Day Four Poem: Pondering Perpetuity

Truchas Morning 2

Pondering Perpetuity

If I close my eyes
will the owl
creep into my sleep

or linger out of sight,
beyond earshot
and the swirl
of grief
painting the chapel dome

of my eyelids?
Sometimes I balance wants with needs.
Nothing contains me
but I am held tight.

I never thought I was a beginning.

Sometimes I feel more than I can share,
and I scatter ashes and estranged words,
look for signs on the ground.

I am the opening
between jar and lid,
a grounded fledgling,
a promise,
unfilled.

But hope swells in morning clouds
and the first birdcalls.

In the orb spider’s dewy web.
In the blurred gasp of memory’s lapse,
in the owl, as it awakens

and folds its wings
so cautiously around
my buried
dream.

 

* * *

Many thanks to Jazz Jaeschke for sponsoring this poem and providing the title and these three words: balance, swirl and awaken.

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “What Were the Members of the Donner Party Hungering For Before They Set Out on the Trail” and is sponsored by Jilanne Hoffman.

Letter to Geis from This Side of the Glass

 

Letter to Geis from This Side of the Glass

Dear Greg: I can’t help but think about windows, their
function, their meanings, intended and otherwise, how
they block some entities but allow others entrance. A
black vulture feather lies just on the other side of this
pane, but the laws of material and physics prevent me
from reaching through and claiming it. Maybe I’d
sharpen the end, dip it into squid ink and write letters.
Or not. Cephalopods are scarce in the hill country,
unlike carrion birds, wild hogs and scorpions, and frankly,
ballpoint pens require less maintenance. Lately, the
opaque has redirected my attention — no matter which
government agency speaks, I feel surrounded by their
pseudomorphs, those little indistinct clouds of mucus and
dark pigment released to confuse and numb me. A common
occurrence, I hear, and all the more frightening for it. I
think of where we’re headed, collectively and individually,
and even knowing that our destination remains unchanged
offers small comfort. One foot at a time, the steps matter,
and though it appears we won’t share those planned brews
in Bandera, I’ll chuckle over our last meeting there and
dream up a conversation about futility and compromise,
and yes, success. I’ve just spent twenty minutes trying to
help a yellow jacket escape. It wouldn’t leave the glass even
after I left the door ajar, allowing a fly to enter. Instead,
it gazed out at the hazy morning, seeking a way through
refraction’s oblique path. Finally, shepherded with my bare
hand, it reluctantly skittered to the jamb, and I coaxed it
the final few inches by pushing it with the door. Such
are my days. A little faith, some hope, luck and a great
unknowing. This window seems cloudy, or is it just
my eyes? I miss you, buddy, as do the hills and the sky
and everything nestled and bustling between.  Bob

 

 

 

This first appeared in May 2020 in the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. D.G. Geis was a friend, a larger than life  poet, and a fellow Texan. We were both finalists for the Slippery Elm poetry prize in 2017, and after learning that we didn’t win, decided to have a “losers’ lunch” in Bandera, Texas, the closest town to our respective rural properties. Much laughter ensued, and we made plans to get together for a beer in the coming months. Alas, that was not to be.

 

 

When to Say Goodbye (with recording)

dried

 

 

When to Say Goodbye

 If all goes well it will never happen.
The dry grass in the shade whispers

while the vines crunch underfoot,
releasing a bitter odor. A year ago

I led my dog to his death, the third
in five years. How such counting

precedes affection, dwindles ever
so slowly, one star winking out after

another, till only the morning gray
hangs above us, solemn, indefinite.

Voiceless. If I could cock my head
to howl, who would understand? Not

one dog or three, neither mother nor
mentor, not my friend’s sister nor her

father and his nephews, the two boys
belted safely in the back seat. No.

I walk downhill and closer to the creek,
where the vines are still green.

In the shade of a large cedar, a turtle
slips into the water and eases away.

 

* * *

 

“When to Say Goodbye,” drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 challenge, was published by Oxidant | Engine in May 2017, and subsequently nominated for a Best of the Net 2017 award.

 

Scarecrow Dreams

 

Scarecrow Dreams

If by night I move without aid,
what then? Precious flesh, precious
bone, never mine to lose – the difference
between nothingness and no thing. A
pity that my friends fly at the merest
movement, but when the air’s breath
stills, they sing and rattle among the
grain, scribing their days in song
and footprints, seeking the available
on the ground. And what scrolls lower
than the sound of sunflowers turning?
The laughing daughter runs around
my lattice spine, scattering joy like so
many seeds, and when my hollow
fingers clench, the earth quivers, or
so it seems. Then midnight returns
and I disengage and stalk about,
scaring rodents and their predators,
hooting in harmony with the owls
reveling in the night air, remembering
the holy shirt, a yellow glove, corn
silk’s gleam at noon and the warmth
of your fingers against my burlap skin.
I do not breathe, I say, but I exist. By
morning what joins me but the tune
of yet another bird, unseen, melodious,
the pulse of morning’s dew. Eternity.
How my straw tongue longs to sip it.

