Saturday, August 12, 2017

Carrying the Torch













We are the tired, the poor
at one time elevated
now we’re denigrated;
we watch the “disillusionist”
slam our front door.
Where are the promises
that called to our elders
who risked life and limb
to come to this shore?
Who raised up their families
despite any hardship,
now find they are ‘pink-slipped’
and welcome no more.

We need to get back to the basics once promised
we need to return to the truth at our core
where hard work’s rewarded
where cheating is thwarted
where bullshit and liars are shunned and ignored

She stands in the harbor, where some call her ‘Lady’
yet others are known to have called her a “whore”
this symbol of “Liberty“ who welcomes the masses,
this emblem of all who have come here before.
Hold high your lamp, oh, Symbol of Freedom!
Call out the losers, and those who’d abhor…
Remind them our strength is not just in numbers
but in our allegiance for all we stand for!
Remind us stand tall, and help the afflicted
ravaged by hunger, by thirst, or by war.
Help us remember that we are their beacons;
and that trust only comes when you build a rapport.
Just like all families, sometimes we bicker,
yet when push comes to shove we are hard to ignore;
for we’re so much better when we stand together
diverse but united, our country endures.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

In the Still of the Night

Image by author: Back yard, hard edited.













Over the fence what was once a garden
ten, twelve, fifteen years ago
has rendered itself unrecognizable;
 a winding of undergrowth, an overgrown tangle
of weeds and vines, sumac and bittersweet.
The old owner of the land passed on long ago,
his tiny hoarder’s cottage left to a friend.
Uninhabited,  left as tinder to burn to the ground—
faulty wiring or arson for insurance­...we’ll never really know.
The sun has dipped now below the horizon,
dusk turns to darkness,  the former garden
takes on an other-worldly view—
shadow images of arms and hands
stretch out, reaching for the waning moon.
The soft rustle of leaves can be heard, interjected by
the crackle of a branch snapping now and again—
perhaps a skunk or some other wild denizen of the night,
but more than likely one of three feral cats whom
have adopted this yard and made it their home.
The sound of a passing shower, raindrops on tree tops
adds its whisper to the chorus
odors of wet leaves and dampened earth
come slipping through the screen.

There is a certain comfort
in the night sounds, a normalcy…
a sense of security;
counterbalancing the chaos
to erase the lunacy of the day,
I close my eyes now, and surrender
and to my dreams, now slip away.

"Goodnight room"
"Goodnight moon"

© Ginny Brannan 2017

* Quote from children's book, "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown

Judging You, Judging Me












“We all judge. that’s our hobby.
Some people do arts and crafts. We judge.”
—Stanford, Sex and the City

I heard you say you have no vices,
and see that you’ve taken to judging others
on a sliding scale of perfection;
with no one quite as perfect as you.
You know all that there is to know
on a myriad of subjects
and a multitude of points.
Alcohol, tobacco, drugs…
the bane of the 'weak-minded,'
and anyone with such affliction
should rid themselves of their addiction.
How fast you counter with your opinion,
to expose such ‘weaknesses’ to your minions.

—God forbid you ever knew the anguish of abuse
    the pain of infection that eats the bone
    the torment that rips out  the heart
    the invisible suffering that tears one apart.

I dare you to walk a mile
in the other person’s shoes—
yeah, that person whom you're sure
lit up that cigarette just to “spite” you;
the one you’ve deemed as thinking
“only of themselves”
polluting the air that’s there
for only you to breath
Perhaps they, like you, needed
a night out, a reprieve—
from the worries that they carry,
from a life you could never understand.
How hard it must be to keep up that image of the perfect man
Don’t you see that they, too,  pull their pants on one leg at a time?
In another lifetime, you also might have been judged...
but we no longer talk of lifestyle choices
in once-hushed tones and whispered voices.

So best not judge lest you be judged...

