Sunday, November 30, 2014

Snow Angel Suite (for Paula Dawn)


Snow Angel Suite (for Paula Dawn)

I. Snow Angel (Prologue)

Up well before dawn, that light at break of day;
Snow ceased in the night, another round on the way;
Batteries fully charged, loaded; clean the lense,

Glance out window, too fogged to see the night sky;
Last night's apple crotata and coffee, on the fly;
Out she goes, her intent to shoot some old friends.

Making her way to the gate, gauging snow, ankle deep;
Scan shadows from front porch light, thorough sweep;
One deep breath for good measure, a dizzying effect.

Making a mental note, let that serve as a wake up call.
Pulling up her scarf, disguise serves to hide a scowl;
In untypical fashion, she's knowing not what to expect.

II. Snow Blind

Three hills and three valleys successfully trekked;
View crest of a pine ridge, sun rises at it own pace,
An old familiar place, but she's never felt so alone.
An arcade of animals is what she has come to expect;
Hillside barren, yields nary a track in snow to chase.
Where are her animals, she asks. Where have they gone?

She muses to herself, "Maybe I have gone snow blind?"
Resigning herself to make it up that hill, to the top;
If she spots no willing participants, she will recede.
Setting forth on a clear path, all the angles aligned;
In motion, all is symmetrical, toward a place to stop;
Hope is in sight, allowances vanish, that she concede.

III. Summit on the Ridge (Part One)

Black Bear, basking in the shadows, flat of his back,
Groundhog twitching, muttering to no one in particular;
Cougar says, "You cannot assume credit or take blame."
Marmot says, "He's not listening. He enjoys the flack."
Gray Fox concludes, "For all his predictions, I am sure
he is sincere, and not just about seeking the acclaim."

Squirrel and Chipmunk shadow boxing, to Stoat's delight;
Porcupine plays, off to the side. None will get near.
Gray Wolf circles, alone in near distance, by choice;
Rabbit runs about, proclaims "She's coming into sight."
Stoat flashes warning, "Be quiet, lest she might hear."
Within moments, she's close enough, they hear her voice.

IV. Snow Angel

Arctic winds appear, in a flash, swirling, as if on cue,
She resigns, she could leave empty handed. That won't do.
She feigns indifference and spins, falling on her back.
She will create an image in the snow, since others lack.

As the girl shimmies and twists and windmills all about,
The animals in hiding, curious, can not figure this out.
Once her perpetual motions subside, she's come to rest,
Knowing full well, her snow angel will be her very best.

Hearing a cracking sound, she looks to see a projectile;
A tree top gives up the ghost, descending like a missile!
Reflexes take charge, she rolls away from impending harm,
Ever thankful to her mother earth for sounding that alarm.

A treetop falls in the forest. Only she can hear the sound.
She takes her cue as time to be on her way, homeward bound.
Glancing down at her camera, she got nothing on this trip.
She pirouettes, takes single shot, no focus, from the hip.

As the blizzard intensifies, she searches for a landmark.
Any will do, but here at midmorning, it feels like dark.
She found a barbed fence, or it found her. Call it fate.
She was in too big a hurry to guess which way to the gate.

She grasped the strand, sliding down, cutting her arm.
Sliding under, tore her pants, certain cause for alarm.
To avoid sliding into the pond, last obstacle to defeat,
Which she did; Smelling wood smoke, her journey complete.

V. Sermon from The Mount

One by one, each animal emerged from its hiding station.
As the girl was making her way down the frozen grade,
Lynx proclaimed, "We were wrong." Do not create rumor,
when face to face; go that route with an apparition,
down a road, where truth and innuendo merge and fade.
"It was she who taught you to have a sense of humor."

One by one, each animal froze, looking at each other.
The voice that spoke, not one of their own, that tone
came from one that bore feather, one who looked down.
"She led you to a place you can't go back, don't bother
with the how and why, or dwell on a time that is gone,
when you cast glance of aspersion, in fear or frown."

