The sullen thrum of a distant engine Rings in the cascading hills As they rise and fall on the horizon, Fading into the white haze Of a humid Wisconsin evening. A fire burns to cinders in the foreground And the stars silently conquer the curtain of night, Pinpricks of sunlight poking through the shroud That wraps a dying day, As we cling to the hope That we are as eternal as this moment.
The washed out yellow street light Standing sentinel at the corner next to my driveway Throws wild shadows on my shelves and walls That are occasionally stretched into thin waving lines As the bright pale blue light of the patrolling cop’s Fluorescent headlights roll past my yard. The silent murmur of the woods holds sway Broken by a passing car on a distant highway, The echoing sirens of a police car needed somewhere quick, Or the mournful blare of a train lost somewhere in the hills.
Every walk I take is a performance, A concert for next to no one With no instruments to speak of Save for the rhythm of my feet As one step follows another To the solid beat of my gait, Stride staying steady As I cross paths and walkways, Each one a measure In the score of my day.
I’ve been working on a new poem (goes up tomorrow). I got a draft done pretty quickly, forty-five lines across three pairs of stanzas, lots of nice imagery, all of that in about twenty-five minutes. I had a super clear image, a theme to work with, and a form that rapdily emerged from the way the thing arranged itself in my head. Not my fastest work, but still pretty good for a first draft. I spent another five minutes over the rest of the day reading it and making small adjustments and then sent it off to a reader for a quick review. I was expecting a comment about the end, that it would feel very abrupt or like it shouldn’t have been the end, and that’s the comment I got back. See, I had more I wanted to say, but I couldn’t find a way to say it, so I tried to wrap it up there. After all, not everything needs to go into one poem. But clearly it was missing something, so I decided I’d spend some time today to work on it.
She waits, Like a mountain reaching for the sky, Pushed up by unseen plates in an embrace It will never know or feel, She waits for a call To hear a voice she knows She may have already heard For the last time. She waits for comfort, A desert cactus counting days Since the last rain, Pinning hope on each passing cloud As the little water it has slowly drains. She waits, Breathing deeply, fighting anxiety As each buzz of her phone, Each ping on her computer Resurrects hope she abandoned When it pulled out her hair And chewed her nails to the quick. All I can do is stand by and watch While she waits, Useless words weigh down my tongue, Empty gestures tie my arms, And the knowledge I cannot fill The void she feels bows my head. She waits, Knowing what might be lost Cannot be replaced, Like a dried up river Leaves a furrow in the earth That will linger on until The entire world has changed. So she waits, Living the best she can With one ear cocked for a sound And one eye watching for a face, And a smile to hide them both.
Once upon a midday dreary, while I browsed, bored and bleary, Over many a wikipedia page of unverified lore– While I drowsed, my head swinging, suddenly my phone was ringing, It was my favorite band singing, singing about a red door. “Someone is calling,” I muttered, “ringing like some common bore– Who calls someone anymore?”
The world comes back like musicians Tuning instruments as the crowd quiets And the conductor takes a stand So the concert can begin with a noise, A cacophony of sound that solidifies Into a single note as a part of you protests That everything is out of order. Eyes blink and the room swims, A discordant melody played in tune To a song from the house next door, As attention builds long enough to Note that the alarm is going off Before the hand slapping snooze Breaks it all to pieces and you fall Back into the abyss for one minute more. Enough alarms later, the discord falls away To be replaced by soft darkness Welcoming you back to the world With the admonishment that you must rise And begin the day laid out for you. Slowly, like a symphony builds From the percussion in the back To the brass and strings in crescendo, You build yourself into a person Who can stand for the day And decide your alarm has done its duty. Moments later, the world drifts back together Like music from headphones Left sitting on your desk And you discover an hour has passed. With the passion and harmony Of a garage band playing borrowed instruments, You throw yourself together and bolt For an uncertain future you can only roll with, A day of discord and low fidelity That still manages to carry you away By force of spirit alone. Some days will be symphonies But most are improvised songs played With fumbling fingers that know only The importance of this moment.
When the day is done and the fire’s stoked, When the night is fresh and the world is cloaked In star-soft mantle of darkening blue I still have one last job to do. I compile the words I have found, Feeling out their shape and sound As I sort them into categories In preparation for all the stories I haven’t had the chance to tell, Until the fire’s down to a sullen swell And the first glimmers of morning sun Tell me that my work is done.