We ALL have vices, some obvious
and some so subtle that even those affected
cannot see them for what they are.
Yet, if we take a good look in the mirror
we might realize —with some measure of shame—
inside all preconceived notions lies this truth:
   we really are the same...
not one of us is perfectno matter what we claim.
So, be careful where your laurels rest
  and whom you would defame

© Ginny Brannan 2017

*TY to C.B. for the perfect quote above, which I saw and remembered on your page from such a long, long time ago.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Historically Speaking

Image: G.Brannan, Little Roundtop, Gettysburg, PA-rendered as painting
















We have history, you and I—
it goes back quite a ways, back to the days
when we were younger—so much younger
It was something even back then,
all fresh and new, pure and pristine…
with youthful exuberance we forged ahead—
where there were no roads we blazed our own,
finding strength in our common bonds,
discovering  that even in disagreement
a deeper understanding can be born.
Yeah, we made mistakes along the way…
words, like blades, cut deep and heal slow.
Scars remain, reminders that this too, will pass.
Life has brought us here,
forward is the only direction we can go—
so we build our course, layer upon layer…
there’s no bullshit, no lyin’ and no denyin’,
we are acutely aware,
that we are grounded
in this place, this space,
this history that we share.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Somewhere Between the Rapture and the Rain…















We are, each of us, scarred—
sullied and carved
by jagged remnants
of nameless afflictions.
I will never judge
your scratches and flaws,
nor diminish what you’ve borne
with platitudes and empty words.

For what one sees is minimal,
barely a mar on the surface—
like an iceberg, the trauma
we've incurred sits deeper:
invisible to the naked eye
yet felt on the days
when the sun lies veiled
and old memories rise
to fester once more...
And yet, we survive 
despite our flaws,
or maybe, because of them.

I have felt your distance
as your thoughts turned inward
before focusing once again.
There’s beauty in your nakedness
where only truth remains
no need to cover up the welts,
nor pull away in shame.
Each one of us has a past,
so who can ferry blame?

You may not think I know you well,
but I understand the pain…
no one feels the sun’s sweet warmth
unless they’ve known the rain.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Image Credit: Melanie Mercoglana Photography, Google Images

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Love Song












Hey now my darlin’, it’s time to come home
I’ve been waiting on you for a while—
our seeds are all sown
and our grandkids are grown,
it’s time that I shared your smile.

Hey now my darlin’, the voice that you hear
as you try to hold on a bit longer…
you remember it well,
by your eyes I can tell
that each day my whisper grows stronger.

Yet, dearest darlin', I’ve always been here
through the laughter, the joy, and the pain…
through sunshine and sadness,
the moments of gladness—
a part of me always remained.

Hey now my darlin', I’m waiting for you
to hold you again, to embrace;
there’ll be hugging and kissing,
and much reminiscing
as I trace the soft lines on your face.

Hey there my darlin', now just close your eyes—
tell me, whose is the face that you see?
The one who adores you,
who lived his life for you…
it’s time to come home now
          to me

© Ginny Brannan 2017


For J & J—and for all whose love endures...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Unconstrained



Ever so subtle, the banjo begins
as the beat of the bass makes its mark,
the melody's captured now by mandolin
till the strings of the fiddle embark.
Clear and concise there’s a single voice heard
then others to bridge harmony...
clapping and tapping ensues, undeterred;
and the lyrics they share— poetry.
They build to crescendo, then slow to a whisper
and hit all the notes in between…
we conjure the places the music now takes us
the land and the people they’ve seen.
Their tone and inflection belying the depth
of the pain and the hardships they’ve known—
they’ve travelled this country, the length and the breadth
now we garner their seeds as they’re sown.
For they bring an escape for a moment or two,
    the music: a balm to our soul—
in the lyrics we’re gifted; transported and lifted
left healed to this feeling of  'whole.'
And always the music that carries us back...
  a reminder of who we should be:
kinder, more mindful, without animus
  no anger or need to appease.

We entered this place to escape from the rain
and in doing so, found a release:
the melodies shared have unlocked the constraints
and leave us encompassed in peace.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

On June 6th we went to hear one of my favorite genres of music, a mix of folk/bluegrass/country, played by The Steel Wheels, a wonderful and talented group of young musicians out of Virginia. There is thought and depth in the lyrics they share, perfectly arranged and impeccably played. There is something in the sounds of a banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass. In words that speak of home and things that touch our hearts and our lives. One of their songs was inspired by a man who learned that Federal land was to be auctioned off cheaply and under the radar. He went to the auction, did not know how to keep the land in trust, to keep it pristine for his daughter and new generations to enjoy. Ended up bidding, however foolish in knowing he could never pay. He got thrown in jail, but the incident brought light to something that would have been left unknown and ignored. These are stories of  hope and of love, of country, of family, of the beauty of this land. How can one not leave feeling uplifted and inspired!!


