Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dog

When lonely, his whimper
sparks across the dark
gap where the heartbeat's born
like a wolf howling
a bridge of sorrow
to the moon.

Once I left him too long.
He dug a hole so deep
it became a throat
that swallowed night.
I climbed down to get him out,
saw stars shining overhead
at noon.

If I forget to feed him,
he nibbles 
crumbs from my childhood,
that place swept
and left  long ago.

When I dream
he runs, leash-free,
returns to lick my hand.
One night
I will follow him
to the river,
step into a weathered boat
floating on the cold fire
of captured stars,
then walk with him
into his world.


© Jean Sampson, 2015


Canis Major among the Myth Constellations
from the Universe Today website



Monday, August 17, 2015

Your Short Leaving (for Nelson Mandela)

You are in our hearts and our souls;
our thoughts fill with only your being.
We dance not for dying on this one day,
But we sing in joy of your short leaving.

For we are here to keep your name alive
in words that tell of you as saint to none,
who was of this world when in sorer want
and saw new from the old under the sun.

We sing and dance in joy for your going;
our thoughts fill with only your being.
You are in our hearts and our souls;
We will long keep you in your short leaving.


© Dennis Wright, 2015

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, May 2008
South Africa, The Good News
from Wikimedia Commons



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Boy Who Waits

His smile opens over a missing 
front tooth. Perhaps he’s eight, 
maybe nine. A gray wool cap 
hangs on his forehead, jacket 
buttoned, black.  He perches on 
the end of a planked bench and 
waits as instructed.  He holds 
his hand on a plaid red blanket 
draped across the bench -- is it 
his mother’s fringed shawl -- maybe, 
it is worn, it is dear.  He looks straight 
at Chagall as if posing one century 
ago in Paris, or was it Vitebsk?  
Morning sunrays warm the walls, the 
floor of a room that seems cozy, 
except the doors that are padlocked 
and the barren space -- lock, bench, 
cupboard, a dustpan, rose-colored jug 
stored high, out of his reach.  

Scarce color in this painting, the boy’s 
feet are on the floor.  No magic cows or 
smiling horse, no lovers float above. 

This was what the artist painted, nothing 
more about the boy.  Imagine him painted 
now -- would the lock be gone, the title new?

or would nothing change -- the boy sitting
idle, waiting as told, faint hues of 
red and rose -- still the village idiot.


© Marti Snell, 2015

The Village Idiot

Painting: “The Village Idiot” by Marc Chagall (1914-15)
Painted in Paris but likely an image from his home near Vitebsk, Belarus - part of the Russian Empire. Oil and graphite on paper (49.5 x 37.8 cm). In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunset

Is so much more than gold-lit treetops above the pines.
Like an arresting figure drawing near, I’m hesitant to describe, 
sundown absorbs all the likely adjectives in its saturated demise.
There is light, though not the “bright white” of those curly electric bulbs,  
a dull, diffuse, dusty light found where surplus objects are sold.
There’s that pink in the sky remarked by parents’ sighs on the 
evening of another day.
There’s the still blue sky, house hues darkening on the rise,
the kind of light felt in dreams without color or warmth,
a wholly other substance, the view beyond the frame.
There’s the light left in the living room, the reflected light on the chair,
on the slats and the edge of the leather seat while other objects disappear. 
There are layers of darkening trees, a searing ribbon of gold sky,
a purpling of indigo and pink and stunning aqua to the east.
I move through darkening rooms to catch the light’s distant fire, 
as a witness to a burning savannah, in a country never traveled. 
Still there is the light, a fire’s embers burning,
a smoky grey surrounds what’s left, the baby blue has died, 
the aqua’s gone, all features dimmed, a trace remains of proof of day 
when streetlamp lights my window.

© Mary E. Burns, 2015

Riebeis, Austria ~ evening
Photo by Stefan Mayrhofer
from Wikimedia Commons


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stafford’s Last Year: Cento

Old mistakes come calling: no life
happens just once. Whatever snags
even the edge of your days will abide.
You are a turtle with all the years on your back.

Maybe people have to go in and out of shadows
till they learn that floating, that immensity;
maybe somebody has to explore what happens
when one of us wanders over near the edge.

Whatever fits will be welcome, whatever
steps back in the fog will disappear,
as you will, wherever you go after this day,
just a stop by the road, and a glimpse of someone’s life.

Is there a way to be gone and still
belong? Travel that takes you home?
It’s heavy to drag, this big sack of what
you should have done.

And now if there is any light at all 
it knows how to rest on the faces of friends.
Touches of wind. The room you have
in the world is ready to change.

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found.

Well, it was yesterday. And the sun came,
Why
It came.

© Bill Prindle, 2015

Sources: lines selected from poems written by William Stafford in 1993, the last year of his life. The last three lines end the poem he wrote the day he died. All selections from The Way it Is.

Turtle popping its head above water
Photo by William Warby
from Wikimedia Commons



Monday, June 29, 2015

Afton Mountain Piper

A warm summer day and the downhill run 
from Staunton home, and there he stood
in Highland array at the overlook, 
bag full and chanter to his lips.

A private moment, it seemed,
else we would have stopped
to listen, perhaps to chat
if he had a mind to.

But he was intent on his piping, 
facing east across the valley—
piping, one might think,
to immigrant family
who settled these hills,

tracing in his mind an unseen path
from a lowland port westward
among the glens and across these icy streams.

A mountain people before they came,
born in rocky crags stretching beneath the sea
to these selfsame Appalachian hills—
now home in ways they knew and didn’t know.

And what of this does the piper ken?
Does he pipe back two hundred years
to an ancestor Barclay or Black,
McLean or McIntosh, who built here and farmed
the land below?

Or does something stir deeper in his blood
tying him to another place and time,
and so he stands today on a new Afton
far, far this side of home, 
oblivious to the interstate
and growl of traffic and curious stares,
as alone as a man can be heart-deep among his kin,
piping to a distant land?


              © David Black, 2015

Bagpiper at Loch Garry
Photo by Bleiglass
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Road

In the dark
I drive over timeless mountains.
The sky exposes herself to me
In falling starlight and dreamy wisps
Of moonlight.
The road unfolds before me,
Telling a story I discover in each moment.
I know the path well.
I have driven here before,
Finding your love again and again throughout time.
In pauses between conversations with strangers I call friends;
In the quiet of night when only the insects speak to me,
My mind wanders back to you.
In these day dreams,
The timeless mountains become the curl of your hair
Over my naked arm while you sleep.
The night sky and the dreamy wisps of moonlight
Become the remembered depth of your eyes
With the pale reflection of me in their earthy circumference.
In these moments
The stars tell stories of constellations
We have not yet imagined.
The story of us is born again ceaselessly from the same source,
And the road is the pathway between our hearts.


© Fergus Clare, 2014

Narrow road leading to Paranal Observatory
Atacama Desert, Chile
Photo by Julien Girard, an astronomer for ESA