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Archive for November, 2009

I am doing what I can to be an individual who makes a difference. If only the best of intentions would propagate like weeds. I guess though that they do.  Only it just takes a little more nurturing and a different standard of time to see the results.

As I am writing and thinking about all this…souls, weeds, patience, etc., it dawned on me that when one discovers dandelions growing in his lawn, one immediately fears infestation…in other words–the worst.  Instead of whining about dandelions, perhaps the world should look on the bright side and simply let them grow, then harvest and make dandelion wine…

A child is naturally attracted to the yellow “flower” and will present it to us as if it were a treasure. While our heart is bursting at the sweetness and naivety of a kid’s optimism, we secretly feel the longing to see, perhaps, a yellow rose there instead.  Dandelions have a bad reputation.  Children are trivialized for their innocent beliefs, and we are regularly disappointed by our expectations and unreasonable standards.

I guess a lot of folks would rather live in alleys than to own a piece of land with a yard full of dandelions… or go thirsty while waiting for wine from the south of France, and go without true love from a child’s gift while hoping for attentions from unattainable souls…

I say the glass is neither half full nor half empty…it’s just too big. Get a smaller glass and fill it with the dandelion wine.  Hug that child and show a better side of you to the world.  Wear that weed in your lapel and be happy you have the purest sort of love there is. When a worthy other sees you there making the best of these meager gifts, he or she will recognize that you are capable of embracing the metaphors presented to you, and that other soul will deem you genuine, deep, substantial, worthy, and deserving.

Love the weeds, they are people too. Harvest their bounty and make the wine. The taste and intoxication may even be sweeter and more potent. Fill that smaller glass to overflowing and appreciate the essence of every drop.  Perhaps then the Good Lord will lead you to a vineyard in Provence, a crystal setting, a yard full of roses…and you will knowingly turn it all down as you truly know real treasure when you see it.  It’s all about appreciation, faith, recognizing potential, and is as simple as accepting a beautiful flower from the pure heart of a child…

Matthew Lyle Landsman 2008

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Back in 1910, when Halley came around, the foundations of this house and barn had already been settling into the dark, rich ground for a decade under the Oregon rain. The lumber from which it was built had been felled and cut with handsaw, axe, sweat, and sinew from the tall timber nearby.

And in its time, touching on parts of three centuries (19th, 20th, and 21st) since ground was first broken, the farm would bear witness, but not falter and fail to the winds of change.  I myself have looked over the valley, to the forests and fields…to homesteads likely as old…and except perhaps for a change of crops and livestock, the view has remained essentially the same for nearly forty years.

On a recent visit it occurred to me that the influence from some lines in the Book of Ecclesiastes still echo throughout those timeless hills. And in some respects, time has stood still there on that farm. Time has hinted but not been granted much in the way of compromise. Some things have remained constant through the passing of over four hundred seasons since the foundations were laid there…and as in Chapter three of that book, there has been every purpose laid down and served over the passing of time:

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven…”

On this farm lives have seen their beginnings and some have concluded their time on earth as well. Gardens and crops have been planted, and beasts and fowl have been raised. There has been harvest and slaughter, and gathering of eggs and milk alike. Lives have faltered and seen healing. Through it all there has been laughter and heartfelt tears, wedding dances and wakes, squabbles and reuniting of souls, times of exile and of reunion.  Lives and things have been both shattered and mended in kind…Souls have been saved and sent out into the world. And in times of war, some have served and fought the good fight, while the balance have stayed home to pray for peace and wisdom to prevail. On this farm, there have been prayers for both foe and allies, so we can all live as one in the end. For over a century, on these near to fifty acres on God’s green earth; a time for every purpose under heaven has been honored and served with altruistic humility.

And if there is such a thing as heaven here on earth, perhaps one might find the greenest acres of it here…

Good things never really go out of style, especially when one tends to not be a slave to fashion in the form of fads and trends. Goodness is basic, it is wise yet simple. Goodness is taught by example, maintained by character-filled intrinsic souls and emulated through generations and over the course of millenniums. It isn’t always popular, nor is it always easy. Virtue entails hard work, perseverance and conviction. Goodness survives, and fortunately, thrives here…

The fields and meadows around this house would have likely, over the decades, fed young men that would see sad times through the Great War…the one that was fought to end all wars. Then the house on the hill overlooking valley and dale would again bear cattle and crop to feed those of Greatest Generation in the war that followed. Since the land was cleared and the house and outbuildings were raised, the USA has waged seven major wars.

