Monday, July 31, 2017

Action Figures

We take baby steps when strides are needed -
Caution is a virtue, but not always.
Cries for help and action go unheeded,
As leaders ponder their next steps for days.
Recklessness is seldom to be lauded,
Yet being careful can be overdone.
Assertiveness ought to be applauded
When it's seen, by each and everyone.
Pardon this overt recommendation,
That comes without a modicum of tact:
It's often a gross miscalculation,
To sit and think when it is time to act.
Pray that we don't suffer paralysis,
From nearly unending analysis.

Mick McKellar
July 2017

I'm the last person to suggest leaping without looking, and I truly despise those who live by the credo: "Ready, Fire, Aim" but fail to study what "Ready" means. Of course, one should look before leaping and think before acting. However, there are those who debate because they cannot act, or seek to prolong debate as political theater. I want a careful driver, but I have no wish to die of old age in the parking lot because my driver will not move.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Middle of the Night

What advantages there reside
Betwixt the hours of dark and dawn,
When sleepy soul has naught to hide?
The erudite can only yawn,
And seek clear vision to retain;
As soundless screams of passion fire
Echo across a lake of pain;
To awaken sleeping desire,
And stoke bright flames, that intellect
With its fast frozen heart of ice,
Seeks from myself to me protect--
And yet seems never to suffice.
From deep, an aching tenor springs
A heartsong filled with all it yearns
To life, and weeping as it sings,
Full reaps the reason that it earns.
Yet, still the fire burns in my core,
Banked warm against life's bitter frost.
Then write l must, and write some more,
To feed the fires and pay the cost.
So, in the early morning hours,
When most are fast in slumber's thrall,
l seek to circumvent those powers,
l strain that slice of death to stall,
By alchemy of food and drink.
But age and nature have conspired,
In league with common sense, l think,
To always make sure l get tired...

Mick McKellar
July 2017

I actually awoke in the middle of the night, to write about waking in the middle of the night, to write about waking in the middle of the night to write. I think. It was August 2003 when wrote down the idea, but could not stay awake to finish the thought.


Why Worry?

I know there will be sunshine after rain,
For dark gray clouds can only hide the blue.
A time of peace will always follow pain,
And solace for the soul must come to you.
The fire of dawn must follow dark of night,
Surely as the Earth rolls toward the morning,
Through the long darkness filled with sparks of light,
Until the glow of day gives its warning .
And even Winter's snow must melt away,
Within the solemn promise kept each Spring
Of life reborn, from fields of brown and gray.
In mad profusion, life bursts forth to sing
Its song, and tell its tale in a hurry...
If peace follows pain, why should I worry?

Mick McKellar
July 2017

If darkness leads to light, if pain precedes peace, and if death leads to rebirth; all can be endured. The darkest night leads to dawn, clear and bright, the heaviest rain cleans the air to let in the light. If all will be alright, why should I worry? The idea sprouted in June 2003, but the flower bloomed in the last six and a half years.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

End of the Long Race

An icy smile lingers over long
On a public mask much overused...
The mad flood of sadness, barely restrained,
Has slipped the straining bonds
And stains the light of each day.

Fingers are but fists, uncurled,
That grasp with desperation
For small golden coins,
The treasure of pleasure and joy -
Locked just beyond finger tips -
Glowing with unreachable peace.

Empty eyes seek past solitude to touch
The softly graceful regard of a friend,
But slide beyond to grey shadow -
The clammy muffler that smothers passion,
Denying the call
To the tiny flame
That pushes at the midnight growing inside.

A restless mind that knows no rest,
Rages in cages of velvet steel,
To stop the crawling hoards of tiny feet -
Walking invisible, unreachable,
Unfortunate epidermal paths.

Spent and shivering, cramping legs march on,
To nowhere at all, dancing to heart music unheard -
Tapping a tune on a path to desolation,
Leading only deeper inside, on a one way plunge
Into a labyrinthine abyssal.

Voices hover beyond hearing, a wall of noise,
Mountains of sound shadows casting darkness
Over all the mind surveys.
A froth of mirthless laughter bursts forth,
From bloodless lips that have never known
The warmth of true humor,
The wine of sweet song,
The wonder of a loving kiss...

