roller coaster

Words drink too much,
turn the conversation
into broken glass –
brittle, bloody

Some careless thing
gets held onto,
an act once shaken off,
becomes unforgiveable

the riding up and down
becomes too much
and we resolve there’s no use,

That’s when tears come,
feeling that unhappy together
is more bearable
than miserable apart

We have learned
how to make room
for each other
on the roller coaster,

to keep our places,
hold onto our seats,
so that we might learn
to love the ride

©Daniel von der Embse


memories of summer

You stop by my house
selling sweets that seem rendered
from your vanilla skin

Reaching into your pocket for change
you’re welcome to keep
affords me one last chance

to sample your homemade smile
and takes me to a long ago summer day
when flush faced girls in cutoff jeans

laughed at jokes made to pass the time
before being kissed, waiting nervously
to see what might happen next

©Daniel von der Embse

bonds, war bonds


I’ve posted poems about my father before here and here. He served in WWII in the North Africa campaign. He was decorated with the Silver Star and the Purple Heart and later, was part of the effort to sell war bonds to fund the war effort. If you’ve seen Flags of Our Fathers, you might recall the scenes about the war bond tours. My dad was on the Third War Bond Tour, along with several celebrities of the day, including Elyse Knox, an actress and model later married to football star Tom Harmon, and the mother of actor Mark Harmon. The photo above was taken during one of their events in Milwaukee, in September, 1943.

The captions reads: “Two of the war heroes who came to Milwaukee to inspire the community to purchase more war bonds get a little inspiration themselves at an unconditional surrender bond rally at the Schroeder Hotel Saturday night when they drew seats beside Elyse Knox, Hollywood movie player, at the banquet table. The heroes are Staff Sgt. Charles B. Vonder Embse (left) and Pvt. Michael Blotter.


three poems

the filter of lies

The lies I tell myself
each day to survive
eventually become
who I am
till sleep arrives
to dream me back
to the truth
kept safe
from all that is
too terrible to look at
without the filter
of lies


nothing grows here

Silk flowers reveal
artificial intentions
like a lover’s betrayal
where nothing grows
barren gardens from
false seeds
never to bloom here


the uncertainty

At the end of day
no longer feeling
the constant tearing apart
of the heart,
sleep is refuge
from the churning chaos
that dumped me here
tired, disoriented,
crawling toward the light,
not certain if it be sky
or flames




©Daniel von der Embse