Arrivals

The soup is better having room to steep

in the deeper time of its own goodness.

Many things unite in one great thing.

We learn hunger.

 

The ground, now patched and sown together

with summer’s glowing refuse, is somehow brighter –

having taken its time.

We learn beauty.

 

Her pleasure, no fait accompli, 

but in a reverence for slow heights.

Climb slowly this peak.

We learn desire.

 

Her tiny immensity, a sacred squalor, protrudes

nose first, dark to light, damp and cold –

one last hurrah of anonymity before donning

the first breaths of vulnerability.

We learn awe.

 

Pulled nose first into the warmth

of kitchen bread, newly plump and rising to greet us

square in tongue and tonsil, teasing

and teaching the crust-browned life.

We learn perfection.

 

Shoes, worn and well-gravelled, grind away

at the miles. A distance made less with repetition –

repetition of repeated renewals of the long

overcoming of road.

We learn perseverance.

 

And, in all of it remains the best of all our waiting.

One arrives, caught in the minutiae of the cosmic unseen.

Here to surprise our own expectations.

Come to convince us of lost remembrances.

The one great beauty in our catalogue of fear.

We learn salvation.

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I am not as old

On the occasion of my fifty-fifth birthday.

____________________

No, I am not as old as

the wilting membrane of earth –

the skin of her secrets, too tightly

breast-held and leaky.

 

No, I am not as old as last

winter’s back-porch bread crumbs,

now frozen in cracks of concrete

and flaking paint.

 

No, I am not as old as the clock,

heavy in memory and fingerprints –

evidenced in her calloused hands.

 

No, I am not as old as the long-

faded colour now framing the painting’s

place – a reminiscence tucked in

a reminiscence. The irony of old beauties.

 

No, I am not as old as the tales and

fables, born wild and then loosed

in the telling, fermenting into 

many-tongued song.

 

No, I am not as old as the coughing

farm truck, grizzled metal and clogged

arteries, belching orders under

a hollow back, still unbroken.

 

No, I am not as old as the cathedral

stone, serenely quiet in the preachy

way of ancient things always new.

 

I am just old enough to love, and

to start again.

Rooted in Tears

Rooted in Tears.jpeg

When the ground gives way to our tears,

it is vetting our vulnerabilities,

reversing the vehemence of treasures, forgotten;

memories, shredded;

intentions, maligned –

just long enough to trouble itself with our footprints.

Soil cracks and splits,

giving itself to the probing intrigue

of life – spacious, new, bon vivant.

Oh, this heart, designed to pound

in the direction of its own freedom!

Why must it refuse the trouble

of this painful newness?

Perhaps what pushes up from suffering

will answer the hard-soiled questions

best left unanswered –

until what once lay frozen

now graces the presence of sky?

___________________________

Painting by Valerie Dodge-Reyna

Summer’s Repast

The Fairy Pools 20.jpgHer 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

Death’s death

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.

 

 

 

NaHaWriMo 2018 Bids Adieu

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.

* * *

Day 22

Just five syllables

away from finding five more

to finally fin…

 

Day 23

The first winter snows

fall late in February

to a Springing earth.

 

Day 24

Go ahead and pull

the trigger of your lover.

She is still hungry.

 

Day 25

Lacerated flesh

smells of burning horizons.

All in a day’s work.

 

Day 26

Souls, in hollow steel.

An industry of madness

makes tiny men rich.

 

Day 27

It seems we eschew

the pulchritude of gladness

for want of power.

 

Day 28

Today, I shot kids.

Thanks be to God that I can

live where I am free.

NaHaWriMo 2018, part 3

Day 17

I cannot say why

the page seems a mystery

to a breath of ink.

 

Day 18

If there is but one

desire, given to all men,

could it not be love?

 

Day 19

A rotund excuse

it takes to suffer one’s pride

for want of one’s rights.

 

Day 20

A curious thing

this stand of winter flowers,

blooming out of rhyme.

 

Day 21

When the clock stood still,

two arms aimed at journey’s end

couldn’t stand the strain.