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We Will Have Ghosts

A rotation of poems from this chapbook...

 

Geometry, Lost Cove

The ridge across this cove

is straight as a ruled line,

its bend as pure as an angle

on a student’s quadrilled page.

Beyond it another ridge lies

straight-backed, as well,

drawn off by its touch with sky. 

Such perfection is a subject

I’d like to think about

here on this thin shelf of land:

the earth, for instance, seen

from an orbiting craft, 

is smooth and round--

an eyeball, a gem on black cloth.

Where is the rough, rooty skin of it

we know, the jagged heights of pine,

poplar, sycamore, oak?

Where are our lumpy villages,

the brutish smoke of wars, 

the unsmooth teem 

of antlife in its scurry?

At a distance, surface is easy truth:

latitudes and longitudes, altitudes,

and lines acute, obtuse. 

A mountain trail is straight as shot,

a slight incline from the east, 

a thirty-degree descent 

on the other face.

A hurricane is a cotton swirled disturbance

on a blue plate; yet underneath it

secreted on another plane, 

pain rises red and anger-pussed.

This limpid, lustrous earth.

With this design 

I make up my face 

for someone combed

and groomed into the angled,

elegrant shape of vee, 

leaning in an easy obtuse 

against the far wall.


​  By Desire

the Caney Fork River at 6:00 a.m.

The water’s words sleep muffled under an eider fog, 

only a inconstant lap drinking the shore-rocks, 

only a whir and spit of flyline-cast, 

only the caw-caw waker of the wooded bank,

only the dip and step of a great blue heron 

murmur a definition. 

Summoned by desire into the gray stream

I cannot see, the water licks cold 

through my waders, the stones round and slippery 

underfoot. I am both alone and accompanied, 

though all I know of my companions is a fishtail 

swat, the water sliced by fly-tipped line.

 

My rod at my side in its case, I move downstream

to a spot remembered—but more like dream or hope. 

It’s been so long since I’ve been here. 

In the river I too am swallowed

until I disappear from sight. 

I lose my bearings as I knew I would

and stand, unbalanced, no known thing

to spread a wing to, and wait out time.

A glittered point, a hint of gold, then burst

of sun—all in the moment it takes to breathe

a prayer. The world returns to line and face

and point, and I to know, but not at once,

geometry again: of the ordered river

on its limestone run, the gear I’ve packed,

and where each wakened fisher in the ripple stands.



Dove Flight​


For weeks I didn’t water Mother’s fern 

that paled beneath the eaves. Among the wilting

fronds two doves sat still in solid watch,

ceramic thieves, eyes round and dark and stern. 

One day the male was gone, the mother crouched

beside two downy young, necks thin with spring.

I ached at their beginning, fed from her mouth,

and watched for flight. I didn’t see their wings--

one day the nest was empty, just in time

to drench the fern and coax it back to life.

All this coming and going such a fragile rhythm:

water and sun, withhold and give, nurse and free .

My mother in a darkened room had packed for flight.

Her face like polished marble, set past sight.


Turtle


 To Grandmother

From under the thick shell

that holds your papery life

and closes around your dying days,

every so often you emerge.


Out comes your craning neck,

listening for an old song

of rendez-vous, A Bicycle

Built for Two. Your blue


eyes find me, and know.

An arm slides out, a hand

craped as reptile skin

grasps mine and holds.


You hold mine against

the cool of your cheek.

Your mouth empty as a cave

finds an opening, a craggy

 

smile. Each day a nurse

stretches all your limbs,

you, splayed under sheets

like a terrapin overturned.

“You’ve got the best legs


in the clan,” we always said.

Still it’s true, all splotched 

and crazed with these last years.

And though you said


again and again,

you were not smart or good,

(“No, siree!”) I see, now

(you all drawn-in except


that tiny head, the light

expectant tremor 

on your lipless mouth),


a kind of glow, or maybe 

it’s a strain of song from

I can’t imagine what

ever tunneled ever-place


and a reaching in your face—

does a turtle smell a cool creek

not far away, or autumn

loam, and turn to it? Do we? --


and I know that smart or good

could not count for much

after a hundred years.

Only the hymn-singers like you


would worry so, only

the tenders of the poor, like you,

and you were smart enough,

Good enough. 


Go, go I tell you,

to your burrow in the widening 

dusk, and in the spring

I’ll crane my neck to hear you sing.



Geometry, Lost Cove


The ridge across this cove

is straight as a ruled line,

its bend as pure as an angle

on a student’s quadrilled page.

Beyond it another ridge lies

straight-backed, as well,

drawn off by its touch with sky. 


Such perfection is a subject

I’d like to think about

here on this thin shelf of land:

the earth, for instance, seen

from an orbiting craft, 

is smooth and round--

an eyeball, a gem on black cloth.

Where is the rough, rooty skin of it

we know, the jagged heights of pine,

poplar, sycamore, oak?

Where are our lumpy villages,

the brutish smoke of wars, 

the unsmooth teem 

of antlife in its scurry?


At a distance, surface is easy truth:

latitudes and longitudes, altitudes,

and lines acute, obtuse. 

A mountain trail is straight as shot,

a slight incline from the east, 

a thirty-degree descent 

on the other face.

A hurricane is a cotton swirled disturbance

on a blue plate; yet underneath it

secreted on another plane, 

pain rises red and anger-pussed.

This limpid, lustrous earth.

Poems from the book

This collection is my first, pulling together poems written prior to 2010 and published by me under the Weedy Editions mark. My brother, Paul Harmon, provided the cover art, the image a part of a large canvas entitled "Renaissance."  I think we are re-birthed in a way each time we write a poem. A few poems in a lifetime  will have that Renaissance effect on a reader. 


The book is available at Amazon.com or by contacting me.