Monday, December 12, 2011

Pages to Turn

In the secretary
I found an old notebook
With notes written long ago
before the children became her work.

Now the only pages of interest
are the ones with no writing.
The blank ones are for me to fill.

The pages from the past
are the ones to turn
so I can reach a place
with room for the thoughts of the day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Her morning

In the morning I leave her
eyes shut and shades still drawn
to go to another part of our house
where morning chores will not wake her
from her last hour of rest.

The children stir first
awaking with fresh questions for their father,
thoughts nurtured overnight in ceaseless imagination.

Our boy often joins his mother in his father's place
until the shades are raised
in the groggy search for clothes for the day.

What dreams come to her during the days early rays?
Secrets of her soul run deep beneath ample covers.
Reluctantly she draws back the bedding
emerging as from a cocoon
like a butterfly stretching its wings for the first time.

The waking world surrounds her.
Quizzical kids ask her their first questions of the day.
An earth unto herself begins to turn again.
Clothing comes after a while,
after breakfast and a check of the calendar.

Only slowly does she take to the awoken stage.
What beautiful bliss sleep must bring her.
She leaves behind the consolation of rest and silence
the instant she stands to greet her anxious brood.

Monday, October 3, 2011


When the tornadoes come

There is no warning

There is no remembering

Only debris to remind you of their path

Fortune favors no one

When the gyres wind up your world

And toss it to the sky

Scattering far and wide

What on earth was home and heaven

They will pass.

But will we survive?

Time will tell, and soon.

When the tornadoes come

That is all that is certain.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Return from Odyssey

Return from Odyssey

I walked again today
along a familiar way.
The sights were all the same,
only my mood has changed.

An old friend came driving by
offering me a ride.
I declined with a smile.
"I need to feel my feet" was all I said.

It is a fine thing to return to a place
that long ago was your home.
The sights are mainly the same,
but my mood has changed.

Some bushes have grown taller.
Some trees older than I have fallen.
By storm or saw, it matters not how.
It will take more time than I have for them to grow back, now.

The children that used to play
have almost all grown and gone away.
I am one of those
whose home is no longer my parent's house.

But, whenever my feelings turn foul
I tend to return to my ancient sod
to feel my feet beneath me,
and my mood never fails to change.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Black Pond

There is nothing so special
as the sound of rain
falling on a million leaves
early in the morning
early in the summer
along the shores of Black Pond.

The sound of a bull frog
carries across the pond
and returns an echo
off the far stone wall.

This is the pond I sailed
with my wonderful daughter
delighting in every step
of rigging the mast, boom and sail.

We did not have enough time that that day
to make it to the far shore.
Someday perhaps we will.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

King George, Libya and Elmwood

I took the long way around my beloved Elmwood on the way from Hartford Hospital to my mother’s house, looking to bypass the snarled rush hour traffic crawling from light to light along New Britain Avenue. Along the way, I ran into a delay from a congregation of police cars too numerous to be anything short of grave situation. The local news carried the shooting in Elmwood as its lead story.These days I often think a portion of the Irishman Yeat’s poem that reads,

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

In my mind, I always replace Kiltartan with Elmwood, and wonder what battles around the world are worth a drop of the blood of my neighbors. Canvassing the accounts of great villainy in far off Libya, the spoken words of a King whose eloquence in trying times of epic proportions was made more illustrious by a personal history of stammering applied equally then as today, and equally relevant to the siege of Misurata as to the siege of Abbotsford Avenue:

We have been forced into a conflict, for we are called, with our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world.

