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J. V. Adams

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Whittier, CA, US

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A Sonnet for 10:30

by

J. V. Adams

Afraid of death we bank up food and fire
To hide us from the restless, pointing hand
And crouching low we craftily conspire
To twist each knot which ties us to our land.
And yet each night we wrap our limbs up warm,
Then leaving, trip as countless times before
To death's own state where calmly we inform
The keeper that we wish to pass his door.
Admitted then, as citizens we're free
To tour the grounds, or camp, or congregate
With other souls who trust the dawn will see
Well-tattered passports honored at the gate
As in past dawns when gall supplied us breath
To hurl at mourning doves our frets of death.


For My Dad

by

J. V. Adams

It must be nearly forty years ago,
A young boy heard his dad say quietly:
"Your cousin died; you're old enough to know
About such things; dress neatly; come with me."
In all the years that followed who could say
How many times again we traveled to
Some graveyard, where we'd bow our head and pray
For loved ones, friends, and neighbors that we knew.
Then certain as the longest season ends,
There came that chill November day at last,
When once again we two familiar friends,
Went to a funeral as in the past,
But life had moved along and I would find
When it was time to leave one stayed behind.


To Arizona

by

J. V. Adams

Long years and miles away I lie awake,
When night has thrown her hush across the sky,
And sweetly does a distant music take
Me back again to precious days gone by.
I hear night winds that whispered long ago
Mix with the cries of coyotes that are gone,
While sputters from old campfires burning low,
Blend with a birdsong from a vanished dawn.
Elated now, I'm lifted over grief
To cast behind the shadow of despair,
But having learned such bouyancy is brief,
There comes again my melancholy prayer
That when the symphony shall fade away,
Its echo may survive the coming day.


Sonnet Two

by

J. V. Adams

That stuffed toy panda treasured long ago,
Outlived itself; became too limp and gray,
Then left a tearful child prepared to know
A greater grief when puppies ran away.
The laughing children scattered as they grew,
And farewell shouts broke ties we thought were fast;
Time saw us wave to more than just a few
Well-cherished dreams we'd hoped would always last.
When hunger left the starving lips that kissed,
And innocence departed in the night,
What was there in the place of all we missed
But deep conviction those once scorned were right
Who said man's life from birth until he dies
Is one long sweet sad series of goodbyes.


Rhyme Time

by

J. V. Adams

Young men who are romantic in their ways
Should know why earth's first poet took the time
To take a rather common human phrase
And twist the simple words into a rhyme.
This unversed lover led his love into
A lilac grove where hopefully he cried,
"My dear, I swear this love of mine is true,"
But all his shabby prose she brushed aside.
In frenzy then, this most determined male
Regrouped his words into a metric plea
And though we will not go into detail,
We can point out the worth of poetry,
For facts are facts and, friends, I'm telling you,
Those lilacs blushed at what she let him do.


Celebration

by

J. V. Adams

The Marigolds begin the jubilee,
Then Brittlebush appears, and Red Sand Dock,
Owl's Clover opens with the Mormon Tea,
And Poppies rise to shine at Four O'Clock.
See Scarlet Buglers and Apache Plumes,
Phaecelia, Delphiniums of blue,
And with the vivid Mariposa blooms
Are seen Mayflowers and the Lupine too.
Where Stonecrop end the Salvia begin,
And Buckwheat grows with Blue Dick at its side,
While Sand Verbena flood their space within
The sea of flowers sweeping as a tide,
Engulfing hearts and lifting them to sing,
"How good is God who made the desert spring."


Western Man

by

J. V. Adams

He tried New England's quaint and rocky shore,
Left Dixie, fled Chicago's neon glow,
Then searched the grain belt, worked the North before
He learned the West had room for him to grow.
With tools he came: a slide rule, Ph.D,
A plane, a plumb, an IBM machine,
A formula, protractor, law degree,
A Caterpillar, cash, acetylene.
And as his contribution shaped the West,
He came to know with quiet certainty,
This splendid, spacious land indeed had blessed
His life, his work, and with his family,
He now belongs to those, their searching done,
Who found their place in Arizona's sun.

