Welcome Guests

Welcome Guests

They arrived last night, late.
Bright moonlight. Soft silence.
I neither heard nor saw them.

I awoke to moonlight on snow.
Shimmering stars. Orion
proud among prancing planets
sparkling in frosted air.

I looked out. Nothing there.
White wilderness of snow,
unmarked, but shadowed.

Dawn. An anxious child
on Christmas Day, I peeped
under the tree, and yes,
I cried out, “He’s been.”
I remember brightly
wrapped packets of gifts.

Today’s gifts: hoof prints
emerging from dark woods,
circling beneath the ash tree,
leading to the bird feeders,
and back into empty woods.

“Yes!” I said aloud. “At Last.”
And joy filled my heart.

Click on this link to hear Roger’s reading.
Welcome Guests

Comment:

Reading the poem aloud, I changed some of the word order to the rhythm of my speaking voice. It’s reading before an audience and hearing their reaction that tells me when a poem is right or needs retouching. Alas, those live readings are gone for now. Anchor, Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, and this blog are good, but not quite the same. But, for a rhythm and voice poet, who loves live readings and welcomes a live audience, they are better than that midnight silence under dark trees.

North Wind

North Wind

North Wind descended from the pole
sending its wolf pack through snow-
bound trees. Listless, they stood there,
then wind and wolves came, cutting
and shuffling, playing snap-the-branch,
chase-the snow-flake, and strip-jack-
naked. Wolves danced on their hind-
legs, round and round, shaking trees,
biting at branches, testing winter games
until trees stood naked, stripped of snow,
tresses and garlands gobbled and gone.

Oh the wickedness of winter, its cold-
cut cruelty, the lash of the wind, ice-
pellets hurled, picketing fences, pecking
a wild winter-song, forlorn in its fury,
its pace, its power, its reckless race
to hurl everything away, out of its way,
snow twisted, tormented, twitching
its snake-way down barren highways
devoid of secret places in which to hide
tender faces from the North Wind.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
North Wind.


First Snow

First Snow

Fell softly, quietly, soundless, in the night.
I knew it was there. A lightness in the air,
a subtle change in the quality of light.
Now everything has changed: yesterday’s bare
trees wear their winter dresses, frilly tresses
garnished with garlands of snow.

The deer will arrive, sooner or later.
They always do. They troop from right
to left, west to east, as day turns to night,
then troop back, east to west, in morning light.
They step dark and diligent, flitting shadows
beneath snowy trees, one after another,
forging a single passage from yard to road,
crossing it, then vanishing into dark woods.

I saw them one night in a midnight dream.
They stood on their hindlegs underneath
the mountain ash and danced, so delicate,
reaching up with long, black tongues,
to steal bright berries from lower branches.
They danced in a full moon’s spotlight
and filled my heart with joy and pain.
How I long to see them dance again.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
First Snow

Poetry Painting

Poetry Painting

This was a totally new experience: a poem written over a painting that linked visual to verbal. I tried several versions of the words and have come up with a better one… but, once the words are on the canvas, it’s so hard to change them. The spoken word, once loosed, can never be recalled.

Our New Brunswick leaves have gone already. We are looking at ships’ masts, sails unfurled, in an anchored harbor. Further south, Thanksgiving is here. My distant neighbors and friends are contemplating turkeys and family gatherings and all that is good about harvest festivals and the end of the productive year, the agriculturally productive year, that is. Below them, in Mexico, the land of four continuous harvests, growth continues.

The cycle of the seasons rolls on and on. In the British Isles Woodhenge has turned into Stonehenge. Four thousand five hundred years of history measured in stone circles, seasonal star and sun points, times for sowing and harvesting. Absolutely bewilderingly marvelous. More than 5,500 standing stone calendars can be found in those islands.

And here, in my painting, leaves, letters, words deliver a message of intertextuality. Change is upon us. We live with it, focus on it, describe it in words. Each letter, each word, is a leaf on the tree, falling or soon to fall.

Autumn Leaves

Catch them
if
you can.


Catch them
while
you can.

Autumn Leaves.
Don’t grieve.
Close the door
when she is gone.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Autumn Leaves

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

She surveys her empire
from a tall tree, then steps
into space, plunging her
body’s weight downwards,
diving into fragile air.

A feathered arrow,
she makes contact, feet first,
and pins the unsuspecting robin
to the ground. His shrill shriek
emerges from a beak
that shreds failing life.

