John W. Steele
I am a semi-retired psychologist, yoga teacher and late blooming poet who loves hiking in the mountains near my home in Boulder, Colorado. I graduated this summer with an MFA in Creative Writing / Poetry from Western Colorado University where I studied with Julie Kane, Ernie Hilbert, and David Rothman. My poems have appeared in The Lyric, Blue Unicorn and Amethyst Review.
Fiancée’s Facebook Post
In Memory of Christopher David Steele April 9, 1985 - March 16, 2017
He didn’t wear his flotation suit.
Didn’t think he needed it.
Didn’t wrap the ice-picks round his neck.
I didn’t want to nag him.
“Perfect day,” he said,
“to sled across to Round Island
and fell those trees. I’ll be back for dinner.”
Have a good one. Love ya.”
The search team found a gash of open water.
Three weeks passed.
His thirty-second birthday, friends
and I set off fireworks by the lake.
Thin scabs of ice remain.
As if to numb the pain.
The Old Barometer
Encased in oak and brass, you point to change,
the smudges on your glass, our family DNA,
the barometric pressure rendered on your face,
rising and falling hour by hour, winter through fall;
a tap of a finger unveils the coming day.
Impermanence is fact, a fact that's here to stay.
It's all we know, and everything we know will change.
We knew you’d always be there, right beside the door,
relied on you to warn us of the coming storm;
we knew that it was coming: old age, sickness, death.
Some say death is nothing but a worn out parcel
delivered to another world through a tunnel of light.
Dad’s parcel came due on the autumn equinox
in the darkest pitch of night. A few days later
Mom choked on her saliva as the sun turned white.
I took you from the wall before the house was sold.
Your outline lingered there, a silhouette reminding
me of Dad. Unpacking you at home that night,
your face was cold, your hand unmoving, still
pointing to change, but broken. Obsolete, they said,
Don’t know who could fix it. Try an antique dealer.
Bodhi’s Last Days
He started fading on the darkest day.
His heart had grown too big to fit inside
his pericardium. The doctors didn't
know why. Does anyone ever know why?
Why was he gaining weight? Why was he drowning
in abdominal fluid? He never asked,
he only moaned. Some days he refused food
and went outside to lie down in the snow.
I would have let him stay, but she said no.
How do you ask a dog? How do you know
it’s time for him to go? Where on earth
to scatter his ashes? And so there they sit,
under his picture, waiting, gathering dust,
with his water bowl, collar, and bone.
© 2019 John W. Steele
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