Poetry Competition

Two Trains Run Through Epping

by

J. V. Adams

Two trains run through Epping,
Out North Dakota way,
And many minds have wondered,
But none for sure can say,
Just why the simple answer
To the puzzle's not been found,
Which gives the explanation
Why both trains are eastward bound.

One train comes at midnight,
The other's due at eight,
Sometimes the day train's early
But the night train's never late.

The day train rings a silver bell
As it glides into view,
Laughing children fill the windows
As they wave hello to you
And it's plain to see they're happy
In this brand new life they've found,
For they sing with cheerful voices
Even though they're eastward bound.

But the night train is a demon,
With all its shades drawn tight,
And in town the windows quiver
As it thunders through the night,
And a hundred children whimper
In their sleep to hear the sound
Of that mighty engine pounding
On the night train eastward bound.

And the question none can answer,
Though many wish they knew,
Is where those trains go when they get
To where they're going to.

But then came Albert Einstein
With the answer long deserved,
And proof beyond the slightest doubt
Both time and space are curved,
And since they have to intersect
We know the truth at last:
Our past is but our future
And our future is our past.

Two trains run through Epping,
Out North Dakota way,
Though we see and hear them daily,
What can we do or say
More than greet the day train children,
And then as time goes by,
Maybe understand the night train
Was not meant to terrify.

So then we'll have the answer,
And our searching will be done,
We've learned that there are not two trains,
There's really only one;
The day train is the night train,
We can call it faith or fate,
Sometimes it shows up early
But it never gets here late.

Lt. Col. George Custer's Pep Talk

by

J. V. Adams

Good Morning, men; please stand at ease, I have some things to say,
My name is George A. Custer, and on this summer day,
I'm here in Little Bighorn, because I have been sent
By order of Ulysses Grant, our nation's President.
Chief Crazy Horse is running wild, and raising hell they say,
So we, The Seventh Cavalry, must wipe him out today.

Chief Sitting Bull is with him, even so we'll easily win,
We'll burn his village to the ground, and see the end of him.
I want his cattle slaughtered, and let no teepee stand,
May God's wrath fall today upon, this great and sacred land.
Chief Crazy Horse would scalp me, if he could have his way,
But I'll have his eagle feather in my cap this very day!

Today's the twenty-fifth of June and, men, I swear to you,
That Crazy Horse will bite the dust, before this day is through,
He might surrender on the spot; he knows he cannot win,
Or his braves might run like rabbits, when we come charging in,
Some battles last for many weeks, and some take more than that,
But this one will be over with, in thirty minutes flat!

Shooting kids and women, is not our way God knows,
But if they should kick up a fuss . . . well, you know how it goes!
And if some pretty maiden in the camp should catch your eye,
Well, to the victor go the spoils . . . this fact we can't deny,
So in this matter I won't say, precisely what to do,
Just let your conscience be your guide, I'll leave the rest to you.

Some men might think it foolish, to celebrate so soon,
But I will have a wagon train, arriving here by noon,
I've ordered twenty kegs of rum, and forty kegs of beer,
And even as I speak these words, that train is getting near.
We'll barbecue a buffalo, the cook will do it right,
And when these Indian call it quits, it's Party Time tonight.

Take courage, men, God's on our side! We're part of history,
Let's get this skirmish over with. Mount up and FOLLOW ME!

Out On The Road

by

J. V. Adams

Out on the road in the dark of the night,
Many years back I was driving along,
At two in the morning with no one in sight,
Just me and the stars and the wind's lonely song.

How could I help but to think of days past,
Loves that had faded and dreams that were dashed,
The plans that went haywire, the hopes I'd seen die,
And I started aching as miles drifted by.

All the small towns that I passed were asleep,
And knowing my knock would open no door,
I softly and silently started to weep,
As loneliness filled me like never before.

Then in a moment I'll never forget,
I looked to my right and I've never met,
A man of such beauty with face all aglow,
Who smiled with such kindness as he said, "Hello."

I was too happy to ask or demand,
Where he had come from and if he could stay,
Just having someone to talk with was grand,
So I lit a smoke and we chatted away.

"No need to be lonesome," I now heard him say,
"Remember, I'm only a whisper away,
Whenever you need me along on the ride,
Just mention my name and I'll be at your side."

Off to the east now I saw the stars fade,
And lights flickered on as the towns came awake,
A meadowlark sang and the song that it made,
Filled me with joy as I saw the dawn break.

