poems by Rick Hartwell

Remembrance of Things Past –

                        Marcel Proust


Suddenly drowning in waves of nostalgia,

not in the sense of homesickness or regret,

as Roget’s Thesaurus would have it, but of

wistful remembrances of times and people:


“Finer than frog’s hair,”

a friend’s statement of tribute;

“Hell’s bells and cockle shells,”

my grandmother’s harsh profanity;

“That’s outrageous, telling me what to read,”

when I first encounter book-banning;

“Round, Round, Round” crooned by Perry Como,

as I clumsily circle the roller-skating rink;


Bottle caps with cork turned into badges,

pressing the shirt between cork and cap;

North Bay Viking funeral of a small, dead pet,

setting fire to a plastic, model boat;

Selected for the Boy Scout National Jamboree,

first chosen, then retracted with apology;

Weekly Cotillion at Newport Harbor Yacht Club,

exotic at twelve, she never knew my name;


Madeleines are great; but, chocolate works, too.




Little Lies of Faith


A big lie would be to say that all God’s words and ethereal

wisdom lay in one place, at one time, before one people.

A bigger lie would be to stand on the pinnacle of self-assurance

believing that His word has been delivered only once.

The biggest lie is to be among a chosen folk who alone

think they know the righteous way of life and death.


Do not countenance the big and bigger and biggest lies;

like Emerson, shun the extremes of superlatives.

Do, however, grant credence to the little lies of faith,

to their daily efficacy, if not their eternal infallibility.

Do believe our lives are filled with accidents, becoming

coincidental paths of understanding and acceptance.


Meanings, like memories, are not always meant for now;

memories, like meanings, are not always accurate.

Faith is a belief in a future meaning yet to be discovered,

not a mundane interpretation or translation.

Do not rationalize when finding comfort in little lies of faith,

hope itself is faith in the little lies of life.


Our only shared singularity is our mortality — we end

our lives with flawed memories and meanings of

Our big and bigger and biggest lies we tell ourselves;

passing presumptive judgment on one another’s lies;

Whether incident or accident was the cause or effect,

what really matters is the little lies we tell ourselves.


poems by Rick Hartwell

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