Saturday, September 20, 2014

John Swain- Three Poems

View from Huckleberry Ridge

Air sounds a mourning song through the high trees
hollowed by woodpeckers on the palisade.
Coyotes stepped leaving tracks inside deer tracks shining
in the remaining patches of February snow.
The limestone ridge extended like a horse’s back
bisecting the bowl of ponds and meadows.
I slid in descent on the side of wet leaves and loose rocks
thrilled to be safely falling
like the expanse of bronze grasses writhe delighting in wind
as two red hawks called from the next knob hill over.
Distant rifle fire emptied the sky
still as the frozen waterfalls along the forking streams,
the convergence creates a green river to be my twin.
A fence impasse at the lower fields flowing
gold beneath the black hill,
I held the rusted barbed wire to count like komboloi
calming our hands to climb again
through the valleys cut with water in our new shape.

Chadron Butte
Loud over the hill this thunder like a buffalo,
grey sage uprooted in the high wind singing
as I turned my head toward the prairie falcon
limitless dizzying me between the cliffs.
Sky wind in the grass travels like green fire
up the ochre rocks piled for the rattlesnake
shining diamond in a coil like my bandanna,
I bundled snapped flowers with a blue string.
Sunlight still on me until the rain swims in blood
rushing through the narrow ravines
as cloud people drift to a horizon of lightning
riding over the plains to the dark north.
I climbed through my throat to eat at my shadow
spreading like nightfall over the ground,
now only my bones glowed sewn in the shape
of a great love hunting the wild like wolf jaws.

Confluence Point, Missouri

Crossing the field as dark rivers merge
in the savaging throat of a windstorm,
I listen to the confluence
like father and mother in their primality.
Still winter in silver the waters
vow to carry the mountainside down
strong as the eagles who follow her length
back to a birthing source in the north.
I weakened in the cold
and watched the bridges extinguish in fog
as a stone face shone on the cliff wall.
This enigmatic sky continues in white
like the spectral bride
of horses gallops through broken trees.

John Swain lives in Louisville, Kentucky. Red Paint Hill published his first collection, Ring the Sycamore Sky.

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