A the voiced boomed, each looked up toward the skies
to see a Great Gray Owl secured, regnant, in a birch.
"Witnessing your transformation, you never noticed me;
She speaks, you gather her message and all it implies."
They all nod in approval, at the sermon from the perch.
His departing last words, "Sorry I broke your tree."

VI. Summit on the Ridge (Part Two)

Fox said, "Owl made some good points. She is sly as I,
and I am sure I can speak for us all, a collective,
we all owe her a debt of gratitude, we can't repay."
Rabbit said, "Sure, but that is no reason to not try.
What I learned from her, not to take more than I give."
He wished she was still here, and had not gone away.

Bear said it was best if he followed, to make sure
She was safe. "When she left, she seemed... shaken.
While I am gone, you all be on your best behavior."
Bear took notice of Wolf, eyeballing the mule deer.
"Harm that deer, Sir, it'll be your last step taken.
I will feed you to the fishes, to even that score."

VII. Hearth and Manor

Later, that very same evening, a chapter comes to close.
Sitting alone in the manor, a time to reflect, suppose;
One who many would proclaim to have been annointed,
Is dealing with a bout of melancholy, disappointed,
At the puzzling events of the day; only Heaven knows.

She walks about the room, gazing at paintings on display.
Stirring the blaze in the fireplace, poker keeping at bay,
Hand on a hearth that has stood one hundred years,
Resolve engaging, as her mind is shifting gears,
Recalling a potential visual clue, hidden in her cache.

She sits on the sofa, with a needle and thread, to sew
her demin disaster of the day, torn pants in the snow.
Her arm is a little tender, from a barbed wire scrape,
No major call to alarm, but it does impede her grip.
Turning them inside out, a good ruching, it won't show.

VIII. Shadows Blend

All of her chores of the day are done,
her focus now devoted to just one end.
Unsheathing the camera to look for one
image of the day, where shadows blend.

She peruses the picture taken in haste;
stroke of luck, not grainy or blurred.
Over shot her errant angel, a wasted
click; no disaster, and nothing furred.

She plays with the image, resolution,
snow and trees, ridge line inclined.
Still life bearing witness, confusion;
one last glance. What does she find?

A single set of eyes, the gaze intent.
Magnifying glass removed from drawer,
Maybe this wasted day, time well spent,
She confirms another set, then one more.

Why would they see her, choose to hide?
Thought of prank never crossed her mind;
For sure, each set of eyes was open wide.
She over zoomed the image, only to find,

The eyes melded with snowflakes, in pairs,
Wild ravages of winter mix, animals tame,
Whirling and tumbling ice, frozen stares,
Dispelling myth of no two flakes the same.

Too late to consort with brush and canvas,
she knows to not commence, fighting sleep;
hating to put it down, knowing she must;
Clenching her fist; hold images, to keep.

Calls it a night, laying head on a pillow,
Reasoning, not all she saw, is as it seems.
Likening to classic design, blue on willow,
she sees her painting, complete, in dreams.

IX. Portrait

Pairs of snow flakes in perfect unison,
all laid out on display, for us to see;
under auspice of science, art; as one.
Look at how they float, defying decree.

Are there skeptics? None are stating their case;
doubters among throng, concede, it is true;
absolute, symmetrical, points in place,
with nary a blemish in sight to view.

Never before witnessed by eyes of man,
leaving nothing to confound or dispute;
in plain sight here, no way to spin this plan;
each detail of tandems, found resolute.

Two snowflakes just alike, no room for doubt;
zeal yields for those who can't figure this out.

X. Snow Angel (Reprise)

First day of April, she steps out, no thought of risk.
Unseasonably cool this year, winds are up and brisk.
She sets out, in the direction she found a ploughshare,
in search of a new image capture, not a worry or care.

Turned around, (to look at the sun would be cheating),
taking advantage of opportunity, as these become fleeting.
It may take a little longer to get back, to traverse,
but you will always find her trusting in her universe.

