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 left. 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 king. They know the dark. As before. As now. Long after the perishing expiration date.
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.
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