r.l. stephenson


Mountain of a Man

Trapped some where between what is and what could be
I raced through endless rows
of cold pale tombstones
chasing my own name

I was searching for my father.
A man I’d never known
until thirty four years after my first breath
and thirty four years after his last.

Time heals old wounds but leaves deep scars.
Scars buried so deep in reluctance
delivered by God
that anger obstructs my mother’s ability
to share bits and pieces of the puzzle
that is my father for me to see.

She occasionally gathers the strength
to cast her anger for God aside
and offer me another piece of peace
in this puzzle of peace and understanding.

My pieces reveal
my father was a Man of the Mountains
a Mountain of a Man
with a heart deep rooted
in family tradition and religion.

He carried the patience of ancient oak
gently swaying in time
with the strength and courage
to weather wars for his America.

His deep cat glare
could cut through facades,
let you know to clear his path,
or invite you to break bread at his table.

His temper
was a sleeping grizzly
best left undisturbed.

He could speak with the breath of echoes
resonating through souls.
Driving his thoughts
in to your wishes and contemplations

Above all
He was a man of his word
and binding honor
promising to battle for his life
so he could see my life begin.

Three weeks
after I cried my first notes,
he said goodbye.

I stared at his tombstone
with our name
as the last piece of the puzzle
fell in to place.

Cold smooth stone
marking time…
marking time…
marking time…

Six feet of earth
and a breath of life
separated me from what could have been
The lessons of heritage,
songs of faith,
love of simplicity,
fire of earth
voice of mountains

Six feet of earth
and a breath of life
separated me from the reality
that I may have never written this poem
but it would have been worth
the cost of a hug,
the price of a bed time story,
the value of a mentor of the mountains,
A Mountain of a Man.

Six feet of earth
and a breath of life
separated me from my anger
to embrace what is meant to be
not what could have been

every morning
as I gaze into my father’s eyes in the mirror,
I know where my heart began,
why my patience, strength and courage endure,
where my temper sleeps,
how my words drive deep and stand true,
and why I am of mountain spirit
A Mountain of a Man

R L 'whoopeecat' Stephenson
     R L "whoopeecat" Stephenson has been livin' with the cactus and horny toads for many years. It certainly has affected his views, not to mention the few dances with peyote doin' the same. Slingin' hash, or grub to most folks, being an accomplished Executive Chef has put the groceries in the fridge and a roof over his head. He is editor/publisher of Whoopeecat Press. His work appears on various websites. Accomplishments - chapbook: "Nola in the Streets" and "Howlin' Cat Blues" - 15 poem CD.
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