She happens on a storm cellar, all that's left of a domain.
Stepping down, inside, curious as to what might remain.
Shining a light, seeing all four walls, forlorn and bare;
from where she is sits, see could see all of nothing there.

An epiphany falls, as epiphanies tend to do, if we wait.
She realizes she is sitting squarely atop a wooden crate.
Prying it open, she finds, in mint condition, dinner ware,
a full set of weeping willow dishes, packed with loving care.

She recalled her dream, on the evening she caught a vision,
when painting the snowflake eyes became her life's mission.
Mon espoir est la vôtre à part. Je vous attends pour commencer,
on a note that fell from between plates. When did this occur?

Translation, "Love is in the air. I feel it in my heart."
She concluded, "Seems someone was off to a pretty good start."
Packing the dishes, with care, she pressed the lid secure.
Climbing from the cellar, she mused, "This concludes the tour."

Making a bee line for her house (she was never really lost),
"Some discoveries are just not for sharing. Consider the cost."
For all the words and works of art she chose to put on display,
Countless more, only seen by her... She's just made that way.

Michael Todd  (2014)

Written for Paula Dawn Lietz. Her Website is...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Stolen (Sonnet for Lainey)



Stolen artifact, favored possession,
A pilfering of trinket and heirloom,
Would surely fail in feint comparison,
Precise moment you walk into the room.

Who grants the right for you to look that way?
I'm weak in the knees; you've said not a word.
My wherewithal falls, into disarray,
Composure cannot be manufactured.

There is no synonym for the word, "Love."
Caught up here in the subtle web you weave,
You are all I hope and dream, in and of;
There is but one way I can see you leave;

Granted, a far reach, my expectancy ~
Grasp firm my hand, and steal away with me.

Michael Todd  (2014)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Russian Doll (for Christine Gabriel)


Russian Doll

She answered an ad, one calling for a mail order bride.
The trades, in the sixties, replied by postal mail sent.
He strolls onto the set as both of their arrivals coincide.
She was to be a Russian counterpart to this Italian gent.

She'd plied her trade, for grade, at Oberlin, in Norwalk,
That liberal arts college in Ohio, on the honor system;
A bilingual brunette, who could walk the walk, talk the talk;
Ideal counterpart for this "next Valentino," an unknown gem.

Their play opened in Duluth, Minnesota, ran for but a day.
The troupe packed and was bused to the next scheduled venue.
This afforded the actors time to practice lines along the way.
They left town so fast, no one had a chance to read a review.

The plot, one of intrigue, taking place during the cold war,
A time of uncertainty across political and social terrain;
The leading man recited his line, "My name is Rappaport."
Zarya presented her credentials to be his new ball and chain.

Plot called for him to be wed, in order to receive inheritance;
This was all for show, to collect, just an elaborate ruse.
The mail order scheme was a risk, but well worth the chance;
A desperate girl might respond, one having little to lose.

Those in the know, kept to themselves, Rappaport's secret.
Zarya, made head of household, played and dressed the part.
So happy to escape Federation, she'd be forever in his debt,
He envisioned a time they might explore matters of the heart.

By the time the curtain closed, after the second act of three,
The audience was made aware, Zarya came on wings of portent.
Who knew that espionage was her intent, not a desire to flee?
Crowd squirming, confirmed, never trust one with that accent.

Patrons witnessed, as his secrets became Zarya's to reveal.
Rappaport was oblivious to her scheming ways and her intent.
As the final act closed, Rappaport's impending demise was real,
Proof positive, theater goers' time and money was well spent.

As was custom, actors lined the lobby to meet each patron.
Rappaport was deluged with "well done" and even "great show."
Zarya received minimal accolades, as she was revered by none.
Eventually, when time for pass and review, she would not go.

The play, from every angle, in the Northeast, was a success.
Plans were made to take it south of the Mason Dixon Line.
Why they chose such an ambitious move was anyone's guess,
Their current tour, making bank, showed no signs of decline.