And I clearly recall an event that occurred in the time frame when the last helicopter left Saigon…When men returned from battlefields… men who had started their journey as wide eyed boys.

On nearly fifty acres, Mr. C watched over a treasure of lovely daughters, who were in turn being looked over by a variety of country boys. But boys we were… eating machines that produced unearned ego and testosterone by the bushel and bail.  Then a wise and resourceful father and farmer inducted this squad of boys with idle hands who’d been basically loitering around his girls and grounds…He enlisted the lot of us to earn our keep, and his respect perhaps, and to gather his hay and stack it safely in the loft.

Knowing well we had our wild oats to sow, he curtailed that urge and diverted our energies to instead to clear his fields, to feed his cattle, to feed his family and community.  While in that field, following a steadily moving tractor and trailer, we stacked bales alongside his daughters. And we unwittingly harvested self respect and cultivated a start on manhood. We earned a piece of his hard earned bread, exchanged sweat equity for Kool-Aid…and a valid taste of an honest, hard day’s work. It was but a taste, an insightful glimpse beyond our coddled youth. And with a few dollars in our pocket, I can guess that even the heartiest of us looked wearily back at a glimpse of a real man’s world…Then, spent of the energy and vigor that had accompanied us to the early morning starts, we dragged our tired posteriors off to therapeutic showers and perhaps the first night in our lives of well earned sleep. As for those wild oats…we had little left in the tank afterward to venture near that field.

I for one got his point and eventually knew I’d visited the Gill boot camp that week. I had never looked down on the man, but I can assure you, I’ll always look up to him for what he taught me then. To this day, when I chance to pass by a field of hay stubble and waiting bales, I look back knowingly and pay homage to his genius and callused but gentle shaping hands…

And no, he didn’t do all this on his own. For 56 years now there has been Gill and Harriet…and their kids…lots of them…eight daughters and four sons. (Gill finally got some sons to help him put up hay…and they remain at his aid even to this day…)

They’ve been in this great and simple old house since 1959. A house where old fashioned ideals never grow out of style, where hands wash the dishes and the family gathers around the table on a regular basis…where prayers are not only spoken, but radiate from the hearts of all who are a part of the life there.

Halley came back around again in 1986 and looked down upon all the chaos below… But on nearly fifty acres in a green corner of the Pacific Northwest, even Halley had to admit that peace existed there…That the world ought to peek in there and learn about the simple truth that progress is rarely an improvement…and that people mainly seek profit and scarcely consider that change isn’t always for the general good…And that if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it, don’t bend it, don’t plug it in, don’t tax it, don’t judge it, don’t date it…But do admire it, and try to emulate it beyond those nearly fifty acres.

If I were asked what was raised and grown on that farm, I would say without hesitation or the need for further explanation; goodness, virtue, honesty, compassion, patience, family, and possibly, the solution to what ails our society today…a good serving of God fearing respect, faith, hope, and mostly, love…pure and simple.

When one needs to find the answers, to grow beyond adolescence, to lead the flock, to elude the circling pride…Go find Gill , roll up your sleeves, (even at the young age of eighty he’ll be up and already waiting on you), and make some hay. After that, eat a meal of Harriet’s home made soup and bread. Sip from a glass of icy cold water from their artesian well. The rest will soon grow clearer and the scattered pieces will begin to fall into place…Then step outside and chop some firewood…that stove can’t feed itself.

Life on the hill overlooking the Georgia Marilyn Geisel—–t (for privacy) Memorial Grove (in honor of Gill’s late mother) is a labor of love…as is the grove itself.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…And perhaps my time there is always a gift of a glimpse at heaven here on earth.

Keep the home fires burning Gill and Harriet…and I’ll see you there on that hill, when Halley next comes around…

Matthew Lyle Landsman, early November, 2008.

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I took a thousand miles of dirt road,

left a hundred crying eyes behind.

Found ninety ways to mess things up,

and eighty pretty ladies to steal my heart blind.

I saw seventy turns in a poker straight highway,

got lost on number sixty-nine every chance I could.

I found sixty acres of bliss filled woods,

and spent fifty of someone else’s hard-earned dollars

just because I could.

