Pain (Haibun)

Pain

Pain reminds me that I’m breathing, still able to appreciate the fragrance of French roast coffee brewing, the diced red pepper, onion and jalapeño mixture sizzling in the pan. Today is a good day. When I roll out the dough for the onion tart, the leg barely protests, and as I sip ginger tea while the tart bakes, no throb interrupts my pleasure.

Sometimes the hip shocks me with its barbed lance attack, or the knee rasps “not today, sonny,” and I grimace, concentrate on deliberate forward movement, one short step followed by another, into the kitchen or down the steps to the shack.

Music soothes, as does poetry, but occasionally the weight of the guitar is more than the leg can bear. Still, when I manage to lose myself in a tune or a few phrases, I drift in their currents, weightless, free.

 

Oh, to climb that hill
among those lost maples
Look — my shoe’s untied

 

* * *

“Pain” first appeared in The Zen Space in July 2018.

 

Countdown, #1: Wind

blossoms

 

My last five posts of 2018 are reruns of five of the most viewed posts on this site during the year. “Wind” benefitted from being featured on the WordPress Discover site, and is by far the most viewed post ever on the blog.

 

Wind

That it shudders through
and presages an untimely end,

that it transforms the night’s
body and leaves us

breathless and wanting,
petals strewn about,

messenger and message in one,
corporeal hosts entwined,

that it moves, that it blends,
that it withdraws and returns without

remorse, without forethought, that it
increases, expands, subtracts,

renders, imposes and releases
in one quick breath, saying

I cannot feel but I touch,
I cannot feel

* * *

“Wind” first appeared in Blue Hour Magazine and is included in my first chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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Countdown, #4: The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

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My last five posts of 2018 are reruns of five of the most viewed posts on this site during the year.

 

The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

In whose tongue
do you dream?
I fall closer to death

than birth, yet
the moon’s sliver
still parts the bare

branches and an unfilled
trench divides the
ground. Bit by bit,

we separate – you
remain in the earth,
recumbent, as I gather

years in stride.
Even the rain
leaves us alone.

 

image

This first appeared in December 2015.

Ghazal of the Bullwhip

Ghazal of the Bullwhip

Who hears braided tongues lashing the glare still?
The language of pain writhing through white air, still.

Or herding cattle you pop and crack above the horizon,
pastoral and flowing. But sharp, a sonic nightmare, still.

You ask how love blossoms through decades and more.
That look, a caress, the perfect words – all quite rare, still.

Oh to be a larks head knot, strengthening when used.
Delicious hitch, unmoved water, tight square, still.

I fall, you fall. We fall together in pleated silence.
The inevitable loop of the captive’s bright snare, still.

No gods today, but voices trickling through my skull:
Bob, Bob, they say. Not again. Even you should care. Still!

* * *

In response to a comment, Daniel Schnee dared/challenged me to write a poem about a bullwhip. To make it interesting I decided to combine his theme with my latest enthusiasm, the ghazal form.

This first appeared on the blog in September 2017.

Uccello

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Uccello

the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
returning
to the seed

listen
the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are
silent

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
spiraling
slowly
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

curling
to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

light
the familiar embrace

unfolding

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Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. When I last looked out my window at that same tree, I heard the birds, no longer silent.