"Coffee time, buddy, let's park this old wreck,"
"Thank you," he said, "but I'll take a rain check!"
I guess that he saw he had lightened my load,
And knew he was needed . . . out on the road.

Now that it's time for my story to end,
I hope that all drivers will just let me say,
That all of us have the same wonderful friend,
Ready to help us along on our way.

Through the four seasons, foul weather and fair,
For millions of miles he'll always be there,
To comfort, encourage, and make things all right,
Out on the road in the dark of the night.

Bird of Wonder

by

J. V. Adams

I can still remember clearly
Though so many years have gone
Since I woke light-hearted nearly
Singing as I kissed the dawn;
Dressed so quickly, softly cried out:
"God, please help me on this day,"
Crept into my hayloft hide-out,
Dug my cage from where it lay,
Swallow cage I'd built so grimly,
Crude, yet fit to hold a bird;
How I clutched it, hearing dimly
Voices I'd so often heard:

"Son," they cautioned, scolding sweetly,
When your task is plainly through,
When your cage is fashioned neatly,
Amply sanded, painted too;
As you creep into the forest
Searching for a bird to keep,
Bear in mind," the voices chorused,
"That your boyish eye is weak.
Do not blind it while you're learning
Visions glow but soon depart;
Stalk but swallows if you're yearning
For a love to fill your heart."

I with duty pressing listened,
Neither fret nor knit my brow,
Spoke while tears of honor glistened:
"Please, I beg you, hear me now.
Well I know of what you're speaking,
Bright mirages fill the sky,
Pose and flaunt their color seeking
Men more apt to err than I,
Men to charm with trills so cheerful,
Songs that veil an empty soul;
Trust me, you need not be fearful,
One warm Swallow's but my goal.

Then I raced with joyful fleetness
Over new-plowed meadow land
To the forest's piney sweetness
With the cage clutched tight in hand.
Hid within my shirt were berries,
Freshly picked and juicy red,
Millet grains and wild chokecherries,
Bits of honey-crusted bread;
Tempting morsels gathered merely
That the hungry birds might dine.
'Thus,' I thought, 'I'll bring them near me,
Lure them to this cage of mine.'

To a mossy glen deep shaded
Where I knew the Swallows bathed,
There I paused and while I waited
Watched the sunrise as it played
With such frenzied, mad elation
Spilling paints of orange and red;
Woke the untamed congregation,
Dimmed the candles overhead.
How I trembled at the sweeping
Beauty to my chapel done,
Silent, never moving, keeping
Vigil till I saw the sun.

Then I tied a thread line quickly
To the cage's open gate,
Scattered morsels 'round it thickly,
Hid myself to watch and wait.
Soon I knew the hungry Swallows
Would arrive and fill the air;
Such excited cries would follow
When they saw the tasty fare.
One would near the cage I'd baited,
Step inside--I'd shut the door:
Then my captive, long awaited,
Would be mine forevermore.

Suddenly, without a warning,
Swallows flooded to my snare,
Peeps of gladness filled the morning
As they ate the berries there.
While I waited two birds feeding
On the choice brown bits of bread
Stepped into the cage unheeding
Danger--till I pulled the thread.
One bird, frantic from the scaring,
Shrieked with terror, wildly flapped,
Then escaped but I not caring,
Saw one Swallow still was trapped.

Shyly then I came from hiding,
From behind a mossy rock,
Scorned the jeers so harsh, deriding,
Of the angry, frightened flock,
Fell upon my knees to fasten
Tightly shut the little door,
Laughed with longing, wept with passion,
"Hear me, Swallow, I implore.
Though I've never loved, My Beauty,
I shall love and cherish you;
Feed you well as is my duty,
Pamper, bathe, and guard you too."

Then, quite puzzling, came a feeling,
Which I could not name or place,
Was it disappointment stealing
In to darken up my face?
Did I feel that I was cheated?
Can such victory cause pain?
Now the Swallow I entreated,
"Please be fretful," but in vain.
Still she feasted, grave and mirthless;
Sullen frowning creased my brow.
Was her freedom then so worthless?
Should she not be grieving now?