Slowly, the dark tunnel pulls the mind
Down to mountain roots of cold fire pain.
The crushing weight,
Of massed self-hate,
Grinds the last whimper of warmth
From a mind gone too far along
The path to the winter and the death of the soul.

With a gasp and a last flicker of regret,
Ends the Long Race.

Mick McKellar
July 2017

This was written in September 2003, in the middle of the night, upon awakening from a horrendous dream. Just exactly why I dreamed about how a person could die from depression alone, I don't know or don't remember. I think this may well be the darkest poem I ever wrote. I have not rewritten it or edited very much. I no longer fear the specter of death as I did in September 2003.


Devil's Food

With each soft bite, you taste like death to me;
You fill my empty heart with poison sweet.
My heart cries for you with each sluggish beat,
As loud your saccharine song sings to me.
Each night, I pray that you will go away;
That for you, I will never again pine.
I'd always wake up fresh and feeling fine --
But you're waiting for me, every day.
You know I am a weak and hungry man,
And take advantage of my appetite.
You know I dream about you day and night,
And spend with you each moment that I can!
You are a self-fulfilling prediction,
That I'll likely die of your addiction.

Mick McKellar
July 2017

My relationship with sweets has always been "love/hate." I love to eat them and I hate what they do to me. From my 2003 cache of poem ideas comes this lament.


Friday, July 21, 2017

My Body Leaks

Warm rivulets run wet in bands,
Down back and arms, on brow and hands.
Though moving air is often cool,
Stagnant and hot must be our rule.
It seems as if an inner fire,
Unceasingly makes me perspire;
While twenty angels just dropped by,
And with their wings, they fan you dry.

Can you tell me, please why is it,
When you must move, exert a bit,
Though I can tell that you are tired,
There is no proof that you perspired?
And why, while I sit in my chair,
Stripped down to only underwear,
With cold iced tea here in my hand,
And air conditioned, ceiling fanned,
Though as relaxed as I can get --
Just watching TV makes me sweat?

Mick McKellar
July 2017

When I made notes for this poem in August 2003, long before my journey with leukemia, hot weather made me sweat and left me uncomfortable and irritable.  It frustrated me that my wife always seemed to be chilled, covering up in 80 degree weather. This is no longer true, but the sentiments in the poem echo across the years...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Hours

Although my mind is drifting in the sun,
My body's hidden down here, in a cave.
It seems a wonder that my work gets done,
Or that I have some peace of mind to save.
I'm floating in the sunny summer air,
And watching someone sleeping on the lawn.
I'm happy that she doesn't know I'm there,
But sad that she won't know it when I'm gone.
My photons softly flutter in the breeze -
Soon, I am riding on the solar gale.
That is, until I drift into the trees
And end up beached there, like a photon whale!
Although the cold and dark is what I dread,
I let my mind go back inside my head.

Mick McKellar
June 2017

I wrote the bones of this poem in 2003, and found it in a dusty corner of an old computer back up file. Oddly enough, I remember writing this after taking a break from my office in a basement computer center. I went up to just sit in the sun for a few minutes and saw a young lady, head propped on her backpack, sleeping on the lawn. I closed my eyes and drifted for a few minutes, letting a gentle breeze carry me away.


Thursday, July 13, 2017


Here lies a writer named Mick.
A man so incredibly thick,
He threw a big fuss,
Did not see the bus.
He's dead...because he wasn't quick!

Mick McKellar
July 2017

Perhaps more appropriate in the U.P. — "Drive quick, ice slick, can't stick...bye Mick." — What I dream about when I worry if my life's purpose is simply to be an object lesson to others.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017


My story grows frayed and worn,
abused by tellings both ragged and rough;
performances long, or not long enough.
It's hard to force a story
not to grow with the telling,
not to polish the rough spots,
or putty the gaps and scratches.

What the ego relishes,
memory embellishes.

There is something endearing
about tales of troubles endured,
and welcoming, about coming home.

But that was long ago.

Today I celebrate 2333 days of life.
Though others note years gone past,
and some count months and seasons,
I measure by day.
I live moment to moment, counting seconds
as I marvel at my flickering flame,
and dream in the stillness of the wind.

Mick McKellar
July 2017

July 12, 2017 is 2333 days since my transplant. I liked the number, so I stopped and let the wonder of days settle on my spirit.