Her voice is always clearer
when she breathes her way
to late sunset-thoughts,
and a thousand possible songs –
ready to sing, but with no
urgency to sing them.
They’ll wait, and when you’re not looking,
they’ll groom themselves
into symphonies of days where casual
melodies of lazy, guilt-free sun
harmonize your life.
Hush, speak slower. Say only
what words bring thought and chance,
laughter and hearts to find the same story.
Never let a single sentence pass
without introducing yourself as
someone ripe for more of the same.
Forget what losses brought you
to this place. Remember only that
which formulates in the bubbling folly
of untamed rivers of remembrance.
They always have much to say
when one is tuned to hear
riddles in the waltzing water.
But, if sing you must, let go
the notes, large or small,
ripe and raw, trembling with anticipation
of summer’s repast, tuned and teasing.
And, above all else, don’t sing alone.
These are the days well fitted for
the songs of neighbours.
Robert Alan Rife, May 29/18
Photo: The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2016
Let us strive to understand why
artists of different stripes, through all our times,
have sought out darkness, terror, and woe.
Is this alone enough weight to serve the best
grist for the mill,
the most creative soil?
Some see hope only in pain – best straw for the man,
scare for the crow,
leaves for the tea.
But love yet remains the hottest kiln fire,
best ink or brush, chisel or note, key or bow.
The lover writes, paints, sings, sculpts, dances
her way to unleashed creativity, effortlessly
producing beauty in saying so.
Lose that love and comes a torrent of page-busting pain,
notes of mourning and loss,
all the colours of the universe distilled into singular grey.
Art becomes the dense power of the black hole,
sucking energy from anything unlucky enough
to be in proximity. It is pulled in,
crushed, passed through the dark,
then, released again, purified in travail.
Let the art come then from orbital gravity –
two heavenly bodies in mutual dance.
And, sometimes, great art still issues
forth from the flinging wildly into endless space,
victim of some heavenly collision.
The sculptor trains his eye on her flowing
body, chipping away what stone blocks
the way of the visage that drives him.
Shoot an arrow through her and the same
tools are used to take his own life.
Then, the composer, matching them both,
crushes grisled notes onto a tear-stain’d staff.
The musician throws note after throbbing note, dying
as on cloth all our emotions in each one. She loses a hand
to prepare the way for the still
broader statement of the one who writes of her loss.
It is all an exercise in drilling holes in the sternum
to siphon enough life-blood for the great gushing
onto page, stone, canvas, or staff
one’s gratitude or grief;
tears or triumph;
grist or glory.
There is good art in the good. Perhaps even better art in the bad.
There is art within art. Light from dark from light,
we find the most lasting thing tucked in
the gravitas of every moment.
The artist must find the kernels of beauty tucked
in a backwash world,
like chasing fog in the dark.
Let us begin.
Live! Live! Not one minute
more to solemnize the squaring truths
of the dark, exasperating. Exsanguinating.
The probing luminant, juggernaut
of dawn brought down as a quickening
shade of brilliance over the tar-black,
songless night – now gasping out
its own greying reminiscence.
Kicking against the goads, a denouement
of despair, decay’s quietus comes to mock.
But its voice is too dry now for anything more
than the androgynous whisper of a skeleton.
The bones rattle and try in vain to spark, to scare,
to survive the day, already here.
Death, this needy after-thought, this choking
wheeze of duskish, tight-lipp’d groaning –
it can no longer hunt, its legs are
broken, a dislocated shoulder no longer
suited to hefting hopelessness.
Spring! Spring! O antediluvian Spring! How
many are your salted children, lined up
outside your garden wall. Someone
has unchink’d the tangled gate and trodden new
footprints – fresh, ancient and deep – in the Virgin soil.
We come too, having hid ourselves in
the wisp of your blood-colour’d sleeves.
Droughted, now, a tomb and the perfect surprise:
breaths in lungs once shut, re-sighted eyes,
and in the first of all new hours,
Someone has made light work of death.
Alas, we come to the end. February, along with National Haiku Writing Month 2018, bid adieu. A parting kiss, a tip of the hat, and a thanks to all.
* * *
Just five syllables
away from finding five more
to finally fin…
The first winter snows
fall late in February
to a Springing earth.
Go ahead and pull
the trigger of your lover.
She is still hungry.
smells of burning horizons.
All in a day’s work.
Souls, in hollow steel.
An industry of madness
makes tiny men rich.
It seems we eschew
the pulchritude of gladness
for want of power.
Today, I shot kids.
Thanks be to God that I can
live where I am free.
I cannot say why
the page seems a mystery
to a breath of ink.
If there is but one
desire, given to all men,
could it not be love?
A rotund excuse
it takes to suffer one’s pride
for want of one’s rights.
A curious thing
this stand of winter flowers,
blooming out of rhyme.
When the clock stood still,
two arms aimed at journey’s end
couldn’t stand the strain.
More Haiku, or my attempt at the same, for National Haiku Writing Month, 2018!
thanks for the haiku advice.
It’s been most helpful!
Watch the sky, squinting
against her lonely brilliance –
pants dying winter.
I never could have
foreseen today unfolding
quite the way it did.
“It’s only ten bucks,”
he said, through unseeing eyes.
“Why not get a job?”
Day 14 (Ash Wednesday)
One swipe of a thumb,
marking our humanity.
Let’s shoot our children.
And before their blood is dry,
we’ll do it again.
Dark and deep the ground
that suffocates our children
and steals our future.