 

“Scarecrow Dreams” first appeared in the summer 2017 edition of Eclectica. Many thanks to poetry editor Jen Finstrom, for publishing several of my scarecrow poems.

Morning Covers You

eye camera

 

Morning Covers You

1

We extract
light, bleeding
it out one

diamond-shaped
hole after
another.

Finger the results.
Remediation
in form

or placement
to best
advantage?

At night
loneliness cradles
our bones.

2

You arrange our bodies to greater effect,
presuming lesser horrors
to be less.

A list emerges.
Refuting one,
accepting another.

Choices fixed.
Ecstasies of failure
purged.

Morning covers you
like a blue
shroud, so pale.

So cold
and bitter.

 

 

This originally appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April, 2014, and on this blog in October 2015.

diamond fence

 

Flame

 

Flame 

Drifting, she passes through the frame.

Reshapes borders, edges.

The way smoke scribes a letter in the sky with
gases and particulates. Intractable. Impermanent.

But not like a risen corpse
yet to accept its body’s stilling, or
the flooded creek’s waters taking
a house and the family within. Some things

are explainable. This morning you drained
the sink, and thunder set off a neighbor’s alarm.

From every moment, a second emerges.

Picture a man lighting a candle where a home once stood.

 

* * *

“Flame” was published in Poppy Road Review in February 2019 and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

February 6, 2018

  

February 6, 2018

Today every song is a diary of lost dates,
moments cured in precision

and stowed away on a train to the next town,
always yearning the beyond, around that precious bend.

Or, a funeral for tomorrow, processing the improbable
present. Lights, flickering. The starling’s first peep.

All urgency dies. Outside, leaves float in the fog
as I drive away to a finite point.

Now, a whistle mourns the day’s broken
surge; never having said goodbye, you move on.

* * *

“February 6, 2018” was published in the North Dakota Quarterly in February 2019.

Something Lost, Something Trivial

broom

 

Something Lost, Something Trivial

Another word, another bewildered
moment in transition: the phrase
barely emerges from your mouth
before crumbling back into a half-opened
drawer in the loneliest room of a house
that died seventeen years ago.

I nod as if in understanding, and stoop
to pick up a crushed drinking straw,
the kind with the accordion elbow
that facilitates adjustment.

From a rooftop across the street,
a mockingbird warbles his
early morning medley of unrelated
songs, and you say left oblique,
followed by matches, then
collapse on a bench,
winded. I sit next to you

and we both enjoy the warmth
and birdsong, though I know
this only through the uplifted
corner of your mouth, which
these days is how you indicate
either deep pleasure or

fear. I have to leave soon,
I say, and you grab my wrist
and stare into my eyes.
Broom, you reply. And more
emphatically, Broom!

Though I cannot follow you
directly, knowing both path
and destination, I pick my way
carefully through the years
stacked high like cardboard
banker’s boxes stuffed with
papers and receipts no one
will ever see. I know, I say.
I love you, too. Broom.

 

* * *

“Something Lost, Something Trivial” was published in January 2016 in the first issue of MockingHeart Review. Many thanks to founding editor Clare L. Martin, for her multiple kindnesses.

Take Away

 

 

Take Away

Take away the blackness,
what does night become?

Remove arugula’s bitterness,
the reddened prints on a slapped
cheek, or yeast from leavened bread.

The coroner’s mask denies emotion.

We possess no less now than we did then.
One hand holds the root, the other, a trowel.
Soil, compost. Ash. Water, dreams. Renewal.

The economy of dying continues.

One mother stands alone, cradling pain in
both arms. The second shares her shadow.

 

 

 

“Take Away” is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second, available for order now via Amazon.com and Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Ikebana

leaf on stone

 

Ikebana (You without You)

Between frames, between presence and negation, authority.

If your body lies in the earth, why are you here?

Limits admired and sought: the way of the flower.

I pluck leaves from the lower half to achieve balance.

Shape and line detach, yet comprise the whole.

My father, awake in his chair, mourns quietly.

A naked twig forms one point of the scalene triangle.

Starkness implies silence, resonates depth.

Heaven, earth, man, sun and moon invoke your absence.

As you trickle through the interval’s night.

 

* * *

Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement.

chair

This first appeared on the blog in March 2016, and is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published by Platypus Press in December 2016, and available via free download.