Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Riding The Mastodon \ Equinocturne

Nancy: The sad inevitability of things coming to an end, the slow irreversible fall.  In the end we want it to fall, slipping on our own icy tears.

Riding The Mastodon

The mastodon, dying, walks on
will not fall
bleeds icicles
weeps dust
walks on inertia
puts its feet down in the desert,
headed north.

I want it to fall.
I’m afraid, riding the mastodon,
it’s dead, I know it’s dead;
the sun is setting far to the south
and the cold aches in my bones
and the tears I weep for the mastodon
ring on the hard ground.
But the mastodon, dying, walks on.
it puts its feet down on the thin ice.

Alan: Disturbed sleep, equinoctial gales – the world turns once again towards the dark.


This night,
a wind comes up and whistles in the rigging of our dreams.

This night,
a storm rises and scatters the fishing fleet of our dreams –
so many small boats lost, and such drownings!

There are calms, too, this night, and momentary lulls,
when we know that the moon, hiding its swollen belly,
rides away free.

This night is endless as the sea.
There are times when all we can do is cling.

At last, light – and we discover ourselves grounded
at the feet of tossing spruces, gesticulating pines.
Crows surround us.  Ravens eye our eyes.

All unbalanced.  All overturned.

The sun hides his grin in an ashamed mouth
and casts milk across the face of the sky.

Hauling ourselves free from the wreckage of this night,
we collapse into the goldenrods
and sleep.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raven \ At Ingonish

Nancy: And still Raven goes down the bay, sun or storm, our constant companion.


Raven flew in one side of my head,
black in the white silence.  Raven
flew into the landscape behind my eyes,
and shook his electric feathers.
He flew in one side of my head
and he flew out again, on his own business.
Nothing to him that his wings write black weather,
and that the silence closes behind him
with the sound of thunder.
Nothing to Raven, gone down the bay,
that the thunder flies on, bearing his name.

Alan: From a long-ago trip to Nova Scotia.  Its exuberant language owes a debt to David Kresh, a wonderful poet who died too soon.

At Ingonish

At Ingonish the sea
fingers a fiddler’s choice on the cliffs
and the lake
frets a banjo breakdown on the longnecked barrachois.
Some law here keeps the salt stone from the fresh.
The cormorant and kingfisher wheel, ungeared, unmeshed,
round the hubs of bream and brash,
their world’s end at these rocks,
the jack pine, dune grass sharper than a fence.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Edge Of Night \ Homage To Stanley Kunitz

Nancy: There and gone.  The bats slipped into the spaces behind the shingles and lived invisible days.  Our lives crossed here, at dusk and dawn.

Edge Of Night

a bat slices the air
slivers the pale light into
smaller and smaller pieces
dusty with scales
plays the blade of itself
in calligraphy
mantras of flight
ribbons of air, shards of mystery
     nearer and nearer
arcs away and back and suddenly
no match for dawn
slides the soft steel of itself
silently, just here, invisible
     above my head

Alan: I loved reading The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects On A Century In The Garden (Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine, W.W. Norton & Co, 2007).  It’s a beautiful little book: a final flower from a marvelous poet and gardener.

Homage To Stanley Kunitz

1.     gardening:


2.     writing:


3.     a poem:


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For Those Passing \ To The Kansas Board Of Education

Nancy: How cold and refreshing the water was, how special the flavor of well water – as though the tin cup added its own zest.  A cup still has a place in the back of our kitchen drawer and another is tied to our pump handle.  When I was still one of those “folks from away,” this homely thought was a bond between me and the old-timers.

For Those Passing

We always kept a tin cup
by the well, or a dipper;
and stopped too
and pumped and rinsed and drank
at other’s wells.
Sometimes the water ran,
clear, from a pipe at the roadside,
a scythed bank, a cup tied with a string.
Horses drank at the overflow.
Even today,
I like the sweet taste of natural courtesy,
the cup, hung on a fence staple
by the well,
water enough for all.

Alan: In 1999, Kansas deleted the teaching of evolution from the state’s science curriculum.  Despite that, life proceeds according to the reality-based principle, as it always has.

To The Kansas Board Of Education
                                                            on its Consideration of the Future of the Teaching of the Theory of Evolution

Our kind arose, we’re told,
from voles and shrews
or more primitive scurriers yet,
ascending, get by get,
through lemurs, monkeys, apes
(or some such hairy jakes)
until a light flicked on
behind the brow of brawn.
Ergo: Mozart.  The Bomb.

An older story line
insists that every kind
dropped fully formed
from God’s all-pregnant Brain,
which makes us each the same
except that some have heard
of Jesus and the Word
while others nibble grain.

Observing shrews and voles,
I think they’re unamused
and will simply carry on
despite the recent polls
which derogate their long
and lustrous line
to lower rungs.

Nor do they care a whisker
if God or God’s big sister
thought of them first.
As long as seed-heads burst
and meal-mates throng
they’ll do what must be done
long after we’re gone
to dust and dung.