Monday, May 22, 2017

It's All Part of the Promise...























The words fell away when we were young
they rolled off the tongue with the sweet invincibility
of youth, whose only truth was the dream of  
     “Happily ever after…”

The answers we need remain hidden and masked
in youth’s ignorance are left silent, unasked—
and when the storms come, as they always will,
when easy route stops and the path starts uphill
~ will either or both remain up for the task?
The words to "the promise” stay burning within
like a mantra, they echo again and again…
when worse comes a-calling, when poorer prevails,
when time takes our youth, and when illness assails—
we find that those smooth seas were just a illusion
for life‘s often messy and  seeks retribution.
When the unknowns give way to the hard lessons learned,
the depth of devotion will then be discerned.
So we listen as “promise” is given once more
and hope the new couple will  find what we’ve found:
that love isn’t measured in points that are scored,
nor in how hard you fall, but how well you rebound.

The road that lies waiting remains undefined
   we will never foresee all the changes in course;
 it's determined in part by a love that endures
  and confirmed in the warmth of the hand holding yours. 


© Ginny Brannan 2017

For Mike and Ashley, a gentle reminder to be kind to each other, to forgive each other, and to love each other with all that you are. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Not The Rain, But The Rainbow...

Image: J. Hesch  Used with Permission













Another rainy day dawns,
the gray clouds heavy laden on the horizon,
they blend with the mountains:
heaven and earth indistinguishable;
our spirits are weighted down
soggy as the leaves on the apple tree,
muddied as the splash-back
on the newly planted flowers.
Once, we shrugged these days off
as we waited the sun to come,
as we surely knew it would.

The darker days seem longer now,
as I scour the sky, searching for that thin spot
where the sunbeams hide,
waiting for the final break
that lifts the clouds to dissipate.
I scan the heavens for the sign—
that rainbow—the ‘promise’
that brighter days are coming,
that there will be a reprieve…
if I can just muster the patience, 
the fortitude to hang on
and, channeling the child I was so long ago,
look beyond the clouds and believe.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

In a Heartbeat...













Ba bump ba bump ba bump ba bump…
my heart races at eighty-five beats per minute;
faster as I push myself to finish what I’m doing
so I can move on to something else.
I set the bar high, my own expectations higher—
the fear of restructure, replacement remains
a ghostly shadow hiding in a corner of my mind;
for I know all too well that I am dispensable,
that it’s never about the work, but the bottom line.

I‘ve wondered, how does one pace oneself?
Is there even such a thing?
Acutely aware that at this age, this stage
life should be about slowing down,
enjoying each moment…
unsure if this is wearing me down
or keeping my mind alert; keeping me young.
I am reminded on a daily basis
of how life can change in a heartbeat;.
So, like the ‘Little Engine That Could’
  I keep chugging away while I still can

...ba bump ba bump ba bump ba bump ba bump.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Feast for the Eyes

Image: G. Brannan













A soft rain falls upon the garden
coaxing life from winter’s sleep.
The birds return, reverse migration
in their song lies winter’s pardon;
as season shares an invitation
that we, in turn, attempt to reap.

Lilac, dogwood, rhododendron—
the apple blossoms drift like snow…
they share again their ageless story,
as in succession, so they grow.
The Spring explodes in all her glory
and we embrace her bright tableaux.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Just Three Simple Words










How sweet the innocence that’s found
in children and the elderly;
the joy unbounded they exude
with love both simple and profound
that for the rest of us, eludes.

The young with their straightforwardness—
a child giggles, happily
untainted by the world beyond
with no reserve or attitude
their love shared, unabashedly
both color-blind and rainbow-hued.
In turn, receiver then responds
in kind, to share this special gift
that’s given, unsolicited;
and so we’re captured in this bond
that we embrace with gratitude.

