Given the current conflicts across this land and the earth, this timeless poem from the late John Haines conveys the words I have no voice for.


How strange to think of those street
sand vacant lots, the sandhills
where we played and dug our trenches;
the forts we built, the enemies
we conjured to aim our stick-guns at,
and then went home at evening,
to victory, to safety and sleep.

And now the vast acres of rubble,
the pitched and roofless houses,
upended stonework and sunken bridges.
The dog-packs roaming, digging,
for the one still-unclaimed victim;
the stray sniper aiming at dusk,
and in the roadside fields,
flowers that explode when picked.

The children wandering from one
burned suburb to another,
seeking that which no longer exists:
a neighborhood, a playing field,
a wading pool or a standing swing;
for a kite to fly, a ball to throw,
or just one pigeon to stone.

And through all this haunted vacancy,
from cellars and pits of sand,
come and go as on a fitful wind
such whispers, taunts and pleadings:
the scolding voices of dead parents,
the lessons of teachers no longer
standing, whose classrooms
are blown to ash and smoky air.

And far-off, unheard beyond the drone
of a single hovering aircraft –
in Paris, Zurich, Prague, or London,
the murmur of convening statesmen.


From:
For the Century’s End
Poems 1990—1999
by John Haines
Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.

“Which way home?”

She asked in child’s voice.

“This way, into the sun.”

I replied, pointing up the slope at the muted

late winter sun at the path’s end.

“We all come from the sun.”

Early morning walk to the empty fields
and the blue sky filled with birds.

Wind through the trees
refreshing as closed eyes

cleared the mind
making room for nature.

Moving through empty space,
living within the void

at the mercy of science and gravity
our feet hold firm to this planet,

providing shelter, food, water
and the fragile recipes for life.

I watch an airplane across the evening sky,
diminishing light as the sun is leaving.

Still trees reach toward the heavens,
as blackness envelops the landscape.

Layers transform across the spectrum
scattering particles reaching these human eyes.

What is out there beyond the layers,
beyond the limitations of distance and speed?

Further I sink into the night
as the moon and stars take over.

Deep breath releases a hazy fog
and when cleared, the origin stretches out before me.

That cabin in the woods,
nestled beneath second generation pine
planted after the last logging,
waits for our visit.

Snow caught in tree-tops
meanders through the winter sky
covering the green roof in a smooth
slope where acorns speed to the ground.

Ravens ever present toward the open fields,
near the old silo base, they rule the open sky
with acrobatics and voices blanketing
the otherwise quiet space.

The nest in the overhang now empty.
Somewhere deep in the woods they watch
with caution and curiosity as the dogs
run circles around that cabin in the woods.


Deep into the frozen land we venture.

Holding hands with no words spoken.

Miles away mountain shadows grow as the sun appears.

Like old film stuttering and jumping we desperately hold to this place to this moment.

Fading between gusts of wind we taste the other side the other world the other dimension some might say.

Existing between worlds we see what will come or what has passed.

 

Copyright 2013 (c) William Ricci

This is not working.
Playing the other role,
hoping for something benign,
I asked what this was.

You threw your cigarette.

Landing with orange ash slowly rising
into the early autumn air,
as you dropped from the cement
wall and walked away forever.

The following photos are from different days and times of Lake Superior along the North Shore.

The previous day bathed us in winter light
as the sea sang us to sleep.

Today we slowly become wet snow-people
as the storms take over the landscape

and we marvel at the beauty everywhere.