When February Is as Warm as April
Come stand next to me and listen
to jays scold cats in the front yard
and gray squirrels in the back
as jazz flows from well-kept houses
through the forest, beyond the stream.
When my last ten-thousand days have past,
will I still be able to tell a raven from a crow?
Will the wind still bring music to my ear,
the call of the ring-neck herald spring
and the scent of cedar summer days?
Come stand next to me
with your breast on my shoulder.
Let me smell your warmth
before I can no longer remember
if you are sage or jasmine.
The nights are too warm for February,
quince and cherry are fooled into bloom,
but not the camellia. In this uncommon
sun, it seems to wait for the perfect word,
like a poet waits for tomorrow's love.
Come stand next to me,
we only have 10,000 days
to find music's secrets.
When the Owls Are Silenced
Spiders do weave webs,
The time is past for whimsy.
Spiders, owls, and candles
(lit or snuffed) have had their day;
and it is not this century.
It may not have been the last;
when spiders still spun in our attics,
owls voiced their complaints at dusk,
and candles showed us the way
up (or down) the back stairs.
The new directive:
Images used in decades past
(or even yesterday),
may not be used today.
Label them cliché, old-fashioned,
passé; leave them in old chests
with words of love
and unrequited passion.
But there is really nothing new
under the sun (you may grimace here):
owls do answer the call of crows,
and candles may be burnt
until the chimney is blackened
and houses lie in ruins.
Envy the ancients.
They had no one to label their efforts,
except the gods they imagined
dwelt in every web and prophesied
through the voice of owls
and chicken entrails.
Celebrate the mice,
they know the truth of candles
and voices in the dusk.
Do not be fooled by sunshine on the cedars,
the lack of wind, or dry flavor in the air.
Do not be fooled by roses in bloom,
green buds and grass high enough to hide.
Open the window. Feel her stroke
your hair. Sense her cool invitation.
Step onto the deck. Let her grab
your skin as you accept her chilled caress.
Stay. The wind will rise. The sun will cease
to leave its shadow on distant trees.
Wait. She will come to tease you
with pale treats, warm to the touch.
Do not be fooled. Accept her enticement
and you will be another frozen trophy,
the sun melted from your memory.
Stanzas Inspired by a Letter from a Friend
1. It is the water that has spilled, the pitcher is still intact.
--Nigerian poet and Katrina survivor
Mudslides block the high mountain roads
Storms flood the long valley’s villages.
Tomorrow, rugs and clothes will be hung to dry;
next week, the market will sell the last moldy bean.
2. People are my clothes.
Shouts heard from the trail below, visitors from afar;
Dust from donkeys, ox, and porters, relatives arrive.
Every chicken prepared for the pot, even the rooster;
every child sent to gather hazelnuts, even the new bride.
© Gary Blankenship
Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 Vol. I, No. 2
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