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                                                                                                Sandford Lyne


Starting Out

I didnít know it, but I guess I was starting out,
going somewhere. I took my bicycle
and took off up the street. I wanted to see
how far I could go without touching
the handlebars. It was probably sunny,
probably a summer day, or a Saturday.
I pedaled, my arms crossed over my chest,
sometimes holding them out to the sides
like wings. Before the morning had ended,
I had covered most of the town—from the river
to the fairgrounds to the high school and back.
Like you, probably, I didnít know where
I was going to then—to the future or the past,
or to the silent, waiting crossroads of the present,
or to love or heartbreak, or to marriage or divorce,
or to giving or receiving, or to war or peace.
Like you, probably, I didnít know that children
would fill so many hours, how important
is their suffering, how needed is their lightness,
and that caring for them, talking with them,
listening to them, is the duty of everyone.
Like you, probably, I didnít know that I
was a multidimensional being among
multidimensional beings, that there is a hum
beneath the hum of the bees in the garden,
a surf breaking beneath the surf, a thunder
underneath the thunder. I didnít know yet
all the lessons and forms of birth and death.
I started out to enjoy the day, my arms
sometimes crossed over my chest,
sometimes held out to the sides like wings.



Invisible hands had poured a weaker light
in the bowl of the day,
but it did not matter.
There were fewer shadows, too,
and a smaller thirst.
I read. I dreamed.
Days went by, it seemed, with my eyes closed.
When I opened them again,
leaf smoke rose through the skeletal ballroom.
Only a week went by;
the winter reef lay exposed.


In Denali

                      for John Haines

In some poets, maybe only a few,
there is a great distance,
ruled only by sun, and wind, and snow,
crossed by bone-chilling rivers and streams—
a mountain, a valley, a plain,
an unconquered place, untamable,
unapproachable, wild.

There, the poet is like that grizzly
I saw this morning
on a hillside meadow,
rummaging, drunk on berries,
happy in his solitude.
Leave me alone, he seemed to say.
Do not think to come near.
I need such territory.

Oh, but we want to come near,
lean against that golden fur,
knowing we will have to make do
with the binoculars
called poems.


Three Flints

                      Lawrence, Kansas

Three lightning flashes: past, present, future.
Three flints: choose one; and the heartís
bright steel; strike them together.
Wind and smoke—a snapping sound
like wet canvas, or crowsí wings.
Thunder rolls—
ghost wagons on the tall grass prairie.
Quantrill came here with his wild retaliations.
What was he seeking? What had he lost?

Late afternoon in Lawrence—
autumnís smoke.
Shadows with long skirts
cross the public park. The bandstand
with the Russian dome is empty. In the trees,
committees of birds argue over the note-sequence
of vanishing summer melodies,
and the electorate of leaves twirls in the air
with yellow faces,
with scarlet wings.

Over the grass, a man approaches me,
so thin, dark, untranslatable,
he is already some angelís charge.
His dim, gray eyes plead for food, talk,
clean sheets, birthday candles,
a mulligan in life.
Instead he asks for a light.
I offer a book of matches. He shakes his head.
I strike a match, cup my hands.
His face leans in.
The tip of his cigarette ignites.
Our eyes meet.
Who is the giver? I wonder; who, the receiver?
Please, please take
whatever you need.


                                                                                                © Sandford Lyne

triple rule

Loch Raven Review Fall 2005 — Vol. I, No. 1
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