winter
by Julie Sumner

Winter arrives
Like a stoic night nurse,
Covering us all
With a thick cloud blanket,
Sternly insisting
We get some rest.

Quietness
by Julie Sumner

Quietness comes calling
On the mind’s madhouse,
A quaintly doddering houseguest
Possessing otherworldly powers–
Skillfully instilling stillness,
Giving once-muffled noise
A loud, clear voice.

The once-hypnotic chuck-chucking
of petty disappointments
Now sounds like a swarm of cicadas
defoliating the local park.

Those unspoken guilts which were
silent as an empty mirror,
Now mimic a herd of bleating sheep,
persisting unquestioningly.

And then long-stifled cries
of embarrassments, both major and minor,
Join in like the neighborhood dogs howling
at sirens as they blare past.

Would someone mind
Turning on the radio,
Please?

Considering the Fruitcake

Discussing fruitcake is my first foray into a super-controversial blog topic. I am proudly pro-fruitcake, and our Christmas is not complete without it. It started with my Granny, my mother’s mother, a proud Kentuckian who started making her fruitcakes in mid-November, loading them with bourbon, and “watering” them with Kosher wine until Christmas. This became more problematic once she had difficulty driving out of her dry county to get the booze, so my normally law-abiding family committed all sorts of interstate liquor transport offenses by shipping her the stuff on a Trailways bus. Later on, I would sneak the bourbon for the cake into the very temperate Church of Christ retirement home where she eventually moved. None of us has ever been able to match her cakes in taste or texture, but we keep trying. For another very moving defense of fruitcake, check out this jewel by Tania Runyan In Defense of Fruitcake .

Considering the Fruitcake
by Julie Sumner

Fruitcake is not for the simple-minded
or the teetotalers or the faint of heart.
This leviathan of a cake makes demands.

Baker–beware should you attempt this art,
merely purchasing candied green cherries
results in scorn and derision from friends.

And Eater–enjoy–yet be on alert,
the well-heeled masses will disdain your choice
of this boozy, floozy brick of dessert.

But as dessert diminishes to crumbs,
the tastes of allspice, bourbon, and pecans
linger
in rich communion
on your tongue.

Lessons from Trees

Lessons from Trees
by Julie Sumner

Even in winter, your last deadened leaves
still testify to the wind’s great presence.

Though you are sawed into a pile to burn,
the forest’s fragrance still abides in you.

When you are discarded by the roadside,
your trunk’s storied rings tell of floods and light.

When Spring emerges, like it always does,
seeds you dropped crack the dirt: sunbound green leaves.

Blooming in Winter

Blooming in Winter
by Julie Sumner

A garden in December
Is a study in sobriety:
Coneflowers are left for dead,
Bachelor buttons have fallen prostrate,
And bleeding hearts crumble–
beige and papery
Under the weight
Of iron cold.

Indoors, life manages
Despite the leanness of light:
The African violet’s velvet
Leaves glitter as its
Guileless five-petaled bloom
Gazes on the bashful Advent sun.

Advent Prayer

Gracious Father,
Help us to remember
That you sent your star-bound messengers
to common shepherds working the night shift–
to those men who were doing the very menial job of watching over sheep–
To these you sent the news:
Peace on earth,
Goodwill to all.
Help us to hear your good news
In the midst of our distracted days,
When we are simply doing our jobs,
Would your voice of love glitter again
In the night of our hearts?
Amen

December

More than any other month, December seems to come with a lot of excess baggage.

December
by Julie Sumner

December stumbles through the wind-blown door,
Tripping over the dog and scattering
Expectations like glittering marbles
Across your freshly swept pine floor.

Gray woods outside keep the honest rhythm:
The white gossamer of low-hanging clouds
Tangles in the red oak’s naked branches,
Blind to sunlight’s gathering momentum.