The elderly live time reversed—
they’re locked inside their solitude
so often jaded and despondent.
Yet laughter often lifts this curse:
we watch their spark return once more
to leave us humbled and subdued.
I heard your words, my heart expands
within this bond that we have shared,
this momentary interlude
between two friends of circumstance.

Within a world of happenstance,
so often words get misconstrued
or took for granted once they’re said.
Without reward or recompense
they’re left ignored as they accrue.

And what is learned through this review?
    —We must embrace each "I love you."


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

One for the Writers











It starts with a thought, a word, an idea
scratched upon the page…
pulled from the pit, the well, the abyss, the cache
within my head—
prompted by image, an event, an emotion
from something felt or read.
Layer upon layer we build the tale
into something we can share
Then post the words, forevermore—
that all might find them there.

*********************************

Here’s to the ones who feel compelled
to express what’s in their souls;
whose compulsion borders on obsession,
whose writing makes them whole.
You compose the notes to a symphony
and we, the eager reader, hear the song.
We are swept away by your music,
and in the words find common bond.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Road Taken

Image by author.
















Sometimes we choose the road we will take,
planning our journey, mapping the route,
choosing the highways and byways
often with a specific destination in mind.
But even the best-laid plans may run amok.
Often the road diverges; we are faced with
potholes and pit falls, unplanned detours
past torn up pavement and unforeseen construction.
We still hope to arrive at our destination
yet knowing it will be much later than we had hoped.
Sometimes we are even forced
onto a whole different pathway,
and must regroup to outline
and plan a new course.
No matter…for it was never the destination
nor the route we chose at all…
Rather it is the folks that join us
for some or all of our journey;
whose pathways parallel our own—
who offer us camaraderie and friendship;
we find comfort in their companionship,
in knowing we do not face our journey alone.

…and for me, that has made all the difference.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Day 29 NaPoWriMo  (optional) prompt. Take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

If you hadn’t guessed, my word is  “road.” Apologies to Frost, my favorite poet, for plagiarizing some of his words and switching this up from “The Road Not Taken.”

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Illumination

















Curiosity, the spark that sets us apart
       on our quest for knowledge... 

Common sense is learned in degrees
starting at the knees of our elders.
In their words and stories, we learn about ourselves,
When we finally learn to read, we travel—
floating on a raft down the Mississippi;
chasing an elusive white whale on an endless sea;
joining a group of unlikely companions
on a quest for something ‘larger’ than ourselves.
The world expands, becoming greater than we ever imagined.

The more we absorb, the hungrier we become;
history teaches us, but it’s the stuff outside of the margins
        that holds the real story...
Who wrote this? What guided his thoughts as he lay
in the trenches of the French Revolution
the Civil War, World War I?

So we follow these word paths, penned from the souls
of a thousand, nay, a thousand times ten thousand.
We hold their stories and garner their memories
adhering them to our own.  We are with them
as they climb the path to Mt. Doom,
slip down the rabbit hole,
feel the pendulum brush their skin,
and click their shoes to go home again;
never wanting to leave this secret garden,
this Neverland of dreams and imagination.

Through the words we learn to sort fact from fiction,
weigh guilt from innocence, solve crimes;
discover ordinary heroes rising against extraordinary villains.
Words hold the power to change the world:
willfull ignorance and lies cannot hold up against
those who have learned to recognize truth

The early scribes and monks of old had a daunting task:
they laboured for hours on vellum pages with ink and quill,
 no computers then, nor ballpoint pen...
the process ever slow and tedious.
Is it any wonder when their pens would wander?
That even early on, if given a choice,
they would surrender to their inner voice
        setting free their imagination
to provide not just a story, but illumination.

© Ginny Brannan 2014

Illumination has several definitions, two of which pertain to this:
1) Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment
2) Painting or drawing included in a book, i.e.:medieval manuscripts

For NaPoWriMo #24: using the marginal drawings and artwork known as "illumination" as inspiration.


Yes, even humor could be found in medieval manuscripts!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Last(ing) Impressions

The last time I saw you we were just kids...
your mom was remarried; you had a new dad—
it was summer vacation and we had plans
             things to do;
I was to spend a week with you.

