Friday, March 20, 2015

Ralph Monday- Three Poems

Snow Walking in Chiaroscuro

Perception, it’s only perception you
tell yourself, but you know that it is
more than that—the human race has
always known that it has to do with
                and here you are

snowwalking in the back yard, six
inches of snow like sixty thousand
years of humans before houses, in
caves or mud huts or a hole underneath a
rock—you are no different than them,
even with central heat and air, retirement
portfolio, the teeth and hair and bones
                are the same
for you see the shadows
cast by the deck floods
                over the
cedars, golden mops, last
summer’s brown grasses weeped
over with crusted ice—thin pencil
stroked shadows beneath them—the
same impetus where halfway round the
world, in the Himalayans, Tibetans
know the dark as yeti,
                or in North America
the howl of Sasquatch, only
the screech in the mind
the mind.
Perception is what matters whatever
shadow it is that follows from birth
to death, marriage and divorce, loves
lost and loves gained,
loves that never mattered.
The significance is that something
is out there in the dark, some snarling
savage thing that takes another in
its sharp jaws, rends and cracks bones,
muzzle blood spattered, grizzled with
                When it is done, when its
instinct is fulfilled, it lifts satisfied head
and follows the moon following silver
cloud, for it is
traveling with all the dark powers
knitted into the universe.
It knows that no flickering TV in a
fire warmed room can stay its passage—
it has no need of name,
                and there
before the channel is flicked,
before the warm bed,
the acuity of the thing that has no
name settles somewhere biding time.

Winter Wind

We walked on the frozen trail through
the woods, when I stopped and said
do you hear?
A far off roar, like a tornado coming
closer and closer. Then the treetops bent and
swayed as the mighty presence rushed past—
wind through the treetops like some
hurried god late for a
so strange, only a few trees but one in particular,
a great red oak bent back and forth like the
ticking hand of a clock as though singled
out. The force swept away as quickly as it
came. I knew that this was a living presence,
something on a mission that sought out that
tree like a Druid priest. We weren’t supposed
to be there, to have witnessed this god of
air as it exhaled the potency of dim, far stars.
        See see, I felt it say.
You are frail avatars waiting to be
spliced within the seeds of the
earth. Shadow smoke rising from a
wood stove, vapor, twice-made silhouettes beneath
heaven’s windows—spirits moving on and away.

February Wind

There’s a February wind blowing tonight
out there in the cold, the silence but for the
living air, the owls back on the ridge hooting
out something
        something       blowing in. The dead pine
tree silhouetted  against twilight’s ridge       knows
for even the woody dead         can sense the living
        presence, human or some other unseen
worldly company there   in      the
        black air the same way that it must have
been that time  years ago       when    two
men drove to the top of Pine Mountain
        didn’t heed the wind’s sermon, the
eulogy poised in the bare tree tops, the
        epigraph of root, thicket, moldered
leaves. They didn’t listen to the world preacher’s
sermon        opening the land and      pointing straight to
        Drunk maybe or secure in their mountain
maleness, it was said later that they   sobbed like
babies, begged for their lives, the way of mountain
people—the gothic gossip.
        No one knew. My brother said he knew who
killed them, but he was a drunk prone to exaggeration.
        Some said it was over money or married women,
others that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time,
        still others who said no, the bible says when it’s your
time, don’t matter what.
        They didn’t listen to that same wind blowing
tonight. The shotgun blasts     that    ripped them apart
some steel shot         final message, letter from a finger—
        their blood may as well have been ink writing the

Ralph Monday is Associate Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and published in over 50 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Lost Houses and American Renditions is scheduled for publication, May 2015 by Aldrich Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment