This Time, Our Time

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The wind through the old-growth evergreens
whistles and cracks like the music
of some Mohawk ceremony, celebrating a birth,
a coming of age, a wedding, an ended life.
Standing in the middle of the natural song
and swaying dance of the needle-leaves
you could believe it to be any and all.
Even now, with slick maple and birch leaves
beneath your feet, with closed eyes,
you can’t tell if it’s the newborn autumn
or spring of your childhood, adulthood, end.

It’s just This Time, Your Time.

With a deep inhalation, you draw in life
that tastes of pine spirits,
and feel yourself sway with the wind.
Now you exhale a flute-like wheeze
as your old bones click within you and
you open your eyes to realize you’re just
another part of your supple old brothers
and as long as you sway in song with them
you’ve a chance at another dance.

In This Time, Our Time.

Photo: Cool, misty pine forest in Kuttikkanam, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hard Way

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Finally alone on the road
in these days of no longer
being lonesome.
Walking toward the oncoming,
like I can’t wait for it
to grow on its own in this race
toward my face I’ll never win.
The dead and dormant
stalks of last year’s roadside
weeds lean toward me,
bent by the slipstream
of these cars and trucks
that push me deeper
into the brush as they pass.
Even they have learned
what I never have.
I always seem to go
against the grain,
the arrows, spears and bullets
of all-weather steel-belted
death pushing against
where I want to go,
or want to be away from.
With a sigh, I turn around
and join the flow of flora
and four-wheeled fauna
on this bit of homeward highway
and wonder, the wind now
a gale in my face, why no matter
which way I turn,
whatever path I’ve chosen
always seems the hard way.

Institutionalized

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Dawn light from the west
woke me this morning.
A winter’s moon so big and bright
it pulled back the curtains and,
with its white-light hacksaw,
cut through the bars on my eyes,
springing me from but six hours
in Sleep’s soft cell of solitary.
Of course I knew Day would never
approach me from behind,
not when Dark’s always
had my back. For a moment,
though, coming up from
the dreamy black water,
my consciousness gasped
and flailed until we attained
some buoyancy where
I could see the clock,
like it was San Francisco and
the great bay of day lay
between me and the security
of pillow and comforter.
I pulled the covers over my head
and crawled back inside, where
Dark and I returned to our
back-to-back cells,
locking ourselves away from
that damn lunar spotlight
and the lonely straight-life
of daily reality for another hour.

Today it was like dawn rose in the west. Luckily, I didn’t rise with it. Photo and wacky pre-dawn dream by yours truly.

Teasing Smile of Maybe

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I remember what it was like
next to the placid river,
when I was blinded perhaps to
the wrinkles made of wind
across its time-buffed surface.
It shone open and inviting,
like I could walk across it,
or lie upon it and not catch its coolness,
not hear the heartbeat and secrets
I knew it kept beneath the skin
that reflected an image
of what I wanted to see.
River and I.

Today, the supple surface lies
like a negative of our time together.
My timeless companion has taken on
the hardness of this age,
cool turned cold, promising
a stinging slap should I place my cheek
to its blank and frozen stare.
But here, by the shore, where I sit
and wait in this winter of my time,
there is an unfrozen slice,
a teasing smile of the undying maybe
a younger me might mistake
for some sparkle of a spring
I probably will never live to see again.

Photo inspiration from my friend Diana Matisz.

November Song

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The river still sang its endless loop
of November song as it rolled past
the old steel bridge, even though
January had almost run its course.
On the hillside above, the latest
excuse-me snow had whitewashed
the abandoned shopping carts,
empty bottles of someone’s
hope turned to hopelessness —
perhaps the other way around —
and a notebook, its pages fat
with ice, its back broken,
its heart now devoid of words.

Where once ran the lyrics to
the music below, the sun had
bleached each line, exsanguinated
warm memory of their watching
the river flow, dreams to follow it
someday out of the valley,
to where the wind carried
the perfume of nature and not
the cough of the mines.

The coal train strikes up a new
strain, overpowering the waterway
that drew its path before factory
and farm knew this frozen soil.
In the roar and wind as it passes,
ringing its way out of this valley,
the pages flutter and reveal
seconds of secrets a girl never
told a boy, only to disappear
back to the winter white and
the sound the river makes as
it chases tomorrow and runs
from yesterday in its wordless
November song.

The photo above inspired this piece and is by my friend and fellow river wanderer, the brilliant photographer and writer Diana Matisz (https://about.me/diana_matisz

The End of the Affair

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My partner and I called it
a year and a half ago.
It was time. Something
she’d never understand.
We’d been going up and down
the same road for years and
it had become nothing but
out and back with no exit
other than here and there.
And so this silence of a life,
this loss of the waves
of tremors I’d feel when
we’d take off together,
the vibrations of ear
and heart that would spark
these visions I’d share
with the few who might care
to see, to hear, to feel
what I did.

She’s waiting for me now,
for me to sit with her and
warm one another on
this cold January day,
to set our course wherever
I want now, instead of
our old north and south.
I miss our alone time,
there in the crowds
of steel and flashing red,
when a song, a memory,
an image other than
dashes of white on black
drawn on a windshield
chalkboard, would become
flesh as soon as she
let go of my hand, and I
grabbed that of my
other secret partner, my #2
of yellow. And so now,
The rest is silence.

This and the previous poem are so reminiscent of the blast of writing I’d do after my commute each morning from Clifton Park to Albany. Both accomplished in less than an hour. I’m sure they show it, but that’s how I work…or don’t.

Down in My Well of Sorrows

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I must admit, I may not have
intentionally slipped down here
into the well of sorrows,
but here I lay.
It’s a deep one. So deep that,
even though I’ve stuffed
all my bads and sads into it
over all my days,
it’s never overflowed and
little light reaches us
all the way down here.
Or so I thought.

But that’s what I get for leaning
so far over the side to examine
all these almost-forgotten pieces
of Who, What, When and Where.
That little voice drew me
closer. Not plaintive,
strangely declarative, familiar,
with each call, the voice lit
a tiny spark of an almost seen.

I thought I could reach it
and when I did, I fell, or
maybe jumped.
And now I’m down here
among my dead and dying,
my truths and lying,
all because I wanted to grasp
that flash of Why…Why…Why.
I wish someone’d throw me
a helping How.