About jftoomey

I'm many things, among which is a linguist, a therapist, a scientist, a business owner, a student, a traveller, a dreamer, a poet, a friend, a dog lover, and I'm sure some other things that I'd rather not mention here.

Ding’s Vigil

A ferocious

whirling gust of high-pitched

biting

gale force wind

screeches

ripping ‘round the shingled

northeast corners of a weather-worn cape,

coiled tightly

into a sunken fury ball

a lying dog sighs,

pressing harder

with every howl

she nuzzles against her master’s

wooden, louvered door

fixed on the calming rhythms

of his long slow pulling inhalations

and deep releasing breaths

yearning for the moment

when his gentle snores

will cease,

the door

will crack,

and a stormy morning’s light

will pierce the dark,

as another day

among her happy pack

begins

pause

whenever

I get the urge

to tap things out

across my hard

black plastic keyboard

my mission becomes

to allow myself

to dissolve

into the details

of that one fleeting

snapshot moment

a pinpoint

pause,

in the poetry

of time passing

Overnight Journey

In an average
American lifespan
of 78.87 years,
we spend 25 asleep.

It suddenly struck me
– out of the blue
as many things, sometimes
often in fact, do
the idea that
we live Such
short lives!

that Sleep,
perchance to dream
while on the surface
the greediest of fiends
mightiest of foes! nightly thief
of precious ticking moments,
offers like clockwork
the soundest advice
on how to take
refuge
from pointless worry
& strife

a practice
for eternity
an overnight tour
an all expense-paid journey
direct to the source
of light, of being
of suspended believing
in this time-limited, conditioned
earthly existence
of thinking, of fretting
of measuring, comparing
of winning, of losing
of lollapaloozing

as Morning
stalks twilight
– luring all to return
like the moth to a flame
we’re back in the race
of time, competition
of ceaseless
opposition
to the lingering peace
lying
stealthily
within

Balance Beam

What matters most
is living
a life in balance
between being
and doing
with the emphasis
on being

Open
without hesitation
to inhaling the moments
when chattering thoughts and
to-do lists, take up
residence
somewhere else

Like a child
tinkering mindlessly
– in the background
with puzzling
shiny projects
other than me

Have I really, never? felt their rage

Have I really,
never felt alone
– isolated
among the very people
I’m almost certain,
I’m supposed
to feel a part of?

Have I really,
never failed to speak
the pink-elephant truth
to appease a pack
whose membership
requires submission
to a myopic vision
of an us-versus-them
clan-think mentality
threatening silence
– segregation
for daring to use
the voice
I’ve far too often
failed to use?

Have I really,
never felt emasculated
demoralized
dehumanized
by the din of a silently-sanctioned
no tales out of the toxic
narcissism-confused-for-masculinity-fueled
school of the bullies will be bullies club
only to find myself
– complicit
in its jeering assaults
each time
I turn a blind eye to its oppressive
self-serving imposition of conscience-free
verbal violence, of fear mongering
and unabashed intolerance of
things perceived as unfamiliar
weird-where-I-come-from
or challenging to conventional ways
– all in exchange for empty
hypnotizing promises
of safety
status and financial reward?

Like when
the recent law school
graduate who’s jumped through
every convoluted hoop
was left to discover
her new position involved a
service far too unseemly to
discuss in polite circles?

Like when
the Speedo-clad
Jewish man, lounging peacefully
in the sun, on an inner-city beach
when suddenly,
he found himself being beaten
and disabused of an eye for
“appearing gay” and wearing
the wrong kind of cap?

Like when
generations
of innocent children
were abused by religious captors
in a grand & mighty church?

Like when
a young black NFL
quarterback found himself isolated
from the league for his unpopular
political opinions?

Like when
a courageous
middle-aged mother lunged
at her terrorized gay son’s
tormentors only to find
her naked neck impaled
on the glistening cold steel
tip of a restaurant kitchen
carving knife?

Like when
a hulking
anxiety-ridden NHL player
found himself haunted
by nightmares of long-gone
days of humiliation
by his non-Latino peers?

Like when
a soul-tortured veteran
finds herself torn by loyalty to
his training and the need
to purge her memory of the
atrocities of war?

Like when
a gang of inner-city
teenage boys hopped on a bus
to go “fag bashing”
– as if it were just another team
sport to distract themselves from
the boredom of a monotonous humid
summer afternoon?

Like when
the people on the
periphery, invisible
as they may seem, the homeless
transgendered
the handicapped or obese
those
– so addicted
to a drink, a cookie
a line, a needle
that she finds herself
shunned by a world
who says it loves him
but then absconds
with her dignity
when he has a slip?

Have I really,
never been stoned by insults
spat on, threatened
attacked, arrested
for being
in the “wrong” kind of bar
in the “wrong” part of town
at the perfectly
“wrong” moment in history?

Have I really,
never turned my head
as a spirited, little butch
girl or a chubby, effeminate
school boy is pummeled
mercilessly by taunting
bullied,
threatened, battered
for simply
being
the most authentic version of
himself
that she knows how to be?

How can I watch these things
and pretend
I have really,
never felt their rage?

That I have really,
never secretly sought
to settle these insults
with silent fantasies
of sweet, hollow
revenge?

That I have really,
never secretly felt the fear
that in one bone-chilling
icy moment
– for no good reason
it will be mine
whose soul they’ll seek
to lynch?

The innocent
– abandoned
bullied, battered
& left to fend

defenselessly

On the ostracizing
outside
longingly looking in..

Jack Tar & the Gay Pride Angels

“So I told the chef I have celiac”, I explained to an exuberant waiter.
In a charming, slow, deep-bass southern drawl, he replied: “You must really miss fried chicken!”
I said: “Not really, that’s not as much a thing in Boston as it is in North Carolina.”
“Anyway”, he insisted, “take a bucket of Cheerios and pulverize the f’ out of ’em, add onion and garlic powder…. the best damn fried chicken she ever f’n ate!”, assuming I knew whom he was refering to.
“Thanks for that”, I answered: “I’ll let my partner know, he’s the real cook in the family.”
Nostrils now pinched in icky pose as blood pooled in the pulsating fold of flesh between his glasses and upside-down, V-shaped bushy, black eye brows, he snorted, not a little threateningly: “WTF, your partner’s a duuuude!?”
“Thanks for the recipe Colonel S!”, I retorted, in my most reflexive, Boston Irish Sarcastic while simultaneously, choking back a gut wrenching howl.
I paid my bill & left Jack Tar’s with an extra spring in my step, suddenly reanimated by the irony in the uplifting vision of the passing Durham Gay Pride Parade.

Vagabond Valentine

Lounging lazily
like a Fort Lauderdale lizard
on this Florida lanai
I listen thirstily
for the luscious
tones of the salty, crashing
warm, winter waves

They drown
my silence-starved brain
with relief
– distraction
from the constant pulsating
electronic pitch of
pounding in my ears
and lull my thoughts
into the peaceful void of
silent suspension

The ripple of wind chimes
breaks my trance
your name lights up,
I feel warmth
and I smile.

I listen
to the tension
rise…
in your sweet, raspy voice
you drink a breath, then sigh
you swallow, jolting me
your words trumpet
into my ear
the buzzing baritone dissonance
of utter
and complete frustration

Like a brilliant silver bolt
the quivering image
of Munch’s muffled Scream
flashes ‘cross my mind
like a dream…
your staccato speech
betrays your struggle
to harness the power
in your pain

Is it perhaps, because
you want more
to swallow it?
than to disturb
your vagabond valentine’s
precarious, fleeting
imperfect peace

You Do love me.

And I Do so
love you too