I care for the victims of both sieges, but Abbotsford is more familiar to me. I remember a girl in my class at Conard who was a great beauty, and she lived on one the two streets on the other side of Piper Brook still a part of West Hartford. The southeastern point of our town was the home of the lowest of incomes, but every bit as dignified as any other classmate of mine. I can remember how she stood out in my mind as the rose of Elmwood, semi-sequestered by a black ocean of asphalt in front of Caldor’s that bled into the cement banks of Piper Brook like an urban moat between me and her. One day I rode the bus with her all the way to the end of the line just to talk a while longer. The walk back to Corbin’s Corner seemed a small price for the privilege of her company. I can certainly relate to a young man driven by desire to go out of his way to seek the favor of a young woman.
So, the matter of a gang of boys, too foolish to merit a title of adulthood, and who may never grow to be true men, affects me personally. I cherish such memories of my late childhood, and the degree to which Abbotsford causes me to recall recent events in place of more pleasant times is a cause of some distress. Mindful that the current student body at my alma mater is, of course, the future fellow alumnae of a great tradition, I wish to address you all

with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself.

You see, the principle that good King George VI spoke of, out of duty to nation that defined his being, with no great affection for the task of putting one’s feelings on public display, is the same that calls me to draft this text.

Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole … Commonwealth of nations would be in danger.

But far more than this, the peoples of the world would be kept in bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of the security, of justice and liberty, among nations, would be ended.

How sad to read in wild wonder of accounts of so many held in the bondage of fear in far off lands and then know that the same is true in your own backyard. Can the count of the victims be the sole driver of whom we should rally to defend and of whom we should refrain from defending? If so, I am sure the masses of those deprived of any sense of security in the face of the onslaught of selfish brutality are greater here in our own country than the tallies of even those besieged by an entire army fighting against defenseless cities. Lucky for the Libyans, we have armed forces to counter those that seek their subjugation. We have the will and the ability to rush to their defense.

For the sake of all that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge.

But our defense of the roses of the Abbotsford Avenues of our nation face a fortune in isolation, often hidden from view, and commonly undefended in the face of violent deprivations of their safety.

It is to this high purpose that I now call my people …
I ask them to stand calm and firm and united in this time of trial.

The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, … If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God's help, we shall prevail.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ground Hogs Day in the Twentieth

Feb 2, 2011

On this Ground Hog's Day, we see a ballot in the 20th Assembly District with Allen Hoffman appearing on two lines, just as was the case when he overcame long odds to prevail as the people's choice for state representative in 1994. Back then, he was cross-endorsed by Governor Weicker's "A Connecticut Party." This time, the Republican nominee is also cross-endorsed by the Connecticut for Lieberman party. Both times, I was the one who rallied supporters to his side.

The fact that I have sided with this Republican twice, now, comes as a surprise to those who know me as a champion of many liberal causes and campaigns. My first campaign was George McGovern's bid in 1972, when I tagged along with my dad as a seven-year-old. I liked Jimmy Carter, and I still do. Gary Hart was my favorite in 1984, when I cast my first vote in a Democratic primary as a senior at Conard High. I never liked Reagan, and I campaigned for a little known governor from Arkansas in the bitter cold New Hampshire January of 1992. In January of 2008, the Obama campaign selected me to be their spokesperson at the Middletown Straw Poll. Most recently, as the CFL candidate in this district last fall, I praised the merits of the Democratic incumbent as the best man to serve the district.

David McCluskey and I agree on many things, but at this point, we are not in sync as to who will best serve as his successor. While Allen Hoffman has a record of serving in the House and bringing to bear a keen intellect and a realistic balance of compassion and fiscal responsibility, nothing has come to my attention that convinces me that Joe Verrengia's concerns extend beyond the narrow constituency of public workers bequeathed unsustainable compensations at the expense of the solvency of the state treasury.

While I have high regard for someone who serves in a profession where you regularly pull over people who may or may not be wanted felons, sometimes with a loaded weapon and with nothing to lose, but go in harm’s way, nevertheless, to defend the rest of us against such criminals, this does not exempt a candidate for elective office of the responsibility to share with voters his intentions once elected. To those of us who suspect a public employee will serve their special interest over the common good, his silence is tantamount to a confession.


John Kilian