When I turned forty, I was spending time

With a special someone who was barely thirty…

but on that day, I nearly lost my Mom

and it brought me back down to earth.

I laid down twenty made-up tales

to get smiles from a ten-year old’s face.

I got fifteen minutes of fleeting fame

when I had barely earned a quick ten.

I spent my last nickel

for two minutes of your time,

and a penny for your thoughts,
but luckily you were the one…

It’s all a game of numbers,

but I found love

when I least counted on it most.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

July 9th, 2008

 

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Dedicated to my teachers. You know who
you are…

Even to struggle mightily,

One has to be capable of

mighty things.

To feel great sorrow,

one needs to be capable

of greatness.

To grow angry or sad,

a person has to be able

to grow.

To learn even the hard way,

one finds out that he has the capacity

to learn.

Before one can fall from grace,

one has to have been bestowed

a place of grace

to begin with.

After taking two steps backward,

it dawned on me

that progress was only a possibility because

I had once taken
those same steps forward.

Now I only had to recall how

I’d managed the forward steps,
and learn to love the forward progress enough
to maintain it.

To sit and remember the good old days,

I had to have once lived them.

And I should be thankful always

even for what was in the past

or has simply been taken away.

To have been blessed is still a blessing,

even when it is viewed

in retrospect.

I miss my late mother.

It was a tragedy to have lost her

while she was young,

but it would be an even greater
tragedy if after her untimely passing,

I didn’t feel a sense of loss
and miss her badly.

I miss my youth at times.
At least I was fortunate enough

to have had a childhood.

Not all people are afforded the luxury of being able

to just be young while they are.

I wish there was more room in my house.
Homeless souls have the entire world to stretch out in,

but wish for the friendly confines of any home,

even one more modest than mine.

To be grounded, you have to

have once had freedom.

The secret is to have enjoyed freedom

while it was yours.

My future isn’t secure,

but I will be more capable of living  within my means

now that I have learned to live simply

while I was treated to a bout of poverty.

Prosperity will be appreciated and

never again be taken for granted.

When I lost my beautiful head of hair,
I was given a gift of time

to use as I please
as I don’t have to spend it

tending to what’s no longer there.

I will never recapture my youth,

but then my youth was overshadowed

with ignorance and ineptitude.

With the time I have, I will be able to

apply wisdom,
feel compassion,

recognize blessings,
and give thanks.

I am aware now

of the sources of ill feelings such as

regret, remorse, and resentment.

I will be judicious

with the world around me, and

minimize the damage left in my wake.

I am realizing

the real treasures in life

cannot be listed on an insurance dossier.

When the last of my breath has left me,

the sum of my treasure will be entombed
in my stilled heart, and assembled there
at my resting place.

I hope the assembly is large,

and glad to have
known me.

I hope the bounty of their personal treasures

is swelled with my contribution,

and that they too

see that value
is in the life we live and

not piled about their properties.

Between now and then,

I’m going to make the world a better place,

And wish for my time and life

to be remembered

and hopefully become a part of

the treasures of others.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

July 22, 2008

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A little story about my drives to work, and the ways that little sights along the way can profoundly
affect me…One day I noticed the field near work was full of grazing
Canada geese. Not unusual around here. BUT in the middle of all those
grey and white geese stood a pure white goose. I stopped to look at
it, to ponder how it happened to be there, seemingly out of place, but
with its own kind none the less. Not unlike Jackie Robinson when he
became the first major league baseball African American baseball player…As
a child I moved from Western Canada to Seattle, during the Vietnam War
and the late 60’s civil rights movement era. I knew nothing of racial
division and soon found myself befriending the black kids our government
bused across town from central downtown Seattle. I’m not sure who
stood out most at that moment, me or the others…

THEN I noticed a normally colored goose that stood out from the rest because it could barely walk as one of
its legs was injured. It would become separated a bit, eventually left
behind. It would hop a few steps then take to a low flight and get reunited
with the flock. I felt for it, but knew healing will take place, that
flight was still possible and that swimming may be possible too, although
maybe only in circles with only one foot able to paddle.

