Winter

flowers fallen
songbirds gone
frozen toes
the door no longer open
to breathe the morning air

shorts and t-shirt changed
for jacket and cap
shoes for sandals
daily rambles become urgent
fast paced walks

blue skies buried
by marching clouds
dark wetness
pouring down

winter is creeping
cold
into my heart

huddling
in the long night
wrapped in the warmth of memories
my soul shudders

seeds lie dormant
dreams unborn

and I hope for Spring

tio stib

You might also enjoy: If; Inspiration

Come Out, Come Play

cold, naked, hard,
it shrieks
piercing down the empty streets
the wind beats on every door
you can hide from death no more

the restless souls stir in their beds
haunted by an ancient dread
the walls cannot keep out the fear
the truth that fate is always near

far beyond where wrong knows right
the sun peeks past the edge of night
and streaking ‘cross the stage of day
light calls to life

come out
come play

tio stib
2015, 2021

You might also enjoy: The Crossing, Sometimes They Smile

Breakfast of Memories

for fifty years they’d each returned
back to the same cafe
gathered round the same table
these small town knights
slowly sipping coffee
reviving the Camelot of their youth
alive again
in a breakfast of memories

stories swirled
more smiles than scars
the pranks, the mindless adventures
girlfriends real, love imagined
mountains climbed and races won
friends recalled and gone

they talked of how they’d loved this place
had never thought to leave
but life and time had swept them off
to chase their separate dreams

not one head turned to watch them go
the gray men and their ghosts
and silence roared to fill the void
of legends lost to most

tio stib
2019, 2020

You might also enjoy: A Friend Passes, Life Journey Poems & Prose

First Snow

first snow
white oblivion
whispers
to sleeping earth

hush…

let go
frantic mind
surrender

hush…

forgive your past
your sins
your separation

hush…

a blanket
of serenity

hush

white oblivion
cuddles me
in love’s eternity

first snow
melts,
drips
slowly
down the face
of my soul

hush…

Tio Stib

2014, 2019, 2020

You might also enjoy: A Mirrored SmileLife Journey Poems & Prose

The Blind Side Parables – 15

Jimmy Jacks loved action, the adrenaline rush of suspense, the excitement of unexpected surprises. This is why he nearly knocked over the bowl of popcorn on his basketball size belly when his team’s quarterback connected on a deep pass to a wide receiver who dodged a defender and dashed into the end zone.

“Touchdown!” yelled Jimmy as he threw both hands high in the air.

“Ouch!” he muttered to himself, remembering that his seldom stressed body was not accustomed to such exertion. He settled back into the couch and the more cautionary exercise of popping snacks into his mouth, topped off with the occasional gulp of beer.

Ah, this is the life, he thought, then suddenly realized that the popcorn bowl was empty. Loathe to break a sweat or make any unnecessary movement if at all possible, he considered his options.

The dog, who had long ago adopted his master’s sedentary habits and lay asleep in front of the television, was not going to help.

Marla, his most recent girlfriend, was gone over six months now. She’d quickly realized that his sole reason for picking her up at the local bar was to have someone who would fetch cold beer during his sofa sitting sports watching sessions.

What’s a man to do, thought he who had completely committed himself to a life of vicarious pleasure.

“Ow!” Jimmy cringed as his quarterback was annihilated by an onrushing defensive end.

Moral: Nothing ventured, nothing pained.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 14; Taxi School

Birthdays

 statistically, in today’s world, 
 each of us shares the same birthday with about
 20 million other people
  
 that’s a lot of birthday candles
  
 imagine that everyone in your city 
 has the same birthday as you
 imagine that 20 million birthday buddies 
 are celebrating simultaneously
  
 imagine that you and the 20 million inhabitants of Mexico City are
 partying and shouting
  
 “felice cumpleanos!”
  
 or you and your 20 million birthday buddies in New Delhi are
 greeting each other with

 मुबारक
  
 wow! 20 million people having one huge  party
 Every person you meet singing out
  
 “happy birthday!”
  
 and you joyfully respond
  
 “happy birthday!”
  
 this thought made me so warm and fuzzy I decided to try it in my own town
 not a megalopolis by any measure but the best I can do for now
  
 walking down Main Street, I greeted each passerby with an exultant
  
 “happy birthday!”
  
