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Kurt R.A. GiambastianiAugust, without a doubt, is my least favorite month. It’s when the garden starts to pant and parch, spiders build massive obstacle courses in the yard, fruit goes from unripe green to fuzzy grey within minutes, and wildfire smoke descends to choke our skies, our lungs, our eyes.

And this August, it’s also when a “great” idea for a bit of topical poetry falls totally flat. (more…)

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On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings, quiet and low, as if to itself alone.

It stands beyond my sleeping, snow-mantled garden, an ancient guarding the limits of my land, gap-toothed, slope-shouldered, its windward side rough with scree, cragged and worn by storm-fed furies, by blistering sun, by generations’ neglect.

Once, it had been naught but an idea, a homesteader’s dreamed-of bulwark against the forever wind until, with stinging sweat and stone-torn fingers, the imagined was made real and the builder stood back to see it, whole, strong, chest-high, stone nested tight upon stone, snug in haphazard uniformity.

But Autumn’s rains sluiced through unmortared cracks, and Winter’s glass prised fissures open; Spring brought seeds to lodge and widen each minuscule flaw with root and tendril, until Summer’s hearth-eye withered flower and stem alike, reducing them to dust, leaving paths for ant, beetle, and mouse, to enlarge, improve, extend.

And so it went as lifetimes passed, as children were born and grew tall, as owners lived, flourished, and bequeathed this home, this garden, to new custodians until tonight, this night, as the clouds lour down from above, as pale patches of snow lie recumbent beneath the gloom, as the ice-sharp wind soughs and sighs through every crack, every gap, every hole the years have bestowed, transforming the stones into a zephyrean choir, and the night-shrouded garden fills with the wall’s song, a song of patience, a song of years, of cloistered nights and brazen days, of climbing children and creeping vines, of a life spent in somnolent solitude, a discordant moan-filled yearning for sunshine, warmth, and vernal rebirth.

On long winter nights, there is a wall that sings.

Quiet and low, it sings, as if to itself alone.

But I hear it. I hear it plain.

k

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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the blank page
sleeps before me
pale
bare
eternally patient
unaffected by my
anguish

the unwritten story
assails my brain
cajoling
shaming
begging for release
unmoved by my
anxiety

between them
my pen
my hand
my fear
my wall

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at the cliff’s edge
the earth falls
through giddy space 
to clammy sands
sunlight spears the steel wool clouds
and blazes from gunmetal curls
brined winds press me back
with death-cold hands

hot anger fills me
magma of rage
ready to spew forth
and boil the sea below
as I ponder the choice between
a hateful god
slayer of the young
and no god at all

humanity
we are
upright beasts gifted
with massive power
over nothing
with dreams of eternity
circumscribed by birth and death
we are
ephemeral
mayfly deities
standing at the verge
in sight of the distant shore
ready to leap
to fly
to perish
on a solitary sojourn
that has no arrival


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Last month
daily life was bland and insufficient
and my dreams
ranged far from home
smelled the sun-hot wind along Judean hills
tasted fruit sweet and warm from the Tuscan sun
shivered in the Celtic chill of dew-dazzled moors

Last week
a stroke threw veils across my eyes
and now my dreams
stay close to home
sit by the ticking, midnight embers
feel the gentle warmth of her hand
smile at the familiar curves of her face

I found this poem while cleaning out a storage closet. It was written circa 2011, following a clot that damaged my sight for a few months, an experience that I documented in my mini-memoir, Cryptogenesis. I don’t remember writing it, but I’m glad I tucked it away in our undercroft.


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Today
I turned aside
from tragedies and trials
and sought instead
quiet marvels.

Today
I heard the winds of Mars
a thrum felt in the feet
a whistle filled with loneliness,
and heard Tesla coils singing
of sorrow and shame
in a house called
The Rising Sun.

Today
I saw a phoenix
rising in auroral hues
across Arctic skies,
and saw bridges of fire
Strombolian rage
spanning the Sicilian night.

Today
I felt the warmth of the sun
captured in the cat’s fur
as she slept by the window,
and then felt fingers go numb
as I worked outside where that same sun
provided light but no heat.

Today
I tasted watercress,
crisp and green and sharp and cold
fresh from my garden,
and tasted the salty age
of succulent panes
shaved from a joint that spent years
in a Spanish cave.

Today
the world holds more wonders
than we can possibly imagine
but they exist if we choose
to seek them.

k

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We keep it out
shunned
banished
beyond the electric glare
past heavy curtains
behind double-glazed panes

We fear
its cold
its dark
its unspoken secrets

I say
open the drapes
shut the lights
put flame to a candle’s wick
and let it in

Invite the night inside
forget its chill
forgive its inky mien
offer it a seat
and pour a wee dram

Enjoy its quiet
the stillness of its nature
and listen closely
as it whispers
of secrets
eager to be known

Let it in

—————-

k

Moon and Cedar

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