I thought that may have been the end of the goose saga after the birds moved on to summer living grounds
and re-creation of life, etc. But for several weeks now, I have seen
a lone goose endlessly wandering that field, every day searching…obviously
for its lost mate. I am told that geese mate for life. This bird might
spend the rest of its days on earth in a waiting vigil that won’t end
happily. For a moment I saw myself in that field, a metaphor for my
fears of ending up that way. Then I realized that the goose obviously
had had, and then lost its mate. If it hadn’t ever found one in
the first place, it would still be with the flock still in search of
its first life partner.

I stopped seeing myself in that field,
knowing that I too would have already moved on with the flock. Taking
the focus off myself, I knew then who the lone goose symbolized; my
own Father, endlessly circling our little town in wait of a day when
he will rejoin his lifelong partner, his wife, my Mom.

How beautiful, compelling, tragic, romantic,
and wonderfully sad is that? And how will I ever drive to a day at work
again without keeping my eyes, heart and poet’s mind open to the unseen,
the unappreciated, the discerned and forgotten. 

Hey, it’s not the destination that matters,
it’s all about the journey…look at how I found you on my way to a late
July reunion, and look where the destination has taken me already…

It’s ALL poetry, all inspiring, all beautiful, and
all worth writing home about…when you happen to be Matthew. 

Matthew Lyle Landsman  Spring 2007

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When I was a kid, some summers I was hired by a neighbor to house sit for them while they ventured out of town, state, or the country, on vacations, charitable missions, etc.

It didn’t matter to me the reason for their leaving; I made sure their place and property were safe and secure. They were neighbors, practically family, and worthy of my best attention and intentions.

I have a family of my own now, and a home. With the same intentions of looking out for my neighbors and community on a larger scale, I joined The Guard. To be sure, there were both civic pride and some perks involved.

Then came the call, the leave from my job, from my family, my home, my neighborhood,my community…eventually my entire country. I am not complaining about serving and the general duty I signed up for. We gotta stop them where they are, so they won’t come where my family lives and assert their less than ideal ideals on me and mine. I’m all for preserving liberties at home.

We live in a modest house, drive a modest car, and live a modest life back at home. I ain’t asking for anything extra. But the pay from my hard earned career ended the day I was called up, and that little stipend from Uncle Sam is, well, little.

I remember when the Apollo 13 astronauts were stranded in space, they were granted a grace period in which to file their income taxes. They were looked out for while in peril during their service to our country. I too am far from home, and in peril, in service for my country. And I’m not alone here in my situation. I’m surrounded by thousands that are willing to take a bullet to protect me. And they all left family back home too.

But back in the world, there’s trouble at my home. While I’m here doing whatever it takes to preserve life there for the masses, my wife has an empty pantry, an empty bank account, no insurance on a barely running car, and an empty feeling inside.

She doesn’t want to distract me here, to make me less attentive and cost me lost sleep, lost attention to the dangers around me. She’s gotten food stamps, bus passes, and calls from creditors over the basic necessities. Last week they shut off her power in the middle of a cold snap and she and the kids got to “camp out” in sleeping bags till she was able to use the neighbor’s phone to call and beg for help from the PUD.

I’m in the middle of a hostile desert serving my country, while some in my country show their appreciation and patriotism by seeing to it my family stands to starve and freeze in their own home.

Although our little fixer-upper house is yet to be fixed up like we planned, she’s being told that may be the least of our worries, as the numbers are becoming a little more than we can handle. She may have to move in with her folks so some banker can see to it that some opportunistic soul will pick up the note on our home (after that same banker takes it out from under us).

This, while I serve to protect that banker’s right to drive a car worth about as much as the home he’s taking away. So much for returning the favor and house sitting for this soldier’s family while he’s away.

I have no doubt the sons and daughters of bankers aren’t likely to be serving in this war, nor would their families ever be put out in the street so daddy could foreclose on their bungalow in the Hamptons. No other way to put it, my life back in the world is being looted while I protect strangers, a world away, from being looted by their neighbors and their own flimsy government.

While I struggle to preserve my life in a war zone, my life at home is being allowed to be taken away from me and mine…

And I hear an echo from 1969, Woodstock, another war, and another anthem of the time…Country Joe and the Fish…”and its 1, 2, 3…what are we fightin’ for? Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn. The next stop is ‘IraqistNam’…”

I’m not stranded half way to the moon, but I may as well be. At least those boys could see home from where they were perched. I feel as if I, and mine, have been left hung out to dry, and that my home might not be there when, and if, I do get back.