 Sadly, the odd responses did not live up to my hopes
  
 which is why I’m back to a party for one
  
 I wonder what my 20 million other birthday buddies are doing
  
  
 tio stib
  
 You might also enjoy: Inspiration; Life in Reverse

  
  
  
   

The Blind Side Parables – 13

As the line raced from his fishing reel, the boy grabbed on to his pole with both hands and held on. Far out in the glassy smooth water, a fish erupted into the bright sunlight, breaking the quiet with a giant splash of rainbows as it fell back into the river.

The reel stopped whirring and the boy quickly wound line in. Then, the line zipped away once more. The fish launched itself into the blue sky and danced across the shattered water on its tail. The boy was so awed by this acrobatic display, he nearly let go of his pole, but when the line stopped moving, he wound in once more only to have the reel scream as the fish took another run,  pulling line after it.

And so it went, back and forth, the boy lost track of time until he realized that the fish was tiring and slowly it was getting closer and closer, until, with a final backward thrust of his pole, the boy landed the fish on the sand in front of him.

Breathless, the boy fell to his knees and stared in amazement. The fish was half as big as he was and its dazzling gold scales nearly blinded him.

“Henry!”

The boy froze, where did that voice come from?

“Henry!”

The boy leaned down closer to the fish’s gasping mouth.

“Henry!”

Henry’s eyes snapped open.

“Henry, get in here, your dinner’s getting cold.”

He looked down at his pole lying in the grass beside him and the line running limp out into the still water. He stood, picked up his pole and began reeling line in.

“Henry…”

The boy smiled, “Coming mama, just one more cast.”

Moral: If you seek to befriend an optimist, find a fisherman.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables 12; Taxi School

The Challenge of Climbing Mountains

most think the challenge of climbing mountains
is reaching the top
sweating
aching
heart pounding
pushing past fear
step by step
to finally stand victorious
in the rare air
above the clouds of ordinary being
surrounded by distant views
of unclaimed summits

but
with each descending step
the real work begins
returning to the valley of everyday existence
the spirit begins to shrink
atrophy
for it can no longer be fed
by ordinary life

the real challenge of climbing mountains
is never surrendering the summits of our dreams
to stand alone
bold and free
with only mountaintops
for company

tio stib

2016, 2019, 2020

You might also enjoy  Breaking Trail, Dead Horse Point 

The Blind Side Parables – 11

Goldilocks stared at the big banner in the window of the Three Bears Mattress Company store.

“Try us, comfort guaranteed.”

Having missed a good night’s sleep for over a week, she didn’t hesitate and pushed open the door.

Studying her teenage fashion magazine, the girl at the reception counter never looked up as Goldilocks passed by. She stopped chewing her gum long enough to mutter, “Go ahead, look around. I’m here if you have questions.”

“Fat chance,” thought Goldilocks as she hurried past, eyes scanning the large showroom and what seemed like an infinite sea of mattresses.

*  *  *

It was an hour later when the three bear brothers returned from lunch. Miles, the oldest, who had enjoyed his usual meatloaf sandwich, queried the counter girl.

“What’s up, Celeste, sold any mattresses while we were gone?”

The girl looked up from her magazine and shrugged. She obviously had no future in sales, but she was the best hire the brothers could make quickly after their last receptionist had won the lottery.

Giles, the middle brother, rubbed his furry stomach contentedly. He’d really enjoyed the broccoli soup and steak sandwich special. Sure, these long lunches were noticeably expanding his girth, but he jokingly told his wife he was fattening up for hibernation.

