Craving light—surrendering to some
incomprehensible instinctive drive—
through open doors and holes in screens you come
to kneel before my nightlight, where you thrive.
I’ve swatted many of your kind; I’ve chased
a few down hallways, shooed some out the door,
and sneered at all of you with frank distaste.
But every night another three or four
will speckle my white wall in silent praise
of feeble four-watt flickering that must
demand respect: each one of you obeys
in reverent prostration, still as dust.
Your hushed regard for pale illumination
draws both my wonder and my irritation.
Because You Know How to Drive
“What keeps us going isn’t some fine
destination but just the road you’re on,
and the fact that you know how to drive.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, Animal
With or without a travel plan,
accelerate or swerve or brake.
decisions, or you don’t, each day,
determined by routine as gray
as pavement, or by traffic laws,
by weather, whim, or luck. Because
you can, you make your way.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
Two outlaws run, but never lose their cool.
The white hat chasing them looks like a fool,
despite the frantic tempo of their ride
and that leap from a cliff—sure suicide
that they survive. When Sundance goes to school
in Etta’s arms, Butch plays the jester who’ll
bike madly for her, risking ridicule
as he too wins her heart. But charm won’t hide
two outlaws. Run
still farther—that’s the desperadoes’ rule.
Their chances of survival miniscule,
they try Bolivia, all three allied
in crime, but Etta leaves; she can’t abide
the risks. At last, exposed by one damned mule,
two outlaws run.
The Optimist (for Ma)
To see the glass half empty proves a keen
perception of thin air and slender chances;
she looks with wider eyes, and she has seen
half-cups of hope that sated starving glances.
She doesn’t fabricate a silver lining
for clouds that contradict a rosy vision—
but she finds breath and beauty by defining
vague vapors with more kindness than derision.
Both generous and just, she hardly knows
another way to live, except by lights
that neither want nor weather can oppose:
bright fires of faith that her good will ignites.
She sees the glass half full, and thinks, why not?
Why not be glad for every drop she’s got?
Jean L. Kreiling
If you have any comments on these poems, Jean L. Kreiling would
be pleased to hear from you.