A crack zigzags across the old sidewalk

And wrenches apart the hot concrete,
Exposing a tiny sliver of earth
That for years untold
Has known only crushing pain and darkness.

While above . . . days pass, weeks pass,
And Summer relinquishes its sovereignty to Autumn.
Leaves fall, scarlet and saffron and umber tears
Scurry and dance across the sad gray surface.
Revivified wings flap overhead, rain patters down.

A frigid gale rides in on the back of the North Wind.
Ice crystals settle in the divide, cold elbows
Pushing against the argentine walls
That are desperately struggling to hold together.
The frozen earth shivers beneath this fresh onslaught.

While above . . . days pass, weeks pass,
And Winter reluctantly surrenders its silver crown to Spring.
Lightning splits the sky, thunder rolls and rumbles.
A deluge pounds the sidewalk; a cool river races through the cleft,
Torturously prying it open to the warming world.

The raw earth nestled in the crack feels a pleasant stirring.
A tiny fledgling breaks its surface and stretches toward the sun.
Oaken soldiers flanking the sidewalk tip their glossy green heads
To watch the miracle of birth arising from the ashes of neglect.
The dandelion nods its golden head . . . free at last.

©️2023 jai

Image by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay


a child knows nothing

about the consequences

of the many roads

she will walk in life

until the end

when the last road is chosen

and for better or worse

she arrives at her destination

old, with no more roads left to walk

she then ponders

those fearlessly taken

the ones passed by, unexplored

the hurtful ones

paved with nails and glass

and she realizes that long ago

she lost her way

too late now

she knows, over and over

she picked the wrong roads

always in a hurry

she veered left on a whim

right on a wish

and only has herself to blame

for this damned dead end

©2023 jai

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

The Old Woman

the old woman rises at dawn
cooks breakfast for the old man
as she stirs the bubbling gravy
turns the sizzling bacon
her eyes stray to the open window
where the newly-plowed earth awaits

dishes stacked in the sink
she joins the old man
beneath the cerulean sky
laying out the rows
mounding the hills
dropping in the seeds

as the days grow longer and warmer
the old woman weeds and waters
tending the green growing plants
with love and care
as if they were her children
who all have grown and gone

the old woman picks the lettuce first
along with green onions
she drizzles them with bacon drippings
and while they eat in front of the TV
she and the old man
talk of long-ago gardens

a passel of barefoot kids
running up and down the rows
more hindrance than help
so sent off to play
while the young old woman and the young old man
do the work

in the height of summer
the old woman picks juicy tomatoes
and the last of the cucumbers
she and the old man
eat them with a little salt
while watching Wheel of Fortune

the old woman rises at dawn
cooks breakfast for the old man
as she stirs the plopping oatmeal
butters the toast
her eyes stray to the frosty glass
at the barren, snow-covered garden

arthritis torments the old woman’s joints
her heart flutters in an unsteady rhythm
keeping time with a lonely mind
that is muddled with yesterdays
she wonders if she will see another spring
or if she even wants to

©2023 jai

Image via Shutterstock