Three Winter Poems…

Three Winter Poems by John Bolinger


Prose Fragments in a Cigar Box

Aunt Vie had blue mirrors in her house
and a mohair sofa with her imprint on the center cushion.

I used to stay over on Saturday nights
to make puppets with Uncle Bill’s socks
and drink Ovaltine from a Captain Video space mug.

A Christmas ornament sent from France by Uncle Bill
arrived broken in 1941.
The pieces stay in a Dutch Masters box on the mantel.
I wonder how it must have looked once.

On summer evenings Aunt Vie would
drop READERS DIGEST down the stairwell
at Benny, her Cocker Spaniel,
when he wouldn’t stop barking at the crickets.

There is a picture (double exposure) of her and Benny and me
on a porch swing near lilac bushes not in bloom.
There are two of me pressed together
from different times.

One of me is lost forever,

but the other imagines still
how broken pieces may yet fit together
into some bright star at the top of a tree

for all Decembers that remain.


                                              Winter Afternoon 
                                            The garden is quiet,

                                and light is that pearly peach color
                              that streaks the sky before nightfall
                                     when air is cold and filled
                                    with the scent of woodsmoke.

                                 My cup of tea cools by a window
                       that frames a few last birds on the terrace
                          among hieroglyphs of tracks and seed
                                    written on a dusting of white.

                                  Holiday noises are yet far away,
                                         gifts are wrapped,
                                            cookies in tins
                                         cards in envelopes,
                                           and memories
                                     of this graceful silence
                                              will survive,
                                           like wintergreen 
                                        under morning snow.          

– – J.B.
                        * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                                                 SILENT NIGHT

                       The year shrinks toward December’s final day,
                           and hours flutter by like oak leaves
                            blown through an open church door,
                     caught somehow in that little purgatorial space
                      of gray stone walls from an immutable past.

                      In the sanctuary a counterpoint of carols and
                   whispers of children awed by clusters of candles
                 weaves its own music through fragrant cedar boughs
                      punctuated by holly berries and bittersweet.

                          On the chancel a living creche breathes
                   in young Mr. and Mrs. Barton and their infant son
                             among cardboard sheep and oxen,
                              the sleeping child in a crib of hay
                              on a hidden layer of paper towels.

                       All are silent now except for winter wind
                            and a prayer shared by so many,
                               that peace will find its way
                         into that quiet place deep within us all
                       where hope remains always the last gift
                              to be opened, a gift to begin
                      that first January morning, brilliantly cold,
                       when snow blinds us into sight once more.

                                           John Bolinger

About John

About John John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BS and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado, where he resided for ten years before moving to Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth book is, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014. John’s most recent book is a novel titled Resisting Gravity, A Ghost Story, published the summer of 2018 View all posts by John →
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