Lover's Key, Florida

Lover's Key, Florida

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Friday, April 27, 2012


I leave the land
of empty darkness
reach for the lamp
that reveals
the day ahead
where I do the things
that make me
where even on the cloudiest day
it is the daylight
that gives life meaning
until night
when I reach for the lamp
to enter again
the land of empty darkness
where dreams are no longer allowed.

John A. Bayerl, April 25, 2012

Sometimes, not always, I feel like this poem.  It describes what grief can feel like at times.  I feel fortunate that I am able to write about it and "share it with the world."  More and more,I find myself entering fully into life with the conviction that the more I help and love others the stronger I will become.  I suppose it's the old truism that the more we give the more we get, but it feels much more real than those trite words.  It's good to be in this transition stage and exciting to see what may be next.

Dear, you always brought life to my life; there was never any empty darkness.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I watch a squirrel
build a nest
in the four-pronged oak
outside my window.
Last night’s storm
left branches and limbs
scattered everywhere—
easy pickings
for a squirrel
that rode out the storm
in an oaken crotch
and thought about baby
squirrels yet to come
knew to get busy
building a nest
before the next storm arrived.

I am sad for a moment
knowing how she enjoyed
simple things like that
a squirrel building a nest—
then the sadness is eased
as I reach for her hand
safe in our nest
we enjoy being here
watching a squirrel
prepare for the future.

John A. Bayerl, April 19, 2012

How could something as simple as a squirrel building a nest in a tree outside my window evoke such deep and gratifying memories of the one I loved so dearly?  The reminders will always be there; today it was discovering batteries for Gwen's insulin pump in a drawer in the freezer.  Like the squirrel's nest, they were a barrier against disaster in the future.  Now, what are they? A gentle reminder of a life that was lived fully and appreciatively.  A reminders too that, like the squirrel, I must continue to prepare for the future.  

This was another of those times, Dear, when it was good to feel your presence as I was reminded of the pleasure you took in the simplest things in nature--including me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I had heard the words
spoken before
said them myself
with, I thought, conviction
deep emotion.
heard them repeated, whispered
through a kiss
believed the words
to be true
as my heart filled
with something new
pure and white
warm, but like snow
silently falling, giving
witness, making new
two young hearts
filled with only desire.

April came
perhaps there was too much
warmth, the snow melted
into the summer
when roses, not love, grew lush,
and in the fall
all was brown and shriveled
my heart was once again
through the winter that came
filled with deep, dirty snow.

ever so cautiously
the words formed again
in two hearts
while two eyes looked
into the window
of another soul
and the words
I love you
were spoken aloud
once more
but different
giddy with delight
when all the April snow
had melted.

John A. Bayerl, March 3, 2012

Today, April 12, 2012, is a special day in two ways.  Today marks 17 months since I lost my perfect partner.  In a way that seems like impossibly long ago, while in another way it seems like just a breath away.  It's still the hardest thing I do each morning, awakening to the reality that Gwen is no longer with me in bed.

On a much, much happier note, it was 50 years ago today that, while on spring break, I visited Gwen at her home in Gaastra.  We went out parking, which is what we did in those days, shared a kiss, looked into each others' eyes and said, simultaneously, "I love you."   Then Gwen, in the way that only she could, said:  "Maybe we should think about getting married."  The maybe wasn't about our love for each other; we knew that we were meant for each other.    The maybe was about knowing we would have to make some major decisions concerning both Gwen's and my future career and education plans.  The maybe was about recognizing that there were obstacles in our way, but it was never about our ability, as partners, to meet and surmount those challenges.  Now, 50 years later, as I ponder my future without Gwen, I am grateful  that Gwen and I were graced with the gift of a lasting love.

A friend recently introduced me to the idea of "It."   Many times since Gwen's death others have commented to me about how lucky Gwen and I were that we were able to find "It" together.  Yes, there is the "luck" of having that flirty young girl plop herself on my lap in the back seat of my friend's car.  Beyond that, our "It," as is the case with all lasting marriages, was the result of things like dedication, hard work, respect, good sex,  family adventures, and, over all, seeing each challenge that arose as an opportunity to, if I may paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, "say we love each other always, and, when necessary, use words." 

In contrast, 51 years ago I was on the verge of ending a love affair with a girl named Betty Jo.  We were sure that we loved each other dearly, yet, just couldn't make it work.  In a strange way I find great comfort in knowing that, although it may at the time appear to be the end of the world when something beautiful ends, in fact it can signal the beginning of something even more beautiful.  That's what the poem is about.  It's also about believing that life doesn't end; it changes.  

I haven't written in a while, Dear. I thought long and hard about what I've said here and my commitment to always have what I write honor you.   You are never forgotten, always held deep in my heart.

Monday, April 2, 2012


This is what I told my friend
about poetry and me
it’s kind of shorthand
for who I am today
a synopsis
of all I’ve ever been
a glimpse
of who I am yet to be.

John A. Bayerl, April 2, 2012

Recently I had an exchange with a friend about how down in the dumps she has been feeling.  When I suggested that perhaps it might be helpful for her to write a poem, she asked why, and this is the response I gave her.  Two days later I received a gorgeous poem from her. And, she is feeling much better.  There is a power in poetry that allows me to "cleanse" my heart and soul.  At least that's how it works for me, and it also seemed to work in this instance.

That being said, I've been in kind of a trough lately, not much coming from my heart, much less my soul.  It's part of being in this transition period I find myself experiencing.  Or, maybe it's just the spring of the year.  In spite of all our modern miracles and explanations, there is till something to be said for spring fever.  Wonder if I have any sulphur and molasses?

I have been a bit adventurous and ventured out on a couple of "dates" with someone I met here in Ann  Arbor.  Also a widow, she has become a friend and made some good suggestions about how I might wish to go about reconfiguring my life.  God, that sounds geeky--reconfigure my life, sounds like an art project.  Maybe it is.

Anne will be home  this weekend, Dear, and we are planning a brunch with friends and relatives Sunday morning.  We'll leave a place at the table for you, and offer an orange juice toast.