Saturday, July 16, 2016


When Air Florida Flight 90
crashed into a bridge in D.C. back in 1982,
some survivors clung to a section of the tail
while a helicopter lowered a life ring.
A Man in the Water would take it
and pass it to another.
He repeated this five times
while the cold winter water
challenged him.
When the helicopter came back for him,
he was gone.
And we were one less.
                                He was “proof (as if one needed it) that no man is ordinary.”*

In a tail section classroom
crashed with students,
he passed out life rings.
They looked like books, essays and a joke or two.
Students took them.
They read brave words on a page, wrote essays
and, with his encouragement, spoke their minds.
He roped them in with a friendly manner,
taught them,
and sent them down the hall;
they, knowing or not, swam away with a life ring.
He repeated this many times
until cancer challenged him.
Then he was gone.
And we were one less.
One less man in the water
He is “proof (as if one needed it) that no man is ordinary.”

* Time, “Man in the Water,” Roger Rosenblatt, January 25, 1982

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


                …the knight was knocked from his horse,
                as one does when in battle.
He laid on the ground
                broken and bruised,
                catching his breath.
His horse was missing.
                Defeat, although witnessed,
                 is a solitary thing.
Yet, from the village far away, a bird did chirp.
                There was a faint aroma of peonies.
                He felt the earth moving beneath him.
His horse nudged his shoulder.
                Shakily, slowly, he stood.
                And as he did, he said, “Onward.”

                …the knight tends to his horse
                as one does when noble and caring.
His own wounds are nursed by his lady.
                His children kiss his forehead
                and tell him stories.
Villagers, grateful for past deeds,
                bring by bread, wine and song.
                They jest and laugh together.
He pounds out the dent in his armor.
                Another scar it carries
                but sturdier it becomes.
On his shields it bears his emblem
                and a few letters.
                It says, “Onward.”

                …the knight, at sunrise, will rally forth
                as one does that rides with Purpose.
From his lady, he has a kiss on his lips
                And her scarf tucked away by his heart.
                In his hand he holds yellow dandelions
                from his children.
His satchel has bread, cheese, and tinder
                from the villagers,
                and a scrap of paper
                with a few words from an obscure poet.
The gate opens.
                With straight back and eyes forward,
                He rides.
                And he says, “Onward.”