I know my neighbors at home are busy covering their own asses, but hey, we’re hanging ours out here in a big way… and promises are evaporating like a puddle of water in the desert wind. Far as I know, one of my ‘neighbors’ there may very well be the one taking away my home while I serve to protect his rights and his home.

What the hell is wrong with this picture?

MLL Summer 2008

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Oh to step back, past that moment in time, when freedom was much freer…and those mighty towers still cast shadows and defined the profile of that city…when tomorrows were just the days after this one, and not just so many days or weeks; some measure of time since 9/11/2001.

wtc

On September tenth, there was merely the anticipation of autumn…simply the fading of summer’s embers, but the shadows were still long.

It was about looking forward to ‘’The Series”, debating who would go the yard…and who might fall victim to a slider going 98 and dropping like a rock.

September tenth was the day before my father was born…at least 68 years earlier
something wonderful had happened on 9-11.  They were hard times to be sure, but simpler and more innocent times as well.

Since 1992, the World Trade Center was but a wondrous place that I had visited, and I had stood on the roof of one of the twin icons. Movies based in modern New York City always featured the towers in that distinctive skyline. After that September 10th, any movies that included the towers were instantly dated as “pre 9-11.”

sept11lights

On September tenth, a line in time had yet to be drawn. Like the sixth of December in 1941, the tenth was but a prelude to another day that would change our world forever and redefine our entire existence. But in 1941, our enemies were more clearly defined and not too hard to find. Indeed, I long for the simplicity that prevailed still on September the tenth of 2001…

Then, we still slept soundly at night, not yet needing to know who had stolen away our naïve sense of trust and security…our knowing that tomorrow will be just another day. Memories of scud missiles, Desert Storm, the unbreakable coalition, stealth fighters and the last “just war” with ‘Stormin’ Norman’ at the helm, were nearly fading from our immediate memories.

On September tenth, we were oblivious to upcoming new buzzwords, like Flights 11, 77, 175, and 93…There was no ground zero, no mention of a north and south tower. Al Qaida and Osama bin Laden were minor players; irritants at best…but still in the wings, not yet the epitome of evil reincarnated.  The armor worn by our existing heroes showed a little patina; their deeds were a little dusty and the tales of those heroics had not recently been retold.

It was good… to be complacent and free of drama, fresh news footage, of a running total of sorties flown, of the billions approved by congress, of bunker busting behemoth bombs, of cadaver dogs, of no more survivors…images we could never have fathomed…of a loss of certainty in the world around us.  It was a simpler time…

On September the tenth, we were bored; we were anticipating the turning of the leaves, the last good days for boating, the return of Monday night football, and of kids returning to the halls.

And perhaps we took for granted the knowing we all would be coming home at the end of the day, maybe neglecting a parting hug, the obligatory peck on the cheek. And the uttering of a simple “I love you” might have been a little hollow, a little bit routine.

We weren’t as close to our neighbors on the tenth, as quick to notice a passing stranger and to smile at one another, eager to embrace the day.  We weren’t as apt to fight back tears when the flag was unfurled and a voice bathed the crowd in the beauty of the words of Francis Scott Key.

I still loved you on the tenth, but I might not have felt compelled to say so. It just never occurred to me that once I laid my head on the pillow, it would be the last night I would close my eyes without the possibility of visions of events of that day, and those that followed, filling my weary mind…of those stark surreal images that will mark this generation from that day forward.
On the tenth, our villains were whoever had taken our parking spot… the cop who cited you for going ten over while you hurried, nearly late to work… the team that’d last defeated yours. Our villains could still be easily found among us, as petty bickering and dissent among the ranks prevailed. On that tenth of September, we weren’t as united, not
as much in need and appreciation of one another as we soon would be.

And on that morning I didn’t wake you when I’d slipped out quietly on my way to work. While you lay there sleeping, I neglected to touch your cheek, to kiss your hair and went off not knowing that I would already be missing you five minutes down the road. The day that followed gave that gift back to us, and to me.

