Some Poems

Coming Over Catawba

Coming over Catawba and I see it again: 
this natural color, this morning stain 
I’d never known before, spread out plain 
across the top of a line of brushy mountains – 

a fired-up pink and orange grain, 
a palette-dance with a draping, drifting line  
of purplish shadow scratched lean and fine, 
and with splotches of forest-green spattered 
here and there in these pine-tree ragged tatters. 

Then the road swings me around an edge of upthrust 
granite; a curtain of white pine pulls back: a blush 
of pink and orange mountain, the glow of a new day 
revealed, lit across this tree-blurred brim, like great hands folded together. And we pray  

for this prairie-grown schoolteacher, this old 
paintbrush moving against this clean canvas bold, 
for there is, beyond that line of just-discovered color, a new 
classroom and the thoughts and feelings of green and blue 
minds raised in the comfortable shadow and sun of these pink and these orange, 
these edged-with-sky Blue 
Ridge Mountains.

The First Step of Creation 

Imagine finding a tree that reaches down and pulls you up to its lower branches, that twists limbs and leaves as you move up into her embrace to keep you from falling, all while pulling back the screen of shimmering green and revealing to you a fresh perspective on the provincial town from whence you just came – and then gesturing to mountain and forest and ocean beyond. 

Imagine finding a stone beside the flowing river, flat and firm in your hand, smooth and promising, and knowing that the completed act is the sliver of granite and the skin of the water working together for that heart-laugh moment of a stone skipping and flashing across the river’s surface. 

Imagine a candle, orangey, and scented with apple and cinammon, burning small but bright on a cheap kitchen table, while you raise a mug of steaming cocoa, two fat and melting marshmallows bobbing at the rim, to the one poised across the table, mug in-hand, eyes like godiva, smile electric and followed by a blown kiss. 

Imagine a teardrop on a heart painted roughly on a treasure chest, open and overflowing with gold and whole notes and half notes and quarter notes and bass clefs and treble clefs and silver, tattooed on the breast. 

Imagine a home set with the smell of meatloaf in the oven, good beer in the fridge, cool bedsheets in the summer, flannel bedsheets in the winter, a quick song bouncing through it, and this one, turning towards you as you come in the door. 

Now reach out for what you imagine that it may be so.


Eye and Hand

Give it to me – let me know – let me see 
There’s a storm on the field – there’s a bottle breaking 
There’s a shadow in an alley – there’s a shine on the mirror – there’s a lie from the lips 
Give us – grant us – feed us – break us – take from us -  
Tell me nothing – breath on the mountain – whispers in a backroom 
Stumble and fail 

Gunshot thought – blood – another fallen child – another turning away 
You’ll feel the shattered glass – your feet will bleed – 
You will march – 
They will march – 
You will march – 
They will march – 
You must march 

Dragged from the riverside – pulled from the backyard of the brain – pay no attention to shudders – to shivers – to the rattle of babies in cages 
This ain’t your heart breaking – this is your nation crumbling 
This ain’t your heart breaking – this is your nation crumbling 
Weep  for the child – weep for the fool – mutter your secrets cuz they ain’t secrets and we all know already the failure of sheets wrapped around the body – the white ghost on the hill – the black gun in the fist 
Take a breath – no comfort in the mother 
Take a breath – no comfort in this song 
Practice seeing – practice telling – practice seeing – giving – acting when the knowing is too much 
Acting when the knowing is too much 
You have to act when the knowing is too much 
You have to act

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