Imagine a cup
rough-hewn and awkward.
Relic of an age less patterned,
its only gilt is memory,
its glaze a half-formed hope still dripping down the years.
Take the cup
and with your hand turn ’round
the shape of circumstance.
Recall the bitter wash of tides,
the lime-laden dust.
Remark sweet days blown free of darkness,
the wheeling flight of night-watch stars —
a heavens’ course secured by gods
more ancient than desire.
When dawn breaks among the olives,
silvering their still leaves,
and returning spring lies anchored fast
between cyclamen and almond,
whether we are there
or here
mornings once called common will cry for celebration.
Tip the cup!
In time, a timeless gesture
laving away centuries of civilized madness.
Lift your face
to laughter
spilling like sea-water over our limbs;
poured like sunlight into our eyes;
and tears,
the taste of ebbing time upon our lips.
                                                                              ~ Linda Leinen


A Gift of Ordinary Time

Lilacs and Memories
days seem
 meant to pass
unnoticed,  filled
with fading ferns or
phlox, laundry blown both south
and north by swirling, lifting
winds. Tabled lilacs, fragrant, sweet,
reclaim those passing hours, renew their
 grace-filled beauty in aging, time-worn hearts.
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For more information on the Etheree, a syllabic poem that, in its basic form, contains ten lines and a total of fifty-five syllables, please click HERE.

Goldilocks Meets T.S. Eliot

Goldilocks' Three Bowls

I try to pay attention. Truly, I do. Still, I’m constantly searching for my car keys. It slips my mind that I should stop at the grocery for milk, or swing by the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. Occasionally, I neglect to feed the cat until she nudges at my foot, murmuring her complaint. Computer passwords dissolve into the ether, along with the names of former school chums, padlock combinations and the phone number of my favorite aunt. 

People who understand such things tell me this everyday-forgetting is unremarkable.  A little more age here, a few more-interesting things to ponder there, and the mind wanders off, unconcerned with milk, kitties or keys.

Over time, I’d even forgotten my promise to some blogging friends that I would tell them the story of the beginnings of The Task at Hand – specifically, how it received its title and tagline. Being a Janus-faced month, a time for pondering the past as well as looking toward the future, January seems as good a time as any to recount the story of those first, halting steps onto the path called “writing”. Continue reading

Tom Benton’s Flood

Modern explorers call it the Lewis & Clark, that long swath of concrete and steel connecting Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas.  Constructed as a two-lane toll bridge in 1907, it was jointly purchased by the two Kansas Cities in 1918, and tolls were discontinued. Expanded in 1936, it remained the only bridge open to traffic during the flood of 1951 as the West Bottoms, the Argentine and the Armourdale industrial districts – including the stockyards and rail yards – disappeared under water. Finally, in 1969, a parallel bridge was tucked in next to it and the entire span was designated the Lewis & Clark Viaduct.

Still, for many who heard stories of the original bridge, remember its expansion or experienced gratitude for its survival through decades of flooding, it’s still called by its original name, the Intercity Viaduct. In 1951, the Intercity (and perhaps the 7th Street Trafficway as well) helped our family escape from one of the greatest floods ever to roll through the Midwest. Continue reading

The Bluebird of Perception


Each of us has our favorites in life.  Unlike the casual “favorites” overflowing our browsers, personal favorites often are life-affirming and life-changing preferences embedded  into our hearts by a process as subtle as it is mysterious.  Asked to reflect on a best-loved moment or reveal which cherished bit of beauty we’ve pulled from the world’s storeroom to decorate our lives, we may pretend to ponder, to anguish just a bit, but in truth we know the answers.  We’re just trying to ignore the world’s judgement on their merits.   

Perhaps because these favorites are so personal, so idiosyncratic, we seem to find them fascinating.  Yet another version of the old “choices” game was sent to me recently, a sign of that fascination.  Designed to invite self-revelation, this one banished us to the proverbial deserted island, allowing only one book, one song, one memory and one vision to sustain us in our solitude.  Responding wasn’t hard, as two of my choices have been fixed for years.  Lawrence Durrell gets the nod for his exquisite, four-volume  Alexandria Quartet, a palimpsest of the heart.  Enya’s Orinoco Flow may be as much memory as song, but years ago its melody and rhythms carried me across the Pacific, repetitive and comforting as the sea.  Hearing it today, I feel again the rise and falling of the deck. Leaning back against the insistent pull of imaginary sails I suffer the illusion, common after long passages, of once more being underway as earth herself begins to pitch and yaw like a green and verdant vessel.    

Books and music are easy choices, but choosing one special memory is harder.  There are as many memories as moments in life, but my final choice transports me to a room on Madrid’s Plaza Major, stretching out across the rough cotton spread and listening to the curtains breathe in the late afternoon silence.  Time contracts, then expands with the rising heat, reverberating with the great bells of the city.  I peel an orange, and watch a single bee hover near its sun-warmed skin.  Blown forward in time, the curtains billow into my vision from Andrew Wyeth’s Wind from the Sea. The painting carries salt and substance as lightly as a breeze, and if the vision recalls Anne Morrow Lindberg’s Gift from the Sea, if it somehow bends the rules by giving me yet another book and many more memories than the game allows, then I have chosen well. 

Andrew Wyeth ~ Wind From the Sea

Eventually, one of these little games will stipulate an island with a broadband connection and ask for a favorite blog.  How I would choose then, I can’t say. In the midst of the verbal clutter we call the blogosphere, there are writers serving up words that drip with the intensity and flavor of sun-ripened fruit.  Some blogs breathe as softly as a faltering Spanish breeze while others, layered and impenetrable as Cavafy’s City, trace the labyrinthine longings of the human heart with passion and persistence. Continue reading