The hawk’s claws clench.
Her victim weakens.
His eyes glaze over.
One final spasm,
a last quick twitch,
the robin is gone.

One wing drags, flaps weakly,
borne skywards in the hawk’s
triumphant claws.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Sharp-shinned Hawk

In Love with Love

Meditations on Machado and Mairena
In Love with Love

1

In a dream
I dream of you,
dream you into reality,
yearn for your name.
Now I’ll never be the same.

I dream you in a garden,
roses around you.
I stand there suffering,
my head crowned
with thorns.

Caught in the briers of your eyes,
I am trapped in the eye-
lash of your name.

Your presence taunts me.
Your absence haunts me.
My life
will never be the same,
oh Guiomar.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
In Love with Love 1

Coal Face

Coal Face

My family never forced me underground.
Nobody ever made me kneel at the coal-
face altar and worship, on my knees,
that grimy god with its coal-black soul.

A child in body and heart, nobody ordered
me to squirm down diminishing seams,
much too narrow for men or machines
and fitting only for the smallest child.

Fitting indeed, an early coffin, made to
measure, lying in wait for the slightest
slip of the rocks above or below. Tight
fitting, indeed, no wiggle, wriggle room.

Billy Blake, my mate from Trinidad,
younger than me, saw the black faces
of miners emerge from the mine, enter
the pit-head baths and come out white.

He, too, wanted to be white. He dug
underground, grew even blacker, went
into the showers, gouged his black skin,
drew rivers of blood, never changed color.

He died when the roof above him fell
without warning. They pulled him out.
Brought him to the surface. Prepared
him for burial. Wrote on his tombstone:

“His body was as black as night,
but oh, his soul was white.”

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Coal Face.

Snow Geese

Snow: no geese!

Snow Geese

Snow geese falling, plummeting from the sky,
dropping like leaves, slowly and tumbling,
swiftly and twisting, spiralling down. Fresh
snow on the ground, their seasoned arrival.

Some land on water, others on the earth.
They gather in groups, snow banks of geese,
ghost-white, frightening, true sky lightning,
celestial, striking from its ancestral throne.

Always some sentries, necks stretched, eyes
open, alert, watching, guarding their needs
while the flock feeds. One honks “Who goes
there?” the flock looks up, watching him move.

Slowly, at first, they waddle from the walkers,
then faster and faster as the man unleashes his
hounds. An idiot woman, grinning like a death’s
head, points her cell phone and barks instructions.

The dogs run at them, barking and growling.
The snow geese panic, run ever faster, taking
to the air with a clap-wing chorus, honking
and hooting. The woman laughing, shouting

and shooting. “I’ve got them, I’ve shot them,”
she calls in her pleasure. Frustrated, the hounds
take to the water. Whistling, calling, the man
cannot catch them, not till they tire of the chase,

no match for geese, not in air, nor in water.
Joyous the couple, their videos made, hugging,
cuddling. They get back in the car, dogs shaking,
spraying them, baptismal water, cleansing all guilt.

Geese: no snow.

Click on the link for Roger’s reading.
Snow Geese

Heart Ache

Hope Fall

Heart Ache

My heart is an empty nest, all feelings
fledged and flown. I yearn for the warmth
St. Kevin felt when the blackbird settled,
nested in his hand, laid her clutch of eggs.

Oh, the cold dark stare of the under-earth,
growing its cold chill upwards through feet and knees,
and the winter branch stiffness of hands frozen
into concrete branches, week after week, until
the blackbird’s eggs are hatched and fledged.

No saint am I. Just a father deprived of his distant
child, of his granddaughter developing, growing
older and wiser without him there to help her
on her way, or hinder, as old men often do,
unaware of the changing times and the ferocious
pull of new ideas, new tides, the swashbuckling
effects of the new world now upon us, a world
we oldlings, so long ago fledged and flighted,
will never understand nor grasp. How could we?

And yet that hand stretches out from the window
of the cells that hold us, bind us, imprison us,
and make us realize how strong are the wings
of love that flutter in our ageing hearts.

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Heart Ache

Song without Words

Song without Words

I wanted to sing you a song
to keep you alive
but you slipped through my fingers
and fled from my sight

I still sense your presence
but no longer know
the shape of your face

your voice on the phone
unique unforgettable,
a voice without face

voiceless and faceless
fleshless yet graceful
just what you were
a presence a spirit
a force in my life

a grey fleshless shadow
a mist in my mind
I know I never knew you

two different worlds
a world without music
a song without words
my love song to you
however absurd

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Song without Words