The radio was playing when I awoke
voices in the kitchen, clearly upset...
I heard the news come over the air:
“While visiting her grandparents
   young girl involved in accident…”
At first it didn’t register, but then I knew
  that the ‘young girl’ was you.

You were the daughter my uncle never had
your mom clearly someone that he adored;
I don’t know the reason why they split
maybe because he couldn’t commit.
...but that was for grown-ups, we were just kids.

The last time I saw you the world stood still;
how could the gods take someone so young?
A lasting impression of loss and of pain

 ...my heart still remembers you, now and again.

© Ginny Brannan 2017











Following a friend's lead: Day 23 of NaPoWriMo, writing a story or poem with the word "last" in the title. Just an excerpt from this life on the loss of a friend from my childhood— a memory from 1968,  back in the days when helmets were not required when riding a bike. We'll never know if it would've saved her, but a really good reason and argument for the safety of all. In my memory, she remains just 11 years old...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Overheard












“We’ll make America great again”
so you spoke and set the tone,
while only stirring hate again.

With every bill that you amend
we face a new unknown
to “make America great” again.

We watch you stand there quite content
to deport and rezone,
while generating hate again.

How many folks can you offend
or use as stepping stones
still chanting “we’ll be great again?”

Just what is it you intend
with these seeds you’ve sown
that promote such hate again…

Surrounded by your kith and kin
you constantly bemoan
that you'll “make America Great” again
while only stirring hate again.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Day 21 NaPoWriMo to write about something we overheard. Yeah, sorry,  a bit of a political rant, just where the words went for the prompt.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Playing for the Win

Image: Wikipedia, Snakes and Ladders

















I’ve never been good at playing games—
I can’t bluff to save my life
all that I feel is written across my face,
so cards are out.
And chess would not be my forte;
I barely have the ability to see one move ahead
much less twelve to the win.
Monopoly, like poker, and chess,
requires certain skills,
none of which I possess.
No, my life is more like Snakes and Ladders
a mix of skill and chance, good and bad
of climbing and slipping back again
How many times have I ended up where I’ve begun
—falling back to square one?
I can only hope when the game is complete
that the virtues will outweigh the sins
and I will find the salvation that awaits
those who persist.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

To learn more about this fascinating game, a pretty good reflection on life itself, check it out at Wikipedia.


Keeping the Monster at Bay

Slowly it seems inside each passing day
with barely a nod as we function and breath,
comes a new symptom that’s barely perceived
as the outer shell ages and starts to betray.

First to be noticed: the silver and gray
scattered amidst the red, brown or black;
blondes, a bit lighter, may fend this attack
yet with nary a blink, we survey.

Then subtle “crows feet,” or smile lines they say,
appear ‘round the eyes nose and mouth
and all that was once trim and perky goes south
as bowing to time, they obey.

Shortly thereafter pain starts to convey
the bones turning brittle and thin,
then brown spots appear on pale parchment skin
as the mind starts to wander and stray

Exacting his toll is this Reaper’s forte
and we are but pawns in his game
Will you slip blindly or fight to remain,
invoking your right to belay
while keeping the monster at bay.


© Ginny Brannan 2017


Monday, April 17, 2017

Optical Illusions, Dreams, and Delusions

We watch as moon ascends the eastern sky
a massive disc now peeking over fence—
an optical illusion on the rise
appearing ever larger to our eyes
than any image captured through a lens.

And what we see and what the mind imprints
border between concrete and surreal;
we tuck away to pull out and reprise,
but should we find delusion has dispensed
we search to understand what was revealed.

Same could be said for all the pain we feel,
whether caused by physical distress
or mental anguish covert and disguised—
setting off alarms and raising shields,
then leaving us despondent and depressed.

Hope rises like the moon in pale nightdress
her whisper carried soft among the stars—
and even earthen mother can surmise
that if trials and tribulations are the test;
then blessings and endowments are our prize.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

















Day 17 NaPoWriMo, to write a Nocturne, a night poem. Not the same as a Nocturna which is specific to nine lines,  a nocturne in music is a composition meant to be played at night, in poetry it seems to translate to a night poem with a soft cadence in reading. No specific length or meter.