FREDERICK E. WHITEHEAD

Click headshot for bio

ON THE HOBUCK BRIDGE

AFTER READING WALDEN

if the creek is here for any reason

other than simply to move water

from hills to lake
it is to help erase

for an hour or so
any contingencies you’ve

battled yourself over

leaving room on the page
for honest sketches of just what

the machine has produced for you

revealing how much
you can do without
if you can find the courage to

seek a healthy
deviation from conformity

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"Help Erase" by Wendy Caldwell Maloney.

Watercolor.

Click here for Wendy's artist page.

SITTING BESIDE
THE SELF ADVOCATE

uneasy thoughts choke out a decent day

they grow like kudzu
I recollect that
in all the times

I’ve tried to regain balance among

all this mechanical droning
there has yet to be found
a chair whose intent was not

to deaden my spine

in my exhausted state my
cognitive geometry
drafts invisible lines between
the overworked doctor
proselytizing western solutions
and the woman so spiritually removed

from it all that

she questions everything

in a skeptical tone
I’ve come to know well

while I
the concerned agnostic
in an uncomfortable chair in the corner

stay silent
aside from an occasional agreement
to symptoms and the frequency thereof

and watch as she draws strength
from some place I haven’t discovered yet

I’m there to clear the deck and
gather maps for her
as she directs the crew from a crow’s nest

built of more close calls
and failed excursions 

than anyone should have to endure

WE ALL KNEW HIM AS GRANDPA

I came back to the neighborhood

to see him
to tell him of my latest travels

I searched for the right words

trying to read his face in translation

        something by the way

        I’ve never been good at

waiting for some spontaneous

positive appraisal of my wanderlust

but no matter how I tried to define

the unusual setting I spent
the last month exploring
he couldn’t grasp the majesty

and only nodded at certain points in the tale

        he was a man whose
interests began at the skirt of his driveway

and ended at the dying ash tree
that marked the far end of his yard

sure
he had mountains in frames
oceans in books
and a coffee cup
gifted to him
with the Mississippi flowing
from rim to bottom
but he never felt the need to be

entranced by anything grander than

the peonies his late wife planted
the year they bought the house

he’d sit by them on warm evenings

which is where I found him tonight

talking to her presence
in that same steady voice

he would use
when explaining to us kids

that the world you make for yourself

is the only one you’ll ever need

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"Grandpa" by Steve Siegel. Photograph. 

Click here for Steven's page