Two, By Fire

Another stunner by Lynne Burnett. Oh, that “combustible hour.”

Lynne Burnett

janice-gill-qzvMCrzEEEw-unsplash Photo by Janice Gill on Unsplash

Wood laid on the hearth and lit,
the bright tomorrows stacked,
the least flame fanned
into a wicked spritely dance.

Hand over hand they sat, barely
woman and newly man, thigh
against thigh like the burning logs
coupled with fantastic longing.

No thought that in the heart’s smithy
the heat of those moments would forge
lifelong demands, the combustible
hour smouldering into years

or that a blazing light, unstoked,
could thin to a dying glow.

This poem first appeared in Ristau: A Journal Of Being, edited by the brilliant Robert L. Penick, in January 2019.

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Mockingbird

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Mockingbird

Withdrawn, it unfolds
to another
voice, like that

of a child lost in the wind.
Or, lonely, it rises from its place

and sings, only
to return and start again.
The pleasure we accept derives from

the knowledge that we are not alone.
Each morning we walk out and sit
by the stones, hoping to observe some

new patterns in his life. What we
see is an answer. What we hear is no song.

 

* * *

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“Mockingbird” made its first appearance here in January 2015. It was written
in the 1980s, probably around 1987-1989.

 

Let It Remain

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Let It Remain

Comfort of name,
of pleasure

freshened in
repetition, unformed

pears falling, and
the mockingbird’s

inability
to complete

another’s song.
I will take no

moment
from this day

but let it remain
here in the knowing,

in the tyranny
of the absolute

and its enforced
rhythm desiring

both flight and
maturation,

the ecstasy
of fruit grown full.

 

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“Let It Remain” first appeared here in September 2015.

 

Cracked

 

 

Cracked

When you say smile, I hear footsteps.
When you say love, I think shortened breath,
an inner tube swelling in the abdomen,
and the magic of tension and elasticity.
Decision, indecision. Bursting
points. The child’s hand clenching
a pin. I tell myself this, too,
will pass, that life’s gifts
balance hurt with pleasure. One
kiss lands in softness. Another twists
into bruises and cracked ribs. Two
nights in intensive care, perpetual
nerve-shredding. When you say quiet,
I see headstones. When you say
please, I feel fingers at my throat.

 

 

“Cracked” first appeared in Noble Gas Quarterly. I’m grateful to the Noble Gas team for taking this piece.

 

 

Late Night (after Li Po)

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The moon smiles upon my bed.
I consider frost and ice,
and raising my head, the bright sky.
Lying back, I think of home.

 

Once again, I’ve attempted to shiver myself into a timeless piece. I can only hope that my version does not offend.

 

The transliteration from Chinese-Poetry.com follows:

Bed before bright moon shine
Think be ground on frost
Raise head view bright moon
Lower head think home

 

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This originally appeared here in March 2014.

Greeting the Moon (after Li Po)

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Greeting the Moon (after Li Po)

Wine conceals the night’s approach,
while blossoms blanket my clothing.
Drunk, I stumble to the stream and greet the moon,
thinking of birds, so distant, and people, so few.

 

The transliteration on Chinese-Poems.com reads:

 

Amusing Myself

Face wine not aware get dark
Fall flower fill my clothes
Drunk stand step stream moon
Bird far person also few

 

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This adaptation first appeared here in September 2014.

From Alternative Fiction & Poetry (1987)

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(This first appeared here in March 2014).

Quite the interesting mag back in the day. This particular issue saw the likes of Bukowski, Ivan Arguelles, Lyn Lifshin, Norm Moser, Sheila E. Murphy, and, well, me, among others. I was thinner back then, as was my poetry.

 

no more than
the slow grace
of light turning

the leaf so
patient in the
air and colder

now that sense
of permanence unfurled
it is not

long to wait
as Wang Wei
said in his

letter I listen
for a sound
but hear none

 

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