Her retort was that urban bears no longer needed to hibernate. True, but Grandpa Bear had known all about hibernation. He’d come to the big city from the wilderness and started the family mattress business with the slogan, “Come to Bear Mattress, we know sleep.”

The company was now in its third generation and Junior, the youngest of the brothers and most financially astute, was the CEO. He was also the only brother who paid any attention to his diet, if only because his fiance, Brownie, was always nagging him about his weight. Today, he’d forced himself to endure another green salad with tuna and avocado. Looking around the store, something caught his eye in the far corner. He went to investigate.

Under the big “Our Bear Best” sign, three mattresses lay in disarray. Sure enough , someone had been trying them out. The California King was rumpled with tossed pillows and sheets. Beside it, the Standard King, was also a mess. Junior moved to the Queen size mattress which was covered with a mound of pillows and blankets. He noticed a pair of well worn sneakers at the foot of the bed. Gently lifting the corner of a blanket, he saw two feet clad in socks with holes in the heels. He softly set the blanket down and poked at the mound of covers.

Something moaned. Junior backed up in surprise. Then, poked again.

“Hey, cut it out, can’t you see I’m taking a nap?”

Max and Giles joined Junior as he pulled back a blanket to reveal a head of golden curls. a head which suddenly turned and snarled at them.

“What kind of clip joint is this? The sign out front says ‘try us” and that’s exactly what I’m doing!”

“Well of course,” stammered Junior, “take all the time you want.”

The awakened girl propped herself up on her elbows, “Is this an inner spring or foam mattress?”

“Foam,” replied Junior, quickly slipping into sales mode.

“Memory foam or not?”

“Memory, of course.”

“How many layers of foam?”

“Four, graded from firm at the bottom to soft on top.”

The girl pondered, “Nice. And how much for the Queen?”

“$950 delivered.”

“I’ll pay $500, not a penny more.”

Junior stroked his chin as his brothers watched a master in action. “You drive a hard bargain,” countered Junior.

“Take it or leave it, bear.”

“And where will we deliver the mattress?”

This seemed to stop the girl cold, there was no answer.

Junior continued, “Will that be cash or credit?”

Goldilocks came back to life, “You can’t deliver the mattress because I’m homeless and I can’t pay with cash or credit because I’m broke.”

She threw off the blankets and bent down to put on her shoes, then looked up and said, “But I’ve got to give you guys credit, this has been my best sleep in days. You’ve got an excellent line of merchandise. Your prices are reasonable but I think you could add to your profits by pushing your pillows and linens .”

With that, Goldilocks stood up and headed for the front door.

The three brothers looked at each other, smiled, then Junior called out-

“Wait!”

And so Three Bears Mattress Company hired the most prolific salesperson in the history of the franchise. Franchise? Yes, due to Goldilocks’ spectacular success in selling mattresses and related wares, both in store and online, the company soon expanded to a profitable chain with outlets all across the Rocky Mountain West.

No, Celeste did not find fame and fortune as a fashion designer. Last seen, she was chewing gum and packing boxes at an amazon distribution center.

Moral: The truth shall set you free or, at least, it might get you a job in sales.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 10; Taxi School

The Blind Side Parables – 10

Lizzie was frustrated. Once again, her domineering mother had put her in an impossible position. As she had many times before, her mom had bragged about her daughter’s talents, how Liz could do anything she set her mind to, leaving her to prove she was, indeed, special.

“Oh, my Liz is a whiz at spelling. Go ahead, dear, spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

And the dutiful daughter did.

“Oh, my Lizzie can jump rope for hours and hours. Go ahead, sweetheart,  jump rope.”

And that’s what Liz did for hours and hours and . . .

But this time, her mother had gone too far. This time, Mom had gotten the ear of the king, and eager to impress him, had taken up the king’s impossible challenge.

“Can your daughter turn this room full of straw into gold?” he’d asked, thinking this question would certainly shut the mouthy woman up.

“Of course she can,” replied the boastful mother, “my Lizzie can do anything.”

