Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stopping By Woods \ Cold Night Old Friend

Alan:  My seventh grade English teacher declared that I would be “my generation’s Robert Frost” because of some doggerel or other I’d handed in.  It was an off forecast, but perhaps the following is a long-delayed response to that burdensome prediction.  “Plow,” by the way, means a snowplow.

Stopping By Woods

Meeting Ryokan on a back road
late, one glum afternoon
(he was staring into the trees,
their clotted flanks,
snow flecking his cloak like dandruff;
the grind of a plow approaching from the distance,
and more forecast),
he looked at me, grinned:
“No promises.
Nowhere to go.
No interest in sleep whatsoever.”

Nancy: So little difference – a hut in the mountains, a cabin by the sea – and the quiet that is filled by a thought, a smile, the snick of an ember.

Cold Night Old Friend

Before I had the door open
Ryokan was talking . . . and I
was tired of the cold and went
down to the city but oh
the flapping of paper . . . bells
on every corner . . . something
awful, the little drummer boy . . .

He sighed and pulled a bottle of wine
out of his robes.  We didn’t need
to talk, just put another log on the fire,
it blazed up, just you, me, Ryokan, and
now and then the tkk of a falling coal,
waiting out the longest night.

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