I then studied Swallow closely,
Brought her drabness into view,
'She is plain,' I thought morosely,
'Ragged, dusty, greedy too.'
So the door I opened widely,
And I'm certain that I heard
Dim and distant voices chide me
As I freed the captive bird.
When she'd left me--quickly, gladly,
Then I knew I could not weep;
Lying by the pool I sadly
Brooded till I fell asleep.

I know not how long my aching
Body slept in shadows cool,
I remember only waking
When I gazed into the pool.
There reflected was a vision,
One bright piece of Paradise,
Gasping, I spoke near derision,
"I am duped by dreaming eyes.
Can all beauty thus be blended
And so decorate the day?"
Then before my awe had ended
She took wing and flew away.

Thus I met the Bird of Wonder,
Thus the Swallows I forgot,
Thus I made my life's great blunder,
Wanting when I should have not.
Had I only kept the Swallow
Which I'd caught that fateful day,
All the torment that would follow
Might have never come my way.
Did my heart, afraid of grieving,
Hear a faintly warning word?
Is that why I vowed while leaving
To forget the lovely bird?

By exertion of what powers
Did I think I'd not be drawn
To that glen among the flowers
Where I waited now each dawn.
Truth demands I tell my weakness
When the bird would sing to me,
How I fainted from the sweetness
Of that pure, sweet symphony,
How I tempted her by using
Raisins by the cage's gate,
How I learned she was not losing
Freedom for this Swallow bait.

I must blush recalling fury,
I must burn with shame I fear,
To remember angered worry
When the bird would not come near.
Bird of Wonder, I'm debating,
Did I truly dream your price
Only was some anxious waiting?
Only was some sweetened rice?
Did I want you more than mildly?
Did I, cursing, show distress?
Did I threaten heaven wildly?
Truth is truth and I confess.

Time flew by and still I hurried
To that shaded glen each day,
There I watched and dreamed and worried
There I even knelt to pray.
Then one day, quite unexpected,
Came a thought not had before,
'If,' I thought, 'the bait selected
Does not tempt whom I adore,
Just what is it then that pleases?
Just what rare and precious scrap
So delights her and so teases
That she will approach the trap?'

While I dwelt on queenly dishes,
Aptly did I upward glance,
Then in answer to my wishes,
Suddenly I saw my chance.
Bird of Wonder trilled with glowing,
Dropped one crumb from branches high,
As it fell she sang not knowing
I with gratitude would cry.
When I found the crumb and numbly
Fingered what had pleased the bird,
Then I stared and marveled dumbly
At the coarse and common curd.

Thus the bird I'd watched enraptured
Told me with a gentle sign
That she never would be captured,
That she never would be mine.
Now I knew that further dreaming
Would not bring my wanted joys,
Any bait I planted, scheming,
Would be shunned with gracious poise.
Still I thanked her with some meekness,
For of all the birds on earth,
She alone with matchless sweetness
Truly taught me Swallow's worth.

Then my mellowness was rancor,
Then a livid hatred grew,
Spreading like an evil chancre,
Killing truth and reason too.
"Wicked bird," I screamed with madness,
"For this insult you shall pay,
I will stone you and with gladness
Bleed your very life away.
With your death must end your teasing,
Though your death will end my dream,
As I found your song so pleasing,
I shall glory in your scream."

Then remorse devoured my passion,
Tears flowed, prompted from above,
And I swore in humble fashion
This sweet bird I'd always love.
Then I knew though I be lonely
To the glen I'd not return,
Then I knew my cage was only
Something I must break and burn.
For if Bird of Wonder never
Could belong to only me,
Then I knew I could not ever
Love unless that love were she.

Older now but sad and weary,
Slowly did I raise my eye
To the bird still bright and cheery,
Softly did I say goodbye.
As the strength of love infused me,
Then I knew I was forbade
To proclaim that she'd abused me
When in truth she never had.
I must never be reproaching,
For she'd never sung with spite,
Though she had not chose approaching,
Neither had she mocked my plight.

Turning then, I left to wander
To some far and distant shore
Where I might more calmly ponder,
Where the bird I'd see no more.
Where I'd know if I should cherish
Precious love at any cost
Or if I indeed would perish
From the pain of love I'd lost;
Where my heart could stop its grieving
And in time if I might seem
To find comfort in believing
Bird of Wonder was a dream.