I had never uttered the words “nine-eleven” nor imagined the sight of tear-streaked ashen faces…or the “confetti of the anti-Christ,” as countless reams of paper took leave of the stricken buildings through shattered window panes, marking the end to peaceful sleep as it came fluttering down ultimately to street level in an agonizing confusing descent, dragging our hearts down with it…a metaphor of biblical proportions left to linger in mid-air, along with the accompanying dust and smoke, long after the sight of those blazing towers had become a part of the horror there on the ground…then a part
of the ground itself…a would-be grave in wait of the coming fill.

paper
On the tenth, I was a little euphoric and foolishly feeling secure. I didn’t love as deeply or unconditionally as I soon would. Nor did I notice as readily the good in the world that still prevailed. I was more at ease, but not as good a person, friend, neighbor, brother, or son, as I soon would be. I never wanted what happened next, but I am a more complete and worthy soul because of, and more importantly, in spite of the cumulative effects of the next days of events.
You might actually say, the day after the tenth found us scattered and nearly shattered by the work of the devil himself, but we were quickly gathered once more by the need for one another as we huddled together in disbelief…bound together again by the grace of God…mercifully lifted up as one in our hour of dire need.
I miss the bliss that came along with the tenth of that September, but I like camaraderie and oneness that found the collective lot of us in the days that followed.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

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Matthew L Landsman

10/02/2001 0`dark:30
In regard to 9-11-2001

Empty chairs at the tables of

one thousand homes — times six.

Pillows lie on beds,

forever to be cold.

Hearts that wait for a calming word,

souls longing for someone to hold.
I have been there.

To the summit of that pair of pillars

reaching so amazingly high.

I stood in wide-eyed wonder

at the city’s towering gems.

Now I stare in disbelief

at an empty space in the Apple’s sky.
I find solace in knowing that the scores of those lost souls

were lifted straight to a better place –

by the collective prayers of the witnessing world.

It’s true that tears have yet to subside…

true there are more that will be cried.

It’s true that so much we knew

will never be the same.

But I also know that with turning of the leaves

comes the day of Thanksgiving –

for the memories of our newest angels…

for the knowing that, while for so many,

there’d be no going home,

still God sent to them his most special…

in uniforms of blue,

and fighters of fires…

from outside the bounds of harm,

from the masses left behind…

Sent in…

so they would know

they weren’t to perish abandoned, unescorted or forgotten

I believe too, that beneath the fallen structures

opened a crevasse of fire and discontent,

vows to immediately deliver the doers of evil,

the terminators of meant-to-be-peaceful flights,

straight into the bowels of hell.
And too, the souls of unintended fate

were raised as quickly to a celestial journey’s end,

accompanied and tended to by those

we were taught as children were our protectors, our heroes…our friends.
Those of us that remain will long struggle to find the meaning of it all.

The vision of what will balance, then overcome and

topple the self elevated mongers of hate

to their deserved fate – still eludes me.
I cannot know the specifics,

except that the believers of what is good and closer to Godliness will

in the end prevail.

By the rising up of spirit, faith and oneness

of our unseen friends – I feel a surge of awareness,

of determination and strength,
born of sorrow, shock, anger, fear, love and compassion.

There has begun a healing,

both of the scars left on the land and the division of good people,

for reasons that now seem petty and self-absorbed.

Already, good has risen from the ashes;

new vows of reparation have

emerged from amid the smoldered flames.

I hope the world will never be the same

as it was before that day.

I hope we can love one another more deeply,

be sincere in our greetings and farewells.

I pray that Christmas and other faith-filled days

can see a return to their roots – and linger past the designated days.
The souls departed need to know that beyond our efforts to

deny the tormentors satisfaction from their deeds –

that true good can be derived from the

sadness and the

madness of it all.

Mostly, what we need is hope.

We can only find it in each other,

no matter who or where we are.

Like the man said, “Come together”…

I don’t want this generation to lose its own version of what was our “Camelot”.

Hey God…We could use a little help down here…okay?

Matthew Lyle Landsman

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autumn leaves in wind

Where did this year go? Time for that matter? It’s been collecting in
the leaves of summer. Now its been captured in the autumn breeze…the
leaves and time have served their duty, now they will be captured in
the throes of a chilly fall, carried off on the breezes of evening and
passing hours while we sleep… Time isn’t lost at all…it just rests
in slumber at our feet, spent of livelihood, returning to the earth, to
the banks of tomorrows…recycled, replenished. Time can be a leaf
pressed between pages of a book, or a photograph in an album…

leaves bible

With the summer freshly behind us, the green leaves of spring are a
distant thing…but I still recall their rustling in balmy evening
breezes…as memories were being made…My barefooted trips thru the
grass…songbirds in the predawn hours…Now they lay at rest in the corner
by my porch…along the wall of my home…Like a pile of clippings and
memories waiting to be scrapbooked and catalogued…

