poetry

alms for an almanac

The toil and over-turned earth of it, for but a dearth of believable dreams.

Lost? No;
I shouldn’t think so.
In losing though,
I’ve found more to find
Worth keeping;
I’m awake now
  And know it sleeping,
Weeping better saved
For salving the sore-again scar,
Or for the quiet bookending
Of my last memoir.
A simple determination
Fluffs the heavy-headed down
  And turns no sheet for worry—
I’ve only time enough to sleep.
I retain my reasons to rise:
In keeping with fate of field,
It’s the in-hand seed
I’m left alone to sow,
Pocketed from last season’s sieve,
  Eased into the dawn-drift of wind
For another furrow-fall
From my pictographic palm;
Grain to bore through bedrock
With ravenous root
In time again for Serqet’s
Low sun and sustaining fruit.
  But the rebirthing ground
Quickens to lose its borders,
More bound now by the bitter briar
And splinter-shafted stalks
Of past half-cracked-kernel-crops;
The chaff of consequence
Ever-creeping on a close,
  Collapsing in,
Unfolded by eventide shadows.
I knew it all, then—
But didn’t.
What mattered was hidden
In wisdom’s labyrinthine hedge.
I rose to grow again,
  And, again, found the looking-edge
Over my head-scratching reflection,
Ebb-trapped and aswirl in the shallows.
When it was all on passionate fire,
I felt it through to my finest fiber—
  Until I couldn’t;
        Until I was waylaid or windblown—
                Or, by pain, made wooden.

                              —

                Love is a crooked dowel;
        At both ends, whittled to a needle-prick.
  Stabbed and slapped and blue-backed,
I’ve been beaten, brash on bruise,
With every side of that tireless stick—
How so much is in the way it’s wielded.
  I’ve wrested it from tomorrow,
Scarred enough for what lashes lacked:
The relenting and tender hesitance of love,
Its way-finding forgiveness,
Its easiness to trust,
Its emancipating gentleness.
For the welcoming of those whims,
  I owe the switch a knee to be snapped in half
For the kinder craft of good gateposts now.
Even when I used it to handle my plow,
I risked a rut in every row;
Nonetheless, the spades still crawled to cut.
I never scraped the surface with irreverence,
Or broke a heart for eager work,
  Though I sometimes dared to puff it up
Just to hide behind a shirk.
For my best, the weather’s been fickle;
It’s given a torrent for a trickle’s need
Or drought for a dabble-drop
To tout the tenacious weed,
With no regard for the farmer’s
  Ever-soiled shirt or callused red-apple-rasp.
Such is the heaviest hurt in it:
The toil and over-turned earth of it,
For but a dearth of believable dreams.
There seems to scream an injustice from it—
Or a shrill whistler to the worth of waiting?
Consider the bridle’s rusted, rotting clasp;
  Those last dregs of starry dust,
An ever-winnowing lust
For one more harvest,
Kept under the saddlebag’s hookless hasp.
But winter is a watchful hunter;
She loads the cagey storm,
Cannon-packs the thunder,
  Rarefies the sun,
And chlorinates the air
With unreeling, blue-white arc
Across the splintering sky.
Her gale will come on a tantrum,
  Raking at the tender bark
        With envy-tipped thumbs intent
                On tearing every sapling apart.

                              —

                I press for only one
        To become stayingly strong,
  Of rugged, resilient shoot,
Sinking soul-deep its anchor-root
Into what I first believed of truth:
To work honestly and ready-wait,
  Hold hard to a few sweet wants,
And to predicate all I might learn
From the hot taunts of hateful day
On a care for comforts-to-come.
I still stretch for the chase
Of my uncaught chances,
And will long-labor
  The sweat of longer circumstances
Just to salt the meadow
For that singular,
Burst-aching,
Serendipity-seed—
Wherever it chooses to spring.
Bread broken for my seasons
  Might many feed on smaller plates,
But what’s to sate my hunger,
Having been bitten so far in feeding it?
In needing it, however,
The starvist knows scarcity to a find,
And, though frayingly entwined with hope,
Can with but one such tether
  Rope the well,
And water what is worth the water:
May it be the dew-doted honor,
A belief in beauty ever-born,
The bee-buzzed, bravest bloom
And the rarest amnestic pluck of thorn—
All cruelty to be vanquished
  By its envenoming kiss.
Respectful, then, of forward moments
No pauper could be paid to miss,
I won’t lay my head on lament
Or death-march into downtrodden dream;
But daily my bones bury the bed,
As does my twisted and sun-wrung back,
  Scratch-mapped and underfed—
All alms for an almanac.
I’m awake now
And know it sleeping;
Small hours to the yawning dawn.
  Love is too perfectly sufferable—
        And life, if we water it,
                Goes on.


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