After a two weeks hiatus, a vacation well earned and overdo,
The troupe found themselves on stage, in action, in Tennessee,
Two weeks booked, nights and matinees; after that, who knew?
They took Music City by storm, their names blazoned Marquee.

No one in the cast saw it coming, when word came down to all,
The performance about to commence, would be the final fling.
As to why the production was short on funds, was anyone's call.
That everyone would be paid in full, helped to ease the sting.

Emotions in the lobby, running high, after final curtain call.
A man petitioned Rappaport, asking if he would discuss a deal.
They would talk later, if Rappaport could bring the Russian Doll.
That is what the man called her. To him, Zarya was all too real.

The following day, Christine and Rodney signed up for service;
No reason to delay, so for them it was sooner rather than later.
From all indications, the acting business here was hit or miss.
The man with a plan, touted, "Both of you were born to cater."

To appear in stage character, was stipulated in their deal,
He would keep his Rappaport regal air and Zarya, her accent;
With the money promised, neither felt put out, to make it real.
Their employer sold it well, that every night would be an event.

Nashville is chock full of singers and writers who entertain.
For our party host and hostess, the success door opened wide.
Rodney's unscripted performances came off lethargic and plain;
While Christine's stock was rising, his was in steep decline.

Rodney was called into the office, offered a chance to redeem;
He and the girl would make a killing, just for one petty theft.
An audio tape was the object of desire; the want of that stream
was essential to a future success. Rodney took the bait and left.

It seems, a Nashville tradition, is to try for an answer song.
Ever since Kitty followed Hank as a honky tonk angel with heart,
First one gets if right, the other caught up, seemingly wrong.
A successful answer song can be a career milestone, or a start.

Rodney pitched the idea to Christine. "We are better than this,"
Was her stern reply. "Just this one time, Baby, I'm on my way,"
was Rodney's response. Their decision, ultimately, was his.
She said, "Just this once, I'm done, and you're on your way."

The event, a major record release party, held the next night;
Christine's task, to sneak into the mansion's basement studio,
Procure a demo tape with new album songs, and exit stage right,
Before the artist got wise. Spying the drawer, wouldn't you know,

A stiff wind blew through an open window, then a power surge
Brought the lights down. She found herself alone in the dark.
She froze in silence, sure she heard breathing. On the verge
Of panic, Christine's inherent fear, that she was now the mark.

One door opens, as another drawer is closed, heard in stereo,
Christine was busted. Gazing around the room, following a beam,
A man holding a flashlight said, "Where did your partner go?"
She wanted to ask the same, but instead, just listened to him.

He locked the door, just as the lights came back on, to view
his intruder, telling her these walls were lined to hold sound.
Looking about, she saw walls lined with gold records, strewn
next to awards and decrees, documenting success he had found.

What, or who possessed her next, an unanswerable question,
As she went into character, that of Zarya, the Russian Doll.
She spoke with her accent, as the the country legend quizzed on,
As to who sent her, though he knew the answer. He knew all.

"I got a tip. He talks too much when drinking. I understand
why he bears me ill will. Simple truth is, he has that right.
Years ago, I stole an answer song from him, just as we planned.
My accomplice, believe it or not, was his wife, on that night."

"She is gone now. For what it's worth, I want my conscious clear.
My solution to remedy this transgression is to give you the tape.
No strings attached, you just act like you stole. It is here."
She read the label, took it in hand, and made her mock escape.

Christine had no way of knowing, the man had already switched,
so the tape she held would be of no use, when she passed it on.
The singer had no way to know, his perfect plan was bewitched.
The sounds had already been swapped, by another, who was gone.

Her employer and his staff of writers worked through the night.
By noon the next day, the lyrics to a dozen songs were complete.
Chistine told him she could sing; turns out, the girl was right.
She had them all recorded in record time, which was quite a feat.