“Fine,” said the king, motioning for a guard to push the distraught Liz into the straw filled room and lock the door behind her.

“But…” retorted the mother, suddenly realizing the predicament her bragging had created.

The king parted with, “I’ll be back in the morning for the gold. If it’s not here, off comes her head.”

Liz looked around the room, empty except for a mound of straw and a loom. The straw would have made for a nice night’s sleep, except the coming morning did not promise to be pleasant.

Shazam!

A cloud of smoke appeared in the room, along with a strong smell of men’s aftershave. A deep voice spoke from within the cloud.

“Well, Lizzie, seems you have a problem.”

Then, much to the surprised girl’s amazement, a dwarf stepped out of the mist. He had a large, bulbous nose with a wart on its tip, a line of dark eyebrows that stretched across his forehead, unruly hair poking out from under a New York Mets baseball cap, and a smile that revealed a mouthful of yellowed crooked teeth. He wore a sweatshirt that announced “Life’s too short to drink cheap beer,” jeans with patches on the knees, and black high topped tennis shoes with pink shoe laces.

Open mouthed, Liz was still gaping when the visitor, hands on hips, announced, “I’m here to help.”

Dumbfounded, Lizzie stared in disbelief, then shrieked, “Help! Are you kidding me? Like you can turn this pile of straw into gold?!”

Unfazed, the little man simply replied, “No problem.”

Losing it, Lizzie screamed, “Too much! My big mouthed mother tells the king I can turn straw into gold and then a pint size guy appears in a puff of smoke, reeking of Bay Rum, and says ‘No problem.’”

Liz buried her head in her hands and sobbed.

The dwarf did not reply, instead, he sat down at the loom, took up a handful of straw, and with a few words and some razzle dazzle, began weaving. Moments later, he handed Liz a small piece of finely woven  fabric.

She stopped crying and fingered the fabric, then muttered a single amazed word-

“Gold.”

The dwarf just smiled.

Her second word was, “How?”

“My mother was a witch and my dad a tailor, and I spent awhile in a textile mill in Bangladesh.”

Lizzie’s third word was, “Wow!” Then she erupted with a series of questions.

  *  *  *

It was morning when the door was unlocked and creaked open. There stood the king, with Liz’s mom beside him. He looked into the room. The straw was gone and there stood Liz, smiling, holding up a stunning gold tunic.

“Will this do?” she asked helping the astonished king into the dazzling garment.

Looking down at the brilliant gold cloth, the likes of which he’d never seen before, the king purred, “Oh yes, this will do very, very well.”

For the first time in her life, Liz’s mother had nothing to say, which was good, for she was summarily shunted outside the room and left alone as the door closed.

Liz was done having her mother speak for her and she began negotiating a deal with the king. An hour later, discussions over, she had a new warehouse in the free trade zone with a ten year break on property taxes. From this location, she’d run her new fashion clothing business which would supply the king with the latest designs to keep him the best dressed man in the kingdom. Also, Liz had suggested the king needed to work on his public image and the vain monarch agreed to take on Liz’s mother as his new director of public relations.

The king, enamored with this deal, left to show off his new garb to the court’s elite, a guard dragging Lizzie’s protesting mother behind him.

Shazam!

“Well, what do you think?” asked Liz of the strange little man with the magic touch who once again appeared in a puff of smoke.

“Perfect!” exclaimed the dwarf, producing two bottles of ice cold pale ale, popping the tops, and handing one to Liz.

“By the way,” she asked, “you never did mention your name.”

“Oh, that,” her savior said, “it’s Rumpelstiltskin

“That’s a mouthful.”

“You can call me Al.”

And with a clink of their bottles, the unlikely duo birthed “Rumpelstiltskins,”  the specialty clothing company which now has outlets in Beverly Hills, Paris, and Dubai.

Moral: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but you can turn straw to gold with a little magic and some razzle dazzle.

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Blind Side Parables – 9; Taxi School