Autumn leaf pile

While I rake…I shall recall the days…the moments that are freshly
etched even while the shade is laying in decay around my feet. If I
could leave them to meet the soil that nourished them to initial life,
they would replenish and richen the mother earth at the very place they
were given life…cradling one another…returning from whence they
came…reunited in an eternal embrace…in wait of spring after winter’s
slumber…Time in search of a taker, a user, a memory maker…

trunk

Autumn…its early autumn in my life too…after half a century, I’m
ready for longer nights and cooler days. The rings on the tree tell the
truth, the cumulative collection of yearly fallen leaves have richened
the soil where my shade trees dwell, made my knowing and memories grow
in kind…richer, deeper more meaningful. Where did time go? It lives
inside of me…life is more precious, hugs are more valued.

snow leaves2

My time gone by and memories are captured in those autumn
leaves…Outside my house, they lie in wait…teasing me, taunting
me…conspiring along with a breeze from the south…each stroke of the
rake is laughed at as both simply carry the stack right back to the
spot I moved it from…Holding on for another day or two…the
metaphoric gathering of moments passed are reminding me to appreciate
the life I’ve lived, before I toss it away like so much fill and
refuse…

Its early morning…I just stepped out on a chilly porch with a hot cup
of coffee.

coffee cup

The winds that tormented us yesterday have moved on…the
leaves are at rest in places they were deposited during the hours they
frolicked in that very wind…Now, exhausted and finally having given
in, they simply lie in fragrant piles, saying one final good bye to
yesterdays, to hours spent under summer’s sun…to duty shading my
home, being a part of the symphony that plays while breezes fill the
air. And though the passing of time will dull the vividness of
individual memories, I will have a few scattered leaves to keep…in
the form of photographs, of theater tickets, gas receipts from several
states over…a faded rose, a shirt that smells still of her perfume
when she hugged me good bye.

theatre_ticket

I will think of these things, of the music, the extra cups of
coffee…the sunsets of May…and I will embrace them all, while I tend
to bagging and hauling those leaves to the place where so many leaves
convene…at the fill just a few miles down the road…

leaf bag

Then I’ll move mostly indoors for the duration of the cold season, in
wait of spring buds, of the return of songbirds and the first green
leaves on the branches and boughs…But I won’t simply wait till time
has passed, I’ll meet it at the door…and frolic in those breezes, as
did the leaves…once more…

Matthew Lyle Landsman…autumn 2009

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A note for my honorary daughter…Love, Daddy Matty

It wasn’t the surf with its salty foam, nor was it the sunset, the likes of which I’d ever known…

It wasn’t the end of a sleepy afternoon or a drive to the shore…

But still my heart was stolen by the sea.

It was about hearts abandoned, about feelings stranded. It was about lingered disappointment and roles denied.

It was a theft of the kindest sort, a smile, a sigh, a request, a
plea…and there was that smile, a head on my shoulder, that truth, the
chorus of the Pacific’s roar. And there and then my heart was stolen by
that shore…

And of some of life’s failures, I cannot understand. For some of
life’s mercies, I can only feel eternal gratitude. In soft
conversations where joy ought to have lived, I heard of the need for my
heart to give a little of what I am, a friend, a shoulder, a pool of
knowledge, of kindness, of honesty…all those things a daddy should give
naturally.
So arm in arm at the end of the day, a prayer answered, a plea
fulfilled…an overdue longing to be accepted, appreciated, and just
loved. I for the lack of my son, she for the absence of a proverbial
dad…A quiet theft carried off by her misty hazel eyes, by the honesty
shared, by a soul’s muffled cries. While winter lingered, and spring
teasingly debuted, I was caught off guard by the approaching dusk,
mugged by the ocean, there and then my heart was stolen by the sea.
I will do my best to slip away to that town by the shore, to hope for a
smile when I’m greeted at their door. I will return when I can to the
scene of the crime…to the reaches and beaches, the salt and the trees,
the rutted road that leads to my honorary daughter, the one who stole
my heart by the sea…to that coastal town where I long to be.

Matthew Lyle Landsman

Spring 2008

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