Ode to Being Placed on Hold

phone

 

Ode to Being Placed on Hold

The music rarely
entertains,
but I find
peace between
the notes,
sometimes,
and embrace
the notion that
I’ve been inserted
in that peculiar
capsule between
speech and the
void, imagining
myself somewhere,
floating, free
of care and
gravity,
beer can
satellites
orbiting my head,
with bites of
pungent cheeses
and baguette
circling in
their wake,
a gift, you see,
like rain in
August or
a warm voice
saying hello.

 

* * *

“Ode to Being Placed on Hold” was drafted during the Tupelo Press 30-30 marathon in August 2015. Many thanks to Mary “marso” of the blog “marsowords” who sponsored and provided the title. The poem has also appeared here several times.

 

cheese

 

Requiem

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Requiem

That it begins.
And like a wave which appears
only to lose itself

in dispersal, rising whole again
yet incomplete in all but
form, it returns.

Music. The true magic.

Each day the sun passes over the river,
bringing warmth to it. Such

devotion inspires movement: a cello in the
darkness, the passage of sparrows. Sighs.

The currents are of our own
making. If we listen do we also

hear? These bodies. These silent voices.

* * *

“Requiem” was written in the 80s, in response to a piece of music. It made its most recent appearance here just a few years ago.

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Scarecrow Listens

sax

Scarecrow Listens

These silences I hear, are they not
music? Interspersed with sunlight and
air flowing through fragrant grasses,
insects ticking in the leaves or burrowing
towards moist darkness, and my friends
cawing from their perches, if I arrange
their presence in sequence, perhaps
around the day’s bones, will you
know my spirit? And when I interweave
these tunes, independent and unrelated,
shaping them into one separate melody,
will you recognize its heart and shiver
to the beat? Ornette Coleman freed
his playing, celebrating the territories
of the unmeasurable, the unnamed. The
real is, no matter what you call it. Take
this leaf and place it atop three others.
What have you? And what am I if not
a gathering of the unwanted, scraps
melded to serve a thought-free purpose,
another’s need. Fleshless, boneless,
breathless, bloodless, I know only
that I am; having no ears, still I listen.

 
“Scarecrow Listens” first appeared with two companion pieces in Eclectica in summer 2016.

 

 

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

almond

Self-Portrait with Mandolin

Being
the afterthought

of wood and
steel, I accept

the phrases
allowed me.

Limitations
frame our days;

working within,
we grow.

Almond to tree,
sound in time.

Chords
by implication.

I root among
the falling

leaves,
gathering

their tunes.
When I cannot

see, my hands
find the way.

mando

Salad Suizen

 

Salad Suizen

Like the lone slice of cucumber
in the dinner salad,
I fear that I am not worthy
of such distinction.

No bottled dressing could mask my ineptitude.
I am that wedge of unripe winter tomato,
those pieces of lettuce bred for travel,
the black olive rounds fresh from the can.

So much to enjoy in mediocrity.

My wind sputters and fizzles.
Fingers struggle to cover the holes.
Failures accrue like compound interest
and still I persist.

Perhaps I might add croutons, red onion.
More space. Crumbled feta. Silence.

 

“Salad Suizen” first appeared in Ethel in August 2019.

Shakuhachi Blues

 

Shakuhachi Blues

That waver,
like the end of a long

dream flickering to wakefulness,
or an origami crane

unfolding between whiskey
poured and the tale of deceit

and a good woman done wrong.
Air flutters through this bamboo

tube, and it seems I control
nothing. Inhaling, I try again.

 

A simple instrument that will take a lifetime to learn…

On Listening to Edgar Meyer

 

On Listening to Edgar Meyer

Smoke, and bent grass,
the earth rippling underfoot.
A child throwing stones
but never at random.
You wonder that one suggests
laughter, as a second draws tears.

Still, it drags you in.
Like water seeking its level,
a depression that must be fed.
You ride that deep current
never questioning its source,
complete in the moment. Filled.

 

 

Edgar Meyer’s music removes me from my body, transports me to another plane, one free of politicians and avarice, a place where truth matters. Today has been a good day to listen, to absorb. And hey, those fellows he’s playing with ain’t too shabby…

 

Beer Bottle Suizen

Beer Bottle 

Beer Bottle Suizen

No rules apply here. I blow
into the empty bottle and achieve
silence. Tilting it, I adjust my mouth’s
shape and blow across the glass lip,
receiving a flicker of tone in return.
Repeat. More of the same. Discarding
the vessel, I open another, drink deeply.
Become the emptying.

* * *

Note: Suizen (blowing zen) is the practice of playing the shakuhachi (traditional Japanese bamboo flute) to attain self-realization.

“Beer Bottle Suizen” first appeared in Subterranean Blue in March 2020.

Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome

Welcome Corvids

 

Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome

Nothing about me shines or sparkles. If asked,
I would place myself among the discarded —
remnant cloth and straw, worn, inedible,
useless, if not for packaging intended to
convey a certain message, which I of course
have subverted to “Welcome, corvids!” Even
my voice lies stranded in the refuse, silent
yet harmonious, clear yet strangled, whole
and unheard, dispersed, like tiny drops of
vapor listing above the ocean’s swell, enduring
gray skies and gulls and those solemn rocks
bearing their weight against the white crush.
Why do I persist? What tethers a shadow
to its body? How do we hear by implication
what isn’t there? Bill Monroe hammered
his mandolin, chopping chords, muting,
droning, banging out incomplete minors
to expectant ears, constructing more than
a ladder of notes climbing past the rafters
into the smoky sky. What I sing is not
heard but implied: the high lonesome, blue
and old-time, repealed. Crushed limestone
underfoot. Stolen names, borrowed sounds.
Dark words subsumed by light, yellowed,
whitened, faded to obscurity, to obscenity.

Who among you has eaten a cake based on a poem? Stephanie L. Harper made this for me to celebrate a recent birthday. The photo doesn’t do it justice – the level of detail, especially in the crow feathers, doesn’t come through. An incredible cake by an incredible poet and human being. And wife! I am a lucky man.

“Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome” first appeared in Crannóg, in June 2017.

In the Garden of Wind’s Delight

 

 

In the Garden of Wind’s Delight

Faltering, it drifts
to a stop, rests for a moment
before fluttering to its end.

It is good to be sound.
It is good to trickle through holes.
It is good to be old
even if just one of a crowd.

These notes serve no purpose
yet they linger beyond
their existence.

I listen to their past
for their future. Where are you?
I ask. What is your true name?

 

 

“In the Garden of WInd’s Delight” appeared in July 2019 in Nine Muses PoetryThank you, Annest Gwilym, for taking this piece.