By the next day, radio stations were spinning the advance track.
This single would take the industry by storm, revive a career.
Before it could make top ten, an answer song played back to back;
Juke boxes and disc jockeys featured both, the rest of the year.

The height of a career is to play the awards show, on the screen.
Television cameras fucused on the legend, sitting on his stool,
While beside him, stood the next big thing, future country queen,
Following his act to a standing ovation. She took him to school.

The following week, a small group of fans rolled up in a tour bus.
The Legend's home was the second stop, according to the guide.
Tourists come, to see the stars, who live better than than us.
Studio door was ajar, inviting curious onlookers to step inside.

They found him in there, sitting at his desk, stone cold still.
An empty bottle of tequila, cap off; seems the worm had turned.
An enthusiastic camera bug snapped a shot, as they often will.
Guide said, "No more pictures! That one will have to be burned."

The Nashville police were called, in event there was foul play.
Coroner closed his eyes, said it appeared his heart played out.
The man with the camera, slipped out, making a clean get away,
Thinking about a week's worth of pictures, they'd take, no doubt.

Call for a shroud misconstrued; florist showed up with a bouquet.
When the news came across the radio, his street filled, a parade
of thrill seekers and sentimental sorts, who always make their way
to toss accolades toward a perfect stranger; a simple charade.

His funeral, celebrity laden, for the former star, casket closed;
A  who's who list of stars attended, those who wrangled a pass.
It was a one sided mix of spotlight hounds and friends supposed.
"Amazing Grace" sung, as sunlight streamed through stained glass.

It might come as a surprise, but he had real friends left behind.
Several gathered for a remembrance affair, over on Music Row.
After a night of drinking, conscious clearing, only to find,
one burning question. What of the girl, and where did she go?

The girl in question, Christine, was now touring the midwest,
in a renovated Eagle bus, provided by an exec from her label.
Fleeing the confines of music city struggles, she thought it best
to take her road show north; no desire to be part of their stable.

She played state fairs and rodeos, always ending a tour in Ohio.
Christine and the Russian Dolls, two back up singers for stage.
"Russian Doll" on the inlays of her guitar, so all would know;
Christine, though forgotten in Nashville, was a heartland rage.

She and her bass player found themselves romantically inclined,
Up to and including real love, the lasting kind, not about lust.
At first break from the road, each signed a marriage license.
They stepped away from touring, seeing need for time to adjust.

With a baby on the way, Christine thought it best to retire.
As to where they would live, her choice, where to settle down.
Only one clear choice, she enthusiastically voiced her desire,
and with decision made, she was heading back to Norwalk Town.

This Saturday past, Christine was digging through artifacts;
A local charity had come calling, for an auction impending.
She discovered a box, filled with fan letters, loose stacks.
In the mix, mail unopened, a six cent stamp paid for sending.

She opened and read a personal message for her, in deep detail,
where this guy had taken a picture, then decided to conceal,
but a still voice came to him in the night, telling him to mail
the image to her, which he did, decades earlier, to reveal...

A picture of the country singer, sitting silent graveyard dead,
and just behind him, a familiar girl, striking yet subtle figure.
Christine recalled a picture on the wall, when her employer said
the image was of his former wife. This was her, she was sure.

Christine never knew of the double tape switch, so irony eludes.
She went through life thinking the iconic figure played fair.
Having no question at hand, resolve is a ghost. That concludes
this chapter in the life of the answer girl. We'll leave it there.

Michael Todd  (2014)

Note: Many thanks to Christine Gabriel for her inspiration. Christine is a writer, currently in the process of writing "The Crimson Chronicles Series." The first book in the series has been released... Please visit Christine at her website...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Quiet Time


Quiet Time

When I was a youngster, I was at a friend's house, on a Saturday afternoon. We had just watched the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, and were left with not much else on the tube except for a Shirley Temple movie or snow skiers tumbling down a hillside.

