Friday, April 30, 2010

Poem for Early Spring

Coyote Moon Howl

Here in late April
Under a full moon, my secret neighbors the coyotes howl
From the Chardon woods and fields—

I head up to bed and hear the great chorus--
Spring Peepers singing their arias of love.

And then early in the morning,
Cardinals call and call and call
Their sweet song, luring, seductive.

Are they celebrating early spring?
Are they crying from loneliness?
Are they calling to a mate?
Are they aching for love?

I understand the plaintive calls—indeed
I call myself at midnight under the tide
Of the early spring moon!

Bob Coughlin
April 29, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another Poem about the West Virginia Mining Disaster

Aftermath: West Virginia Mining Disaster

The four bodies of those we hope survived
Are carried out one-by-one.
Twenty-nine ambulances make the slow, winding drive
To coroners and funeral homes.

Sorrows transforms into anger; then visceral hatred
For the murderers, the owners and operators
Who so eagerly exchanged lives for riches.

“I’ll cut his f-ing throat ear to ear,” the wife of a dead miner screamed,
Brandishing a paring knife.
But the words didn’t reach the offices of Massey Energy.

“If he sets foot in Raleigh County again, his head’s gonna get blowed off,”
Shouted the fifteen-year old son of a dead miner—

Blown to smithereens, smashed like eggshells, smothered and burned,
Like the 29 dead of Upper Big Branch mine.

The above poem is partly fictional, based on how I imagined the families of the victims would feel. I do not advocate violence--but it would be understandable. I believe we can change an unjust situation through active nonviolent techniques. The great models in this regard are Jesus, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Irish Music Session at Hiram College--April 11, 2010

There was a wonderful Irish music session at Hiram College on April 11th. The term "session" implies a rather informal gathering of Irish musicians, where tunes are played and songs sung for two or three hours. I think the organizer of the session was Tina Dreisbach, a music prof at Hiram. I caught the names of many, but not all, of the musicians. On harp was Ellen Eckhouse, who owns the Village Bookstore in nearby Garrettsville, Ohio. Tina's husband played uillean pipes (the Irish elbow bagpipes) and tin whistle. Mossie Moran, the well-known Irish musician and singer from Eastlake (and before that, from County Waterford or Wexford, Ireland), played his guitar. A fellow named Sheldon, from Chardon, played whistle, spoons, and bodhran. There were a couple of fiddle players; Tina played the simple-system Irish flute; a man played the Steinway piano; there were several guitarists and whistle players. I sort of hung in the background playing my whistle along with the 6-7 tunes I knew (there were probably 25-30 tunes played between 2 and 4:30 PM).

I'll list some of the tunes played at the Hiram session:

The Ash Plant
The Banshee
Cooley's Reel (one of my favorite)
Cronin's Hornpipe
The Bucks of Oranmore
Drowsy Maggie (a favorite)
The Frost Is All Over
The Geese in the Bog
Haste to the Wedding (a good one)
Fanny Power (O'Carolan)
Eleanor Plunkett (O'Carolan)
Sheebeg and Sheemore [Sí Beag, Sí Mór] (O'Carolan)
The Bride's Favorite
The Cliffs of Moher
Kean O'Hara
Lorfd Inchiquin (O'Carolan)
Harvest Home
Temperance Reel
Rights of Man
Swallowtail Jig
Old Favorite
Rising of the Moon

Wow, what a wonderful afternoon of music at Hiram College!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Poem about the West Virginia Mining Disaster

Sarvis Winter

Five miles inside this mountain
Rescue teams feel their way through the dark and poisoned mine.

Above, in the hollows of Raleigh County,
On the steep hillsides along Upper Big Branch,
The sarvis trees bloom
As the weather turns dark and much colder:
“Sarvis Winter” the old-timers call it.

Vigils are held, lives in deep freeze,
Suspended animation. Incoherent prayers
Reach to the mountain tops
And from there to the ears of God.

Bless the Dead, O Lord!
Save the Living!
Help the Suffering Families!

(Bob Coughlin
April 8, 2010 )

Poem copyright 2010 by Robert M. Coughlin. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The Ultrasound

At first I can‘t tell what I’m seeing—
Blurs of black and white, shapes and shadows.

Then it emerges—

A baby, my first grandchild.

I see the head and torso.
I can count the bones of the spine.
He or she is beautiful beyond belief!

Oddly, the left arm is raised up

As if to throw a tight-breaking slider,
About 88 miles an hour.

Of course I could be mistaken—
But right now this looks like a left-handed pitcher!

(April 7, 2010)