Five Poems by Ralph Monday: “All the Birds Come Home to Roost”, “The Misfit’s Brother”, “A Dark Renaissance”, “Following All Souls Day”, and “Sonnet 73 an Homage”

All the Birds Come Home to Roost
A classic cliché
that everything comes back
three times over
but its true as though the
energies we briefly borrow,
cups of sugar,
stirred into morning
coffee, reflections drunk that
flow back in concentric
karmic waves, all the
birds flocking home—divorces, 
broken promises, lies, the
pack of bubblegum stolen as a
child, secret kisses, the kicked
dog, all distant beating wings
settling down at evening—
and that final big black
bird has been following
you, like a stalker, a loving shadow
since birth.
The Misfit’s Brother
          He stood there as I drove by,
standing at the edge of a parking
lot— behind him a ruined
industrial building, shattered windows, weeds,
gravel, filth—some 1940s postwar
structure, as dead as most of the
greatest generation.

          His clothing matched that era, chilling,
strange, surreal: 
          black dress pants,
          white shirt,
          black suit coat,
          straight black tie,
          black fedora,
          black shoes, all dark as

November crows in a stubbled field.

          When he looked at me, his eyes were
dark opal, expression blank. I felt
as though I had been marked,
that O’Connor and Dickinson were
his dead sisters.

          In my dream that night he stood by
the bed, gazing at me like the empty
space between the stars. I knew then
how the dead feel
          when undertakers
                    run hands over cold bodies.
A Dark Renaissance
          A pooling of wet leaves remind me,
clumped there in summer’s autumn
languor, despite all this late August
butterscotch light, that it is the dark,
the dark, that returns soon which never

	  No Renaissance maidens walk in the
sun. None remain. 
          If there were, they would say the shadows of the
leaves is dark enough for me.

	History is dark.
	Today is dark.

No matter how much one seeks the light,
drinks it in, let the summer sun bake
skin to a tanned sienna, dream of green
iguanas basking in the light—

	the universe expands outward
flung by unknown dark particles.

	Melodies of light never the dominant
tune, the vibrations of the sable cello 
give song to those maidens walking in stubbled
fields where crows domino about and fiddle
the same earth theme on wet, beating wings.

	History is dark.
	Pages written in black ink.

The maidens themselves now part of concealed
stone, brunette song long faded, they
could not dip finger in night’s inkwell, write
of the dark time like a court fool grinning at the

	They know the dark.
	As before.
	As now.

Long after the perishing expiration
Following All Souls Day
          November, now past All Souls.
Still I was eager for the mist & darkness clotted
among the clouds waving to
the fat swollen apples shattering the sky.

          The root of the earth we share like buttered
brushstrokes hammering out visual 
meaning in a place of parallel trees.

          It is the moon falling from umbra to penumbra that
links women’s lives in that they roost from one
calling to another, one kingdom seeking a key
whether or not the realm exists.

          The key could be made of rustproof silvered nickel
with many doors, multiple locks to turn like a bride
shucking off her wedding dress.

         The women will weep and look for lost souls
in those vacant gates & dream of mystics, mediums,
signs from the dead.

         But here, in the moment, the last pumpkins hold
court in siennaed, stubbled fields. Frost
has made them sweet & they know no kingdom
save their own. Their own jesters, holy vegetable
souls, they pour mute salute to that which is,
will be, and never was
Sonnet 73 an Homage
When you look at me now and see the years
piled up as a few staggering burgundy leaves
clinging like scarecrow tufts upon my boughs
shivered by cold, where of late the birds made
caroling lament—with me now the sunset
umbra envelops as a cloud and sinks westward,
toward the ancient land that barracks all.
Now you look at my fading red embers,
behind me nothing but gray ashen days,
my fire spent by those same nourishing hours.
Know that this, too, is the fate birth moment
prescribed for you as well.
	Embrace the moment, open perception’s doors,
	love obsessively what tender hours you may.

Ralph Monday is Professor of English at RSCC in Harriman, TN. Hundreds of poems published. 4 poetry collections and a humanities textbook. Member Lincoln Memorial University Literary Hall of Fame.

Twitter @RalphMonday Poets&Writers

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