I spied an old picture book on the coffee table, and asked my friend if I could look at it. She said I could, but there was not much to see in it. It belonged to her grandmother, who was living with the family now that her husband had passed away. The grandmother still owned her house in East Tennessee, so most of her belongings were there, but the picture book was among the possessions she brought to Memphis.

Most of the pictures were of her children and grand children. Only a dozen or so photos of she and her husband were to be seen. As I was looking through those a second time, after we had gone through the entire album, I remarked to my friend, that it was a shame the couple never went anywhere, as all the images were obviously from around their home.

Can you imagine my surprise, when a voice from behind me said, that was not the case at all? Neither my friend or I had heard her come into the room. We had no idea she was looking over our shoulder. I apologized for my remark. She said that was not needed. Then she sat between, cradled the picture album and told us some stories.

Quiet Time

Perhaps you can tell, he was camera shy;    
He said "I would only do this for you,"    
Never stood still, rather wiggly and spry;
I remain challenged to explain just why.  
This is his best, in my humble review."

Taken on the night he chose to propose,
I can still see him there, on bended knee.
Dressed to impress in his finest of clothes.
How he stirred up nerve, only heaven knows;
Dreamed of the day he'd ask to marry me.

Life was quite hard in that small rural town.
See his heart's passion, plowed deep through that field;
A living carved out through green shares in brown
Sporting a Stetson, but held like a crown.
Unable to keep his love there concealed.

Here he is dressed for a game of baseball.
Traveling teams, came for barnstorming fun.
Cleats ripped his leg, an unfortunate fall;
Poured Coke over it, no fussing, that's all,
True healing magic, he hits a home run!

We're all smiles here at the sweet county fair.
My prize peaches turned blue-ribbon that day.
Look close, you can see me clutching a bear.
For years, we left it in sight without care
Our children welcomed to find it to play.

Bless his heart, he was born with two left-feet.
Here we are at a Saturday square-dance.
Refusing to give up and take a seat.
Got a mail-order lesson, set complete,
To learn how to Charleston, study his stance.

Here were are on our ride to meeting day.
Never missed a Sunday, not a time late;
I'd visit after, his patience at play.
Notice that porch swing, we'd sit there all day;
Each afternoon, like a wondrous new date.

You do not see, but he was in this scene.
He's the one doing the picture taking.
His hand was steady, his eyes were quite keen;
Said it was like viewing life on a screen;
Knowing well the memories he was making.

We never thought about leaving our home.
We had it all, never feeling alone,
Even when our kids went out on their own.
Neither felt burdened by an urge to roam.
I never knew quiet, 'til he was gone.

She closed the book, then set it on the stand;
Rose to her feet, giving a solemn stare.
There is not a place, I now understand,  
Where they had not spent time, just as they planned,
Except that one place.... He was waiting there.

Michael Todd (2014)

Disclaimer: I wrote the draft for this, back in the Spring, as a poem to give to Lainey. She likes Robert Frost. I was trying to write with a rhyme scheme that was similar to a Frost piece. I have seen Lainey do those, in a challenge, and she owns them.... When I realized, I was so far off the mark, rather than shelve the poem, I sent it to Lainey, asking if she would help me with it. What you see here is the finished product she provided. Seriously, I probably averaged a major mistake per stanza... So, unlike that Frost poem, where he came to a fork in the road, and chose one over the other... in my case here, I chose to turn around and go back, to get my bearings, which in this case, was going back to Lainey, in order to get it right. Hey, if she could teach me how to write a sonnet (she did), surely, in time she can get me to where I can do one of these all by myself. But, in the event I cannot, if is always good to know she is there for me.

September 10 is Lainey's Birthday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Free Wally Peppers


Free Wally Peppers

Sitting in a sports bar with fellow weekend warriors,
from a long time ago, reliving past glories and such;
Anniversary of winning the industrial softball wars,
We hoisted the trophy with the ball, each cut a stitch;

Closing with a toast, a somber moment to mar the event,
By this time, our terrific ten had been reduced to nine.
For all it is worth, for us, this night is time well spent,
A weeknight on a work week, designated driver duty was mine.

As we stood to depart, bestowing a series of long goodbyes,
A young girl approached, handing out coupons to all the team.
With a passing glance, I saw no weekend specials on the flyers,
I suppose, on the surface, not everything is all it seems.

"Free Wally Peppers" was displayed in bold type at the header.
Intent of the document was to invite, or should I say compel?
All the others took a pass. I took an interest in the matter,
Telling the girl I'd be there; she, nodding in her approval.

On the date assigned, as scheduled, I made a token appearance.
My curiosity matched theirs toward me, new kid on the block.
Seems the court system had failed, requiring their interference,
Over an unfortunate situation involving a corpse and a glock.

You would have thought these folks were out to free a royal,
Whose stated objective was to free country, flag and crown.
Enthusiasm was high, delusion running rampant, one and all;
When anyone tried to make eye contact, I just looked down.

When the meeting closed, I left with the girl, who I came for.
Feeling like the fox in the hen house, an unlikely plot twist;
We found ourselves in each other's company at a late night diner.
She asked if I wanted to know more about him. I said, "I insist."

She gave me an overview of a guy in the wrong place, wrong time,
High on drugs, slipped by a stranger, a victim of circumstance.
An accidental shooting occurred, in the act of a petty crime;
Had he known the gun was loaded, he'd never have taken the chance.

The more I heard, the more I had to cringe, as she made mention
As to my feelings on the matter, but I had no response to give.
When she told me the guy was up for parole for what he'd done,
I just nodded, wondering why I was there, questioning my motive.

We ended up at her place that night, not a word of him spoken;
Driving home that night, I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.
As we became an item, my apprehensions faded of a trust broken;
When you fall for a certain someone, who thinks things through?

Months later, all was roses and red wine; a chance worth taking
Had blossomed into the best romance I ever could ever hope for.
She dropped a bomb on me; a welcome home party was in the making;
Due to prison over crowding, her boy about to walk out the door.

I spent the next several days looking for reasons to leave her.
She was so happy with the impending release, she did not notice.
I bit the bullet, went to the gathering, then I saw him enter.
I can't put into words what I felt as he hugged our accomplice.

She backed away, proudly turned, so that she could introduce me;
To say he and I shared a moment, would be a major understatement.
I bet I was the last person in this world he expected to see.
The best day of his life was not turning out to be this event.

When she went to mingle in the mixer, I thought he'd duck and run,
But he surprised me, standing his ground, looking me in the eye.
"I spent the first year living in fear of you, second to none,
Something happened to turn my life around. I can't explain why."

"From that day on, I've just given thanks that chamber was empty,
And your life was spared. I know you hate me now, but I do not.
I still live with seeing your face, never a day it leaves me.
I know you've never forgiven me, rightfully, nor have you forgot."

After hearing him out, I said not a word, excused myself and left,
Thinking on that night after the game, when we stopped for a six,
My team mate, work partner, who died that night in a failed theft
At the hand of the man I had just seen for the first time since.

Wally Pepper's first shot found flesh, in a moment of surprise,
When we walked in on a convenience store robbery, our bad luck;
Second pull on the trigger went click, as I looked in his eyes.
I took him down that night in a blind rage, each blow struck...

Left me feeling he was closer to end up laying still, in chalk.
My attention diverted by the parting words of a dying friend,
I told him to hang on, help was on the way, try not to talk...
When the ambulance arrived, there was no life left to attend.

After years of guilt and remorse, therapy could not prepare
Me for what went down, and what did not, in the meeting place,
Or, maybe it did, as I chose to take his remorse as sincere;
But try though I might, I could no longer conjure up his face.

That night, she and I shared a quiet moment, laying on her bed.
I thought, in detail, about life and death and fault and fate.
If he had told her who I was, I don't know. She never said.
I knew then, what led me to her, could never be tied to hate.

Michael Todd (2014)